5 Interview Questions You Need to Be Ready For

From the straight forward to the ridiculous, some interview questions can be difficult to answer. And, apart from federal, state, and province prohibited questions – like inquiries regarding your race, religion, nationality, marital status, or age – the sky’s the limit for employers on job related questions to ask during an interview. To keep you on your toes and to learn more about your ability to be creative and thoughtful under pressure, some employers have even been known to ask hypothetical questions about what type of superhero or animal you would be. So, it can be hard to anticipate the types of questions you’ll be asked. But, preparing in advance by staging your own Q&A could help keep you from being caught off guard in your next interview.

While you can’t anticipate every question, there are a few questions you should expect to hear during an interview. They may be asked in different ways, but these common questions are a staple in every company’s interview process, so be sure you’re prepared to answer them.

Can you please share a little bit about yourself? Often the go-to opener for interviewers asking you to describe yourself, this question gives employers an opportunity to break the ice, ease into the interview, and get you talking. When asked, just give a brief summary of relevant facts about your education, work experience, and your reason for applying. Be sure to demonstrate an attitude of enthusiasm and confidence when you’re telling about yourself. Be engaging, positive, outgoing, and let your personality shine through.

What are your strengths? In your spare time, you may be an excellent baker or candlestick maker, but when asked, make sure you discuss strengths that would complement and benefit the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re interviewing for an administrative position, expound on your organizational skills or your can-do attitude – and be sure to give specific examples of times you demonstrated those strengths at work or during a difficult situation. Potential employers need to know what you can do for their company and strategically sharing your strengths is a great way to communicate your abilities.

What are your weaknesses? Sharing your weaknesses is a little more intimidating than sharing your strengths, but you can still show employees your good qualities by being honest about your weaknesses and letting them know how you’re working to improve them. Make sure you pick only one or two weaknesses to discuss. Keep them brief and relate them back to your job. Avoid character flaws like anger issues or an inability to work with others, and remember to explain how you’re actively remedying your weaknesses.

Where do you see yourself in five years? For some, questions about future goals and plans can be difficult to answer. But, by putting some thought into your answer, you can show your drive, ambition, goals, and interests. Just make sure your answer also shows you’d be willing to grow with the company you’re interviewing with.

Do you have any questions? At the end of an interview, most employers will ask if you have any questions for them. So, be sure you do your homework and have some questions of your own prepared. Having thoughtful questions to ask your potential employer demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm for the position. And, it will help you close the interview with confidence. Not sure what questions to ask in your interview? Check out these seven great questions to get you started.

You can’t plan for every question you’ll be asked in an interview. But, you can practice answering common interview questions most employers ask to better prepare for your next job interview.

Frustrated at Work? Find an Outlet to Relieve Workplace Aggravation

Does this sound familiar?

The alarm clock sounds, and once again you’re faced with another day at the office – another dreaded day. With some effort, you manage to make it out of bed and get to work, where you count down the hours until you’re free again. You count the hours till your lunch break. You count the hours till you can go home. And the next day – which comes too quickly – you start counting all over again. You long for the weekends. You dream of a vacation.

If so, you are probably suffering from workplace discontent.

A variety of factors like company environment and culture, lack of meaningful work, difficult co-workers, and the management style of supervisors can lead to unhappiness at work. And those factors can really add up. When you’re frustrated at work, even the smallest problems can feel like the biggest nightmares. But, there are numerous solutions that can help improve your job satisfaction and create happiness in your work life.

If your job dissatisfaction is consuming your life at work and at home, before you explode or jump ship, try finding an outlet you can enjoy in your spare time to help relieve your workplace anxiety and stress, and help provide the passion and purpose you’re looking for in life. Need an outlet from workplace stress?  Relieve your anxiety at work in your time outside the office. 

Discover a hobby you enjoy. Find something you enjoy outside of work to improve your outlook on life and the workday. Pick something you’re interested in or passionate about like pottery, cooking, sports, dancing, writing, or gardening. Try something new. Be adventurous. Challenge yourself. Whether it’s learning a new language or spending your weekends enjoying extreme sports, find something you love to spend time doing.

Learn all about it. Once you’ve found an outlet you enjoy, learn everything you can about it. Read books. Take classes. Research and collect information from the internet. And, practice, practice, practice. Become an expert at what you love. The more you know about it, the more satisfaction it can give you.

Find others who share your passion.  As you get more involved with your hobby, find people who share your passion. Building relationships on your common interests can add motivation and meaning to your outlet. To meet people, join a network, club, or group of those passionate about your interests or hobbies. Read and comment on blogs that pertain to your interests to help build your online relationships and gain knowledge in the area.

Finding a hobby that adds meaning, passion, and happiness to your life can help relieve your workplace frustration and change your outlook and attitude at work. And who knows, when the time is right, the outlet you love could even lead to an exit from a job that has you watching the clock.

Closed Door Meetings: Should You Trust Them?

Meetings are a workday staple for most companies. With weekly staff updates, special projects, and everything in between, many employees are in and out of meetings all week long. In fact, results of a survey conducted by Microsoft found that respondents spend nearly six hours a week in meetings. That adds up to nearly two months a year in meetings!

Feeling overwhelmed by the number of meetings you attend each week? Check out these tips for charming your way out of some of them.

With so many meetings to attend, you’re certain to have your fair share of closed-door appointments, where the information exchanged and shared is confidential. But, what happens when you’re the one providing the confidential information? Can you trust that what you share in meetings stays behind closed doors?

No matter what type of meeting you attend, whether it’s a one-on-one with your manager, a professional development meeting, or an impromptu gathering in the cube with co-workers, it’s important to always be selective about what you say and how you say it, especially if that information could be harmful to another staff member, your employer, or your team. So, if you need to address a concern that involves a co-worker with your supervisor, be open and honest when you meet with them, but stick to the facts. Don’t over share, and avoid making things personal when possible. And, don’t let your guard down during a casual employee gathering. Be mindful of the conversation you have. In any meeting, keep your comments relevant and constructive. And, of course, always keep the information that others share with you strictly confidential.

When you’re guarded about what you say and how you say it, employers will trust you and your judgment. And, for employers, trust is critical. So, remember, to be an employee your company can rely on, choose your words wisely whether you’re attending a closed door meeting or just a quick chit chat at the water cooler.

Could Your Cubemate be Your Next Boss?

Coworkers Eight hours a day, five days a week, you share workspace with your co-workers and peers. During the work week, you discover their habits and quirks, and they discover yours. You go to lunch together. You celebrate birthdays and company milestones. You discuss office politics and swap stories about your boss. You develop routines and adjust to the customs and dynamics of the team. And, you learn to like – or dislike – your co-workers, depending on their personality and yours. Either way, you all learn to work together. But, what happens when the dynamics change and your office comrade – or worse, your office enemy – becomes your boss?

When a peer or co-worker is promoted above you, the adjustment can be difficult, no matter how amiable your rapport has been. Following these tips could make the transition smoother for yourself, your new boss, and your entire team.

Be Respectful. Choosing to respect your superiors and co-workers alike is always a good idea. It may not always be the easiest task – especially if you’ve seen them at their worst, like during an out-of-hand office Christmas party. But, showing respect to everyone you encounter is well worth it. When you demonstrate respect, they’ll often give you the same respect in return. And, respecting your co-workers from the start will help prevent any awkwardness should one of them become your boss in the future. Even if you feel a new boss doesn’t deserve your respect, their new position demands it. So, demonstrate your respect by being conscious of your speech, habits, and attitude when you’re at the water cooler or break room, during meetings, in the cube, and throughout the day.

Be Patient. Remember that your newly appointed boss is new to their job, so cut them some slack. Even the most experienced managers and executives make mistakes. Just like you, they’re only human, and errors and oversights will happen. So, be patient while they’re figuring things out.

Your manager may feel the need to institute some professional distance from peers once they’ve been promoted. Follow their lead and allow the relationship’s dynamic to evolve. Understand that your new boss may need to establish some clout and influence with the team in the beginning. Patience is a virtue and an asset your supervisors value, so don’t sweat the office politics, changes, and adjustments. Instead, take it in stride.

Feel like you’re losing your patience? Check out these tips to regain your serenity at work.

Be Flexible. Employers want and need flexible employees because life and work often require it. Be a flexible employee who’s willing to take on tasks and projects even when they don’t fall within your job description or title. You may not be accustomed to taking orders from your co-worker-turned-captain, but be a team player and go with the flow when plans change.

When problems arise, help be the solution instead of just another roadblock. Being a flexible employee will make your boss’ job easier, which can make your job easier too! With so many work-life headaches to handle, being a helpful and flexible employee your employer can trust will help you standout from the rest.

When work relationships change, the transition can be difficult for the team. But, by being a respectful, patient, and flexible employee, you can help calm rough waters and get noticed as a valuable employee your company and your new boss can’t do without.

Broke? Improve Your Skills on the Cheap.

If you’re looking for a job, the competition can be tough. So, getting ahead could mean strengthening your job skills, and maybe even adding some new ones. Taking courses at your local college or vocational center is a great way to improve your skills set and your career, but it’s not always feasible with busy schedules and tight finances. If you need to brush up on a particular subject or simply want to expand your horizon and improve your mind, check out your local library. Borrowing books is a cost-effective way to build your résumé (or your brain) without draining your time or your pocket book.

Your library is a great – and free – resource you can use to extend your knowledge. And, you can learn at your own pace and schedule. At the library, you’ll find books on subjects ranging from computer programs to leadership advice. So, if you’ve ever been interested in graphic design, pick up some books on Adobe Photoshop. If you want to start your own business, read up on becoming an entrepreneur. If you’ve entertained a far-away dream of becoming a chef, realize that your dream could become a reality if you work toward it. Start by borrowing cookbooks like Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

If you’re like some people,  apart from the odd research paper in high school, you haven’t stepped foot in a library since grade school. But, if you’re looking to enhance your job skills, want to accomplish a life long dream, or just need a new hobby, now’s a great time to head to your local library. From gardening, to mechanics, from film making to interior design, your library has books about it all, often including free internet access. So, while you’re there, you can search the web for information and jobs.

Can’t handle the quiet, studious atmosphere of a library? You can schedule books for pickup online at most metro libraries to make borrowing books hassle free. So, head to your local library or visit it online to discover the endless possibilities a book can offer you.

Text Messages Crossing the Line?

Cell phone text messaging has changed the way we communicate, the way we operate, and even the way we do business. It’s direct and instantaneous. And, with more than a third of the world texting, it’s becoming a more prevalent and often preferred means of communication.

But, like most technological advances, text messaging can have some unintended consequences. According to experts, “textual” harassment or sexual harassment that occurs via text messages is on the rise in the workplace.

With text messaging becoming a part of everyday business more and more, is it affecting you at work?

Professional Lessons from the Barnyard

Some days, the hustle and bustle of cube life doesn’t seem all that different from a barnyard full of animals. The gossip group around the water cooler sounds like a henhouse full of clucking chickens. Your cube-mate’s laugh breaks your concentration like the hee-haw of a mule. And, the papers stacking up around your desk make you feel like a tired work horse. But, despite the negative attributes your daily routine may share with a brood of barnyard animals, if you look closely, there are also positive characteristics you can learn from all creatures – great and small – to improve your work environment and career.

Not sure where to start looking? Follow theses examples to be a whole different kind of employee that companies need to lead the pack.

Be loyal like a dog. Learn an old trick from man’s best friend and be a loyal and dependable employee to your company, your supervisor, and your team. Employers know that loyalty can be a hard thing to come by, so they value trustworthy employees with devotion. By being loyal, you will stand out as top dog. You can prove your loyalty by keeping confidential information confidential, ignoring and avoiding harmful office gossip, and being a dependable employee everyone can count on.

Every dog has its day. So, choose to be reliable and faithful in your daily tasks, actions, and attitude and your loyalty will be rewarded with the affection and respect of your employer and your entire team.

Keep cool like a pig. Pigs don’t have functional sweat glands, so when things get hot, they have to cool themselves down with water or mud before they overheat. Losing your cool at work can be a career killer. So, it’s important to always maintain your composure in the office. When you’re faced with stressful situations, don’t sweat it. Instead, take a deep breath and take everything in stride, because reacting inappropriately or unprofessionally will only add fuel to an already hot fire.

Since rolling around in a mud hole is not an option, if you’re having trouble staying calm under pressure at work, take a break, find someone outside of work to talk to, or listen to music to improve your serenity and keep your cool.

Rule the roost like a rooster. No matter what your title or job position, you can be a team leader who motivates your co-workers to succeed. Start every day by rousing your colleagues with a positive and energetic attitude and outlook that is contagious. Be sure to crow loudly about your co-workers’ accomplishments and triumphs with sincere praise and celebration. Protect them from the sly predator of negativity by carefully guarding your own outlook and approach to life, work, and your company.

So, next time work gets a little crazy and messy like a pig sty, keep your cool, be a loyal and dependable employee who motivates your team, and you will be the needle in the workplace haystack.