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strengths

What Do You Consider To Be Your Greatest Strength?

strengths

One of the easiest questions to fall down on in an interview is answering the question “What would you consider to be your greatest strength?”

 

The reason the interviewer asks this question is to help him/her decide whether or not you are the strongest applicant for the job. People tend not to like talking themselves up but this is the perfect opportunity for you to do just that. When you are asked the question about your strengths it is important to pick attributes that will qualify you for the job.

 

Candidates often make the common mistake of saying the generic strengths like “I’m hard working” or “I’m a perfectionist” but this is not the best way to answer the question. You need to make it specific to you and relevant to the job for it to carry weight with an interviewer. Make sure you pick a strength that you actually possess not one just because it is in the requirements as you will be caught out if the interviewer decides to probe you a bit more.

 

When answering this question in an interview you should use the job spec as a guide. All job specs will have a list of requirements or attributes needed for the role so before the interview take time to match your strengths to the requirements of the job.

 

Tips on how to answer the strengths question:

 

Describe your strengths in detail

Go into as much detail as you need to best sell yourself. This is a chance to put your best foot forward and show the interviewer you are the best candidate for the job.

 

Use the job spec as a guide

The job spec tells you exactly what they are looking for. Use it as a guide when coming up with your relevant strengths.

 

Use examples

Use examples to back up your answer. It’s all well and good telling the interviewer your strengths but you need to back them up with examples. Examples help to show you have the experience required.

 

Common mistakes to avoid:

 

Lack of preparation

Most candidates who answer this question poorly fail to prepare sufficiently. Prepare your answer in advance and it will be much easier to articulate in an interview.

 

Picking vague strengths

Not picking a strength unique to you. Try not to mention a strength that anyone off the street can use. Pick a strength that is personable to you but also that is relevant for the role.

 

The trick to answering this is in the same way you would any other interview question and that is by preparing your answer in advance. If the job you are interviewing for fits your skills set and personality then answering questions like this should be easy to answer. It is important you never miss a genuine opportunity and the greatest strengths question could not be a more perfect setting for selling yourself.

Posted by Graham Crone, Accounting Recruitment Consultant on 30 November 2017

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10 Small Ways to Increase Productivity at Work

10 Small Ways to Increase Productivity at Work

‘Work smarter, not longer.’ This is the attitude more and more employers are adopting as flexible and part-time working becomes increasingly normalised by businesses. There are only so many hours in the day – to avoid taking work home with you, it’s important to be productive in the time you have. In a world of short attention spans and incessant distractions, however, that can be difficult. Here are 10 small ways you can increase your productivity at work and better attain that mythical work/life balance. 1. Document Your Time Humans’ awareness of time is historically warped. In very few scenarios can we accurately estimate how much time has passed, with our perception able to be distorted by factors such as temperature, season, time of day or emotional state. It’s therefore a great idea to document how much time a day you actually spend on completing certain tasks. Having an objectively clear picture of how your day tends to be spread out will help you better structure your time in the future. 2. Set Deadlines Now you know where your time is going, try limiting the amount of time you spend on one task. ‘Perfection is the enemy of good,’ so they say. You can always return to an activity and polish it up later. In the meantime, however, it’s a good idea to keep up momentum and move onto a new task when you can – you may be surprised at how much you can achieve if you’re strict with yourself! 3. Hold Standing Meetings This one may not be for everyone, but the results behind it are interesting. It’s been suggested by research that standing meetings (literally meetings where everyone is standing) are more time efficient and productive. Without seats or tables, there tends to be less territoriality and increased group collaboration, not to mention quicker meeting times. One study found their average meeting length was reduced by 25% when participants were standing throughout. 4. Act, Don’t React It’s easy to let your day be dictated by phone calls and emails, putting out fires with every response. While this reactionary attitude is a great way to simply ‘cope’, it stops you making headway of your own with projects that require you to be proactive in how you handle them. While it’s difficult to ignore a pop-up notification or a blaring ring tone, carving out time in your schedule when everybody knows not to disturb you, or turn your notifications off. 5. Delegate Many busy leaders tend to believe it’s quicker to complete a task themselves (and definitely get it right first time) rather than explain the task to a co-worker and have them complete it (maybe not quite right first time). This can result in complete overwork on the part of the leader, and perhaps an unhealthy environment of mistrust or micromanagement in the workspace. Instead, consider assigning tasks to colleagues based on their strengths, and take the time to explain to them clearly what exactly you’re looking for from them. You might be pleasantly surprised when they do it as well, or better, than you could! 6. Stay Healthy One of the most effective ways to increase your productivity is to keep your brain in top shape. Some things you can do to maintain energy levels and sharp thinking are: Get a good night’s sleep Stay hydrated Keep healthy, nutritious snacks in your desk drawer Exercise regularly, particularly in your breaks Take a full lunch break Don’t take work home with you when you can avoid it 7. Take…Breaks? Taking breaks to improve productivity sounds somewhat counterintuitive. However, scientists have suggested that taking regular mental rests from work actually makes us more productive in the long run. 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5 Things to Avoid When Writing Your CV

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The Pros and Cons of Working for a Start-Up Company

Job security, salary and benefits, regular hours and a sensible work-life balance are what most jobseekers look for in any new employment opportunity. Working at a start-up firm can throw these factors into uncertainty - it’s not all bean bags and avocado toast. However, with Ireland recently being ranked number three in Europe for start-ups, have you considered the possibility that the excitement, reward potential and personal development that are intrinsic to start-up culture could be exactly what you’re looking for? Here are some pros and cons of working for a start-up company to shed some light on the reality of the situation. THE PROS Room for Growth The clue is in the name, but start-ups really are just starting out. That means that, as an early employee, you will be a key part of the company’s development and later success. You’ll be working side by side with the founders from the get-go, learning directly from your bosses and gaining invaluable experience in areas outside of your job remit. As everyone at a start-up is involved in the fight for the survival of the company, you’ll often be expected to take on responsibilities that push you out of your comfort zone and force you to expand your skill set fairly rapidly. As the company grows, so will your responsibilities, and soon you could find yourself in a senior leadership position at a successful firm. Freedom ‘Freedom’ is evident in two ways in start-up culture. Firstly, in the flexibility of working hours: employees are frequently permitted to choose their own working hours and to work from home, since so much business is conducted over the phone and online. Secondly, start-ups are associated with huge levels of innovative freedom. Start-ups are under huge amounts of pressure to keep up in the fast lane or fail, and so grant their employees a considerable creative license to break boundaries and completely reimagine ways to capture consumer engagement. If dynamic, forward thinking in a collaborative, close-knit team is your forte, working in a start-up could be the ideal working environment for you! Purpose When you join a start-up, you know that you will never be simply a ‘cog in a machine.’ As part of a small team driven by collaboration, the company’s mission will be at the forefront of your job description and decision-making process. In a regular office environment, middle management and sheer size of personnel can mean you often feel undervalued and perhaps unconnected with the bigger picture of what the company is trying to achieve. There’s no such issue in start-ups! In an intense, focused environment, you will see the impact of your work first hand and have a significant role in shaping the success of the company, giving you a sense of job satisfaction unlike much other. THE CONS You will Work…Hard More responsibility means a heavier workload and while, in the long term, you may walk away with dozens of great new skills, learning on the job while likely being a single-person department is a tough undertaking. You might find yourself working long hours for little compensation, with only yours and your colleagues’ faith in the company’s mission to keep the candle burning. Work-life balance would likely be called into the mix (what balance?) as you are compelled to take your work home with you – who else will do what needs to be done? Lack of Security Harvard Business School estimates the start-up failure rate to be an enormous 90-95%. That’s an incredible (and terrifying) statistic. Tech start-ups are at particularly high risk, as there’s always the chance that a competitor could sweep the market with a brand-new development, cutting the legs from under competing companies. Leaving a comfortable corporate job with a steady salary, dependable benefits and little risk of redundancy in exchange for a high-risk, unstable work environment that could go bust at any moment is not a gamble one should take lightly. Furthermore, while start-up founders may be excellent pitchers and have garnered piles of seed money from investors, that is no evidence of their leadership ability. With less rigid corporate structure and more direct interaction with the company bosses, you could find yourself working in close proximity to underqualified leaders that will not inspire you to commit wholeheartedly to a venture which requires your unadulterated passion to succeed. Not Much Financial Reward To begin with, at least. Start-up employees notoriously earn significantly reduced salaries until the company begins to achieve real success. After all, it is in investors’ interests not to allow their ventures’ employees to get too comfortable. Spurring your team on with the promise of eventual riches is intended to be a large motivator for hard work and innovation within the company, although you may never end up reaping these promised benefits if the start-up crashes out, like so many do. That being said, modern-age start-ups are ridiculed and envied in equal measure for providing their employees with perks such as free lunches (kombucha, anyone?) and wellbeing sessions. For example, personal finance company Credit Karma offers an on-site spa for employees, as well as nap nooks and music jam rooms, and Airbnb gives their employees a $2,000 stipend for annual holiday expenses. There you have it – the good and the bad about working in a start-up. The stakes are high but, if you make your move wisely, the rewards could well outweigh the struggle you experience at the start. In an exclusive interview with David Dempsey, Senior Vice President of Salesforce, he told us that leaving his job in a well-known tech company was ‘the biggest risk’ he’s ever taken, leaving his stable job for a three-man start-up in 2000. Now, Salesforce employs thousands of people across Europe and America and is one of the world’s most renowned SaaS companies. It just goes to show – taking a plunge and embracing start-up culture could be your ticket to success too.