Tag Archives: unexpected

Keeping Hope Alive

One of my greatest life lessons, to date, is learning that everything in our lives happen for a reason.  Upon my release from prison, I applied at more places than I could count, was turned down by many, and applied for more positions.  One employer, after being honest about my criminal record, offered me a position as a receptionist.  I was so excited and thought things were looking up.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was short lived.   I arrived early for my first day but was disheartened when the employer notified me that another employee in the organization did not feel comfortable with me in the office as I had been incarcerated.  My heart plummeted and my hope diminished.  The person apologized but ultimately the job was offered to someone else.   I had to take a moment, regroup, and begin my search anew.

When one door closes, another one opens.  After this obstacle, I secured employment at a transitional house, and began my 500 hours of community service hours at Goodwill Industries of NWNC.  Now 5 years later, I am working at Goodwill Industries assisting others with criminal records.
I look back to that moment and now want to thank that employer for not hiring me as I am now in a position that I love.

Tonja Fultz

Project Re-entry Employment Specialist

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Filed under Hope, Initiative, Unexpected

The Power of Questions

At the end of almost any interview you will be asked if you have any questions. Not asking questions or asking the wrong questions can knock you out of the running for a job.

In preparation for any interview you should research the company. This research not only gives you a base from which to formulate questions, but also helps you to know if you and the company are a potential “good fit”.  Be sure to have four to five questions that you can ask. You’ll want to ask a minimum of three strong questions and the interviewer may answer some of your questions without being asked, so have extras at the ready.

Remember that you are trying to start a professional relationship, and companies, just like people, like it when someone is interested in them. So make your questions about the company and how you can be an asset to them, not about what the company can do for you. DON’T ask when you can expect a raise, how many days off you get a year, or if you are going to have to work any overtime. DO ask questions that show you know about the company and how you can be an asset to what they are trying to accomplish.

“The last time I was on your website, I noticed that you expanded your sales approach to include the online market. What led to this decision and how have you seen it impacting in-store sales?” This type of question shows that you’ve researched the company and are interested in how decisions are made and on the outcome of those decisions. “From what you’ve said about your expectations for this position, which of my strengths do you see as most valuable in accomplishing those goals?”  This interview question makes the employer verbalize what is most important to them – great for using in your follow-up thank you letter!

One word of caution, do your research thoroughly. A question based on partial knowledge can turn around and bite you- and no one likes to be bitten!

Reni Geiger

Director of Grants & Career Connections

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Filed under Interview, Skill, Tool Box, Unexpected

Responding to an Inappropriate Interview Question

By now most people know they’re not supposed to ask questions about age, race, religion and whether a woman is planning to have children.  But beyond the illegal questions I’ve found clients sometimes confronted with the occasional inappropriate question.

These usually occur when the employer is a smaller one or a family-owned business.  In other words, larger, more structured companies typically operate in a more standardized setting.  But less structured interviews, particularly if they involve a lunch or supper meeting, can occasionally stray into question about public issues of the day.  I don’t necessarily think the employer is trying to catch the candidate as much as the inquiry is simply born of ignorance.

Politics and pop culture can be dangerous topics if not handled properly.  Imagine sitting there during the height of the Iraq War and being asked your view on President Bush and our nation’s strategy?  Or President Obama and healthcare?

On the one hand you’re thinking, “What does that have to do with my ability to do my job?”  And you’d be correct.  Yet, how should you handle that inquiry without appearing rattled, confrontational or evasive?  How can you convey that, well, it’s none of that person’s business without somewhat alienating the interviewer?

A simple technique I’ve found effective is to use a verbal cushion to acknowledge the question, but to then turn things around and ask the employer their thoughts on the subject.

For example, “I’m not sure there’s any easy answer on the war.  There are certainly passionate opinions on both sides.  I’m curious, Mr. Employer, what you think about it.”  And if the interviewer doesn’t respond, change the subject.  If they do respond while giving their opinion, at least you know whether what you might have said would have matched your with your potential employer.

If the employer responds, then further asks you your opinion, I think you’re within your rights to respectfully refuse to answer.  Try, “While we both know it’s a hot topic, I hope you’ll appreciate my desire to separate my personal views and interests from my work objectives.”  Be careful not to impugn the employer’s motives for asking or verbally slap their wrist too harshly.

Awkward, inappropriate or even illegal questions can easy rattle many candidates.  How calmly you respond under such circumstances could help separate you from your competition.

Learn more about us at www.woodengroup.com.

Randy Wooden

The Wooden Group

As founder and president of The Wooden Group, Randy brings over 25 years of experience in a number of human resource areas including outplacement, career coaching, executive recruiting, in-house staffing and training. Additionally, Randy has served as a college adjunct instructor, teaching classes on interviewing and the overall job hunting process.

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Filed under Courtesy, Interview, Unexpected