Tag: job interviews


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

Many of my clients come to me facing the daunting task of conducting a job search for the first time in 10 to 20 years and a lot has changed in that time. They are unaware of the modern interview advice available to them.

This is because most of the interview advice floating around the Internet is extremely outdated.

Not Your Grandma’s (Or Even Your Mama’s) Interview Advice

In fact, while recently helping a friend with her upcoming job search, I gave her some modern interview advice. 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.

Modern Interview Advice

The advice I gave my friend was the same advice I had posted when answering the following question on Quora:  “What are some smart interview answers?”

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).

Steps to Smart Interview Answers

1. Find out the most immediate need.

Find out what the company’s most immediate need is they’re hoping the person in this position can fulfill.

Most candidates will ask this question during the job interview, but by then it’s too late! You must determine this before the interview!

You can do this in a couple of ways:

  1. Do your research on the company (which should be a given…always do your research before going into any interview!).
  2. And ask the person with whom you’ll be interviewing what their most immediate need is (prior to the interview!)

You do this as soon as the interview has been scheduled by HR. Simply email the person who will be interviewing you and let him or her know you’re looking 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?”

(You’ll probably be the only candidate who does this, which will make you stand out in a good way.)


2. Brainstorm a solution.

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. Create a proposal.

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 will work.

If you don’t have enough information to come up with a solution to the company’s problem, you can at least 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. Show and tell.

Bring hard copies of this proposal or case study to the interview with you so you have something tangible to show.

Make sure to bring enough copies for each person with whom you’ll be interviewing.

Introduce it at any of the following points in your interview that feel right:

  • At the end of your answer to the question, “Tell us about yourself.” After you’ve described your skills, experience, and interest in the job, you can say you’ve given a lot of thought to the information the interviewer gave in your recent correspondence and you’ve put together some ideas of how your skills and experience can meet their specific needs. Let them know you’d be happy to share it with them. If they invite you to share it then, do so. If not, wait.
  • At any point in the conversation where the door clearly opens for you to share your proposal. For instance, if they ask how you would handle the problem or issue, then answer that question with your proposal by walking them through your handout.
  • If they ask, “Why should we hire you?” This question usually comes toward the end of an interview, so if you haven’t had the opportunity to introduce your proposal or case study yet, now’s your chance. You can summarize the strengths you have to offer and then say you’ve already given great thought to their most immediate needs and have drafted something you’d like to have the opportunity to implement if hired. Then walk them through your handout.
  • If at the end of the interview you still haven’t had the opportunity, when they ask if you have any questions for them, use this time to remind them of the question you asked prior to the interview. Then show them how you’ve given it thought by giving them your handout and asking if it is something they could benefit from.

Make sure you pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues on how receptive they are to learning more about your proposal. Only bring it out if they express an interest in hearing more about it.

I guarantee you’ll likely be the only candidate who shows up to the interview with an idea or solution in hand.


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!

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

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The Secret to Answering 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 answering behavioral interview questions

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 and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety. You’ll learn how to answer other commonly asked interview questions, questions you should be asking, and more, resulting in more job offers!

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How to Know When It’s NOT the Right Time for Career Assessments

Let me preface this post with the fact that I believe career and personality assessments can be very useful tools when used properly and at the appropriate time.

I felt the need to state this upfront after I recently commented on a popular comedian’s spoof of the Enneagram. I thought his spoof was hilarious because I constantly hear people saying, “Oh I’m this way because I’m a 5,” (or whatever number they are on the spectrum). As if everyone knows what every # represents!

Because I’m a career coach, I received a little criticism for my support of the comedian’s post.

This criticism gave me the green light to write this blog post. It’s one I’ve been wanting to write for some time. I guess now is the right time thanks to Christian comedian John Crist.

In the same week of coming across the Enneagram spoof, I met with a potential client who’s deciding which career coach to hire. She mentioned to me how one of the other career coaches she talked with wanted to start her off with several batteries of assessments.

I explained to her how my approach is different. When I told her why I don’t use a lot of career assessments, I could see the relief in her face. Her response was, “Thank goodness!”

My personal philosophy on career assessments

My services are geared toward those who are mid-career and are looking to make a career change. They’re tired of being treated like a number in their current job or company.

The last thing I want to do is make them feel even more like a number. (Or some kind of code they can’t remember.)

Instead, I want them to feel heard.

And what many of them are saying is,

“I’ve done assessments in the past and didn’t find them helpful at all.”

Also, I’ve noticed two major issues with doing career assessments when working with my target market.

Issue #1

First, when clients who’ve been in one job or industry for a while (like most of my clients have been) and are wanting to make a career change, they’re mindset is so accustomed to and entrenched in their current role.

When this is the case, their assessment results become skewed.

They’re responding to questions based only on what they’ve been used to for several years. Therefore, their results often point toward a suggestion to pursue the same kind of work they’re trying to leave.

This can be very disappointing and frustrating for these clients. They feel like the assessments are telling them they’re limited in their value and abilities and have very few options.

This makes them feel even more stuck in their careers when their goal is to get unstuck!

Issue #2

Second, the assessments designed to suggest possible career options don’t include all the newly-created jobs available in today’s job market.

Because job creation is happening so quickly due to rapid advances in this age, these assessments can’t keep up in order to provide a full picture of one’s potential.

And they don’t include quickly growing alternatives such as gig economy roles, side hustles, “solopreneur” opportunities, and more.

Because of this, many career assessments can be very limiting.

By the time my clients come to me, they’ve felt the negative effects of the limiting beliefs they’ve already imposed upon themselves. They don’t need anything else to limit them right now.

career assessments

Nobody wants to be treated like a number

My focus is helping people pursue their passions.

Instead of bombarding my clients with a battery of assessments in the beginning, I prefer to make the client feel like a person instead of a number.

I do this by getting to know them and listening to their concerns.

Then I help them discover their personal brand and develop a mission statement that’s authentic to who they are. (I provide this process in my latest book.)

Together we brainstorm the ideas they’ve pushed deep down because society told them their dreams were impractical.

I help my clients explore how they can incorporate their passions in their lives.

Are their limiting beliefs real or perceived? If it’s not realistic to pursue their passions as a career, can they find an outlet for them in other areas of their lives?

The point is to first let them dream big without restricting them. Then we sift through their ideas for the ones that are viable career options.

Then, and only then, will I recommend certain career assessments if necessary.

It’s about being intentional without adding another layer of limits for the client.

Things to remember

This approach isn’t for everyone. There are some people who do want or need to take a lot of assessments. I’ve just not found this to be true with the majority of my niche market.

To you who choose to start with a lot of career assessments or are working with a coach who requires them, I recommend always taking your results with a grain of salt. Remember these three things:

  • Understand your mood and stress level at the time of taking the assessment can affect your results.
  • Never allow the results to label you or limit you in any way.
  • Resist the urge to use your results as an excuse for your behavior (i.e. “Oh, I’m this way because I’m a ‘6’ and that’s just who I am.”)

Use of career assessments in the interview process

You need to also know companies shouldn’t make hiring decisions based solely on your results of any assessment.

I had a client who interviewed for a job she was highly qualified for. The company had her jump through a lot of hoops in the interview process. She excelled in each challenge.

They told her she pretty much had the job, but still needed to take a personality assessment to round out her interview process.

When they saw her results they were no longer interested in her and she didn’t get the job offer.

Of course she couldn’t prove their decision was based only on her results of the personality assessment. But it appeared to be true.

Regardless, she felt discriminated against because of a little code from one simple test.

Since it was a small start-up without a fully-developed HR department, the people conducting the interview probably had no clue it’s not kosher to make hiring decisions based solely on personality assessment results.

If you’re ever in a similar situation, ask if their HR manager has approved the use of the assessment in the interview process and ask how the results will be used in making hiring decisions. Ask these questions prior to taking the assessment.

Do you want to be treated like a person instead of a number?

Remember the potential client trying to decide which career coach to hire? She just signed a contract with me because she said my approach gives her hope since it’s not as “cookie-cutter” as the others.

Do you want to be treated like a person instead of a number? Are you more interested in real results instead of just assessment results? If you answered yes, take a moment and complete the paNASH intake form. You’ll soon be on your way to a career coaching experience that’s truly unique.

Subscribe to the paNASH newsletter to receive updates on the release of my next book, Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic.

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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.

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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.

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