Tag Archives: interview prep

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!

Get Your Dream Job with These Online Resources

We’re living in a technological age. These days if you can think it, there’s probably a website for it.

So why not embrace that technology and employ these tools in your job search journey? A recent Forbes article listed several of these online job-search power boosters. Here are our favorites, as well as a suggestion of our own.

Resume Help

Ever felt like your resume lacked a certain something? Resumake and Resume.io exist to make that a non-issue. The sites are full of templates that come pre-arranged, so you don’t have to worry about typefaces or whether to bold or underline something.

Both sites offer free and paid options. All you have to do is select a template and then input your information. The app will do the rest, and you’ll end up with a resume you’re proud of.

And if you’re looking for great words to use in your resume, check out one of the blogs in our resume writing series:

Keep Track of Where You Applied

When you’re job search efforts are on fire, the number of positions you’ve applied to can really pile up. Multiple applications can make it difficult to remember what you’ve applied for and who you’ve applied with. And nothing’s more awkward than a phone interview where you don’t even remember what you applied for.

Get rid of those issues with Rake, what Forbes describes as a “personal job tracker.” It’s available both as an app for your phone and as a chrome extension (for use with the Google Chrome web browser). All you have to do is click and the job description gets saved to the app. And you don’t have to pay a dime.

And applying with Express solves this problem as well. One application with us gets sent out to multiple local businesses. And it’s free.

Interview Prep

We all dread getting an interview question we don’t know the answer to.

It could be anything from “what are your top five strengths and weaknesses?” to “what about our company interests you?”

Sure, you could make flashcards and study them before the interview. But what if you lose one, don’t prepare for it, and that’s the question you end up being asked in an interview?

Cram is a site that allows you to do just what it states: cram information as fast as possible.

You can create online flashcards or use others already prepared by savvy jobseekers.

And it’s free!

Job Genius

Job Genius is Express Employment Professionals’ educational job program and web series. We cover everything from the job market forecast and job opportunities, to the resumes, the interview process, and more. It’s stuff we learned from jobseekers just like you. And since we put nearly 550,000 people to work each year, we know what works and what doesn’t. And it’s free, too!

Do you have any favorite online job resources? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

 

5 Steps to Getting a Job Offer

From job search to interview to final offer, we’re here to help.

A job search is stressful for numerous reasons. Chief among the rest—you need money to support yourself and your family. Secondary concerns include finding your professional persona, the sheer force of will and attention it takes to job search for hours every day, and the fear that comes after each interview (did I get the job or not?).

Here at Movin’ On Up, we recognize that all of these stresses make it hard to keep going. It can be easy to give up. But we won’t let you. We’re here to encourage you with a plan for each stage of the job search process.

  1. Job Search

Searching online. Networking. Social media. All cogs in the job search machine. You have to search to get a job—that much is obvious. The problem is the job search is a job in and of itself. If you really want to get anything out of it, you have to put time into it. Eight hours a day if you can. It’s not just a hobby or a side activity. When you’re unemployed, the job search is your job. Except that you won’t see a payoff until you land the job.

Don’t forget to organize the needs a job must meet for you. These include salary requirements, paid time off, and insurance requirements, among other things. If you aren’t sure what kind of salary you should be shooting for, go online and find out what others in similar positions are being paid. Glassdoor.com is a great resource for this.

What can you do to make the search easier? Job search in bursts. Don’t spend your entire day staring at the screen. Take a break every once in a while to take a walk or talk to a human being.

You should also set goals and keep track of your progress each day. That way you’ll see that you’re making headway every day, bit by bit.

Above all else? Vary your job search. Don’t put all of your eggs into the online job search basket. Talk to a recruiter at a staffing agency. Attend networking events. Politely and tactfully ask friends and family members if they know of any job openings. Be on LinkedIn and Facebook—even if you don’t see the point in social media, there’s no reason not to be online. Creating an account is incredibly easy.

If your talent is something you can develop in your spare time, do it. If you’re a writer, write. Try to find some freelance gigs. If you’re a receptionist see if you can improve yourself in that area with online training. Your personal development plan will vary depending on your job field.

Avoid locking yourself into one type of job. Look at your skills and apply them to other industries. It’s much easier to find a job when you have a job. So, even if the job listings you see aren’t for your dream job, those jobs can nonetheless be stepping stones on your way to the top.

  1. Before the Interview

Congrats! All of that hard work has paid off. You have an interview. Now what?

Don’t let your job search efforts go to waste. Treat this like the last interview you’ll ever have. Research the company online. Know their mission statement and their company culture. Try to find information on what could be your future department and who your interviewer is. If there are any videos online, find them! The first step to succeeding in any interview is being well prepared. Start a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview. You want the interviewer to see that you truly want the position.

The night before your interview, try to get rid of anything that could possibly make you late. Set out your clothes, find your keys, and get plenty of sleep. Make sure the coffee is filled, and figure out a healthy breakfast plan.

Use Google maps or another navigation tool to plan your route ahead of time. Doing all of this now will make the next day much easier.

  1. The Interview

This is it. You’re in the interview room. First thing? Be nice to everyone. Even if the receptionist spills coffee all over your shirt. You never know who has a close relationship with the boss, and you want to look good. Plus these could be your future coworkers! There’s no reason to bring a bad attitude to work.

Once you’re in the room with your interviewer, shake their hand. Make eye contact. But try to avoid staring into their eyes the entire interview.

Answer any questions with the truth. The short truth. Don’t talk about your family or your feelings. Those are important, but not to your interviewer. Not now at least. Save those stories for when you get the job.

And when the interviewer asks if you have any questions? Say yes. Then ask the questions you carefully prepared the night before. They should be about the position, about typical days in the office, and about the company culture. Questions that are not only helpful for you, but also show your interest in the company itself. Make sure to ask about next steps. When you know the company’s plan for next steps, you can adapt your follow-up plans to that schedule.

  1. After the interview

As soon as you can, write a handwritten note to your interviewer. Reference your interview with a note about something you truly found interesting. Remember, you want to show that you care.

Since you definitely nailed the interview, pour all of that positive energy into continuing the job search when you get home. Show them all how awesome you are.

If you don’t hear back within the time-frame specified by your interviewer, don’t be afraid to contact them again. Bring up another reason this job is right for you, and then let it go.

  1. The job offer

It’s finally happened. You got the call. Now you have to negotiate. Be smart. You know your budget and how much money you need (at least at a minimum). If interviews are few and far between, you may need to choose between waiting longer for your dream job and taking something not as great in the meantime. Just remember—this one job doesn’t have to be the end all be all. Any job is better than no job when you have bills to pay.

Have any questions about any of the job search steps? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Interview Tips: Do This, DON’T Do That

You’ve spent days applying and sent in what feels like a thousand resumes. And now you finally have an interview. This is when the nerves start kicking in. What should you say? What should you wear? Do you know anything about the industry?

We’re here to help. Review this list of dos and don’ts to ace that next interview!

Do:

Dress for the Job You Want

That’s right, we’re back to that old cliché. But, there’s a reason people say it so often. This interview might be your only chance to make a lasting impression on a potential employer. You never get a second first impression. And if you do get the job, do you want to be seen as a regular employee or a candidate for promotion? Hopefully the latter. So dress like it!

Also, make sure to:

  • Get a haircut (if needed)
  • Trim your nails
  • Take a shower that morning.
  • Try to avoid any strong-smelling colognes, perfumes, body washes, or deodorants.

You don’t want anything to distract the interviewer from why you’re right for the job!

Learn Interview Etiquette

How’s your handshake? Everything goes back to making that immediate, lasting impression. If you give a puny handshake, you seem weak. If you give an overly strong handshake, you come off as aggressive. It’s getting to that happy medium that’s difficult.

The same thing applies to eye contact. You don’t want to stare into the interviewer’s eyes for a straight hour, but also don’t want stare at a corner of the room or look out the window. Be attentive and go for a balance between the two extremes.

How can you practice your handshake or eye contact? And, for that matter, how do you know if you have a good handshake? Join a local professional group!

  • Ask other members to practice interview techniques with you. These groups exist to help people master the fine art of business etiquette.
  • Even if the organiztion you’re interviewing with doesn’t have a traditional office setting, these groups can teach lessons applicable to all workplaces.
  • Mock interviews are especially helpful to highlight any flaws in your technique.

Always Have Questions Prepared

The the first thing you should do after scheduling an interview is research the company’s history, values, and culture. You want to make sure you fit in—and mentioning the company’s mission statement and how that applies to you is always a good start.

However, you also need to come prepared with questions. The more specific and tailored to the company, the better. Ask about:

  • The job and potential future responsibilities.
  • The work environment and culture. For example, asking the interviewer why they like working at the company shows you’re interested in the people and culture, not just climbing the company ladder.

Follow-Up

Follow-ups matter. Start writing a handwritten thank-you note immediately when you get home. Bring up a few things you learned in the interview, and send it off as soon as possible. When the applicant pool for a certain job is especially competitive, this helps you stand out. If you’re unable to send out a handwritten note, send a personalized email.

Don’t:

Be Late

Remember that whole bit about leaving a good first impression? If you’re late to the interview, you’ve already shot yourself in the foot. In the interviewer’s eyes, if an applicant can’t make it to the interview on time, they simply don’t want the job enough.

Be early. It’s much better for you, as an applicant, to wait on the interviewer, rather than the other way around. Just don’t arrive too early—ten minutes or so should be fine.

Talk Too Much … Or Too Little

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and some applicants find themselves rambling just to move the discussion along. If you take up your interviewer’s time with long descriptions of achievements, you’re preventing the interviewer from asking questions they want to ask.

But don’t make your responses too short either. Remember, it’s all about balance. Avoid giving one word (or, in some cases, one sentence, answers). When asked about what it was like working at “such-and-such” company, don’t respond with “great.” Your response should be about what you learned from working at a specific company with its own culture, values, and people.

Complain About Your Last Boss

This can be tempting—especially if you were fired or let go from a previous position. Who wouldn’t want to vent about their awful boss when someone specifically asks about their time at that company? However, complaining about anyone in an interview is the hallmark of an unprofessional employee. So come prepared to answer a question specifically addressing past negative experiences.

Bring Up Controversial Topics

Interviews are about showing the interviewer why you’re a perfect fit for the job. They are not a place to discuss religion, politics, and other hot-button topics. No matter how informal the style of the interview, it’s still an interview.

Lie

Most industries are fairly closely knit. Odds are the interviewer knows somebody who knows somebody else that is a best friend of a previous boss. So, don’t lie. Even if your industry isn’t closely knit, lying always comes back to bite you.

Go For It

In the end, you can only do so much preparation. When you’re ready, you’re ready. After that, it’s all about balance and confidence. Walk in with your head held high and knock that interview out of the park!

Have you ever had a bad interview experience? What did you learn? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

‘Twas the Night Before the Job Interview

Do you have a big interview coming up? Are you feeling festive? Take a look at our holiday poem below to help you remember the importance of preparing for your interview.

'Twas the Night Before the Job Interview

‘Twas the night before the job interview, when all through the house
A job seeker was ironing the wrinkles from her blouse
Her outfit, she prepared for the next day with care
In hopes she would have the perfect one to wear

On this night, she wasn’t nestled all snug in her bed
She was on the computer, researching instead
She closely studied the company’s website and map
To avoid an uncomfortable interview mishap

When her search revealed tips for interview chatter
She learned how to respond, to smile, and flatter
And away to the search engine she flew like a flash
To find more tips for this researching bash

The articles she found helped her knowledge to grow
Yet still, she felt there were more things to know
When what to her wondering eyes should appear
But a website that aims to advance her career

With excitement and hope, she began to click, click, click
And knew in a moment these tips would stick
This website she found, Movin’ On Up was its name,
Helped her prepare for the interview in a short timeframe

Yet, she still felt as though something important was missing
So she called up her friend and asked her to listen
She practiced her questions and by the end of the call
Her confidence was high enough to answer them all

With her outfit set out and her research complete
The job seeker settled down for a good night’s sleep
And in the morning she’d find she no longer had fright
On account of her great interview prep that night

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

De-Stress Before Your Job Interview

de-stress_before_interview_webJob interviews can be a little nerve racking. Will the interviewer like me? What if I say something that sounds stupid? What if I don’t know how to answer a question?

To help you gain your interview confidence, take a deep breath and follow these seven tips for conquering your fears and de-stress before your job interview.

1. Get your portfolio together.
Don’t scramble to put this together the night before. No one knows your work better than you, so be your biggest advocate on interview day and have a stellar portfolio. While getting your portfolio ready, showcase your best projects. And, be sure to include plenty of copies of your resume in case someone unexpected joins the interview. On your resume, make sure it’s easily laid out for readability, organized, shows your training/education background, and lists your job history. Also, include a list of references for extra bonus points.

2. Prepare for interview questions.
Expect to be asked questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What can you bring to the team?
  • Do you have any questions about the job?

These are typical questions interviewers use to learn more about you. A few days before your interview, practice answering these questions and watch yourself in the mirror so you can see your facial expressions or ask a friend to listen and give you feedback.

3. Do your research on the company and the position.
Not only will you need to be prepared to answer questions about yourself, but you should also be able to speak about the company and the position you’re seeking. What do you know about them? What do they do? Find out when they were founded, how many locations they have (if more than one), and some interesting facts about the organization.

Also, be able to share about the skills you can bring to the job. What are some specific duties you’re interested in? How do your skills match the job? Also, come up with questions you have about the job. How do you see this position growing with this company? What skills does the perfect candidate have? Questions like these will show that you’re taking initiative in learning all you can about the position.

4. Drive by the interview location the day before.
A big stressor for interviewees is the location of the interview. If you can, do a test run the day before. Get a feel for the traffic and identify just how much time you need to get there. And remember, you will want to arrive at your interview at least 15 minutes early, so factor that into your drive time.

5. Plan your outfit.
What are you going to wear for your interview? The key is to always wear professional in attire on your interview day. Get your outfit prepared the evening before your interview and make sure it is clean and wrinkle-free. Also, include your accessories such as shoes, a tie, or jewelry. Having your clothes ready to go will save you time on the big day.

6. Get a good night’s rest.
Go to bed early the night before your interview. Allow yourself to get enough rest so you wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to face the day. Don’t stay up late trying to prepare, and be sure to set your alarm!

7. Stay calm on interview day.
After you’ve checked in for your interview, use your last few minutes to take some deep breaths, remember what your goal is, and remind yourself that you can do this. Remember to think positive.

Do you have any additional tips for de-stressing before an interview? Share them here!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.