Category Archives: Interview

What Do You Do When Stumped During an Interview?

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When you don’t know how to answer a question during an interview, the silence can seem excruciating. You might even wish the floor would open up and swallow you whole. Not to worry, though — keep these tips in mind the next time you’re strapped for an answer.

1. Calm down.

First of all, the most important thing to do is stay calm. If you start freaking out, your body will begin reacting physiologically. For example, your blood pressure will start rising, and your heart may race. Once you start a stress response, you won’t be thinking clearly, and you may throw out answers without thinking. Take deep breaths, and tell yourself that it’s OK to not know the answer to the question. You’ll just have to work through it; there’s nothing you can do to change things, but you need to stay calm to find the right answer.

2. Don’t say, “I don’t know,” off the bat. And don’t make stuff up.

You should not tell the interviewer you don’t know the answer without mulling it over. Then again, be careful not to make stuff up, because your interviewer can see right through that.

3. Ask questions.

Maybe it’s the question you don’t understand. Ask your interviewer to clarify what she said. Go deeper into the question to see if you can get more details that will help you figure it out.

4. Tell your interviewer what you do know.

If you do have some knowledge of the question, then take the time to tell your interviewer what you do know of the situation. Saying everything out loud can start you on the process of figuring out the problem.

5. Tell them how you would find the answer.

Even if you don’t know what the answer is, you can tell the interviewer the steps you would take to figure out the problem. Interviewers ask you hard questions, because they want to see what your thought process is. Sometimes, the thought process may be more important than the actual answer. They want to see that you can take initiative and have the resources to come up with a solution on your own, instead of needing someone to hold your hand through problems. While you’re trying to find the solution, you can admit to not knowing certain parts; this way, you come off as being honest, and the hiring manager will know you are not trying to fake it. For example, if you need to calculate something and you’re not good at math, you can respond with “I can’t do the calculations off the top of my head, but I think these calculations will give me the answer. And what I can do is use a calculator to find that answer.” Showing a little honesty shows vulnerability and transparency. It also makes you more likable.

6. Know the right time to come clean.

Although we mentioned not admitting to the interviewer that you don’t know the answer, there is an exception to this rule. If the answer is something that you will only know through memorization, such a definition of the word, then it’s probably best to admit that you don’t know the answer, as it may be impossible to figure it out independently. Here’s what you can tell the interviewer: “It’s a good question, but I’m sorry, I don’t have the answer off the top of my head. I will be sure to follow up with the answer after the interview.”

7. Send a follow-up email.

The follow-up email for an interview could become your second chance. Try to talk about the answer you were stumped on, but be smooth when you’re talking about it. And make sure you’re only naming the mistakes your interviewer caught and not drawing attention to the ones she did not catch. Don’t say something like “I’m sorry I did not know the answer to that question.” Instead, tell her that after more time and thought, you managed to come up with a couple of solutions that could work for the problem.

 

cross posted from savvysugar.com

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Five Things Every Employer Wants To Hear In An Interview

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Ever wonder what a potential boss wants to hear in an interview? What exactly can you say that will increase your chances of receiving a job offer? I recently heard some great advice that lined up with my previous experience as a human resources manager, and so I thought I would share this great advice with you! Here are five things to communicate during an interview that will convince the employer you’re a great hire.

1. You Will Never Have To Tell Me What To Do Twice

Every employer wants to know they can give you instructions once—and you’ll get the job done. I guarantee you that no employer wants to micromanage or ask an employee more than once to do something—no matter what it is.

2. I Will Complete The Job/Assignment You Give Me With Excellence

The employer wants to hear that, no matter what, you are going to make it happen—that you’re going to get the job done and do it to the best of your ability.

3. I Am An Agreeable Person

The employer wants to know that no matter what situation you are put in, you’re going to be a team player—and that you’re not going to create confusion, conflict, problems, or challenge their authority.

4. I Am Easy To Correct And Instruct—I Am Teachable

If there is something that’s not getting done, or if you’re not doing it correctly, the employer wants to know that they can approach you to discuss the situation and that you’re not going to fly off the handle or think you’re superior.

5. I Am A Loyal Employee

I will not talk poorly about you. I will do everything I can to promote you and help promote this business. While I am working for you I will always be the best employee—whether for 1 year or 10 years. And should I leave, I will be rehireable, and I will leave in an amicable and responsible manner.

Prospective employers nowadays understand that asking employees to make a commitment to stay for 10—or even 25 years—just isn’t realistic. Loyalty isn’t about longevity. It’s about being a committed and responsible employee while you’re with that company.

These five points are essentially what every employer wants to hear from a potential employee. Of course, this isn’t an end-all, be-all of an interview, but if you can communicate these very important points to a prospective employer during an interview, it will help the interviewer to feel at ease, sense that you are a great employee, and believe that you would be an asset to the organization.

cross posted from careerealism.com

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Five Must-do’s and Five Never-do’s on a Job Interview

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How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot in the Interview

1) Stop using generalities, like “I’m a problem-solver” and “I’m a real team player.”Generalities about strengths are ignored, forgotten, or not heard. When interviewers evaluate a candidate they recall the examples and stories the candidate used to prove a point. From these examples they conclude to what degree the candidate possesses the strength or attribute.

2) Never say “I don’t have any weaknesses.” Everybody has weaknesses. The point of the question isn’t even about weakness, it’s an attempt to determine your character, honesty, and self-awareness. On the surface, saying you don’t have any weaknesses implies you’ve stopped growing, can’t learn anything new and can’t be coached. Openly stating a weakness, and describing how you’ve learned from it, indicates a willingness to get better.

3) Don’t give answers that are too short or too long. In an interview, you’re judged not just on the content of your answers, but also the quality of how they’re presented. The best answers are 1-2 minutes long. If your answers are too short you’re assumed to lack ability or insight, or interest. Worse, you force the interviewer to work too hard. Interviewees who talk too much are considered self-absorbed, boring and imprecise. Worse, after two minutes the interviewer tunes you out and doesn’t hear a thing you’ve said.

4) Don’t ask “what’s in it for me” questions. At the beginning of the interview, assume you’re the seller, even if you’re the hottest, in-demand candidate in the world. Asking self-serving questions like “what does the job pay?” or questions about benefits and related superficialities, are an instant turn-off. It’s certainly okay to ask about these things once the interviewer signals that you’re a serious candidate for the job.

5) Don’t look at your resume. During the interview you must not look at your resume. This is a sign you’re either nervous (which you probably will be), or you fabricated something. Interviewers expect you to know your work history completely, including companies, dates, job titles, roles, responsibilities and key accomplishments. To help recall these important details, write them down on a few 3X5 cards before the interview.

How to Gain an Interviewing Advantage

1) Be prepared. An interview is more important than any major presentation you’ll ever make. You need to be just as prepared. Part of this is reading about the company, the industry, the job description, and the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll be meeting. But this is just a start. Knowing yourself, your resume and work history inside-out, your strengths and weaknesses, and preparing to ask and answer questions is the hard part.

2) Ask insightful questions. Interviewers judge candidates on three big areas: the candidate’s first impression, the quality of the answers, and the quality of the questions. Great questions can often overcome weaknesses in the other areas. The best questions focus on the impact and challenges of the role, and the relationship of the job to the business.

3) Convert the interview into a past performance review. If the interviewer seems to be box-checking skills and experiences, ask about the major performance expectations for the job. Then give examples of your biggest accomplishments to validate you’ve done work that’s comparable to what needs to be done.

4) Prove strengths and neutralize weaknesses. Write down all of your strengths and weaknesses. For each strength come up with 1-2 actual accomplishments you can use as examples to prove the strength. To neutralize a weakness, describe how you converted it into a learning experience, or how you manage to deal with it.

5) Ask about next steps. Towards the end of the interview, ask where you stand, and find out the next steps. If the interviewer is vague or non-committal, you’re probably not going to be called back. In this case, ask if there is something missing in your background or skill set that the job requires. Once you know this, you might be able to minimize the concern by describing some comparable accomplishment that was previously not considered.

For most hiring managers, the interviewer is more about box-checking and validating skills, combined with a big dose of gut feel and intuition. A savvy job-seeker can turn the odds in his or her favor by being prepared, recognizing that the interview isn’t a lecture or a series of 30-second responses, and asking insightful, business-oriented questions. Preventing what can go wrong, is a great way to ensure things go right.

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How to answer 7 of the most common interview questions

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“Tell me about yourself.” While this isn’t exactly a question, answering this the wrong way could really hurt your chances of getting a job, Teach says. “I was once told by an HR executive that this can actually be a trick question. Hiring managers can’t ask you certain questions legally but if you go off on a tangent when answering, you may tell them some things about you that are better left unsaid.” The worst way to approach this request is to tell them your life story, which is something they’re definitely not interested in. The best way to approach this is to only discuss what your interests are relating to the job and why your background makes you a great candidate.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?” It’s easy to talk about your strengths; you’re detail oriented, hard working, a team player, etc.–but it’s also easy to get tripped up when discussing your weaknesses, Teach says. Never talk about a real weakness unless it’s something you’ve defeated. “Many hiring managers are hip to the overused responses, such as, ‘Well, my biggest weakness is that I work too hard so I need try to take it easy once in a while.’ The best answer is to discuss a weakness that you’ve turned around, such as, you used to come in late to work a lot but after your supervisor explained why it was necessary for you to come in on time, you were never late again.”

“Where do you want to be five years from now?” “What employers are really asking is, ‘Is this job even close to your presumed career path? Are you just applying to this job because you need something? Are your long-term career plans similar to what we see for this role? How realistic are your expectations for your career? Have you even thought about your career long-term? Are you going to quit after a year or two?’” says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs.

Show them that you’ve done some self-assessment and career planning. Let them know that you hope to develop professionally and take on additional responsibilities at that particular company. “Don’t say something ridiculous like, ‘I don’t know,’ or “I want your job,” she says.

Teach says no one can possibly know where they’ll be in their career five years from now but hiring managers want to get a sense of your commitment to the job, the company, and the industry. “In fact, I would even mention that it’s hard for you to know what job title you may hold five years from now but ideally, you’d like to have moved up the ladder at this company based on your performance. You’re hopeful to be in some management position and your goal is to help the company any way you can.” If you give the impression that this job is just a stepping stone for you, it’s unlikely the hiring manager will be interested in you.

“Please give me an example of a time when you had a problem with a supervisor/co-worker and how you approached the problem.” “I think that the hardest thing about work isn’t the work, it’s the people at work,” Teach says. Most employees have a problem with a supervisor or co-worker at some point in their career. How they handle that problem says a lot about their people skills. If you can explain to the interviewer that you were able to overcome a people problem at work, this will definitely help your chances of getting the job, he says.

“What are your salary requirements?” “What employers are really asking is, ‘Do you have realistic expectations when it comes to salary? Are we on the same page or are you going to want way more than we can give? Are you flexible on this point or is your expectation set in stone?’” Sutton Fell says.

Try to avoid answering this question in the first interview because you may shortchange yourself by doing so, Teach says. Tell the hiring manager that if you are seriously being considered, you could give them a salary range–but if possible, let them make the first offer. Study websites like Salary.com and Glassdoor.com to get an idea of what the position should pay. “Don’t necessarily accept their first offer,” he adds. “There may be room to negotiate.”

When it is time to give a number, be sure to take your experience and education levels into consideration, Sutton Fell says. “Also, your geographic region, since salary varies by location.” Speak in ranges when giving figures, and mention that you are flexible in this area and that you’re open to benefits, as well. “Be brief and to the point, and be comfortable with the silence that may come after.”

“Why are you leaving your current job?” Hiring managers want to know your motivation for wanting to leave your current job. Are you an opportunist just looking for more money or are you looking for a job that you hope will turn into a career? If you’re leaving because you don’t like your boss, don’t talk negatively about your boss–just say you have different work philosophies, Teach says. If the work was boring to you, just mention that you’re looking for a more challenging position. “Discuss the positives that came out of your most recent job and focus on why you think this new position is ideal for you and why you’ll be a great fit for their company.”

If you’ve already left your previous job (or you were fired), Sutton Fell suggests the following:

If you got fired: Do not trash your last boss or company. Tell them that you were unfortunately let go, that you understand their reasoning and you’ve recognized areas that you need to improve in, and then tell them how you will be a better employee because of it.
If you got laid off: Again, do not trash your last boss or company. Tell them that you were let go, and that you understand the circumstances behind their decision; that you are committed to your future and not dwelling on the past; and that you are ready to apply everything that you learned in your last role to a new company.

If you quit: Do not go into details about your unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Instead, tell them that while you valued the experience and education that you received, you felt that the time had come to seek out a new opportunity, to expand your skills and knowledge, and to find a company with which you could grow.
“Why should I hire you?” A hiring manager may not ask you this question directly but every question you answer in the interview should contribute to helping them understand why you’re the best person for the job. “Stay focused on why your background makes you an ideal candidate and tell them how you are going to contribute to that department and that company,” Teach says. “Let the interviewer know that one of your goals is to make their job easier by taking on as much responsibility as possible and that you will be excited about this job starting on day one.”

Salpeter suggests you print and highlight the job description, looking for the top three or four most important details. “Do they include terms such as, ‘cross-functional team,’ ‘team work,’ and ‘team player’ several times?” If so, your answer to, “Why should we hire you?” (asked directly or as an underlying question) should mention and focus on your abilities as they relate to teams.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

 

Sending a thank-you message after an interview is important because it helps keep you fresh in the hiring manager’s mind and demonstrates that you understand good business etiquette. First, know that you can’t go wrong with sending an email – particularly if you’ve been using that method to correspond with your interviewer prior to your meeting. Sending an email allows you to follow up quickly and reiterate your interest in the position, while also providing additional materials (such as writing samples) requested during the interview.

Using email is especially important if you know the company is looking to hire someone quickly. By the time a handwritten note arrives via traditional mail, they may have already made their decision. Additionally, remember that some people don’t check their office mail regularly, or may be out of the office on business or vacation travel where they don’t have access to incoming mail.

A handwritten note or card can help you stand out from the crowd and is appropriate when you know the employer doesn’t intend to make a hiring decision in the days immediately following the interview. This type of communication may also be more appropriate if you’re applying to work at a very formal company or for a high-ranking position.

If you go this route, aim to send it out the same day you interview to ensure it arrives in a timely fashion. Find a quiet spot immediately following your meeting while the details are still fresh in your mind to write the note and drop it in the nearest mailbox.

No matter which format you choose, start off the message by thanking the interviewer again for his or her time and for giving you the opportunity to come in.

Next you want to express your excitement and interest in the company, incorporating details that you heard in the interview. For example, if the hiring manager told you that the team you’d be working with is highly collaborative, you can say something like “I was excited to hear this team enjoys collaboration, since I value working in an environment where colleagues can share ideas and solicit feedback on a regular basis.”

Finally, reiterate why your skills and experience are a good fit for the position. You can reference what you heard in the interview as well as what’s in the job description. For instance, if you know they want to bring someone on to bring consistency and strategy to their social media networks, the follow-up message is a good time to remind them of your experience in doing just that.

For additional reading on how to write a follow-up message after an interview, check out these articles from  ForbesMonster and Fast Company.

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Should Be Common Sense, but…10 Job Interview Dress Code Faux Pas

Did you know that showing up to a job interview with a questionable outfit can be enough to cost you the job? It doesn’t seem fair, but the truth of the matter is employers really do care that you show up to their office dressed appropriately.

When you think of inappropriate interview dress codes, the first things that come to mind are walking into the office wearing cut-up jeans, a tee-shirt, and a baseball cap. While these clothes are obviously wildly inappropriate for an interview, you can also make a bad impression simply by mismatching outfits. With that in mind, here are the top 10 things you should never wear to a job interview:

  • Should you decide to wear a tie, make sure that it is silk and no less than a quarter inches wide with patterns and colors that are not distracting. In other words, leave you “Garfield” tie at home.
  • Have nose or other facial piercings? Take them out before you head in for your interview.
  • Along the same lines, cover up any tattoos you have.
  • Sneakers, stilettos, open-toed shoes, or sandals.
  • Strong aftershaves, perfumes, or colognes should be avoided. The hiring manager might not like the smell or, even worse, could be allergic to it.
  • Heavy make-up.
  • Women: Avoid fishnet stockings, patterned hosiery, or bare legs.
  • Overly bright or large-patterned clothing.
  • Rumpled or stained clothing.
  • Suits that still have price tags on them.

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Action Tips for Dealing With Procrastination

Procrastination

Procrastination is just apart of life. There are always items on our “to do” list, whether written down or in our head, we know we need to take care of, but we’ve continued to put off. Begin this week buy taking action on at least three matters you’ve been putting off.

Maybe it’s:

That Call You’ve Been Putting Off

You know is going to be a difficult conversation. Make that call today; get it behind you and feel the surge of energy that results from getting it done.

That Project You Haven’t Started

Taking action – even if it’s a small step – on “that project” you’ve been meaning to start. If it is truly something important that needs to get done within the next 30 days, then schedule an action item today to “prime the pump” for establishing some momentum in moving forward. Once you complete that first step, schedule the next one for later this week or next week. Keep the process moving forward.

That Bad News You Need To Share

Sharing “that piece of ‘bad’ news” you’ve been holding off on telling your boss or colleague about. Maybe it’s not quite as “bad” as you think. Maybe your boss or colleague can help you think about a new way of looking at the matter. Either way, holding onto it is negative energy that needs to be released to free your mind up to focus on positive things.

That Personal Issue You’re Dealing With

Dealing with “that difficult personel issue.” It’s not going to go away if you don’t deal with it or devise a plan for “fixing” it. Schedule some time this week  to devise a plan and act on that plan. Get it behind you.

That Paperwork You Need To Do

Dealing with “administrative paperwork” – your expense report, your sales call activity report, a staff performance evaluation. Consider the benefits of getting these things done – the benefits to you and to others who might be affected.

Pick three things, and schedule the time or block out the time to take care of them this week.

Better yet, do something RIGHT NOW to deal with one of more of these matters.

Begin each week this way and watch your “to do” list gradually wean itself down to nothing or almost nothing.

 

Cross posted from Careerealism

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6 interview questions that will make any employer want to hire you

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Common advice among job seekers is that when you attend an interview, you need to interview the employer right back. After all, you’re the one who will potentially fill the position. You need to know if it’s going to be a good fit, right?

While salary ranges, benefits and schedule flexibility are important details you deserve answers to, hiring managers don’t appreciate questions like those until at least your second interview (or maybe even after they make you an offer).

During your first interview, the “impress me” dance is still in full swing. When a potential employer asks if you have any questions, she doesn’t want inquiries about parking validation; she wants to see if you’re prepared, educated and inquisitive.

Here are six questions to ask at the end of your interview that will help you master the twisted tango of getting hired.

1. “If I were to start tomorrow, what would be the top priority on my to-do list?”

The answer to this question will give you more insight into the current state of the position while showing you’re invested and interested in learning how you can start things off with a bang.

The added bonus lies in the Jedi mind trick: You already have your interviewer picturing you as the position holder.

2. “What would you say are the top two personality traits someone needs to do this job well?”

The answer to this question will be very telling. You can translate “creative” and “intuitive” to mean you will be on your own, while “patient” and “collaborative” could mean the opposite.

Not only will this question allow you to feel out whether you’ll be a good fit, it will get your interviewer to look past the paper resume and see you as an individual.

3. “What improvements or changes do you hope the new candidate will bring to this position?”

This answer can shed light on what might have made the last person lose or leave the job, as well as tip you off on the path to success. Asking this shows an employer you are eager to be the best candidate to ever fill this position.

4. “I know this company prides itself on X and Y, so what would you say is the most important aspect of your culture?”

This question is sure to impress. It shows you researched the company, and gives you a chance to gain insight into what values the company holds highest.

5. “Do you like working here?”

This question might take the interviewer back a bit, but his answer will be telling. A good sign is a confident smile and an enthusiastic “yes,” paired with an explanation as to why. Consider it a red flag if he shifts in his seat, looks away, coughs and starts with “Well…”

Regardless of their answers, employers appreciate the chance to reflect on their own opinions, and it turns the interview process into more of a conversation.

6. “Is there anything that stands out to you that makes you think I might not be the right fit for this job?”

Asking this question can be scary, but also beneficial. Not only does it give you a chance to redeem any hesitations the employer might have about you, it demonstrates you can take constructive criticism and are eager to improve. These are valuable qualities in any candidate.

What other questions wow interviewers?

By Kelly Gregorio. This article first appeared on Brazen Life, a career blog for young professionals.

 

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8 Hiring Tips For Managers

Job seekers sometimes feel that all the pressure is on them during an interview, but hiring managers also feel their fair share of stress. Below are eight hiring tips that will help make the interview process work for employers:

  1.  Let Them Speak: Some hiring managers make the mistake of talking too much about themselves, leaving little time for the candidate to talk. It is important to let the interviewee know as much as possible about your role and the job, you also need to know as much as possible about him so you can make the most informed hiring decision.
  2. Let Them Speak: Some hiring managers make the mistake of talking too much about themselves, leaving little time for the candidate to talk. It is important to let the interviewee know as much as possible about your role and the job, you also need to know as much as possible about him so you can make the most informed hiring decision.
  3. Involve Other Staff Members: Having other employers interview with the candidate will educate him about your nonprofit’s culture. Even more useful for your purposes, it will also give you multiple perspectives on the candidate.
  4. Prepare Questions: The only way you will get the most information about your perspective hire is to ask him questions. Prepare a list of questions that you absolutely must have the answers to know if the individual will be a good fit at the organization.
  5. Impress: Remember that the interview is not just about whether you like the candidate; it’s also about whether he likes you.
  6. Offer a Competitive Salary: If you encounter a truly worthy candidate, don’t be afraid to offer a salary that is a little higher than market value. Money does talk, after all.
  7. Do Your Homework: Do a little digging into the applicant’s past to see how they performed at previous employers.
  8. Pay Attention to Details: Sometimes the small things can be the biggest indicator of how a candidate will perform? Was he dressed appropriately? How was his body language? These are all things you need to observe.
  9. Trust Your Instincts: If your gut tells you an applicant is too good to be true, you should probably listen to it. Don’t proceed with hiring until your concerns are alleviated.

 

cross posted from nonprofit times

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Getting Over Job Interview Anxiety

Nervous Wreck
Are you nervous about your upcoming job interview? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one, but knowing that won’t make you any less stressed. Luckily, there are some ways to ease your anxiety.

Causes of job interview anxiety are many, ranging from believing the interviewer is trying to make your life miserable to feeling uncomfortable talking about yourself. There’s not much you can do to prevent yourself from feeling some jitters in the days leading up to the big day, but there are techniques job seekers can use to make sure those emotions don’t ruin your chances of getting the job.

Those techniques are:

  • Put yourself in the position of the hiring manager. Despite what you might believe, he is not trying to trick you into saying the wrong thing; he is simply trying to ensure that you are the right candidate for the job.
  • Practice makes perfect. It’s true that it’s possible to prepare too much, but not practicing enough can be even worse. Make sure that you are prepared for the typical job interview questions and practice your talking points.
  • Organize your schedule on the big day. Running late will only add more stress, so make sure your schedule is clear on the day of the interview. You should also make sure to get plenty of rest the night before, so don’t stay out too late with your friends.
  • Practice relaxation techniques before the interview. If your idea of relaxing involves a lot of movement (i.e. kickboxing), you might want to do this at home rather than in the waiting room.
  • Think before you speak. Whether your interview is in-person or over the phone, take some time to formulate the best possible response to the interviewers’ question. Just don’t take so long thinking that there is awkward silence.

cross posted from NPT

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