Suggestions for Answering Key Questions

1. If you state a salary that is too high, you risk being not considered for the position at all. If you state a salary that is too low the employer may question the how much you really know about the job or how good your skills really are.

2. There are a variety of different ways to find out what the "going rate" is. The government has a publication called "Job Futures" which gives information about different occupations including a wage range. You can also look in the government sponsored job bank, find similar jobs and see what the offered rate is. One of the best ways is to talk to people who do the same sort of work or who hire people to do that work; in addition to getting the information that you want you will be building a circle of contacts who can assist you in finding a job. If the job is a union position, a call to the union will likely be able to get you the information about what that sort of job brings as a wage.

3. If you write 'open' in the salary spot, an employer may see that as you either not knowing enough about the position to know about what it pays or, again, that you don't know the value of your skills.

4. An employee's level of interest in a job is directly related to the degree of effort they are willing to put into the job. For example, have you ever heard someone complain about having to work until midnight yet are excited to go to a dance etc where they will be out past midnight. Level of interest in the given activity makes a big difference. Also, interest in the company as a whole allows the employer to consider the employee in terms of promotions and doing other work for the company.

5. Doing a bit of research into the company before applying can help you to show interest in the company and the job. Also, be prepared with some questions about the company (make sure they are not about things that are general enough that you should know!) in case you have an opportunity to talk to the person doing the hiring when you drop off the application form.

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6. This question is often asked by large companies with operations in several areas and by governments. An employer maximizes the costs of hiring if they get someone who they can move to wherever they need staff. However, answering 'no' to this question can be a distinct advantage if you live in, and are applying for a job in, an area where it is traditionally difficult for the organization to get employees to stay such as rural and/or northern communities.

7. If you indicate you are willing to transfer, but you really aren't willing, there will likely eventually come a time when you will be forced to choose. Also, this is an untruth which can bring every statement that you have ever made into question.

8. This type of question is usually followed by a large space in which you must write a comprehensive answer. The employer is looking to see how well you know yourself as well as how well you know what the job requires. Timing the answer to this question also shows the employer how well you can think and act under pressure. This question is an excellent opportunity for you to let the employer know how you can help them in their workplace, thus hopefully making their decision to choose you easier.

9. The employer wants to know what job you are applying for so that they know how to think about the information that is provided on the application form. They do not have time to read all your information and then try to think of how you would fit into their organization. It also helps them to judge the quality the decisions you made about what information to include; this gives them clues to how you think and work. For example, providing a great deal of information about your driving experience when you are applying for a position as a cook would make the employer question if you could be a good cook.

10. Answering 'anything' for the position applied for does not give the employer a good impression. They may assume that you are too lazy to find out what sort of jobs they have at their organization. Or, they may assume that you are so arrogant that you think you can do EVERYTHING! Or, they may think you are so desperate for a job that you will take any job, whether you like it or not, and then as soon as something better comes along you will be gone.

11. This question is usually asked by large companies and governments. There could be a couple of different reasons for wanting this information. One reason is that they want to see how their advertising is working. Large organizations typically use a variety of ways to advertise and knowing which is reaching their target population is valuable information for them. Also, if you respond with the name of an employee or business person they associate with, they automatically know something about who you associate with. In this sense, if you are using a person's name, it is important to know what kind of 'reference' they are for you or to indicate a more distant relationship such as "When I applied to John Doe he was not hiring but gave me your name when I asked if he knew anyone that was hiring."

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12. Your answer about what kind of boss you prefer gives clues as to what sort of worker you are. If you state that you like a boss "who tells you what needs to be done then leaves you to do it", it is likely that you can work well without supervision. If you say "one who doesn't criticize" the employer may assume you can't handle criticism, however, if you say "one who can let me know what I need to change without putting me down" the employer will likely assume you can take constructive criticism and improve the work you do.

13. This is a tricky question. Be very careful how you answer it. If you criticize past employers they will assume that you will do the same to them. They may also assume you have a generally negative attitude.

14. It is important to follow directions, so you must come up with a complete answer (both like and dislike) for this question. The way to deal with the negative aspect is to use some small thing that would never be an issue in the job you are applying for and indicate how you dealt with it. An example of this is (when applying for an office related job) "When I worked as a prep cook while attending school, the cook would put dirty dishes on my work table. I asked him if it was part of my job to carry these dishes to the dishwasher because they were getting in the way of my work. He agreed that it wasn't my job so together we decided that a wheeled cart next to his work area would solve the problem."

15. The employer wants to know how well you know yourself and your abilities. They also want to get an idea about some of your attitudes. Try to choose things that you know relate to the job you have applied for.

16. If you brag, it will come across in the words you choose and you may lose the chance to be considered for the job. This is also true if you are too modest, but it will be because the employer will not be sure you can do the job. The best way to answer this question is to be specific and to give supporting information. For example, you could say "I am hard working and able to maintain more than one complex task at a time because in my senior year I started a school newspaper while maintaining honour roll grades." Or, "I enjoy working with people which I learned when I volunteered to read to critically ill people in the hospital."

17. Things such as "returned to school", "accepted a more challenging position" and "moved" are straight forward. If you just quit or you were fired you need to find a positive way to relate the experience and how you dealt with it or changed. An example is "I thought I was doing the job correctly until I was told I was fired. I then asked why I was being fired. I learned that I should periodically ask how I am doing so I can change things if I am not doing them correctly." If the spot for this is small and you don't have enough room, refer the reader to the 'comments' or 'other' section where you have more room to indicate how you handled the situation.

18. If you are caught in a lie then EVERY statement that you have made, or will make, is suspect!

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