“What do you think of garden gnomes?”
This was apparently asked of one Trader Joe’s candidate in an interview . A silly, irrelevant question for a job in grocery stores, you might say. However, questions like these that seem, on the surface, ridiculous, often provide more insight into a candidate’s aptitude for the role than you might initially think.
No one ever knows exactly what questions are going to be asked in an interview. However, there are trends that show up in every list of most common interview questions, which we have divided into five categories. We’ll provide examples for each, as well as an overview of how you should consider approaching them to showcase yourself in the best possible light.
“Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
“Why are you leaving your current job?”
“Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
These tend to be the questions that open up an interview, giving you an opportunity to provide a brief bit of background information about yourself, as well as an overview of your aspirations, providing the interviewer context about you and where this role fits in with your career plans.
This is not to say, however, that you should approach these questions with any less preparation or panache than others. You should phrase your answers as a pitch of your career; linear, like a story, and this job as the next step that slots perfectly between the past and the future. It wouldn’t hurt, of course, to slip in a few specific achievements that you want the employer to know about, opening up the floor for further questions on those later.
While you should phrase your answers in a way that presents this job as an ideal opportunity, you should also be honest – you don’t want anything you said in a moment of panic to come back to haunt you if you are hired!
“How did you hear about the position?”
“What do you know about the company?”
“What do you think we could do better or differently?”
To separate the wheat from the chaff, employers will frequently ask interviewees to demonstrate their knowledge about the company they are applying to. Stumbling at this hurdle will almost certainly mark the end of your candidacy for the position! If you don’t know much about the company you’re interviewing for, they will question your passion for what they do and your ability to do the most basic of research.
Interviewers want to see that not only are you passionate about their company’s brand, but that you are able to assess their current infrastructure critically and constructively present feedback using your prior knowledge and experience. Small start-ups in particular look for creativity in their employees, and definitely would like to see how you could contribute to company development from the outset.
“Tell me about a challenge or a conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.”
“Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation?”
“Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities. How did you handle that?”
To get an idea of how you handle conflict, your interviewer may ask a similar question to one of these. Often, they will start with ‘give me an example…’ or ‘describe…’. The idea is to get a sense of what your personal strengths are in pressurised situations, as well as how you structure your response to problems.
There is a technique to handling such questions, named the STAR Method. As set out by Al Dea, the founder of CareSchooled and a learning and development coach, STAR is “helpful because it provides a simple framework for helping a candidate tell a meaningful story about a previous work experience,” i.e. giving your response a clear structure and minimising the opportunity to ramble.
S – Set the scene. What details do you need to share to ensure your example is clear?
T – Task. What was your responsibility and/or goal in this situation?
A – Action. What did you do to resolve the issue and complete your aim? What steps did you take?
R – Result. What was the direct result of your actions? What did you accomplish?
You can read more about the STAR Method here.
These questions could also expand to more personal ones, such as the personality types you tend to clash with, as well as your own strengths and weaknesses. Your answers to these questions can provide insight into how you might gel with the existing team, and whether the company culture is necessarily a suitable fit for you.
“How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine?”
“How many pennies could you fit in this room?”
“Why are manholes round?”
These are questions of the same breed as “what do you think of garden gnomes?”. Questions that appear completely unrelated to the job at hand, and that there could be a million ways to answer, none of which jump out as being the ‘correct’ one. That’s because the hiring manager is not looking for a correct answer, but one that is reached in a logical, methodical manner.
If you articulate your thought process out loud, the interviewer can see how you are approaching the problem using existing mathematical abilities, as well as common sense and general knowledge.
They also reveal a substantial amount about the personality of a candidate. Your approach to the questions and ability to think on your feet speaks volumes about your character and may be a crucial insight to the employer as to whether you’d be up for the day-to-day challenges that are part of the role.
A calm-headed, logical candidate may handle the tennis ball question by demonstrating awareness of the measurements needed to perform the calculation, such as the volume of a tennis ball and the length, width and height of the limousine. An even more impressive candidate may turn questions back on the interviewer, asking as to whether there are any people inside the limousine at the time and how big the seats are.
However you choose to approach the puzzle at hand, maintain a cool demeanour, showcase your understanding of maths and problem-solving and use rational logic to show you could come up with a rough methodology to reach a correct solution, even if you do not.
“Are you under/overqualified for this job?”
“Why should we hire you over someone else?”
While these questions may appear a little forthright, and definitely intimidating, they actually present a brilliant opportunity to sell yourself to the employer in a brazen way that thus far you may have had to tiptoe around.
Use questions such as these to summarise your core strengths and the value that you would bring to the company, emphasising that you truly are the perfect fit for this job. Be careful not to overly criticise your imaginary rivals, as that’ll present you as petty – rely on your own positives in your pitch to convince the interviewer that you should get the position.
BONUS – Ask Questions Back!
It’s no secret that the key to finishing an interview well is to walk in with a few pre-prepared questions to ask the hiring manager when prompted. These should demonstrate your curiosity, prior research and genuine desire to know more about the company and the role. Perhaps more importantly, this interview is an opportunity for you to gauge whether this position in this company would be the right fit for you. Therefore, be sure to maximise this opportunity to answer any questions you still have by the end of your time with the interviewer.
Here are some examples of questions that could provoke interesting, informative answers from the employer:
“What’s your favourite part about working here?”
“What can you tell me about the company’s plans for growth in the future?”
“How would you describe the company culture?”
So, there you have it – an overview of the most common questions that could arise in an interview. If the specific question is not listed above, it is guaranteed to fit into one of those five categories. Prepare to handle questions from each of those angles, be aware of what exactly they want to see from each answer, and you’ll knock it out the park.
Posted by Susannah Hunt on 6 June 2019
In-Demand Business Support & Customer Service Skills
In-Demand Business Support & Customer Service Skills
As companies work hard to stay competitive and provide exceptional experiences to their clients, the need for skilled staff in business support and customer service keeps growing. In this article, we'll look at the important skills businesses are looking for.1. Great CommunicationWhether you're talking or writing, it's vital to be clear. Nowadays, good communication also means being good with digital tools. Employers want people who can talk professionally with colleagues, clients, and customers, making sure everyone gets the right information.Top Tip for interviews: Prepare examples that highlight your proficiency in clear and effective communication. Share instances where you successfully conveyed complex information to non-technical stakeholders. 2. Problem Solving AcumenIn the world of business, problems come up all the time. The ability to think on your feet and adapt to unforeseen circumstances showcases your commitment to delivering results.Top Tip for Interviews: Prepare specific anecdotes showcasing your problem-solving skills. Describe situations where you identified a challenge, analysed options, and implemented a successful solution. 3. Technological ProficiencyFamiliarity with various software, tools, and platforms can significantly enhance your employability. Things like customer relationship systems, project management tools, and data analysis software are just a few examples of technologies that are becoming increasingly integral to business operations. Embracing technology shows you're ready to work in a modern business.Top Tip for your C.V: List the software, applications, and tools you are proficient in on your C.V. Make sure to also include any certifications or trainings related to these technologies on your LinkedIn profile. 4. Adaptability and FlexibilityThe Irish business landscape is always changing, which is why being flexible is so important. Companies want people who can handle change, learn fast, and switch things up when they need to. Being open to new challenges and being willing to upskill can set you apart in a competitive job market.Top tip for your C.V.: On your CV, talk about times when you changed and helped your team or company grow. For interviews, give examples of when you tried new things or took on jobs that weren't easy for you. Show your ability to thrive in dynamic environments. 5. Speaking Other LanguagesIreland’s strategic position in the European Union has led to an influx of international businesses and customers. If you know languages like Spanish, French, or German, this can be a significant advantage. It means you can talk to more people and understand more clients Multilingualism showcases your cultural awareness and ability to engage with a diverse audience.Top Tip for your C.V: Include a section that highlights your language proficiencies and any experiences where you effectively used them in a professional setting. 6. Being Kind and Focused on CustomersFor jobs where you help customers, being kind is important. If you know what customers want and care about their problems, they'll like your company more. Companies value candidates who prioritize customer-centricity, as it directly impacts customer satisfaction and long-term success.Top Tip for Interviews: Share stories of how your empathy positively influenced customer interactions, leading to enhanced customer satisfaction and/or conflict resolution.7. Time Management and OrganisationKnowing how to use your time well and organise things can make you get more done. From arranging meetings to handling administrative responsibilities, these skills demonstrate your capability to juggle multiple priorities and meet deadlines consistently.Top Tip for interviews: Provide examples of how your strong time management skills helped you meet tight deadlines or manage multiple projects simultaneously. As the business world in Ireland keeps changing, the demand for proficient business support and customer service professionals remains steady. Cultivating these in-demand skills not only increases your employability but also positions you as an asset to your employer. Whether you're already experienced or just starting out, getting good at these skills can help you find great jobs and help Irish businesses grow, even when they're competing with companies from all around the world. At Sigmar, we're committed to connecting top talent with businesses seeking excellence in business support and customer service. Get in touch to explore how we can help you thrive in these exciting fields. Email your cv to firstname.lastname@example.org or check out current jobs here
Navigating College Admission Setbacks: A Guide for CAO Students in Ireland
Navigating College Admission Setbacks: A Guide for CAO Students in Ireland
Receiving news that you didn't secure a college place through the CAO can be disappointing and even overwhelming. However, it's essential to remember that setbacks are a natural part of life's journey. Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, consider this as an opportunity to explore alternative paths and make the most out of the situation. In this guide, we'll provide valuable insights and actionable steps to help CAO students in Ireland navigate the uncertainty and turn this setback into a steppingstone towards a bright future.1. Stay Positive and Manage Emotions:Disappointment is natural, but it's crucial not to let it consume you. Give yourself permission to feel the emotions, but also work on maintaining a positive attitude. Engage in activities that make you happy, talk to friends and family for support, and focus on your strengths and accomplishments. A positive mindset will help you approach the next steps with determination.2. Consider Alternative Educational Paths:Not getting into your desired college doesn't mean the end of your educational journey. Look into alternative educational paths, such as enrolling in a different college or university, pursuing online courses, or considering vocational training. Many successful individuals have taken unconventional routes and still achieved their goals.3. Seek Guidance and Support:Don't hesitate to seek guidance from mentors, teachers, career counsellors, or recruitment agencies. They can provide insights into potential opportunities that align with your interests and skills. 4. Reflect and Re-evaluate: Take this time to reflect on your academic and career goals. Is your chosen path truly aligned with your passions and ambitions? Use this setback as an opportunity to re-evaluate your aspirations and make any necessary adjustments to your plans.5. Upskill and Enhance Your Profile:Consider using this time to enhance your skill set. Take online courses, pursue certifications, or engage in relevant projects that will bolster your resume. This proactive approach not only adds value to your profile but also demonstrates your commitment to personal and professional growth.6. Develop a Plan B:It's always a good idea to have a backup plan. Research industries and roles that are in demand and have a promising future. This might involve exploring emerging fields like technology, healthcare, or sustainable energy. Having a well-thought-out Plan B can help you feel more secure in your career prospects.7. Embrace Resilience:Resilience is a valuable trait that can help you navigate setbacks and emerge stronger. Remember that setbacks are temporary, and your ability to overcome challenges will define your success. Embrace the journey, learn from your experiences, and use them to fuel your determination.Not receiving a college place from the CAO might feel like a setback, but it's important to view it as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. By understanding your options, staying positive, seeking guidance, and exploring alternative paths, you can turn this moment of disappointment into a steppingstone toward a fulfilling and successful future. Remember, your journey is unique, and the setbacks you encounter can shape you into a stronger, more resilient individual.
In-Demand Areas for the Future: A Guide for Leaving Cert Graduates
In-Demand Areas for the Future: A Guide for Leaving Cert Graduates
As the results of the Leaving Cert exams are announced, a new chapter begins for many young individuals. The choices made now can significantly impact their future careers. With the rapidly evolving job market, it's essential to be aware of the in-demand areas that promise exciting opportunities and growth potential. In this article, we'll explore the top industries and fields that are expected to be in high demand in the coming years.1. Technology and IT:In our digital age, technology continues to reshape the world, creating a surging demand for skilled professionals in IT and related fields. From software development and artificial intelligence to cybersecurity and data science, technology-driven roles offer a promising future. To maximize opportunities, consider pursuing courses and certifications that align with the latest tech trends.Average Salary Example: A software developer in Ireland can earn an average salary ranging from €40,000 to €60,000 per year, depending on experience and specialization. As of August 2023, Glassdoor states that the average salary for a software developer in Ireland with 2-4 years of experience was €63,006.2. Healthcare and Medical Sciences:The healthcare sector remains a cornerstone of society, and advancements in medical sciences are continuously improving patient care. From medical practitioners and nurses to biotechnologists and medical researchers, the healthcare industry offers diverse roles that are both fulfilling and financially rewarding. Pursuing a career in this sector ensures job stability and a chance to make a positive impact on people's lives.Average Salary Example: Registered nurses in Ireland earn an average annual salary of around €32,000 to €45,000, with opportunities for specialization leading to higher earning potential.3. Renewable Energy and Environmental Sciences:The global push for sustainability has driven the growth of the renewable energy and environmental sectors. As concerns about climate change intensify, professionals in fields such as renewable energy engineering, environmental consultancy, and sustainable urban planning are becoming increasingly vital. These roles contribute to a greener future while offering lucrative career paths.Average Salary Example: Renewable energy engineers in Ireland can earn an average annual salary ranging from €35,000 to €55,000, depending on experience and the specific area of expertise.4. E-Commerce and Digital Marketing:The rise of online shopping and digital platforms has transformed the way businesses operate. As a result, e-commerce and digital marketing experts are in high demand. Brands are constantly seeking individuals who can navigate the digital landscape, manage online stores, and create effective marketing campaigns. A solid understanding of e-commerce trends and digital tools is key to excelling in this field.Average Salary Example: Digital marketing managers in Ireland can earn an average annual salary ranging from €40,000 to €60,000, based on their level of expertise and the scale of the projects they manage.5. Finance and Fintech:The financial industry continues to evolve with the integration of technology, giving rise to the booming field of fintech (financial technology). Whether it's mobile banking apps, cryptocurrency, or robo-advisors, fintech is reshaping traditional financial services. Pursuing a career in finance or fintech opens doors to roles such as financial analysts, investment advisors, and blockchain developers.Average Salary Example: Financial analysts in Ireland can earn an average annual salary ranging from €40,000 to €60,000, with the potential for higher earnings based on experience and specialization.As Leaving Cert graduates embark on their journey into the professional world, it's crucial to be aware of the industries and fields that offer the best prospects. The future job market is dynamic and ever evolving, driven by technological advancements and societal shifts. By considering the in-demand areas mentioned above and equipping themselves with the necessary skills and qualifications, young individuals can position themselves for success and a rewarding career path.Remember, staying updated with industry trends, continuously learning, and adapting to changes will be key factors in thriving in the competitive job market of the future. Whether it's embracing technology, contributing to sustainability efforts, or shaping the digital landscape, the opportunities are vast for those who are prepared to seize them. Good luck to all Leaving Cert graduates on their exciting journey ahead!
How Do I Get A Job In Digital Marketing?
How Do I Get A Job In Digital Marketing?
One of the most common questions we get asked by recent graduates or people looking to alter their career is about working in Digital Marketing. It is the Holy Grail for a lot of people coming out of a business/marketing qualification and is one of the mostly highly competitive spaces to go into when searching for work. It is difficult to get these positions but not impossible. First of all why do you want to work as a Digital Marketer? Are you techie, a nerd or a geek? To be successful in this space you need to be passionate about the tools you are using to reach the people you are trying to target. This is a space that moves so fast that knowledge gained can be redundant within 6 months and if you don’t have the desire to keep pace you will get left behind. Keep embracing new technologies, be an early adopter and don’t fall by the wayside. Now that we know you really want this career let’s see how you can gain an edge against your competition: 1. Get a qualification. You are going to need a qualification in marketing with a strong focus on digital in it. If it’s not in the title then mention the digital courses in your education. Any additional courses you can do for free in your spare time should be mentioned – Companies want you to be good with software packages like Hubspot – download it and play around! 2. Build an online presence! You are applying for a digital role so you need to have a digital presence – Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter – all should be up to date and active (especially Linkedin as this is the first place a recruiter or hiring manager will look). Blogs, digital portfolios or anything that shows contribution or activity online can be an effective tool. You want to stand out so blog about something you are passionate about! 3. Specialise in something. Social Media, Digital Content and e-Marketing are probably the 3 biggest areas within Digital Marketing and if you can show that this niche is your gig then you will fare better in applying to those roles.While having a broad understanding of digital marketing is important, it's also beneficial to specialize in a specific area that aligns with your interests and strengths. This can make you stand out in the job market and increase your chances of finding relevant opportunities. Determine which aspect of digital marketing you enjoy the most and focus on developing expertise in that particular area.4. Stay up to date with industry trendsThe digital marketing landscape is constantly evolving. Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and strategies by following industry blogs, subscribing to newsletters, attending webinars, and participating in relevant online communities. This will demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning and your ability to adapt to new challenges.5. Work experience This is the tricky bit. Most employers want to see some experience on your CV so where possible do internships and ask for work while there. Also look at volunteering to improve the online presence of local clubs or businesses – do they have a Facebook page and can you increase the amount of likes they get? Stay up to date with industry trends: The digital marketing landscape is constantly evolving. Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and strategies by following industry blogs, subscribing to newsletters, attending webinars, and participating in relevant online communities. This will demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning and your ability to adapt to new challenges.6. Mention all of this on your CV! As a recruiter I don’t have time to read a cover letter from every applicant so if the info isn’t on your CV then I won’t see it. Be clear and concise but make sure I see – education, digital experience, and digital skills. Remember, landing a job in digital marketing requires a combination of knowledge, practical skills, and relevant experience. The key thing about getting work in digital is to realise that the person you apply to will immediately check out your online presence and level of activity. If I am looking for someone to publish content online and you can show that you do that on a regular basis you should be a step or two ahead of some of your rivals. None of the above will guarantee you a job in digital marketing, but it will certainly set you on the right path!