PSG Workshop Offers Interview Practice and Tips 

PSG recently held another workshop for job candidates. PSG managers Nicole Cassista, Katie Chisolm, Kristen Coppins, Brian Donovan and Rachel Frisbee presented tips and best practices for successful interviews and conducted mock interviews with each candidate.

 

Among the tips that managers shared were these Do’s and Dont’s:

 

Do: Prepare, prepare, prepare

Do: Conduct research

Do: Role play/practice

Do: Be honest/humble

Do: Stay positive

Do: Provide specific examples

Do: Be concise

Don’t: Focus on growth

Don’t: Discuss compensation

Don’t: Inflate skills (ie. Excel “expert”)

Don’t: Only ask questions about the company

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Tips for Interviewing for a Temporary Job

BostonHerald.com recently published this article on how to interview for a temporary job. Naturally, we agree with the writer that temporary positions can be terrific career opportunities and that it’s important to prepare properly for them.

For more advice on how to ace an interview, see our previous posts on preparing for an interview; researching a company before an interview; questions to ask during an interview; appropriate office attire for interviews, following up after an interview; and protocol for thank you notes.

Ask A Recruiter: Appropriate Office Attire for Interviews

Q: I’m new to the workforce (just graduated college) and not sure how to dress for interviews. What do you recommend?

A: First, congratulations on your graduation and on knowing that first impressions and appearances are important in a job search.

Sometimes new graduates don’t realize that they should invest in an interview suit or plan to have access to one. There are recruiters who will tell you never to put a mission statement on your resume and those that will tell you it’s an essential part of the resume. Similarly, there are interview experts who will tell you it’s important to match your outfit to the office style, i.e. wear business casual if that’s what current staff wear. However, I feel it’s important to always look as professional as possible even if you’re dressed more formally than the office norm when you interview. Even if the office where the interview will take place is laid back in style, I recommend wearing a suit. Playing it safe with your interview attire eliminates the chance that you’ll offend the interviewer.

For men, this means wearing a fresh button-downed shirt and a plain, conservative tie. For women, it’s important to wear stockings when wearing skirts and closed toe, heeled shoes.

Some other tips:

  • No matter what you wear on your commute, change into proper shoes before you enter the building and have a bag to store your commuting shoes.
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum and eliminate noisy bracelets, big earrings, eye-catching jewels.
  • Make sure makeup is conservatively applied.
  • Reduce odors by keeping cologne and perfume to a minimum and not smoking right before the interview.
  • Consider removing facial piercings for the interview.
  • Tie long hair back.
  • Have a portfolio or nice notebook to take notes in.
  • Invest in resume paper and have smooth, clean extra copies of your resume available.
  • Keep your phone out of site and be sure to turn it off completely so that vibrations or other notifications don’t distract from your interview.
  • Don’t bring your own coffee to the meeting. Feel free to accept coffee or water if it’s offered to you, but finish the drink in your Dunkin’ Donuts takeout cup before the interview.
  • Make sure anything that you wouldn’t wear while working in the office – such as sunglasses and hats – are stored appropriately out of sight during the meeting.

About the Recruiter
Katy-LeVeque-photo
Katy Leveque is a Senior Group Manager at PSG.  Katy learned the recruiting business from the ground up.  She joined PSG shortly after graduating college over five years ago and today Katy oversees the service teams that support some of PSG’s most valued clients.

 

Ask A Recruiter: Finance Jobs

Q: What advice do you have for someone looking for a finance job today?

A: Boston has always been a strong job market for finance professionals. The city has is known as a hub for financial services and insurance businesses, and other industries with a strong Boston presence – such as healthcare and technology – have a growing need for finance talent as well. Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of demand for analytical positions, such as financial analysts.

What does it take to land one of these jobs in finance?

First, a strong education background is important. Boston employers are often looking at candidates from top business schools in the area, including Babson, Bentley, Bryant, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and UMass to name a few. Some employers go so far as to specify a particular school that they want to hire from.

After checking to see whether you graduated from a ‘pedigree’ school, the hiring manager will next check out your degree and whether you have an advanced degree. Hiring managers will take notice of your grade point average and these days are looking for candidates with a GPA of 3.3 or higher. Master’s degrees, such as an M.B.A., master’s in finance or C.F.A. (chartered financial advisor), are increasingly important and sometimes a prerequisite for finance jobs. For candidates who are thinking about getting a master’s, consider that if you complete the degree right after college, you may be eligible for jobs that your peers aren’t as qualified for and you may be able to launch your finance career sooner.

When it comes to prior work experience, employers who are hiring finance professionals, and especially analysts, are looking for these things:

  • Experience – If you’re hoping to land a managerial position in finance, be prepared to demonstrate your budgeting, forecasting and financial modeling experience. We receive a lot of requests from clients who want financial analysts with experience creating financial models from scratch. Not only do they want to hire candidates who are power users with Excel and Microsoft Access, they are also looking for employees who are creative and independent thinkers when it comes to compiling and presenting data.
  • Industry knowledge – There’s a big difference between firms that sell investment funds and those that sell pharmaceuticals and their sales and accounting cycles will be very different, too. When filling analyst roles and other finance positions, hiring managers look for relevant industry experience. While a candidate may not need exact industry experience, it’s best if he/she can show an understanding of the business units and sales functions within the firm/industry they’re targeting.
  • Confidence – Finance positions are increasingly moving out of the back-office realm and becoming more forward-facing roles. A finance manager or analyst may need to work with the head of every business unit in the company to put together budgets and will need to have the confidence to deliver bad news when needed and to give formal presentations to board members on occasion. Some recruiters say they look for candidates with a “sales mentality and an accounting/finance body” to fill these positions.

 

About the Recruiter
greg-menzone-pic1Greg Menzone is a 10-year veteran of the staffing industry who has made hundreds of successful placements. Greg and the team he manages specialize in direct hire placement of accounting and finance professionals.

Ask A Recruiter: Tips for Video Interviews

Q: I just found out my interview will be over Skype. Do you have any suggestions to help me prepare?

A: In many ways, interviews conducted over Skype, or other video technology, are just like regular job interviews. My colleague provides some good advice for general interview preparation in this earlier blog post.

But, of course, using video technology introduces some new considerations, such as:

Interacting with video – If you’re not a TV or movie actor it may not feel natural to look into a camera for an entire interview and it can be very tempting to look at the interviewer’s image onscreen (or the small one of yourself to check your appearance). However, it’s important to remember to look at the camera – and not your screen – during the interview.

The camera and microphone are on – With a video interview the camera will likely be focused on your upper body and face and, therefore, so will the interviewer. He/she won’t have the context of a whole room to look at, as they would if you were meeting together in an office. Any non-verbal cues, expressions or movements will be exacerbated because of this. Also, any nearby noises – such as shuffling papers or nervous tapping – will also sound louder because the microphone is focused on you.

Your surroundings will also be captured on film – Just as you would prepare for a phone interview, I recommend finding a private, quiet spot for the video interview. Consider your background too: a plain background is best.

Dress for success – While some interview candidates might be tempted to take advantage of the camera’s limited range and wear casual pants for a video interview, I recommend dressing as you would for a regular interview. You’ll feel more pulled together and ready to deliver your “A-Game” if you’re dressed for the part.

Check the equipment before the interview – We all have experienced technical problems and know that they happen when we least appreciate them. To improve your chances of having a smooth interview, set up the camera and do a practice video conference call with a friend or family member. Check the volume, the lighting and other settings. I recommend using a cable or hard wire connection (not a wireless one if you can help it) to get the strongest Internet connection.

Make sure your image is professional – Sometimes the little things make a big difference. If you’re using an email address, screen name or Skype profile name that you created years ago, consider whether it will hurt your professional image, e.g. a profile name like “Sk8tR GRL” could give an employer the wrong impression. Creating professional accounts are free and easy to do.

About the Recruiter
Lauren_OBrien
Lauren O’Brien is a five year veteran of the staffing industry.  Lauren is the Group Manager of a team that services one of PSG’s largest and most valued clients.  Lauren and her team specialize in direct hire and temporary placement of financial services and administrative professionals. 

Ask A Recruiter: Following Up after An Interview

Q. What is the standard protocol for following up after an interview?

A. Following up after an interview is an important step in the hiring process and sometimes how you follow up is factored into the employer’s decision making.

A thank you note is still standard protocol and it should be concisely written, to the point and error-free. I can’t stress this last point enough. I highly recommend asking someone else to review your note before you send it to ensure there are no grammatical errors, misspelled words or typos. I’ve had candidates lose out on a job at the offer stage because they sent a thank you note with errors in it. While a hand-written note is best (and collecting business cards will help ensure you have the correct spellings for names and correct titles), an email is fine if it’s written well. One other piece of advice when it comes to thank you notes: if you met with multiple people you should send a different version of the note to each one of them.

If you worked with a recruiter to land the interview, you should follow up with the recruiter immediately after the interview to de-brief. Often the recruiter will schedule time to do this. During this session the recruiter will ask you how the interview went, how much time you spent there, what you learned about the job, what you liked about the position, whether it meets your expectations, who you met and whether you have any questions or hesitations. The recruiter is trying to gauge your interest in the position and whether you’ll want to go back for a second interview if you’re invited. The recruiter will also be assessing whether this job fits your goals, how you answered any unusual questions and what insight you collected about next steps.

If you don’t work with a recruiter, it’s a good idea to do your own de-briefing session and to keep notes on what you learned in the interview, your likes and dislikes and next steps.

At the end of the interview, you should really have an idea of what the next steps are and the timing, e.g. when will the employer be making a decision and when will they be in touch about it. That way you can respond accordingly. My colleague Greg Menzone offers advice for finding out about the next steps in a previous blog post.

About the Recruiter
frank-gentile-2Frank Gentile is a 20+ year veteran of the staffing industry and an experienced recruiter. As a Director at Professional Staffing Group (PSG) Frank oversees the permanent placement division.

Ask A Recruiter: What questions should I ask in an interview?

Q: What questions should I ask during an interview?

A: A job interview is a two-way street. You want to get to know the organization and the people who work there just as much as they want to get to know you. Asking the right questions can help you do this.

There are four types of questions to bring up during an interview:

Questions to help build rapport – Interviews are more than just an exchange of information. They should operate like a good conversation. To start that conversation off on the right foot and keep it running, you will need to build a rapport with the interviewer. Asking questions like, “How long have you been here?” and “What brought you here?” or “What are the main motivating factors that keep people here?” are a great way to start the conversation.

Questions to better understand the intricacies of the role –Naturally, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the job you’re being interviewed for. Presumably, you’ll know most of the basics from the application process or, if you’ve worked with a recruiter, they will have filled you in with as much information as possible ahead of time. You should also do your homework on the company by searching online for information about the organization, people you may know who have worked there and ‘inside’ information about the internal culture of the firm. If you don’t already know the answers, or want to validate the information you’ve uncovered, here are a few questions that will help you better understand the open position:

  • Why is this position open? i.e. is it a brand new role? Or did someone leave the position and, if so, why did they leave?
  • What did previous workers in this position do well? What could be done to take the position to the next level?
  • What are the top three skill sets necessary to be successful in this role?
  • What type of exposure/interaction is there with other groups from the organization? What types of skills are important for those occasions?
  • What are some challenges I might anticipate in this role?
  • Can you describe the personality or culture of this group in the organization?

Sometimes, even if you know the answers in advance, it’s a good idea to ask the questions anyway. For instance, if you’re meeting with multiple people it can be a good way to gather and compare information.

Questions to better understand the company –Finding out about the company and its culture will help you understand the best way to position yourself to be hired there. Much of this type of information can be found by doing research online or by checking with connections who work at the company or in the industry. In fact, the interviewer will expect you to have done some research ahead of time so try to avoid asking questions with answers that could easily be found on your own, e.g. asking about the sales figures or overall health for a public company.

However, you may want to ask about the company’s management strategies with detailed questions that demonstrate your understanding of the company and its place in the market. For example, if you’re interviewing for a job in commercial real estate, you may want to ask about the firm’s strategy for selling properties and making acquisitions over the next 6-12 months. Or, if you’re interviewing for a position in healthcare management you may want to ask about the company’s hiring initiative in light of new healthcare reform mandates. For an interview with a private equity firm, asking about the firm’s involvement with specific industries or the risk associated with certain companies would be expected.

Questions to ask to understand what will happen next – Nothing is worse than feeling as though you aced an interview and then not hearing from the interviewer again. To ensure you’re on the same page, ask the interviewer about the process moving forward and what their timeline is for making a hire. You can also ask whether the interviewer has any further questions for you or if there are any areas that you didn’t cover or on which you could elaborate. If you feel really good about your prospects with the company you could also ask the interviewer if they think there’s anything that could disqualify you for the job. The key to asking this question is being comfortable enough to handle their responses and turn it into an opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself for the role. Asking these questions also gives you an opportunity to express and reiterate your interest in the position, so ask them even if you’re working with a recruiter.

Feel free to write your questions down in advance and even to take notes during the interview (as long as you don’t let it detract from the meeting). I also advise candidates not to ask questions in an initial interview about compensation range, benefits or growth potential. I’m not naïve and wouldn’t suggest that compensation isn’t important to your decision, but other motivators – such as company culture, the job opportunity, the challenges and satisfaction it’s likely to present – rank slightly higher in determining whether the job is right for you. Sometimes the interviewer will volunteer information on compensation but, again, I recommend not dwelling on these topics in an initial interview. If you get the sense that the range being offered is not right for you, you can ask about it in a later interview. There are also other ways to get this information without asking for it directly.

About the Recruiter
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Greg Menzone is a 10-year veteran of the staffing industry who has made hundreds of successful placements. Greg and the team he manages specialize in direct hire placement of accounting and finance professionals.