Questions About You And Your Goals
Another crucial aspect of an interview? Getting to know a candidate. Thats why youll likely encounter questions about how you work, what youre looking for , and what your goals are. Its a good sign if your interviewers want to make sure youll be a good fitor addto the team. Use it as an opportunity!
Follow Up With A Thank You Note
Follow up a job interview with a thank-you note or email reiterating your interest in the job.
Consider your thank-you letter as a follow-up “sales” letter. Restate why you want the job, what your qualifications are, how you might make significant contributions, and so on.
This thank-you letter is also the perfect opportunity to discuss anything of importance that your interviewer neglected to ask or that you neglected to answer as thoroughly, or as well, as you would have liked. Good luck!
How Would You Describe Yourself
With this question, your interviewer wants to learn how your qualities and characteristics align with the skills they believe are required to succeed in the role. To answer this question, pick one to a few personal characteristics and elaborate on them with examples.
For example, if you are ambitious and driven you can say: I am an ambitious and driven individual. I thrive in a goal-oriented environment where I can constantly challenge myself personally and professionally. I am always looking for an opportunity to do better and grow. These characteristics have helped me achieve success in my career. For example, I was promoted three times in less than two years in my last position.
Read more: Interview Question: How Would You Describe Yourself?
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Practice Your Interviewing Skills
Many people practice for an interview by writing down answers to common interview questions.
While organizing your thoughts on paper is helpful, the best practice is done verbally, alone, with a friend, mentor, or career counselor.
You can schedule a practice interview with a career counselor to get feedback on your interview style, presentation, and body language. We also host a Practice Interview Program that allows you to practice and get feedback from a Columbia alum.
For independent practice in a virtual format, we recommend Big Interview, which you have access to for free through our office. You can practice answering interview questions by industry or job function, record yourself, and use their tool for self-assessment or share any video with a mentor for feedback.
Additional Resources for practicing interview questions
Make sure that you run through the following checklist a few days out from your interview:
Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job
There are many acceptable reasons for leaving a job. Prepare a thoughtful answer that will give your interviewer confidence that youre being deliberate about this job change. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your current or previous role, focus on the future and what you hope to gain in your next position. Consider the following when crafting your response:
1. Focus on your skills:”Ive been refining my project management skills with volunteer opportunities and side projects with other teams, and I received my PMP last quarter…”
2. Keep it positive:”…Im looking for an opportunity where I can put those abilities to work for a mission Im passionate about…
3. Relate it back to the job:…I was also excited to read in the job description that this role will require regular presentations to key stakeholdersone of my key motivators is the ability to connect with colleagues and communicate my teams work, so this is an especially exciting part of this opportunity…
4. Provide a recap:…Ultimately, Ive learned a lot in my current role, but Im looking for the next step where I can continue to grow and use the skills Ive honed to contribute to a company I love, and this opportunity seems to be the perfect fit.
Read more: Interview Question: Why Are You Looking for a Job?
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What To Bring To A Job Interview
It’s important to know what to bring to a job interview. Items to bring include a portfolio with extra copies of your resume, a list of references, a list of questions to ask the interviewer, and something to write on and with.
It’s also important to know what not to bring, including your cellphone , a cup of coffee, gum, or anything else beyond yourself and your credentials.
Wasting Time During An Interview Can Cost You More Money Than You Might Think Use This Guide To Improve Your Interviewing Technique And Avoid Making Hiring Mistakes
At first blush, the job interview can seem like a simple enough meeting to conduct: shake hands, make small talk, ask questions, and compare the candidates. But how do you keep from hiring someone whose best skill is coming off well in a job interview?
“There’s actually a lot of preparation that goes into a good professional interview,” says Janis Whitaker, the author of Interviewing by Example. “Most people can’t wing it off of the top of their heads.”
The cost of a bad hire is steep, and it’s not just the wasted salary that’s expensive. Severance payments, training time, potential customer problems, and recruiting a replacement are all items that you’d prefer to leave out of your budget. Many experts estimate that the cost of a bad hire exceeds the annual salary of a position.
To prevent your company from making an expensive hiring mistake, it’s important to have an intentional process for conducting interviews. Here’s how to formulate questions and develop a process that will give you the most information for selecting a new employee.
“It is important that everyone on the team is on the same page with what the objective is and what the job entails,” says Jim Sullivan, the president of an executive recruiting firm called Galaxy Management Group. ” a candidate will come in to interview with one person and then be asked completely different questions by the second person because the second person thinks the job is about something else completely.”
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Whats A Time You Disagreed With A Decision That Was Made At Work
The ideal anecdote here is one where you handled a disagreement professionally and learned something from the experience. Zhang recommends paying particular attention to how you start and end your response. To open, make a short statement to frame the rest of your answer, one that nods at the ultimate takeaway or the reason youre telling this story. For example: I learned early on in my professional career that its fine to disagree if you can back up your hunches with data. And to close strong, you can either give a one-sentence summary of your answer or talk briefly about how what you learned or gained from this experience would help you in the role youre interviewing for.
What Are Your Goals For The Future
Hiring managers often ask about your future goals to determine whether or not youre looking to stay with the company long-term. Additionally, this question is used to gauge your ambition, expectations for your career and ability to plan ahead. The best way to handle this question is to examine your current career trajectory and how this role helps you reach your long-term goals.
Example answer:I would like to continue developing my marketing expertise over the next several years. One of the reasons Im interested in working for a fast-growing startup company is that Ill have the ability to wear many hats and collaborate with many different departments. I believe this experience will serve me well in achieving my ultimate goal of someday leading a marketing department.
Read more: Interview Question: What Are Your Future Goals?
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Tell Me About Your Work Experience
An interviewer may or may not already be familiar with your background. Regardless, this question gives you the chance to detail your experiences that are most valuable to the prospective role. Employers want to know that youve reflected on their expectations for a qualified candidate and that you have directly relevant or transferable skills. Consider these tips for answering:
1. Quantify your experience:I have 10 years of experience in personal finance management, and I have assisted 45 repeat clients in increasing their capital by an average of 15% every year.
2. Illustrate connections to role:As a financial analyst, Ive used visual growth charts to show my clients how each saving plan option can impact their goals. When I became a senior financial analyst, I supervised other analysts and trained them in providing the most helpful experience to our customers.
3. End with a goal statement:”As your senior financial consultant, I aim to integrate my individualized approach to helping clients build the retirement fund they will depend on.
Read more: Interview Question: Tell Me About Your Work Experience
Prepare For The Interview
You don’t need to memorize an answer, but do take the time to consider how you’ll respond. The more you prepare, the more confident you’ll feel during a job interview.
When you’re not sure what to expect during an interview, also take time to review this refresher on how job interviews work, and these tips on how to prepare to ace your job interview.
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Don’t Be Too Familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer’s demeanor. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.
Practice Your Speaking Voice And Body Language
Its important to make a positive and lasting impression during the interview process. You can do this by practicing a confident, strong speaking voice and friendly, open body language. While these might come naturally to you, you might also want to spend time performing them with trusted friends or family or in front of a mirror. Pay special attention to your smile, handshake and stride.
To learn more about interview body language, consider the following resources:
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Are You Planning On Having Children
Questions about your family status, gender , nationality , religion, or age are illegalbut they still get asked . Of course, not always with ill intentthe interviewer might just be trying to make conversation and might not realize these are off-limitsbut you should definitely tie any questions about your personal life back to the job at hand. For this question, think: You know, Im not quite there yet. But I am very interested in the career paths at your company. Can you tell me more about that?
Tips For During The Interview
After youve spent time preparing, you can be successful on interview day by practicing these tips:
9. Plan your interview attire the night before. If youre speaking to a recruiter before the interview, you can ask them about the dress code in the workplace and choose your outfit accordingly. If you dont have someone to ask, research the company to learn whats appropriate.
10. Bring copies of your resume, a notebook and pen. Take at least five copies of your printed resume on clean paper in case of multiple interviewers. Highlight specific accomplishments on your copy that you can easily refer to and discuss. Bring a pen and a small notebook. Prepare to take notes, but not on your smartphone or another electronic device. Write information down so that you can refer to these details in your follow-up thank-you notes. Maintain eye contact as much as possible. For more, visit What to Bring to the Interview.
11. Plan your schedule so that you can arrive 1015 minutes early. Map out your route to the interview location so you can be sure to arrive on time. Consider doing a practice run. If youre taking public transportation, identify a backup plan if there are delays or closures.
Tip: When you arrive early, use the extra minutes to observe workplace dynamics.
18. Keep your answers concise and focused. Your time with each interviewer is limited so be mindful of rambling. Practicing your answers beforehand can help keep you focused.
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How To Research A Company
Look for companies that share your values.
Research employee benefits the company provides.
Learn about the companys business operations.
Research the companys leadership.
Expand your research to news and recent events.
Ask your network for opinions.
Scan the news headlines for red flags.
Set aside the time necessary to research properly.
Review related local news stories, forums and business journals.
Understand the type of company you want to work for.
Be strategic in how you share your research in an interview.
Expand Your Research To News And Recent Events
A companys website, blog, and social media are great ways to learn about a company, but youll also want to get an external perspective. Search for general news coverage and specific industry publications for recent updates about the company and its competitors. Scanning customer forums and product reviews can also help you gauge a companys or their products reputation.
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Have Your Job Materials Nearby
You should feel comfortable and ready to discuss your background and skills confidently during a phone conversation. Have a copy of your resume nearby, so that you can refer to it during the interview. Also have a copy of the job posting and a copy of your cover letter if you sent one.
Consider creating a draft email or a new Word or Google file with all of the relevant information. That way, you’ll have all the detailsnotes on the company, key points you want to emphasize during the interview, your cover letter, the job posting, and so onin one spot.
How Do You Plan To Achieve Your Career Goals
Having goals shows interviewers you care, are ambitious, and can think ahead. Having a plan for how youll achieve your goals demonstrates your self-motivation as well as organizational and time management skills. Finally, the fact that youve accomplished past goals youve set for yourself is proof of your ability to follow through. All together, these are indications that you can not only set and achieve goals of your own, but also help your prospective boss, team, and company do the same. To craft your answer, make sure you focus on one or two goals in detail, explain why the goals are meaningful, communicate what milestones are coming up, highlight past successes, and connect back to this job.
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What Do You Consider To Be Your Weaknesses
What your interviewer is really trying to do with this questionbeyond identifying any major red flagsis to gauge your self-awareness and honesty. So, I cant meet a deadline to save my life is not an optionbut neither is Nothing! Im perfect! Strike a balance by thinking of something that you struggle with but that youre working to improve. For example, maybe youve never been strong at public speaking, but youve recently volunteered to run meetings to help you get more comfortable when addressing a crowd.
Read More:4 Ways to Answer What Is Your Greatest Weakness? That Actually Sound Believable
Scan The News Headlines For Red Flags
Its a good idea to scan headlines for major changes in a companys recent past. Note any significant events, such as widespread layoffs, corporate mergers or buyouts, a new CEO, etc. Such changes can bring opportunities, but could also result in low employee morale and leave a volatile work environment in their wake. Proceed with caution.
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Research The Company And Show What You Know
Do your homework and research the employer and the industry, so you are ready for the interview question, “What do you know about this company?” If this question is not asked, you should try to demonstrate what you know about the company on your own.
You can do this by tying what youve learned about the company into your responses. For example, you might say:
I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well-versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.
You should be able to find out a lot of information about the companys history, mission and values, staff, culture, and recent successes on its website. If the company has a blog and a social media presence, they can be useful places to look, too.
How To Conduct An Effective Job Interview
The virtual stack of resumes in your inbox is winnowed and certain candidates have passed the phone screen. Next step: in-person interviews. How should you use the relatively brief time to get to know and assess a near stranger? How many people at your firm should be involved? How can you tell if a candidate will be a good fit? And finally, should you really ask questions like: Whats your greatest weakness?
What the Experts Say As the employment market improves and candidates have more options, hiring the right person for the job has become increasingly difficult. Pipelines are depleted and more companies are competing for top talent, says Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at global executive search firm Egon Zehnder and author of Its Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best. Applicants also have more information about each companys selection process than ever before. Career websites like Glassdoor have taken the mystique and mystery out of interviews, says John Sullivan, an HR expert, professor of management at San Francisco State University, and author of 1000 Ways to Recruit Top Talent. If your organizations interview process turns candidates off, they will roll their eyes and find other opportunities, he warns. Your job is to assess candidates but also to convince the best ones to stay. Heres how to make the interview process work for you and for them.
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