Tag: job interview questions
Have you come out of an interview floating on a cloud, but after a week or two still haven’t heard back from the company? Don’t despair. Here are some tips to get through the interview roller coaster.
Let me begin by saying that I have never walked through a job search with a SVP or COO and NOT had the subject come up of either a recruiter or a company not getting back to them promptly. So, let’s just establish that these things happen to the most wonderful of executives. The trick is how you manage the situation and keep your composure during the emotional highs and lows associated with most job transitions.
Follow Up Begins in The Interview
The challenge in deciding appropriate level of follow-up on your part is that some employers prefer you were very aggressive in your initiative, while others may find it off-putting. The solution requires getting more information up front during your interviews. One of the last questions you should ask in a phone or in-person interview is, “Where do we go from here?”
Get a Commitment
If possible, get a commitment to a day or week time frame when they will get back to you. If that day/week passes, then simply follow up with a polite, brief e-mail. You can even follow up with a phone call. Restate your excitement about the opportunity, the date they shared with you, and that you are following up with a courtesy call. If you don’t hear back, follow up again a few days later, just don’t get defensive. Maintain your composure at all times! Keep your phone and e-mail messages short and positive.
Demonstrate Your Interest
Another legitimate reason to follow up is because you’ve heard positive news about the company. Set up an alert in Google for the company, and when a press release or article is published about it, Google will send it to your e-mail. If the information has to do with growth, an award, or any relevant subject of discussion, send it to your contact(s) with a short, positive note. This is very flattering, puts the focus on them, and shows your initiative.
Keep it Positive
You should always follow up confidently, consistently, politely, and with positive excitement. Remember, your personality is being evaluated as if every message or e-mail you leave is a post-interview. Leaving the safety of any of these virtues can backfire on you, so be careful! It is human nature to take job search “rejection” or “silence” personally—even though we all know it is not personal—and many times, it is simply due to the very benign reason that no one has followed up with you. Keep in mind that we cannot judge accurately what might be happening on the other end.
You will be much better prepared to deal with the wins and losses associated with your job search (that are an inevitable part of the process) if you come up with two or three job search strategies to secure your interviews. Do those things consistently each week, while being as objective as you can about the end game. After all, if you list a bike on Craigslist and 3,000 people see it, does that mean you are going to get 3,000 calls? You will (maybe) get a less-than-1% response. This is good to remember in a job search. Do the right things consistently—and keep your pipeline full of potential opportunities.
“So, where do you want to be in three to five years?”
This is one of those “trick” interview questions that answered wrong, could tank your candidacy rankings.
A general rule of thumb when interviewing is that you always want to answer trick questions with short answers. The reason is twofold:
- You don’t want to risk opening up a can of worms, rambling, getting nervous or defensive, etc.
- You want to minimize the time you spend answering tricky interview questions so that you can spend the majority of your time speaking to your strengths and aptitudes as they match what your interviewer is looking for!
So memorizing short answers to the top three or four of these questions is a very wise move. I consider this one to be at the top of the list.
It used to be that the seemingly correct answer to this question was:
“I want to have your job,” or “I want to sit where you are sitting!”
However, now that answer is viewed as too coarse and not politically correct.
Another pitfall to watch out for with this question is that you probably won’t know if your potential employer is interviewing you for a position that is prime for promotional opportunities, or if they want someone solid in the role for many years.
Rather than guess at what they are thinking, here is a completely safe (even fail-proof!) answer you can give:
“Well, I would expect to be advancing based on my job performance and taking on additional responsibilities.”
You can even add:
“And I would anticipate being appropriately compensated for it.”
You could also say:
“Since we are on the subject, can you tell me where you see the growth of this company/position in the next several years?”
Not only is this a great answer, but you can follow it up with a great question! You will look engaged, enthusiastic and interested in the company and the position – a triple threat!
Remember, employers will pay more for someone who markets themselves well. This includes both a well-designed and targeted resume, as well as in-job interviews. Why? Simply because that is who they end up wanting more!
Armed with this simple response, you will have successfully sidestepped a slippery trick question and taken a big step closer to a great offer!
Do you think selling yourself in a job interview is “selling out?”
I hear this from clients from time to time: “I hate the idea of marketing to prospective employers. I am just me. I shouldn’t have to ‘sell myself’ to get a job!”
I think the problem is that our definition of marketing conjures up feelings of going against our authentic selves. After all, if someone doesn’t like us for who we are, then the job probably isn’t suited for us anyway, right?
Let me offer another perspective on selling yourself to a potential employer: when you are able to communicate your strengths in a way that compels others, you are doing yourself and them a great favor. After all, you can’t help a company that doesn’t hire you.
To boost your “know, like and trust” factor in job interviews, it’s vital you know how to encourage potential employers to hire you in a way that’s ethical, full of integrity and authentically you.
The more you learn and understand how to truly “sell” yourself, the more you will attract the interest of employers, receive bigger and better job offers, and feel confident communicating the multiple ways you can help potential businesses get the results they want and that only you can deliver. Then everyone gets what they both need and desire.
Below are three tips use can use in your very next job interview.
Tip #1: At the beginning of the interview, ask what the potential employer is looking for in a star candidate.
As you casually jot down what they share with you, pay attention to those key words and phrases that match what you love to do the most. Let’s say for example you are a marketing manager who is an expert at product launches; they mention they just had a problem with their latest product launch and are looking for help there. Circle that challenge! You have just been given a BIG gift by your interviewer!
Tip:2 Dig by asking more questions about their challenge.
Utilize the gift you have just been given and ask more questions about their product launch challenge such as:
- Why do they think they were not successful with their product launch?
- Who has tried so far to fix the problem?
- What would it mean to them if the problem was fixed?
Tip #3: Seed the interview by frequently mentioning your value in terms of your product launch expertise.
If you are a marketing expert, you will frequently share the results of your marketing efforts throughout the interview.
Plus, you can mention plenty of stories that highlight results you have achieved. The best ones clearly paint a before and after picture (and the worse the better, so don’t hold back). Think of all the problems, challenges and dire situations with past product launches with previous companies that you have taken on and how great things are now that you have helped them.
BONUS TIP: Make THEM an offer they can’t resist.
The point is to create an “offer” that’s so irresistible, your interviewers think, “We have to hire this person!”
To do this, you need to offer something they believe they can’t get anywhere else. Be creative!
Continuing with the product launch example, you could offer to fix the problem within a certain time frame. Or, as part of your interview, come in for a couple hours and evaluate the product launch in more detail. Then you could offer some solutions (don’t give too much away when you do this though; they have to hire you for that!).
Here are some additional examples:
- One of my clients quickly received a robust offer because he promised to produce at least two potential solutions to a challenge the company was facing within 60 days.
- As part of her interview process, another client set up a 1/2 day, on-site observation of the potential employer’s media company. She then presented an outline of 10 ideas to improve their work environment and boost their ratings. They offered her a whopping 100K over what she had been making previously. All this, even after she was let go from that previous position. I love it.
You will benefit from shifting your thinking if you look at selling from the vantage point that you must be disingenuous, or that to “win” someone else must lose.
When you unburden yourself from these limiting beliefs, you will instantaneously feel more free to communicate to your interviewers how you can authentically help them. By doing so, you will be removing the obstacles (including money, time and your competition) that might otherwise stand between you and the job offer(s) you want.
Categorize this question under “trick questions,” because it is meant to tempt you to vent. Double that temptation if your last job was less than wonderful.
Often my new clients share with me that if they are asked this question during an interview, they will openly describe both the good and bad elements of their last company “in the name of honesty.” That’s a slippery slope.
Why You Shouldn’t Share Negative Information About a Previous Employer
You may be the most ethical, wonderful and pleasant professional ever, but unless you are personal friends with the interviewer, he or she has no way of knowing if your comments are “fair and balanced” or if you are a malcontent. Why risk the potentially negative exposure?
The general rule is to never say anything negative about your last job to your prospective employer. Certainly there is a time and a place for such discussions, but it’s generally not during a job interview.
Your job interview is your precious window of time that you won through your commitment to your job search goals. Use this time to focus on your future. A positive attitude and positive comments are extremely important in a job interview. I cannot stress this enough.
What You Can Say About Your Last Job And Keep It Positive
So what do you say when your interviewer asks you the question, “What didn’t you like about your last job?”
Here are some options:
- Letting people go. Sometimes it was necessary, but I dislike doing it.
Have you ever had to fire anyone? This is the best answer you could give. No one likes it (at least the majority of people don’t) and it’s a good benign answer. It’s also short and doesn’t open a can of worms. Also, it would be difficult to over-talk this answer.
- Reprimanding team members. Sometimes it’s necessary, but it’s not something I enjoy.
Never fired anyone? This is another great answer that keeps things clean and simple.
- My last job was actually a very positive experience. The only thing I didn’t like was the commute.
These answers are intended to help you breeze past this trick question, so you can invest your window of time on building the value of who you could be to your potential employer.