Interviews are probably the most stressful part of the job application process. You dress professionally, sit in front of one (or sometimes a group of) people you don't know and are asked questions about your career and work habits. It can be hard to think through a question and answer it smoothly. Thankfully, there is an interview prep technique that can help you appear professional and collected in any field. It's the STAR method.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. These words describe pieces of your answer to a situational or behavioral question. It gives you guidance to tell a story.
Say an interviewer asks you, “Can you tell me about a time where you a conflict with a fellow employee? How did you handle it?"
Your answer will begin with the Situation. Give as many details as you can. You want the who, what, when, where and how. This is still the beginning to keep it brief. In answer to the example question, you might begin with something like, “I had a conflict with one of my peers when we disagreed over the total operating budget our company had. I was sure I had totaled everything correctly, but he was worried I had overestimated."
Next, you move on to the Task. This is where you describe the task you had to complete. Make sure to highlight any specific constraints or challenges. So continuing with the hypothetical interview answer, you could say, “My boss wanted the final budget estimations in soon, but I had to get my peer to sign off on it. And he wouldn't sign it until he knew for sure that the math was correct."
The third part is the Action. Describe what you did to complete the task. This section should demonstrate good traits without having to say them. Like, leadership, initiative, dedication, intelligence, understanding and so on. So for this section, you might continue with, “So I went through the math for him, explaining where each revenue stream was coming from and how I got to the total operating budget."
The last section is the Resolution. What was the result of your efforts? It's best to include figures to qualify your result where applicable. To round out the example answer, here's what you would say, “In the end, he ended up signing off on the numbers after only an hour of explanation. If I had let him check my math, it could have easily taken him three hours or more. This saved a lot of time for both of us and the company."
The STAR method outlines a clear and complete answer to any situational question an interviewer can throw at you. Illustrating your work ethic and skills through personal stories is much more engaging and compelling than simply saying, “Oh I'm smart so I can handle that for sure." Make sure your answer ties back to desirable traits that your potential employer is looking for.
Before your interview, go ahead and prepare a few answers to likely questions. This will help you ease into the conversation and you'll feel less awkward than talking on the fly. But if the interview does ask you a question you didn't anticipate, you'll have the proper framework to give a clear, concise and compelling answer. And you'll be that much closer to landing the job.
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.