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The Jaguar – Online Tests and Survival of the Fittest

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 22, 2011 in Building Confidence, Interviewing Skills, Job Search

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Online tests are the jaguar of the jobs world, as they prey on the weak and devour the unprepared. But unfortunately they are the future of recruitment. With such a huge number of people competing for very little work, having the right skills to fit your ideal role is more important than ever. We’re in a drought and the competition is tough, but to survive online tests you just need to follow these simple rules:

Stay Focused

This is the first thing to remember when taking online tests as any lack of concentration will cause you to make mistakes. It’s understandable to be nervous, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get through to the next stage as this will only distract you. In a stressful situation you may react differently and answer questions in a different way than you would if you were in a calm environment. To optimize your chances of surviving online tests choose a quiet place where you feel comfortable and eat beforehand to make sure you have plenty of energy. This will help you maintain control and stay calm. Deep breathing will also help if you’re feeling especially anxious, and don’t think about your competition!

Pace Yourself

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during online tests is to rush. Jobseekers tend to think they’ll run out of time and get caught out but take your time and read the questions slowly and thoroughly. This will help you digest the information and understand the questions being asked. One thing you can do to ensure you pace yourself is to read the questions out loud, or if you prefer to stay quiet write down the questions on a notepad to make sure you really think about what is being said.

Don’t Be Careless

This is linked to you pacing yourself, as spending time to thoroughly check your answers will ensure you don’t make any careless mistakes. Don’t rely on the online tests to warn you of incorrect spellings. Check a dictionary. If you do make mistakes, an employer may think you don’t pay close attention to details, and if the competition is fierce this could be your downfall. Make sure you read through your answers carefully, paying close attention to each word. Rereading sentences as you type them can also help with spellings.

Don’t Stray From the Rules

Often jobseekers get so caught up in the content of their answers that they forget about the correct rules of grammar. This could end your dreams of securing your ideal job, as employers are looking for reasons to narrow down applicants. Employers are looking for good, reliable writers who they can trust to send out written information on their behalf. To stick to the grammar rules and avoid mistakes, write straightforward sentences. Don’t overcomplicate your writing and reread each sentence to check for mistakes. Be specifically aware of any capitalization errors, missing punctuation, sentence fragments and sentence run-ons.

Follow Your Instincts

Another common mistake jobseekers make is to make assumptions about what the employer wants to hear. To survive online tests you must concentrate on what you think is the right answer, not what you think they want. Don’t be afraid to follow your gut instinct. Some jobseekers start to doubt their own ability and try to think from the employer’s perspective. But this leads to answering the question dishonestly, and above all else you need to stay true to yourself. After all, if you don’t get the job then perhaps the company wasn’t right for you. Nobody wants to get a job for the wrong reasons!

So those are the rules. If you follow these you’ll have more chance of surviving online tests and getting that perfect job.

This guest post is contributed by Sarah Leeds.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Mating Ritual – Job Dating (Simple Rules For Interviewers and Interviewees)

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Oct 19, 2009 in Interviewing Skills

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In the jungle, the mating ritual is simple.  It’s an animal’s most basic survival instinct: to mate, procreate, and continue its species.

For much of the human species, mating starts with dating. 

In the workplace, the mating ritual is translated into succession planning, and dating starts with the interview.

Just like dating, interviewing has a few “rules” that both the interviewer and the interviewee should adhere to for best success in the relationship.  Etiquette applies for all parties, so take heed of these ideas to be a good interviewer/interviewee.

FOR COMPANIES – The interviewer

The new economy does not mean you should wait weeks to call people back!  Just as in dating, the three day rule applies.  If you want a candidate to remain interested in working for you, whether they are unemployed or not, you should give them feedback and/or second interviews within 72 hours of their first interview.  In the past few months companies have been dragging out the interview process for weeks and many of the people they started with a month or two ago have moved on…they are already dating someone else seriously and your inability to move your process along often means they don’t want to see you again.

Think long and hard about how many people should be involved in the interview process. You need time before introducing your new love interest to all your friends. Adding even a single person to the interview process empowers them to give you their opinions, which will encourage them to offer their opinions when you may not want them, thus adding to the length of time.  Keep the process tight, and only involve those people who are in direct reporting line and decision makers who are in good standing with the company.  One disgruntled person in the mix can ruin the recruiting process.

If you were dating someone, you wouldn’t call all of the person’s former boyfriends and girlfriends for their opinions as they have already broken up and moved on. Similarly, you shouldn’t check references “off list”.  Many people are searching confidentially and by asking questions of people they currently work with you breach that professional courtesy making you and your company less trustworthy in the marketplace.   Besides, let’s face it, work is work and we often have professional disagreements with people in the workplace.  Reference checks should be limited to the former supervisors, peers, and subordinates the candidate has provided to you as their references.  These are people with whom they have developed working relationships and the former co-worker you may know from church, LinkedIn, or other civic groups may not be able to speak to the true skills and abilities of the person interviewing.  Besides, who’s to say they weren’t in the race for the same promotion in the past or something, even worse, what if they dated outside the office in the past? Many people look for open avenues to gossip about others so don’t fall victim to some people’s need to focus on negatives when we can all find something positive about everyone when push comes to shove.  

FOR CANDIDATES – The interviewee

Many companies do phone interviews first, something they are placing increasing emphasis on as in many cases they save time and money. Answer your phone professionally and in a positive manner at all times.  If you are busy and can’t speak, DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE.  You only get one chance to make a first impression and if you don’t impress someone on the first call, you’re unlikely to get a call back.  You need to be equally prepared for these interviews as if you were sitting in front of the CEO of the company him- or herself.

Express interest and enthusiasm, even if the topic may not be at the top of your list.  Just as when you’re out on a first date and the conversation veers to something more mundane, you maintain interest if you’re attracted to the person physically.  If you’re attracted to a company financially, you should be astute in all conversations with any parties involved.

Don’t expect a proposal on the second, or even third date.  A recent article in the NY Times reiterated what we are seeing in the market, longer, more complex interview processes leading to protracted job searches. Don’t get discouraged! Just make sure you have that fabulous interview outfit for the next meeting ready to go.

Always send a thank you note!  Common courtesy goes a long way.

For more job search tips, please visit where you can find resources on interviewing, resume writing, and making a great first impression!

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!

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