Tag: interview advice

Traditional Job Seeker Advice Applicable Today

Traditional job seeker advice stills applies–tailor your resume, focus on networking, don’t oversell your skills and do your research. Follow these tips and when it comes time to interview, it will be like you’re already a part of the team. Learn more tips on improving your job search from Holland’s Jason Schenkel!

For additional resources and job seeker advice, visit the Social Jobs Partnership on Facebook!

Interview Questions You Can (Almost Always) Expect to Answer

Sweaty palms, racing thoughts, shaking hands…

These symptoms sound all too familiar if you’ve ever experienced pre-interview jitters – and chances are you have. Rather than letting your nerves get the best of you (and possibly having a negative effect on your interview), take the extra time to prepare.

Perhaps the most important step of preparation is understanding what types of interview questions you may be asked and thinking through how to respond. Ease the tension and wow the recruiter with sharp answers to these commonly asked questions.

Tell me about yourself.

Often this question kicks off an interview, so it’s best to keep your answer easy to digest and straight to the point. Try using stories and relatable anecdotes as a chance to be personable.

Begin by explaining your present situation – are you a student, do you currently have a job, what do you do? Follow by bringing up relevant skills and situations you’ve experienced in the past that the interviewer may not be able to determine from glancing at your resume, and always find a way to connect these experiences to where you hope to be in the future. After all, the interview can lead to a job and provide opportunities you wouldn’t imagine. By telling a recruiter what you’re looking for and why you’re qualified, you can steer the conversation in a productive direction.

Key takeaway: Stick to the present-past-future response as a guide.

Why do you want to work here?

This is an opportunity to show that you’re the most informed candidate for the job and you’ve done your research. There has to be something that made you apply for the job, get all dressed up and interview with a stranger. Are you this company’s best customer? Are there specific opportunities that encouraged you to apply? Has this company been a success in the news lately? These are all great questions to ask yourself when forming your response.

Key takeaway: Show that you’ve done research and are knowledgeable about the company.

What are your strengths?

More often than not, a recruiter is reviewing other qualified candidates. Use this question to your advantage! What separates you from the competition? Do you have specific skills that may help you excel in this role? Keeping an answer in the back of your head and reviewing what you have going for you can help you to stay positive, despite the nerves.

Key takeaway: Provide stories and examples to back up any of your claims.

Flaws-MemeWhat are your weaknesses?

Having solid and insightful answers to this question can be just as telling as responding with your strengths. Show the interviewer that you can recognize areas where you struggle and your willingness to change, grow and adapt. There is no right or wrong answer, but being real with a recruiter and being prepared for this question can give you the upper hand.

Key takeaway: Be honest (just not too honest).

What do you like to do outside of work?

This question seems simple but many recruiters ask this question with the intent of determining if you’d fit into a company’s culture. Though watching Netflix and hanging out with your dog may be important to you, this is a great chance to make yourself relatable and a show you can be a great addition to the team. Elaborate on activities that reflect your personality and save activities that don’t enhance your best qualities for another day.

Key takeaway: Be strategic in your answer.

Your added effort in preparation will not only help to calm your nerves but will also impress the interviewer and show that you are serious about becoming a part of their organization. While all interviews are different, having a grasp on common interview questions will ultimately help you to shape your responses as needed. Good luck – you’ve got this!





Success Is Calling | How To Prepare For A Phone Interview

phone interviewIf you’ve searched for a job within the last few years, you’ve likely been asked to do a phone interview. No longer just for out-of-town applicants, phone interviews often act as a prequalification process for recruiters to see if you are a viable candidate they should pursue further. Sounds easy-breezy, right? Lying on your couch, staring at the ceiling while you informally chitchat with a recruiter? False. The truth is, phone interviews should be taken quite seriously – especially if you are serious about getting the job.

To help you get ready for a phone interview – whether now or in a future job search – we’ve put together some simple tips for mastering the call.

Preparing for the call
Just as if you were doing an in-person interview, preparation is key. This means doing research about the company itself and prepping answers for commonly asked interview questions, as well as preparing questions to ask the interviewer. The best part? You can create a cheat sheet! Write it all down and have this lifesaver handy during your call – just be sure you use it as a prompt for your talking points rather than reading it like a script. It’s also a good idea to have your resume in front of you, as well as any other documentation you may need to reference during the call. Some recruiters may even direct you to a website during the call so it may be a good idea to be in front of a computer as well.

When setting up the interview, it is important to ensure that you are available to take the call at the scheduled time. If the recruiter suggests a time that doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to speak up and choose a time that will allow you to be at home or in a quiet space without distractions. Also be sure to answer the call promptly – don’t let it go to voicemail. Unfortunately, a missed call can likely mean a missed opportunity for you.

In the event that the recruiter calls and wants to do an on-the-spot phone interview and it’s not a good time for you (i.e. you’re at the grocery store, picking your children up from school, etc.), you may apologetically explain your situation and suggest setting up a different time. If the interviewer is hesitant to reschedule, you may have to go for it and try your best!

Taking the call
As with any professional call, it is always a good idea to answer the phone with your name (i.e. “Hello, this is John Smith”) to prevent the recruiter from having to ask for you and to get the conversation flowing immediately. It might sound silly but smiling while talking will also transmit enthusiasm and help to portray a friendly demeanor. When you are not speaking, it is courteous to put your phone on mute to prevent the recruiter from hearing background noise on your end while they are speaking. Just be sure to unmute yourself before speaking again!

Of course, it is vital that you are honest during the call. Interviewing over the phone can create a false sense of security but chances are that if you progress to an in-person interview – and then on to employment ­– the truth will likely come to light. Start off with your potential employer on the right foot and be truthful in your dialogue. As with any interview, be sure to finish the call by asking what the next steps may be and when you can expect to hear back. Be sure to have pen and paper handy in case you need to jot anything down!

Following the call
Lastly, it is always a good idea to follow an interview, whether on the phone or in-person, with a thank you note. This is not only a way to display your interest and professionalism but also a second chance to reiterate your strengths and the value you could provide the company. If you do not already have a mailing address or email address for your interviewer, be sure to ask for their contact information at the end of your interview so you know where to send your thank you letter/email.

It’s okay to be nervous – just do your best and remember that the immediate goal of the phone interview is to get an in-person interview. Just think of the phone interview as a practice run and you’ll be well on your way mastering the rest of the interview process!

Tips for Veterans on Interview Prep from Intel

Preparing for a job interview can help you outshine other candidates, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what questions might be asked. For veterans, behavioral questions around your individual contributions might seem difficult to address. In this video with Intel’s Rob Polston, you’ll hear some examples of different questions you might be asked, and receive tips on how to answer them.

Rob Polston of Intel

Key takeaways for interview prep:

  1. If you’re interviewing at a company like Intel, there are likely going to be some technical questions, so be prepared to answer those.
  2. When addressing behavioral questions, such as overcoming adversity or working on a team, you really want to demonstrate the value that you provided, and explain your specific role in the process.

Get more advice from other Help Wanted blogs or check out our job seeker focused Pinterest board.

Improper Interview Questions and How to Handle Them

This post was provided by Claudia Allen, writer and editor at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). NACE connects campus recruiting and career services professionals, and provides best practices, trends, research, professional development, and conferences.

When you interview for a job, your prospective employer will ask questions—on the job application, during the interview, and as part of the testing process.

While federal, state, and local laws prohibit discrimination in employment based on certain characteristics protected by law—race, sex, disability, or age—the focus of questions you are asked should be: What does the employer need to know to decide whether you can perform the functions of the job.

Here are some examples of legal and illegal questions:

Inquiry Illegal Questions Legal Questions
National origin/citizenship
  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • Where were you born?
  • What is your “native tongue?”
  • Are you authorized to work in the United States?
  • What languages do you read, speak, or write fluently? (This is okay as long as the ability is relevant to the job.)
  • How old are you?
  • When did you graduate from college?
  • What’s your birth date?
  • Are you over the age of 18?
Marital/family status
  • What’s your marital status?
  • Do you plan to have a family?
  • How many kids do you have?
  • What are your childcare arrangements?
  • Would you be willing to relocate if necessary?
  • Travel is an important part of the job, are you able and willing to travel? (This is okay if all applicants for this job are asked it.)
  • This job requires occasional overtime. Will you be willing to work overtime as necessary? (This is okay if all applicants for this job are asked it.)
  • What clubs or social organizations do you belong to?
  • List any professional or trade groups or organizations that you belong to that you consider relevant to your ability to perform the job.
  • How tall are you?
  • How much to you weigh? (Questions about height and weight are not acceptable unless minimum standards are essential to the safe performance of the job.)
  • Are you able to life a 50-pound weight and carry it 100 yards? (If necessary to the job.)
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • How’s your family’s health?
  • Do you have any  genetic diseases?
  • Please complete a medical history.
  • Are you colorblind?
  • Do you see a psychiatrist for stress?
  • Are you an alcoholic?
  • What is wrong with your leg?
  • Do you take prescription drugs?
  • Have you ever been in rehab?
  • Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodations?
  • Can you demonstrate how you would perform the following job-related function?
  • Do you have 20/20 vision (If this is a job requirement.)
  • What was your attendance record?
  • Will you need an accommodation to participate in the recruiting process?
Arrest/conviction record
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever been convicted of ___? (The crime named should be related to the performance of the job.)
  • Were you honorably discharged?
  • What branch of the Armed Forces did you serve?
  • What type of training or education did you receive?
  • Describe relevant work experience you acquired from U.S. Armed Forces as it relates to this position.
  • Do you go to church?
  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • What religious holidays will you take off from work?
  • Can you work on Saturdays/Sundays? (If relevant to the job.)

If a potential employer asks a question that are relates to protected characteristics, you have a few options:

  • You can answer the question. However, if you provide this information, you may jeopardize your chances of getting hired.
  • You can refuse to answer the question. Unfortunately, you may appear uncooperative or confrontational, and lose the job.
  • You can listen the question for its intent and respond with an answer as it might apply to the job. For example, if the interviewer asks, “Are you a U.S. citizen?” or “What country are you from?,” you could say: “I am authorized to work in the United States.” If the interviewer asks, “What are your childcare arrangements for when you travel?” you could say: “I can meet the travel and work schedule that this job requires.”
  • Special thank you to NACE for sharing their expertise. Need more advice? Check out our Job Seeker Advice board on Pinterest or view more Help Wanted blog posts.

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