R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to your boss!


One of the drawbacks to the so called “selfie” culture is the loss of the true meaning of RESPECT.

Numerous times I’ve heard this common interview blunder…

Question: “What kinds of traits would you most like to see in a manager or boss?” or “What would your expectations be from a supervisor?”

Answer: “Someone who respects me”


There are 3 reasons why this answer is incorrect:

  1. Respect is a strong word that gives the impression that you’ve felt a lack of it in a previous position. They’ll read that you have a “chip” on your shoulder so whenever possible leave past feelings at the interview room door!
  2. While the lack of respect may have been true, it invariably screams “entitled” or “self-centered” and therefore not a team player.
  3. Most employers are old school and had to work their way up the ranks the hard way. Therefore, they inevitably see respect as something earned NOT given

Remember, when answering these questions you need to think from a manager’s perspective and how you’d like to be viewed by your employees.

So, how should you answer this question?

You can say:

 “Someone who’s knowledgeable”

 “Someone who has an open-door policy”

 “Someone who’s fair”

What boss or manager wouldn’t want to be seen as approachable or equitable? As well, since these are “soft” traits they are less likely to elicit strong reactions, which is definitely something you want to avoid!

To read more about how the so-called “selfie” culture is affecting workplace dynamics check out this blog post:

From “Selfie-ism” to Teamwork


5 things you MUST ask when choosing references

Reference checks are now standard practice, so really everyone should have their reference people lined up WAY before the interview even happens. So how do you start? You’ll need to put together a list of possible candidates, and then from those candidates you must ask yourself who would best represent you. Remember you need to think like an employer!

1. Are they a work, character / personal, or volunteer reference?

It’s a good idea to have a few under each category, especially if you are going for several different positions or changing careers. Although more and more employers are requesting work related references only, you can include these other types if it isn’t specified and don’t forget about teachers or trainers!

2. What skills, attributes and experience can they speak to?

If they can’t say anything about you other then that you worked for them or they’re unclear on what you actually did, then they won’t be a good reference. However, if they’re a recent employer you may have no choice, in this case your other work references need to be stronger and able to speak to what this employer can’t. Consider supervisors or co-workers as additional options.

3. Can they even be a reference?

Be aware of company policies regarding references, for example those who work in sectors with vulnerable persons, such as children, victims of violence or other protected persons will find that confidentiality may be an issue.

4. Is distance an issue?

If your references are not local or are a great distance from HR, try to get their email or if possible a 1-800 number, few employers would be willing to incur extra costs unless they have a great long distance plan!

5. Reference letter vs. Reference call

Many employers prefer to give reference letters yet it’s often these same employers who won’t accept them when hiring new staff! To be honest this is perfectly understandable, wouldn’t you rather talk to a living, breathing person?

Lastly, even though most employers will ask for 3 reference people, always have at least 5 lined up. With vacations, sick or MAT leaves you don’t want to be down a person at the last second.


Keep the trash where it belongs!

If you’ve had a nightmare experience at your last job, don’t let previous work woes sabotage your future prospects. Chips on your shoulder the size of Texas are going to be obvious when interviewers ask, “Why did you leave your last job?” or “What would your previous boss have to say about you?” If your answer goes something like; “they were spawns of an evil empire whose sole purpose was to target me for annihilation” then you probably won’t come across vey well…

I once did a mock interview with a former client who proceeded to rant about his former employer. When I discussed the negative consequences of this dialogue, he replied that he thought it would show a prospective employer that he thought their company was better. This was definitely an unusual way of looking at it! I reminded him that when faced with a rant, most employers think the following:

  1. Will this person bring this kind of negativity into my company?
  2. If they can’t control their emotions now, how will they be on the job?
  3. Will they trash talk me when my back is turned?

 At the same time, you don’t want to avoid the question altogether since that will also give off “red flags.” The best way to handle such a question is with class and tact. Don’t go into the details, take ownership for mistakes and show you’re open and willing to move on.

 For example, you can simply say: “It wasn’t a good fit”

 If interviewers press you for details, you can maybe mention a difference in “core values”

 Then instead of leaving it in such a way that the employer is unsure what you mean, tie it into their “core values” (which is often found on company websites under mission, vision and values) and explain how you believe that their values are a better match.

 This type of answer does one of two things:

  1. It takes a negative and turns it positive
  2. It shows that you understand and believe in their culture

 Now kick that trash to the curb and move on to bigger and better things!



Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program and blogger for MCACESBlogs. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts created for job seekers and their peers by students of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. Like what you see? Be sure to follow our blog today! The MCACES Employment Advisement Program is also on Pinterest! Follow us! http://www.pinterest.com/mcacesjobsearch

“When the obvious isn’t” Surprising interview mistakes


Many interviewers ask the question; “Where do you see yourself in ____ years?” If you’ve heard this question before, the answer may seem obvious, such as  “working with your company…climbing the corporate ladder blah blah blah” you get the picture, but believe it or not even the most seemingly simple interview questions can trip people up.

A case in point…

A few years ago, a confident and friendly lady came into the office looking for advice on her job search. She was clearly frustrated with the lack of progress she was making in getting a job as an Admin Assistant, since she’d landed multiple interviews but hadn’t gotten any job offers. Since she’d just started searching and the calls for interviews were numerous, it was clear that her resume was good and her skills and experience were in high demand. As our chat continued it was obvious she presented very well and was extremely articulate, so no problems there. Needless to say I was stumped….why was she not getting hired?

I decided the best way to find out was through a mock interview. The day of the interview everything was going great, her answers were strong and to the point, that is until the aforementioned question: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” then came the shocking truth.

She answered “she wanted the interviewers job since she had the skills and experience to do it just as well if not better.”


 Everything fell into place; I’d finally had my answer. I then asked her how the hiring managers responded, she said they usually stared at her then promptly ended the interview. Not surprising to say the least! I’d do the same….

Apparently she received some bad advice from a well-meaning friend regarding how to handle this question. Her friend thought it showed initiative and drive and unfortunately my former client had been using it ever since! Luckily this “tactic” was nipped in the bud, but it goes to show that sometimes seemingly straightforward questions can cause major problems.

Oh, and yes she did get a great job in her field shortly after.

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program and MCACESBlogger. Like what you read? Be sure to follow MCACESBlogs and join our active social media community, http://www.facebook.com/mcaces. 

3 Questions to ask BEFORE the Interview

Getting called for an interview is THE goal of the job search process. Exuberance can easily trump rationale if you aren’t careful.

When a job seeker receives a phone call for an interview, sometimes the excitement and nervous energy can replace the need to ask some important questions. If the following information is not provided by the recruiter or human resources professional prior to the interview, these questions may assist in preparing for the process.

Use these 3 questions to ensure “getting the call” goes smoothly.

Where do I go?                                                                                                                                                                   The bigger the company, the more challenging it may be to find your interview destination. There may be a visitor’s parking area or a specific entrance that’s closest to the interview location. Whether you drive or take public transit, be sure to do a “test run” of how long it will take you to get to the location.

Who will be interviewing me?                                                                                                                                      It’s perfectly acceptable for a job seeker to know who in the company will be present at the interview. It may alleviate some anxiety knowing who (and how many) people will be there. Such information could also assist you with thinking up some questions to ask for the interview.

Is there anything in addition to the interview itself that I should prepare for?                      Many job interviews consist of a question and answer period in addition to some type of testing or presentation process depending on the scope of the position. It’s always best to be prepared ahead of time. Sometimes, an employer may surprise job candidates, and not inform them of any tests.

Be rational.

If a job posting lists proficiency with a specific program, or that the position requires a good amount of public speaking, chances are you will be tested on the competencies that are heavily weighted within the job description.


Lidia Siino is the Professional Development and Communications Strategist for MCACES, the Mohawk College Association of Continuing Education Students. MCACESBlogs is a series of blog posts created by students and faculty from the Career Consultant Certificate Program for readers seeking new and improved levels of employment. Like what you read? Be sure to follow MCACESBlogs. Happy reading!


Weird Interview Questions

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” What are your greatest weaknesses?” ‘Why do you want to work here?” We’ve all heard these questions plenty of times in job interviews. And while they are annoying, we are usually prepared to answer them. However, a question we may not be ready for could be, “What do you think of garden gnomes?” or “Name 10 things you could do with a pencil besides writing.” But these are actually real questions used in interviews, according to Highest Paying Careers.org and Yahoo! Finance.

Within the last ten to fifteen years, some strange and different interview questions have come into use among job interviewers around the world. Some of these questions sound like “pop” quizzes from magazines, some sound like a psychiatric evaluation, some appear to be logical, and some don’t make much sense at all.  In fact, a recent survey found that two out of five candidates had been asked a ‘weird’ question in their interview.


The logic behind the madness:  These sort of “out there” questions are not the sort you can prepare for. But that’s why they’re asking it.  These off-the-wall questions are designed to make you think, think creatively and quickly, and tap into your inner resources and personality components.   Often, employers just want to gauge your personality to see if you’re a good fit for their company and see the way you’d approach a problem that, on the surface, seems crazy. They want you to show willingness to adapt and think on the spot – you’d be surprised how many people can’t.


How to respond:  No matter how weird you think the question is, you need to try and be creative and answer the question.  It’s ok to express some surprise, ‘I wasn’t expecting that, let me think’ – but you do need to offer a response. Showing a sense of humour can help – in fact, this type of questioning may even help you to relax.

Your answer will provide insight into your problem solving abilities among other things, so be enthusiastic, creative and enjoy the challenge. Your ability to think on your feet, be spontaneous and deal with tricky situations is important, and this opportunity could potentially have more impact than any other question.  The key is to take your time to think about the question and why they might be asking it. How can it relate to the company or technical know-how? Or is it just there to test your personality and creativity? Apply a reasonable rationale to your answer and your efforts will be recognized.

ImageHere are some examples of questions you could face and how you might answer them:

Who is your favourite movie character?

Your friends may have a nickname for you, but is this the kind of workplace personality you want to project? Think of characters that have qualities employers are looking for, whether it’s someone who is heroic (Superman), a champion (Rocky), an inventor, etc. Avoid picking the villain and don’t pick an obscure film that no one knows.

If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?

Think about what impression and strengths different trees have.  What qualities would an employer like to you to possess.  Pick a tree that represents those qualities and give your reason.  For example, an oak tree is strong and mighty.  A willow tree is weepy?  Who would an employer rather hire?

If you were a Microsoft Office program which would you be?

While based on a common office tool, this question can reflect a lot about you, your personality and how you like to work. Access might suggest excellent  organization, Outlook that you are a communicator and enjoy interacting with colleagues and customers, and PowerPoint might infer that you understand the world through visual impact and making bold statements.

The important thing to remember with weird interview questions is that they are just one part of the process. Embrace them as an opportunity to expand on your potential beyond your resume and traditional interview questions and show your more creative side.

The S.A.R. Method

Situation, Action, Result

Behavioural Interview Questions ~ These are questions that are asking you to give examples or stories of a time when…Image

Situation ~ It is important to be as clear as you can when describing the situation so the interviewer does not have any problems understanding your actions and the outcome.

Some questions to consider when thinking about describing a situation:

What was the issue? Where did it happen? How were you involved?

Action ~ The interviewer needs to know how you handled the situation so that they can see how you will handle similar situations in the future. So questions to think about when explaining your actions are: What job did you do? How did you solve the problem?

Result ~ Always tell the interviewer the result. They want to know if your action solved the problem. Some questions to consider when describing the result are: How did the situation end? What was your role in the end of the situation?

For example: Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an angry customer?

  1. Situation: I was working as a Server in a busy restaurant when a customer became very upset because he had to wait a long time for his meal.
  2. Action: I listened to his concern, apologized and advised the customer that I would check on the order. I asked the kitchen to put a rush on his order. When I took it to the table, I offered the customer a free dessert, as this was our policy.
  3. Result: He was happy and left a comment card stating that he would return in the future because I had taken his complaint seriously.

This post was written by Nadine Yacoub a student of the Career Consultant certificate program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Like what you see? Be sure to follow this blog for the latest and greatest tips, tools and strategies relating to job search! For more information, please contact Lidia Siino, Program Manager at lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca. Happy reading!