Category: Job Interviewing


The Secret to Perfect Behavioral Interview Answers

UGH! Behavioral interview questions. No job seeker enjoys answering these “tell me about a time when” 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 video taped 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 frpm 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 each skill. This is more manageable since that list is finite. Always choose stories that show how you’ve best demonstrated 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.

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, keep an eye out for my upcoming online program, Steps to Acing the Interview. Click here to receive notifications on details such as release date and pricing.

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.

4 Common Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Are you nervous you might blow your next interview? There are four common interview mistakes most candidates make without even knowing it. Find out here what they are and how to avoid them:

interview mistakes

 

More Interview Tips

Click here for more job interview tips from paNASH!

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A Proven Interview Hack

If you’re going through a job search, you know how competitive the interview process can be. And you’d probably like to know some ways to increase your chances of beating out the competition for an offer. Here’s a proven interview hack I recently shared on Quora.

My Favorite Interview Hack

My favorite interview hack is winning the interview with the questions YOU ask! When I landed my first job out of grad school, I asked my interviewers what made them choose me from the other candidates. Their response: “The questions you asked. Your questions showed us not only how knowledgeable you are, but also how much you care about the population you’ll serve in this role.”

The Questions You Should Ask

So, what kind of questions should you ask? There are six categories of questions you should be asking in the interview (because interviewing is a two-way street!):

  1. Questions you need to have answered to determine fit/questions related to the organization’s culture. For example, “How do you foster an employee’s connection to the organization?”, “How do you motivate your employees?”, or even “Do employees typically eat lunch together or at their desks?” (this one will tell you a lot about the company culture!).
  2. Questions that come up in your research you conduct on the company. This will be specific to the company, and will show your genuine interest in the company. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, especially if they exhibit your ethics. For instance, in my interview, I wanted to know how one of the practices I would be required to carry out in the job wasn’t in direct violation of a federal law common to that industry. I think this was also the question that impressed them the most.
  3. Questions to determine future opportunities for advancement. For example, “What opportunities are available for advancement?” This shows you’re interested enough in the company to want to stay long-term.
  4. Questions to determine their hiring timeline. (Okay, these questions are really just for you and your own sanity.) When candidates go on interviews and then don’t hear anything back either way, they freak out. Yes, it’s stressful, and also rude of the company to keep you hanging. So, before you leave the interview, ask when they plan to make a hiring decision. Also, ask if they will be letting each of those being interviewed know the results, or just the one being offered the job. That way you won’t spend your time and energy fretting over what they decided.

Here’s where it gets good!

These last two types of questions you should ask are the real hacks!

  • 5. Questions to show your initiative and to help them visualize you in the job. For instance, “What results would you like to see from me in the first 90 days of the job?”, “What will be the first projects I’ll be working on once hired?”, or “When we sit down to discuss my performance a year from now, what will success look like”? Wording questions this way helps them picture YOU as the person in the job!
  • 6. Questions to get them to verbalize what they like about you. In #5, it was all about helping them visualize, now you need to get them to verbalize! You want them to convince YOU why they should hire you, which will in turn convince them to hire you. (Yeah, that undergraduate degree I got in psychology is really paying off here!) For example, “What part of my resume stands out to you the most?” or “What made you choose to interview me out of all the other applicants?”

You should always have questions of your own prepared for an interview because interviewing is a two-way street. When you’re asked, “What questions do you have for us?” never say, “None.” If so, you’re for sure to lose the job to someone who shows more interest with their questions.

More Interview Hacks

Want more interview hacks? I’ll share numerous interview tips and hacks in my upcoming online workshop, Steps to Acing the Interview. Subscribe to the paNASH newsletter to receive notifications once it’s available!

It’s a New Year. Time for a New Career?

New Career:  The Question

“How long does it take to realize you’re in the wrong job?” This is a question I came across yesterday on Quora. I’ll share my response with you. But first, I want to ask, are you also wondering if you’re in the wrong job? Or is it already clear you are? Could it be time for a new career for you? It’s a new year, so why not a new career, especially if you already know you’re in the wrong job?

New Career:  The Answer

While the question posed isn’t, “How do you know you’re in the wrong job?” but instead “How long does it take to realize it?”, my response answers both questions:

The quick way to figure this out:

It doesn’t take long if you spend a few minutes taking some personal (and honest) inventory. Here’s an exercise that tends to work much better than a traditional pros and cons list:

  1. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into three columns. The first column should be the things you must have in a job (your “dealbreakers”). The second column should include the things you’re willing to compromise on. The third column should be “icing on the cake” things (things you would LOVE to have in a job, but don’t necessarily need to be content).
  2. Now compare your list to your current job. Does your current job have at least 60% of the things listed on your sheet of paper? Or at least 60% of the things from the “must have” column?
  3. If not, it’s time to start looking for the right job.

I say this because I always tell my clients you should love at least 60% of your job. Nobody loves 100% of their job 100% of the time, but if it’s less than 60%, you’re in the wrong job or career. This helps you stay realistic when considering different opportunities.

I’ve personally found this exercise to be more helpful than a pros and cons list when it comes to big life decisions. It also helps with analysis paralysis and keeps you from overthinking or second-guessing your decisions.

The more in depth way to figure this out:

Another thing that’s helped me personally and also helps my clients is to spend some time coming up with your own personal mission statement. This may take a little time to nail down, but it’s well worth it. Why? Because you can use it as a filter for your decisions.

For instance, my personal mission statement is: “To boldly pursue my passions and purpose, and to teach, encourage, and inspire others to do the same, resulting in lives overflowing with joy, peace, and fulfillment.”

When I’m faced with a difficult decision, I look to see if the choice in front of me supports my mission statement or not. If it doesn’t, I don’t select that choice. This helps me to live authentically and be true to my purpose.

One of the things I do with my clients is take them through a program I call Personal Branding: How to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic. Part of that program includes teaching you how to write your own vision statement, mission statement, and unique differentiators, which also prepares you for the interview for the right job!

New Career:  The Time to Decide

So where are YOU in this all-important decision? If you know it’s time for a new career, we can help you figure out your options and how to make the transition. Don’t wait until the end of 2017 where you’ll find yourself in the same situation. Shoot me an email today and we can set up an initial consultation to help you get unstuck and start moving into the right career!