Posts Tagged job seeker

Must-Ask Interview Questions (for the STEM Job Candidate)

interview questionsWe all remember those awkward first interviews we experienced as we searched for our first jobs out of college. The hiring manager asked formulaic questions that we answered, and at the end of the interview it was our turn to ask questions. If you forced yourself to ask a handful of carefully prepared questions because you’d been told this was an important part of the interview, you’re not alone.

However, with experience, and resulting increased confidence (and let’s not forget, as an in-demand STEM professional who might have several job offers to choose from and must narrow the selection) you likely now go to job interviews with just as many, if not more, organic questions for the hiring manager, as he or she has for you.

And yet, maybe you’re preparing for your first interview in a while and aren’t quite sure which questions to ask. The market may have changed, ways of doing business change, and companies change.  So, here’s a little cheat sheet just to get your brain going. Use these questions as a guide, and build upon them or personalize them as needed.

The Position

  • How did this position become available?
  • What skills are you looking for?
  • What types of projects would I be working on?
  • Who do I report to?
  • Who reports to me?
  • What sort of decisions will I be making?
  • What resources are available to me?
  • Describe a typical workday.
  • What measures of success would you like to see from the candidate you choose in the next six months to a year?

The Department

  • How would you describe this department? What makes it unique?
  • What are its strengths and weaknesses?

The Company

  • How would you describe the culture?
  • What’s your favorite thing about working here?
  • Who are the organization’s competitors (this will help you understand if the company is a market leader or not).

The Compensation

Do not discuss compensation until you have been offered a job.

  • What type of benefits does the compensation package include.
  • Does the compensation plan include performance-related portions?
  • If an employment contract exists, what are its terms?
  • (In the case of a relocation) what moving expenses are covered (these may include lump sums or expense accounts for broker fees, move-in costs, meals and transportation, corporate apartments, or trips to your new city to search for housing).

The Next Steps

  • Close by asking the interviewer if they have any remaining questions about you (give yourself an opportunity to fill in any gaps remaining in his or her mind about your fit for the position, if applicable).
  • If you’re interested in the position, ask about next steps and a time frame for when you’ll hear back.
  • Make sure you let the hiring manager know you are excited and would love the position.

You need not pepper the hiring manager with a list of questions at the end of the interview. If you have these questions in your mind, they will most likely organically come up in the conversation throughout the interview. At the end, take a look at your notes and circle back to any you might have missed! You’re in demand – so you should be asking questions!



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No Shortage of People or Jobs, Just a Shortage of Matches

wpid-recruitment-lead4Despite a sea of open positions and job seekers, news of a skills gap continues, across seas.  In British Columbia, a lack of skilled labor has temporarily halted a multi-billion dollar engineering project.  The Canadian government has recently come under fire from the Canadian Employee Relocation Council for proposing changes to its Temporary Foreign Worker Program in an effort to limit hires from abroad. Canada’s unemployment rate is seven percent.

In Japan, rebuilding after the 2011 tsunami continues, but not as quickly as it might without an understandably over-stretched construction industry and resulting skilled worker shortage.  Japan is expanding their foreign labor use, but training workers for skilled positions can take as many as 10 years.

And all over the world, IT plays a more crucial role in business success than ever.

Employers face fierce competition for tech professionals, and positions go unfilled because employers can’t find – or attract – the right talent. Though according to this article, growing market sensibilities should help alleviate some of the partially self-inflicted IT staffing crunch.

In other news, according to the Labor Department’s February jobs report, professional services, like engineering, grew by 79,000 after two consecutive months of relatively slow hiring.  This category of workers has grown the fastest since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009. One third of those jobs were temporary.

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Big Data Recruiting

Big DataFive to ten years ago, no one could stop talking about the importance of a well-crafted online presence – a sort of personal PR, or “brand,” if you will – to a job seeker, as well as to a business of course.  The internet and social media have been important recruiting tools for years now, too.  But your decision to create, monitor, and hone an online presence has up until recently been a conscious one.  You designed your website and social media channels, from your profile picture to your “about you” information to the work you feature in a portfolio to the comments you make or the blog posts you write.  Sure, maybe you occasionally posted some things online you later thought silly.  But you posted them with the understanding that the world could read them.

That’s all changing, for better or worse. Whereas before, you chose – or did not choose – to craft a presence that people, like potential employers, could find, evaluate, and use as a tool in deciding whether or not to hire you, now we know there are companies whose sole job is to track our online movements, from browsing history to click-through preferences to comment threads and even online purchases.

Engineers, developers, and other professionals for example, many of whom have never even created a social presence, collaborate online for projects. They share project-related information, post questions and answers, write for blogs, and comment on discussion boards. Big data mining companies gather, interpret, and release this data. In essence, your “online profile” is being created for you.

Kind of strange and even off-putting. There are definitely drawbacks, including privacy concerns. But there are also benefits, such as a more custom internet experience with results and content tailored to you.  And when it comes to recruiting, there are also advantages.

For recruiters, the most obvious one is a bigger pool of talent and less time searching for a needle in a haystack, should they choose to leverage this technology – or even if they don’t, since a simple online search can turn up an organic presence almost as easily as a planted one. For job candidates, it means you may be presented with wonderful opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered.  One thing is for sure – it makes all of us more conscious of what we do online. For better or worse.


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