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Old 06-20-2010, 06:08 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
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What makes a candidate stand out?

I'm someone who struggles with going into interviews with pom poms blazing cheering rah rah me. I tend to be a realist. I see my capabilities but I see the areas I need improvement on too and it feels like lying to tell you about one without telling you about the other and I'm sure that nervousness comes through.

What can I do to either turn the ability to see my own shortcomings into a positive or get closer to coming in looking like a cheerleader?

I keep coming in #2 after interviews and I'm certain it's because I'm WYSIWYG while the next guy jumps up and down witn pom poms.

And, seriously, do you really believe these people who come in and tell you how great they are??? Wouldn't you rather have someone who can self assess and knows to work on the things that are lacking?
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Old 06-20-2010, 06:11 AM
 
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Just be yourself and try your best without overtrying.

The rest depends on the interviewer. One interviewer might like the pom poms while the other likes the sophisticated down to earth guy.
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Old 06-20-2010, 07:58 AM
 
4,805 posts, read 20,229,152 times
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Its definitely not lying to not confess all of your shortcomings. In fact I would find it bothersome if you are answering questions I haven't asked. Stick to the question I've asked and stop rambling!--is what I'd be thinking.

Everyone has shortcomings. Usually in an interview I'll try to determine what those are, but I don't want a laundry list of everything you've ever done wrong or could have done better or thought you could have done better. I need to know what your strengths are too, and if you spend the entire interview itemizing your weaknesses, I don't have time or information to learn that.

Yes, people who are overly boastful of their abilities are obnoxious. Its obnoxious in an interview and I wouldn't want to put up with their boasting every day either. The person I hire is typically somewhere in between--not to timid or insecure, and not overly confident either. Frank and honest about their shortcomings but confident and certain in their abilities and qualifications.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:31 AM
 
26,590 posts, read 54,577,614 times
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I definitely look for confidence and someone who can get to the point.

I recently did phone interviews with eight candidates. About half of them never made it past the first two or three minutes on the phone because they droned on and on giving me way more than I had asked for, and frankly boring me to death. This was for a sales related position with a lot of phone work. If they couldn't engage me from the start, then why bother?

I look for someone who seems interested. Body language says a lot. If they cross their arms, lean back away from me, or can't make eye contact I have to wonder if they really want the job or care what I'm saying. If they lean in towards me or sit with a nuetral posture, hands in their lap, and look me in the eye and smile, it tells me they are interested and confident.

I look for someone who smiles and shows a sense of humor--but not so much that s/he's the class-clown type or seems to want to dominate the conversation. I'm always thinking in the back of my mind how this person will fit in with the corporate culture.

But mostly I look for someone who answers my questions thoughtfully without rambling or getting off topic, and someone who shows enthusiasm (without being a cheerleader) and displays a sense of confidence without arrogance.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:50 AM
 
274 posts, read 909,335 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
What makes a candidate stand out?

I'm someone who struggles with going into interviews with pom poms blazing cheering rah rah me. I tend to be a realist. I see my capabilities but I see the areas I need improvement on too and it feels like lying to tell you about one without telling you about the other and I'm sure that nervousness comes through.

What can I do to either turn the ability to see my own shortcomings into a positive or get closer to coming in looking like a cheerleader?

I keep coming in #2 after interviews and I'm certain it's because I'm WYSIWYG while the next guy jumps up and down witn pom poms.

And, seriously, do you really believe these people who come in and tell you how great they are??? Wouldn't you rather have someone who can self assess and knows to work on the things that are lacking?
having gone through several interviews, i think a candidate who genuinely expresses his/her enthusiasm toward the company and position in addition to having done research about the organization sets them apart from the rest. the more passionate and interested you are of a certain job at a company, the more it'll show when you interview. it'll come across that way through your interview delivery (ie. tone of voice, non-verbals, attitude, etc.). not only this, i strongly believe that you want to stay away from the norm of what every other applicant is doing and THAT itself will make you stand out in a good way. do most applicants keep in line with industry trends? are most applicants familiar with any awards or recognition of the company? do most appicants even bother to know the background of the person they're interviewing with? i can almost guarantee you that the answer to most, if not all, of these questions is NO.

some of the hardest interview questions focus on the area of weakness or failure and how you overcame it, through your own personal experiences. when asked something along these lines, it's important to show the interviewer that while you have come across hardship or failure, you learned from the experience and/or worked at making sure it never happened again. these "negative to positive" examples that you provide will show the interviewer that you're more than just a person that accepts failure and gives up without trying any more. as this is a critical trait to have, many employers want to see how well you adapt and respond to challenges and/or obstacles that you may encounter along the way.

for example, i was let go from my previous job. as much as i wanted to explain how bad the work environment was or how horribly managed the workplace was when an interviewer asked me, i knew i needed to concentrate on the positives from this experience. (and yes, there are positives in every scenario). to turn a negative into a positive, i mentioned how i was grateful to have had the opportunity to learn a whole bunch of different operations and had the chance to interact with many high level client executives, where most other jobs i held never offered such a thing. so to an interviewer, while it was disheartening to hear i was let go, my overall response provided an insight on the type of person i was... who wasn't going to let bad things affect my judgement or outcomes.

i hope this helps!
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Old 06-20-2010, 09:08 AM
 
2,370 posts, read 4,497,697 times
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I think you have to gauge the type of interviewer and tailor yourself to that. There are some interviewers who are stuffed shirts, all official and no small talk. Others are more casual, laid back and may joke a little.

When I'm interviewing, I can usually tell if a person has a personality that could upset the office culture. There are some who come off as eager beavers who know how an office should be run and present an air "How dare you even considering hiring anyone else. Here I am!"

I had one or two people during a walkaround part of the interview make suggestions on changes to how things are done. Suggestions are nice, but wait until you are hired and know the lay of the land first. There is a reason things are done in a particular way and you'll know why if you get the job.

Some people are a very poor interview but you can see that if put on the job will do great. Call it intuition. Others are a good interview, they say all the things that the "How to act at a job interview" articles tell you but it comes across as wooden, canned words because that's what they think you want to hear. The insincerity of them sticks out like a sore thumb.

I don't like hearing pre-packaged phrases; tell me what you like to do and how you work with others. Give me examples. Leave the b.s. at the door and let me see your day to day personality because I'll be dealing with that, not the "my objective is to be on the same page going forward to advance organizational goals and objectives." Give me a break.

Also, accept the job for what it is. If you are applying for a basic, IT help desk job, don't flaunt your CCNA and talk about how you can improve network security. We have people to do that. If that job was available, we'd advertise it. There may come a time when that position opens and you can apply for it but until that time either accept the duties assigned or don't take the position.

My final suggestions are: don't come off as desperate, don't go off on tangents. Be concise with your answers. Don't bad mouth your current/former employer.

For the OP: I'd be very clear if you are going on an interview for an engineering job by telling them that you did not enjoy teaching as much as you thought you would as the reason for the career change.
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Old 06-20-2010, 09:21 AM
 
Location: NJ
17,579 posts, read 39,754,055 times
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Confidence is key. You don't have to be "ra ra" to show confidence.
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:49 AM
 
47,573 posts, read 60,617,927 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
What makes a candidate stand out?

I'm someone who struggles with going into interviews with pom poms blazing cheering rah rah me. I tend to be a realist. I see my capabilities but I see the areas I need improvement on too and it feels like lying to tell you about one without telling you about the other and I'm sure that nervousness comes through.

What can I do to either turn the ability to see my own shortcomings into a positive or get closer to coming in looking like a cheerleader?

I keep coming in #2 after interviews and I'm certain it's because I'm WYSIWYG while the next guy jumps up and down witn pom poms.

And, seriously, do you really believe these people who come in and tell you how great they are??? Wouldn't you rather have someone who can self assess and knows to work on the things that are lacking?
I don't hire people right now, but I have.

If it's someone just starting out, you tend to look for different things than someone who claims to be experienced.

A new graduate certainly shouldn't come in boasting of accomplishments. As for the experienced, they should be able to convince the hirer why they should be hired.

Hirers are not all the same so it can pay to do some research about the individual who is hiring. Some may look for certain traits, others look for other traits.

A good hirer is trying to build a team -- but even that means different things to different types. Some will try to build a team of like types but others will try to balance a team with different types.

You have to look at it that the person doing the interviewing is just another person - may be great at giving an interview, may be mediocre. They might have little experience or a lot - but they are under pressure to fill a position with a job candidate that will work out. It's terrible for a hirer to have to explain to their team later why they hired such a horrendous employee. And even worse to those above them.

Mostly you have to know why you would hire you if the shoe was on the other foot and be able to convince that other person why he or she should hire you.
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:51 AM
FBJ
 
Location: Tall Building down by the river
39,615 posts, read 50,285,298 times
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Let the Interviewer do most of the talking
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:58 AM
 
47,573 posts, read 60,617,927 times
Reputation: 22283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
I tend to be a realist. I see my capabilities but I see the areas I need improvement on too and it feels like lying to tell you about one without telling you about the other and I'm sure that nervousness comes through.

What can I do to either turn the ability to see my own shortcomings into a positive or get closer to coming in looking like a cheerleader?
I would save the needs for improvement for those periodic or annual evaluation times.

Your goal is to get a job. Self assessment and self-improvement are something you do as you go along with that job.

You don't even know what you have to improve in yourself until you get the job so you're okay to leave those out. Often what is a plus in one job or under one boss is a minus in another job or under another boss.

Self assessment can be one of your positives. It can be brought up when you ask how employee evaluations are done and if they say they include self-evaluations, you can say you really like that approach.
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