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About this Blog

Debra Wheatman, President of Careers Done Write, provides expert insight to the job search process that puts your career in gear with tips for interviewing, networking, job search strategies and how to create a winning résumé and cover letter.

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Resume and advice blog from Debra Wheatman

7:00AM

Tricky Interview Questions: Are You a Risk Taker?

Perhaps the one interview question that reveals a candidate’s true nature more than any other is the frequent question: “Do you consider yourself a risk-taker?”  There is an adage: No risk; no reward.  That is true in many situations.  However, risky behavior is perilous and uncertain by definition.   So, what is the “right” answer to this job interview question?  

As you may have predicted, there is no standard answer for all candidates or all job opportunities.   The ability to fearlessly step outside the box and take chances is valuable for entrepreneurs, sales executives, or product designers.  However, a regulatory compliance specialist or pilot may be seen as irresponsible if they demonstrate a high-risk mentality.  A cautious product designer may give the impression that she has a fear of failure and be too constrained to take the risk to disrupt the marketplace with an exciting new product. Those may be extreme examples. To learn to answer this interview question adroitly, you must first honestly evaluate yourself and your career goals. 

The truth is that most of us are risk takers in some scenarios and other scenarios, risk adverse.  When you answer the question, define the times when you feel risk-taking is a liability and other times when deliberate risks are necessary and appropriate.  In other words, you are not type-casting yourself as a risk-taker or risk-avoider.  Instead, you are showing your ability to quickly assess risks and make the best decision. It is also wise to show an example of a risk you have taken, as well as how you mitigated the risk to maximize chances for a positive outcome.

The bottom line is that the interviewer wants to know your attitude toward risk. Be authentic.  Interviewers are generally able to spot a chameleon – a candidate who is trying too hard to say the right thing to get the job. Communicate your analytical, planning, and decision-making abilities.   With this approach, you will formulate a natural and compelling answer to the once-dreaded “risk-taker question.”

7:00AM

Handling Skill Gaps

Dear Deb:

I am applying for jobs in clinical informatics. It requires a combination of technology and clinical experience.  What should I say on my resume or cover letter about a gap in my technical expertise?  In other words, the job posting indicates a requirement for QuadraMed QCPR.  I have no experience with that particular software, however, I am sure I could learn it quickly.  I have used similar types of software.

Thanks,

Tom

Dear Tom:

There is no need to point out a skill gap in the cover letter or resume. However, if you are applying for a position that requires a skill or certification that you don't have, you could add a line like this to your letter:  "My managers have appreciated my ability to get up to adapt rapidly to new technologies and hit the ground running on new projects."  You can vary that based on the issue (new skill, new technology, new industry, new processes, etc. 

Wishing you all the best!

Deb

7:00AM

Conflict Between Work Events and Family Events 

Dear Deb:

I am required to attend an annual corporate golf trip.  All of the management team will be there, including many from home office and our top clients from the pharm side of business (my clients).   It’s basically a time to really connect on a deeper, more personal level with clients.  The only problem is that it’s the same weekend as my wife’s sister’s engagement party.  I already get a lot of “feedback” from my in-laws about the hours I work and the business entertaining that is part of my job.  It’s my career and I feel strongly that I need to choose the business trip. (Even though it is golf – it’s business)  How do I navigate this situation without the wrath of my in-laws?

Thanks,

Ben

Dear Ben, 

The timing is unfortunate.   It sounds like you need to be at the corporate event.  Talk to your wife and your sister-in-law. Let them know that this trip is a job requirement and that it would be detrimental to your career not to attend this annual client trip. Offer to provide a flower arrangement for the engagement party in addition to an engagement gift.  Confirm that you will be there for the wedding.   Get that wedding date on your work calendar and do whatever it takes to be sure that you are not working that weekend!  There would be no suitable excuse to miss your sister-in-law’s wedding.

If the subject of work-home balance is recurring, perhaps it’s time to talk with your wife and commit to some positive changes.  Find ways to spend more time with your wife and provide more support at home.  It’s great to be successful at work, but there is nothing more fulfilling than a loving partner and family.

All the best,

Deb