By J.T. O'Donnell Setting aside the fact the current economy has eaten up tens of thousands of jobs, creating the worst job market for new college grads in decades, the truth remains that even if there were plenty of entry-level positions available, many of today's grads would still feel at a disadvantage because they don't know what they want to do. At CAREEREALISM.com, we tell students this reality: College teaches you everything EXCEPT how to get the job. The diploma gets you to the career starting line, but what direction should you take to engage in a meaningful and successful career after school? As many college grads have learned, that's up to you to figure out! To further complicate things, determining what you want to do can be more than a little challenging when: A) There are millions of career choices. And, B) You have a degree in some general category with no special skill to market (i.e. history degree versus nursing degree) Honestly, what do you do if the 'traditional' jobs related to your major aren't of interest to you? I suggest a new spin on an old tactic.... Years ago, young people 'apprenticed' under an experienced professional to gain insight into the business, to learn new skills, and to develop a network of connections they could leverage in the future. More recently, Donald Trump made the concept popular again with his hit reality show by the same name. And yet, while landing a spot on that show was probably as difficult as winning the lottery, there actually is a job recent grads can snag which provides all the benefits of being an apprentice - it even pays well too! In fact, this job also begins with an 'a' - it's called being an ASSISTANT. Professional assisting comes in all forms and is in needed in every field. Whatever your interests, you can find assistant positions that can put you in direct contact with an experienced individual in the field. So, how does one go about preparing themselves to land an assistant job? Well, I asked Ethan Bull, co-founder of Proassisting.com - an interactive assistant training site, to explain what it takes: "To start, there are some things that can't be taught but must be present in a good assistant. Work ethic is one. A desire to be efficient at all times is another. Those who don't attack assignments with a sense of urgency also don't do well. But, if you do have those traits, then it's highly likely with a little training and access to the right resources, you can quickly become a top-level assistant and the right-hand person to a high-powered executive." As a veteran assistant himself, Ethan started out as a production assistant in film and quickly moved up the ranks, eventually earning a spot as an Agent Trainee for The William Morris Agency, also considered an assistant role within the corporate side of entertainment. Eventually, he landed the coveted role of assistant to the Chairman of USA Films. Ethan says what's great about being an assistant is that it can be a low-stress job, offering a high quality of life while giving the assistant an eagle-eye view of the company and industry they work in. In fact, he recognized the value of the skills he acquired as an assistant when he realized he was now able to move into different industries with ease: "I wanted to be able to focus on my filmmaking pursuits outside of the office (writing and directing). I realized I could make more money and have my nights and weekends free by working as an assistant for marketing and advertising companies. This gave me that freedom and paid enough for a decent standard of living in the very expensive city of New York, which I love. I was able to make the transition because I have valuable assisting skills that are needed in many industries." In fact, that's when Ethan realized there was a need for an assistant training program. He and his wife (also an assistant in the finance field) realized they could pull together their combined knowledge and resources (over 20 years worth) to create an internet-based program that would help college grads successfully launch either assisting careers or use the position of being an assistant to work in a field they're passionate about and then get promoted from within into their chosen career. You can check them out here: http://www.proassisting.com, where they have a blog with free resources to help job seekers learn more about becoming a professional assistant. For those of you who have the diploma, but no direction, I strongly suggest considering a position as an assistant as a first step in your career. In spite of the bad economy, opportunities do await those who are willing to apprentice!
A common interview question employers ask during job interviews is, "Why are you interested in this position?" They want to know why you want to work at their company, and the specific motivation behind why you applied for the job (not that you need a paycheck).
Knowing how to answer interview questions well is always important, especially with this question.
To persuade the employer that you have a true connection to the company and a passion for the job you applied for, your answer to this interview question should start with, "I'm interested in this job, at this company, because…" and then list at least three reasons why you want to work there.
Here is how you should structure your answer to the interview question, "Why are you interested in this job?"
Reason #1 – Professional Fit
Your first reason should always show fit in terms of professional skills.
Example: "I'm interested in this job because I can see that, in this role, my skills could help solve this problem within your company. I also see an opportunity for me to learn and grow these skills, so we both would benefit personally, professionally, and financially. If I can come in here and solve problems and accomplish your goals, I know I can develop my career the way that I want to."
This part of your answer lets them know that you are excited about what you will be able to accomplish for them, while still emphasizing what they are getting out of the bargain. You need to sell yourself as a business-of-one who can provide a service better than the competition.
Reason #2 – Cultural Fit
Your second reason when answering, "Why are you interested in this job?" also shows fit, but in a different way.
Example: "Also, I like the culture of this organization. From what I've heard and what I've been reading about the company, it seems like a great fit for my personality and my values. I really connect with your mission statement, and feel passionate about the work that you do."
This is a general answer, so if you can be more specific by actually naming a couple of things you've heard or read about the company's workplace culture that you like, it will help your cause. This is one area where your pre-interview research is critical.
Here are a few things you may want to look for when you research the company:
- Is this a top company in the field/industry?
- Is this company known for cutting-edge products or other innovations?
- Does this company have a great reputation for customer service?
- Is this company known for being a great place to work?
- Does this company value and/or provide resources for employee development?
Mention those things that truly speak to you and your values so your sincerity shows.
Reason #3 – Personal Fit
Wrap up your answer to this interview question with something that personalizes it a bit more.
- "And this job is in a great location for me. I've always wanted to move here."
- "And this job is only five minutes from my house, so eliminating the commute is a big plus."
- "And I've always used your products, and I just love them. I am really excited about being a part of that."
Say something that gives you another reason of your own for wanting this job. This interview answer is a fantastic place to let your enthusiasm for the job show. It's very appealing to employers, and it gives them one more reason to hire you.
Download Work It Daily's FREE list of common interview questions here.
You'll have a very clear and thorough answer to the question, "Why are you interested in this job?" if you follow the formula above. Set yourself apart from the competition today!
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.
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