September 23, 2014 16:20 UTC

June 10, 2004 - Getting a Job, Part 2: The Interview - 2004-06-15

Broadcast on COAST TO COAST: June 10, 2004

AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on Wordmaster -- surviving a job interview!

RS: Here's the first bit of advice from human resources consultant Sharon Armstrong: It's not just words you have to think about, but also how you express them. Avoid, she says, a flat monotone voice that people sometimes get when they are nervous.

ARMSTRONG: "It loses something. And I think that it can add so much if you show your excitement and your eagerness to work for that company."

AA: Next: Be prepared for a common approach known as behavioral-based interviewing.

ARMSTRONG: "And that is where past performance will indicate future performance. So good interviewers will ask you very detailed questions where they'll put you on the spot and they'll want to know specifically your role in what you did for a particular project.

"And so the key to giving a good answer to a behavioral interview question is to do what I call a STAR, S-T-A-R. The S and the T stand for explaining a situation or a task that you were given, the A is the action you took and the R is the results."

RS: "So what you're saying is that you need to be prepared before you walk in the door."

ARMSTRONG: "Go through some mock interviews, if you can have friends ask you questions. Practice in the mirror, answering questions. Go in with three or four things you really want to stress about yourself. And then you can bring those out no matter what the question is asked."

RS: "How do you follow up after the interview?"

ARMSTRONG: "Please send a thank you letter. I'm begging you. And you can do it by e-mail. And in that thank you letter you do a couple of things. You make sure that you express sincere appreciation for the time that they spent interviewing you. You have an opportunity to re-emphasize some of your strongest qualities. You have another chance to make that case as to how your skills match their needs.

"If there was something that you wish you had said a little more about, again an opportunity to do it here. Now that sounds like a lot to cover, but you do it very briefly, in a short couple of paragraphs and get it out right away."

RS: "Keep it short, keep it simple?"

ARMSTRONG: "Absolutely. Again, they're business people; they don't have a lot of time. Just getting it is going to make a big difference. I talk to recruiters all the time. They never get thank you letters. It's such a simple business etiquette that people just don't take the time to do it."

AA: These days, Sharon Armstrong says interviewers ask tougher questions than they used to.

ARMSTRONG: "It's no longer 'what do you see yourself doing in five years?' Those are old questions. They're asking questions that are going to get at more specific things. For example: 'Give me a specific example of a time when a co-worker criticized your work in front of others. How did you respond? How has that event shaped the way you communicate with others?' They're trying to get at your communication skills.

"'Give me a specific example of a time when you sold your supervisor on an idea or concept. How did you proceed? What was the result?' That's your assertiveness. So be ready for these kinds of questions, and if you have this experience in your background, just be able to communicate it effectively. You don't have to use the proper language all the time, just get across your results and your accomplishments."

RS: "And you probably shouldn't be afraid to say 'well, I don't understand that question.'"

ARMSTRONG: "Absolutely. And don't feel like you have to answer immediately. Take a moment. Pausing is a comfortable -- if you're comfortable with it, it will seem comfortable. But if you sometimes launch into an answer right away, you might head down a road you don't want to go. Say 'what an interesting question. May I think about that for a moment?' No one would say 'no, you can't.'

AA: "What kind of answer would you give to that first one?"

ARMSTRONG: "'Give me a specific example of a time when a co-worker criticized your work in front others? How did you respond? How has that event shaped the way you communicate with others?' I think it's a hard question and you've got to be careful that you're answering it honestly but effectively. They don't want to know that you flew off the handle and you have a very negative response.

"They're going to want to know that you have some teamwork skills and you tried to engage that person and question them a little more about what they found negative perhaps about your idea, and how they might add to it and make it more workable."

AA: "What if that's not the truth. What if the last time someone criticized you, you -- as you say -- flew off the handle, got angry?"

ARMSTRONG: "I would say that honestly, say that 'I've learned from that and I don't do it anymore.' The secret is to take a weakness and make it into a positive. So say 'I used to have a very bad habit of not being able to handle that well, but I recognized that that wasn't getting me anywhere in the business world.'"

RS: And finally, at the end, Sharon Armstrong says be sure to ask some of your own questions, questions like: "What are some of the objectives you would like accomplished in this job?" "What would you like to have done within the next two or three months?"

ARMSTRONG: "Remember that you are assessing the company as much as they are assessing you, and if you fail to ask questions at the end of the interview, they might interpret that as you not being interested."

AA: Sharon Armstrong runs a consulting business in Washington called Human Resources 9-1-1, a name that plays off the emergency telephone number in America.

RS: You can find today's program at our Web site -- voanews.com/wordmaster. And our e-mail address is word@voanews.com. With Avi Arditti, I'm Rosanne Skirble.

MUSIC: "Get a Job"/The Silhouettes

(First broadcast in July 2002)

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Workers shout slogans during a protest in front of an residential project, where an accident occurred in Istanbul, Turkey, Sept. 8, 2014.

    Audio Safety Is a Concern in Turkey's Construction Boom

    Istanbul is suddenly the skyscraper capital of Europe, thanks to a national construction boom. But recent construction accidents in the country have many people angry about worker safety. More

  • Hong Kong Student Strike

    Audio Hong Kong Students Protest China's Policy

    Thousands of students in Hong Kong are boycotting classes this week. They are protesting the Chinese government's decision to have a committee approve candidates for the territory's top official. More

  • A screenshot from the Netropolitan website, providing information about the service and how prospective members might join.

    Audio Rich People Get Their Own Facebook

    A new social media site, Netropolitan, promises to be more exclusive by only permitting people who are rich to join. Users must pay $9,000 to join. This includes a $6,000 entry fee plus $3,000 for the yearly membership fee. More

  • The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) launches a Tomahawk cruise missile, as seen from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), in the Arabian Gulf in this handout photograph taken and provided on Sept.  23, 2014.

    Audio US Launches Airstrikes Against IS Militants in Syria

    Also, Islamic State group urges followers to attack citizens of the United States, France and other countries. And three missing Afghan soldiers found in U.S. near border with Canada | In the News More

  • Police Shooting Ferguson Meeting

    Audio Reducing Clashes between Police and Black Youths

    The shooting of an unarmed teenager fueled racial anger between police and Ferguson’s African American community. Now, some African-American parents and social workers are talking to young people about how to act when stopped by police. More

Featured Stories

  • Cigarette Tax

    Audio Turning Cigarette Butts to Batteries

    Scientists in South Korea find that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Read on to learn about this idiom and many other expressions. More

  • Neural map of a typical male brain. (Photo courtesy of National Academy of Sciences)

    Audio How Did You Get so Intelligent?

    Researchers saw immediate changes in brains of people when they were told hard work is more important than their genes | Science in the News More

  • lincoln

    Audio Virginia Leaves Union, Lincoln Puts Maryland Under Military Rule

    President Abraham Lincoln asked the states for 75,000 soldiers to stop the South's rebellion. But border states -- those between the North and South -- refused to send any troops. And some prepared to leave the Union and join the Confederacy. More

  • Michelle Baxter suffers from chronic pain in her muscles and joints. She now spends her work day standing at her desk.

    Audio Sit Less, Live Longer

    These days, we all know that exercise is good for our health. But did you know that something as common as sitting too much could be bad for our health? Read on to find out more about the importance of moving. | HEALTH More

  • This undated image provided by NASA shows the ozone layer over the years, Sept. 17, 1979, top left, Oct. 7, 1989, top right, Oct. 9, 2006, lower left, and Oct. 1, 2010, lower right.

    Audio Earth's Ozone Layer Shows Signs of Recovery

    The new report says the Earth’s ozone layer is showing signs of recovery. Ozone is a form of oxygen. It is found in the air we breathe and in Earth's atmosphere. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs