Latest Q & A
What is the right answer for the interview question about your strength and weakness?
Most people are far too ready to reel off a long list of their weaknesses if asked about them at interview. We need to think about why employers ask this question. Do they really want to hear all about how you find it difficult to get up in the mornings; how you are often very grumpy at the start of the week; that you don't work well with other people and that you like to leave on the dot of 5pm each day regardless of work commitments? No, of course they don't want to hear this. If you do come out with a weakness it needs to be something that can also be seen as a strength. So for instance you could talk about how you always like to get a task finished even if it means staying late sometimes. Or say: "I can be a bit of a perfectionist in getting my figurework as accurate as possible." No employer is going to mind if you have weaknesses such as these.
As far as strengths are concerned, you need to tailor these to the kind of job that you are applying for. Think of the things you have been praised for in the past, what was highlighted in references or appraisals? When work or studies were going well for you in the past, what specific skills or abilities were you exhibiting? How would your friends and colleagues describe your best points? Take a look at the things you come up with and pick the three you think are most applicable to the job on offer and find an example for each so you can paint a picture of yourself at your very best for the interview panel.
If you were to give one bit of best advice to the countless number of job seekers who daily comb the streets in search of the proverbial "dream job",what would it be? Your contribution would be highly appreciated. SEUN ADEGOKE
May I give three bits of advice?
The first is don't give up. You won't get a job unless you keep applying, regardless of how low you can feel when you get rejected. The job won't come to you, you have to seek it out.
The second is that if you feel you are getting nowhere, perhaps you should re-evaluate that 'dream job' that you are holding out for. Could you lower your sights a little and take something that could give you more experience or take a step sideways to expand your horizons? You might get further forward eventually if you take a step back first.
Thirdly, when you make an application or go for an interview, make sure you focus on the employer and not all about yourself. Write and talk about what you can do for this organisation or company and forget about what you want from your career. That is important to you of course, but is not what's going to get you the job. What special contribution can you make? How will you help this organisation be successful? What are you bringing that other candidates are not?
Keep going and good luck.
I have been looking for a book which teaches how to write a covering letter for applications but I have not found anything yet. I found your website by chance and I am writing to ask if you have published a book related to the topic which may contain motivation/application letter samples. Thank you very much for your advice and information in advance.
Did you look at the page entitled My books on my website? My book called: "Preparing the Perfect Job Application" (ISBN No: 978-0-7494-5653-5) takes you through how to make applications for jobs or courses and contains some examples of letters which may be helpful. You can buy a copy direct from my site. The website of my publisher Kogan Page (www.koganpage.com) will also give you details of other books on this subject. Good luck with your applications, I wish you success.
I am in a panic about a forthcoming interview. What can you offer?
I would start by getting you to brief me about your career to date but the focus would then be on preparation for the interview to come. An important aspect of my work is helping you to think through the perception that you want to create in the interview. This needs to be based on an analysis of the job vacancy and the employer concerned, as well as on your skills, experience and personality. We would agree the key points that you feel you want to bring out in the interview and also discuss the visual impression you will make.
We would then run through some typical questions to give you practice at clearly structuring your answers so that you feel prepared for what could face you with in the actual interview. We would work to combat any feelings of nervousness so that you appear relaxed, postive and confident. If giving a presentation is part of the interview, we also cover how to do that with impact.
Your website is fantastic. I need to develop a website. Can you tell me who designed it? And who took your photos?
The wonderful website designers are called Pedalo. Take a look at their website: www.pedalo.co.uk
All photos are by the talented Justine Shuttleworth. See her website: www.justaimphotos.co.uk
What actually happens in a careers guidance session?
I normally see people for a three hour session. We start by finding out what has brought them to me and what kind of help they are looking for. They fill me in with the story of their career so far and bring me up-to-date by describing their current situation. They do all the talking and I take notes of the key points that are emerging. We move on to look at where they want to get to in the future and what they are hoping to achieve inthe next phase of their career.
All this sharing of background information informs us to then move on to look at what their options are currently. In a typical session, we chew over and evaluate the different paths they could follow until the future looks clearer. We produce a written action plan by the end. This may include general next steps about networking, keeping an eye out for suitable job vacancies etc or specific actions, perhaps updating a CV, making a college application etc. They leave me feeling more focused, purposeful and sorted.
Could you let me know approximately what your consultancy fees are for facilitating a team away day?
If you send your email or phone details to me via my "Contact me" page on this website I will get back to you and we can talk about what kind of event you envisage and I will be able to tell you what I would charge.
Where are you published and in which languages?
I am published all over the world and in these languages:
How do you start writing books like yours?
- Have a topic you know a lot about and work out what the market for it will be. Publishers are only interested in books that will sell.
- Look at publishers' websites for advice, e.g. Kogan Page have a section for aspiring writers, plus a proposal form to complete at www.kogan-page.co.uk
- Don’t write the whole book in advance, just write a chapter and then fill in a proposal form summarising the rest of the book.
- Don’t tell the world in case nothing comes of it.
How do you know what works with employers?
I learnt a lot from all of my different jobs (see my biography). I have worked with organisations and individuals in different workplaces for the last 15 years and have seen the results of certain ways of working and presenting yourself. I know my methods work because people come back to me and tell me about their successes after following my advice.
I have also often recruited staff and sat on interview panels and have seen for myself what separates the winners from the losers.
I would like some ideas about what different jobs I could do – where should I look?
Visit the Connexions Service’s excellent database of jobs at www.connexions-direct.com/jobs4u
You can access and download information about every job and type of work you have ever heard of. It describes the main tasks, qualifications needed, pay, entry requirements etc. You can then find useful addresses and further sources of information to take any area of interest forward.
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