Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Interview

A job interview is a process in which a job candidate is evaluated by an employer for prospective employment in their company. During this process, the employer seeks to determine whether or not the applicant is suitable for the job. An interview is also an opportunity for a job candidate to evaluate the requirements, tasks, responsibilities and demands of the job, as well as get a feel for the corporate culture.

After a company has reviewed interested candidates’ resumes, job interviewing typically follows. Often times the initial interview is conducted over the phone. Multiple rounds of interviews are also quite common. Once all candidates have been interviewed, the employer typically selects the most desirable candidate and will present a job offer.

Two of the more common types of interviews are traditional and behavioral interviews. The traditional interview is more conversational and uses a series of broad questions related to things like past work experience, strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments. The behavioral interview is also fairly popular. This interview is based on the premise that one’s past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. The interviewer asks questions that draw out responses related to results and outcomes in a candidate’s previous work situations. A few other types of interviews include the panel interview, case interview and peer interview.

Legal Aspects
In many countries, employment equity laws forbid discrimination based on a number of classes, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and marital status. Asking questions about these protected classes in a job interview is generally considered discriminatory, and constitutes an illegal hiring practice.

Interviewing Still Key
There are many who question the value of job interviews as a tool for selecting employees. Some hiring experts question how useful the interview process is in predicting how successful any given employee will be on the job. In fact, many characteristics like honesty and integrity are hard to assess in the interview process. Plus there are many examples of individuals who, once on the job, fall short of how they represented themselves in the interview.

Although the interview process is certainly not a science and has its fair share of flaws, it remains as an important, if not the most important, basis for how employers hire and how job seekers land a job. For tips on how to prepare for an interview, check out the “Improve My Chances” section in Career Transitions.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Re-entry into the Workforce

Every year hundreds of thousands of people re-enter the workforce after extended time off—caring for their children or an elderly parent, as a result of a health issue, after serving in the military, and a host of other reasons. If you are currently planning or at some future point expect a re-entry into the workforce, the following tips may be helpful.

Be positive about your return to the workforce and do not be apologetic about your time away. Whether you’re returning by choice or necessity (as a result of a spouse’s lost income, divorce or other reason) what’s important is that you communicate a level of enthusiasm and willingness to reconnect yourself to your career.

Consider and explore career options. You’ve had new life experiences and possibly shifted your priorities during your time away from the workforce. This is an opportunity to explore other careers and identify whether you’d be interested in pursuing a new career path or in returning to your past occupation.

Assess your skills and identify which skills transfer to occupations of interest, as well as core skills that are relevant across occupations and industries.

Inventory new skills. You’ve likely developed or sharpened many skills during your time away from the workforce. Think about your volunteer work, freelance or other self-employment activities, continued education courses or professional development seminars, and even how your global travel experiences (which build cultural awareness) can give you an edge.

Fill in the gaps. If you’re lacking a skill such as proficiency in Excel that can be readily solved by taking a course or two, do so. These types of courses are commonly available through community continued education programs and are typically inexpensive.

Maintain your professional contacts. Whether you’re out for a period of several years or several months, it is important to maintain contact with former employers, co-workers and others in your profession. Join a professional association, extend a lunch invite, or connect via a professional social media site like LinkedIn, etc.

Keep current in your industry and occupation. Read trade magazines, attend an occasional trade show or conference, use an email account to set industry news alerts, and follow industry leaders through news articles or via Twitter, etc.

Research and research some more. Be sure to conduct thorough research on careers and industries, including their projected growth and average salary figures, and do your homework on companies you plan on targeting in your job search.

Re-entry into the workforce can be an exciting time, but can also be a bit overwhelming. Be sure to tap into all the information and tools that Career Transitions offers to help make your transition back into the workforce a smooth one.