June 1, 2018

11 Answers You Should Have Ready Before Any Job Interview

For any job interview, the overarching point you want to get across is why the prospective employer should hire you. The interview is your sales pitch that you are the ideal candidate for the job at hand. It is also a get-to-know-you conversation to show the company staff that they would enjoy working with you. So make your case and be likeable! Here are 11 questions to practice:

How much do you make?

This won’t be your opening question but you can count on compensation coming up early in the discussion. The company doesn’t want to waste its time if it turns out they can’t afford you. If you currently make more than the role advertises (for example, you are making a career change from a high-paying job) then focus on what you’re targeting for this role, so you can let them know that, yes, they can afford you. If you have been underpaid and don’t want the company to think they can get you cheaply, also focus on what you’re targeting for the role so that you keep the focus on the role at hand and not your low compensation. But you want to have something to say confidently and directly when the money talk comes up – don’t just wing it.

Tell me about yourself.

This also might be phrased as “Walk me through your resume” or “Walk me through your career” or simply “Why should I hire you?” It’s a common opening question where you get to summarize your background in order to point out the most relevant skills, expertise and accomplishments that make you the best hire. That second part is key – you want to highlight the relevant aspects of your background. You’re not just talking about yourself in general – that’s a date, not an interview.

What is your biggest strength?

Ideally you have already enumerated your strengths as you introduce yourself. But you may get a pointed question that asks you to choose one (or more) to specifically focus on. Pick your most relevant strength(s) for the job. Then give a specific example for each so that the interviewer can see exactly how your strength manifests itself in the workplace.

What is your biggest weakness?

On the flip side, you may get asked about your weaknesses. Here you pick a weakness that is NOT relevant to the job so that it’s clear it won’t impede your ability to perform. You also want to give a specific example to make crystal clear to the interviewer what you mean by your weakness, so that the interviewer isn’t left to imagine and possibly over exaggerate how bad the weakness might be.

What is your biggest accomplishment (or biggest mistake)?

Related to the strength/ weakness line of questioning, you may be asked for an accomplishment, or on the flip side, a mistake. While the strength or weakness is a quality or a skill, the accomplishment or mistake is an outcome that happened. Despite the subtle difference, this type of question should be handled similarly – pick an accomplishment relevant to the job and pick a mistake that isn’t so critical.

Give me an example of __________ (where BLANK is a key function of the potential job)

This line of questioning draws directly from the job description for the role you’re interviewing for. If a key part of the role is direct marketing, the employer may ask for an example of a successful email campaign. If the job requires managing a team, the employer may ask about your management experience and style. Go line-by-line through the job description and be prepared to give an example for each and every requirement.

Why do you want this job?

In addition to whether or not you can do the job, the employer will want to know that you want to do the job. Your motivation is very much under scrutiny in the interview process so you should have a genuine and excited response for why you want this job.

Why did you leave your last job?

Another way to gauge your motivation is by looking at past transitions. Why did you leave other jobs? Why did you make the career choices that you made? You will most probably be asked about your most recent job, but you may also be asked about every career decision you made. The interviewer is looking for what draws you toward and away from different opportunities.

What do you know about our company?

Yet another way to gauge motivation is by looking at how much preparation you did into learning about the company. When I recruited for a magazine publisher, I would ask candidates to list their favorite magazines that we published. I wanted to see how well they knew our products. If your interest is genuine you will know about the company and its industry, so the only right answer to this question is A LOT (and then proceed to share).

Where else are you looking?

Finally, motivation and genuine interest can also be gauged by how seriously you’re focused on the company’s industry and competitors. If you’re interviewing at a bank, but also a manufacturer and a leisure company and an energy company…, then your interests are all over the place. If you are pursuing diverse types of jobs, keep it to yourself lest you seem scattered and undecided. Let the employer know that you have eyes only for the role at hand.

What questions do you have for me?

The interview is a two-way conversation. This is your chance to learn more about the company and the role. Prepare thoughtful questions in advance. Having questions shows that you’re interested and curious. Having intelligent questions shows that you’re prepared and ready to talk business.

In addition to general interview questions, you may be asked specific technical questions or case-based questions (the case style of interviewing is most popular with management consulting roles, though other industries use this line of questioning as well). Research the company in advance – what types of interviews do they conduct? Will you be taking a technical test? I have recruited for companies that gave coding tests or analytical tests or asked for writing samples. Prepare for all types of interviews you might encounter.

April 20, 2018

These 16 Job Interview Behaviors Are a Huge Turnoff (and Will Negatively Affect Your Chances of Being Hired)

Statistics show that on average every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. This makes interviews more important than ever.

We all know the importance of the job interview for getting hired. You can have a stellar résumé, a great record of employment, and terrific references, but if you blow the interview, chances are you're not going to get the job.

According to statistics compiled by Glassdoor for Employers, every corporate job opening, on average, attracts 250 résumés. But only four to six of these people will be called for an interview, and only one of those will be offered a job.

In a recent post, job search site Simply Hiredrevealed the results of its survey of more than 850 hiring managers -- men and women in the U.S. who have interviewed and hired employees as a part of their job, currently or in the past. In this particular survey, the hiring managers were asked what application and interview behaviors they viewed most negatively in job candidates.

Here are the top 16 behaviors that every job applicant should be sure to avoid to make the best impression possible -- and hopefully land the job of their dreams:

  • Arriving late to an interview (93%)
  • Whining (92%)
  • Showing lack of preparation (89%)
  • Bad-mouthing a former boss (88%)
  • Making grammar or spelling mistakes on a cover letter (86%)
  • Using poor grammar in an interview (84%)
  • Having unrealistic compensation requirements (84%)
  • Being underqualified (80%)
  • Answering questions incorrectly (77%)
  • Lacking eye contact in an interview (76%)
  • Bragging (73%)
  • Lacking a résumé copy at an interview (65%)
  • Rambling (63%)
  • Dressing casually for an interview (59%)
  • Using a gimmick (sending baked goods, gifts, etc.) (56%)
  • Talking about other interviews (55%)

Author: Peter Economy, The Leadership Guy.

March 20, 2018

10 Ridiculously Smart Questions You Should Ask in a Job interview

In a crowded job market, the last thing you want in a job interview to be is forgettable.
Yet people do it every day with this one mistake: not asking any questions in a job interview.
The mistake is understandable. You’ve been so busy preparing to answer questions, that you’re forgetting to show the curiosity that lets interviewers see what you really want to know. After all, even if every single one of your responses are flawless and on point, by not asking a question or two of your interviewer you run the risk of coming across as generic.

On the other hand, you don’t want to ask terrible questions. That’s even worse.

Here’s how to show the person interviewing you how you’re different and why you stand apart from the rest.

Why did you join the company?

Mark Phillips, who runs a top office for Sanford Rose Associates, one of the largest recruiting networks in the U.S. had a simple question that could be quite complicated. If the interviewer tells you it was because of vacation days or benefits, chances are good that there isn’t all that much below the surface. If, however, they tell you about the creativity or integrity of the brand, you know you’re potentially going to work for a winner.

How does this role further your company’s mission?

Kelly Lavin, chief talent officer for newly launched Canvas, the first text-based interviewing platform suggests you ask this because “While job duties and company culture are important to understand, determining why a company and role exists is just as, if not more, important.” It will also allow you to better understand if you “align with the company’s mission and will feel a sense of purpose in your new role.”

Tell me about your most successful employees.  What do they do differently?

Believe it or not, this one is almost a trick question for potential employers Lavin says. “The answer to this question will help a candidate understand how a company defines success and what specific behaviors can lead to that success.” In one fell swoop you’ll find out what success means to this company and how you can better achieve it.

What do you expect someone in this position to accomplish in the first 60-90 days?

University of Richmond Career Advisor Anna Young says, “Great candidates hit the ground running, find out how you will be expected to jump in and start contributing to the organization from day one.” And in case you’re wondering, it’s fine to modify the question for an internship and ask about expectations for the first few weeks.

What, if anything, in my background gives you pause?

Roberta Matuson, President of Matuson Consulting, says this is pretty much the one must ask question job seekers should ask in an interview. She says “By asking this question, you’ll be able to overcome any objections the interviewer might have before you leave the room.” And if you’re smart, you can find a way to combat any preconceived notions by addressing them in a follow up note.

What is the turnover in your company, in the executive suite and in the department, I am interviewing for?

Dave Arnold President at Arnold Partners says as a leading independent CFO search consultant for technology companies, he’s had 100’s of people go out to interview with clients, and he thinks that’s a question worth asking. While people no longer expect to stay at any given job for decades or more, it’s nice to know how long you can expect to stick around if given the opportunity. If the interviewer grows uncomfortable or shares the fact that turnaround at their company is higher than Dancing with the Stars, you might want to think twice before accepting the position.

What are the opportunities for growth and advancement?

Young says, “This can help you to understand the structure of the organization and if there are opportunities to move up and advance your career.” It’s also a great way of finding out about different ways to progress or move into different roles “Also, it could help you to learn if they offered continued training or professional development for employees.”

If you had a chance to interview for your company again (knowing what you know now), what questions would you ask next time? 

Ashley White, executive director for Human Resources for APQC, a member-based non-profit that produces benchmarking and best practice research suggested this toughie.

This one is slightly sneaky because it also allows you to surreptitiously monitor the interviewer’s hidden signals. Do they suddenly look uncomfortable before spouting the company line? Do they greet this with a giant grin? You might have more answers to this question by what they don’t say, than even by what they do share.

What haven’t I asked that most candidates ask?

Phillips also suggested asking this question, which sets you apart immediately. On the one hand, you’re lumping all the other applicants together and showing a level of confidence; on the other hand, you’re gaining insight into your potential competitors: they asked this, but it never even occurred to me.

One last thing: so that you don’t spend the coming days or weeks on pins and needles, it’s always a good idea to ask this next question.

What are the next steps in this process?

Young says, “If they haven’t already shared this information, it’s important to ask about their timeline so you’re aware of when you could be notified of a second interview, or a potential offer.”

What to ask yourself 

Shannon Breuer, President at Wiley Group was once one of 800 laid off at her former job, Shannon now draws on her own personal experience to provide clients with career coaching and transition services. She offers a list of questions you should ask yourself before an interview, and if needed – you can flip them and ask the interviewer.
  • What level of work-life balance do you wish to enjoy? 
  • How casual do you like to dress? 
  • Is your ideal employer an up-and-coming small business, or a century-old corporation with time-tested values and a clear path for future promotions? 
  • Do you like the management style of the leadership team? 
  • What are the company initiatives you can stand behind?
Author:  Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels.