Even top performers are worried these days. Thanks to the drumbeat of news stories about business miscalculations, facility relocations, and corporate mergers and acquisitions - all of which produce layoffs - they too fear they will end up out on the bricks. As a result, uncertainty has now become as important a recruiting factor as a job's salary level and an organization's employment brand.

According to Wikipedia, uncertainty "is a term used in subtly different ways in a number of fields." Those multiple definitions can be arranged on a continuum that stretches from the benign - as in situations where a person simply lacks information - to the hostile - as in those cases where the lack of information leads to harmful outcomes.

Uncertainty is now important in recruiting because the business environment has moved top performers' perception of the term from one end of the continuum to the other. While they have traditionally been able to view uncertainty as a benign or at least neutral condition, they now see it as full of risk. And, that shift in perception provides a wedge for recruiting them.

The key, of course, is to provide a contrast between a top performer's current situation and one which your organization can provide. Since its crystal ball is no clearer than anyone else's, however, there's no way your employer can accurately predict its future workforce needs. It is as afflicted with uncertainty as any other employer. So, how can you give candidates the confidence that they will not be harmed by taking a position with your organization?

Adding Certainty in Uncertain Times

The risk in uncertainty comes from a lack of information that has the potential to undermine your security. We live and work in an era of constant change, and being in the dark exposes a person to that change without any recourse. Change isn't necessarily bad, but when it happens without warning - without adequate time for preparation - it can and often does derail a person's progress, diminish their personal brand and undercut their financial wellbeing.

The antidote to this dark side of uncertainty, therefore, is proactive messaging or what might best be described as "add-certainty communications" - the nonstop transmission of accurate information that promotes preparation. The better informed employees are about the status, strategy and goals of their organization, the less risk they will perceive in the unpredictability of today's economy. The availability of information doesn't limit the incidence of change, but it does enable a person to develop and implement effective recourses to it.

Admittedly, add-certainty communications doesn't seem like a very exciting or glamorous addition to an organization's employment brand. In these days of high risk unpredictability, however, it says two important things about an employer: first, that it an organization which understands how precarious employment is now perceived to be and second, that it is committed to doing what it can to minimize the risk to its employees.

How can an organization credibly claim such a brand attribute? It must express its commitment to add-certainty communications in two ways:

  • First, add-certainty communications have to be a central part of the organization's culture and, by extension, its employment brand. They have to be the way it operates and the way it describes itself to prospective employees. That takes courage as the resulting worker preparation can be a risk to organizational wellbeing. The return on such a commitment, however, is likely to be greater interest from top prospects and better retention among top performers.

  • Second, they have to be practiced in the organization's recruiting process. The organization must proactively communicate with prospective employees - it must reach out to them, not once or twice but constantly throughout the experience - and provide them with information they view as appropriate and useful. There must be near continuous feedback on the organization's progress in its review of applicants and an individual's status in that evaluation.

All employees, to include top performers, are now struggling with uncertainty in the workplace. While its source - constant change - cannot be eliminated, its impact can be mitigated with the nonstop distribution of useful information. Organizations which brand themselves with a commitment to add-certainty communications, therefore, will differentiate themselves from their competitors and strengthen their appeal.

Thanks for reading,

Visit me at Weddles.com

It's commonplace these days to say that everything you need to succeed in human affairs you learned in kindergarten. If you follow that advice in your job search, however, you're likely to be disappointed in the results.

http://corporate-coach.com/phd-in-computer-science/ phd in computer science One of the first lessons you're taught in school is to follow the rules when playing a game. The rules ensure that there is a well defined pathway to victory and that everyone knows what it is. They establish certainty and fairness.

The job market is no game, but it too has long been governed by a set of rules. Those maxims determined how to win employment. They were all important, but only one was absolutely critical to success. It was the definition of "qualified" - what it takes for you to be considered a legitimate contender for an open position.

Employers set that rule because only they judge a person's qualifications. And, for the last fifty years or so, they've defined a qualified candidate as someone who met the requirements and responsibilities specified for a job. If your education and experience met that standard, you were deemed to be an acceptable applicant. You were in the running for selection.

And now you aren't. In today's job market, if you apply for a job where you are a perfect match with the stated requirements and responsibilities, you will almost certainly be ignored. All you'll hear back from the employer is the sound of silence.

What's causing this situation? Employers have ignored what they were taught in kindergarten. They've changed the rules and haven't told anyone they've done so. They've reset the definition of "qualified," and kept the existence of the change to themselves.

click The New Rule for Being Qualified

The change in the definition of "qualified" wasn't done maliciously or out of spite. Indeed, many employers aren't even aware that they are using a new standard for determining who is eligible for their open jobs. Whether it's applied consciously or otherwise, however, it is being used because employers now face changed conditions for their own success.

For years, employers selected candidates based on their ability to do a job competently. Their requirements and responsibilities were simply a way of ensuring that level of performance. They believed that individual competence was sufficient for organizational success. When employees performed as required by the responsibilities of the job, employers would thrive.

Today, that's no longer the case. Employers are now facing domestic and global competition from organizations with workers who perform at a higher level than competence. These employees aren't doing their jobs, they're excelling at them. That's the new standard. Being able to excel at work is today's definition of "qualified."

How can you prove your ability to excel on-the-job? It involves the 3 Rs: resume, reputation and recurrence.

Thanks for reading,

Visit me at Weddles

Monday, 14 January 2013 14:06

Advertise Respect.

Written by


Don’t Post a Job, Advertise Respect – Where Does Your Candidate Experience Begin?

Peter Weddle, wrote a compelling newsletter January 3rd, 2013.

Part two of this edition focuses on the nature of the job posting as a communication medium to enhance the Candidate Experience. Peter’s suggestion is just one more example of great practices which contribute to staffing process improvement. With Peter’s permission, the article is provided below.

Peter also mentions the recent focus on the candidate experience. One organization in particular that has raised the visibility on the candidate experience is the Talent Board and their Candidate Experience Award. The list of the 2012 award winners can be found here. A white paper with highlights from the 2012 submission and evaluation process will be released in late January 2013. Look back here for a link to the report.

Candidate Experience Award

Don’t Post a Job, Advertise Respect

Job postings are now routinely used on both job boards and social media sites. These online communications remain the most widespread method of candidate sourcing, yet are disparaged and ignored at almost every recruitment conference. Why? Because recruiters intuitively grasp the cost-benefit advantage of job postings, but all too often don’t grab hold of their power. They use job postings to describe a job, when they would be better served by delivering respect.

There’s been much written and spoken over the past couple of years about the importance of optimizing the candidate experience. In a highly competitive recruiting market, top performers will always gravitate to where they are treated best. As a consequence, the organization which gives candidates a distinctive and memorable experience will have a formidable advantage in the War for Talent.

That experience is typically defined as what happens to a candidate while they are passing through an organization’s recruiting process. For the candidate, however, the experience starts well before that point. It begins when they first encounter an employment opportunity. That interaction sets the tone for everything else that happens between the organization and the candidate.

Thanks to their heritage in print publications, job postings have traditionally been viewed as advertisements or announcements. Indeed, all too often, job postings are simply classified ad copy or position descriptions re-purposed online. They sell or inform, but they do not engage the candidate. They generate applications from active job seekers, but have little or no impact on the passive prospects who make up the majority of the workforce.

What’s the best way for your organization to engage that passive population? Publish job postings that deliver respect. Use word choice and content to signal to candidates that you recognize and value their talent.

http://www.telmohenriquesstudio.com/phd-thesis-on-development-economics/ phd thesis on development economics A Respectful Job Posting

There are many facets to a “respectful job posting,” but the following four are among the most important.

Number 1. Use vocabulary that corresponds to the reader’s self image. Top performers never think of themselves as a supplicant for work (even when they are in transition) and they seldom have a resume, so engage them by using more respectful terms and phrases. Address them as a “candidate” or “prospect” rather than as a “job seeker” and ask them to submit “an application” rather than “a resume.”

Number 2. Tell the reader how long it will take to complete the application. Top performers are almost always employed and thus consider their time to be quite valuable, so engage them by acknowledging and showing your respect for that point of view. Indicate how much time they will have to invest to apply for your opening and whether they must complete the application in a single sitting or can do so over several periods of time.

Number 3. Give the reader the information that’s important to them. Top performers don’t care about an opening’s requirements and responsibilities, so engage them by respecting their wishes and telling them what’s in it for them. Describe what they will get to do, learn and accomplish in your organization and its opening and with whom they will get to work and how they will be recognized for their contribution.

Number 4. Show the reader that your organization is courteous. Top performers don’t like being left in the dark or ignored when they apply for an opening, so engage them by treating them as politely as you would a guest. State that your organization will acknowledge the receipt of their application and provide the email address from which it will arrive so they can ensure it doesn’t get caught in their spam filter.

A job posting works best when it operates as a talent engagement platform rather than as an advertisement or announcement. And, engagement is best achieved with a posting that uses both vocabulary and content to convey an organization’s respect for the reader.

Thanks for reading,


Visit Peter at Weddles

A Resume That’s Catnip to Employers

According to a recent survey, almost all of us are always looking for a better job. So, here’s some unconventional advice.

Never look complete. Unlike in times past, when the goal was to look as finished as possible, today you want to position yourself as a “work in progress.”

As I describe in my novel called A Multitude of Hope, the key to success is now perpetual growth. Whether you have a PhD or an Associate’s degree, whether you have 30 years of experience or 30 minutes, whether you’re the intergalactic commander-in-chief of your organization or a member of the staff, you have to be adding new skills and knowledge all of the time.

How does that influence the way you look for a new job?

The strongest resume today isn’t one that describes you as fully educated and experienced. It’s one that makes you look on your way to something better.

To convey that impression, simply take two steps:

  1. Make progress. Enroll in a training program or academic course that will upgrade your expertise in your primary field of work or add ancillary skills that will expand your range of work potential.
  2. Strut your stuff. Add that development experience to your resume. For example, you might add to the Education section, Introduction to Business Spanish, Bronx Community College, On-going.

That kind of entry is catnip to employers. It sends two powerful subliminal messages that they can’t resist: First, it says that you understand that continuous development is a prerequisite for competent work in today’s ever-changing economy. And second, it signals that you take personal responsibility for pursuing that development.

Add those aspects to your personal brand and you won’t always have to be looking for a better job. Better jobs will come looking for you.

Work Strong,


Six rules when applying for job boards

Job boards can be a real help to those trying to recruit great employees and for those looking for jobs. But most applicants do not know how to get noticed when applying through a job board. Here are six essential rules you should follow.

  1. Don’t apply if you aren’t qualified. No one is going to have 100 percent of the qualifications that the posting calls for. But if you have less than about 65 percent of the qualifications, you’re wasting your time and that of the employer posting the opening.

  2. Don’t just hit “reply.” Too many job-seekers on job boards have profiles that will be forwarded to the employer if they just some sort of “reply” button. This can seem like a convenience for the job-seeker, but it almost assures that your résumé will never get seen. Apply individually to each opening and address the needs of the employer in your application.

  3. Read the posting carefully. It is amazing how many job-seekers just read the headline and apply. Yes, I know you’re probably doing it to report that you’ve applied somewhere to the unemployment office, but it is a waste of time and very rude to apply without knowing for what you’re applying. Know the qualifications you’re supposed to have and address them in your application.

  4. “Jump through the hoops.” Today it is an employers’ market. Many employers will ask you to demonstrate, in one way or another, that you are capable of doing the job. They will often ask you to write an essay or to take a pre-qualifying test. I have seen many people, especially those who are in the “Millennial Generation,” refuse to “jump through hoops” to get a job. Considering the scarcity of jobs, especially for younger people, this is a very short-sighted and foolish attitude. Do what the employer asks you to do, and do it well. If you are not willing to “jump through hoops,” get used to unemployment, as your competition is not quite so picky.

  5. Check and double-check everything. I have had numerous applications sent to me over the years where the applicant could not spell my name right. Now, if I was Mr. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius, I could understand. But my name is “Heckers,” and it is very easy to check out. Get the company name right, too. Check spelling. Check grammar. Have someone proofread what you’ve written. Carelessness can cost you the opportunity for your dream job. Be aware that your dream job often starts with a job.

  6. Personalize. No one likes “canned” cover letters or a résumé that has no applicability to the job being sought. Personalize whatever you send out. Make it apropos to the specific job for which you’re applying. Unless there is no other choice, never send a letter “To Whom It May Concern.” Take a couple of minutes and Google the company. Find out to whom the letter should be addressed.

These few tips will help make your job board experience successful. Make it personal. Make it complete. Make it correct. And do what the employer asks of you.

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

Employment-at-will policies should focus on what employers can and can not do under the NLRA

By James H. Kizziar, Jr. and Judy K. Jetelina
Bracewell & Giuliani LLP

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Office of General Counsel recently issued two Advice Memoranda clarifying whether employment at-will language in an employee handbook, applications or other employment policies violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by “chilling” employee rights under Section 7 of the NLRA.[1]

Concern had arisen among employers as a result of findings in an earlier unfair labor practice charge indicating that certain employment at-will provisions violated the NLRA. The Advice Memoranda issued October 31, 2012 reflect a commonsense approach by considering the context of most at-will employment provisions in employee handbooks.

In the first Advice Memorandum, the NLRB Office of General Counsel considered the following language in the Rocha Transportation Employee Handbook:

Employment with Rocha Transportation is employment at-will. Employment at-will may be terminated with or without cause and with or without notice at any time by the employee or the Company. Nothing in this Handbook or in any document or statement shall limit the right to terminate employment at-will. No manager, supervisor, or employee of Rocha Transportation has any authority to enter into an agreement for employment for any specified period of time or to make an agreement for employment other than at-will. Only the president of the Company has the authority to make any such agreement and then only in writing.

In the second Advice Memorandum, the Office of General Counsel considered the following language in the Mimi’s Café Teammate Handbook:

The relationship between you and Mimi’s Café is referred to as “employment at will.” This means that your employment can be terminated at any time for any reason, with or without notice, by you or the Company. No representative of the Company has authority to enter into any agreement contrary to the foregoing “employment at will” relationship. Nothing contained in this handbook creates an express or implied contract of employment.

employeehandbookIn the unfair labor practice charges filed against Rocha Transportation and Mimi’s Café, the claimants alleged that the bolded language in the handbooks violated the NLRA “because it is overbroad and would reasonably chill employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights.”

In rejecting these claims, the NLRB Office of General Counsel stated that any language that potentially violates the NLRA cannot be read in isolation but must be considered in context. The employment at-will policies at issue did not explicitly restrict employee Section 7 rights to change their at-will employment status through concerted activity among themselves, or through union organizing.

Further, there was no indication that the policies were implemented in response to union organizing or that the policies had been applied to restrict protected concerted activity by employees. Thus, the handbook provisions would only be unlawful if employees would reasonably construe the policies “in context” to restrict their Section 7 activities.

The NLRB General Counsel concluded that the handbook provisions did not require employees to refrain from seeking to change their at-will status or to agree that their at-will status could not be changed in any way. Instead, the handbook provisions simply made clear that the employer’s own representatives were prohibited from entering into employment agreements that would provide for other than at-will employment and were not authorized to modify an employee’s at will status.

The Rocha Transportation provision clearly indicated the possibility of a modification of the at-will relationship through a collective bargaining agreement ratified by the company’s president. Further, the clear meaning of the Mimi’s Café provision was to reinforce the purpose of the at-will policy, i.e., that the handbook did not create an express or implied contract of employment. The NLRB General Counsel noted “[i]t is commonplace for employers to rely on [such] policy provisions . . . as a defense against potential legal action by employees asserting that the employee handbook creates an enforceable employment contract.”

The NLRB General Counsel distinguished the prior American Red Cross Arizona Blood Services Region case which had raised concerns among employers about the liability of at-will disclaimers. In that case, the employer was held to have violated the NLRA by maintaining the following language in an acknowledgement form that employees were required to sign: “I further agree that the at-will employment relationship cannot be amended, modified or altered in any way.” The NLRB General Counsel stated that this language required the employee—through the use of the personal pronoun “I”—to agree that at-will status could not be changed and was “essentially a waiver” of the employee’s right “to advocate concertedly . . . to change his/her at-will status.”

The NLRB guidance on at-will provisions in employee handbooks, employment applications, employee acknowledgment forms and other employment documents has clarified that at-will policies phrased in terms of what the employer can and cannot do, rather than what employees can and cannot do, generally will not violate employee Section 7 rights under the NLRA. Employers should carefully review their employment at-will policies for compliance with the NLRA.

James H. Kizziar, Jr. is a partner with Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in the firm’s San Antonio, Texas and Washington, D.C. offices. He is Special Counsel to TAA for labor and employment issues. Judy K. Jetelina is counsel with the firm. Both Mr. Kizziar and Ms. Jetelina represent management in all aspects of labor and employment law.

[1] NLRB Office of the General Counsel, Advice Memorandum in Rocha Transportation, Case No. 32-CA-086799 (Oct. 31, 2012); NLRB Office of the General Counsel, Advice Memorandum in SWH Corporation d/b/a/ Mimi’s Cafe, Case No. 28-CA-084365 (Oct. 31, 2012).

Work Flex as a Turnover Reduction & Employee Retention Tool

Work flex is fast becoming a great way to retain, recruit, and engage your employees.  Companies that provide these different type of flexible work arrangements are seeing increased employee retention, lower recruiting costs, lower employee absenteeism costs, and higher levels of employee productivity and engagement.  The impact can be huge especially when you factor in the cost of employee turnover to range from 150-300% of an employee’s first year salary.

Companies like UPS have seen an employee turnover reduction of as much as 50% after implementing their corporate work flex program.  The trend is growing as 77% of employers are now said to offer some form of work flex according to the 2012 National Study of Employers.  The transition to the new work flex mindset requires trust between employee and manager as well a new style of management where leader manage using many new technologies like video conferencing, instant messaging, and using internal collaboration and workplace tools like Yammer and Jive.

Types of Flexible Work Environments & Programs

Traditionally, there are five different types work flex programs that companies consider.  Each one presents different pros and cons depending on the type of position, its job requirements, and industry where your company works.

  • Flex/Alternative Work Schedule. A flex or alternative work schedule is a scheduling arrangement that permits a variation from the employee’s core hours in starting and departure times, but does not alter the total number of hours worked in a week.  Many companies offer flex schedules allowing for employees to leave work early for family obligations and arrive later so less time is spent commuting during peak hours.
  • Flexplace/Telecommute.  A flexplace arrangement is an option that allows an employee to work at home or another off-site location, for a specified number of hours per week, and for a pre-set, limited duration.
  • Compressed Work Week. A compressed work schedule allows an employee to work a traditional 35-40 hour workweek in less than five workdays. Many compressed work schedule options may be negotiated. For example an employee might work 4 ten hour work days.
  • Job Sharing. A job share arrangement is a form of regular part-time work in which two people share the responsibilities of one regular, full-time position. These positions are regular part-time and as such must involve at least a 50% commitment. Two individuals typically work 20 hours a week sharing the compensation, benefits, and position requirements and responsibilities.
  • ROWE. This stands for Result Oriented Work Environment and was founded at Best Buy.  Managers don’t count their employees work hours or even require that they maintain a traditional work schedule.  Meetings are optional so long as employees continue to meet performance and work productivity standards.  Those that don’t are handled using traditional work performance warnings and write ups.


Friday, 26 October 2012 15:11

The Right Kind of Confidence

Written by

The Right Kind of Confidence

by Peter Weddle

The journalist David Brooks once famously opined that "Human beings are over-confidence machines." We aren't as smart as we think we are, nor are we as smart as we need to be. That's especially true when it comes to networking in a job search. Brooks bases his assertion on a survey done among executives in the advertising and computer industries. They were each given a quiz on their industry knowledge and then asked to rate how confident they were of their answers. The advertising pooh bahs thought they were right 90 percent of the time, when in actuality, 61 percent of their answers were wrong. And, the computer hotshots were even more off the mark. They estimated their answers to be right 95 percent of the time, when in fact, 80 percent were wrong. Now, some may say that such over-confidence is endemic among managers and executives, but not among the rest of the workforce. Regular people are much more self-aware. Or, are they? These days, an awful lot of regular people are 100 percent confident that social media is the answer to executing a successful job search. They are absolutely certain that the path to re-employment runs through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. So, what do they do? They devote countless hours to meeting virtual strangers on the Web and ignore the many connections and friends they have right in their own backyard. They rely on contacts when relationships will serve them better. Network With the People You Know Networking on social media sites is important, but it is not the only or even the best way to tap the job market knowledge and connections of others. Where's the proof that's so? Ask yourself this question: Who are you more likely to help, a friend you met through your daughter's soccer team or someone you've only met through an invitation to connect on LinkedIn? The Golden Rule is golden because it represents the epitome of human behavior. We all may aspire to its lofty standard, but in our day-to-day interactions, we are simply more comfortable investing our limited time, effort and connections in people we actually know. Moreover, to "know" people means that we have done more than read what they've posted about themselves on their Facebook page. And, that's the real challenge of networking. It's one of those rare words that actually says what it means: it's netWORK, not net-type-a-couple-of-invites-on-LinkedIn. Networking is an exercise in two-way knowing. In order to get to know a person, we have to interact enough with them for them to get to know us. We have to establish a mutual sense of familiarity and trust, the twin pillars of a relationship. And, as I point out in my book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System, each of us has more relationships than we realize. A partial list includes: All of your current friends; All of your friends with whom you have lost contact over the years; The mentor you have today and any mentors you may have had in the past; All of your former bosses; All of your current coworkers; All of your former coworkers; If you're a member of a professional, technical or trade association or society, all of the members of that group whom you've previously met; If you've ever served on a task force, special project team or select group of any kind (for your employer, academic institution or association), all of those with whom you served; and All of your former high school, trade school, college and graduate school classmates and those in the classes ahead of and behind you whom you knew. Network with those people - enrich your relationships with them - and you'll have plenty of reasons to be confident about the outcome of your job search. Thanks for reading, Peter Visit me at Weddles.com Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, WEDDLE's 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, and Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.

Friday, 12 October 2012 21:19

NAAEI Designations

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National Apartment Association Education Institute (NAAEI) Industry Designation and Certification Programs

Industry training and continuing education are the vital links between an employee and the industry. There are several nationally recognized industry designations offered by the National Apartment Association Education Institute (NAAEI) and your local apartment association.  In addition, there are a multitude of issue-specific classes available to help you to progress professionally and pursue any position in the industry you desire.

Education offerings undergo intensive annual reviews and are revised as standards change and expand. Click on the links below to view more information about each of the NAAEI's nationally-recognized designations.

NAAEI Designation Information:

  • CAM: Certified Apartment Manager
  • CAMT: Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians
  • CAPS
    Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor
  • CAS
    Certified Apartment Supplier
  • NALP
    National Apartment Leasing Professional

Other Programs:
Fair Housing and Beyond course, Rental Owners Course (ROC), Credential for Green Property Management (CGPM) and Specialist in Housing Credit Management (SHCM) programs.

Designation Renewal:
View the renewal requirements, pay dues and report your Continuing Education Credits (CECs) here.

Online Learning:
Recent NAAEI Program News

NAAEI Announces CAMT Accreditation:
The National Apartment Association Education Institute (NAAEI) is pleased to announce that its Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT) program has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. The CAMT program is the only apartment industry program to be accredited by ANSI.

NAAEI and NAHMA Announce New Green Credential for Property Management:
NAAEI and NAHMA have jointly launched a new Green Credential for Property Management (GCPM) designed for on-site managers, maintenance staff and supervisors of front-line staff.

Answers to Common Interview Questions

Your ability to quickly and confidently answer tough interview questions is a key factor in the overall impression you will make on potential employers. To ensure you are as prepared as possible, look through the questions and advice below so you can formulate your own brief, yet informative answers. If you are nervous about remembering your answers during the interview, you should write your answers down and practice speaking them aloud.

"Tell me about yourself."

This question calls for a short, organized statement of your education, professional achievements and professional goals. Then, you can briefly describe your qualifications for the job and the contributions you could make to the organization.

"Why do you want to work here?" or "What about our company interests you?"

Few questions are more important than these, so it is important to answer them clearly and with enthusiasm. To show the interviewer your interest in the company, share what you have learned about the job, the company and the industry through your own research. You should also talk about how your professional skills will match up to the position and your personal career ambitions. Do not mention the position's salary or any benefits. That could leave the interviewer wondering if you really care about the job.

"Why did you leave your last job?"

The interviewer may want to know if you had any problems at your last job. If you did not have any problems, simply give a reason, such as: you relocated away from job; the company went out of business; you were laid off; it was a temporary or contract position; there was no possibility of advancement; you want a job better suited to your skills.

If you did have problems, be honest. Show that you can accept responsibility and learn from your mistakes. You should explain any problems you had (or still have) with an employer, but make sure you don't describe that employer in negative terms. Demonstrate that it was a learning experience that will not affect your future work.

"What are your strongest skills?"

If you have sufficiently researched the organization, you should be able to imagine what skills and experience the company values. List them, and then give examples where you have demonstrated these skills in past jobs. Some great skills that apply to all jobs include: communication and writing skills, being detail oriented, being a self-starter, etc.

"What is your major weakness?"

Be positive and turn a weakness into a strength for this answer. For example, you might say, "I am a perfectionist and often worry too much over my work. Sometimes I work late to make sure the job is done well."

"Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others?"

The ideal answer is one centered around flexibility. However, be honest. Give examples describing how you have worked well in both situations.

"What are your career goals?" or "What are your future plans?"

The answer to this question can tell the interviewer whether your plans and the company's goals are compatible. Let him/her know that you are ambitious enough to plan ahead. Talk about your desire to learn more and improve your performance, and be as specific as possible about how you will meet the goals you have set for yourself.

"What are your hobbies?" and "Do you play any sports?"

When this question is asked, the interviewer is looking for evidence of your job skills outside of your professional experience. For example, hobbies such as chess or bridge demonstrate analytical skills. Reading, music, and painting are creative hobbies. Individual sports show determination and stamina, while group sport activities may indicate you are comfortable working as part of a team.

An interviewer might also ask this question if he/she is simply curious as to whether you have a life outside of work. Employees who have creative or athletic outlets for their stress are often healthier, happier and more productive.

"What salary are you expecting?"

You probably don't want to answer this question directly. Instead, deflect the question back to the interviewer by saying something like: "I don't know. What are you planning to pay the best candidate?" Let the employer make the first offer.

If you don't know what the current salary range is for the positions you are applying to, you should find out so you are prepared to negotiate when the time comes. You can find salary surveys at the library or on the Internet, and check the classifieds to see what comparable jobs in your area are paying. This information can help you negotiate compensation once the employer makes an offer.

"What have I forgotten to ask?"

Use your answer to this question to summarize your unique characteristics and attributes and how they may be used to benefit the organization. Convince the interviewer that you understand the job requirements and that you can succeed.

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