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Interview Tips: The Answers Employers Are Looking For – Insight from Stan Duncan, Westfield

People power boils down to one thing: potential. Just ask Stan Duncan, Senior Executive Vice President of U.S. Human Resources and Global Head of Management for Westfield. In the 20-plus years that Stan Duncan has worked with human resources divisions in several multinational companies that offer small business credit cards. He’s learned a thing or two about what makes a good job candidate. He’s learned which specific resources are vital to those who are ultimately hired and, more importantly, which questions to ask those candidates. Duncan says that it’s all about the candidate opening up to tell you what they want, what they have done, what will make them successful, and most importantly: “Why they do what they do. ”

According to Duncan, having a prospective employee reveal what they see as their own abilities and competence is a surefire way to not only get a raw understanding of their pros and cons, but also to get an understanding of their ability to adapt and their potential to last in the long term. “We aren’t looking for super-humans; in my two decades as an HR executive, I’ve yet to meet one. We want people who are talented, but most importantly, willing to grow and change as the company grows and changes, too. I believe people who know a lot about themselves do the best selling themselves in an interview. Basically, make sure you’re introducing yourself, presenting the real you in the interview.”

Duncan is certainly not shy about his two decades’ of experience as an interviewer. That was proven when he was asked what he’s learned when it comes to hiring the right people: “Doing this for 20 years certainly helps you see the big picture; it’s all about potential.” Duncan has been around long enough to see what works for the long-term–such as 0 interest balance transfer cards- and what only succeeds in the short term, and his reflections have resulted in him founding an HR model that prizes a prospective worker’s long-term potential over short-term spunk.

“Working in human resources for companies that focus on everything from career apparel, managed services, aerospace glass manufacturing to chemical agent creation has allowed me to see what always stays the same despite the change in labor practices, techniques, and strategies. Human resources are universal in that HR personnel are always seeking out that potential for a long-term employee presence once they’re hired. That’s because longevity in employment means a stronger, more developed team, which increases the likelihood that each member reaches their potential due to the longstanding support of one another.”

Without a guiding vision, the potential of individual talent to serve something greater is often wasted. Asking the right questions and paying close attention as human resources workers is the only way to uncover that potential and make sure the talent stays around long enough to make an impact. Let Stan Duncan’s success show you what can be accomplished in 20 years if you put your mind to it.

This is a guest post from Sam Peters, a blogger who enjoys writing about career development.


Candidate question: When should you follow up on your job application?

I asked the Twitter community a couple days ago for their job search and career questions. The response was overwhelming! I will be selecting several reader's questions over the next few weeks to answer on the blog. If you have a job search question you would like to see here, please submit it here. Your name and contact information will NOT be posted.


If a job posting doesn't specify that they will contact you, how long is a sufficient amount of time to wait before checking on the status of your resume?


Waiting one week to follow up from a resume submission is good rule if you have emailed it to a general email address or human resources department. Far too often candidates complain their resume goes to the "black hole." If you′re lucky, you might get an automated response from a job advertisement.

It's important to remember, some ads generated hundreds of responses a day and many companies have tools to automate the entry of resumes into their applicant tracking systems. They may not be looking at every resume individually. The hiring manager may not even be involved at this stage and instead she is relying on the human resources department to pre-qualify and pre-screen candidates.

The best way to make sure your resume gains the attention it deserves for the position is tweak it to fit the job description. Think about what keywords someone might use to search a database to fill an open requisition. Your goal is to be on that short-list.

If you know someone within the company you are applying, it′s always better to have an internal recommendation. If your contact can walk your resume into the hiring manager or the HR department directly, your chances getting an interview improve greatly. Ask your contact to let you know when your resume has been received and follow up directly with the hiring contact in a day or two on the phone if possible or by email.

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In both cases, your follow-up should be concise, yet reiterate your interest in the position, and highlight your accomplishments and qualifications that make you a good fit for the open position. Don′t assume the company knows who you are or remembers what position you applied for. As wonderful it as it would be to hear a yes or no, don′t take it personally if you don′t hear back.

Photo credit: Mdezemery [Flickr]

Interviewing 101 for job seekers and hiring managers

A Cheating Oldie But Goodie

Photo by Jared Stein

Thanks to HR World for compiling this excellent cheat sheet of links to help the job seekers and hiring managers interview better. It doesn't mater how confident you are with your awesome interviewing skills, even the most awesome get hung up on something in an interview from time to time.

I recommend candidates also study resources applicable to hiring managers. Understanding the process from their perspective and what they are looking for will only help you to present yourself better.

Here's a brief overview of the type of information compiled in the 100 resources.

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  • Sample interview questions for candidates and good answers
  • Types of interviews
  • Tips and interview techniques for hiring managers
  • Interviewing strategies for candidates
  • How to dress
  • What not to do on an interview
  • Interview preparation steps and advice
  • After interview follow-up and thank you letters
  • Resume help

The list is extensive, so no need repeating here. Enjoy!


The Interviewing Cheat Sheet: 100 Resources for Interviewers and Candidates -

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Don't get canned for Facebook comments

The Economist recently published an article, Lose Face: A tale of two airlines and their Facebook fiascos, detailing the recent firings of staff members over disparaging remarks left about customers and the airline on Facebook.

Virgin Airlines was the first to discover 13 employees making comments. According to The Economist, "crew members joked that some Virgin planes were infested with cockroaches and described customers as 'chavs', a disparaging British term for people with flashy bad taste."

Shortly after, British Airways followed suit and "began investigating the behaviour of several employees who had described some passengers as 'smelly' and 'annoying' in Facebook postings."

This is one of many examples of how what one says in what could be considered a private or invite only forum by a user could affect current and future opportunities. Anything posted online is a digital footprint that could follow you for a very long time. A good rule of thumb is to post what you would feel comfortable with others seeing - like your boss, future employer, grandmother or children. If you have to really think if it's appropriate, it's probably a good idea to not go there.

On the other hand, companies need to take responsibility for being very clear with their employees about the online policies towards posting information associated with the company. Companies should trust employees to use these tools appropriately, but they need to be diligent about monitoring what's being said out there on the social web and perhaps join the conversation when appropriate.

What's your take?

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