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Thread: First interview for planning job

  1. #1
    Member
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    Central Texas
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    First interview for planning job

    Hey everyone! After applying for a few entry-level planner positions here in Texas, I've got a phone interview scheduled for next Monday morning with a medium-sized town (about 100,000). It's for a Planner I position and I'm excited at the prospect of getting an official planning job. I currently work as an assistant to the city administrator in a small town of 1,500. I think it's generally given me good overall experience of the inner workings of a municipality, albeit a small one. I've been able to kind of "watch and learn" regarding various city dealings.

    Anyway, I'm really hoping I don't get asked more technical about my ordinance-writing or development reviewing skills, because I have no direct experience with any of that! I plan to really emphasize my ability to interpret and apply existing local regulations/ordinances, especially in the context of when citizens or developers have questions about them. This kind of "customer service" has been one of my main duties at my present job.

    I think I'd be able to pick most of the duties of a Planner I fast enough, but I'm still worried that there's too many gaps in my knowledge of things like state law/environmental regulations and such, and I could go into the job looking like a bumbling underprepared fool.

    I guess I'm just being pessimistic, and I know the phone interview is just to wittle the applicants down to the few they want to see in person, but the prospect has made me think a lot more about just how well I could perform in a "real" Planner position, given my current job experience and overall knowledge of things "planning".

    I've read the thread by Suburb Repairman about common entry-level interview questions, and I think I'd be able to handle most of them. However, there's some of them that I would honestly have to say "Well, I actually have run into that kind of situation on the job, yet." For example, the question: "Give me an example of one of the most difficult work related decisions you have had to make. When did this happen? What was the situation? etc."

    I read that and thought "Man, I really can't think of any real difficult decisions I've had to make", mostly because I'm not exactly in a position of great authority, and thus those difficult decisions aren't given to me to make.

    How would ya'll suggest answering questions about aspects of the job that you frankly haven't had any experience with, but are sure you could pick up without much trouble? Because I'm sure I'm gonna get a few of those....and what kind of skills/knowledge do you think would be most important for someone to emhapsize when apllying for an entry-level planning job?

    Sorry for the long rambling! I'm just equally excited and nervous about it all! Any responses would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    Jan 2006
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    Midwest-ish
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    As far as not having made difficult decisions, I would advise you not to sell yourself short. I would be surprised if they were looking for a major policy decision to come from you with the experience you have. Talk about a conflict that you had with a coworker or citizen and how it was difficult to deal with. Or some other decision that you have had to make. I think the most important thing an employer is looking for here is that you have the ability to think a problem through and the result is positive. The worst thing you could do is say that you haven't ever made a decision. Your experience is what it is. Focus on trying to highlight your strengthes and the value of your experience to them. For example, you work in a small environment. Therefore, it is likely that you have had some experiences that someone in a larger environment hasn't had. Play those up and sell yourself on those qualities.
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Dec 2008
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    Northern Utah
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    I think I'd be able to pick most of the duties of a Planner I fast enough, but I'm still worried that there's too many gaps in my knowledge of things like state law/environmental regulations and such, and I could go into the job looking like a bumbling underprepared fool.


    I've interviewed entry-level planners several times and I have some simple advice about "worrying" about the gaps in your experience....DON'T. I never expect them to know everything. What I look for is someone well-spoken, enthusiastic, thoughtful and intelligent. Your instinct is right-on - you will absolutely be able to quickly pick up on the duties - you just need to exude that in your interview. Stay excited, and remember you don't have to know everything, you just have to be ABLE to know everything.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2007
    Location
    the old north state
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    2,703
    A little tip, if you wear earrings, makes sure to take them out for the phone interview...the noise they make on the phone is very loud and distracting on the other end. Also, make sure you are in a quiet place without distraction! Best of Luck!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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