Common interview questions: entry level

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#61
I think interviewing comes down to three things: Competence, fit, and temperament.

Competence: do you have the relevant skills/experience?
Fit: Will you be a good fit for the organization; with others in the office; in your role?
Temperament: Will you be "in balance" with expectations and the pace/nature of work? Even if you are competent and may get along well with others, can you adapt to a different way of doing things? Can you lead and follow?

Competence is probably the easiest to measure, and what most people think they'll be interviewing about. But interviewers really bring you into the office to weigh whether you'll be a good fit and if you have the temperament they are looking for.
 
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#62
The thing to remember is by the time an employer gets to interviews, or at least the final v
I think interviewing comes down to three things: Competence, fit, and temperament.

Competence: do you have the relevant skills/experience?
Fit: Will you be a good fit for the organization; with others in the office; in your role?
Temperament: Will you be "in balance" with expectations and the pace/nature of work? Even if you are competent and may get along well with others, can you adapt to a different way of doing things? Can you lead and follow?

Competence is probably the easiest to measure, and what most people think they'll be interviewing about. But interviewers really bring you into the office to weigh whether you'll be a good fit and if you have the temperament they are looking for.
The thing to remember is by the time an employer gets to interviews, or at least the final interview round, all the remaining candidates are probably more than qualified for the job, which means everyone will probably do well in those three criteria. You can't count on the other candidates flaws or flubs, so it's important to just stand out and make yourself unique.
 
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#63
Just curious-- what does everyone consider to be entry-level?

I was always under the impression that entry-level is 2 years experience max, but mostly tailored toward new grads. But the other day, I found a planning position that was listed as "entry level" but the experience requirements was 4 years for a Bachelors and 2 years for a Masters.
 

Suburb Repairman

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#64
Just curious-- what does everyone consider to be entry-level?

I was always under the impression that entry-level is 2 years experience max, but mostly tailored toward new grads. But the other day, I found a planning position that was listed as "entry level" but the experience requirements was 4 years for a Bachelors and 2 years for a Masters.
If it requires more than two years experience, it is not a true entry-level position. Maybe a journeyman, but calling that entry-level is not accurate.
 

dw914er

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#65
Just curious-- what does everyone consider to be entry-level?

I was always under the impression that entry-level is 2 years experience max, but mostly tailored toward new grads. But the other day, I found a planning position that was listed as "entry level" but the experience requirements was 4 years for a Bachelors and 2 years for a Masters.
The "new normal" has skewed that perception...
 

Jazzman

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#66
This question doesn't really pertain to interviews specifically, but it didn't seem worthy of a whole other thread either.

Just out of curiosity, when employers post jobs with a deadline (say, 4 weeks from now), do they review applications only after the deadline has passed, or do they review applications as they come in, in spite of the deadline? In other words, if a position has an application deadline, is there still any advantage to sending in my materials as early as possible?
 
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#67
No advantage for being early. The decision maker does not see applications until past the deadline. The decision maker does not want too see any before the deadline. Hopefully the decision maker asks for all the applications, not just the ones HR "recommends".
 

NHPlanner

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#68
No advantage for being early. The decision maker does not see applications until past the deadline. The decision maker does not want too see any before the deadline. Hopefully the decision maker asks for all the applications, not just the ones HR "recommends".
My process is pretty much exactly as Mike puts it. I get all of the applications from HR, but not until after the deadline has passed.
 

kjel

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#69
This question doesn't really pertain to interviews specifically, but it didn't seem worthy of a whole other thread either.

Just out of curiosity, when employers post jobs with a deadline (say, 4 weeks from now), do they review applications only after the deadline has passed, or do they review applications as they come in, in spite of the deadline? In other words, if a position has an application deadline, is there still any advantage to sending in my materials as early as possible?
It depends on how hierarchical the hiring process is. Most of the public sector has a date where apps have to be submitted to HR, then HR may or may not review them for minimum qualifications being met, then they actually go to the department that's hiring. Private sector and non-profits often review applications as they come in, we do, but we won't start scheduling interviews until the closing date.
 
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#70
This may have already been discussed but I'm wondering what the makeup of the interviewer groups have been for people.

Most of all the public-sector planning jobs I've applied to have all led to a big panel interview, with between 3 or 4 interviewers at one time (once had 5! that's ****ing ridiculous!). But I've noticed that I'm FAR more comfortable interviewing with only one or two interviewers. Does anyone feel the same way? I'm guessing that's the case with most people.
 
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#71
This may have already been discussed but I'm wondering what the makeup of the interviewer groups have been for people.

Most of all the public-sector planning jobs I've applied to have all led to a big panel interview, with between 3 or 4 interviewers at one time (once had 5! that's ****ing ridiculous!). But I've noticed that I'm FAR more comfortable interviewing with only one or two interviewers. Does anyone feel the same way? I'm guessing that's the case with most people.
In my last two towns HR liked the panel format. But most often one person (the Planning Director/me) orchestrated the whole thing. I wrote the questions and the panel took turns asking them. Basically the others were there only for decoration. In my ideal world, I would prefer a panel to pick the top 2-3, then have a one-on-one follow-up interview.
 

Suburb Repairman

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#72
In a larger jurisdiction, I would assemble a 3-person panel to interview applicants. They were allowed to come-up with their own questions and ask follow-up questions in the interview. It would typically be myself, someone that will be the applicant's peer in the department, and ALWAYS the department secretary. We would narrow it down to the top 3, and I would do one-on-one interviews with them typically off-site in a more casual setting (I think I'm unusual in that regard).

I liked to include the department secretary because she had an outstanding feel for the personalities in the department and how well an applicant would fit in.
 
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#73
I have recently registered and cyburbia has already been so helpful.
I have a phone interview tomorrow for a Planner I position and this thread has guided my preparation.

Thank You
 
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#74
Random question that may or may not belong in this thread -

I'm interviewing for a position in a few weeks, and since the deadline for the job has passed of course, the agency has taken down the job description from its website. Problem is, I'd like to have a copy of the job description so that I can review it in preparation for the interview. Would it be weird or otherwise reflect negatively on me if I e-mailed HR asking for a copy of the job description? I know it might sound like I'm kind of overthinking things, but I really want this job and if I don't get it or if I'm written off for any reason, I want it to be because of something related to my skill set and experience, and not because I committed some sort of job interview faux pas or whatever.
That happened to me once already. Since than for every job I have been applying to in preparation for graduation in May, I have saved a PDF copy of the job description along with the exact cover letter/resume I sent to that particular agency. This way I know exactly where they are coming from and what they see. If I have an new experience to add, I can be sure to address it in the interview.
 
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#75
Written Plan Review Exam - What Do I Need to Know???

Hi!
I have an interview for an entry level Assistant Planner position working for a City coming up fairly soon. After reading through this thread, I've found the interview prep questions to be extremely helpful. I noticed that one person had to actually do a site plan review... I will be required to complete a "written plan review exam" myself. I'm hoping someone can help me to get a better idea of what I need to know in order to complete the exam successfully. ???
I have a degree in Geography and, though I currently work for a Planning and Zoning Department, I only conduct research and, as such, do not actively complete plan reviews on a day to day basis. Any help, information, and/or ideas would be appreciated!
Thank you!!!
 

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#76
Hi!
I have an interview for an entry level Assistant Planner position working for a City coming up fairly soon. After reading through this thread, I've found the interview prep questions to be extremely helpful. I noticed that one person had to actually do a site plan review... I will be required to complete a "written plan review exam" myself. I'm hoping someone can help me to get a better idea of what I need to know in order to complete the exam successfully. ???
I have a degree in Geography and, though I currently work for a Planning and Zoning Department, I only conduct research and, as such, do not actively complete plan reviews on a day to day basis. Any help, information, and/or ideas would be appreciated!
Thank you!!!
First, I would suggest exploring that city's website to see if it has a submission checklist for a site plan, as that will tell you what all content is included. I suspect you'll be asked:
  • questions about how to scale something on a drawing, calculate a percent of slope
  • an example of calculating impervious cover/lot coverage/floor-to-area ratio/driveway spacing
  • an example calculating building articulation
  • an example calculating landscape requirements
  • an example calculating parking requirements
  • what can/can't be placed in utility easements, drainage easements, access easements
  • simple ADA questions
  • questions about what types of things should be present on the plan (stormwater faciltiies, etc.)

If this is a true entry-level position, they aren't necessarily looking for you to get everything correct--more that they want to make sure you understand fundamentals of site plans and are resourceful.
 
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#77
EPA/rusty on skills

Does anyone have experience interviewing for the EPA? I am going to interview for a stormwater planner internship position on Monday and I would love to get some input on this.

Specifically they asked for GIS experience. Although I have some experience it was quite a long time ago (1 year) and only an intro class. Any tips on how to address this in the best way in case they ask about it? Its an extremely important opportunity that I want to make sure I get right.

Thanks!
 

DVD

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#78
Does anyone have experience interviewing for the EPA? I am going to interview for a stormwater planner internship position on Monday and I would love to get some input on this.

Specifically they asked for GIS experience. Although I have some experience it was quite a long time ago (1 year) and only an intro class. Any tips on how to address this in the best way in case they ask about it? Its an extremely important opportunity that I want to make sure I get right.

Thanks!
For intern GIS knowledge they will probably look for things like manipulating layers, adding data, basic GIS skills. I don't know if they would get much into the analysis part. If you're not really comfortable with GIS, stay focused on the skills you can offer them.
 

rickster

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#80
Any advice on how to pick your head up after not passing the external panel interview?

I've failed to pass external panel interviews for other municipalities several times(over the past year), but this time it hurts a bit more. I am a contract worker that works at city hall with all the community development employees. I have been basically doing the exact work for the position the city was trying to fill. I spent more time preparing for this interview and even did a mock interview. But I wasn't able impress 3 other people who don't work at this city during that 25 minute period. If the city does hire someone for this position, I will see that person every day. Each morning I will be reminded of my failure and that I am not good enough. The worst part is that all my co-workers thought I would get the position. So it'll be awkward when they see someone new in the office. I am good at compartmentalizing, so this won't affect my work or my work relationships.

There are other opportunities for me to get a city gig, but in the short term is a huge blow to my ego. Plus i've failed to do well in 4 other interviews. I have this cognitive dissonance that I know I should keep practicing my answers to interview questions, but I associate interviews with failure/bad feelings.

There is another door that opened for me. The inspectors at this city like me very much, that they want me to apply for the entry level inspector position. I have no experience with that, but I can read plans and am willing to learn and get the needed certifications. The reason why they want me to apply is that I get along with everyone, I am teachable, and I already know most of the bureaucratic system. The pay is a bit less, the work is slightly more demanding since there is a physical component, and it's a different customer base, instead of dealing with architects, lawyers and engineers, I am dealing with contractors, plumbers and roofers. I can always apply for the inspector position to get interview experience, and if I do take the position I can later get "promoted" into a planning position since there's less red tape with internal promotions vs external recruitment.

Any advice on how to handle this heartbreak? Should I consider the building inspector position? I have so many thoughts running through my head it's hard to think clearly.
 
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