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Everything You Need to Know About Video Interviews

The emergence of video interviews in recruiting practices and job search strategies is inescapable.  While the use of video interviewing is gaining steam and becoming a popular strategy for both job seekers and employers, we’ve found that over 50% of the companies […]...

3 benefits to using a staffing firm in your job search

Sometimes a job search can feel isolating. You're spending hours upon hours searching for opportunities, working on your resume and applying to job openings, often without having any outside feedback about what you're doing right or wrong. That isolation can add a lot of emotional stress to an already nerve-wracking experience.

What you may not realize is that you don't have to go it alone. "Psychologists tell us that next to death of a spouse, death of a child and death of a parent, the fourth most emotional experience we have, coupled with divorce, is searching for a job. It is emotionally stressful," says Tony Beshara, owner and president of Babich & Associates, the oldest placement and recruitment service in Texas. "A professional staffing firm can help eliminate that emotional stress. Staffing firms are in the trenches on a daily basis with candidates and employers."

Beshara says the three key advantages of using a staffing firm are experience, insights and confidential opportunities. Read on to learn more about these benefits and how staffing firms can play a crucial role in helping you find your next career:

1. Experience
According to Beshara, the average U.S. professional changes jobs every two and a half to three years. So that means a worker may go a long stretch of time before needing to engage in a job search. Staffing firm recruiters, on the other hand, live and breathe the job-search process daily.

Beshara points out that within the period of time between job searches, the job market can change – sometimes drastically. "The staffing professional is current on exactly what is going on in the immediate market. They have a unique perspective that the job seeker will not have. The market for a particular skill or experience is never the same as it was three years ago. It isn't likely any job candidate is going to be aware of that change. So, the 'new' candidate may think that finding a job is going to be like 'last time,' but it's not."

A knowledgeable staffing professional can help navigate a job seeker through the market changes, so the job seeker is less likely to encounter any surprises or challenges along the way. "The experienced staffing pro doesn't give theoretical or abstract advice, but practical 'this is the way it is ... this is what you should expect ... this is what we should do' advice," Beshara says.

2. Insights
One of the often frustrating parts about job searching is not getting any feedback from employers as to why you aren't the right fit for a role. When working with a staffing firm, you get access to that kind of information, which can help improve your search now and down the line.

"Staffing professionals have insights that candidates can't get anywhere else," Beshara says. "Since the majority of us work the same clients and the same hiring mangers over many years, we know what they like and how they like it, what they will hire and what they won't. Since we get to know them personally, we not only understand the job they are trying to fill but we know their personalities and personal likes and dislikes. We give those insights to our candidates to be sure both parties have the best chance of success not in just getting a job, but [in having] a long, solid employment relationship."

3. Confidential opportunities
According to a 2014 study conducted by CareerBuilder and Inavero, the attribute job seekers value the most in staffing sales representatives or recruiters is that they can find opportunities job seekers wouldn't be able to find themselves. Not only is that because staffing professionals are skilled at knowing which jobs might be the right fit, but it's also because they are privy to opportunities that job seekers wouldn't normally have access to.

"Because our clients trust us, they come to us with confidential job opportunities before they go to the general market," Beshara says. "We have access to the 'hidden' job market. Hiring authorities will often ask us to fill positions that even people in their own organization don't know about."

Sometimes, there doesn't even need to be a job opening for a staffing firm to get you a job. "Again, because of trust and insight, we know the kinds of employers that are interested in certain types of experience, whether or not they are 'actively looking' for a candidate," Beshara notes. "One-third of the positions we fill don't exist before we call a hiring authority representing a candidate we know they would be interested in speaking with. Employers will hire exceptional candidates when they come along even if they don't have a formal opening. A good staffing professional knows his or her hiring authorities well enough to know the kind of candidate they'd be interested in even if they aren't formally 'looking.'"

Have you had a positive experience working with a staffing firm? Tweet us at @CareerBuilder and let us know!

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5 tricky questions your boss will ask (and how to answer them)

Landing a job doesn't mean your days of navigating difficult questions are over. You should be prepared to handle sticky queries if and when your boss lobs them your way.

You may face one or more of these awkward questions at some point in your career. Here are ways you can respond to them professionally so you don't damage the relationship with your boss.

1. "Are you looking for a new job?"
If you're putting yourself back on the job market, tell the truth. Chances are that your boss has a good reason for asking, so a denial will only make you look bad. But don't overshare. This question isn't an invitation to air all your complaints about the position or the company. When responding, keep the focus on you and your career. And keep the answer short and to the point:

  • "I'm interested in exploring positions in a different industry."
  • "I'm thinking about relocating to another city."
  • "A former colleague contacted me about an exciting opportunity, and I feel I should look into it."
  • "I'm looking for a position with more flexibility."
  • "I don't feel I'm making much progress here."

If your boss presses for details, be polite and reiterate the reason you just gave. Then, emphasize that you're committed to doing your job to the best of your ability.

2. "Have you heard the latest about Jamie?"
Co-workers who spread rumors are difficult enough to deal with, but having a boss who engages in office gossip is a potential nightmare. The trick is declining to participate without sounding like a scold or Goody Two-shoes. Your best option is to give a noncommittal response such as, "I really haven't heard," and then either change the topic or leave the conversation. Maintain an attitude of polite disinterest. Once your boss realizes you're not a gossiper, he will drop the subject.

3. "How would you rate my performance as a manager?"
This question is particularly tricky because you might not know your boss's motivation. Has upper management requested that she seek feedback from employees, or is she genuinely interested in constructive criticism? Maybe she's just fishing for compliments. If the latter, an honest critique could hurt the relationship with your boss.

To stay on safe ground, lead with positive feedback. If she presses for ways on how she could improve, there's no need to make a laundry list. Choose one aspect of her managerial style that could use some work, and make it actionable. For example, you could tell her, "The next time there's a new project, I'd like a little more guidance so I don't go in the wrong direction."

4. "How would you rate your performance during Q3?"
Balance is the key when it comes to this sticky question. Start by outlining what you did well, and reference tangible results such as exceeding goals or meeting tight deadlines. Then discuss a few ways you might do better next time. To show you're serious about self-improvement, ask your boss for his assessment — and any tips for Q4.

5. "Can you take on this project (that no one else will do)?"
You may feel that you have to say yes to every request in order to maintain a good relationship with your boss. While it's occasionally necessary to "take one for the team," you need to be honest about how Project X will affect your present workload and whether it's within the scope of your job description.

If you're genuinely reluctant to lead this project, tell your manager that you simply don't have the bandwidth to do it justice and get all of your regular assignments done on time. But also think about what may happen if you agree: If leading Project X will win you points with the boss and prove your leadership skills, it might be worth the extra work to say yes — this time.

Sticky questions can catch you off guard. And depending on how you answer them, you could risk jeopardizing an otherwise healthy relationship with your boss. Tact, honesty and careful wording are strategies that will serve you well in smoothing over potentially awkward situations.

Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, read our blog at blog.roberthalf.com or follow us on social media at roberthalf.com/follow-us.

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How to answer 5 tough interview questions

We all have interview questions we secretly pray a prospective employer won't ask us. Whether you find them vague and confusing, or you think they are uncomfortable topics, or you simply aren't sure how to approach answering them, for some reason these questions always trip you up and jeopardize your chances of getting hired.

But with proper preparation, a little practice and the right approach, you can master even the most daunting questions from across the table.

Here are some of the questions job seekers most dread, and tips on how to handle them.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself

This question is asked in nearly every first-round interview, yet many job seekers still struggle with it. Given the question's open-ended and broad-scope phrasing, plus the fact that it's often the very first "official" interview question, its not surprising interviewees stress over finding the "right" answer. The key is preparation and brevity.

"Don't waste time talking through your entire resume down to every detail, as they already have that information in their hand. Avoid personal and irrelevant information as well," says Jennifer Lee Magas, vice president, Magas Media Consultants. "Instead, provide your elevator speech – a concise 30-second overview of who you are, what you have done—jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, sports, leadership roles—and how this can help a future employer."

2. Why should we hire you?

This common question often trips up candidates because it's blunt and to the point. Once again, this question requires a bit of preparation—in particular, a clear understanding of the job description, requirements and expectations.

"People don't do well with this one because they don't review the job qualifications ahead of time. The interviewer wants to know what you will do specifically for this position, not general statements about yourself," Magas says. "Organize your thoughts using the PAR acronym, or Problem, Action, Results. Quickly illustrate your worth by outlining a problem you dealt with at work, what specific action you took to solve that problem, and how your solution ultimately benefited the organization in terms of saved money or time."

3. Why are you leaving your current company?

Past actions are a good indicator of future ones, so discussing your current employer during a job interview can be tricky. The best way to approach this is to not dwell on the negatives.

"Absolutely 100 percent stay positive when asked why you are leaving your current company. It should be about opportunity [and] growth," says Ricardo Estevez, director of Career Services at The Art Institute of Washington. "Make sure the job you're applying for is moving forward. If you are changing careers, you can express how passionate you are about the new field into which you are transitioning."

"You should never bash a previous supervisor, or employer in general," agrees David Bakke, career expert at Money Crashers. "You could say something like your old boss was a stickler for details, but that it ultimately made you a better employee."

4. What are your salary expectations?

Discussing money is something of a taboo in our culture, so it's understandable that so many job seekers struggle when the question of salary comes up in the interview. It also happens to be one of the most crucial—raises, bonuses and even future job offers are usually based on your salary.

"Usually you know what your value on the market is, or at least a range. You also know how much you need to live comfortably and pay your bills," says Heather Neisen, HR manager at TechnologyAdvice. "Ultimately, this question is best answered with 'Here's what I'm aiming for in my search and why—I now have my master's, I now have the experience, etc.' Just like every part of the interview, you and the employer are looking for a fit. Don't waste their time or your time. State what your salary range is and if they can't be flexible, you have the ability to end the process."

5. How many ridges are there around the edge of a quarter?

Or, if you were shrunk down to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out? What about, how many traffic lights are in Manhattan?

Sometimes interview questions are just plain weird. If you're faced with a question that seems both unrelated to the job and more like a brainteaser or riddle than an interview question, don't panic. In many cases the interviewer is less interested in what your answer is than in how you answer.

"Companies like Google are famous for asking very unusual interview questions, so don't be surprised if it starts happening more and more with smaller firms as well," says Tim Backes, career adviser, resume expert and hiring manager at Resume Genius. "They are looking for someone who will give an answer and not just stumble over their words and repeat the question a dozen times as well as someone who shows both a clear train of thought, no matter if it's based solely in logic or it's creative. They also want to see confidence, but not arrogance. No matter what you do, remember to keep your composure and answer any unusual question to the best of your ability."

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