When, and How, to Explain Gaps in Your Resume

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Re-entering the job market after an extended absence can be a scary thing. They say that the best time to find a new job is while you are still currently employed, and there is a lot of truth to that – hiring managers tend toward applicants who have a current work history, and the longer that gap in your employment – the harder it can be to convince them you are still relevant and valuable, no matter what industry you are in.

So, yeah, filling out an application when you have a good chunk of time unaccounted for can be nerve wracking. But knowing when and how to address that elephant in the room can make all the difference in terms of your chances at landing that job.

 

On the Cover Letter

When your resume boasts a lot of experience, but also reveals a solid span of time where you were unemployed, one of the first things you may want to consider doing is changing up your resume format. Instead of using the standard chronological format, which will only further highlight the gaps in your employment, consider redrafting your resume in a functional format – highlighting your skills and abilities, as opposed to your job titles and dates of employment.

Even with a chronological format, you will still be listing those titles and dates on the resume – they are just typically reduced to bullet points at the bottom, allowing your skills and expertise to get the bulk of the attention. But if you have a gap of a year or longer, it’s likely a hiring manager will still notice. So in those cases, you will want to address the gap on your cover letter. Keep your explanation brief and gear the bulk of the cover letter to your capabilities, but add a sentence or two pertaining to your extended leave from the work force, ending on a note of excitement and preparedness to return.

 

In the Interview

If your leave was less than a year long, don’t address it on the cover letter. Utilize the functional resume format, use your cover letter to address what you have to offer, and trust that if the hiring manager does notice your gap in employment – they will choose to address it during the interview, rather than allowing it to be a complete deal breaker.

 

Be Prepared

They will bring it up, though, regardless of whether or not you have addressed your employment gap on your cover letter. So be prepared for that – the question about what you did with your time away from the workforce will come up. And how you answer that question will make a difference in whether or not you move on to the next level of potential hires.

 

Be Honest

Under no circumstances should you try to pretend as though your leave was something it wasn’t. If you spent 18 months traveling the world on an inheritance you received, or if you opted out of the workforce when you had children, out of a desire to stay home with them, be honest about that. Obviously, there are some details that don’t need to be shared (keep your stories about drunken beach nights to yourself), but don’t make up a story that you think sounds better, just because you are afraid of admitting the true reason you took time off. Interviewers appreciate honesty, and anyway – they will find out if you say you spent that time building houses in Costa Rica, when in reality, you were just riding out the last of your severance pay while watching talk shows on your couch. A positive spin is one thing, but a bold-faced lie will only hurt you in the end.

 

Be Confident

Own how you spent your time away from the workforce and don’t shy away from talking about it, but also be confident in what you have to offer now. Talk about how that time you spent taking care of your ailing parents taught you responsibitliy and loyalty, while also reminding you how ready you are to return to the workforce. Or explain what you learned about commitment while hiking some of the tallest peaks in the world. Know what you have to offer, and don’t be afraid to discuss it in relation to that time you took off. Because it is sometimes the road less traveled that leads to the best learning experiences, and you never know when you will come across a hiring manager who truly appreciates your unique perspective on life and business.

 

 

 

Recovering from a Downhill Job Interview

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I often tell people that job interviews are a lot like dating; you’re nervous, wanting to make a good first impression without really knowing what to expect. Some people are really good at dating, and job interviews, while others tend to struggle a bit more. It isn’t necessarily an indication of what they are capable of, so much as it is a sign of their nervousness. A nervousness that everyone has, though some seem to contain it better than others. Still, I don’t care who you are, everyone has had a bad date (and a bad interview) at least once in the past.

There can be so many contributing factors to a bad interview. It’s possible the interviewer is in a bad mood themselves, and not responding to you as positively as they otherwise might. Or perhaps you have a lot of outside stress going on, and are having a difficult time concentrating on the meeting at hand. It’s also possible that you struggle with communicating your thoughts effectively, and are sitting in that chair hearing yourself ramble on pointlessly, without feeling capable of stopping that flow of words. Whatever the reason, you are in the middle of an interview that you know you are tanking. What do you do?

Deep Breaths

Since one of the biggest factors in a downhill interview is often nerves, it’s important to try to take a step back and reel in that anxiety, if at all possible. Obviously, you can’t likely take a step out of the room and a walk around the block, but you can take a few deep breaths and mentally remind yourself to calm down. Practice a soothing mantra of some sort before any interview (perhaps something as simple as, “I am skilled. I am qualified. I would be great at this job.”) Should you start to feel those nerves peaking mid-interview, repeat that mantra in your head a few times as you breathe. Then, if all else fails, you can always picture the interviewer in their underwear. Just don’t tell them that’s what you’re doing – there may be no recovering from that!

Show Vulnerability

We’ve somehow got it in our heads that with both dating and job interviewing, we have to present the façade of perfection in order to be taken seriously. But the truth is, people tend to respond well to vulnerability, and there is something to be said for admitting to an interviewer that you are nervous and that you know you didn’t answer the last question (or the last series of questions) as well as you should have. Take that opportunity to clarify what you meant, and to explain why you are so nervous – perhaps because this really is your dream job, and you have heard so many positive things about this company, you just want a chance to prove yourself there. Don’t start wallowing in your seat, and avoid coming off as too self-deprecating, but don’t be afraid to be honest if your nerves really are getting the best of you.

Redirect the Conversation

Once you’ve acknowledged your missteps, work to redirect the conversation to what you are capable of and why you believe you would be a good fit for this job. Try to talk freely about what you have to offer and the ways you have contributed to positions you have held in the past. When the interviewer asks at the end if you have anything else to add (and they almost always will) use that opportunity to put in a solid sell for yourself. This is something you can, and should, practice before any interview – because knowing what to say in those final minutes can absolutely override any missteps you may have made earlier on.

Follow Up

Following up is always a good idea, but especially if you know you didn’t make the best first impression. A brief e-mail to follow up, and to possibly clarify anything you realize after the fact you may not have answered well in the interview, could go a long way to helping to change the interviewers impression of you. Particularly if you acknowledge you were nervous and say something along the lines of, “When you asked about ____, I know I responded vaguely, but if I hadn’t been so nervous, I would have told you that ____.” The key here is to keep it brief. No more than a few paragraphs, tops. Thank the interviewer for considering you, choose one major point to clarify, and then end on a note about how hopeful you are to prove yourself at some point in the future.

Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

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There you are, sitting across from a hiring manager after what seemed to you to be a good first interview. You’re feeling strong and confident, but then – they ask the question you hadn’t prepared yourself for. Even though you probably should have, because it tends to be asked at the end of every interview.

“Do you have any questions for us?”

When preparing for interviews, applicants almost always forget to prepare for this one – they are so caught up in how to best present themselves, that they overlook the power of having well thought out questions to ask at the end.

Now you’re in a panic. You know that asking a question is important. It shows your genuine interest in this position and in knowing more about it and the company, and it gives the interviewer insight into where your head is. But asking the wrong question can also be fatal – for instance, now is not the time to ask about what benefits accompany the job offer. That’s putting the cart before the horse!

So what should you ask?

 

How have previous employees been most successful in this position?

This question shows you care about being successful, and that you want to know what tools others have utilized in the past to achieve that success. How can you be the best fit for the position, is basically what you are asking. You are showing the interviewer your commitment to being a valuable addition to the company, and to thriving in the role you are interviewing for.

 

If this wasn’t an interview, and you were just talking to a friend, what would you say you find most rewarding about working for this corporation?

Hiring managers like to know that you aren’t just desperately looking for any job – you want to work for their corporation in this role! With high turnover rates, finding employees who are passionate about the company mission can save organizations a lot of money, and asking the interviewer what they personally find most rewarding shows that you care about finding that fit as well.

 

What would you most like to see the person in this position accomplish in their first 90 days?

This is such an important question, and one most interviewers and interviewees fail to address – what are the expectations of you in those first 90 days? What could you do to blow your supervisors out of the water, and where should your priorities be placed? Asking this question again shows the hiring manager that you care about being successful in this role, and also that you are open to paying attention to assigned priorities, so long as they are willing to guide you in those early stages.

 

How would you describe the corporate culture here?

This is another one that focuses on the fit within an organization. It shows you care not just about finding a job, but about finding the right job in the right organization. Hiring managers are starting to place a much bigger emphasis on corporate culture and making hires that fit within that culture. So asking this question shows that you understand the value of that.

 

Is there anything about my qualifications that you think might be lacking?

While it may seem counterintuitive to potentially bring up areas where you may be lacking, asking this question allows you to address any concerns the hiring manager may have head on. It shows you aren’t afraid of exposing your areas of improvement, and that you are willing to take criticism and provide solutions for those perceived gaps. Finding out about those hesitations in an interview is so much more beneficial than hearing about them when you are being told someone else was given the job – so give the interviewer the chance to express any concerns they may have now, so that you can have the opportunity to ease their worries before those worries count you out for the job.

 

Easy Ways to Impress at an Interview

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Every once in a while, I meet a job candidate who swears they love interviewing. Extreme introverts tend to fall into this camp. They love talking to people and feel confident in their ability to present themselves well, so the interview process isn’t a stressful one for them – it is actually fun and enjoyable.

For most people, though, there is at least some level of anxiety involved in interviewing for a job. Even for job seekers who are otherwise confident in their abilities, it can be scary to put yourself in front of a hiring manager for judgment and consideration. Especially when you really need that job.

Practice and preparation is key. The more you practice your interview skills, the better prepared you will be for any question that may come your way. But beyond that, there are a few things literally every single job seeker can do to improve their chances at an interview. These don’t require you to drastically change your personality or join Toastmasters to improve upon your public speaking – they just involve thinking ahead, and implementing a few simple tactics to garner the attention of the hiring manager in front of you.

Dress To Fit In

Everyone knows you should dress nicely for an interview, but what most people may not realize is that what constitutes as “nice” may vary from corporation to corporation. Finding candidates who can fit into the corporate culture is becoming more important to hiring managers every day, with a focus on building companies people actually want to work for and teams that are productive as a byproduct of their ability to work together.

So what does that mean for you, as the interviewee? Well, it means that taking some time to learn about that corporate culture could help you to pick out that interview day outfit.

Consider visiting the corporation prior to your interview and paying attention to how current employees are dressed on any given day. Do most of them seem pretty decked out, or are jeans and button downs more commonplace? Does this seem like a trendy company to work for, based on the attire of their employees, or do they appear to veer more towards the conservative in work apparel?

Once you’ve made your observations, you can begin to select your own interview outfit. Strive to dress a step or two above what you witnessed (avoid actually wearing jeans to an interview, even if that was all you saw anyone else in) without overreaching (wearing a three-piece suit to that casual office, for instance, would be overkill). You still want to look nice, and as though you have taken this interview seriously, but you don’t want to appear to be so stuffy that you wouldn’t actually fit in.

Show Up Early

It is always better to be early for an interview than late. So strive to show up 15 minutes ahead of your interview time, check in at the front desk, and then wait patiently where you are instructed. Consider bringing a book along with you – one that might spark a conversation with the interviewer, and that you can actually provide commentary on. People almost instinctively ask, “What are you reading,” when they begin interacting with someone who has a book in their hands. This opens the door for a true connection with the interviewer, as opposed to being caught staring at your phone when you are called back.

Know the Company

Spend some time researching the company, looking into recent press releases and innovative new programs they are launching. If you can bring these things up in an interview, and comment on why you see them to be so exciting and how they increase your desire to be a part of the company, you will be showing the interviewer that your passion and excitement is actually about this job – not just any job you can get.

Nailing an Interview Presentation

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It used to be you would apply for a job, get a call about an interview, and then know within a week or two if you landed it. The output wasn’t much on your part. You had to pick out the right clothes and put your best foot forward at the actual interview, but from there – you either had it or you didn’t. Today, the interview process can be much more extensive than that. There are rounds, and various people to meet. You might start with a phone screening, followed up by an in person interview with HR, then interviews with varying levels of leadership, all the way to the top. This entire process can take weeks, or months, and with an increasing rate of frequency (for executive leadership positions, especially), it also includes you making a presentation at some point. That’s right. A presentation for a job you don’t even have yet. But don’t look at this as a reason to freak out. The beauty of a interview presentation is that you have plenty of time to prepare, and if you use that prep time well – you can absolutely spin this into a way to shine.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Make sure you have all the details up front. Ask about the topic you will be presenting on, the preferred length of your presentation, and who you will be presenting to – supervisors you need to sell on an idea, or colleagues you need to explain a product to. These are details that could absolutely affect how you structure your presentation, and preparing yourself up front is the best way to ensure you create something that truly shines. Also be sure to ask what technology will be available to you during the presentation and if there are any further specifications the hiring team would like you to adhere to.

Stick to a Defined Structure

You may be a confident public speaker, but this is not one of those times when you should plan on winging it. Instead, create a presentation that has a defined flow, and then plan on sticking to that. Type out most of what you want to say as well. While you will want to avoid reading from notes the entire time, having it written from the start gives you plenty of time to practice and memorize – while also allowing you to ensure you are remaining within the time limits given by the hiring team.

Know Your Tools

PowerPoint is far from the only game in presentations nowadays, but it is important that no matter what program you choose – you know how to operate it and are confident you can shine within its confines. Still, don’t make the mistake of relying entirely on your presentation tools to do the work for you. Remember, they are just tools – you should remain the focal point. Make eye contact and strive to be engaging. Your audience should be paying far more attention to you than your slides.

Prepare for Follow Up Questions

Follow up questions are standard for most presentations anyway, but this is especially true for interview presentations – where you are being compared to other candidates in relation to a specific job opening. Don’t allow yourself to be thrown by these questions, and try to consider what may be asked ahead of time, so that you can prepare answers early on. The key is to know your content, though. As long as you take the time to truly research the topic you are presenting on, you should be prepared when it comes time for questions.

Practice and Then Practice Some More

The number one way to ensure you nail your interview presentation is to practice far beyond what you might think should be necessary. Use friends and family members as your guinea pigs, and rely on them to point out holes in your presentation. Practice in front of your mirror in the morning. Practice your “stage presence”, paying attention to how often you move and what you do with your hands at various points in the presentation. Utilize your tools again and again, and keep practicing until the entire thing seems like second nature to you. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be – and that will show on the day of your interview presentation!

Five Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job

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You found what seemed to be the perfect job. It was at the company you have dreamed of working for, a title that you were sure you were meant to hold, and offering a benefits package you were totally coveting. Everything this job was about, was what you have been looking for since the start of your career. So it really sucked to find out someone else got the gig. Look, rejection is brutal, no matter what form it comes in. But when you are literally sitting back and watching someone else sail away on your dream job, it hurts that much more. Which is exactly why it helps to figure out why you didn’t get the job this time – so that you can at least start making changes today that will hopefully give you a leg up the next time a perfect opportunity arises.

They Promoted From Within

More and more companies are starting to recognize the benefits of promoting from within, which is great if you already work for the company you see yourself still being at in 20 years. But if you are hoping to make a change, it can be a little harder to find your “in”. The good news is that if you were bypassed for an internal promotion, that isn’t really about you. There wasn’t much you could have done to change their minds – they likely had their candidate selected before ever posting the job. But the bad news is, if your sights really are set on this specific company – you may have to consider starting a few rungs down the ladder, getting your foot in the door and working your way up.

You Weren’t the Right Fit

Just because a job is your “dream job”, doesn’t mean you are the “dream candidate”. Companies tend to have very specific hiring criteria, and they make those criteria readily available to candidates. If you don’t possess the combination of experience and education they are looking for, you probably won’t get the job. Consider using that list as a starting point for improving upon your resume, though. Just because you weren’t the right fit this time, doesn’t mean you can’t position yourself to be next time.

The Background Check Hurt You

Is your Facebook page set to public, with pictures of you drinking, complaining about your job, and making less than PC remarks readily available for all to see? Did you lie on your resume about your education or work history? Do you have a long list of criminal infractions that are easy enough for anyone to find on the states criminal database? Sometimes, the background check really can hurt you. So lock your social media settings down, be cognizant of what you post, tell the truth on your resume and – address information up front that a recruiter is likely to find with a basic check.

You Blew Your Interview

Most people know when they screw up an interview, but if you’re the oblivious type – brushing up on your interview skills might be worth committing some time to. In general, you should always be researching the company and role before showing up for an interview. Arrive on time, don’t bash your previous job or boss and respond to questions in a confident and professional manner.

Another Candidate Had More to Offer You can’t win them all, and sometimes – there is just another candidate who has more to offer than you do. You may have had all the experience and education they were looking for, but someone else had more. Instead of taking that as a reason to pout and mourn the loss of your dream job, use it as motivation to continue improving upon what you have to offer. You may not have been the top candidate this time, but other opportunities will come around, and you want to be ready when they do!

Knowing When and Where to Apply

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Let’s be honest: job searches are stressful. Whether you are currently gainfully employed and just looking for a better opportunity, or have been out of work for months and are worried about how you will pay your bills, scouring help wanted ads and putting yourself out there for work is time consuming and anxiety inducing. Nobody really enjoys this part, but it has to be done if you are hoping to find yourself in a new role soon.

Still, there are ways to reduce some of that stress, starting with how you go about making your application decisions.

Quality vs. Quantity

One of the mistakes a lot of job seekers make is in thinking that they are better off applying for as many openings as possible. They convince themselves they are hedging their bets by throwing their hat in the ring for any and every opportunity that might potentially be something they could see themselves doing. The problem is that this approach often means losing a lot of quality in the application process. They are haphazardly sending copy and paste cover letters and failing to pay complete attention to the requirements of the job at hand.

Applying like this creates two problems. The first is that you waste your time applying and interviewing for jobs you may not actually want, and the second is that you send out subpar applications for jobs you might actually be perfect for. Instead of applying for every opportunity you come across, be discerning about where you send those applications to – focus on customizing your cover letter and resume to the jobs you are truly interested in, and on passing over the opportunities that probably wouldn’t make you happy in the long run.

Find Your “In”

Networking is forever important when it comes to working your way up the career ladder, but it is easy enough to argue that it serves its greatest purpose during a job search. Making and maintaining those connections with others in your industry can mean getting a heads up when new openings are around the corner and having an internal recommendation for position that might have a lot of competition.

Obviously, if you are currently employed, you want to be careful about who you let know that you are looking elsewhere. But good networking means knowing who your friends are and being able to find your “in” to corporations where you would really like to get your foot in the door. Even if you aren’t currently looking, you should always be trying to make those ties – because you never know when they could come in handy down the line.

Follow Instructions

Pay attention to job postings and to a company’s preferred method of applying. A lot of job seekers make the mistake of thinking that all they have to do to get an interview is turn in a really great resume and cover letter. In some cases, this is absolutely true. But if a job posting dictates filling out an application as well, you need to be sure you are doing so to completion. Don’t write “see resume” on every line or skip the application entirely, purely because you believe your resume covers all the questions asked. Follow a company’s protocol and show you have respect for their way of doing this by applying with their preferred method. This includes paying attention to deadlines and filling out those applications online when requested – many companies today like to maintain online databases of applicants for future job openings.

 

How to Blow an Interview in Three Words or Less

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Interviews are stressful. I get it. It feels like this small chunk of time in which you have to prove yourself, and that can be overwhelming for everyone. How do you sum up everything you are capable of into a 30-minute timeframe? How do you convince a hiring manager that you are the one they want, with your competition sitting right out in the lobby waiting for their chance to do the same?

You’re not alone in thinking that interviews are stressful. But the truth is, there is an art form to successful interviews – a reason why some people just seem universally better at interviewing than others. Yes, some of that has to do with their ability to keep their cool in stressful situations. But the rest comes from the knowledge that what they don’t say is just as important as what they do.

So in case you weren’t aware, here are the key phrases you should never utter in an interview.

 

I Don’t Know

The vast majority of the questions asked in an interview will have to do with you and your work history. So if you find yourself reaching for the phrase, “I don’t know,” in response to any of the questions you have been asked, pull back and reevaluate. Not all of us think quickly on our feet, and that’s fine. But if an interviewer is asking you to reference a time in your past when you helped your company solve a problem, for instance, ask for a moment to think – and then take that moment. Don’t default to “I don’t know” because you’re nervous and can’t think of something on the fly. Breathe, contemplate, and then respond with an answer that will truly impress them.

This also applies to questions about the company and job at hand. Do your research, and be ready and willing to prove you have done that research. If you’re answering “I don’t know” when asked about specific job duties pertinent to this opening, you’ve already talked yourself out of this position – and likely any others that might have one day had you sitting in front of this same hiring manager.

 

How Much?

“How much vacation time are you offering?” “How much money does this opening pay?” “How much does the company contribute to 401k’s?”

Whoa. Hold your horses. There is a time and place for questions of the “how much” variety, but during the interview? You should be focused on getting that job offer first – not on assuming it is already yours to accept or deny. When “how much” comes up in a job interview, there is an implicit arrogance that most hiring managers won’t respond well to. So take a step back and remember that they are interviewing you for this job, not the other way around.

 

I Really Hated…

Any time you catch yourself starting to complain about a previous job or supervisor, stop. Even if it feels relevant to the discussion. Remember that this employer doesn’t yet know you, and so if you are negatively reflecting upon past experiences, they will be inclined to at least consider the possibility that you were as much a contributing factor to that negativity as the employer you are complaining. Instead, find diplomatic ways to phrase your reasons behind leaving previous positions, and always turn the conversation back to what you have to offer this company, not what you found lacking in the past.

 

Sorry I’m Late

Sure, life happens. But when it comes to job interviews, you don’t ever want to start off by being the one late into the room. Plan your day around being at least 15 to 20 minutes early to the interview. You can always use that time to brush up on your notes about the company as you wait. This is one of those situations where a bad first impression is almost impossible to recover from, so just don’t put yourself in that position. Show up early and prove from the moment you walk into the door that landing this job is important to you.

Trust me, hiring managers are paying attention!

 

Is it Time to Get a Career Coach?

interviewcoachingLet’s say you have been looking for a job for a while; couch surfing at the homes of kind of supportive friends and family while you try to work towards your dream career. Or maybe you have a job, but it certainly isn’t the dream – so you’ve been wistfully looking elsewhere, without much luck or interest from employers in what you have to offer.

What are you doing wrong?

The reality is, you aren’t the only job seeker asking themselves this question. But what you might be lacking is that third party insight that could help to get you exactly where you want to be. Which is where a career coach comes in.

People are relying more and more on matchmakers and relationship coaches to help them find “the one” in terms of love – so why shouldn’t the same logic apply to finding that match in your career? If you have been searching to no avail, it might be time to enlist the help of a coach who can give you that extra boost you need.

The Attitude

Just as with dating, success in a job search has a lot to do with attitude. Your resume could speak volumes to what you have to offer, but if you lack the confidence to express that same level of expertise in your interviews – you will almost always be passed over for the job. Even when you might otherwise be a perfect fit.

The flip side of that, of course, is when applicants have a confidence that spills over into arrogance. No one wants to work with the person who thinks they are too good for any give job, either.

A career coach can help you to hone your attitude, and to exude the right level of confidence, without turning hiring managers off. They can aid in working through any job search anxiety you may have, as well as creating realistic expectations for the task at hand.

The Search

Plenty of job applicants make the mistake of applying to any and every opening they find. Particularly when a person has been out of work for a while, there is a desperation that takes over – and that has them sending the same exact cover letter and resume to each and every opening, because they are focused on quantity over quality.

A career coach will help you to better define what you are looking for, and to know where to look in order to find those opportunities. They will also help you to refine your resume and cover letter so that it is job specific, thereby increasing your chances of getting a foot in the door.

The Presentation

Which brings us to the presentation. Yes, making your resume career specific is absolutely important – but so is ensuring that your resume format best exemplifies what you have to offer. Career coaches will work with you to understand what hiring managers are looking for, and how to present yourself in a way that will be irresistible to recruiters. Then, they will guide you in your in-person presentation as well. Because it isn’t just about what you put on paper; but also about how you can back that information up in reality.

The Interview

An overwhelming majority of people suffer from anxiety surrounding public speaking and interview situations. You aren’t alone if the idea of sitting in front of a hiring manager and selling yourself makes you feel uneasy. But a good career coach will go over tools you can use to help dispel that anxiety, while also working with you on your interview skills until you feel confident in your ability to convince any hiring manager of your value.

So if you’ve been searching for a while, it might be time to consider a little extra help. While a career coach won’t ever be able to just hand you a job, they can provide the guidance you need to not only define what it is you want out of your dream career, but to also go out and get it for yourself!

 

Frequently Asked Interview Questions

shutterstock_89779570Interviews give hiring managers the opportunity to personally assess candidates, looking for the person who will be the best fit not only in the current opening, but also within the corporation. Usually lasting between 30 minutes to an hour, this brief window of time is your opportunity to sell yourself above and beyond what anyone could read about you on a single piece of paper. Most of the time, a successful interview comes down to your ability to remain calm and collected under pressure. Preparing yourself for some of the most common interview questions ahead of time can help you to do just that.

Tell Me About Yourself?

You can expect most interviews to start off with a generic question like this. The hiring manager wants to get a feel for who you are, and what better way is there to accomplish that, than to give you a few minutes to speak freely about your background and what you believe you have to offer. Avoid answering this question with anything too personal; your current relationship status and whether or not you have a baby on the way isn’t relevant to the job you are hoping to land. Instead, stick to topics your interviewer will find most pertinent, including your educational background and what piqued your interest the most about the opening you are now interviewing for.

What are Your Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses?

This is always a tough question to answer, because you don’t want to come off as arrogant, but you don’t want to undersell yourself either. Tailor your answer about strengths to the job, indirectly referencing back to a few key points you remember seeing on the job description as you talk about your assets in those areas. When it comes to your weakness, put a positive spin on whatever you mention. For instance, a good weakness might be that you are a bit of a perfectionist who occasionally puts too much pressure on yourself to get the details of a new project or presentation just right.

Why Are You Interested in Working Here?

Most interviewers want to know that you are interested in this job at this company, not just any job anywhere. If they don’t feel you would be passionate in this role, they won’t want to hire you out of fear that you will quickly move on to any better opportunity that presents itself. Use this question as your chance to assure the interviewer that you have done your research about both the company and the job, talking up aspects of each that you would be excited to take on.

Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

With this question, interviewers are trying to gauge not only your company loyalty, but also what kind of employee you would be if you came on board. Never make the mistake of talking poorly about your previous employer. Instead, mention the things you loved about your old job, before giving an honest yet positive reason for leaving. For instance, you may simply want to say that you had mastered your old position and found yourself ready to look for a new challenge. Speak glowingly about what you learned previously, even as you place an emphasis on where you hope to be in the future.

How Have You Handled Difficult Situations With Coworkers in the Past?

Show the interviewer that you are a team player when you answer this question. Speak about ways you have worked to build unity and meet on common ground with coworkers you otherwise may not have always seen eye to eye with. Avoid placing blame and instead talk about differing personalities and how you worked to come together.

Visit Resumes Australia to learn more about how we can help you with interview coaching. Alternatively, take advantage straight away of our services here.

Regards,

kylie hammond

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