What you Should and Should NOT ask During a Job Interview

What you Should and Should NOT ask During a  Job Interview

Resumes have been sorted and you have been fortunate enough to find yourself in the interview pile. This means it is time to show this company why they need you on their team. There are many great ways to do so; there are also many ways to literally destroy your chances. Nearly every word spoken plays a part in the success or failure of an interview. The interview is the most important key to open the door to your future employment. How can you best put into words how valuable you are? What should you avoid saying during the interview? Here are some guidelines you may find helpful.

What You Should Ask

The ultimate goal of an interview aside from providing detailed information on experience, education and work history is to show a company that your goals and direction align well with the position that they are hiring for. This is an all-encompassing win. They want to see that you are on track with their vision for the company and the role they need to fill. To demonstrate this alignment the following questions or discussions may provide some insight.

  • Ask about how good performers are able to grow in the position in question. You want to demonstrate your interest in long-term employment and show that you are eager to do all that is required of you. You are also willing to go above and beyond what is asked and show that you are interested in professional development opportunities, additional education and so on.

*This discussion may open the door for the potential employer to discuss advancement opportunities and potential increases in pay which may otherwise not have been talked about at this point, thus helping you gauge whether or not this is the position you are searching for.

  • Asking about the traits that would be ideal in an employee hired for this position can also lead into a positive and helpful discussion. They will see the desire you have to not only be a good fit for them, but for the company and position to be a good fit for you. This also helps the hiring manager to be able to speak more freely as they are speaking in the abstract and not about anyone in particular, only of their “dream” employee.
  • You should ask what the employer truly wants to accomplish with this position above and beyond the core duties. What would they desire you to be able to achieve? Again, this enables them to speak freely and may give you some great insight into how to get a solid foot in the door.
  • If it feels appropriate, you may also want to ask about the positives and negatives of the company culture. This is mostly for your own information and to help you gain insight into whether you would fit in well.


What you should NOT ask

At some point during the interview you will inevitably be asked, “Do you have any questions for us?” This can be dangerous territory. We have all been told there are no bad questions, this is simply not true. Avoid uncomfortable moments by not asking questions or saying things such as:

  • Nope, no questions! I think you have already answered everything.

That is just not acceptable, not if you are truly interested and have researched not only the company but the position as well. Be prepared with some questions that demonstrate the level of interest you have. Prioritize them in your mind. You may only get to ask one or two, but be prepared with a couple of extra questions, just in case. Not having any questions can be a display of lack of motivation and drive. You will be hard pressed to find employers that are looking for those qualities.

  • Do people usually like working here?

You want to be more specific than this. So many day to day issues are perceived differently by different individuals. Would they really say no? Give them a better question to work with.

  • I haven’t really done this type of work before but I think I can learn quickly.

Because they have already reviewed your resume, they will be aware of that fact. They are interviewing you anyway so don’t draw extra attention to any negatives. Obviously they were not worried about that, if they don’t bring up any lack of experience than you should not either.

  • I had a horrible boss, have you heard of him?

Anything negative will leave a bad impression. Avoid criticism of any kind. While you may critically evaluate your former position, don’t critically evaluate anything or anyone else. You want to be positive and friendly. These are very important components of personality that you can be sure they are looking for in a future employee.

  • Wow! That is really a great question!

This, while friendly enough, causes you to sound surprised by what you have been asked. It actually shows a lack of preparedness. If you have done your homework, you shouldn’t be caught off guard by questions that are asked of you.

These suggestions should help keep you on track and assist you in having a successful interview experience. Leaving a great impression ultimately comes down to having common goals, being prepared and friendly and doing your homework. You don’t want to land a position that is not a good fit any more than they want to make a mistake in hiring. Be honest and confident (not over-confident) and stay tuned into the social cues around you and you will be amazing!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Interview

8 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Interview

Buckle up; it’s Time to get Real

We all know the textbook answers for how to interview successfully: be prepared, know about the company, practice what you will say to those questions that are always asked, dress for the job, and so on and so forth. Let’s take a minute and think outside the box. Let’s think about tactics that are a little different, that may give you an edge and leave a great impression. Let’s be ready for an amazing interview!

Before you Apply, Get Noticed

Obviously, getting a referral or a recommendation is the best ticket into any company that is hiring, hands down. However, most of us are not fortunate enough to be able to provide this. All is not lost! Remember that recruiters are scouring job sites looking endlessly for the perfect fill for an available position. With this information in mind, remember to market yourself as a high performer when managing your social media listings, such as LinkedIn. Create attention getting profiles that show actual examples of your work anywhere possible. Also, if you would like to receive endorsements, make sure to give them as well. Professional people often return the favor.

Know when to Push Send

Applying on Monday is the way to go. There are several studies out now that say as much. Send in your resume on a Monday and you are more likely to be called in for a job interview than on any other day.

Schedule your Interview Wisely

Word on the street is that scheduling your interview for a Tuesday, and even more specifically, around 10:30 a.m., will be well worth the strategic planning. This is due to the fact that we all deal with so many different responsibilities. The state the interviewer is in should be very important to you. You don’t want to slide into a Monday or Friday spot as people tend to be either recovering from the weekend or gearing up for it. Close to lunch time is also a no go. Your interviewer could be distracted, hungry, or carb-loaded and ready for a nap. They may even resent that they needed to hurry back to meet you. Play it safe and avoid mid-day, where ever possible. *Note: be mindful of how quickly they are planning to hire. You may have to jump into the first available spot if they are in a hurry!

Use all Available Tools, have you tried Google Alerts?

If you want to stay on top of the current news, information and even employment ads posted, a great tool in your arsenal is Google Alerts. If you set up an alert, you will receive an email anytime a new story, ad, etc. appears for a specific search term that you set up. This enables you to know about current events as they happen, without even searching for them.

Remember Your Interviewer’s Name

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I assure you it is easier to forget than you think. Being able to address an interviewer by name especially with a warm smile, nice handshake and comfortable eye contact can leave a positive impression that shouldn’t be underestimated. Try and use their name a time or two during the interview this will show how truly interested you are. It also is a great way to highlight how comfortable you are meeting and working with new people.

Develop and Practice Your Story

You want to enter an interviewing situation armed with your story. We are not just talking about the story that tells where you were born, grew up, went to school, and so on. Not just an answer to the forever asked question, “Tell me about yourself.” Create a story that tells more about how you evolved into the person that you are, both in your professional and personal life. It can be helpful to a prospective employer to know what drives you. How did you develop such tenacity? Right? We often don’t tell our own story well, or even in an interesting way. You want to talk about hopes, achievements, even areas you feel you have failed, things that are yours, only unique to you. This can honestly take some time and practice, but it will be well worth it. Bounce it off a critic several times, one who has your best interest at heart of course! Taking the time to do this will build your confidence and humanize you to the interviewer. Let them feel like they know you, it will be sure to have an impact in their decision making.

Become Familiar with Emotional Intelligence

If you have ever interviewed for a position that you didn’t receive, and who hasn’t? You know that it is not always the person that is the most qualified that gets the job. There are many other skills we possess that can outweigh even the smartest competition. One of the great and underrated tools for interviewing is called Emotional Intelligence. This is the ability to tune into another person’s emotional state and not only empathize but manage your own emotions to identify with theirs and then communicate with them properly. This skill can be learned. Look closely at the way you manage stress, not only your own but others. The way that you key in on moods and issues and adjust your behavior accordingly is really all we are talking about. You don’t want to seem bubbly or obnoxious to an interviewer that is obviously annoyed by such personalities. You may need to tune into the mood and adjust somewhat. We always want to be who we are of course, but taking the time to feel out the atmosphere around you and behave accordingly can be an important key in unlocking new opportunities.

Don’t Forget the Thank You Note…EVER

Within 24 hours of completion of an interview make sure to email out a Thank You note. Yes, email is perfectly acceptable in this day and age, but forgetting to do so is not. We are all so busy, every one of us in one way or another and I dare say, we all appreciate kind gestures. Show your appreciation for the time that they took out of their day to meet with you. Even if this job wasn’t a perfect fit for you, leaving a positive impression may open the door to future opportunities as they become available. They may think of you the next time they have an opening. It also opens a dialogue they can use freely. Don’t ever let good old fashioned manners fall by the wayside.

While some of these suggestions may seem to be familiar, they are a step above the norm. That extra step could make all the difference in your journey to the ideal career.

Photo credit: thetaxhaven via VisualHunt / CC BY
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor


Self-Promotion: 8 Ways to Interview Persuasively

Self-Promotion: 8 Ways to Interview Persuasively

In our day to day lives we all want to be humble and modest, but let’s face it, being self-deprecating won’t give your prospective employer that lasting impression or memorable interview that you are going for. An interview is a time to get out there and shine. You need to sell yourself, be persuasive. Here are some ways to go about doing just that without coming across as over-confident or arrogant.

1) Get out of your comfort zone. Push yourself, allow yourself to brag a little bit. Put your selling points on the table. Don’t take it too far, but don’t be afraid. This is why you are here, to show them who you are and what you are made of. Don’t be shy, jump at the chance to shine. You want to paint them a glorious picture of what you have to offer so that the image and information stays with them. To be persuasive, use details that can be felt, seen and tested, including numbers to prove your points. Use details that can be visualized and remembered. You can even use metaphors or an analogy if you are cautious. Remember that this type of persuasive detail may be hard to come up with on the spot. Plan ahead and develop examples, be ready.

2) Demonstrate Credibility. Aspiring employees are often hired based on whom the interviewer feels can get the job done. They need to be able to count on you, they must trust you. This begins with believing what you say in an interview. To strengthen your credibility you must sell or demonstrate your expertise and also build a positive relationship with the interviewer, a connection if you will. To build a relationship, find common interests. It could be geographical location, hobbies, or feeling the same way about issues in your field. Don’t be afraid to ask about your interviewers experiences with work or to talk about life outside of work, to a point. This creates a feeling of a conversation more than just another interview.
Showing expertise may be as simple as being aware of the current trends in your industry. Read up and be aware before you interview.

3) Stick to the facts. You don’t want to launch into an awkward monologue about yourself full of your own thought and opinions. Instead, state some objective facts to highlight some of your accomplishments. Talk about awards you have received, stats you have improved, anything that is concrete.

4) Give yourself some credit, you aren’t a novice. Even if you are just getting started in a particular field, don’t make statements about just getting your feet wet or just starting out. Even if you are changing industries, every bit of experience counts. Most occupations have certain things in common. It may be sales, customer service, or a creative touch. You most likely have done something in your past experience that will benefit you in this new position, even outside of your work history. Plan ahead and be ready to use persuasive examples to highlight your legitimate skills and traits. Even though you may not have been “paid” for a particular skill doesn’t mean in can’t prove to be useful in your future employment.

5) Quote others who have seen you in action. Discussing statements that others have made about you can be a great alternative to “bragging” about yourself. It just sounds better to say something like, “I was recently told by my manager that he has really seen the results of my project development skills.” This type of statement can be very persuasive if done properly. It makes future employers think outside the box.

6) Toot your own horn. Most of us aren’t good at talking about ourselves, let alone tooting our own horn and convincing others to have confidence in our abilities. We have always been taught that we shouldn’t talk or brag about ourselves. While these are good everyday manners, it won’t pay off in an interview situation. Keep in mind that an interview is different than any other type of interaction. You must make an impression. You have such a limited amount of time for them to learn about you that you must make every minute count. Don’t miss out on a position you are qualified for due to a poor presentation.

7) Practice. “Selling yourself” may seem difficult but with practice it can become nearly automatic in an interview situation. Always be authentic and remember to be truthful. There is a big difference in speaking of tried and true talents and experience vs. selling false ideas. This will always come back to bite you in the end. Be compelling and concise when speaking of your strengths and what you bring to the table. In practicing and actually speaking out loud, you will hear where you need to make changes and avoid any awkwardness that may come across when speaking about yourself. You aren’t rehearsing a speech; your answers should vary slightly each time with the main points and information staying the same.

8) Don’t wait. Once you have your selling points and have practiced your presentations, jump in and interview. Don’t let too much time go by before using the skills you have been working so hard on. Be proactive and seek out opportunities to continue to practice.

Using the power of persuasion will become second nature the more you use it. Don’t be afraid to speak passionately and from the heart. Emotions are powerful, just don’t go overboard or talk to fast. It is always wise to be somewhat in tune with the interviewer. However, being around someone who is enthusiastic and positive can be contagious. Let them feel your energy and zest for life, it is bound to leave a good impression and persuade them to give you a chance.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Preparing for the Job Interview

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Pre-Interview Worksheet and Checklist

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What to do after Your Interview

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Informational Interviews

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Succeeding in Virtual Interviews

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