Mastering Difficult Interview Questions
Youll also want to practice responding to some of the trickier behavioral questions, such as: What would you do if you made a mistake and had to start a project over from scratch? Theres no one right way to answer these questions but think about what the employer could be looking for in a response. Theyre likely screening for someone who will stay cool under pressure with integrity, honesty and a strong work ethic.
If youve experienced a similar situation that you handled well, be sure to weave in the example while showing how you would take ownership of the mistake and do whats needed to complete the project on time without sacrificing quality. A great approach to mastering these questions is to practice the STAR behavioral interview technique.
Finally, if the interview calls for it, prepare to bring or virtually show examples of your work to supplement your answers . If the interview is in person, bring your physical portfolio along with a USB flash drive to share. If youre a writer, bring individual writing samples that might be relevant to leave behind. You can also email additional examples of work that pertain to questions that came up as a follow-up after the interview.
What Not To Put On Your Resume
Dont title your resume resume. The hiring manager should know what it is just by looking at it. If they dont, then its not a resume and you should re-read this article.
Dont fluff your sentences with unnecessary words. Remember, short and sweet.
Dont include salary requirements or information. For more info on how to discuss your salary and when and how to bring it up, check out our blog on When to bring up Salary.
Dont list why you left your last job or jobsand on that same topic, dont trash former employersever
Dont include personal information beyond your name and contact. They dont need your age, race, marital status, sexual orientation or hobbies.
Dont include a photo of yourself. Unless youre an actor and applying for a roleotherwise, its just creepy.
Dont get sloppy. Double-check for errors. Then check again.
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.
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Practice The Job Interview Using Your Resume
The main thing you want to avoid is being caught out and having to rack your brains for job interview answers. Review typical job interview questions and spend time practicing answering them. Follow our top job interview tips to make sure you are fully prepared.
Think about how to answer job interview questions about your resume and focus on your strengths. It is important to practice actually speaking your answers too. This will help you to give more concise answers in the actual interview and it will give you confidence.
Ask someone you know to give you a mock job interview using your resume and the list of questions you have prepared. If it is a phone interview, do it over the phone or if it is a video interview, do it via Zoom or Google Hangouts to practice.
How To Put References On A Resume
You can either include them in your resume or attach them to your job application as a separate document.
In any case, you should decide how many references you want to add first. This is dependent on your level of experience.
Never say never. The hiring manager may contact only one or two of your references, or all of them. Make sure they have a lot of options in case one of them is unavailable.
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Practice Answering Interview Questions
To prepare for an interview, it is great to go over common questions in advance. This can help you come up with answers and identify which questions make you nervous and why. In turn, you can cut the nervousness and prepare the best answers. Apart from this, you will avoid being caught off guard with hard questions. Also, it is great to think of stories that show off your best qualities and skills. Here are a few examples of common interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Are you interviewing with any other companies?
Paper Resumes Are Still Important
Of course, in today’s age, hiring managers often visit LinkedIn profiles to skim through an applicant’s experience and presentation. Most hiring managers however do still rely on having a paper resume to provide them with a more curated and in-depth summary of one’s career.
A great resume is only a foot in the door, of course. and actual talent are paramount to landing the job of your dreams.
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The Dos And Donts Of Resume Writing
A great resume is the written equivalent of the perfect elevator pitch. On a single page that can be scanned in seconds, it tells a busy hiring manager enough about your skills and experience to make them confident youre worth interviewing.
If that makes resume writing sound important, thats because it is important. Itis your most valuable marketing document in your job search and the go-to reference for your career.
The craft of resume writing is evolving. Your great resume from 2019, or even 2020, may be showing its age and not just because of the promotions you received in the intervening years. The pandemic experience caused many companies to reevaluate what they look for in candidates and employees. Present-day hiring managers may be more interested in the remote working skills you sharpened during the past two years than the college degree you acquired way back when.
Whether youre writing a resumefrom scratch or updating an oldone, follow these dos and donts to make yours sparkle.
Listen And Ask Questions
During a job interview, listening is just as important as answering questions. If you’re not paying attention, you’re not going to be able to give a good response.
It’s important to listen to the interviewer, pay attention, and take time, if you need it, to compose an appropriate answer. It’s also important to discuss your qualifications in a way that will impress the interviewer.
Also, be ready to engage the interviewer. You want there to be a give and take in the conversation, so you’re building a relationship with the interviewer rather than just providing rote responses to questions. Have questions of your own ready to ask the interviewer.
Toward the end of the interview, let the recruiter know that you believe the job is an excellent fit and that you are highly interested.
You’ll know if the interview went well if it runs longer than 30 minutes, you discuss salary, or you get an invitation to a second interview.
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Ask The Right Questions
Many employers would give you the chance to ask questions about the company and the position. It is a good idea to prepare these questions in advance so that the interviewers get the impression that you have taken the time to research the company and are also aware of what the position entails. Some questions that you could ask include:
What qualities do your most successful employees have?
What are the steps in your hiring process?
What type of in-house training programs do you offer?
How To List Skills In Your Resume
When mentioning skills in your resume, there are 3 essential steps to follow:
Step #1 – List Hard Skills with Experience Levels. For each hard skill you list, you want to mention your proficiency level:
As a rule of thumb, you can divide them by:
Beginner – You have some experience with the skill, whether its from some entry-level practice or classroom education.
Intermediate – Youve used the skill in a work environment with a good level of understanding.
Advanced – Youre the go-to person for the skill in your office. You can coach other employees, and understand the skill on a high level.
Expert – Youve applied this skill in more than a handful of different projects & organizations. Youre the go-to person for advice about the skill, not just in your office, but even amongst some of the best professionals in your field.
Make sure to NEVER lie about your skill levels. Otherwise, its going to be pretty awkward both for you and your employer.
Imagine your first task at work as an Illustrator – to create a graphic vector to go nicely with an article. If you end up delivering a hastily drawn stick figure colored with a paint bucket tool in Microsoft Paint, youll be out of the job before your probation period ends.
Step #2 – Tailor Your Skills to the Job. You might have some super rare, awesome skills, but theyre not always going to be useful. For example, its awesome that you know accounting, but would you really need it at your new job as a line cook? Exactly!
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Why Are You Interested In This Position
Interviewers typically want to be sure that you applied for this job because youre genuinely interested in it. Avoid voicing concerns about your current position or companynegative comments about your employer are often interpreted as unprofessional. A good answer will positively frame your transition and communicate your desire to grow in the role youre interviewing for.
Research the role and company ahead of time to understand how it relates to your background. Ask yourself questions such as, How will this position help me advance in my career?, How does the position align with my future goals? and What makes me a good fit for this company or role?
Example answer:While I highly valued my time at my previous company, there are no longer opportunities for growth that align with my career goals. This position fits perfectly with my skill set and how Im looking to grow in my career. Im also looking for a position at a company like yours that supports underserved communities, which is a personal passion of mine.
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!
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Create An Original Resume Template
While it’s helpful to refer to a professional resume template, don’t follow it rigidly, said Claire Bissot, SPHR and managing director of CBIZ HR Services. Employers appreciate originality.
“I often pass over resumes that match Microsoft Office templates,” Bissot said. “The templates are meant to be a guide to get started, but it should be expanded on to make it your own.”
Format your resume in ways that make you look good. For instance, Bissot recommended, if you advanced in a company quickly, draw attention to that growth if you excessively job-hopped, bullet those jobs without providing specifics, and detail more applicable positions. This will play to your assets.
When structuring your resume, make sure the information is presented in a logical order, said Veronica Yao, a former recruiter and current marketing and community manager at #movethedial. “A hiring manager read your resume starting at the top and ending at the bottom. However, if they don’t finish reading the whole thing and they often don’t you still want to ensure your strongest points come across.”
Prepare Questions For The Interviewer
Think of the job interview as a conversation rather than an interrogation. After all, it is crucial to make sure the job suits your needs before accepting it. Thus, to prepare for an interview, have your questions ready. This can help you decide whether the job is right for you. Besides, it can also make you seem more interested in the position. Here are a few examples of common interview questions:
- What tasks does a typical day/week consist of in this position?
- What skills are most needed in this position?
- Who will I be reporting to?
- What are the current priorities to focus on in this position?
- What is the timeline for the hiring process?
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Ask Intelligent Or Provocative Questions At The End Of The Interview
It is important to conduct meticulous research about the recruiter, the business, and credentials before attending the job interview. Every interview session ends with the interviewer asking if the interviewee has any questions. Preparing answers that depict your superlative analysis or intelligence can help you create a positive impact on the interviewer during this phase. Avoid controversial or confrontational interrogations and ensure that your questions are not naïve or baseless when responding.
Pair Your First Job Resume With A Complementary Cover Letter
If youre writing a resume for your first job, youre likely writing a cover letter for your first job too. Knowing how to write a cover letter is even more important for you than experienced job seekers, because it gives you a chance to really pitch your application on grounds other than work experience.
To complement your first-job resume, use your cover letter to showcase your passion for the position. Explain how your skills, certifications, and relevant life experiences make you the perfect fit for the role.
Ideally, your cover letter will present you as a hardworking, loyal, and personable employee, justifying the investment the company made in hiring you.
Creating a good cover letter is straightforward:
- pick a professional cover letter template
- address the hiring manager by name
- explain why youre passionate about the role
- include at least two body paragraphs that show how your experience makes you the right person for the job
- conclude by repeating your contact information and requesting an interview
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Prepare For Your Job Interview Using Your Resume
You have spent time writing a winning resume and applying for jobs, now it is time for the final stage, the job interview. They can be nerve-wracking and there are many traps that candidates fall into during the process.
However, correctly preparing for a job interview can significantly improve your chances of success. If you can anticipate which questions will be asked, you will not be caught out by surprise questions and be able to give considered answers.
It is vital to understand the importance of the resume in the interview. Knowing how to prepare for your first job interview by using the job description and your professional resume, can improve your performance in the interview.
By this stage you should have already produced an attractive, professional-looking resume. If not, use a resume builder to make sure it is up-to-scratch.
Think Beyond Your Job Duties
Hiring managers don’t want to read a list of your job duties. They want concrete examples of your accomplishments in previous positions that show how you can make a difference in this new position. Rangel noted that specific merits are more engaging to read than just your experiences. For example, “I reduced operating expenses by 23% in six months” is far more interesting to an employer than “I have 30 years of sales experience,” she said.
When deciding what information to keep or cut out of your resume, focus on striking abstract traits and qualifications in favor of concrete, quantifiable results.
“The best resumes highlight a job candidate’s actions and results,” said Bob Myhal, director of digital marketing at CBC Automotive Marketing. “Employers want employees who get things done, and who take great joy and pride in what they do. Rather than a laundry list of your qualifications, your resume should reflect your accomplishments and enthusiasm for your career.”
You shouldn’t ignore your skills section either. Sade reminded job seekers to list any industry-relevant apps or programs they’re familiar with, and find ways to incorporate examples of their soft skills into their job descriptions.
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Common Interview Questions And How To Answer Them
- What is your greatest strength/weakness?
- How do you manage multiple projects or demands?
- Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.
- How do you evaluate success?
- Describe a time when you had to take initiative.
- Why are you interested in this position and/or organization?
- What are your short and long term goals?
Always be honest in your interview. Dont inflate your previous experiences, but dont discount them, either.
Give examples whenever you can.
Think about how you might answer some of these questions ahead of time. Its good to have some stories ready to go. For example, if asked about your problem-solving ability, you might know ahead of time that you want to talk about the time you were studying abroad, didnt speak the language well, and got lostyet still managed to find your way back to your apartment.
Use the STAR method to answer behavioral interview questions or questions that ask you about how you behaved in previous experiences. When formulating your answer, describe: