Handling tough questions at a job interview

If you’re preparing for a job interview, it’s impossible to anticipate all the questions, so on some level it’s more important to be relaxed and be comfortable about discussing your career goals, the potential job and your previous experience. That said, it’s important to prepare. Part of that involves doing research on the company and the prospective job, but you also need to be prepared for the tough interview questions that pop up often in interviews.

Forbes has an article about how to answer the 10 toughest interview questions. They don’t go very in-depth into the answers, but the advice is solid and it’s a good list.


Physician Assistant Jobs on the Rise


Physician assistants are in high demand and the trend is expected to continue through 2018. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for physician assistants is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations—to the tune of 39 percent from 2008-2018. The healthcare industry is experiencing tremendous growth overall, accounting for 26 percent of all new jobs created in the U.S. today. But like many other occupations in the healthcare industry, such as registered nurses and occupational therapists, physician assistants are right at the top of the list for job growth. 

 Physician assistant jobs are also ranked high on the pay scale—even for first-year graduates. Although income varies by specialty, location, years of experience, and geographical location, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants’ 2008 Census Report, median income for first-year graduates was an impressive $74,470. A recent Forbes article discussing the ‘best master’s degrees for jobs’ told the story of one graduate who switched careers in 2006, graduated from a two-year physician assistant master’s program at Duke University in 2008, and found a job as a physician assistant that paid more than triple his old salary as a teacher.

 Shane Tysinger graduated in 2008, in the middle of a recession, but says there were jobs everywhere for students in his graduating class. Today he works in an Eden, N.C. clinic that focuses on family medicine. His salary has more than tripled from his days as a teacher. “I found the career I was meant to do,” says Tysinger.

In May 2008, the median annual wage for physician assistants was $81,320. The middle 50 percent earned between $68,210 and $97,070 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,360. The top ten percent earned $110,240 per year.

To become a physician assistant, you must complete a training program at an accredited school of allied health, academic health center, medical school, or four-year college. A few accredited training programs are available at community colleges, through the military, and at hospitals. As of 2008, there were 142 education programs for physician assistants accredited or provisionally accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. Eighty percent of these programs offered a master’s degree, 21 offered a bachelor’s degree, three awarded associate degrees, and five awarded a certificate.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

All States and the District of Columbia have legislation governing the practice of physician assistants. All jurisdictions require physician assistants to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and open only to graduates of accredited PA education programs.

100 hours of continuing medical education every two years is mandatory in order to order to remain certified, plus successful completion of a re-certification examination every six years. 


Can Working Overseas Help You Get a Job Back Home?

Downtown Hong Kong 

There’s no doubt about it – even with solid job growth in dozens of career fields for the 2008-2018 projections decade, the competition for high-paying positions is still intense. Employers are always on the look out for the cream of the crop, so today’s young job seeker must accumulate admirable list of accomplishments in order to have a leg up on everyone else.

Besides having an impressive list of accomplishments at the academic level, employers such as Ernst & Young are also interested in applicants who have worked overseas in an internship or other job, or served with an organization such as the Peace Corps. Ernst & Young’s director of campus recruiting for the Americas, Dan Black, says that as far as he is concerned, young applicants with this background have a leg up on everyone else.

“We definitely see overseas experience as an advantage,” he says. He directs campus hiring for the London-based accounting and consulting giant, which has 140,000 employees worldwide. “Our clients are demanding more of us these days,” he explains. “They want diversity of thought and diversity of values, and many of our clients are multinationals.”

Employers feel the advantages do not stop here.

Dawn Chandler, a management professor at California Polytechnic State University, notes that spending time abroad can teach workers to deal with very different leadership styles. In Scandinavian countries, for instance, leadership is more egalitarian and participatory and less authoritarian. In Asia, on the other hand, the gulf in power between junior employees and leaders is much deeper. The U.S. falls somewhere in between.

Another advantage, notes Chandler: Time overseas familiarizes you with international legislation and standards. “If your firm wants to open a plant in China, it helps if you know how to get through the bureaucracy there,” she says.

Finding yourself a member of a minority group in a foreign country can be character building, both professionally and personally, notes Gary Baker, the U.S. global mobility leader for the consulting and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has offices in 154 countries. “It gives you a greater respect for other cultures, and you learn to be better at managing teams that are diverse.”

According to Mary Ann Walsh, a New York career and executive coach specializing in global talent management, climbing the ladder overseas is much faster than climbing the career ladder in the U.S.

Walsh has a number of American clients who moved overseas shortly after college and graduate school. They advanced much more quickly than if they had tried to climb the career ladder in the U.S. One young woman who works in financial services is already doing deals with senior Chinese executives even though she doesn’t speak Mandarin.

Another client of Walsh’s headed to London for a financial services job straight from college. Then he went to Hong Kong. He lost that job, but he was quickly snatched up by a boutique firm. Now 30 years old, he was recently hired by Goldman Sachs ( GS – news – people ) in Asia. “Over there, the recession was just a blip on the radar screen,” Walsh notes.

Working overseas is not just for fresh graduates. Mid-career professionals tend to move up faster with their current company after returning from a stint overseas as well. If you are interested in working overseas, opportunities for Americans are abundant in China, Brazil, and Russia.

To learn more about getting a job overseas, pick up a copy of International Jobs: Where They Are and How to Get Them by Nina Segal. Segal is an international career development consultant in New York.


Common Myths and Misconceptions About Job Interviews

Job Interview

A recent Forbes report has helped ease the fears of the millions of job seekers that march out the door each day in hopes of acing that all-important interview. What most interviewees don’t realize is, even the interviewer can be nervous, distracted, ill-prepared, and a host of other things that can affect the way they ask questions and respond to your answers.

For your reading pleasure, Forbes has compiled a top ten list of “things” that are considered to be common myths of job interviewing. So, the thing to take away from this article is this: don’t go home after your interview and waste time and energy raking every word you said over the coals, because what you didn’t say or do might actually seal the deal for you.

1. The interviewer is prepared.
The person interviewing you is likely harried and overworked, because he needs to hire someone. He may have barely glanced at your résumé and given no thought to your qualifications.

2. The interviewer asks good questions.
Many interviewers prepare no questions in advance beyond “Tell me about yourself.” “They usually just wing it,” says David Couper, a Los Angeles career and executive coach and the author of Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career … Even When You Don’t Fit In.

3. They want you to accept their offer of refreshment.
Interviewers feel obliged to be polite and offer you a drink, but they do not really want to go fetch that cup of tea.

4. The interviewer wants additional materials like references.
Unless you’re a designer or writer, the interviewer does not want you to hand over reports or reference materials.

5. There’s a right answer to an interviewer’s question.
When you’re asked a tough question, the interviewer is usually more interested in seeing how you go about addressing it than in precisely what you end up saying.

6. You should keep your answers short.
The interviewer doesn’t want to have to think of another question to ask you. “If you’re giving information that’s hitting what they need to know, then they’re happy,” says Couper.

7. Hiring managers value skills over physical attractiveness.
There’s a lot of research that demonstrates that looks do matter, Couper says. What should an unattractive job seeker do? “Plastic surgery,” he deadpans.

8. When they ask where you want to be in five years, they want you to demonstrate ambition.
What they really want: your willingness to toil away at the same job happily and indefinitely.

9. If you’re invited to an interview, the job is still open.
Frequently hiring managers just go through the motions of interviewing candidates after having picked an inside applicant or someone with a personal connection to the company.

10. The most qualified person gets the job.
Couper himself says he’s hired less qualified but friendlier applicants over more talented job seekers who seemed they might be difficult to get along with. 


Guess Who’s Hiring?

Delhi, India Metro Train

Delhi, India Metro Train

The figures are in. According to Forbes, the U.S. has a 9 percent hiring outlook for the first quarter of 2011. Under the circumstances, this is decent, if not good news for Americans. The adjusted Outlook for Quarter 1 2011 is up from +5% during the same period last year and +5% during Quarter 4 2010. The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey also revealed:

-Five Straight Quarters of Employment Growth: Employers report a positive overall hiring Outlook since the start of 2010, according to seasonally adjusted data.

-Widespread Stability: The percentage of employers planning to keep staff levels unchanged persists at unsurpassed levels, and those in seven of the 13 industry sectors surveyed expect to remain relatively stable compared to Quarter 4 2010.

-Current Outlook Still Below Past Decade’s Average: Despite positive signals, the Quarter 1 2011 Outlook is nearly five percentage points below the average Outlook from 2001 to 2010.

Although the hiring outlook in the U.S. shows positive signals, other countries are set to hire at a much higher rate. India is first place on the Forbes list of best countries for new jobs, with a 42 percent net hiring outlook for the first quarter of 2011. China is close behind at 40 percent, and Taiwan is third with a net employment outlook of 37 percent. In fourth is Brazil with a 36 percent net hiring outlook, Turkey is in fifth with 27 percent, and Singapore is in sixth with a 26 percent net hiring outlook.

“The results are striking, if not surprising,” Forbes said referring to “that unbelievable job growth” reflected in the survey of 64,000 human resource directors and senior hiring managers from public and private companies worldwide.

The survey shows that almost half, 47 percent of them, of expectations for hiring in the first quarter of 2011 came from 10 countries in the Americas, 24 percent from eight countries in Asia and the Pacific, and 29 percent from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“This is very much a macro-economic look at new job creation,” the staffing firm’s chairman and chief executive, Jeffrey Joerres, was cited as saying.


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