job interview

5 Great End-Of-Interview Questions To Seal The Deal – And 5 More To Avoid

iStockphoto.com |  opico

iStockphoto.com | opico

You’ve almost made it to the end of a long, in-depth interview and you feel like it has gone your way. The person, or group, conducting the interview wraps it up with one final question: “Do you have any questions for us?”

It seems like an innocuous inquiry, almost a courtesy, almost like the cashier at the grocery store asking you if you found everything you were looking for. Don’t be fooled –you have reached a make-or-break moment in the interview. What you say next may decide whether or not you are a serious candidate for the position – or if you remain a candidate at all.

Think about the interviewer’s intent. He or she wants to know as much about you as possible in the short time they have. This is a last opportunity to observe how well prepared you are, how present you are mentally, and to make a determination if the company’s values align with yours. They don’t just want you to ask questions. They want you to ask the right questions.

This is your final opportunity as well. By asking insightful questions designed to continue the dialogue about your qualifications for the position, and demonstrate that you are thinking about the organization, you can quite feasibly lap other candidates who may be less prepared. Here are some great questions to ask:

  1. Where do you see the growth opportunities for this role? This demonstrates long-term thinking about the role and the company, and clearly signals that you are the type of employee who will commit to an organization that commits to you. The interviewer’s answer will provide you an idea about the value the company assigns to its employees, as well as the personality and skills that are the most critical for the current role and beyond.

  2. What does the ideal candidate for this role look like? This may seem like an unusual question to ask at the end of an interview, but this gives the interviewers an opportunity to express any lingering concerns about your candidacy. You, in turn, have created an opportunity you may not have otherwise had to counter their perceptions.

  3. What do you see as the biggest challenge for someone jumping into this role? This will give you your first real idea of what will be required of the position. For example, if the biggest challenge is running a successful marketing campaign with limited resources, you now have an opening to point out your relevant experience creating high production value campaigns on shoestring budgets.

  4. What would the first 90 days of this job look like? This is an informational question that may provide insight into the most important factors that will initially govern a position, and/or the feasibility of a project or set of deliverables. You will also find out simple truths – like the level of training you will receive (if any) and the primary responsibilities that will be the initial basis of your job performance appraisal. 

  5. What other questions do you have for me? Now that you’ve opened up some doors for yourself to create a dialogue, those doors are open for your interviewers as well. Your interviewers may have additional questions and unless space is made those questions may go unanswered – that doesn’t necessarily help you. Don’t give your interviewers an opportunity to make assumptions; help yourself by giving them a final opportunity to question you.

Just like there are questions designed to help you land your dream job, there are also questions that have the potential to end your candidacy. Here are a few questions you should probably avoid:

  1.  What does the job pay? This question is the fastest way to end your interview and candidacy. Employers usually prefer to reserve the right to imitate salary discussions. Unfair or not, candidates who broach the salary issue first tend to raise hackles. Asking about salary conveys to the interviewer(s) that your primary interest is the money, not necessarily in the work or the company.

  2.  Will I be required to work beyond regular work hours/carry a cell phone/log in during the evening? There are several variations of this very justified work/life balance question. Proceed with extreme caution as it may signal to the employer that you are more concerned about your personal schedule than the demands of the job. That said, if leaving the office no later than 5 p.m. every day is essential due to your personal circumstances, it might be better to broach the topic now rather than after accepting the job. If you’re okay with overtime, don’t ask.

  3. Any question that begins with “Do I have to… ?” or “Will I have to…?” This sounds like you are already worried about how your work duties will impact your “me” time.

  4.  May I work remotely? While this is a reasonable question in our modern technological age, it may have negative connotations to the interviewer. Unless the option to work remotely has been specified in the job description or has been brought up by the company, it is better to avoid type of question since you’re asking about changing the overall shape of the job.

  5.  I have no questions. Potential interview killer. Having no questions at the end of an interview conveys to the employer you are not prepared, uninterested in the work, have no strategic goals, and were most likely not paying attention during the course of the interview.

One last thing – fumbling around to invent a decent question on the fly because you didn’t prepare is obvious and awkward, and can be interpreted as disinterest at best and laziness at worst. It’s okay to bring notes into an interview. A list of predetermined questions can prevent you from having to reach for one when needed.


 Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

8 Great Strategies To Beat The Job Interview Jitters

iStockphoto |  Minerva Studio

iStockphoto | Minerva Studio

 

Job interviews aren't much fun. Quite frankly – they're stressful. You're under the microscope and there's tremendous pressure to make the best possible impression in a short period of time.

The good news is there are strategies you can use to reduce the stress and improve your chances.

  1. Dress nicely for the interview. Wear a suit. End of discussion.
     
  2. Remember - It's just a conversation. Sure, the people you are meeting with are judging you and they're going to throw some curve balls your way, but in the end, an interview is just as much about demonstrating you can work together as the technical skills you bring. Do your best to remember that you're just having a conversation with the person seated across from you. You're both trying to find common ground. Often the interviewer is looking for reasons to hire you – being easy to get along with helps.
     
  3. Do your research. The more you know, the more you'll be prepared to talk about. Learn  what's going on at the company and about their products and services by looking at the company's web page and searching online. Be prepared for the question, "What do you know about our company?" Likewise, if you receive an agenda ahead of time , check out your interviewers' LinkedIn profiles – you should be able to come up with some great discussion material (example: "I see you left General Motors to come work here. There must have been something interesting about this company, what drove your decision?").
     
  4. It's okay to bring notes. Most interviewers won't mind if you have a page of notes to job your memory during the interview, so long as it's not a crutch. Prepare short, easy-to-read, bulleted discussion points so that you can glance quickly at your notes without having to study them. Notes can  project an impression of preparedness.
     
  5. Prepare your war stories. Behavioral interviews are big. Interviewers will ask you questions about your past actions to determine how you'd behave in the future. The examples you present are an opportunity to shine; choose examples that demonstrate your ability to identify and overcome adversity, collaborate, and build creative solutions to work problems. Have five or six go-to stories about your work successes that you can tell which will show you as a strong potential hire.
     
  6. Have questions ready. At the end of the conversation, your interviewer will either run out of questions for you, or ask if you have any of your own. Never be caught without insightful questions to ask. They don't have to be profound, but they should demonstrate that you're engaged and have paid attention. Some good standbys: "What does success in this role look like?"; "What does the average day in this position consist of?"; and "Why is this position open?" Find other effective questions here.
     
  7. Put off the salary discussion, if at all possible. In fact, don't bring it up at all. Let the interviewer bring it up, and if they do, handle it delicately. Focus on your interest in the job, and indicate that compensation is a secondary consideration to the job itself.
     
  8. Send "Thank You" notes. If you met with somebody during your interview day, send them a brief note (email is fine) thanking them for their time and consideration. I've seen a well-placed "Thank You" note push a candidate over the top. And don't send notes to some people and not to others - everybody has a say in whether you get hired, from the receptionist up through the CEO; don't let anybody feel snubbed and wanting to sabotage your chances.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

Why Your Professional Failures Could Be Job Hunting Gold

iStockphoto.com |  gustavofrazao

iStockphoto.com | gustavofrazao

 

Guest post by Rhys Johnson (TheDreamLife_RJ)

Because employers usually take only between a few seconds and a couple minutes to read through a resume, you might feel pressure to embellish your profile, or to lie. The reality is that even if your “too good to be true” resume gets you through the door, a skilled interviewer will be able to poke holes in your application if you can’t elaborate on specific details in a satisfactory manner. And even if your fib doesn’t get noticed right away your entire employment will be based on falsified information, which could be detrimental to your career further down the road.

It’s always a good idea to be honest on your resume. Sometimes the honest approach may entail including your failures. And with appropriate context, articulating the adversity you faced can provide an employer with compelling reasons to hire you.

As an intellectual exercise, Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer took honesty to a whole new level by publishing his own “CV of failures” online. The Washington Post shared that his goal was to inspire people to continue in their respective fields and help them deal with their own shortcomings. The Telegraph reports a similar story of a senior creative professional’s experiment of sending in a resume highlighting his imperfections, which got several responses and interviews – as compared to his traditional resume, which received only a single response.

Let me be clear – a professional resume is not the place to demonstrate either your flaws or your inability to achieve results. But while I wouldn’t advise an an approach such as Professor Haushofer’s for the serious job hunter, building a resume with examples of your ability to overcome professional adversity can bolster your candidacy, by demonstrating the positive elements and by providing great fodder for the interview. Here are some examples:


Example 1: Willingness to push yourself, and to take sensible risks.
A person who doesn’t fail is either perfect (which nobody is) or unwilling to try new things. An experience where you stepped out of your comfort zone in spite of your fear of failing can reassure potential employers that you’re willing to take good, well-reasoned risks which may pay the company dividends. Even if the project as whole didn’t succeed, highlight on your resume the aspects of the project that indeed went right.

Resume Example: “Led pilot project testing new lines of business. Sold idea to CEO, organized project team, and managed initiative through test phases.”


Example 2: Professional resilience and an ability to cope with failure.
Conveying that you can handle challenging situations is also something that potential employers want to know about you. The Balance explains that employers want to know if the person they’re considering for the job will be able to keep their composure and focus in times of hardship. Corporate life is full of ups and downs. In your resume, highlight the obstacles you handled with finesse and grace and, most importantly, through which you persevered and were able to achieve satisfactory resolution.

Resume Example: “Managed rapid department reorganization following layoff of 90% of team. Conducted needs analysis, and redesigned workflows to adjust to smaller workforce.”


Example 3: An ability to learn.
Failures can be the best teachers if you’re willing to learn from them. Highlight real challenges you’ve overcome, in which you were able to adapt your learnings into a successful project. The best such examples for your resume are those in which you were able to quickly adapt to a difficult situation.

Resume Example: “Successfully turned around project 25% behind target timeline, achieving on-time completion below budget.”

A resume that showcases your ability to overcome adversity will catch a potential employer's attention. The skills for your job can be taught and acquired, but ultimately, your attitude and mindset are the factors that will truly help you succeed.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.