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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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The Benefits Of Journaling

The Benefits Of Journaling

  Let’s first dispel any preconceptions you may have had before clicking on this post. This post will not be outlining the benefits of keeping a diary of sorts to document your thoughts and feelings. Of course, if you already do that, then more power to you, but in this blog we will be focusing on why using a journal is the most effective medium in keeping track of any upcoming events and increasing productivity.     But I Have Notes on My Phone… Smartphones manufacturers are continuously updating and innovating their products with the intention of streamlining our day to day lives. However, they can also provide distractions and reduce productivity. It can be all too tempting to tap on the YouTube App next to your Notes or Calendar. Having an actual notebook to write in reduces the temptation to get side-tracked and allows you to be present and focused as you document information. Smartphones also allow mistakes to be erased or things to be rewritten, which of course has its benefits, however, writing with pen and paper encourages a certain commitment to the process and taking time to document information in this manner allows information to be subconsciously registered.   So what are some benefits of journaling?   Organisation Traditionally, people would associate a journal as a daily record of news and events amongst other things of a personal nature. In essence, it’s a diary. However, rather than use journaling as a way to document the past, instead, use it to plan for the future. For instance, when applying for jobs, you may need to remember important dates such as interview's, online calls or tasks to complete. And whilst in employment, use it to remember deadlines, meetings, commitments and work based social events. Business and work-related alerts can become lost in the void of the other notifications on your devices, so having all important information contained in an accessible, easy to use portable format is guaranteed to avoid such occurrences.   Productivity There can be slow times during a period of work and the temptation to scroll through social media or watch videos online can be all but too enticing. This is where a Productivity Journal can help. By tracking habits or division of time spent on tasks throughout the day, your working hours will ultimately be more focused with less wasted time.   Time Management and Reaching Goals Journaling provides a way of breaking down a seemingly herculean task into obtainable goal by distributing time across a number of dates. Having all your important tasks and commitments scribbled down will allow you to quickly identify spaces in your schedule and allow you to dedicate time accordingly. Without question, planning your time effectively will increase productivity and decrease stress.   Reflection Of course, it is worth mentioning that though you may journal as a means of planning ahead, it can be nice to look back through the previous weeks and months you have documented and reflect on previous projects. It can help instil a sense of pride to look back at your past accomplishments and completed tasks, which will motivate you to continue to work hard and not feel daunted when presented with a lengthy task. Viewing previously completed tasks retrospectively can provide good hindsight in preparation for similar projects in the future.   Stress Relief A simple but important point of note, Journaling in this method can also be quite meditative, and is a sure way to keep the stress levels down. As previously mentioned, removing the ability to delete mistakes requires you to focus more on what you’re writing. This means you are present in the moment and focused on one specific task. The world of work can present many matters that require your attention and in a busy week of work full of deadlines, meetings and commitments, it can be nice to take 5 minutes away and just focus your efforts on one task.   Doodles and Drawings In a similar fashion to the traditional diary, your journal isn’t just for handwriting, its your own personal document that you can shape and customise however you like. Studies have shown that drawing or doodling in your journal enhances your memory and can also provide further stress relief. A lot of people have strong visual remembrance and are more likely to recall information from an image th­an a written document. Aside from these benefits, personalising your journal is ultimately enjoyable and will encourage you to use it more often!   In Conclusion Its difficult to list exactly how journaling can affect your professional life, as everybody uses a journal for different things. Some to plan ahead of time, some to document, and some as a way to take a few minutes out of there busy schedule to just focus on one task. Chances are as you read this blog post (thank you for reading to the end by the way) you already had some idea of what you would use a journal for, or maybe you’ve observed a close friend or colleague viciously scribble away in a notebook whenever they have a few seconds away from a call. We’ve mentioned a few practical uses of journaling, however, the best way to get started is just to get stuck in and see what works for you. Buy yourself a notebook and pen and get writing, it’ll help, trust me!

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Why You Should Research The Company Who Want To Interview You

Why You Should Research The Company Who Want To Interview You

Before entering into an interview situation, we HIGHLY advise that you research your prospective employer as thoroughly as possible. Not only will this increase the chances of your interview being successful, it can also help you decide if the business is a good cultural fit for you, and also offer peace of mind that the company has good intentions.   Provide Company Authenticity Allow me to briefly divulge to you a personal experience I’ve had. During my years of studying I was signing up to agencies in the hope of getting some money to help with living expenses. I was contacted by an agency that said a company was looking for assistants to help out in their studio. I went along to the interview and after the usual questions and formalities, I was offered the job on the spot! Amazing right? Well, shortly after I verbally accepted the position, I was informed that before they would send a contract over, I was required to send £500 to the company accounts team to cover any potential ‘damages and expenses’ to equipment inside the studio. Naturally, this was some cause for concern, and long story short, after a quick flick through their online social presence, I found that most of their followers were paid for/bots and the company address listed on their website was actually a room above a laundrette 50 miles from where it should be! It is the unfortunate truth that there are some undesirables who will pray on the good intentions of jobseekers by offering opportunities in industries that are traditionally challenging to enter. Prior research into a company that has contacted you will provide peace of mind that the company exercises lawful practices and that their business is authentic and genuine. In the case of my own experience, it's certainly a rare occurrence, but unfortunately, not an impossibility.   Is The Company Right For You? The average person will work for around 37.5 hrs pw, some more and some less. This is a long time to be spent at the workplace, so in order to avoid any negative feelings or resentment towards work developing, you must make sure that the company’s culture aligns with your own. Ask yourself the following questions, am I able to complete the level of work required, can I work within company deadlines, am I able to handle the demands of my role, can I adhere to the company's work location i.e. work remotely, in office or hybrid? All these things will help you determine whether you can meet the demands of the role and perform consistently.   Demonstrates an Interest in the Company As an employee of a company, you will be expected to act in a way that reflects the company’s best interests and core values. Employers will be looking for candidates in interviews that they feel best resonate with their core company ethics and philosophy. Demonstrating knowledge of the company’s history and expansion and recognising its achievements and accolades is sure to impress your potential employers. It conveys your own passion for the brand and desire to be a part of a company’s growth. This will help show your employer that you are committed to the future of the company and intend to work within the business for a long time.   It helps you prepare meaningful questions Now you may have seen a post on our knowledge centre about questions you should ask your interviewer. These are all tried and tested ways to go the extra mile in an interview by seeking additional insight about your employer and demonstrating an interest in the company ethos. However, if you truly want to go above and beyond to impress your interviewer, mould your questions in such fashion that they directly relate to the business. Example: I recognise the company’s overall mission is X. But can you share some of the company's short and long-term goals during the next 3 years. What part would I play in helping the business to achieve these targets? Formulating your questions about matters directly concerning the company shows your employers you are eager to become an asset to the business. This will also provide an opportunity to match the business goals with your own!   It can help you learn more about the industry If you’ve decided that you need a change in your career path and want to pursue a role in a different industry, research into a company can help provide insight into what the work actually entails and how the industry and company itself operates. Learning the ins and outs, the rough and the smooth of the job you’re looking to apply for will help you make the right decision for both your career and wellbeing. If a company advertises a fast-paced quick response attitude, will you be able to keep up? Similarly, if the role operates within both high-pressure and relaxed periods of work, are you ok with an irregular balance of fast and slow-paced environments? Researching the company and role you wish to pursue will help answer some of these questions that should always be considered when trying something new.   In Conclusion As you can see, there are many benefits to researching your employer. Prospective employers are always going to be looking for candidates that will go the extra mile, so this is good practice into the mindset of always going one step further to impress and prove why you are an important asset to any team.

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Best Questions To Ask At The End Of Your Interview

Best Questions To Ask At The End Of Your Interview

  "So, do you have any further questions you’d like to ask us?" Yes. Yes, you do! This part of the interview is a very clever way employers can gauge your interest in their company, and briefly switches the ‘Question and Answer’ roles associated with the interviewer and candidate. Of course, when presented with this question, your initial answer would be no. I mean, you’ve just spoken about the role and the job for the last 45 minutes, no doubt outlining your various experiences, skillset, responsibilities, salary expectations and company history. So, all bases should have been covered right? INCORRECT! Employers aren’t looking to hire somebody that simply performs the bare minimum of work and walks away with the pay, they want to see your passion for their business, your recognition of its achievements, and your desire to help the company grow. Here are some questions to ask at the end of the interview that will provide further insight into the culture of the company, whilst conveying further interest in the role to your employer.   What Are The Plans For The Business In The Next 3 Years? This is a great question that shows not only your commitment to the company but also the development of the business. In an ever-changing, ever-evolving market, asking this question to your employer shows that you demonstrate a knowledge and an awareness that a business’ longevity rests on its ability to move with the times, never settle in one place and constantly expand and grow within the field. This can also provide a heads up on any major upcoming projects and will give you a general idea about job security.   Can You Describe The Working Culture Of The Organisation? Asking this question is a good way to assess the working environment of the company and whether you’ll fit in. You will learn how the company prioritises employee happiness and wellbeing, the work-life balance, and any benefits rewarded to employees on behalf of the company.   If I Were To Be Successful, What Advice Or Resources Would You Recommend That Would Help Me Prepare For This Role Further Be careful how you word this question, as you don’t want to come across as arrogant and that the interview is a foregone conclusion. However, this is a great question to ask for both yourself and your interviewer, as it will show them that you are keen to perform in the role to the best of your ability. It also provides you with resources to help you prepare for employment so the first few weeks of work are less daunting, and you can start your new job feeling prepared.   Will There Be Opportunity To Progress Further Down The Line? This question shows your employer that you have ambition, and you are conscious of your further career goals. Knowledge about opportunities to progress within the company will provide scope and allow you to look forward to the future. You don’t want to realise too late that there is little to no scope of progression into new roles and responsibilities, or that the only way to ascend the company ladder is to wait for somebody higher up to leave.   Can You Describe A Typical Day or Week In The Job? Asking this question will provide an opening to address any queries or concerns you have found while reading the job description. Maybe a certain task wasn’t presented clearly, or you want to find more specifics when the job description alludes to a ‘variety of responsibilities.’ You’re going to want to know exactly what will be expected of you on a day-to-day basis, so you are prepared for what each week of work entails. Some interviewers will respond to this question by saying ‘Every day is different.’ In this instance, your best bet is to politely push for an answer by providing a period of time to draw experience from. Can you tell me more about what the last month looked like for the person in the job currently? What took up most of their time?   In Conclusion It is impossible to cram every single piece of information into a job interview, so there will always be a question you can ask your employer at the interview's conclusion. We will follow up this blog post with some more questions soon, however, those aforementioned are a great way to learn more about the company you’ll be working for, what is expected of you, and the plans to grow the business, whilst also conveying your own excitement to be a part of that journey!    

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So You’re The ‘New Guy’ In The Office? Here’s Some Tips For Your First Week

So You’re The ‘New Guy’ In The Office? Here’s Some Tips For Your First Week

The first few weeks of work can be very intimidating. You have been placed in an unfamiliar environment full of people you don’t know who all seem to get along like a house on fire. You’re being presented with many new ideas, practices, and methods of work, complemented with a self-inflicted sense of pressure to not disappoint the people who have placed their faith in you. Your natural inclination may be to simply lay low and not draw too much attention to yourself. However, this may make things even worse! Below are a few points worth noting as you begin the next stage of your career and will hopefully make the first few weeks of your new job less stressful. Remember, we’ve all been in your shoes before!   The Company Believes In You The interview process is not just a chance for an employer to see whether you are best suited for the role, but also whether you are a good fit for the company and its culture. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that an employer will have offered you a job if they didn’t think you would be able to ingratiate yourself with your new colleagues. Business is built upon strong foundations and values; therefore, an employer will build a team around individuals who resonate with the values of the company and put them into practice during their work. So, if you have been offered a role within the business, your employer believes that you and their team share common values, attitudes to work, and encourage the interests of others. So, with that in mind, your new work colleagues may not seem as mysterious or as enigmatic as you first thought!   Everyone Was Once the New Guy Everybody has been in your place before. It’s that simple! In the world of employment, navigating through a new work environment is a shared experience that everyone has had at some point in their lives, which is good news for you! Your new team will know exactly what you’re going through and understand that your first few days may leave you feeling quite overwhelmed. You may find that you receive messages of welcome and encouragement from the workspace as your name is passed around. Make sure to acknowledge these and respond by saying that you look forward to getting to know them better! Your transition into your new role will be made so much easier if you accept the support of your colleagues.   Just Say Hello! You may be a socialite. You may be a wallflower. Regardless of the level of enjoyment you gain when interacting with others, sooner or later, you are going to come into contact with the people you work with. So when faced with a new colleague, just say hello! You’ll no doubt be seeing a lot of each other in the coming weeks, and it's much easier to work alongside people you know you can have a chat with, and vice versa. Once your new team knows you are approachable and communicative, they’re likely to stop by and say hello or offer a conversation that may take the stress off the workday. We’re all human after all, so find out who you’ll be working alongside and make contact!     Take Advantage of Team Socials Similar to the previous point, the best way to ingratiate yourself with your fellow work colleagues is to take part in any activities, events or social gatherings your team will organise. This could be as simple as breaking bread together during the lunch hour or joining members of the team for gatherings outside of work. For instance, you may find that an impromptu Friday night cocktail hour helps to ease social stress. In addition, it also removes the notion that the only thing you share in common with your colleagues is work. Establishments will often organise team-building events or days out for employees to enjoy, or company-exclusive classes and workshops. Take advantage of these opportunities, as the more you spend time with your team outside of the work environment, the more you’ll get to know them and vice versa. Work is always easier when you’re surrounded by friends!   Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help I have no doubt that at least one member of your new job will have mentioned this to you, but it is worth reiterating. You need to dispel the idea that your new employers are expecting you to fully acclimate yourself to the companies’ practices and methods on the first day, then start raising turnover by 70% on the second. You have the collective knowledge and experiences of the members of your team at your disposal, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or check your work with them for any errors. Employers would rather you ask questions and get things correct than let mistakes slip through.   You Will Make Mistakes, And It’s Only Natural Continuing on from the previous point, sooner or later, you may find yourself making an error with a particular task or piece of work assigned to you. The important thing to remember is that your employer will be prepared for this. Now, this isn’t a personal attack on your ability to perform within the role, but more so acknowledging that when dealing with the information overload that comes with learning a new business, mistakes may slip through. Now, of course, we’re not suggesting that continuous errors will go unnoticed, however, your team will be far more understanding if, after you are shown the correct method of practice, you actively take it upon yourself to avoid the mistake in the future. Ultimately, just don’t be too hard on yourself, these things happen!   In Conclusion If ever things get too overwhelming, take a moment to remember; you managed to capture the attention of your new employers with a standout CV, bested your competition by providing a great interview to the employers, and now here you stand, ready to begin your new role. You should be immensely proud of yourself and what you were able to achieve! The first week of work can be quite draining, but the number one thing to remember is that the same colleagues you see chatting and laughing amongst themselves and going off to lunch together were once in the very same position as you are in. It will take time to acclimate yourself to your new surroundings, but know you are surrounded by a plethora of support every day.