Asking the Right Questions During Job Interviews

A good way to demonstrate your interest in a job is to ask thought provoking questions during a job interview. Anyone can go in to a job interview, sit back, and just answer questions about themselves. However, it takes effort to be engaged and curious about a company. Taking the extra few minutes to come up some questions beforehand may pay off in the long run.

Here are a few primers to develop questions:

– Ask someone where they would like the company to be in five years. This could resonate more with small-business owners and start-up founders. They probably have a huge personal stake in their company and would love to talk about it.

– Look up some projects that the company worked on, if it’s applicable. Ask about how they tackled a certain story or handled an account. People like to talk about how they did things. Don’t  patronize by saying blanket statements like, “Your company is the leader in the industry.” Mentions specific examples of where the company excelled and ask about them.

– Don’t ask about salary, benefits or vacation. There is an appropriate time to ask about those issues, but the initial interview is not that time.

-“If the local paper were going to run a four-page article about your company’s culture, what would be impossible not to include?”  (I stole this one from The Ladders) I like this because it’s creative and it gives them a chance to highlight some unconventional aspects of the company.

– Ask about how people learn at the company. I learn best with a mentor or someone to help guide me. This could help you decide about the position later.

The key to asking good questions is to be specific and do your homework. Do not go into an interview empty handed.


Creative vs. Conventional Ways to Impress Potential Employers

How do you make yourself stand out when you’re searching for a job? It’s a question I’ve discussed a lot here. Jacquelyn Smith from blogged about when to gamble with trying to impress an employer and when to rely on the fundamentals.

OfficeTeam, a global staffing firm, recently did a survey of HR managers to find out what impressed them the most during job interviews.

The best creative ways job applicants have stood out:

  • “An applicant walked in with coffee and donuts, and her resume underneath.”
  • “I’ve had someone outline what he planned to do for the company in his first six months.”
  • “One job seeker sent a handmade get well card when she heard the hiring manager was under the weather.”
  • “We had a candidate who contacted our board of directors to try to make his case for being hired.”

Robert Hosking, the executive director of Office team, warned against trying anything big without doing your homework first,”Applicants who decide to use creative job hunting strategies should learn as much as possible about the company and the hiring manager in advance to make sure the approach fits. Anything that could potentially offend or disconcert a potential employer, or disrupt the office, is not a good idea.”

And here are some solid, conventional ways applicants have impressed:

  • “One applicant explained what he knew about our company. I was very impressed with his knowledge and research.”
  • “I had a follow-up email from a candidate immediately after our meeting.”
  • “I liked the way one job seeker explained his skills in a way that correlated directly to what we needed for the position.”
  • “A candidate gave me a thank-you note right after the interview.”
  • “One woman didn’t just recite her skills — she provided many examples of her work.”

Check out more of the answers over at Smith’s blog.



Working for the Weekend: 10/19

Job searching is tough. Cranking out cover letters, waiting for email responses, and meticulously tweaking the words in your resume can leave you burned out. Adding that on top of the daily tsunami of dismal economic news can make your job search feel like you are scaling Mt. Everest.

Well, relax a bit. It’s Friday.

-PR people take note. Red Bull just got a huge boost from Felix Baumgartner’s free fall.

-How not to do a job interview:

– From Reddit user Nipse79: “So they installed a new coffee machine at work and before anyone could use it, I placed this sign on it…best three hours of my life…”

– LinkedIn just launched their Thought Leader program, which aggregates blog posts/information from top professionals around the world. Think of it as a Twitter feed for your professional career.

Enjoy the weekend.

Monday Morning Coffee: Interviews

We’ve all been interviewed before. Make sure you to put your best foot forward when you go in for a job interview. (Seriously, don’t wear your Chucks.)

Here are some good things to know before you head in to the interview: (Click on the picture to make it larger.)

Via Mashable

I think the biggest thing to take away from here is to do your homework. I like to think that I can wing it before I head in to an interview, but it’s a big gamble when you are looking for jobs. (And we can’t all be Will Smith.) Take a few extra minutes to poke around the company website and familiarize yourself with company’s mission and brand. It will pay off.

Also, practice the answers to the basic things that you will be asked about.

These include things like, “Tell me a little bit about your self.”

“Why do you want to work here?”

“What can you bring to this company?”

These sound like simple answers, but a lot of people tend to stumble over their words to these seemingly basic things.

Know what the company is about and know what you can bring to the company. It will pay off during your interview.