Tag: interviewing


The One Surprising Tip That Guarantees a Good Interview

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.

Below is a proven interview hack that’s been tremendously successful in my own career.


My Favorite Interview Hack

My favorite interview hack is winning the interview with the questions YOU ask!

I vividly remember my interview for my very first job out of grad school.

I went in with a list of questions based on my research of the job and the organization. My list was pretty long, so I assumed I wouldn’t have time to get all of my questions answered.

However, they didn’t have a lot of questions for me. Therefore, I had the time to ask all my questions on my list. And I got to ask additional ones that came up in conversation.

I left the interview thinking I probably wouldn’t get an offer since they didn’t ask me very many questions.

But a week later I got the offer! When I accepted it, I asked my interviewers what made them choose me from the other candidates.

Their response:

“It was the questions you asked. Your questions showed us not only how knowledgeable you are, but also how much you care about the people you’ll serve in this role.”


The Questions You Should Ask

So, what kind of questions should you ask in your job interviews?

There are six categories of questions you should ask (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!).

You need to ask any question (within reason) that will help you decide if the company’s culture is something you can devote 40+ hours of your life per week to.


2. Questions that come up in the research you do on the company.

Of course you probably already know how important it is to research a company before your interview. Doing so will result in questions that will be specific to the company. These questions will also make it obvious you did your research, and therefore will show you have a genuine interest in the company.

And don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, especially if they exhibit your work ethic.

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 (which it initially seemed to be). This gave them the chance to explain their legal and legitimate loophole that kept them in compliance with the law.

I think this was the question that impressed them the most.


3. Questions to determine future opportunities for advancement.

For example, “What opportunities are available for advancement?”

This helps you know if you might have a future at the company and shows you’re interested enough 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, you should ask:

  • What is your deadline for making an offer?
  • How firm is that deadline?
  • Are you going to notify each person being interviewed of the final decision as a courtesy, or just the candidate receiving the offer?

This 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 work 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?”

Some career coaches will recommend you ask questions such as, “Are there any concerns you have about my qualifications?”

While this question is good in possibly providing you an immediate opportunity to address any of their concerns, it can also backfire on you. 

Remember, you’re supposed to highlight your strengths in an interview. Not draw attention to your weaknesses. This question is dangerous in that it immediately draws the interviewer’s attention to your weaknesses.

Instead, you want to ask questions that force the interviewer to not only focus on your strengths, but to also get them to repeat your strengths back to you. Doing so further convinces them of your capabilities.


Always Have Questions!

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.

Related Posts:

good interview

Did You Get Ghosted After Your Interview? What to Do Now

Have you ever been ghosted? You know what I’m talking about, when someone unexpectedly ceases all communication with you with no explanation. It’s almost like they dropped off the face of the earth.

This phenomenon typically happens in personal relationships such as romantic liaisons or fledgling friendships.

But it now also exists in working relationships, including the job search. While it’s extremely unprofessional, it does happen.

Job interview ghosting

Most of the time it happens following an interview process. A candidate spends time going through a cumbersome online application process, researching the company, preparing for the interview, traveling to the interview, and sweating through the interview.

The candidate is told at the end of the interview they’ll hear something soon. Then they hear nothing but crickets.

They follow up first with a thank you letter like every good candidate should after an interview.

Still nothing but crickets.

The next week they email to find out if a decision has been made.

Still more crickets.

Another week later they call, only for that call to go unanswered.

This has probably happened to you at one point in your career or another.

It’s happened to me before too, both after a job interview and with a couple of potential clients.

There’s no way to know the reason for the ghosting. All you can do is follow up one more time and then move on.

Console yourself by realizing you probably dodged a bullet since you likely wouldn’t want to work for someone who treats people this way.

What to do next time: a preemptive strike

In your next interview, there are some things you can do to try to protect yourself from ghosting, or at least reduce the chances of being ghosted.

This begins in the very first interview. When it’s your turn to ask questions, one of your questions should be about the timeline for the hiring process.

You want to be as specific as possible in your question in order to receive a specific answer. For instance, instead of asking “When do you plan to conduct second-round interviews?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for scheduling second-round interviews?”

“Is that deadline firm?” and

“Are you going to let those who didn’t make it to the second round know they won’t be moving forward?”

In the final round of interviews, instead of asking “When do you plan to make a hiring decision?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for making an offer?”

“How firm is that deadline?” and

“Are you  going to notify each person being interviewed of the final decision as a courtesy or just the person receiving the offer?”

These questions are for your own sanity so you can know what to expect and so you’re not sitting around wondering why you haven’t heard anything back.

Click here to find out what other questions you should ask in an interview.

Know when to move on

Keep in mind however that sometimes companies tend to underestimate how long the interview process might take them. Or, deadlines might get pushed back due to other priorities in the company.

Continue to follow up 1–2 weeks after their original deadline.

If after that you still haven’t heard anything, assume they either hired someone else or put a freeze on the hiring process. 

Then move on.

And try not to take it personally so you can maintain your confidence. You have to keep your confidence in tact as best you can for your next interview.

Other things you can do:

There are several other things you can do to reduce your chances of being ghosted.

First, avoid doing the things that irritate hiring managers and recruiters. For instance, don’t be late for your interview and don’t be dishonest in your answers or give canned answers.

More importantly, don’t interview for a job you don’t intend to take just to get interview practice. This is unethical and word could easily get around in your industry about you doing such a thing.

Also, indicate at the end of the interview you want the job. So many people fail to say they want the job. Those who do increase their chances of getting the call with the offer.

Next, send a thank you letter to each person you interviewed with, reiterating your interest and what you have to offer the company.

Finally, even if you’ve been ghosted by a company, don’t do the same thing to another company. Just because unemployment is at an all-time low and you may have your pick of offers, this doesn’t give you an excuse to ghost recruiters or hiring managers.

Conclusion

While you can’t completely prevent a company from ghosting you after your interview, using some of the strategies above can help reduce your chances of it happening.

Related posts:

ghosted

What You Need to Know About Job Interviews of The Modern Era


Years ago when I used to work in college career services, the interview process for college administrator positions was apparently ahead of its time. A recent article entitled “How You’ll Look For A Job in 2018” says that exercise-based job interviews are becoming more common.

Lindsay Grenawalt, head of People for Cockroach Labs, says,

“Rather than guess if a candidate can do the job based on their answers to behavioral questions exercise-based interviews ask for candidates to show [what they can do].”

This includes interviews with case studies, individual exercises, and presentations.


My Toughest Job Interviews

When previously interviewing for college career services positions, I had to do much of the same.

I’ve had interviews where I had to do presentations and teach mock classes. Once I even had to create an idea for a program in 45 minutes and then pitch it to a search committee.

I’ve also had marathon interviews. They started with a dinner interview the evening before. Then they picked back up again the next day at 8am and lasted until 4pm.

These interviews involved meeting with just about everyone on campus, including the President of the college and a panel of students. (By the way, the students asked the toughest questions of anyone.)

I’ve had to do pretty much everything but a literal song and dance!


The Advantage of Exercise-Based Interviews

Now, nearly 20 years later, these types of situations are being incorporated into today’s job interviews in a variety of industries.

While these types of job interviews may sound intimidating, there’s good news. They give candidates an idea of what it will actually be like to work in that role on a daily basis.

Grenawalt says,

“Fear not. Because these interviews require a high degree of engagement, they are more collaborative and a better experience overall than traditional interviews in which candidates have to sweat through a series of stress-inducing questions.”


How to Prepare for Exercise-Based Interviews

So how do you prepare for such interviews?

Research

In some ways, you’d prepare similarly to how you would prepare for any ordinary interview by researching as much as you can about the company and the position.

Your research should especially include all the information companies make available on their hiring and interview process. This can also be found on sites such as Glassdoor.com.

If you can’t find this type of information, you can (and should) ask questions about the interview process as soon as you’ve received an invitation for an interview.


Know the problem BEFORE you go into the interview and have a solution prepared.

You also want to ask what the main priority or goal should be of the next person in that position, BEFORE the interview. Never wait until the interview to ask this question!

Find out what challenge or problem this person will be expected to help solve. Once you have this information, use it to prepare for the interview in ways I’ve outlined in my post Modern Interview Advice to Make You Stand Out From the Competition (this ain’t your grandma’s — or even your mom’s — interview advice!).

The approach described in that post will help you in preparing for case studies, presentations, or problem solving scenarios.


Ask the right questions

The other way to prepare for such interviews is to make it a two-way street. You do this by preparing the right kind of questions of your own.

Like I said above, asking what will be the top priority of the new person in the role is NOT a question you want to ask during the interview. (By then it will be too late to ask that.) But there are more appropriate questions you should ask during the interview.

In fact, certain questions you ask can actually help you win the interview! That’s how I landed my very first job offer. I was told I was hired based on the type of questions I asked them!

To find out exactly which questions you should ask in the interview, read my post The One Tip That Guarantees a Good Interview.


Knowledge is the Beginning of Preparation

No matter what type of interview you’re faced with, you can’t go in and just “wing it.”

You have to be prepared.

Knowledge is the beginning of that preparation. Become knowledgeable of the above items, and you’ll shine!

Click here for more interview prep tips.

Related Posts:

job interviews

Faced With a Last Minute Job Interview? Help is On the Way!

You submitted your resume for the job your friend told you about, thinking you’ll probably have a week or two before you get a call for an interview. If you even get a call.

And if you do, you’re thinking they’ll probably schedule you for your interview the following week, giving you plenty of time to prepare.

While that’s often the typical timeline of a hiring and interview process, hiring processes these days are anything but predictable.

Sometimes you apply for a job and don’t hear anything back for weeks or even months. Other times, you may get the following call:

“Hi. We just received your resume for the director’s position and we want to know if you can come in tomorrow for an interview.”

Would you be ready for a last minute job interview?

If you got this call, would you be ready?

How would you react? Excited?

Probably, since it’s always nice when someone shows interest in your skills and abilities.

But then what happens? It’s likely your feelings of excitement will turn into panic.

You start thinking:

  • What am I going to wear?
  • Do I have time to research the company?
  • What questions should I prepare for?!
  • What questions should I have ready to ask them?!

Help is on the way!

While you probably can’t get an appointment on such short notice with a career coach to help you prepare for the big day, there is help.

paNASH has several last minute tips for you when situations like this arise (and believe me, they do, more often than you think). These tips are provided through a few different resources.

Good

Free advice is always good, and this blog provides a lot of that.

Just click on “Interview Prep” under the Categories section on the right hand side of your screen. Here you’ll find all my previous posts about interviewing containing free advice and tips. This black college interviews website may be a good place to visit as they post interview transcripts which will help you understand the questions and answers you should be giving.

Better

Another item available to help you in a pinch is the on-demand video series Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety. In less than 55 minutes you’ll receive a crash course on interview prep. And since it’s available on-demand, you can access it at anytime, day or night.

It’s only $87 which includes 3 videos and a downloadable handout covering the following topics:

  • Strategies to give you the confidence to overcome the fear and stress of interviewing.
  • What you’ve been doing wrong and how to correct it.
  • The best and most productive way to prepare for your next interview.
  • How to answer “Tell me about a time when…” questions and other commonly asked questions.
  • Questions YOU should ask in the interview.
  • And more!

As a result, you’ll have:

  • Improved interview performance.
  • Less stress and anxiety.
  • Better and more job offers to choose from.
  • More confidence to negotiate a higher salary and better benefits.

Here’s what others have said about the program on Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety:

  • “One of the job interview tactics Lori recommended really improved both my confidence and the company’s interest in me. It was such a great suggestion that came with great results!” Alphonso W.
  • “My confidence level in my interview skills jumped from a 4 to an 8!” Jamie H.
  • “I now have the tools to spot the red flags so as not get into the same work situation I was in previously. It’s so empowering to be able to recognize a job that’s not right for me and to have the confidence to say ‘no’ to it and say ‘yes’ to something better.” J.S.
  • “I got the job! Thanks to Lori’s interview tips I’m now doing social media (my passion) for a toy company!” Robin G.

Best

Of course, the best option is to plan ahead and start preparing or even working one-on-one with a career coach such as myself on a regular basis so you’ll be ready no matter what comes your way in the unpredictable world of a job search. It is also important to do some research in your own time for your interview. If it is easier for you, compile a list of your skills, achievements and experiences in relation to the job description. These will help you answer the basic questions about how you think your skills make you the right candidate for the job and what experience you may have that suit this role. These sorts of questions are part of a pre-employment testing process that employers use to find the right candidate for their business. Check out a site like https://www.berkeassessment.com/solutions to find out more. Any form of preparation is good preparation if it helps calm your nerves before your interview.

Related Posts:

last minute job interview

16 Embarrassing Job Interview Mistakes That Will Make You Look Unprofessional

CNBC has a new show called The Job Interview. It exhibits real people interviewing for real jobs with real employers. There are 20 cameras capturing all the nerve-wracking nuances of an interview. And all the mistakes. Those of which you can learn from and not make in your own interviews.

However, if you don’t have the trained eye of a career coach, you probably won’t pick up on many of the mistakes just by watching the show. So, I’ve taken the first episode and broken it down for you to see the little things most job candidates don’t know they’re doing wrong. And to be fair, I’m also pointing out some of the things they’re doing right.

Here’s the 20-minute episode, along with my commentary at various time markers. See if you pick up on the same things I’m noticing. What can you learn from what you see?

job interview

(Sorry, the full episode is no longer available on YouTube. Here’s the link to the on-demand version of the episode.)

What NOT to Overlook (3:06)

One of the qualifications for the job is someone who is detail-oriented. You’ll notice how the interviewers are pouring over the resumes, looking for the smallest of mistakes to determine if each candidate is indeed detail-oriented or not. One interviewer noticed how on one resume the text was off just half a space.

My clients wonder why I knit-pick their resumes. This is a perfect example of why I do. As I’ve said in previous blogs and in my video guides, employers are looking for reasons to throw out your resume. Not reasons to keep it.

What NOT to Wear (4:27)

For the type of job this woman is interviewing, she should really be wearing a blazer over her sleeveless top. Always dress professionally and in a way that is customary to the particular industry.

How NOT to Shake Hands (4:48)

While this candidate is dressed appropriately, he did not give a good handshake. Always give a firm handshake. Anything too limp or too strong leaves a bad impression, as the interviewer indicates.

What NOT to Assume (4:58)

The candidate’s response as to why he gave the female interviewer a gentle handshake compared to the firm one he gave to the male interviewer shows his lack of understanding of business etiquette. In business, gender is neutral.

The other thing this candidate did wrong when beginning the interview is he swiveled and rocked in his chair. You’ll see this mistake a lot throughout the episode from many of the other candidates as well.

If you’re ever offered a seat in a swivel chair in an interview, resist the urge to swivel!

What NOT to Say (5:10)

This candidate starts off strong with her response to “Tell us about yourself,” but almost crosses the line with a little too much personal information.

You want to avoid discussing marital status, children, and other personal matters since it is illegal for the interviewer to ask you for this type of personal information. While her sharing of this info didn’t seem to cause a problem in this case, it could very well be a turn-off for other interviewers because they may fear being accused of making hiring decisions based on the personal information the candidate provided.

What NOT to Ask (5:35)

This candidate says she did her research (like all candidates should), but if you listen to the first thing she said she knew about the company, you’ll see she made her answer all about herself. She talked about how convenient it is for her that the company is located close to her house. You’ll soon see too just how poor of a job she actually did on researching the company!

Another faux pas committed by this candidate is she came out and asked a very personal question of the interviewers. Just like interviewers should avoid asking candidates personal questions, so should candidates avoid asking the interviewers personal questions!

What NOT to Avoid (7:05)

This candidate did a good job of establishing rapport with the interviewers early in her interview.

Be yourself without getting too personal with the interviewer. If it becomes clear in the interview you have some of the same interests in common, feel free to use that as common ground to build rapport with the interviewer.

How NOT to Answer “What do you feel is your greatest strength?” (7:22)

Do you know what each candidate did wrong in answering this question?

None of them gave an example of how they’ve previously demonstrated their strength. Always answer with specific examples, never in generalities. Providing examples makes you stand out in a positive way and makes you more memorable to the interviewers.

How NOT to Answer “What would be your greatest weakness?” (7:30)

So what did all the candidates do wrong in their answers to this question?

They all listed a personality trait as their weakness instead of a skill. Why should you never answer this question with a personality trait? Because personality traits are more ingrained in us, and therefore take a long time to unlearn, if ever. However, a skill is something that can be quickly learned or improved upon.

There are several other ways screw up your answer to this question, and several ways to answer it well. Click here to learn more about how to answer “What’s your greatest weakness?”

How NOT to Behave (8:24)

We’re now about to see how the candidate who said she’d done her research actually did NOT do a good job on her research. She said she doesn’t have the desire to go back into accounting, ALL WHILE INTERVIEWING FOR AN ACCOUNTING POSITION! (REALLY?!!). She didn’t have a clue that the company or the position was related to accounting.

Plus her negative, flippant attitude about the industry and her inappropriate laughter about leaving a previous job were completely out of place and a turn-off to the interviewers.

What NOT to Judge (13:20)

As shown here, interviewers aren’t perfect and they too can make embarrassing mistakes in interviews. Remember they’re human just like you are, so don’t let them intimidate you to the point that you can’t perform and sell yourself to the best of your ability.

In fact, I notice how my clients become less nervous about an interview when I remind them that the interviewers are also nervous. Interviewers are typically nervous about making a wrong decision and therefore costing the company a lot of money, unintentionally letting an illegal or inappropriate question slip out, and making you feel more nervous than you probably are.

Remember that it’s an awkward situation for all involved. Instead, it should be treated as a meeting where the interview is a two-way street (you’re there to ask your own questions too to determine if the job is a right fit for you). Approaching it this way can help you relax.

How NOT to Fail the Test (14:13)

Here you’ll see the third or fourth test the interviewers have given the candidates. Always be prepared for potential tests.

For example, if you’re going into sales, you’ll probably have to sell something to the interviewer. If you’re going into a job that will require you to give presentations on a regular basis, you may be asked to prepare a presentation for your interview.

Years ago, I had a day-long interview where in one part of the afternoon I was given 45 minutes and certain parameters to come up with an idea for a new program that could be implemented throughout the organization. I then had to present on my idea and why it would be a good program for the organization.

I didn’t get the job, and later found out that no one got the job. It made all of us candidates wonder if the company held interviews just to get ideas without having to pay a salary for them. This can and has happened before, which is a very unethical practice on the part of a company. If you ever sense this is what’s going on in one of your interviews, consider it a red flag!

What NOT to Include (14:39)

When given a test, never say, “I don’t like being put on the spot,” like this candidate did.

What NOT to Leave Out (17:04)

This candidate gave a good response to the question of “What would this job mean to you?”

So did the candidate at the 17:15 mark. I liked that she said, “I have a lot to give,” instead of “I feel like I have a lot to give.” “I have” shows more confidence than “I feel like I have.”

However, as the interviewer I would want to know how has she given a lot and been an asset in her past experience? What are some examples of her giving her all and being an asset to her previous company? I’d want to hear stories about times when she’s demonstrated these qualities. Again, these stories are what makes a candidate memorable.

What NOT to Forget (18:18)

Here are the things the interviewers were most attracted to:

  • Positive attitude
  • Someone who “gets it”
  • Someone who “wants it”

No matter how negative of an experience your last job was or your current job search is, leave all negativity at the door. Interviewers can sense a negative attitude very quickly so do what you can to improve your attitude before walking into an interview.

Be the person who gets what the job is about, what the company stands for, and what they’re trying to accomplish. This comes with doing your research and understanding what problem they need the new person in this role to help solve.

Always indicate you want the job you’re interviewing for by coming out and saying so. However, if you don’t really want the job and you’re just interviewing to gain interview practice, this is an unethical practice (just like the one on the interviewer’s part in my personal example above), and therefore you shouldn’t be there.

This may sound harsh, but as you saw, interviewers can be harsh about very small things. I’m trying to help you get into the mind of the interviewer so you can be successful in your next job interview!

How NOT to Overreact (20:26)

Even if you don’t get the job offer, you never know what still may come of your experience. Here, because this candidate showed such a positive attitude, another door has been opened to him. The interviewers are setting him up for an interview with another company they think he’ll be a good fit for.

A friend of mine interviewed for a job and didn’t get the offer. Six weeks later, she got a call from the company asking if she was still interested in the job because the person they originally hired didn’t work out.

Things like this happen all the time which is why it’s important to stay positive, send your thank you notes after your interviews, and be gracious even when rejected. You never know how things might turn around down the road.

More Job Interview Tips

Based on the little edited snippets we saw of the actual interview, they hired the candidate I would’ve hired. However, in episode 2, they chose a different candidate than the one I would’ve chosen. Can you figure out why, based on what you learned above? Watch here and let me know!

For more interview preparation tips, check out the video guides in the Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety on-demand program.

Related Resources: 

job interview