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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
What? You've never had an informational interview?

What? You’ve Never Had an Informational Interview?

What? You’ve Never Had an Informational Interview?

You’re practically giving away your dream job to your competition.

Informational interviews can be tricky to schedule or plan, but can be productive and help you understand the career field you want to go into. You should be prepared to talk about yourself, but know when you should switch to asking questions. During this conversation, you’ll have the chance to make a positive impression as long as you are well prepared. Informational interviews may seem like a waste of time, depending on the industry, but they do have benefits.

Benefits

Specific information about a prospective career can’t always be found online. The best way to find out what you need to know about a new career is to actually talk to someone working there. So, getting that informational interview and spending that time asking questions will grant you a peek into that window. A few of the things you could learn would be:

  • Tips for how to enter a career
  • Potential career paths you haven’t thought about
  • What it’s actually like to work at the interviewee’s organization
  • How to tap into a new network through the professional relationship you just initiated
  • Know what you need to put on your resume, say during an interview for a position, and anything else you want to know about getting a job in that field

While those are all wonderful benefits to the outcome of an informational interview, but is it possible to get a job with this kind of interview alone?

Etiquette

The preparation begins before you schedule the interview. Identify what you want to learn and have a list of questions ready, with room to take notes. Take time to research the person you will be interviewing with – know their background and have a general idea of the career field you’ll be interviewing about.

When you arrive for the interview, most likely, you will check in with the receptionist. Once the interviewee arrives, if you don’t already know them, be sure to introduce yourself and thank them for the opportunity. Make sure you emphasize, again, that you are there to gather information and learn about the career field. During the actual interview, you should be professional but relatively informal as you are simply there to obtain information. It should feel more like you are asking for advice, rather than for a job. Take notes and listen.

After the interview is over, make sure you thank them. An email or handwritten card, regardless of the result of the conversation, sent within 48 hours of the interview, adds additional personal touch to show your appreciation. Include specifics about what you enjoyed about the encounter – this will make you more memorable. Stay in touch and, when appropriate, take advantage of their network.

Outcomes of the Informational Interview

Informational interviews can  be powerful. Displaying your interest with the right amount of research and asking the right questions makes a great first impression. While the objective of these interviews is not to ask for a job or discover job openings, with the right combination of what you can do for the company and how you present that information could prove more fruitful than getting answers to your questions. It is uncommon to be offered a job afterwards however, if you play your cards correctly, a position can be created. Your cards start showing their worth from the moment you say ‘hello.’

If you are lucky enough to schedule an informational interview, take advantage of the benefits that can present themselves. The answers to your questions are just the beginning what you can gain from this interview. You’ll be able to expand your network, improve your resume, and know if the career is right for you or if you should have a backup plan. Keep in mind that it is unlikely a job will be gained from this experience, but it is a beneficial technique for starting a relationship with people within a specific field. Informational interviews are developmental opportunities that should not be disregarded.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Image attributed to graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

The right answers will make or break your interview. Don't blow it!!

7 Interview Fails that Won’t Get You the Job

How to Blow Your Interview: 7 Interview Fails that Won’t Get You the Job

We all hope to leave an impression when we walk out of a job interview. We want the prospective employer to remember us. But the question is, what kind of impression do we really leave behind? Read on to get some tips on what you do not want to be remembered for.

What NOT to Say: Don’t Do these Interview Fails

We work hard to get our foot in the door and have that chance to actually show an employer who we are and what we have to offer. With that in mind, there is nothing worse than blowing that opportunity by having a less than impressive interview. Not only will we miss out on the opportunity that we were applying for, but with Networking as it is, we run the risk of getting a “bad name.” Here are some examples of what not to say in that situation to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

The right answers will make or break your interview. Don't blow it!!

The right answers will make or break your interview. Don’t blow it!!

  • Tell me about your strengths?

Don’t answer with something simple like, I am a hard worker, I like to learn, etc. You don’t want to be vague and boring. They really want to know what specifically makes you a strong candidate for the position, talk about those exact skills instead of being general and non-specific.

  • Tell me about a weakness?

Don’t be silly with this question, it matters. Don’t blush or stammer, be prepared. They also don’t want an arrogant employee; do not say that you don’t have any weaknesses. We all do and they know that! Also don’t be over-indulging with phrases like; I don’t know how to pick just one. That is just scary. Shoot for somewhere in the middle. Pick a weakness, but offer a solution with it. Something like, in the past I have tried to help others in the workplace get along and finish projects, etc. Although this can be a good thing, I have learned at times it is often wiser to prioritize and handle myself and projects well first before worrying about outside issues.

  • What do you know about our company?

This is often a kick- off question and can be easy if you are properly prepared. Saying something like, I hear you pay well will prove to be a costly mistake. Also, avoid answering with things like, I saw you were hiring so I thought I would check things out. You also don’t want to look as if you are there spur of the moment and have no information. You are capable and valuable and therefore you have options. Because of this fact, you have, of course, done your homework and should have plenty of information about the company and position.

  • Do you work well with others?

This is not an opening to explain how you struggled in your last position but you are sure that it was because your co-workers were intimidated by you. Don’t do it! Trust me; this is not what they want to hear. Do not bad mouth past bosses or fellow employees, it will get you nowhere. No employer wants to hire someone that is difficult to work with. If you give them reason to worry about your social skills, chances are you won’t be hired on.

  • Why would you like to work here?

It is just a short drive from my home. Ouch! Not good enough. Hearing that a job is “convenient” for you is not going to leave a positive impression. Irrelevant information, such as being excited about employee discounts or benefits, is not helpful. This is a better place to offer some kind words about the company, the people and its reputation. Leave it at that.

  • Do you have any questions for me?

How about, how much vacation time would I get? Or would I have to work overtime? These are equally as bad as saying that you don’t have any questions for them. You should ask some questions that actually relate to the position or what you would be doing on a daily basis. Asking about the benefits of the position can be done after you have an offer.

A Little Common Sense

Remember, there are plenty of ways to ruin an interview and annoy an interviewer. With a little time, practice and preparation you can avoid doing just that. Bad responses in an interview can truly damage your chances of a call back or even a position in your field. Tread carefully and think things through. You will surely be remembered for the good impression you make.

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