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. 

It’s What You Do Not What You Say That Counts

There are few truer quotes than “actions speak louder than words.” You can talk all you want, you can make promises, but until you follow through with those promises, no one is going to put much stock in your words. As Henrik Ibsen says, a single action will always leave a greater impact, positive or negative, than even a thousand words.

Stay accountable to your words

This is important advice to keep in mind when you are at work. If someone asks you to do something, and you say you will, that’s the first step. The second step is doing it. The impression you leave if you don’t will be far greater than anything you can say as an excuse. In the same way, taking action can have a big impact. Whether you help someone with their project, or do a little extra work rather than sucking up to the boss, those actions speak louder than tooting your own horn.

It’s also a reminder that any deed, no matter how small, can have a dramatic effect. Don’t shrug off small things because they seem inconsequential. Take time to do the little tasks, and to do them well. Each one of those tiny things leaves a greater impression than a bunch of words. Become a person of action and you’ll see the benefits quickly.

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!

“I think ‘FEARLESS’ is having fears but jumping anyway.” – Taylor Swift

When we look up to our heroes, be they comic book heroes, celebrities, family or friends, we give them attributes like courage, valor and fearlessness. We come to expect them to take on every challenge without hesitation or fear. We idolize these people because, while we wish we could have these attributes ourselves, we doubt that we do. 

We think that because we are afraid of things, we couldn’t be called fearless. This quote from Taylor Swift gives that thought the boot. As Taylor says, being fearless isn’t never being afraid, it’s feeling that fear and going headlong into something anyway.

The truth is, your heroes are the same. They feel fear, they get nervous and they worry they aren’t good enough. The reason they were able to overcome those nerves and that fear? They jumped straight at the thing that scared them. 

So if you’re feeling afraid, don’t worry, everyone you look up to feels the same fears. The only question that remains is, will you be fearless in the way Taylor Swift points out, and face down the thing that’s making you afraid? Chances are you’ll be able to conquer your fear, and if you do, soon you may find people are looking up to you, and calling your fearless. 

How NOT to Get the Job

There’s a lot of job search advice out there. We’ve given plenty. But not all advice is good advice. Most of it comes from a good place. Anyone who is handing out advice is probably just like The Job Window, they want to help you find work. Sometimes that advice might be a little misguided.

We thought we’d put together a couple of key job search tips that you should avoid. Most of these tips sounds like a good idea, but taken in the wrong way, or taken too far, they’ll actually hurt your chances to get the job.

Take too much initiative

First on The Muse’s list of job search tips to avoid is “Take Initiative.” Taking initiative is great, to a point. Get those resumes out there, have cover letters ready to go. Try and find the name of the hiring manager so you can address your cover letter correctly. There comes a point when it can be too much. As The Muse points out, trying to schedule your own interview, or showing up unexpectedly will not help you get the job. 

Ignore the cover letter

There are still some people out there who think that no one reads a cover letter anymore, and that sending one in, especially when it’s not specifically asked for, is a waste of time. Now more than ever, having a well crafted cover letter is essential to each and every job application. A cover letter allows you to make a more personal introduction, and helps the hiring manager see how well you’d fit in.

Don’t bother with follow-up

Following up after you’ve applied for a position or after your interview is a key part of your job search. However knowing when, and how often to follow up is crucial. Depending on the job, a hiring manager might get hundreds of applications. If every single one of those applicants tried to follow up and contact the hiring manager they’d be pulling out their hair. That’s why most job postings say only those who are sought for an interview will be contacted. After an interview, if you don’t hear anything for more than a week, a polite email is a great way to keep in contact with your potential employer.

Most job search tips come from good intentions. We want you to show employers how awesome you are and help you get a job. Sometimes though, advice can be a little misleading and taken too far. Just remember to be respectful and not overly tenacious and you’ll be well on your way to landing a new gig!

How To Get Ahead At Work

No one wants to be a suck-up. Actually, that might not be true, some people seem to want to, but it’s rare that being your boss’s yes-man will help you get ahead at work.  If you want to climb the corporate ladder, there are far better ways to do it. And don’t let anyone tell you that trying to make your way to the top of the food chain is a bad thing. You should be rewarded for the work you do. Here’s how you can get ahead at work while keeping your dignity intact.

Do Good Work

The first and most important rule for getting ahead at your company is to do good work. Good work alone doesn’t always get you noticed, but if you want to have any hope of success, sucking up can only get you so far. To better your chances of a promotion, do more than just good work. Look for opportunities to grow your responsibilities. Take on more tasks, always ensuring a high standard of excellence, and you’ll be well on your way to promotion and success.

Find Out What the Boss Wants

You don’t have to say yes to every idea your boss has. Spend a little time finding out what your boss values and what they are looking for in their workers. Aim to fulfill those needs and show you have similar values. Being a person your boss can rely on is a far better strategy than just being the person who compliments the boss everyday.

Switch Companies

Studies have shown that staying within one company for more than two years can hurt your earning potential. There are many reasons for this, one is that you may be willing to take a pay cut in order to stay with a company you feel loyal to. Another is that switching to a new company will often bring with it a pay increase. If you want to grow your skill set, you may have to head to a new place to grow those new skills.

Market Yourself

This doesn’t mean shouting how great you are and how much work you do from the rooftops. This does mean being able to take credit for doing good work, being active in work discussions and adding your two cents. Offer new and interesting ideas that separate you from everyone else.

Just doing good work isn’t usually enough to get ahead at work. You need to couple it with self promotion and making sure you’re someone that others, especially your boss, can rely on. Once you’ve managed to balance all these separate things together you’re sure to find success and slowly start moving up the food chain.

You Have The Power To Influence Change at Your Workplace

The good news is that you don’t have to get bit by a radioactive spider and turn into Spider-Man to have great power. We know you may not feel like you have a lot of sway at your current job, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the power to influence and change things at your workplace. The question is, will you take the famous advice of Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and use your power for good, or will you just try to serve yourself?

It all starts with the right choices

From the moment you step into the workforce you’ll have a million choices to make. Everything from what your career path looks like, to how you choose to get there. Will you help others and give them credit, or will you take credit for yourself? It seems like the choice would be easy, but the options won’t always be so clear cut. 

And don’t worry, Spider-Man didn’t find the choice easy all the time either. Sometimes the right thing to do isn’t obvious, and often the right thing to do is the harder of the options. Responsibility doesn’t mean always getting it right, but it does mean trying your best. 

You may feel powerless at times, but even with a small amount of control, how you hold yourself and operate when you’re at the start of your career will often carry through and be how you operate when you’re the boss. 

Using Twitter for Your Job Search

If you’re on the job search, you’ve probably already tried the usual routes. You’ve checked the job boards online and looked through specific company websites. You have checked LinkedIn as well. You’ve talked with friends and family to see if they know of any openings where they work. One place you may not have looked in your job search is Twitter

An increasing number of people are finding jobs through Twitter

Twitter is quickly becoming an important resource for your job search. According to an annual survey done by Jobvite, “last year 26% of job seekers said they were using Twitter to find work. This year, the number jumped to 34%.” As more and more job seekers move their search to Twitter, more and more companies will be looking there for great employees. 

If you want to use Twitter to help in your job search, the first thing you should do is start following people and companies that work in the field you want to work. Find people who are tweeting out jobs in your field. Don’t be afraid to interact with companies and individuals and start conversations with them on Twitter about the things they’re tweeting.

One habit to avoid is following people just to tweet at them about wanting a job. You’ll find yourself tuned out very quickly. 

Stay mindful of your profile

Another important thing to be mindful of is what your Twitter profile and timeline look like. If you’re using Twitter for your job search, you don’t want past tweets to come back and bite you. Make sure what you’re tweeting, re-tweeting and sharing is interesting and professional. Even better, are you writing blog posts or attending seminars and conventions relevant to your field? Make sure you’re tweeting about those as well. 

You’ll also want to make use of hashtags. Hashtags make your tweets more searchable, and they’ll allow you to refine your own search. If you search #jobposting, #hiring, #jobs and the name of your city, you’ll find a whole host of opportunities. You can even narrow down these details by including your industry in your search. 

You can also get involved in specific “chats”. Search for #jobhuntchat, #careerchat and #hirefriday to see when these chats happen. They’re filled with helpful advice and offer a great opportunity to ask questions. Mashable has a whole host of hashtags you can use.