“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
SURVEY: Just one third of Workers to Return to the Office Full-time Post-Covid
SURVEY: Just one third of Workers to Return to the Office Full-time Post-Covid
According to the Sigmar/AON Pulse Report on the future of work post-Covid, just 34% of workers will be returning to the office on a full-time basis once Covid restrictions are permanently lifted. 22% of employees are expected to work full-time remotely with the remaining 44% to work hybrid between home and the office. Of this hybrid cohort, 92% will spend three days or less in the office. The Sigmar/AON survey polled 253 companies in Ireland to get insight into the future of work practices post-Covid. Commenting on the findings Talent Summit founder and Sigmar chief commercial officer Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig says: “Recent speculation about the future of work has seen a division in thought between commentators and experts regarding the role the office will play in working practices post-Covid. With this poll, we have real insight into how employers are planning for the world of work once restrictions are lifted. The reality is that two thirds of Ireland’s workforce will see permanent changes in their work practices. That is a massive shift that affects the majority of us.” Remote Working to Spark a Global War for Talent The Sigmar/ AON survey finds that 22% of employees will work full-time remotely. Says Mac Giolla Phádraig: “Remote work is the emerging front of a world war for talent, being fought virtually and our remote workers the spoils of this war. “Ireland is globally recognised as an epicentre of highly skilled and educated workers, making this cohort of employees an attractive proposition for employers from around the world. “There is now global competition for local talent, requiring an arsenal of new methods and systems to compete, as it’s more about hearts and minds than before. “International competition of this cohort of workers will be fierce, effectively opening up a whole world in which 22% of our workforce can work.” The Future is Hybrid 44% of Ireland’s workforce will work hybrid between office and home. 92% will work three or less days in the office. The reality is that many of us will work hybrid between the office and home. Last year we were challenged by the forced dislocation of the workforce from the workplace. This year, however, we will choose how, by whom and where work gets done, which requires deep consideration as we re-architect work over the coming months. This is a critical moment in time for the next generation of work. Says Mac Giolla Phádraig: “ “According to this survey the future is hybrid.”
IT Jobs Market 2021
IT Jobs Market 2021
2020 was an interesting year for Ireland’s IT jobs market with the initial impact of Covid causing some companies to reassess their recruitment practices - either pausing or freezing completely. However, most sectors have bounced back since March and we even saw some companies take advantage of a less competitive market and increased their hiring plans. In 2021, we expect to see a release of this “pent-up demand” for candidates as businesses begin to move back towards BAU models. Digital Transformation Digital transformation projects that typically would have taken years to plan happened practically overnight or over a few weeks as COVID-19 restrictions forced companies to speed up their digital adaptions in what became an “adapt or die” environment. 2021 will see a further increase in demand for individuals with digital transformation experience as companies accelerate further the digitisation of their customer and supply chain interactions and of their internal operations. Companies who failed to innovate or tweak their processes to suit the demand of the market felt a larger impact than companies who remained agile and changed quickly depending on the market demands. Consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels during the pandemic, so companies are having to create digital or digitally enhanced offerings in response. Cybersecurity Unsurprisingly with the adoption of remote work and the planning for transition to the next “normal”, we have seen huge demand for infrastructure and security professionals which we foresee continuing in 2021. As organisations pivoted to work from home models, security engineers rushed to establish secure connections and prevent network threats that targeted remote workers. At the same time, with the surge in online shopping and e-commerce transactions, they had to bolster their organisation’s e-commerce platforms. 2021 will see organisations continue to increase their spend on cybersecurity as companies look to how they will operate in a post-pandemic world. With many organisations such as Google planning for a “Hybrid” work-from-home model, i.e. employees working a few days in the office and a few at home, network security will be a priority. MedTech, Life Sciences and Healthcare Given how health has never been more in focus than it has been in the past year, it is perhaps no surprise that there has been a huge demand for IT professionals in the wider health industry. MedTech and Life Sciences companies are continually developing new and innovative treatments and consequentially developing technologies to enable this. We have seen an increase in demand of more “hybrid roles” such as IT professionals with experience working specifically within class 1 medical devices fields. Biotech and digital transformation within gene cell therapy in particular is set to be a large growth area for 2021. Connected health is set to be a large growth area for 2021 also, as medical practices are forced to digitize and with telehealth being forecast to grow exponentially. Candidate-led Market Despite the initial dip in March 2020, the market very much remains candidate driven. Particularly now as candidates are no longer bound to jobs within commuting distance of the office. Regional talent pools have flourished as candidates who would have worked in major cities, now have the opportunity to work remotely meaning they can move to their preferred location and still do the same job on the same salary as before. Regional companies also benefited as they are now able to tap into larger talent pools due to remote working practices. Perhaps what has been most surprising about 2020, is that salaries have stayed relatively stable, but candidates have been seeking increases in their packages over base. With the increase in remote working opportunities, candidates are no longer distracted by “bells and whistles” (free food, ping pong tables etc.) and instead are more interested in actual projects, technologies being used and career growth and progression. Therefore, our advice to employers is consider how you are marketing your positions. Contractors We saw in our 2020 Q3 survey findings that many businesses looked to Contractors to fill gaps in their teams while coping with the uncertainty in the market due to COVID-19. From recent discussions with our clients this trend is likely to continue in 2021. We particularly foresee an increase in demand of contract roles for Frontend/Fullstack Developers, DevOps Engineers and Data Analysts. As a result of the increase in demand, contract rates have been on the rise. With many large and SME organisations reverting to remote work this has opened the market up to all areas of Ireland. A big trend is seeing Contractors based in the regions now being able to work for the large organisations in the cities and receive the same rates of those based in the cities. Therefore, rates in the regional areas of Ireland have increased due to the remote access of new roles in the industry. All-in-all, we are optimistic about the IT jobs market in 2021 with plentiful opportunities across digital transformation, cybersecurity, MedTech, pharma etc. The roll-out of the vaccine should increase confidence and create further opportunities as the year progresses. Download our IT Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF)
Salary Guide 2021
Salary Guide 2021
Download - Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF) Executive Summary From Adie McGennis, CEO We thought we had seen it all! If someone said in January; that most of us would fundamentally change the way we work (possibly forever), that some markets would be down over 80%, that we’d all feel awkward when not wearing a mask, that we couldn’t meet any clients or candidates for most of the year, that international travel would be nearly impossible, and that in Ireland record levels of employment would turn to record levels of unemployment in a few weeks; you would probably expect a more volatile salary comparison guide at the end of 2020. Indeed, the personal and health toll for many puts business considerations in context, so we wish everyone well, good health and wellbeing. Obviously, some areas suffered more than others and many areas even thrived, but overall, the stability in professional salaries may be the remarkable aspect of 2020! Generally, in volatile times temporary and contract work increases and this was very much the case in 2020. Many companies had to deal with a rapidly changing landscape in terms of their market, remote work, government supports and varying degrees of lockdown. Progressive companies hired professionals on a temporary or contract basis, and even on a remote basis, so demand and rates did increase for contractors in areas such as IT. We see this continuing even as the rate of change is slowing and hopefully stabilising. For some years now, we have been talking about career plans being fluid and dynamic, and flexibility and contracting increasing. This definitely took a leap forward in 2020. Sector wise, life sciences, including pharmaceutical got increasingly busy throughout the year and from R&D to manufacturing to distribution, this looks set to continue growing for the next few years. Financial Services was more challenging, as their market and way of work changed so quickly. Certainly, towards the end of the year it seems to be stabilising. At the end of 2020 Brexit is again looming and Dublin’s and London’s financial services will experience change and opportunity as well as challenges, for at least the next few years. Construction really slowed in 2020, but again steadily picking up in last few months, as general demand returns but also the way construction sites work has evolved. As a group generally SMEs in Ireland handled the craziness really well. Agility, pivoting and bootstrapping seemed like management school concepts until out of necessity, many businesses changed their model, their cost base, their strategy, and their mentality very quickly to go from Survive to Thrive in a few months. So many inspirational stories. They deserve the opportunities that we hope an improving landscape will present. So, our outlook for Ireland in 2021 is positive. There will be more challenges in coming months, but we are optimistic that the general picture will improve. From a national perspective the short-term funding required will necessitate strong budget management in coming years to enable businesses to grow back. Ireland still carries a lot of debt and politically there may be pressure to increase public expenditure beyond sustainable rates. But as long as we get this right, we have every reason to be optimistic and put 2020 down to learning experience. Download Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF) Salary Guide 2021 by department Accountancy & Finance Construction & Property Services Financial Services HR Insurance IT Legal & Compliance Life Sciences Manufacturing & Engineering Marketing Multilingual Office Support Sales Supply Chain
Improve your chance of finding a job during COVID-19
Improve your chance of finding a job during COVID-19
Taken from : How to land a job during COVID-19 by Michael Malone (Galway Daily) With Level 5 set to last for around four more weeks and uncertainty about what restrictions will be in place in the coming months, those in search of a new job may feel they are facing an uphill battle. But for those on the job hunt during the pandemic, it is important not to give up. That’s according to Sarah Hayes of Sigmar Recruitment, who says that there are a number of things people can do to improve their likelihood of finding a job. “Look at what is in your span of control and be proactive,” says Sarah. “The labour market has turned on its head since March and is constantly changing with government restrictions being implemented. “But it’s important not to give up as there are companies still hiring.” Top 6 tips to improve your chance of finding a job during COVID-19 1. Analyse the market Where are the jobs right now? Well, there are certain sectors that have been decimated by the pandemic, but others are still going strong. For example, DPD have just announced that they are expanding their operations and will create 700 jobs before the end of the year. Sigmar is hiring most across Manufacturing & Engineering, Technology & IT, Construction, E-Commerce, Customer Service, Health & Safety and Supply Chain & Logistics. The Lifesciences/ Pharmaceutical sector is busier than ever right now, with resumed elective surgeries, vaccine development, diagnostic testing and respiratory device production. Many companies are looking for multilingual speakers, for whom there is a great demand. So if you speak more than just English, there are opportunities out there. Familiarise yourself with who is hiring – keep an eye on the news, set up job alerts on the jobs boards, follow companies on LinkedIn, identify a recruitment consultant that recruits in your area and ask them to keep you updated on the market. 2. Market yourself Your cover letter, CV and your LinkedIn profile are your primary tools to market yourself. Prepare your CV, spend time on it and ask a recruitment consultant to help you to get it right (they will do this free of charge). Your CV and cover letter should always be tailored for the role you are applying for. Look at the job spec and mirror it back in your CV. It is also extremely important to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. Make sure you have a profile picture, create a compelling summary, add your projects, populate the skills section, and remember when recruiters and even bots are searching for profiles they search for keywords and buzzwords. If you don’t have these, then your profile might be missed. Change your status to ‘Open to new opportunities’ and get active on LinkedIn – don’t just sit back and wait for someone to contact you! Connect with hiring managers and HR professionals in the companies you want to work for, send them your CV directly and ask them whether they are hiring. You should also follow the company pages so that new job announcements will show up in your news feed, in case you miss your dream job! 3. Network online Joining groups and forums relevant to the job you are looking for and skills that you have can be a great way to build connections and relationships with people who have similar profiles. Networking can be a great way of finding a job – some experts say that over 70% of jobs are found by networking. So as well as keeping an eye on the best recruitment websites, get networking and boost your chances of finding that dream job! 4. Upskill It’s a great time to identify gaps in your skillset and upskill – look at jobs being advertised online and see if you can identify any particular skills/qualifications that you are missing that might help with securing that job in the future. In lockdown, many people are finding themselves with much more free time than before – so what better time to look for online courses to close those gaps in your knowledge, learn a new skill set or even a new language. There are countless apps and online courses out there – so find out where you’re lacking and get learning! 5. Open up your search Perhaps one of the more positive things to come out of the pandemic is that people are becoming less tied to one location, as companies are learning that working from home is not only possible, but also beneficial for many people. There are a lot of remote working positions out there now, so don’t just limit yourself to searching for a position in your direct locality. Open up your search and keep an eye on jobs advertised in different locations but can be worked from home. 6. Step out of your comfort zone To stand out from the crowd, you may have to be creative. With Covid-19, there has been a shift towards video interviewing but Sigmar is also seeing an increase in video applications. Get yourself in front of a camera and talk through your CV and reasons for applying for a particular position (remember, like in your CV, to tailor your answers depending on the job!). You can send this video along with your CV, or directly to a hiring manager through LinkedIn. When it comes to interviews – most are taking place virtually. Therefore it is important to ensure you are prepared – make sure you have been sent the link in advance! It is also important to check that you have a good internet connection, that your camera is working and positioned appropriately, your background is professional, you are dressed appropriately. Look directly at the camera to make eye contact, and let them know that you’re the ideal candidate. If you do all of this, you give yourself every chance of landing a new job, even in the most unusual of times.