3 Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

You’ve answered their questions, you’ve talked about yourself and your strengths. The interview is winding down and your interviewer asks their final question: “Do you have any questions for me?”

Your answer needs to be yes. If you have no questions for your interviewer, you seem uninterested or like things are bit over your head. You have an opportunity not just to learn more about the position you’re applying for, but also to learn about the company and what it will take to succeed if you get the job. 

What do you enjoy most about working here?

Get an idea of what your interviewer likes most about the company. Not only will you learn what sets this company apart, but you’ll also get an idea of what values your interviewer and the company have. You can take their answer and see how well it aligns with what you want in your workplace. 

What are you hoping this role will accomplish moving forward?

It’s nice to know what the expectations are. When you’re new to a role, it can be difficult to know what you’re supposed to accomplish. Are you there to support others, or would it be ideal to take charge of things? Getting expectations laid out at the beginning will help you understand if the role is right for you, and if you land the job, you’ll know where to direct your efforts.

What are opportunities/challenges facing the company/department currently?

This is one of the things that will be hard to turn up in research. This question will help you understand the business, what some of their goals are and what to watch out for. As an employee, your interest in helping the company with opportunities and challenges will be valued and appreciated.

Asking your interviewer questions isn’t just about looking good during the interview. The questions you ask can help you in your role if you land the job. 

The Confident Job Interview

Job interview jitters – we all get them no matter how many times we’ve done them. The shaking, sweaty palms, stuttering and forgetting all the answers that you worked so hard to prepare for. But here’s the trick to make a long, lasting impression even if you’re shaking in your boots. Look confident on the outside and know how to hide your nervousness.

Arrive early to the interview


Get there 10 to 15 minutes before your interview starts so you have time to calm your nerves and soak in the atmosphere. If you arrive right on time, you’ll be disheveled and before you know it, you’re in front of the interviewer before having the chance to practice the interview questions. That 10 to 15 minutes of your life could be the game changer in your confidence during the job interview.

Make eye contact with the interviewer


Looking at the person while talking shows confidence in many different ways. It shows that you are confident with yourself, the things you are talking about and the overall situation. Like we mentioned earlier, you don’t have to feel confident, but you have to look confident. Make eye contact and throw in a couple smiles here and there to hide how nervous you really are.

Pause. Collect your thoughts

Sometimes when people get nervous they tend to speak faster and ramble on. To avoid this, use a few seconds to think about your answer after the interviewer asks the question. Pause between sentences to collect your thoughts if you have to. It’s ok to take your time to answer the question. Hiring managers are human too and don’t you want a well, thought out answers instead of something that doesn’t make any sense?

Pretend you’re trying to get to know the other person

This is easier said than done, but pretend it’s not an interview and just a casual conversation between you and someone you’re getting to know. This will ease your mind and take the pressure off. Get the fact that it’s a job interview out of your head (but still remain professional).

Keep Clichés Off Your Cover Letter

The cover letter is important. It’s a personal introduction about who you are and what you’ve accomplished. A good one provides more information than just a resume and should be considered an essential element to any job application. And yet, some people still think no one reads a cover letter. The truth is, the person who reads your cover letter has probably read hundreds just like it. If you’re sending out the exact same cover letter to every job you apply for, chances are it’s the same as everyone else’s. 

Cover Letter Clichés

To avoid having a cover letter that’s easily forgettable, you’ll need to keep the clichés out of your resume. The Muse has a great article about overused lines like “I’m a fast learner” and “This is exactly the job I’m looking for.” These lines, or similar ones, turn up in just about every cover letter. Imagine how tedious it is for the person reading them. Look for more creatives ways to get your point across. Add some personality to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

To Whom it may Concern

At every opportunity, find a name to address your letter to. Even if you’re applying online, finding the company, finding a phone number and calling to ask if there is a name you can address your letter to will put you ahead of everyone else. Sometimes this just isn’t possible. If you can’t find out who to address your cover letter to, don’t try and guess. It is far better to have “To whom it may concern” than to address it to the wrong person. 

I Did This and This and This

Your cover letter should be interesting. If you’re just going to use it to say what you’ve already written on your resume, there’s really no point. Use the opportunity of a cover letter to expand on what is in your resume. Talk about your accomplishments and your story. It’s cliché to think that the cover letter has to be a boring retelling of your professional life. 

Your cover letter will get read, as long as it’s not the same old, same old that recruiters and hiring managers are tired of seeing. Keeping clichés off your cover letter is one way to make sure they’ll be interested in what you have to say.

Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

No matter what the reason, answering why you left your last job can be difficult.  In all cases, you don’t want to sound like you’re slamming your former employer. You also don’t want to linger on why it didn’t work out.

Employers ask it to determine you had a good reason for leaving your last position. When answering this question, be confident and assured that you have the right answer.

A Learning Experience

When you talk about your former job, even if you were let go, be honest about it. There’s no sense is trying to get away with a fib here, even if your former employer isn’t one of your references. If your interviewer wants to find their number, it won’t be that hard. Instead, focus on what you learned and how that experience has helped shape you as a professional. Talk about how you’re going to bring that experience and knowledge to your new position

Focus on What You Accomplished

No matter how your last job ended, when it comes to why you’re moving on, bring up the results you achieved while at your last company. This is will assure your interviewer that you’re dedicated to the job until the job is done. This also allows you to remain positive when talking about your last job. 

Bring it Back to This Company

If things weren’t working out with your past employer, it’s okay to say that in a positive and polite way. Then point out that the things that weren’t working out at your last job, are exactly the reasons why you think this new company is right for you. Maybe the goals of your last position changed and you felt they didn’t mesh with you anymore. Note that your goals align with this new position. Maybe your last job wasn’t a cultural fit. Explain to your interviewer that you’ve researched their company’s culture, and you think you’re a great fit.

It’s a difficult question to answer, but it’s one you don’t have to be afraid of. There are many perfectly acceptable reasons to have left a position, and you shouldn’t feel immediately defensive when this question comes up. Be honest, be positive and be confident!

Need Some Help Decoding The Hiring Process?

Need Some Help Decoding The Hiring Process?

When it comes to getting hired, the whole process can feel like a bit of a mystery. How, in fact, do you stand out from the crowd in that pile of resumes? Why does one person get noticed over any other person? And then if you do end up getting an interview, what about that process leads a hiring director to choose one person over another?

You’re not the only one who is confused. Most jobs get about 250 resumes per application, and hiring directors typically whittle that down to about six candidates. Once they do that, then it comes to in-person time and that’s really where you can find some tips to lead you to success in your next interview. For example, can you and do you make eye contact? Then that’s an automatic positive in the eyes of the person doing the hiring. What else can you do? This graphic has some ideas.

 

Prepping For The Second Interview

Prepping For The Second Interview

Congratulations! You aced your first interview! The first hurdle in the process is over. You gave great answers and they like you. Now they want you back for a second interview. Which is great, even if it means you have to go through the process of doing an interview again. It can be stressful, but you’ve gotten this far; you can do it!

The Difference Between the First and Second Interview

You might think the second interview will be similar to the first one, only with another person – a higher up person. However there are significant differences between the two. This isn’t going to be the same questions with someone new, and it’s most likely not going to be the same person–by themselves at least–with a couple extra questions. The second interview is all about getting to know you better. There will most likely be a couple of people interviewing you. Some may just sit and listen, some will ask pointed questions, and others might be your prospective co-workers. Your job for the second interview is to be ready for these questions and to demonstrate you’re serious about the position.

Know the Company and the Position

Before your first interview you hopefully looked into the company you’re applying for. Maybe you knew of them beforehand. Either way, now it’s time to really dig deep. Find out, not just about the company, but where it’s headed. What’s the most recent news about this company? Bring what you’ve learned into the conversation during the interview. Prepare ideas on what you would do in your role to help the company meet its goals.

Prepare for Harder, More Specific Questions

If you thought there were some tough questions in the first interview, get ready for more in the second. You’ve made it to the next phase of the selection process, so instead of seeing if you’re a better fit than most, your prospective employers are seeing what makes you a better fit over a handful of others. The best way to rise to the top is to be quick, concise, and articulate with your answers. According to an article about How To Prep For Second Interviews, from Forbes:

Be brief and concise in all your answers to questions. “Don’t ramble or go too off-topic,” says Annie Shanklin Jones, manager of IBM’s recruiting in the U.S. There’s no stopwatch running, but try to keep each response about two minutes or less.

You know the company, you know your position and you know what you would do if you got the job. Rambling can lead an interviewer to believe you are looking for an answer or are unsure of yourself. Quick, clear answers let interviewers know you are on top of your game.

Prepare Your Own Questions

Your interviewers have some new questions, and you should too! Make sure you aren’t asking the same questions you asked in the first interview. This is a great time to ask more in depth questions. Ask about the company’s goals. What is their five year plan? You can also ask about your position and how they’d like to see the position evolve. This ensures your interviewers know you’re thinking of your future with the company. If you’re not offered the job by the time you’re asking questions, ask what the next steps in the process are.

Final Thought on Preparation

You’ve come this far, so you know they’re interested. Project confidence that you are what they are looking for. Don’t try and change yourself, just be honest about who you are. Feel free to have a little small talk as well. More than likely a couple of the people you’re interviewing with are going to be co-workers, and they want to know that they’ll get along with their new hire. Be prepared, and before you know it, you’ll be at your new job!

 

What’s an Informational Interview?

What's an Informational Interview?

What’s an Informational Interview?

The quick answer: an informational interview is an interview you hold with someone who works in an industry or job that you are interested in. The aim of the informational interview is for you to learn as much as you can from someone who can tell you about the day-to-day of their job. 

 

The point of an informational interview is not to get a job. It’s to learn if a specific field or job is right for you. It can be a connection you make, and keep, that could help in your job search, but you shouldn’t go in expecting to get an offer out of it.

How to get an Informational Interview

An informational interview can be with anyone. Someone you know personally like a parent, aunt or friend. It all depends on what you’re aiming to learn. If you don’t know anyone personally who works in a place you’re interested in, asking friends if they have connections is another way to find people.

 

Don’t forget social media. LinkedIn is a great resource for finding people with jobs you’re interested in. Send someone you don’t know on LinkedIn an InMail explaining you’re looking for the opportunity to have an informational interview; you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to chat! Twitter is another platform where you can follow and message with people building up connections. Again, you’ll find it surprising how often people are willing to share perspectives about their work with interested students and job hunters.

 

One key thing to remember: You are asking a favor of the individual you’re interviewing. Be willing to move your schedule to fit theirs. Offer to do it by phone, or if they work/live near you and suggest meeting in person and be willing to travel to their location.

What to Ask During an Informational Interview

Prepare for an Informational Interview like you would for a real job interview. Research the person’s company and their position. Learn what you can about what they do before you go in. Your interviewee will appreciate the time you put in. Keep the interview professional. Avoid questions about money or salary. Ask them what their day-to-day is like. Ask where their job leads. Ask them what led them to the job they are currently in. 

 

Again remember that the interviewer is giving you their time. Respect that by keeping the interview short; usually aim for under 20 minutes. If it seems the interviewee is not in a rush, offer to end the interview but feel free to continue if they suggest they aren’t in a hurry.

Once the Interview is Done

Thank them for their time. One of the most important things to do after an informational interview is follow up. It can be as simple as an email thanking them for their time. If they gave you suggestions let them know if those suggestions helped. Staying connected with your informational interviewee is a great way to build your network and stay ahead of the curve. 

 

What is Your Greatest Strength?

What is Your Greatest Strength?

What is Your Greatest Strength?

Of the many questions you’re likely to be asked during a job interview– like Where do you see yourself in 5 years  or Tell me about yourself, What is your greatest strength seems like one of the easier ones. Don’t take it too lightly. This question gives you the opportunity to really sell yourself and your abilities, and, more than the others, is designed to see if you’re the right fit for the job.

Do Your Research

The first thing you want to do is some research. Find out what the company values. What traits do they look for in employees? Take a look at the job description and see what the job requirements are. What seem to be the most important ones? Choose strengths that align with those traits. 

Quality Over Quantity

When it comes time for you to consider what strengths you want to mention at your interview, focus on quality rather than quantity. Mentioning a whole host of things you consider yourself good at only shows you’re not great at anything. Focusing on only a couple things you consider your strengths will allow you to paint a stronger picture of yourself and those talents.

Back It Up

When you’ve picked the strengths that best suit the job and position, make sure you have specific stories you can use to demonstrate those qualities. Talk about how and where you developed the skills and instances where they have proven useful. It’s easy to say you have a given strength, it’s much more impressive when you can give specific examples.

Example

About: Careers has a couple examples of how to best answer this question, here’s one: 

 

I am a skilled salesman with over ten years of experience. I have exceeded my sales goals every quarter and I’ve earned a bonus each year since I started with my current employer.

 

In this short example, a strength is given, and followed up with proof. Do the same, and you’ll knock this interview question out of the park. Good Luck!

Don’t Let What You Wear Distract From Your Job Interview

Don’t Let What You Wear Distract From Your Job Interview

We all know the importance of first impressions. How we should dress for success. For some companies dressing for success means a suit. Others prefer business casual. Prior to your interview it’s important to get a feel for company culture through their social media channels, and dress accordingly.

 

Make sure you feel good in what you wear

Whatever you choose to wear, make sure you feel comfortable and well put together. If you’re uncomfortable with what you’re wearing, all the interviewer will notice is your discomfort. They’ll most likely assume it has something to do with how you’re feeling about the job.

 

Don’t wear new shoes for the first time. Who knows how they’ll feel once you get to the interview. If you think something is too loose or too tight, choose something else. Feeling good in the clothes you choose is as important as what you choose.

 

Don’t forget about how you smell

We are not here to remind anyone to take a shower before heading into a job interview. That goes without saying. What we are here to say is, no matter how much you love your favorite perfume or cologne or how great it makes you feel, don’t wear it. Many offices have a scent-free policy.

 

Even if that’s not the case you don’t know if the person interviewing you has a fragrance allergy. Even if they don’t, scents are distracting. You want the interviewer focusing on your skills and attributes, not on what you smell like.

 

Do a final check before you exit the house

Before heading out the door give yourself a thorough once over in a full-length mirror. Ensure you are wrinkle free. That you don’t have any pet hair tagging along with you, or lint.

 

If you look good, you’re more likely to feel good. If you feel good, you’ll have the chance to distract them for all the right reasons!

 

Avoid These Common Job Interview Mistakes

Avoid These Common Job Interview MistakesAvoid These Common Job Interview Mistakes facebook

Some people are natural born communicators and excel at job interviews. Nervousness and inexperience cause many more to stumble through them – especially when first starting out in the job market. By learning about common interview mistakes you can make sure to steer clear!

 

Answer a ringing phone

First off, always turn your phone off before heading into an interview! A phone that’s left on for during the interview tells the interviewer that you aren’t fully invested in the interview. If for some reason you forget and it rings, do not answer it.

 

Lose track of your body language

Some people concentrate so hard on the answers to questions being put to them they lose track of the message being sent by their body. Their crossed arms, fidgeting hands, and tapping feet are all communicating nervousness and distraction. Remember to sit up straight. Hold on to your hands if you have to. Smile and look into your interviewer’s eyes.

 

Unprofessional attire

The world certainly isn’t as formal as it used to be. However, that doesn’t mean you can dress down for an interview. Business casual is appropriate.

 

Negativity

You might have left your previous job because of a toxic environment but a current interview is no place to bring that up. Avoid any negative talk because it always reflects back on you. You can say it was not a good fit then mention something positive from the experience. Something you learned or an experience you had.

 

Lack of preparation

You should be able to answer all questions put to you clearly and decisively. If you drop a lot of uumms and ahhs you sound unprofessional and ill prepared. Do your homework. Review common interview questions and their answers. Have interesting, tangible things to say about your experiences and qualifications. Be specific. By implementing a new work flow I was able to raise productivity by 12% over the course of six months.

 

No thank you note

An interview, whether you think you did a stellar job or not, always ends with a thank you note. Thank the interviewer for their time, remind them of an interesting point of discussion and finish by reiterating how excited you are about the opportunity.