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Via The Cut : How to Prepare for an Interview – The Ultimate Guide

As someone who writes about work and interviewing, I hear regularly from people who say the quality of their job interviews — and their success rate — soared after they changed the way they were preparing for them. In fact, I’m convinced that the best thing you can do ahead of a job interview is to prepare for it about twice as much as you think you might need to.

Here’s your ultimate guide on how to prepare for an interview — so that you’ll walk in confident and be able to give thoughtful, compelling answers to your interviewer’s questions.

1. Before your interview, spend some real time on the employer’s website.

Read about them, their clients, and their products or services. Your goal here isn’t just to learn about what they do but, crucially, to learn about how they see themselves. In reality, there might not be a ton on their website that distinguishes their work from other employers in their field. But you’ll probably get a sense of what they hope makes them different from their competition (whether or not it really does).

That’s useful to know, because if that understanding is reflected in your conversation in the interview, you’ll come across as if you “get” them — and that’s appealing to an interviewer. Plus, the more you understand about the context they work in, the better you’ll be able to tailor your answers in a way that will be relevant to them.

2. Dig into the job description.

Spend some time going through the job posting line by line and thinking about how your experience and skills equip you to excel at the job. In particular, for each responsibility or qualification listed, try to come up with concrete examples from your past that you can point to as supporting evidence that you’d be great at the job — such as times that you faced similar challenges and how you tackled them, and particular successes you’ve had that you can tie back to what it will take to succeed in this role. Try to come up with at least four or five concrete examples or stories from your past work that you can use to paint a picture of how you operate, what you’ve achieved, and why you’re great at what you do.

3. Write down the questions you’re likely to be asked, and practice saying your answers out loud.

It’s a decent bet that you’ll be asked questions like: Why are you thinking about leaving your current job? What interests you about this opening? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What experience do you have doing _____ (fill in with major responsibilities of the job)? You can find other common job interview questions here, along with suggestions for how to answer them.

Once you have your list of the questions you think you’re likely to be asked, figure out how you’ll answer each of them. And I don’t mean just get a vague idea or some bullet points you want to hit. I mean come up with your complete answer to each and practice saying those answers out loud. You might feel ridiculous doing that, but there’s something about this process that lodges those answers in your brain in a way that will make them much more easily retrievable when you’re sitting in the interview. Doing this kind of reflection and practice ahead of time should make a significant difference in how polished and confident you appear when you’re talking to your interviewer — as well as to the substance of your answers, because you won’t be coming up with language and framing on the fly.

4. Figure out what you’re most nervous about being asked.

Sometimes when people dread having a particular topic arise in an interview (for example, a past firing or even what salary they’re seeking), they don’t prepare a polished answer and instead just hope it won’t come up.

That, of course, leaves them floundering for a strong answer if the subject does come up — and makes it more likely that the conversation won’t go well. Instead, assume that whatever you’re dreading will indeed be asked, and create a plan for how you’ll handle it. Then practice your answer out loud over and over again, word for word, until you’re comfortable with it. (And in case you’re dreading talking about a past firing or other reasons for leaving a previous job, here’s some advice on how to do it.)

5. Come up with questions of your own to ask.

Toward the end of the interview, your interviewer will probably ask what questions you have for her. Contrary to popular belief, you should not see this time primarily as an additional opportunity to impress your interviewer.

While it’s smart to think about how your questions might reflect on you, this is your time to get the information you need to figure out if this is a job you want and would be good at. So think about what you really want to know when you imagine going to work at this job every day for the next several years.

Examples of questions you might ask: What are the biggest challenges the person in this position will face? Can you describe a typical day or week in the position? What would a successful first year in the position look like? How will the success of the person in this position be measured?

It’s okay to write your questions down and take them with you. It’s very normal for job candidates to pull out a sheet of paper with the questions they want to remember to ask, so don’t worry about memorizing them.

6. Get yourself into the right state of mind.

If you get nervous before interviews, it can help to remember that the employer almost certainly thinks you’re qualified, or at least that you’re very likely to be qualified! They wouldn’t be interviewing you if they hadn’t already determined that you’re at least plausible for the job.

It can also help to remember that no one gives a perfect interview. The other candidates interviewing for the job aren’t giving flawless interviews, and you don’t need to strive for that either. Your goal is just to give a good interview that shows why you’d excel at the job and what you’d be like to work with day to day.

It can even help to approach the interview as if you were a consultant. If you were a consultant meeting with a prospective client, you’d explain your expertise, learn about the work that needs to be done, and talk about how you’d tackle it — and you’d be talking as a potential business partner, not as a nervous job candidate waiting for the interviewer to pass judgment on you. The more you can think of an interview like that — as a collaborative business meeting where you and your interviewer are both trying to figure out if it makes sense to work together — the better your interview will probably go (and the less nervous you’ll probably feel).

And if you really get nervous in interviews, try pretending that you already know you’re not going to get the job (because it’s already been promised to the boss’s nephew or whatever other story you dream up). Sometimes lowering the stakes can lower your nerves and help you give a better interview.

Via Entrepreneur : Must-Know Job Interview Tips for 2018 and Beyond

Ditch your resume objectives, take a personality quiz and more advice for interviewing this year.

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” “Make eye contact.” “Practice a firm handshake.”

When it comes to job interview advice, it often seems there’s nothing new under the sun. But although the classic advice will never go out of style, trends are constantly changing — and whether they stem from new technology or generational norms, they’re undoubtedly influencing the interview process across the board.

Hopeful hires are picking up on that. If a cornerstone interview is looming on your calendar, you may be wondering: “Are resume objectives ‘over’?” “What sort of background should I choose for my video interview?” “Does a physical thank-you note look too desperate?”

Never fear: We talked to career coaches, branding experts and human resources professionals about the newest job interview musts for 2018. Here’s what you should know before you go.

Cut out overused resume buzzwords.

In January, LinkedIn released its annual list of the top 10 most overused “buzzwords” from the past year and — surprise — they’re all terms you’d be smart to avoid on your resume. By their very nature, buzzwords are often used as vague replacements for more specific, actionable language. Let’s just say if you’re describing yourself as a skilled, experienced leader who’s motivated and passionate about specialized creative strategies and focused leadership, you should start from scratch.

“When everyone is using the same words, they lose meaning,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success.

Wendi Weiner, president-elect of the National Resume Writers’ Association, says another resume fail is the word “responsible” or “responsibility.” “That’s like the death note of a resume,” she says.

Instead, focus on powerful action verbs that point out concrete details — describe exactly what you’ve accomplished and how you did it. Opt for five or six results-focused bullet points per job that denote projects you led, deals you procured, transactions you worked on or performance metrics.

The same advice applies to your LinkedIn profile, which is arguably just as important as a resume. Having a profile on the professional networking site became vital around 2015 or 2016, Weiner says.

Ditch resume objectives in favor of soft skills or a professional summary.

The top third of your resume is prime real estate, so it’s important to think critically about what deserves that spot. If you’ve got a list of “old-school” objectives at the top, consider replacing them with something more modern. “Objectives are tired,” says Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO of consulting firm uniquelyHR.

One option for top billing: “soft skills” such as collaboration, managing managers, high EQ (emotional intelligence) and more. In fact, almost six in 10 recruiters and hiring managers said soft skills assessments are one of the most useful interviewing innovations, according to a 2018 LinkedIn report.

Another option for the top third of your resume: Start with a professional summary, essentially a “road map to your career path,” Weiner says. It allows hiring managers to get a sense of who you are right off the bat, akin to reading the back of a book before deciding to buy it.

Watch yourself in the waiting room.

A job interview starts the moment you walk into the building, and it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re checking in with the receptionist, riding in the elevator or waiting in the lobby. Avoid being on your phone if you can, Schawbel says. It’ll set you apart from other interviewees this year. Instead, take in your surroundings, make conversation with the other people in the room or look at handwritten notes.

Something else to keep in mind: Be kind, as in any case, to absolutely everyone. You never know if the person answering phones in the reception area is one of the people you’ll soon be sitting across from in the interview.

Practice a fresh answer to the age-old “weakness” question.

“What are your weaknesses?” It’s a classic interview query that’s instilled its fair share of anxiety in employee hopefuls. What’s new here is the answer you should give. There are a host of overused, eye-roll-inducing responses — “I’m a perfectionist,” “I work too hard” — but in this case, honesty — albeit a positive, confident kind of honesty — really is the best policy. Talk about a weakness that you’ve taken concrete steps to improve, and focus more on what you’ve done to better yourself. Your answer should be a testament to your ability to communicate your flaws and turn them into something positive.

Position yourself as someone capable of handling tough situations and improving beyond them, Schawbel says.

Take a personality quiz.

Companies are becoming more and more interested in personality types as they relate to the workplace, says Nellie Morris, co-founder of Purpose Generation, a millennial insights and strategy firm. Take a few minutes to go through one of the more popular assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator, and see where you fall (you can take a free version here). Think about how your results point to the types of workplaces you thrive in or how well you work with teams. Morris says she now sees personality type brought up relatively often in job interviews for industries including management consulting and banking.

Practice interviewing via video chat.

Video interviews have become commonplace over the past few years — in 2018, hiring managers may opt to schedule a video interview due to a remote candidate, a company executive working out of a different office or even to simplify scheduling. It’s important to dress the part even though you’re not entering the office, maintain eye contact just as you would in person and stay completely present. Some video interviews aren’t live and instead request that candidates answer pre-recorded questions that will later be sent to the hiring manager. In this case, it’s important to “practice your pitch and poise out loud to prepare yourself” beforehand, says Jenn DeWall, a Denver-based career coach for millennials. You can even use a friend as a stand-in to practice via Skype or FaceTime.

Plan out your thank-you note.

Should you send your thank-you note via email, a physical card or both? The answer isn’t black and white even in 2018. Experts say an email thank-you note is definitely a must, and we check our email many more times a day than snail mail.

“It gets there faster, and you want to convey interest quickly,” says April Klimkiewicz, owner of career guidance service Bliss Evolution. But you also take the company culture — and the person interviewing you — into account. If it’s a more traditional company, or your interviewer displays personal pictures and inspirational quotes in their office, you could consider going the extra mile with a handwritten thank-you note.

And if you’re worried a handwritten thank-you note would come across as strange or overbearing, think again, suggests new research published in Psychological Science. In the experiments, people who wrote letters of gratitude overestimated how awkward recipients would feel and underestimated the positive impact of the note.

“If everyone’s sending an email and you send a physical note,” Schawbel says, “you’ll stand out.”

Via Quartz : Job interview tips for introverts

While many people find interviews stressful, the process can be an introvert’s worst nightmare: Discussing personal achievements, making small talk, and being put on the spot are all things that many introverts would rather avoid.

As both a college counselor and CEO, I have encountered students and employees with all personality types. Introversion is only a disadvantage if a job applicant attempts to hide this quality instead of embracing it.

For example, people with shy personalities might also be detail-oriented, thoughtful, and great listeners, all of which can be extremely valuable professional qualities. They’ll fare better in an interview by highlighting their strengths than by pretending to be a social butterfly.

If you are an introvert, or if self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to you, it might be particularly hard to answer questions about personal strengths and achievements on the fly. It’s best to go into a job interview with an idea of the points you want to emphasize. Take time to reflect on prior experiences and write out a list of projects you excelled at, technical abilities you acquired, and soft skills you possess. Review your list shortly before an interview for a confidence boost and to help answer questions regarding experience and personal strengths.

In order to avoid curveballs that will put you on the spot throughout the application process, research the company you are interviewing for inside and out. This means going beyond the website and looking at social media accounts, recent media placements and press releases, and review sites such as Glassdoor. Ask a hiring manager who you will be speaking with and get a sense of each person’s background and role within the company. Write out a list of questions you wish to ask each team member and practice responses to common interview discussions regarding strengths and weaknesses, your interest in the organization, and your long-term and short-term goals.

Also consider how you will handle being caught off-guard, which can happen to even the most prepared candidates. Most introverts prefer time to think and reflect before formulating a response to challenging questions. If you are asked something you were not anticipating, don’t be afraid to pause for a moment before answering. Generally, hiring managers who ask difficult or unexpected questions do so to gauge how a candidate approaches a challenge. Instead of trying to change who you are by responding immediately, use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your critical thinking skills. Introverts are often strong listeners and creative problem solvers, so take in every word and give yourself a minute or two to formulate a thoughtful response. A nuanced answer that highlights your ability to think critically is far more impressive than replying quickly, but with generic ideas.

While staying true to your personality is critical, so is making a promising impression. Wear something you feel confident in and check out a company’s social media channels in advanced in order to gauge an office’s dress code. If someone you are speaking with asks you about the weather or what you like to do on weekends, avoid one-word answers. Mentioning hobbies and interests can help hiring managers get a sense of who you are outside of the office and how you will fit into a team.

Most importantly, convey your interest in the position you are applying for and the organization as a whole. At the end of the day, the best candidates aren’t the funniest or most outgoing but rather those with a palpable passion and sense of purpose. Lead with your knowledge of the company, professional strengths, and career ambitions, and forget about trying to be the most charming person in the room.

Via Forbes : Why You Need To Begin Interview Questions With The Words ‘Could You’

A lot of commonly used behavioral interview questions begin with the phrase “Tell me about a time…” For example:

  • Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation.
  • Tell me about a time when you faced competing priorities.

But notice how each of those putative questions actually ends with a period and not a question mark? That means, in the simplest possible terms, that they’re not questions; in this case, they’re actually commands. And when you’re trying to get a candidate to reveal their true personality, issuing commands is a very bad way to go.

By contrast, when you add the words “could you” to the beginning of those commands, you actually get a really effective interview question. For example:

  • Could you tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation?
  • Could you tell me about a time when you faced competing priorities?

These questions are going to relax candidates into revealing their underlying attitudes, and that gives you the information you need to avoid the 46% failure rate for new hires. You can see more questions like these (and how tough they are to answer) in the online quiz “Could You Pass This Job Interview?”

Now, before I explain why the phrase “could you” is so important, let me answer the one snarky comeback I frequently hear; by adding “could you tell me,” this has now become a question that could be answered “yes” or “no.” While that is technically accurate, in the context of a job interview, it’s not a problem for two reasons:

First, in job interviews, candidates are generally trying to impress, so the odds that they offer a ‘yes or no’ answer are very slim. Second, if a candidate actually did say “no” when asked “could you tell me…” then it would be a truly fantastic answer. You would have just learned something hugely important about them; namely that they would be an incredibly difficult person to manage in real life.

Imagine what a gift it would be if you asked a candidate “Could you tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation?” and they looked you right in the eye and said “no.” You really couldn’t ask for any clearer signal to not hire someone than that “no.”

In an interview, you need to give candidates every opportunity to fail. The vast majority of interviewers are constantly pushing candidates to succeed. With most leaders’ verbal adroitness, they’re able to cajole the ‘correct’ answer out of most candidates, even the terrible ones. And that’s one of the reasons why there’s a 46% failure rate for new hires.

So, why else do we need to start interview questions with the words ‘could you’? It’s about letting the candidate feel like they have some measure of control in the interview process. People are generally pretty guarded when they’re in an interview. They may seem perfectly open, jovial, relaxed, etc., but that just means they’re good performers.

You want to get them to loosen up and lower some of those guards so they reveal what’s really going on inside. And one way to do that is to give them the feeling that they have more control in this process. It makes the interview feel less like an exam and more like a conversation.

When someone is getting hammered with questions, especially questions that start to sound like orders— “tell me about situation A, then you will tell me about situation B… “—it constantly reminds them that they are in a powerless position, and that everything they say is being critically judged. As a result, they become guarded and highly reticent in what they are willing to share.

In order to get people to open up in the responses they give to your questions, you want them to forget that they’re in a position without much power. Instead, you want them to feel that this is more like a conversation with a new friend. So when you ask “Could you tell me… ?” it’s a subtle way of saying: ‘You have control because you can choose whether or not you want to answer this question.’ Of course, no one is actually going to refuse to answer the question (or they know they’re not getting the job). But the fact that you’ve suggested they have a choice in the matter plants a psychological seed that they have more control, just like they would in a conversation with a friend. Thus they start to act more like they would in a friendly conversation (i.e. open and honest).

One final note: The specific words you select and how you choose to say them do matter in hiring. You can’t ham-handedly read a bad script and expect that you’re going to make great hires. This is a battle where subtlety matters, where small words make a big difference, and your performance is critical.

Via Forbes : Job Interviews Falling Flat? Your Attitude May Be To Blame

When I met with John, he had already been on 14 interviews without receiving a job offer. He was a senior professional with a consulting firm, and I knew he had been involved with hiring many people in his career. After all, he had hired quite a few from me when I’d worked in the space.

As he sat down with me, I listened to him share his woes for a few minutes before beginning a mock interview. I asked him whether many of the interviews he had been on started with the classic question, “Tell me about yourself.” When he answered yes, I invited him to answer it as though he were in a real interview. I listened.

After about a minute, I stopped him. “I have a hunch about what is happening,” I began. “Would you like to hear my evaluation?”

“I guess.”

“I care enough to tell you bluntly because I think it will help you the most. You’re boring. You’re bored with answering the question, and it comes through. To me, it’s a turnoff, and I suspect it’s turning off others.”

When you go to a Broadway show and see the cast perform the play, you don’t care that they perform eight shows in six days every week, do you? What matters is that they put on a great performance for you. After all, you’ve paid good money to see the play, and you want to see the actors give you a great performance — and rightfully so.

When you’re being interviewed, you may be asked a question for the 15th time, but the interviewer is just like an audience member: They’re listening to your answer for the first time. They don’t care that you’re bored from performing the same lines over and over again. They are judging your performance based on what you do on stage for them.

Recently, I was reminded of my session with John as I spoke with someone else whose answers seemed flat and “businesslike.”

“Let me ask you something,” I inquired. “You live in a city where there are a lot of people who do what you do. Why should they hire you?”

Suddenly, he came to life as he spoke about his successes and how he had challenged the status quo he inherited, inspired his team and led them to make “magic” for their organization. He was so much more alive than he was just a few minutes ago.

This attitude and flair are what will get you hired. Being bored won’t.

Since the time you were little until now, schools, colleges and businesses have conditioned you to be quiet and do what you’re told. “Regurgitate a bunch of things when we tell you to, or else.” Or else you won’t get a good grade. Or else you won’t get into a good school and get a good job. All these years of conditioning have sucked the life out of you.

But if you can remember that when companies try to hire someone, they want someone who inspires confidence and gives them that excited feeling that you have the knowledge and experience to solve their problem, you will be hired.

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