Thursday, September 25, 2014

Practice Interviewing, Behavioral Questions, and the STAR Technique.

So you've polished your resume, combed the job boards, and applied to a few positions that you really feel could be a great fit. And then the great news comes; a recruiter has looked over your resume and is inviting you in for an interview! It may seem like you are home free at this point, but the truth is you’re far from it. Although the company has determined that you meet the qualifications, there is still a long road ahead of you. For starters, you may not be the only candidate invited in for an interview. And even if you are, you still need to impress the company sufficiently for them to even consider extending you an offer.  Today we’ll take a look at some preparation techniques you can use to prepare for an interview and get ready to shine.

The first piece of advice we’ll discuss today is likely the most important, and also the simplest. Practice. Yup, just like any other skill, interviewing is something you can practice at and get better at. As a soon-to-be or recent graduate, there are several options available to you for interview practice. The career development center at your college/university is a great place to start, as most will offer sign-up times to practice interviewing with a career counselor. A friend or family member with experience in job interviews can be another resource for you. Here at Verum Staffing, we offer interview help/practice for candidates, as do many other staffing agencies. Take advantage of these informational interviews, and ask for feedback when you are done. The only way to improve upon your interview skills is to practice, so get to it!

While you are scheduling those practice interviews, take a moment to really research and familiarize yourself with some of the common questions that crop up in interview sessions. The first of these we’ll discuss is called a “behavioral” question. A behavioral or situational question gives the interviewer an inkling of how you may behave if a given or common work situation crops up. For example, the interviewer may ask “tell me about a time where you saw a co-worker who wasn’t following the rules; what did you do?” In this case, they may be looking to see if you are someone who would try and work things out with a co-worker, if you would run to tell a supervisor, or if you didn’t say anything. Behavioral questions are part of most interviews, and can vary in the type of question (and resulting answer) the interview is looking to hear. You will be hard pressed to research every behavioral question that may come up, but seeing and practicing a variety of them can give you a good head start. As a general rule of thumb, when you are asked to answer a behavioral question, the interviewer is asking you to describe one specific time. If we go back to our last example, you would want to describe one instance where you caught a co-worker not doing their job, not what you would do in most situations.

Other types of questions that may be asked of you in an interview can included the following:

·         What can you tell me about yourself?
·         Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
·         Are you planning on attended graduate school in the future?
·         What is one of your strengths?
·         What is one of your weaknesses?

Even if you have researched the questions thoroughly, you’ll still need to be able to give well thought out answer in order to impress your interviewer! Practicing the questions and receiving feedback is a good start. As a note, you do not want to try and memorize an answer. If you have a “script” answer that you plan to follow, you may get thrown off or forget your answer. A better idea is to have an outline of various situations that could serve to answer a multitude of those behavioral questions. 

Another idea is to use what is referred to as the “STAR” technique. STAR refers to the following:

·         Situation
·         Task
·         Action
·         Result

In this way, you think of the situation that best answers the question, describe the task at hand, the action that you took to resolve the situation, and what the result was.

To sum up today’s advice: practice! The more prepared you feel heading in to an interview, the more likely you are better to do! Good luck!

Stay tuned for our next article on 10/09/14 where we’ll give helpful tips for interviewing by phone. Until then, feel free to catch up on our previous articles, and be sure to check out our pages on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ for the latest news and opportunities available through Verum Staffing! If you are interested in speaking with us further regarding positions we have available, future opportunities, or interview/resume help, please send an email to to set up an informational interview.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Applying to the scientific job online.

It’s time to fire-up your computer, grab an energy drink or two, and start filling out those online job applications.  Why the energy drink?  Because for most of you this process is going to feel like a full-time job and if you are a procrastinator you might end up pulling some all-nighters. 

The most frustrating part about applying is that you will be filling out an application which will be asking for information that is already on the resume that you will be submitting.  It doesn't make a lot of sense to have to provide all of that information again, but that is how the process works.  Some of the applications might take well over a half-an-hour to complete.  Multiply that by the dozens of jobs, possibly hundreds, that you will likely be applying for and you can see how much of your time will be spent just going through that process. 

You might be thinking there is no way that you’re going to have to apply to a dozen jobs, let alone a hundred.  Some of you won’t, but for many others, you are going to have a big-time wake-up call once you start the process.  For those of you that do end up applying for over a hundred jobs you still might not obtain one related to your degree. 

The job market is very competitive.  We've had human resource personnel tell us that they receive hundreds of resumes when they post an entry-level position.  You will be competing, not just against recent grads, but grads from last year who didn't find a job, as well as candidates with one to two years of industry experience. 

After you apply, most companies will send you a standard email thanking you for your application.  It may also include information letting you know if you are in consideration for the position or not.  However, there will be times when you won’t hear back from a company.  That could happen for numerous reasons, but below are a few of the most likely ones:

·         They are no longer taking applications because they have already selected candidates to interview
·         The position has been filled (the posting just wasn't removed from the site yet)
·         You applied to a job you weren't qualified for (see more on “Hyper-Appliers” below)

A Hyper-Applier goes to a company’s website and applies to everything; whether they are qualified for a position or not.  The only thing they accomplish by doing that is frustrating the person in human resources in charge of screening the resumes.  Don’t be that person!  They will remember your name and might decide not to contact you when you actually do apply to something you are qualified for.
By now you might be wondering if there is any way to avoid the application process.  One way to do that is to work with VERUM Staffing.  If you work with us you won’t have to fill out an application until you go in for an interview.  Also, we always get permission from you before submitting your resume and won’t send it in if you aren't qualified or wouldn't be a good fit for the position.   

Another benefit is that we have access to the hiring managers so your resume goes directly to the decision maker.  This alone will save you a lot of time and give you a big advantage over your competition. 

If this sounds like a much better option than spending hours filling out online applications then please go to the following site ( and submit your resume.  A recruiter will follow up with you to schedule a time to discuss your job search.

Stay tuned for our next article on 09/25/14 when we’ll discuss practicing for job interviews. Until then, feel free to catch up on our previous articles, and be sure to check out our pages on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ for the latest news and opportunities available through Verum Staffing!