Job Interviews

Answering the Interview Question: What Are Your Top 3 Strengths and Weaknesses?

Here’s a hint: Think outside the box.

This is a question that comes up A LOT. Interviewers use it not just to see where you fit into their company, but also to see how you react to the question. It’s not just your answer they’re considering; it’s how you answer.

So, you have to be confident and know what you’re saying. That means preparing beforehand.

There’s quite a bit of advice out there you’ve probably heard before: Start with your weaknesses. Finish up with your strengths so the interviewer remembers them instead of the weaknesses. (more…)

Poll Results: Answering the Hardest Interview Questions

Here’s what you had to say.

Recently we asked our Movin’ On Up readers the interview questions they need help with.

The top choice was “What are your top five strengths and weaknesses,” with more than 32% of the vote. “Why are you leaving (or want to leave) your current job/company” came in second with just under 13% of the vote, followed by “Why should I Hire You,” “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years,” and “Other” with 9% each. The rest of the responses were as follows:

  • “Tell Me About Yourself.”—8%
  • “What Are Your Most Impressive Accomplishments to Date.”—5%
  • “Describe Your Perfect Work Environment/Company Culture.”—4%
  • “What Would Your Coworkers Say About You? Both Good and Bad.”—4%
  • “Why Do You Want to Work At Our Company?”—3%
  • “Do You Like to Take Charge of Projects and Situations or Would You Rather Receive Direction?”—3%
  • “If You Could Change Something about Your Past (Or Current) Job, What Would It Be?”—1%
  • “Describe Your Perfect Boss/Manager.”—1%

(more…)

Poll: Which Interview Questions Do You Need Help With?

Interviews can be tough.

When you sit down with someone you’ve never met before, answering personal questions about your work history and experience can be awkward.

The key to acing an interview? Being prepared for those rough questions.

We want to write articles perfectly matched to your interview question concerns. So take our poll and let us know what questions you want help with! We’ll use your responses when creating content for 2019. (more…)

Talking About Your Experience in an Interview

So, tell me a bit about your experience.

“Tell me about yourself.” “Could you speak about your previous work experience and how it’s shaped you as an employee?” “Oh, this job on your resume sounds interesting. Could you tell me more about it?”

These phrases are all essentially alternate ways of asking you about your experience, which eventually comes up in every interview.

However, interviewers aren’t looking for your life story. They want to know specifics on how your individual experience makes you the ideal candidate for the job. (more…)

Nervous in an Interview? Get Rid of the Butterflies with These Three Tips

Job interview anxiety got you down? We’re here to help.

Being nervous isn’t a bad thing. It’s your body’s fight-or-flight response trying to protect you. But sometimes that normal response can be overpowering, causing you to doubt yourself and flub questions.

Luckily, it’s possible to reduce those nervous feelings with a few techniques.

Prepare

The best way to reduce interview question-related anxiety is to already know the answers to any questions your interviewer could ask. Although you might not be able to figure out every single topic they could quiz you on, a quick online search can teach you quite a bit about your potential employer.

Research everything you can about the company. Know a bit of the company’s history, the company culture, and see if you can find any information about your interviewer.

Next, find out where you fit with this company. What is it that you can do in this position that nobody else can do? Come in with specific statistics if you can (for instance, increased page views by ___%, reduced customer service call time by ___%, increased product turnover time by ___$, improved your safety rating to ___ level, etc.).

Prepare answers to the most frequently asked interview questions, like “where do you see yourself in five years?

For company-specific questions, check out Glassdoor. Users upload questions for their interviews so you can be sure to impress.

Practice

Great, now you’re prepared! The next step? Putting all that hard work into practice.

If you haven’t been to many interviews (or haven’t interviewed in several years), you might not be comfortable with the process. Being alone in a room with some person you’ve never met quizzing you on your life and experience can be awkward.

That’s where practice comes in! Grab a friend or family member and go over questions and answers together. Practice your handshake (it should be firm but not threatening), your eyeline (look them in the eye but don’t stare at them the whole time), and your timing. Make sure your responses don’t go on for longer than 60 seconds or so, unless you’ve got stories that can really capture attention.

The more you go through the interview process, the more comfortable you’ll become with yourself and your answers. And that’s the version of yourself interviewers want to see!

Calm Yourself

Obviously, this is easier said than done. On the day of the interview, you have a billion thoughts swirling in your head. Will they like me? Am I even good enough for this position? What was my name again?

Psychology Today has several techniques to cut down on these thoughts.

These include breathing (“try breathing for a count of 4, hold for 2, and breathe out for a count of 4”), sighing (“take a breath and let it out like a sigh. You’ll probably feel your shoulders relax”), self-compassion (“focus on these words: Wisdom. Strength. Warmth. Nonjudgement), and, interestingly, getting outside of yourself.

What does that last one mean? Caring about others. Anxiety makes you think about yourself and how your own personal world is going to end for one reason or another. That’s why Psychology Today recommends you “make a point of focusing on others and being empathetic.” Talk to people about their day and how they’re feeling, from the receptionist to your interviewer to texting friends and family. Realize you’re not alone out there!

You’re Ready!

That’s it. You’ve done everything you can do to get rid of that pesky interview anxiety. Odds are, there’s still a little bit nagging at you under the surface. But you’re the one in control. You’ve prepared your answers and interview style, know the company, and are as calm as you can be. Get in there and show them why you’re the best person for the job!

Have you ever been nervous in an interview? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Answering the Interview Question: Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Ideal responses for one of the trickiest interview questions.

This one is right up there with “tell me your top five strengths and weaknesses.” In an ideal world, prospective employers would only ask about your workplace experiences (teamwork, job responsibilities, how you handled projects, etc.) and draw their own conclusions about you as an employee from there.

But that doesn’t always happen. Some companies have set questions they ask potential employees to weed out undesirable candidates from the rest of the applicants. Asking where you see yourself  in five years is one of those questions.

Your answer can tell them something about your drive, your desire to keep working at their company, and where you think this position fits into your career and overall life.

Here are our tips on how to best answer.

Focus on Upward Movement

Most employers want an employee that plans on improving over time. They don’t want you to be content with the same responsibilities year after year. The expectation is that you’ll come to master some of your responsibilities, and be able to handle more work (whether that means just more duties or an outright promotion).

So when they ask where you see yourself in five years, don’t say the same position. Aim for a management position, just not the position your possible manager has (you don’t want to seem like you’re gunning for their job). Find a specific position if you can (___supervisor, ___manager, etc.), not just “a management position.” Note that you hope to use all of the experience and responsibilities you will pick up in this position in your future career.

Show Your Passion for Learning

Employers love employees that love to learn. If you’re constantly improving yourself, you’re continually making yourself a more talented and desirable employee.

In five years, you want to still be learning, still honing your skills. Whether that means obtaining a certain metric (___ number of customer services calls an hour, ____ increase in page views on a website, ___% increase in product production time, etc.), taking continual online training courses, obtaining a certification, or earning a degree, tell your interviewer about it. Make sure to associate all of that learning with the position you’re interviewing for, and how it will help the company as a whole.

Illustrate Your Desire to Stay At the Company

General turnover is higher now than in previous years. The current economy is a job seeker’s market. That means employers are looking for people who are in it for the long haul. When they ask you about where you want to be in five years, tell them you plan to be at ___ company. Mention a project you’ve read about online that’s coming up in the future you’d like to be a part of, or a future product you want to help create.

Research the company’s upcoming plans (news releases are great for this). Is there anything that looks like it will be launching within the next five years or so? Mention you want to be involved in that, and you’ll show that you really know the company.

And that’s how to answer the question!

Show you’re a stellar employee with real goals who truly wants the position. That’s what they’re asking for, anyway. “Do you really want this job? Will you work hard at this job?  Are you in this for the long haul? Okay, then prove it.”

And now you’re ready to do just that.

Have you ever had to answer this question? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!

So, You Left a Toxic Work Culture – How Do You Explain That in an Interview?

Where do you even start?

Sometimes a good company goes bad. This can be for a range of reasons: from sketchy financial situations and harassment issues to nepotism and endless gossip. The possibilities are practically endless. Regardless, the result is the same—you probably leave.

But while interviewing with new companies several of them ask why you left your previous job (especially if you weren’t there for very long).

How are you supposed to respond? Should you tell the truth? Or do you need to dress it up as something else? The answer is a mix of both.

Tell the Truth (But Maybe Not Every Detail)

Being honest about why you left a job is a good thing. But try to keep your emotions and the specific details out of it. For instance, if you left because of nepotism, stay away from saying “I left because the CEO only promoted friends and family members into leadership positions.” This makes it sound like you were bitter about the promotion landscape, and might have been coming up for excuses why you weren’t promoted.

Instead, go with something along the lines of: “I was ready to take on more responsibilities and enter a management position, but the company decided to go in another direction. While I respect that decision, I believe I’m ready for a position like [name of position you’re interviewing for], and am excited to take that next step.”

This way you’re staying truthful, but keeping the focus on you as a productive individual and your own career hopes and dreams.

Keep the Focus on You

Don’t spend too much time talking about the culture and misdeeds of your last company. Your interviewer wants to know more about you as a job candidate not about how your last company was run. Keep emotion out of the interview, give a quick soundbite about why you left that job, and continue to keep the light on yourself and why you’re perfect for the position you’re interviewing for.

If you spend too much time talking about how bad your last job was, your potential employer might think that’s how you’ll talk about their company in the future.

Show What You Learned

Try not to place all the blame on that old company. What was it that finally made you leave? Focus on that element, and turn your leaving the company into a learning experience.

For instance, perhaps there was uncontrollable gossip in the office due to a lack of clarity from management regarding the future of the company. Instead of saying that you left because “people wouldn’t stop talking about me behind my back,” opt for something positive:

“There was a lack of clear vision for the company going into the future, and this trickled down into discontent among employees.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure where things were going either. However, I eventually realized that sitting around wondering about things wasn’t going to do anything to change my circumstances. I researched ways for the company to improve, and brought them to my supervisor to forward up the chain. When no action was taken regarding those concerns, I decided to leave the company. I wish them all the best, but I think for me, personally, it’s time for a change.”

Have you ever left a toxic work culture? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!