Behavioral Interviewing Tips and Tricks

When you get the call or email to interview with a company/organization, you are excited and nervous at the same time about the opportunity. At this point, you have passed the eye test and the company is interested in you. The company reviewed and accepted your application packet, so you look good on paper and potentially meet the criteria for the position. Moving forward in the application process, the company reaches out to schedule an interview with you, a potential candidate, to learn more about who you are as an individual and a professional. 

According to the National Association of College and Employers (NACE), it is essential for college graduates to contain specific Career Readiness Competencies in order to be successful in a work environment. Recruiters and interviewers are looking for qualified candidates that embodies and harness the following attributes:
  
NACE Job Outlook 2017 | Attributes Employers Seek on a Candidate’s Resume

  1.  Ability to work in a team 78.0%
  2.  Problem-solving skills 77.3%
  3. Communication skills (written) 75.0% 
  4. Strong work ethic 72.0%
  5. Communication skills (verbal) 70.5%
  6. Leadership 68.9%
  7. Initiative 65.9%
  8. Analytical/quantitative skills 64.4%
  9. Flexibility/adaptability 63.6%
  10. Detail-oriented 62.1%
  11. Interpersonal skills (relates well to others) 58.3%
  12. Technical skills 56.8%
  13. Computer skills 49.2%
  14. Organizational ability 47.7%
  15. Strategic planning skills 37.9%


Of course you can showcase your attributes via resume, but the interviewer are seeking to learn more about you in the actual interview. The interviewers give you the opportunity to shed light on the top attributes listed above utilizing questions on behavioral interviewing. Behavioral Interviewing is way you can highlight your present/past experiences and performances to focus on your abilities and your attributes. 

Listed below are examples of behavioral type questions:

  1.  Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.
  2. Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
  3. Describe a time when you had to interact with a difficult client. What was the situation, and how did you handle it?
  4. Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?
  5. Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with this situation?
  6. Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself. How did you go about ensuring that you would meet your objective?
  7. Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities. How did you handle that?
  8. Describe a time when you saw some problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
  9. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
  10. Tell me about a time when you had to rely on written communication to get your ideas across to your team. 


There is a formula is answering these behavioral type questions. The STAR method is critical in answering these type of questions in an interview. It is not about answering the question with the right answer just the right way. 
As the interviewee, you should focus on answering the question using the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. You want to set the stage with the Situation and the Task at hand (be direct and to the point when giving the background). 


Once you set the foundation, then you want to move along to the meat of the question and give the interviewer(s) what they want in answering the behavioral questions. The Action and Result is important when responding to behavioral questions. The interviewer wants to know beyond your resume and cover letter what kind of person and professional you are and will be for their organization. 

The interviewer wants to know you your course of Action and the Result of your Action. What was your experience after this particular situation? What did you take away from this situation? What did you learn about yourself in this situation? These are all items the interviewer wants to know in your approximate 2-minute response to a behavioral question. 




The STAR method is simple to remember but requires strong execution in delivering a sound response to a behavioral question. Remember to take the time you recall your experiences and find a way to streamline your story in your response to these behavioral type questions.

The Auburn University Career Center has resources to help with your interviewing skills and preparation. You can check out our website at www.auburn.edu/career/interviews  to utilize our services and resources to practice your interviewing, such as InterviewStream, The Job Search Guide, and scheduling a mock interview with a career counselor.


  
Written by Eric J. Hall
Career Counselor

Why You Should Create a Digital Portfolio This Week


If you’ve hung out in the Auburn Career Center or the Miller Writing Center much, you may have heard about students’ ePortfolios or digital portfolios, but to most job applicants, it may just sound like unimportant, futuristic career readiness jargon.

On the contrary, back in 2013, Forbes.com explained that 56 percent of hiring managers are more impressed with applicants’ personal websites and digital portfolios than any other element of their job applications. However, only 7 percent of candidates actually had one.

Given the ever-increasing pervasiveness of technology in the job search, it’s a fair guess that these numbers have climbed since the Forbes article was published. With only about 20 percent of applicants being granted an interview for any given job, this new marketing tool is well worth including in your job search arsenal.

So, what exactly is a digital portfolio? Put simply, they’re websites where job seekers, students and professionals can display their work, demonstrate their skills and convey their personalities in professional, flexible way. By creating a digital portfolio, you can easily direct employers to a comprehensive location containing your resume, work samples, biographical information, and other representations of what make you unique.

Because of the flexibility and opportunity for creative expression in digital portfolios, no portfolio is alike, although many professionals opt to include an HTML or PDF resume or both, along with photos and other design elements to give employers a hint of their personality and values. They also link their personal sites to your LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media accounts and include the link to their ePortfolio in their job applications, creating a web of information easily accessible by employers.

Because digital portfolios are still gaining ground in the job search world, applicants with any digital portfolio at all are likely to stand apart from their competitors. But candidates with an especially thoughtful, personally crafted ePortfolio put themselves heads and shoulders above their competition.

If you’re convinced it’s worth your time to create an ePortfolio, but you’re lacking in the technical knowledge or design chops to make it happen, don’t worry! Websites like Wix, Weebly, WordPress and SquareSpace, just to name a few, make it easy for anyone to display their work for free using pre-designed, customizable templates.

For starters, the basic components of a digital portfolio usually include some basic sections:
  1. About me. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why you’ve created your website. You have freedom in this section to express yourself in whatever way you’d like: with photos, lists, inspirational quotes or a personal anecdote—any way that employers will get a sense of who you are both personally and professionally.
  2. Skills and experience. Usually the reason you’ve created your ePortfolio is to have a location to store your work from classes, internships, freelance projects or full-time jobs, so it’s a good idea to first introduce what kinds of skills and experience inform your work. You can include this in a visual format with graphs, tiles or other design elements, or you can simply include a modified version of your resume on your site.
  3.  Work samples. Employers enjoy looking at digital portfolios because they bring candidates’ work into their reach. Your resume and cover letter may mention your ability to draft in-depth financial plans, but displaying examples of plans you’ve actually crafted on your website takes it a step further and proves you’re as talented as you claim. However, it’s important to note that any work you include should be as blemish-free as possible; any information you provide in a job application is grounds for rejection, so make sure your work samples (and portfolio in general) are polished and pristine!
  4. Contact information. If an employer stumbles onto your site through a Google search or LinkedIn, it would be helpful for them to contact you directly if they’re interested! You can include a form so they can submit messages to you directly from your site, or simply list your email address and phone number. Also include a link to your social media accounts (as long as they’re professional) to show more about your personality.


ePortfolios are fun, creative ways to show employers what a successful employee you could be to them. For more information about getting started with an ePortfolio and for samples of other students’ and professionals’ own digital portfolios, visit the Auburn Career Center’s drop-in hours or the Miller Writing Center’s ePortfolio Project.



Written by Sarah Russell

Graduate Assistant working on a MEd in Higher Education Administration

Mythbusters: Degree = Job

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If you’ve ever been a college freshman, you probably know the pressure of declaring a major. After all, this is what you’re going to spend the next four (or five, or six) years studying, and the following forty-plus practicing professionally… right?

Well, not always.

For first-year students, foreseeing the next four years is like trying to look down the road through a thick fog. You have a fuzzy idea of where you’re headed, but the figures and shapes ahead of you are hazy, and the path is uncertain. Squinting through the murkiness of impending self-discovery, how can a student know if the path they are travelling is the right path for them?

Many college students don’t realize their path is wrong until they’re halfway (or farther along) to the finish line. Panicking, they visit academic advisors and career counselors, desperate to find “right” path. Many of them discover there could be several paths that could be right for them. Again, the pressure of finding their niche overtakes them, and they feel the familiar burden of an uncertain future.

Take heart, college students, because I’m about to reveal one of the biggest secrets of college:
YOUR MAJOR DOES NOT HAVE TO DETERMINE YOUR CAREER.

There are several exceptions to be made, of course. If you’re pursuing a degree in a communications discipline, you probably will not be equipped for medical school or to be an engineer. But who knows? Maybe you’ve taught yourself programming on the side and you have an impressive portfolio to show off. Or maybe you’re the biomedical sciences major who realizes the summer before your senior year that you can’t handle blood, but you love to work with doctors.

Take it from someone who’s been there: there are ways to make it work. 

Here are three practical steps to get closer to a career that works for you, regardless of your major:

1.  Embark on a journey of self-discovery. You cannot--and should not--choose your career until you know yourself. What makes you YOU? What makes you tick? Inspires you? Grosses you out? Do you like talking to people or making machines work? These are all the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself, because their answers lead you closer to the kinds of careers and work environments that work for you. For a more guided self-discovery journey, visit the Career Center and ask about the career assessments available!

2.  Gain experience.
Whether or not you’ve decided what direction you want to go, get your feet wet with shadowing, volunteering, internships, research and involvement in student organizations. Simply knowing what kinds of tasks and ideas you like to work on can reveal insight into what you may enjoy professionally. If it’s too late for this, consider researching graduate schools or certifications more focused on your desired career. As a bonus, this all becomes relevant information to include in job applications down the road!

3.  Market yourself effectively. If you find yourself near graduation with an unrelated major, think outside the box about what makes you suitable for the kind of job you want. If you’re graduating with a degree in sociology, but you want to become a social media manager, think about your own experience with communication. Did you learn about group behaviors, manage your own social media image or work on a team to complete a task? All of these skills are important in your desired field, so show them off on your resume!



After you have done all this, fret not: the path to success is not a straight arrow. You don’t have to make the right major decision the first time, but by getting to know yourself, gaining practical, applicable experience and marketing yourself effectively, you are taking steps closer to the work you were made to do.



Written by Sarah Russell
Graduate Assistant working on a MEd in Higher Education Administration

Land a Job with These 7 Career Competencies

            According to the National Association of College and Employers (NACE), it is essential for college graduates to contain specific Career Readiness Competencies in order to be successful in a work environment. These competencies, or skills, are gained through professional experiences such as internships, part-time/full-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, job shadowing, and more. To put it into perspective, think of career readiness competencies like studying for a test. In order to successfully pass a test, you need to put in the work to prepare for it so you can achieve the end result of passing with a good grade, increasing your GPA. It is important to begin “studying,” or gaining experience in order to achieve a successful future in your career development. So, I’m sure you are wondering, what are these competencies? Let’s get started!

1.     Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving

If you have ever been tasked with a problem that seemed very much “adult,” it is most likely that this situation required critical thinking and problem-solving. Employers want to see the ability for an individual to analyze an issue, making an appropriate decision regarding this issue, and then work toward solving this problem. So really, they want to see you adult (yes, adult). It is essential to use your knowledge, ideas, originality, and resources with problem-solving in order to make a respectable and appropriate decision. Make sure to take what you have learned in your classes, work experiences, and involvement opportunities to expand on these skills and increase your future career development.


2.     Oral/Written Communication

The main objective here is to ensure that you communicate your thoughts in a clear, efficient manner both verbally and in a written format. Employers want to see that you contain effective public speaking skills along with the ability to write in a professional format. You are most likely practicing these skills in your classes through individual and group presentations as well as writing essays or research papers—so use these experiences to your advantage!

3.     Teamwork/Collaboration

The saying “teamwork makes the dream work” fits perfectly under this competency. Building professional relationships with your coworkers is of utmost importance in the workplace in order to successfully achieve the goal your company is aiming to accomplish. Different individuals bring a diverse set of ideas, opinions, and values to a work environment, and all of these factors combined will produce effects results regarding a certain task. You will be more likely to accomplish a task and manage conflicts when collaborating with coworkers and clients who are from a different cultural background than your own.    


4.     Information Technology Application

With the vast rise of technology in our world, employers value potential employees to contain a basic level of proficiency in information technology skills. These skills may include knowing how to navigate computer programs such as Microsoft Office, SQL, Adobe Photoshop, and countless more systems. Whether you are working as a Mechanical Engineer, a Sports Reporter, or an English professor in a college university, technology will be involved in some shape or form. During your undergraduate career, make sure to take the opportunity to increase your IT skills! For example, you can visit the ePortfolio office for helpful tips to not only make your professional website #flawless, but to also learn new computer skills regarding web design. Take each of your experiences inside and outside of the classroom to expand your proficiency in the world of technology, as it will surely impress any employer.   

5.     Leadership

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” –John Quincy Adams. This quote by a former President encompasses the values of leadership. A common misconception of being a leader is that leaders only manage and delegate tasks to others, but that is not the case. If you instill strength in others and encourage them in completing a certain task, this is one quality that defines a great leader. Use your interpersonal skills to motivate and leads others toward success. If you know a colleague is having difficulties with a specific task, offer guidance to help them accomplish their goal in a clear, consistent, and empathetic manner. If you are a natural leader, demonstrate these qualities in an interview in order to show the employer how you would transfer these skills to a work environment. There are various leadership opportunities for you to pursue throughout your undergraduate career at Auburn—take a look at these opportunities here: https://auburn.collegiatelink.net. Not to mention, leadership is the #1 quality employers look for in potential employees. It’s a pretty big deal!


6.     Professionalism/Work Ethic

So we’ve made it to number 6. If you’re overwhelmed and don’t even know how to start developing any of these skills, start here. Also make sure to breathe—is it going to be ok and you will land a job! Employers, over any other skill, value professionalism and actively search for this transferable skill in potential employees. Professionalism/work ethic includes how you represent yourself through your actions and interact with colleagues in the work environment. Are you on time to work each day? Does your verbal and nonverbal communication reflect a positive, respectful attitude? Do you follow the ethical guidelines to your practice? These are a few questions that illustrate professionalism in a work environment, and will guarantee a higher chance of landing a job.

7.     Career Management

In career management, you want to ensure that you are confident in your skills, knowledge, and professional development in relation to your career of interest. When you are reviewing a job application and read through the job requirements, take this as an opportunity to identify areas of further professional growth and development. Reflect on your previous professional experiences and assess which skills you know contain versus the skills you are more unfamiliar with. With career management, you also want to remain knowledgeable of the job search process, how you can pursue different career opportunities, and what you can do to land a job—which these competencies will guarantee!



Now that you contain all of this fabulous knowledge, start taking the opportunities to develop these skills now! If you would like more information regarding these competencies or have any questions, please come visit us in the Career Center. Our Drop-In hours are listed on our website: www.auburn.edu/career. We hope to see you soon!

Personality Types and Job Searching

Have you ever thought about how your personality type relates to your preferred method of job searching? If you are not familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), this personality assessment was developed by Isabel Myers-Briggs and Katharine Myers over 50 years ago. Since then, many people have used this assessment to learn more about their personality type and connect it with their work, personal lives, and how they function on a day-to-day basis.

The MBTI categorizes individuals into the following dichotomies:
  • Extraversion vs. Introversion
  •  Sensing vs. Intuition
  • Thinking vs. Feeling
  •  Judging vs. Perceiving


How you fall into these categories can certainly affect your preferred method of job searching. Job searching often brings people out of their comfort zones and sometimes forces them to use the opposite side of these personality dichotomies. Being aware of your personality type and understanding how it can impact your job search can assist with finding employment after graduation. 

For those who fall in the extravert category, job searching and networking can often be fun and exciting. However, when extroverts do not hear back from a company for a long period of time with no interaction from that company, they could become disgruntled. Extroverts thrive on having people interaction and gain energy from attending career fairs, networking, and simply being around other people. Contrastingly, introverts can enjoy the job search process, but they might be exhausted after having to network with others. They gain their energy from being along and recharging by themselves. If they do not hear back from a company for a while, it might not upset them as much; they may enjoy having time to reflect on their thoughts and feelings.

Individuals in the intuition category can see the bigger picture when it comes to job searching. They can see the end goal for their career from the beginning. When they accept a job offer, they are usually thinking about how it will impact their future career and professional direction. They will probably also consider how a certain job will impact their family, social life, finances, etc. Sensing individuals will focus more on tangible job opportunities and their job search will typically revolve around jobs posted online, in newspapers, or any other outlet that is right in front of them. They want to hear about the job posting or see it for themselves in order to apply for it. Ultimately, they rely on their senses to conduct their job search.

For the thinking vs. feeling categories, this personality trait can influence people when they are making a decision about accepting a job offer. Thinkers will consider the logical aspects of the position; they will use their analytical and objectivity skills to make their decision. Feelers will rely on their emotions and gut feelings when accepting or rejecting a job offer. They will consider how that job could affect others, and they will be much more subjective in their approach.

Those in the judging category will want a job search that is organized and well-planned. They will probably keep a planner/calendar and have their job search process organized well in advance. They might have days set aside for networking, resume tweaking, calling employers, etc. Judgers want to set a plan and stick to it. Perceivers, on the other hand, will be much less structured during their job search. While they might have a plan to call companies one day, they could decide to go shopping for interview attire instead, and this change of plans will not bother them at all. They will typically be less structured and sometimes thrive under pressure.

Using the less dominant part of our personality types is common when job searching, even though it often feels uncomfortable. For example, I am an extrovert and prefer having face-to-face interactions with employers during the job search process. When I have applied for jobs on websites, I want to have some type of personal interaction with the employer rather than just submitting my application online. However, I realize that this face-to-face interaction will not always be an option during the job search process. Therefore, I have to be content with being slightly introverted during the initial phases of job searching. Job searching sometimes stretches us out of our comfort zones, but we can learn a lot about ourselves through the process!


If you want to learn more about your personality type and how it relates to your job search process and/or future career, contact us at (334) 844-4744 and we can give you instructions for completing a personality assessment.