Category: Job Interviewing


Modern Interview Advice to Make You Stand Out From Today’s Competition

Many of my clients come to me facing the daunting task of conducting a job search for the first time in nearly 20 years. A lot has changed in 20 years. But most of the job search advice floating around is outdated, especially interview advice.

In fact, while recently helping a friend with her upcoming job search, I showed her a specific job interview strategy. She said she’d never heard of it before, and was shocked to learn it was something she could try. “Do you mean I can actually do that for a job interview?” she exclaimed.

“Yes!” I said.

Not Your Grandma’s Interview Advice

Last week I saw this question posted on Quora:  “What are some smart interview answers?”

My response to this question was the same advice I gave my friend:

Smart interview answers are ones that show you have the company’s best interests at heart. And if you don’t really care about the company, you probably shouldn’t be interviewing for a job there. You should always make your answers about them, not about you (until it’s time to negotiate an offer, at which point you need to make it a win-win situation). Here’s a step-by-step method for how you do this:

  1. Find out what the company’s most immediate need is they’re hoping the person in this position can fulfill. Determine this BEFORE the interview! Once your interview has been scheduled, email the person with whom you’ll be interviewing. Tell him or her that you look forward to the interview. Then ask the following question, “What is the main thing you hope the next person in this position will accomplish or help solve?”
  2. Use the answer to this question as your foundation for preparing for the interview. Brainstorm one or two possible ways you can use your strengths to help get the desired result. Also, think of examples of times you’ve achieved similar results.
  3. Summarize your ideas and your past examples in a one-page proposal. You don’t have to have all the details of a full proposal, just an outline of what you’re thinking. If you don’t have enough information to come up with even just an outline, create a one-page case study of a time where you previously solved a similar issue. Indicate the challenge you were facing, the action you took, and your accomplishment or the results of your solution.
  4. Bring this proposal or case study to the interview with you so you have something tangible to show.

Taking the time and effort to speak to the company’s most immediate need shows you really care about working for that company, which will make you stand out from today’s competition in a big way!

Want More Modern Interview Advice?

For more modern interview advice, check out the paNASH on-demand program The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers. It includes proven job search strategies that blow all the cookie-cutter strategies out of the water! Get 15% off this program and all the other on-demand programs (including the bundle) from July 9th to July 16th (use discount code SUMMER at checkout).

The Best Way to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions (Re-Post)

“Tell me about a time when…”

UGH! Behavioral interview questions. No job seeker enjoys answering these questions. Myself included. They’re just as dreaded as the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question.

I can remember back in grad school doing my first mock interview with the career center on campus. It was very intimidating, even more so than any real interview I’ve ever had. They recorded it which of course was even more horrifying. And I was really bad at answering the behavioral interview questions.

It was actually this experience and what I learned from it that made me decide to go into career advising. A year later I was working as an intern in the same career center. Eventually I became the director of a college career center and then started my own career coaching business.

You have more experience than you think

I remember my mock interview like it was yesterday. A few years ago I found the video and watched the cringe-worthy performance (through my fingers). I’d used the same example for every behavioral question because I thought I didn’t have any other “real” experience to pull from. After all, I was just a lowly graduate assistant with only one assistantship under my belt.

But now I realize this wasn’t true. I could’ve pulled from so many other experiences for more variety of answers:  my part-time jobs from college, my work as an orientation leader at my undergrad, my leadership role in my student organization, my class projects. I could’ve even pulled from my work on my passion projects.

The tried-and-true method vs. modern experience

The formula for how to answer behavioral interview questions hasn’t changed much since my grad school days. But the way people work has, therefore giving job seekers a new way to sell themselves in an interview.

Here’s what I mean. When answering a behavioral interview question, you always want each answer to follow a method similar to the “CAR” method:

  • C:  State the CHALLENGE you faced.
  • A:  Describe the ACTION you took.
  • R:  Indicate the RESULTS of your action.

But unlike what you may have thought in the past, your examples don’t have to all come from traditional job experiences. Today, people have side-hustles, freelance assignments, passion projects, and greater access to creative pursuits. These bodies of work may be very different, but they all demonstrate your creativity, project management skills, and problem-solving skills. All things employers seek in potential employees.

The secret to perfect behavioral interview answers

The secret to answering behavioral interview questions perfectly is to gather relevant examples from ALL your sources of experience (paid, unpaid, volunteer, stuff done for fun, etc.). Then, tell a single interesting story for each question that connects the dots for your listener. Show how your “soft skills” used on your own projects will benefit the company on their projects. Hard data (quantifiable results) and testimonials (qualitative results) will drive home your points, so always include them in each answer.

Also, anticipate further questions. When practicing your examples, listen for holes in your information triggering a need for clarification or more details. A friend or a career coach is more likely to help you recognize those holes, so get assistance. By addressing those areas right away, the interviewer won’t have to keep probing. You’ll be a hero because you made their job easier by providing all the important info without being asked or reminded to.

The best way to prepare

There’s no way to prepare for every commonly asked behavioral interview question. There are just too many. The only way to really predict which ones you’ll get is to look on Glassdoor to see if there are any interview questions listed for your particular job opening. However there’s no guarantee they’ll ask the same questions this time around.

Instead, the best use of your time and energy is to look at the list of required skills in the job ad, and come up with a different story for when you’ve previously performed each skill. This is more manageable since this list is finite. Always choose stories that show your success in performing the skill.

By focusing on the list of skills, you’ll have enough examples to use as answers for the unexpected questions. Most importantly, you’ll be able to connect those dots from your past experience to your future experience. Don’t forget to use the CAR method when drafting your stories. Doing so keeps your stories organized with a beginning, middle, and end.

Pulling from ALL your experience is a great strategy for someone who has a lengthy gap in their employment history. It’s also a good approach for recent grads with little to no professional experience. Click here to see how this has worked successfully for Tanner Christensen who landed a job as a product developer at Facebook with very little experience.

For more job interview tips, sign up for the on-demand program, Steps to Acing the Interview. You’ll learn how to answer other commonly asked interview questions, questions you should be asking, and more, resulting in more job offers!

8 Simple Hacks to a More Passionate Life and Career

Life can often be mundane, causing you to feel stuck. Especially when you aren’t living and working in your purpose. So how can you become more passionate about your life and your work? How can you better enjoy both? By following these 8 simple life and career hacks:

1. Try again at a previously failed attempt.

Most people will suggest you try something new and I’m all for that. I’m a big believer in trying new things, whether it’s new food, a new hobby, or even something as simple as a new route to work.

But I also know it’s important to try something old. Especially something you once attempted and failed at before.

You may remember from my article 5 Ways to Discover New Passions, I shared how I failed at my first attempt at rock climbing and how something clicked after giving it a second chance. This gave me more confidence and a greater interest in the activity, resulting in physical improvement in my body.

What’s something you can try again? What would be the possible benefits of trying it again?

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, 5 Ways to Pursue Your Passions in Life and Work

2. Do one thing you can complete within 24-48 hours that will put you one step closer to achieving a long-term goal.

You can accomplish a large goal by taking a step-by-step approach. Incremental steps add up to big achievements. Simply doing one small thing each day will help you develop habits necessary to reaching your goal.

What’s one thing you can do today to get you closer to achieving your bigger goal? What’s one thing you can do tomorrow? Ask yourself these questions every day. Before you know it, you’ll have accomplished more than you thought you were capable of!

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Don’t Just Set Goals, ACHIEVE Them!

3. Understand how your strengths and skills benefit others.

Knowledge of what you’re good at is power, especially when trying to win a job interview or get promoted. But knowing how your skills solve other people’s problems helps you better understand your purpose, not just in work but also in life.

Think about your strengths and skills you possess both within and outside of your job. How do they benefit others?

For example, my top spiritual gift is encouragement. I use this strength in so many aspects of my life, including my work, my interactions with friends, and when learning alongside others. I’ve been fortunate to see how this gift helps people gain the courage to pursue their passions.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Personal Branding: How to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic!

4. Update your resume every 6 months, even when you’re not looking for a job.

Because of my background as a career coach, I’ve helped thousands of people with their resumes. I always tell them the same thing:  keep your resume updated every six months.

Why? 1) Because you never know when someone will ask for a copy of it. 2) You never know when another career opportunity or promotion will come your way. 3) It’s easier to remember what you’ve accomplished in the past six months than in the past six years if you find yourself in another job search down the road.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Resumes That Get You the Interview

5. Ask 3 people who have your dream job how they got to where they are.

These conversations can open your mind up to ideas and opportunities you never before considered! Listen carefully to their stories while asking a lot of good questions. Learn not just from their successes but also from their failures.

You may find there wasn’t a straight line to their career path. There rarely is for most people. This can give you confidence to pursue a new career path despite lack of formal education or direct experience.

Take their encouragement and advice. Put it into action to see how far you can go in the direction of your personal and professional pursuits.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively

6. Make a list of questions you’d ask if you were interviewing the interviewer.

People often forget the job interview is a two-way street. You should always ask questions to help you make the right decision when faced with multiple offers.

Besides money, think about the things you’d need or want in your next job. They could include similar core values, a flexible schedule, a culture that promotes “family first,” healthy living, etc.

Formulate a few questions you’d need to ask to determine if your next opportunity will provide those things. Make sure to ask these questions in your next job interview, along with the other type of questions I outline in my Quora answer to “What are some interview hacks?”

Here’s what one of my clients experienced when she did this:

“One of the companies I interviewed with I decided not to accept any offers from them based on their answers to my questions so as not to get myself into the same work situation I was in previously. It is SO empowering to know what is good for me and to be able to say no! I have the tools now to spot the red flags and this has been helpful on several interviews. I am so glad to have this confidence.”

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Steps to Acing the Interview

7. Start a collection of your best work.

Curate a collection of your best work both from your job and your outside projects. This can include personal things you’ve made (i.e. a book, a painting, etc.), and the projects your most proud of from your job.

Your body of work will help you see how your skills overlap. But most of all, it will reveal your own career path thus far and where it might be pointing to next.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers

8. List the ways you’ve impacted the bottom line in your job.

When you’re working on hack #4, always include your on-the-job accomplishments and results of your efforts. By focusing on results and not just your job duties, you’re able to easily see where you’ve had an impact, giving you a greater sense of purpose.

Also, it helps you confidently discuss your worth when it comes time to negotiate a new job offer, a promotion, or a pay raise.

When you follow these life and career hacks, you’ll start to see ways to become unstuck. Soon you’ll be living a more passionate, vibrant, and productive life!

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Make More Money, Without Taking a Second Job

Lori Bumgarner is a passion and career specialist and owner of paNASH, a Nashville-based career coaching service. She helps people discover their passions, achieve their goals, and find purposeful work they love. She addresses each of the above hacks in depth in her new affordable on-demand coaching programs delivered online. To access these programs and view them at your own pace, go to:  www.yourpassionilife.com/ondemand.

How to Think Like an Entrepreneur (Even When You’re Not One)

I came across this YouTube video and thought it was the perfect follow-up to last week’s paNASH blog post How to Avoid Technological Unemployment. This guy is hilarious, but what he says in 3 minutes is so true:

As he says, of the 15 million new jobs created between 2009 and 2017, 94% were freelance jobs. You yourself may not be a freelancer or entrepreneur now. But by the year 2020, 40% of the workforce will be independent workers, according to a study conducted by Freelancers Union.

Will you know how to create your own job and be your own boss if future reality requires it? Will you welcome the opportunity as a way to finally pursue your passion?

Why You Need the Skills of an Entrepreneur (even if you’re not one)

Even if you never become an entrepreneur, you’ll still need to think like one to gain future employment. With more companies downsizing, competition will get fiercer. It’s already true you need to be a salesman of your skills. And employers are already hiring for the skills listed in the video above.

The 8 Skills Everyone Needs to Make a Living

Let’s look at each of those skills and how paNASH’s new on-demand coaching programs help you develop them:

  1. Salesmanship. In Steps to Acing the Interview and The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers, you’ll learn how to sell your skills and abilities in an authentic way that matters most to employers and potential clients.
  2. Likeability. In The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively, you’ll learn how to make networking a more pleasant experience. Especially if you’re an introvert. It’ll teach you how to network more comfortably and naturally, in return making you more likeable.
  3. Negotiation. In Make More Money Without Taking a Second Job, you’ll learn how to negotiate a larger salary, a pay raise, or a promotion.
  4. Public Speaking. In Personal Branding: How to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic, you’ll learn how to find your authentic voice and develop your message for your audience. Your audience could include employers and hiring recruiters, potential clients, and more.
  5. Communication. Also in Personal Branding, you’ll learn how to clearly communicate your “WHY” and your “HOW” of what you do.
  6. Writing. In Resumes That Get You the Interview, you’ll learn how to write a clear, concise and effective resume that will be seen and be given full consideration.
  7. Creativity. The on-demand programs like 5 Ways to Pursue Your Passions in Life and Work encourage you and provide you a safe place to explore your passions and creativity.
  8. How to come up with and how to execute ideas. The Don’t Just Set Goals, ACHIEVE Them! program teaches you how to set, execute, and achieve your goals and ideas.

If you learn these skills now, you’ll be able to pursue your passions and make your own money with your own resources. Or you’ll be able to market yourself to a job working for someone else doing something you love.

Invest in Yourself

One way to begin is to invest in yourself. Take the money you’d spend on some new clothes or the latest tech gadget and put it toward some classes. This could include some continuing ed classes or online classes.

It could also include the new on-demand programs offered by paNASH. These programs are easily accessible, affordable (some are even free!), and allow you to work at your own pace. They’re designed to teach you how to market your new skills to a new employer or as a lifestyle entrepreneur to potential clients. What are you waiting for?

How to Get Published, and Get Noticed!

Get Noticed by Potential Recruiters or Clients

Are you a job seeker wanting to get noticed by recruiters or potential employers? Or are you a small business owner looking for new clients or customers? A resume or a company web site are necessary elements of your marketing efforts, but you need more to stand out among your competition. You need to show just how knowledgeable you are about your industry. You need to get published!

How do you do this? There are a number of ways, including writing your own blog, guest blogging on others’ blogs, commenting on others’ blogs, etc. However, one of my favorite and most effective ways I’ve recently discovered is through Quora.

Get Published Through Quora

Quora is a site where people can ask any question about anything, and you can respond with your own knowledge and point of view. You get noticed when you provide quality answers to your industry’s questions.

For example, I started doing this only a couple of months ago. I focus on answering job search and career-related questions (my area of expertise). Typically, I choose questions with a larger audience (at least 500 followers). This allows more people to see my answers.

In just a few months with answers to only a handful of questions, I’ve generated:

  • Over 128,000 views (just one of my answers has nearly 65,000 views)
  • 950 upvotes (Quora’s version of “Likes”)
  • Over 225 shares
  • A dozen new subscribers to my newsletter
  • 3 potential clients
  • “Top Writer” status for the categories of Job Searches, Job Search Advice, Interviewing, and Job Interviews
  • A published article on Inc.com

I haven’t generated nearly as many results in a year of writing and promoting my own blog. I’ll always have my blog as one method of reaching my audience, but I know blogs take a little longer to grow organically because of the lack of a captive audience, unlike Quora.

Quora is organic. The people who are seeing your information are the ones who want that information. Also, it’s great because interest in the answers you posted months or even years ago can continue to grow in readership long after you’ve posted them.

Get Credibility

So what does this mean for you? If you’re a job seeker, you can showcase your knowledge of your industry and even your problem-solving skills. You can answer questions that show how you would solve (or have solved) common problems in your field. Employers are always looking for good problem-solvers and good communicators. You’re able to exhibit both of these top skills in your answers on Quora.

Include a link to your Quora profile in the contact info section of your resume. If Quora publishes one of your answers on another site (i.e. Inc.com, Huffington Post, Apple News, etc.), you can link to that as well. Include it on your resume and your LinkedIn profile, and talk about it in your interview!

If you’re a small business owner, you can share information your potential clients would be interested in. Your answers must include useful and relevant information. They can’t be just a sales pitch. Quora’s readers will “black-ball” you for that. You can include a one to two line pitch at the end of your answer, as long as your answer is helpful to the reader.

I’ve found the longer the answer, the more interest the readers show, resulting in more views, upvotes, and shares. If your answers get published, you can include the publication’s logo on your web site and other company collateral.

Sharing your knowledge on Quora is great because it:

  • Builds your credibility.
  • Establishes you as an expert in your field.
  • Creates opportunities for you to get published on mainstream sites.
  • And grows your audience (potential employers or clients).

I encourage you to give it a try (and a few weeks; BE PATIENT!). The more you write in response to questions, the better your writing will become. Click here to read my answers on Quora.