Tag: job interviewing


Think Back to Your School Days to Help You Prepare for Job Interviews

Recently, I was working with a client to prepare her for some upcoming job interviews. When doing a mock interview with her, I noticed she made the same mistake most people make when answering behavioral interview questions. (She answered in generalities instead of specific examples.)

When I showed her the method she should use to properly answer such questions, she equated it to having to “show her work” like she had to in math class during her school days.

I hadn’t thought about it this way before, but she was right. You can give a good answer to a question or problem. But leaving off the method of how you arrived at your answer doesn’t indicate what you’ve learned. And employers ask behavioral interview questions to see how and what you’ve learned from your past experience.

Show your work in your job interviews

Give specific examples

The best way to stand out in the job interview is to include with your answers how you arrived at them. To do this, it’s often best to share one specific example. Lumping multiple examples into one general answer isn’t quite as effective as the story you tell about a particular incident. This is because details paint a visual picture in the mind of your listener, making you more memorable to him or her.

The above is always true for behavioral interview questions, but can also be true for other common questions like, “What is your greatest strength?” Don’t just say what your greatest strength is. Show your work by giving a specific example of a time when you demonstrated this strength. Paint a picture with some details.

Show and tell

Another way to show your work is to create a professional portfolio of tangible samples of your past work assignments. This can be a hard copy format to take with you to a job interview, and a digital format to link to from your resume or your LinkedIn profile.

When putting together your portfolio, always choose quality samples over quantity. Also, make sure you’re not including anything your current or past employers would deem proprietary or confidential.

Use it to “show and tell” about your skills when answering skills-based interview questions. To learn more about how to present your professional portfolio in an interview, check out the video tutorial, The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers.

Conclusion

It’s been a while since you’ve been in school. But not much has changed when it comes to having to show your work. Especially when interviewing for a new job or trying to secure a promotion or pay raise. Keeping this in mind when preparing for interviews will help you move forward in your job search and your career path.

If you also have an upcoming interview and would like to receive coaching or schedule a mock interview, click here to complete the paNASH intake form. I’d love to help you land a job offer!

Related resources

Do You Need to Improve Your Interview Skills?

Most people need help improving their interview skills. Even those who think they do well in interviews.

We all have blind spots when it comes to interviewing. And even if you’re naturally good at interviews, there are some novel things you can do in your next interview to increase your chances of landing an offer.

How to improve your interview skills

1. Go in with a solution in hand

Most job seekers don’t think far enough into the future when going into an interview. They’re only preparation involves trying to answer commonly-asked interview questions, and considering what salary they want.

But your goal isn’t to be like most job seekers. Your goal is to stand out above the competition.

You do this by thinking beyond the offer and anticipating the problem the company needs the employee to solve. Then, you prepare a possible solution to present, one you might can implement once hired.

To learn how to uncover the problem and prepare your solution, check out my post, “Modern Interview Advice to Make You Stand Out From the Competition.”

Modern Interview Advice to Make You Stand Out From The Competition (Re-Post)

2. Give unique and honest answers to common questions

Old habits die hard, so a lot of employers ask the same old pointless interview questions they’ve always asked. This doesn’t mean you should keep giving the same old answers you’ve always given to these questions.

There are ways to give more unique yet honest answers to these questions. This keeps you from sounding like all the other candidates.

To freshen up your answers to stale interview questions, check out my post, “How to Handle the Most Pointless Interview Questions.”

How to Handle the Most Pointless Interview Questions

3. Prepare for exercise-based interviews

Some employers have wised up and stopped asking pointless interview questions. Instead, they’ve started conducting exercise-based interviews.

This interview method requires you to perform various skills, instead of just having you verbally describe your abilities.

Although this method has been around for a long time, it’s become more popular among employers in the past few years.

Do you know how to prepare for such an interview? Find out in my post, “What You Need to Know About Job Interviews of the Modern Era.”

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

4. Save time when preparing for behavioral interview questions

In addition to exercise-based interviews, behavioral interview questions remain a good predictor of your skills and work ethic. This is why they’re always so popular among hiring managers.

But there’s no way you can prepare for every possible behavioral interview question. Instead, you can be ready for just about any of these questions when you follow my preparation method described in my post, “The Secret to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions.”

The Secret to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions (Re-Post)

5. Be ready to answer the question, “Can you teach me something complex in 5 minutes?”

If you’re interviewing for jobs with highly popular companies, you need to be ready for less common interview questions such as this one.

To learn how to answer such questions, check out my post, “A Google Insider Shares His Interview Advice.”

A Google Insider Shares His Interview Advice

6. Know how to handle interview ghosting, before it happens!

As you may unfortunately know, interview ghosting happens all the time these days. But, you can reduce your chances of getting ghosted after your next interview.

Find out how in my post, “Did You Get Ghosted After Your Interview? What to Do Now.”

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

More resources

Videos

Blog posts

Who Needs a Day Off From 2020?

I know I sure could use a day off from 2020! For the first time in a long time, I’m experiencing writers block for this blog, and I just need a little time off from trying to come up with my next topic.

This year has been so eventful, but not in a good way. Therefore, I’ve had plenty to write about, especially on the topic of doing a job search in the middle of a pandemic. But I’m burned out right now.

I love to write, and I’m passionate about sharing my expertise for those who are in need of career help. But for next week’s holiday I’m going to spend some time doing some other things I’m passionate about. And hopefully by the time I return from Thanksgiving, I’ll be refreshed with new topics to help you in your career.

If you have any specific topic requests, please email them directly to me or include them in the comment box below. This will help me to know what information you need most.

In the meantime, even though it’s not the end of the year yet, we can all agree we’re ready for 2020 to be over. Therefore, I’m going to go ahead and share my top 10 blog posts of 2020.

Enjoy!

Top 10 paNASH blog posts of the year (because we’re ready for 2020 to be over!)

1. How to Answer These Important Pandemic Interview Questions

How to Answer These Important Pandemic Interview Questions

Your next interview could include questions like:

  • What did you do with your time while furloughed or laid off during the pandemic?
  • Did you draw unemployment when you could have found work?

These are all very legal questions, so you need to be prepared for them and know how to answer them! Click here to find out how.

2. What Happens When a Pandemic Disrupts Your Career?

What Happens When a Pandemic Disrupts Your Career?

Do you have a back-up plan if an event like a pandemic disrupts your career? Click here to learn how to adapt and pivot in your career.

3. How to Make Phone and Video Interviews Run More Smoothly

How to Make Phone and Video Interviews Run More Smoothly

The number of Zoom and phone interviews will continue to rise even after the pandemic due to their convenience and cost effectiveness. Click here to learn how to ensure things run smoothly for your next remote interview.

4. LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

There is an etiquette to building your network on LinkedIn. If you fail to follow this etiquette, you’ll likely turn off the people you want to connect with most. Click here for six LinkedIn etiquette rules to help you make a good first impression.

5. How to Avoid These 5 Career Mistakes During a Time of Panic

How to Avoid These 5 Career Mistakes During a Time of Panic

“Emotions are the worst advisors,” says Serena Williams’s coach Peter Mouratoglou. Letting emotions like fear or panic guide your career decisions can lead to some big career mistakes. Click here to learn how to avoid these mistakes and not panic.

6. How to Write the Best Thank You Notes for Your Interviews

How to Write the Best Thank You Notes for Your Interviews

Are you one of the 90% of job seekers who don’t send a thank you note after your job interview?

A thank you note should be part of your job search strategy, but there’s a certain way to write professional thank you notes, which look and feel different from personal thank you notes.

Click here to learn how to write them, when to send them, and more.

7. What Are the Best Alternatives to Online Job Boards?

What Are the Best Alternatives to Online Job Boards?

Are you using the same old job boards everyone else uses but never find what you’re really looking for? Click here to learn about five alternatives to the oversaturated job boards so you can find more relevant opportunities.

8. Getting Laid Off? The #1 Thing to Ask for When You Leave

Getting Laid Off? The #1 Thing to Ask for When You Leave

When you’re getting laid off, you no longer have anything to lose with your employer. As a result, there’s something you should try to negotiate as part of your severance package to help you get back on your feet quicker. Click here to find out what it is and how to negotiate for it.

9. How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

Recruiters are turned off by desperate job candidates, and they can recognize desperation just from your LinkedIn profile. Click here for the four things you should stop doing on LinkedIn so you won’t appear desperate.

10. How to Improve Your Career During a Pandemic: 15 Resources

How to Improve Your Career During a Pandemic: 15 Resources

Click here for ten more posts on how to manage your career and job search in the midst of a pandemic.

Stay tuned

My posts will return following the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, as 2020 wraps up and we transition to a new year, there will be less need to write on the topic of job searching during a pandemic.

Again, if you have requests for other career-related topics, please send them my way or include them in the comment box.

I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. When necessary, be physically distant but socially proximate with your loved ones.

2020

How to Handle the Most Pointless Interview Questions

In light of coronavirus times, one of my Facebook friends posted this the other day:

“So in retrospect, in 2015, not a single person got the answer right to ‘Where do you see yourself five years from now?'”

I commented:

“This is reason enough to retire such an overused and pointless interview question!”

Pointless interview questions

This common interview question is just one of many pointless interview questions hiring managers and recruiters continue to ask. I’m not sure they even know what to do with the answers to these questions when they get them. Kind of like how a dog probably wouldn’t know what to do with the car he chases if he ever caught it.

One article, written specifically to hiring managers to help them ask better questions, states these questions don’t make good use of the limited interview time, don’t reveal anything of value, and don’t impress the candidate. (Remember, they’re supposed to impress you too. Interviewing is a two-way street!)

Yet, interviewers continue to ask these questions. Maybe because it’s just how they’ve always done things. Therefore you still have to be prepared for them. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t give better answers than the average candidate.

And you should also be prepared for new alternatives to these questions. Just in case one of these interviewers happens to get a wild hair and try something new or different.

How not to sound like every other candidate

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

When answering overused interview questions, always avoid using canned answers.

For instance, when answering, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, don’t say, “I’d like to be working for your company, in a stable senior position, I’ve reached through steady progression.”

Instead, you can respond using your own personal vision and mission statements as the basis for your answer. You don’t have a personal vision or mission statement? You must’ve missed all my other posts about the importance of having a personal vision and mission statement.

These statements reflect the things most important to you, the values you possess, and the talents you have to offer. Therefore they’re unique to you. No one else will have a vision or mission exactly like yours.

And because they’re based on your long-term values, your vision and mission remain rather consistent. They evolve over time instead of changing on a regular basis. Therefore, at least you know whatever you’re doing in five years, it will be in support of your vision and mission.

To learn more about how to develop a vision and mission that are authentic to your values and talents, check out my book: Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic.

“What’s your greatest weakness?”

Another pointless interview question is, “What’s your greatest weakness?” No one likes this question! But it’s likely you’ll still get it in your next interview. Again, don’t use canned answers when responding.

For instance, don’t say:

  • “I’m too much of a perfectionist.”
  • “I work too hard.”
  • “I’m a bit too passionate when it comes to my work.”

Instead, respond using the tips I shared in my post, “How to Answer ‘What Is Your Greatest Weakness?’“. These tips include:

  • Understanding why this question is being asked.
  • Listening to how the question is asked.
  • Not negating your strengths.
  • Never answering with a trait.
  • And knowing how to follow up with a positive.

Click here for more details.

“If you were an animal, what animal would you be?”

Personally, I love this question. I think it’s one of the easiest questions to help you communicate your skills and strengths.

To answer it well, just think of one of your best skills and what animal represents that skill. For example,

  • Strong leader = a lion.
  • Clear communicator = a dolphin.
  • Adaptable to different settings = a chameleon.
  • Wise decision-maker = an owl.
  • Good at conflict resolution = a dove.

You get the picture. Just don’t forget to include why you chose a certain animal! Then follow it up with one specific and interesting example of how you’ve demonstrated this particular skill in the past.

Alternative interview questions to be prepared for

Some interviewers have caught on to the pointlessness of these types of interview questions. Therefore they’ve come up with alternative ways to ask the same question in order to solicit a more honest response. As a result, you should be prepared for questions like:

  • “What annoys you?” (I personally know a recruiter who asks this in place of the “greatest weakness” question.)
  • “If I asked your references what your biggest weakness is, what would they likely say?” (This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to ask your references this question, but you can never be sure.)
  • “How can you make an impact on this company in the first 12 months of the job?”
  • “Tell me what you’ve accomplished in the last five years.” (This is a better question because past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior.)
  • “What would your boss, co-workers, and staff all agree about you?”

If you need help determining how to best answer these questions, consider some of paNASH’s one-on-one career coaching services.

Conclusion

Old habits die hard. This includes interviewers’ habit of asking pointless interview questions. So make sure you’re prepared for the predictable. And be open to and refreshed by the occasional unexpected questions. Remember, the kind of questions an interviewer asks says a lot about a company.

Related sources

5 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview

I get a lot of questions from clients asking what they should say in a job interview when responding to common interview questions. But rarely does someone ask me what they should never say in a job interview. However, this knowledge is just as important (if not more!) than the knowledge of what to say.

I can remember when I was doing my first job search, I really just wanted to answer the question “What is your greatest weakness?” with, “Chocolate.” Of course I knew better! But some people still say things which seem obvious not to say. And then there are those not-so-obvious things.

I could spend quite a bit of time discussing all the things you should never say in a job interview. But for this post, I’m going to focus on the top five things most candidates mistakenly say but should never utter.

Top 5 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview

1. Don’t share anything too personal

When answering “Tell us about yourself,” never tell the interviewer your personal history starting from kindergarten! They don’t care where you went to middle school, what your favorite color is, or what your dog’s name is.

Instead, talk about your professional self, including your strengths and experience, your interest in the job, and how you can make a contribution to the company. Show them you can be a problem-solver for them!

This is not to say you can’t use a personal challenge you’ve faced in your life that shows your problem-solving skills or your ability to adapt or be resilient. Sometimes those kind of personal stories can tell the interviewer a lot about your character.

I once hired an intern based on a story she shared about what it’s been like for her to grow up with a sibling with Down Syndrome. She shared this personal story in a professional way and related it back to her ability to perform the job at hand.

Therefore, if you do decide to share a personal challenge, I advise you to follow the same approach. Don’t get too bogged down into the details of your personal situation. Instead, show how you’ve grown from it and how this growth has made you a better person for the job.

2. Avoid generalities

Always avoid speaking in generalities. You want to provide specific examples of how you’ve previously demonstrated your strengths.

I’ve said this time and time again on this blog, but I cannot stress enough the importance of doing this! Your specific examples are what differentiate you from the other candidates.

*To learn how to do this, check out my post The Secret to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions.

3. Never show you’ve not done your research

When asked “What do you know about us?” don’t just talk about what you found on the company’s web site.

Dig deeper by studying the company’s past press releases, annual reports (if they’re a public company), and social media posts to show the knowledge you’ve gained from your research.

4. Don’t be the first one to mention salary

NEVER bring up salary until they do, and even then, don’t try to negotiate until there’s an offer on the table.

If you are being pressured for an amount you’re seeking, always give a range, never a single dollar amount. The range you give should never start with your lowest amount you’re willing to take. Start slightly higher than the starting number in your range because you can always negotiate down, but you can’t negotiate up.

5. Never say yes right away

Finally, don’t say yes to the first offer.

Know that you can typically negotiate salary and most employers expect you to! If you don’t, you could end up leaving a significant amount of money (and benefits!) on the table.

More tips

Get more tips on how to prepare for job interviews and how to negotiate salary in the following ways:

Related Posts:

never say