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Cracking the 5 Toughest Interview Questions

Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off! You’ve spent hours perfecting your resume, having friends review it, generating a strong cover letter and determining the right outfit to impress your interviewer.  Now, finally, you’re walking into your potential new workplace. All you have to do is knock the interview out of the park. Are you ready?

To better prepare yourself for the dream-job interview, we have put together some of the toughest interview questions and how to conquer them!

The “Warm-Up” Question: “So, tell me about yourself.”

Essentially, your interviewer is looking at how well you can communicate. Are you going to talk about your hobbies and adventures or are you going to keep it professional?

How to Respond:

-        Keep your answer short, professional, AND straightforward.  

-       Consider integrating your present professional experiences as a starting point. Next, reflect on your past professional experiences to provide a foundation for your skill set. Finally, talk about your professional aspirations and how you feel the company relates to your future goals.

 

The “Digging Deeper” Question: “Why did you leave your last job?”

Your answer to this question will communicate multiple things to your interviewer: Are you going to talk bad about the company? Did you leave for a good reason? Are you trustworthy and dependable? Did you leave on good terms?

How to Respond:

-       You can address this question in multiple ways, but you do NOT want to speak poorly about your past company. Keep the interview in a positive direction.

-       Did you feel under-appreciated or not paid well? Leaving a position is a common reason to seek out a new job. Consider going down the “I’m seeking a greater opportunity to grow as a professional” road.

**Anticipate a follow up regarding what opportunities you are seeking. 

-       Were you fired? State that you and your employer “parted ways” and mention a skill that you learned or further developed from this experience.

-       Laid off? For this reason, it is okay to say that it was budget or economy related. It’s common for companies to make cuts. It’s not personal; it’s just business.

 

The “Confidence-is-Key” Question: “Why should I hire you?”

Expect to be asked this question in your interview. Your interviewer is testing out the waters of your confidence. Before the conversation even begins, you should have researched the company enough to know their core values and their mission statement.

How to Respond:

-        Answer the questions with your professional skills AND soft skills and how they relate to the company’s core values.  Remember—your interviewer is asking you to sell yourself with this question.

-       If the interviewer has disclosed information about the culture of the office and you feel you would thrive in the described workplace, be sure to mention it!

 

The “Awkward Money Talk” Question: “What are your salary expectations?”

This question can cause you to lose a job even if you have nailed all of the other interview questions. Interviewers ask this question for one reason, to determine if the company can afford you. Be sure to do research on the salary of someone in the position you are applying for in your area!

How to Respond:

-       Be sure to tie in that it is negotiable.

-       Have a range of salaries from your research and mention them. Consider what you will be bringing to the company and the position itself. Higher management positions are going to pay more than a lower end position. Also be sure to consider if you have the experience necessary to justify requesting a salary on the higher end of the range you outline. 

 

The “Core Interview” Question: “Why do you want to work for our company?”

Essentially, your interviewer wants to know what your career goals are, how the company (and position) fit into your plan, and if you would thrive in the company culture. Be sure to research the company, press involving the company, and philanthropic efforts.

How to Respond:

-       When addressing this question, consider: Why are you interested in the company? Why are you interested in the job?

-       Be sure to integrate what you like about the company with your values and or skillset.

-       It’s okay to dive in deeper into this question as it is multi-layered.

 

Wish you would have learned interview skills earlier in life? JA is helping today’s students get prepared for their futures through  JA Career Success! This program equips students with the tools and skills necessary to earn and keep a job in high-growth career industries!

Soft Skills 101: Leadership

The successful and innovative Steve Jobs once said, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

But in a world where a ruler, and not a yardstick, is all that youth are exposed to, how is one to develop the skills necessary to expect excellence? Through leadership.

According to BusinessDictionary, leadership involves establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly, providing the information, knowledge, and methods to realize the said vision and to coordinate (and balance) the interests of all members and stakeholders. Essentially, communicate effectively what you aim to achieve and provide motivation to keep the vision and goal you seek in plain sight.

In a 2015 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employees, participating employers were asked to name the attributes they value most in candidates. To no surprise, leadership was the primary skill identified by 77.8 percent of the participants when it came to the ability to work in a team. 

Why are leadership skills important in business?

In today’s business realm, it’s crucial that businesses hire employees who can not only manage themselves but who can also assist with the direction of other workers. By doing so, employees are more likely to build quality relationships throughout the organization and essentially take on a role of a mentor.

Leadership Development in Business

Due to the few opportunities of leadership development prior to entering the workplace, companies are integrating what’s called the Kotter International model of 70:20:10 which identifies 70 percent on-the-job learning, 20 percent social learning through coaching or mentoring and 10 percent formal skill development programs. Businesses are now taking it upon themselves to provide training to employees, teaching basic soft skills to enable them to be better components of a company.

How to Include Leadership Skills in a Resume

Soft skills such as leadership are not always a given when it comes to potential new hires. While one candidate may have far more experience or “hard skills,” such as accounting or data analysis, he or she may not have the necessary “soft skills” to manage others or to be successful in the company culture. When incorporating a skill such as leadership on a resume, it is crucial that you not only include it within the skills portion of the resume but also explore how it was developed within the professional endeavors listed. The National Association of Colleges and Employers survey discovered that only 67.5 percent of employers look for “technical skills” (or hard skills) when hiring, compared to the previously mentioned (77.8%) soft skill of leadership. When describing your previous work experience you will want to incorporate your soft skill with the technical skill (or hard skill) practices and then the outcome.

Through this formula, you are demonstrating that the outcome would not have been possible without the assistance of the two skillsets. This also shows that you are able to practice such skills in a professional setting.

When in doubt of your own leadership abilities, ask yourself “Am I a yardstick or a ruler or quality?”

To get started on creating your resume, check out JA My Resume

Taking the Pulse Out of Impulse Buying

A survey of 2,000 U.S. shoppers conducted by Chain Drug Review found that 20 percent, or 1-in-5 purchases, are impulse buys which equated to 1,456 impulse buys a year or almost three per week. With impulse buys ranging from purchasing a candy bar from the register side shelves to the perfect pair of heels that catches your eye, the dollar amount can add up quicker than you may comprehend.  As every dollar adds up, the average amount for impulse spending comes to $450 monthly, $5,400 annually or $324,000 over the course of a lifetime according to CNBC. Depending on how badly you may feel over your unnecessary spending, I personally recommend focusing on the smaller number (monthly).

Where does all of our out-of-control money spending stem from?

Ian Zimmerman Ph.D. from Psychology Today reveals that impulse buying is related to anxiety and unhappiness and therefore learning to control it could indeed help one’s psychological well-being. Yet, there are certain people who may experience the “shop-till-you-drop” fever far more often than others. Dr. Zimmerman identifies that “people who like to shop for fun are more likely to buy on an impulse.” This is a frequent behavior that causes financial panic when credit card bills and mortgage payments are due. That leads us to the question thousands of Americans are Googling… “How can impulse buying be controlled or prevented?

Dr. Zimmerman’s answer is to understand what motivates one’s impulse buying. Another solution that has been mentioned in countless help articles is asking yourself “Did I plan to buy this, or did I get the urge to buy it just now?” If you didn’t plan on purchasing the product, whether you’re at the local grocery store or Target, you are probably experiencing an impulse buy. 

Another solution relies on the understanding of budgeting. Kristin Wong, contributing writer of Lifehacker and financial author, determines that by focusing on the opportunity cost, you are able to control your spending. In case you are not familiar with this term, opportunity cost can be understood as what you are giving up in order to obtain something else. By establishing money goals, you are able to compare the amount that you are spending on an unnecessary item with the cost of an item you have as a goal.

These fundamental personal financial skills are necessary for youth to learn in order to be more in control of their finances in their future.  With the help of Junior Achievement, your student can become more prepared to resist impulse buying, therefore, being in control of their money.

Check out what other teens think of managing money in the latest JA Teens & Personal Finance Survey.

Award Recipients of Junior Achievement’s 2018 National Leadership Conference

This year’s 2018 National Leadership Conference (NLC) took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as Junior Achievement of Wisconsin served as host to Junior Achievement (JA) associates from all over the country. Throughout the week-long event, JA employees and sponsors came together as friends and business colleagues. Concluding the week were awards given to JA associates who have displayed dedication, excellence, and inspiration within the Junior Achievement organization.

 

Charles R. Hook Award

This prestigious award recognizes the Junior Achievement USA President whose professionalism and performance best represents the core values and ideals of Junior Achievement over the past year.

This year, the recipient of this honorable award was Tera Norris, (pictured right) President of Junior Achievement of Lincoln.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karl Flemke Pioneer Achievement Award

This award recognizes significant achievements and contributions of first time JA Area Presidents with not less than two and not more than four years of service in their current position.  

The recipient of the Karl Flemke Pioneer Achievement Award for 2018 was Drew Martin (pictured left) of Junior Achievement of South Central Kentucky (Bowling Green, KY).

 

 

 

 

 

JA MVP Awards (Model Values Professional) 

This award was established to reinforce the importance of living our values. JA associates must exemplify values and behaviors that provide the model for the students we serve and assure JA a place as a business to be respected in every community where JA has a presence.

The two (2) distinguished recipients of the 2018 JA MVP award were Erin Kurt (pictured right) of Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa (Cedar Rapids) and Lisa Frye (not pictured) of Junior Achievement USA (Colorado Springs, CO).

 

 

Rising Star Awards

The Rising Star award was created in 2004 to recognize secondary JA staff professionals who have excelled in their role and are considered “Rising Stars” of the organization.  These individuals demonstrate a commitment to the success of JA and accept increasingly important leadership roles within the JA organization. 

The recipients of the 2018 Rising Star Awards were as follows:

Callie Tincher of JA of the Bluegrass in Lexington, KY

 Ryan Purser of JA of Southeast Texas in Houston

Alison Gottsch-Walton of JA of Lincoln

Alicia Fusco of JA of New Jersey          

 

We congratulate our fellow colleagues on their exceptional work within our organization.

The Impact of Jobless Teens this Summer

Jobless Teens

When you think back to your first job, what were some major life takeaways? Was it more than a paycheck that filled your gas tank? What about your professional growth or potential career path?

Unfortunately, many teens are struggling to find a summer job. Andy Challenger, vice president at Challenger Grey reported that teen hiring is expected to be slightly lower in 2018 than in 2017. Which begs the question—why?

One possible reason is that employers are looking for potential, more ideal, employees that have more experience and education. Yet, how is a teen expected to gain work knowledge if he or she is not even being considered?

The once plentiful job positions that teens traditionally held during summer breaks are now being filled by these “ideal employees”. Being beat out of summer employment has resulted in some perceived benefits though.

 MarketWatch reported that teens are actually taking summer classes and putting in community service to benefit their upcoming college applications. While ensuring that their near future is covered, teens are missing on crucial long-term skills that they could be building.  Professor and director of the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University Paul Harington commented, “Work is a strong complement for going to school. It predicts improved employment experiences and higher wages and reduces the likelihood of future unemployment.”

What Teens Can Do

One of the best ways for teens to ensure they are qualified for a summer job is to gain experience. While the experience may not involve pay, it may result in being considered for a job in the future.  

Through volunteering, teens will not only have the opportunity to create a professional network while doing good in their community, but they can include the skills gained and projects managed on their resumes.

If you’re a teen, or a parent of a teen, without a summer job, look into your local charity organizations. You may find that by giving your time, you will receive an invaluable gift for your future -- work experience. For tips on how to apply and interview for that next job, visit the My Resume section of Junior Achievement’s JA My Way.

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