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Job interview advice needed by starlightcoupe
Started on: 03-23-2011 08:55 PM
Replies: 10
Last post by: Marvin McInnis on 03-25-2011 12:08 AM
starlightcoupe
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Report this Post03-23-2011 08:55 PM Click Here to See the Profile for starlightcoupeSend a Private Message to starlightcoupeDirect Link to This Post
I got yet another call for a job interview today. Apparently I passed the preliminary interview and they want to talk to me again via phone on Friday, the 25th, with a cast of five interviewers. The job involves a skill I last used nearly 16 years ago and the software is no longer used but has been superceded by better products that are common in the print industry. I didn't try to BS the guy today and I certainly don't want to BS the team of grillers.

I found free trial download of the software they use and I plan to try to get acquainted with it tomorrow. I taught resumes and interview techniques to veterans but this one is personal and stymies me because they expect me to be up and running within a reasonable period of time and the software is much more complex and intuitive than what I used in the past. What can I say to them? The other aspects of the job involve my current skills and experience but the little problem of lack of a particular software may torpedo my chances for this job. Any advice??
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datacop
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Report this Post03-23-2011 09:13 PM Click Here to See the Profile for datacopClick Here to visit datacop's HomePageClick Here to Email datacopSend a Private Message to datacopDirect Link to This Post
Be honest with them...

It's the same way with me when someone asks me if I've got experience with X programming language. Sure, I may have used it some 10 or 15 years ago.. but my exposure to it since that time has been very limited or non-existent. However, I've been a professional developer for 18 years. I know how to write software and truthfully, Language X or Language Y at this point is just a matter of syntax. While I wouldn't achieve max productivity from day one, it would not take me long to get back up to speed on the language of your choice.

Same thing with you... You've had exposure to an older version of the software, you've got the fundamental knowledge on how to operate it... it's just a matter of ramping up on the new platform.

In other words, be truthful about your skill level, but down play it as a negative by reiterating that you know what you're doing and it wouldn't take you long to get proficient with the software... plus they get all this other cool stuff with you as well

Hope that helps.
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cliffw
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Report this Post03-23-2011 09:27 PM Click Here to See the Profile for cliffwClick Here to Email cliffwSend a Private Message to cliffwDirect Link to This Post
Do what my friend did. He was looking for a job (ASE certified auto mechanic) at a local shady tree automotive shop (moved to a small town). He told the boss to try him. That if he couldn't do the job that he was owed nothing. He got the job.
Believe in yourself. You can do it. You will have a learning curve.
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fierogirls-mom
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Report this Post03-24-2011 04:26 AM Click Here to See the Profile for fierogirls-momClick Here to Email fierogirls-momSend a Private Message to fierogirls-momDirect Link to This Post
No advice here, just wanted to wish you luck Richard!
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nosrac
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Report this Post03-24-2011 09:11 AM Click Here to See the Profile for nosracSend a Private Message to nosracDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by datacop:

Be honest with them...

It's the same way with me when someone asks me if I've got experience with X programming language. Sure, I may have used it some 10 or 15 years ago.. but my exposure to it since that time has been very limited or non-existent. However, I've been a professional developer for 18 years. I know how to write software and truthfully, Language X or Language Y at this point is just a matter of syntax. While I wouldn't achieve max productivity from day one, it would not take me long to get back up to speed on the language of your choice.

Same thing with you... You've had exposure to an older version of the software, you've got the fundamental knowledge on how to operate it... it's just a matter of ramping up on the new platform.

In other words, be truthful about your skill level, but down play it as a negative by reiterating that you know what you're doing and it wouldn't take you long to get proficient with the software... plus they get all this other cool stuff with you as well

Hope that helps.


X2 + focus on telling them that you can help bring them up to the current version of the software. At some point they will have to upgrade and you can position yourself as the "expert" on the newer version or next generation software. Also, position yourself as following industry standards and best practices for the particular language.
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Rallaster
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Report this Post03-24-2011 09:48 AM Click Here to See the Profile for RallasterSend a Private Message to RallasterDirect Link to This Post
I think Datacop said it best, so I've got nothing to add.

Well except a Good luck!
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starlightcoupe
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Report this Post03-24-2011 10:06 AM Click Here to See the Profile for starlightcoupeSend a Private Message to starlightcoupeDirect Link to This Post
Thanks to all who have replied. I will take your advice and hope for the best. Getting the job would make our move to the west coast easier but we can get along without it. Also, retirement isn't what it is cracked up to be and I have the need to stay busy for the reward of the work as well as for the monetary benefits.

Thanks, Dar for you kind feelings. Both Judy and I think of you daily.
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Marvin McInnis
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Report this Post03-24-2011 03:29 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Marvin McInnisClick Here to visit Marvin McInnis's HomePageSend a Private Message to Marvin McInnisDirect Link to This Post
Even though I'm not very experienced in being interviewed (at least not recently), I'll add my two cents worth anyway: It depends strongly upon whom you will be interviewing with.

If you are being interviewed by the HR department, about the only strategy is to tell them what they want to hear. The HR types seldom, if ever, have any understanding of what the technical requirements for any given job mean, so they tend to fall back on the requirements simply as a yes/no checklist. Upper level management types, except those with an engineering or technical background, tend to fall into the same category as the HR types ... except that they have the authority to hire you (or not) right then and there.

The best situation is if you are interviewing with a technical manager (or managers) and/or technical staff. You speak approxiately the same language, and they will usually be able to quickly separate the real thing (you) from the BSers. Their primary interests will be in your broad technical competence (rather than a checklist of specific narrow skills) and how well you communicate with them (which involves BOTH speaking AND listening).

Concerning your lack of recent experience in specific areas, I would suggest the bicycle analogy. (I suggest this in part because it is a common human experience). When you first learned to ride a bicycle it was hard, and it took some time and effort to master it, but once beyond that you have accumulated a lot of useful bicycle experience and judgment over the years. Anyone in your interview should recognize that today you (or they) could climb on a new, unfamiliar bicycle and be back "up to speed" on it (although perhaps not marathon speed) in a short time. Extending the metaphor, if you're a pilot transitioning to a new airplane you don't have to learn to fly all over again; all you have to do is learn the differences between the new aircraft and those you have previously flown, and then, building on past experience and judgment, master those differences. Good luck!

[This message has been edited by Marvin McInnis (edited 03-24-2011).]

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starlightcoupe
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Report this Post03-24-2011 06:09 PM Click Here to See the Profile for starlightcoupeSend a Private Message to starlightcoupeDirect Link to This Post
Thanks Marvin and Rallaster for your kind words.

Marvin, the job isn't technical except that I must know newspaper layout--a skill I last used in the early to mid 90s. We sometimes compiled the paper by hand with a pica pole, known word count, ad lines, etc to make everything fit but Quark came along and made it easy for us. The newer software is very user friendly but it is like an onion--one layer reveals another, and another layer reveals yet another and another. Very similar in concept to the Avid video editing system but with different media.

I like your bicycle analogy and I'll use it. I think my rusty experience will help me but I'll have to dust off my old AP style guides and other books that made me look as though I knew what I was doing. One book I had but can't find is a very good "how-to" guide to newspaper layout for broadsheet and tabloid. That was my best resource.

Thanks again
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Zeb
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Report this Post03-24-2011 09:34 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ZebSend a Private Message to ZebDirect Link to This Post
The only thing I've learned about software packages is that you never use all of it's capabilities. You quickly learn the 20% that you use every day, and the rest, well, even the maker doesn't have any ONE person who knows all of it. you know the job. Finding out the commands that make the new software do what you want is a lot easier if you know what you're looking for.

And, Starlight, I doubt you can be anything BUT honest about yourself, and your capabilities. Good luck.
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Marvin McInnis
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Report this Post03-25-2011 12:08 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Marvin McInnisClick Here to visit Marvin McInnis's HomePageSend a Private Message to Marvin McInnisDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by starlightcoupe:

Marvin, the job isn't technical except that I must know newspaper layout ...



I was using "technical" in the broadest sense ... anything that relates to the actual product or service being provided, as opposed to the purely administrative legal, financial, HR, and executive management operations of the company.

[This message has been edited by Marvin McInnis (edited 03-25-2011).]

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