Tag Archives: interviews

Answering the Interview Question: Tell Me About Yourself

How Much Do They Want to Know?

Some interviewers prefer to kick things off with a general question instead of something specific. Asking you to talk about yourself tells them two things: 1. How you handle being put on the spot and 2. Information about your experience they can use as a baseline for the rest of your interview.

Since the question is so general, it can be hard to figure out where to start. But the open nature of the question also allows you to create a unique answer that shows off your personality and experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

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Poll Results: How Job Seekers Want to Interact with Companies

Here’s what you had to say.

Recently we asked our Job Journey readers about their preferred method of interacting with a company during their job search.

The top choice was “scheduled in-person interview” with 23% of the votes. “Email” came in second, with 19% of the votes, followed by “telephone” with 17% of the votes and “in-person/walk-in” with 13% of the votes.

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Answering the Interview Question: Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job/Company?

How honest is too honest?

This interview is going quite well. You’re pretty sure you’ve aced every question, and you can really see yourself working at this company. But then your interviewer turns to you, smiles, and asks the dreaded question: “One last question before you go: Why are you leaving your position at XYZ company?”

Your heart starts beating a mile a minute. Why are they asking this? Should you tell them your manager is terrible? Should you mention the toxic work culture? Maybe that’s not even the problem, and all you want is a change of pace—is that answer too boring?

If this situation sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In a recent Job Journey survey, 13% of respondents wanted help with this question. And it’s easy to see why—there are too many ways to answer it.

That makes it all the more important to come prepared with your answer well before you arrive for your interview. There is no one-answer-fits-all solution, but we’ve provided a few of our favorites below. Feel free to mix and match to find something that works for you.

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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…)

Body Language: When You Ruin Your Interview Without Opening Your Mouth

In an ideal world, interviews would purely be about your skills and accomplishments. An interview would consist of placing your resume in a machine and watching it match you to the perfect position.

But we aren’t just our resumes. We’re people. Each one of us has our own personality, culture, and worldview. Those differences are what make successful teams.

However, your personal quirks are being reviewed in an interview just as much as your resume. An interviewer wants to know who you are as a person and how that fits into their particular team dynamic.

Unfortunately, there are certain habits or body language that can immediately dissuade an interviewer from hiring you. And you’ll never know what they are without someone to tell you. Luckily we’re here to do just that, using information from a CareerBuilder study.

Failure to Make Eye Contact

This was number one on CareerBuilder’s list of the biggest body language mistakes. And it makes sense—failure to make eye contact means three things to interviewers:

  1. You’re not confident in your skills. You might be meek or afraid to take on challenges.
  2. You aren’t a people person. Most jobs require some degree of human interaction, and not being able to handle an interviewer’s gaze doesn’t bode well for interacting with customers or other employees.
  3. You might be easily distracted. Lack of eye contact can sometimes come across as not paying attention.

Here’s how to know if you struggle with eye contact:

  • Go somewhere with someone in authority. It might a meeting with a professor, dinner with the in-lawws, or an appointment with your doctor. Challenge yourself to maintain eye contact with them during an entire interaction. If you can’t, you might have a problem.
  • Hold mock interviews with your friends or family. Have them ask hard questions, and try not to look away too often.
  • It’s important to note here that good eye contact is not constant eye contact. You don’t want to make your interviewer uncomfortable by staring at them constantly.

Failure to Smile

Here we have number two on CareerBuilder’s list. It’s easy to tell why this one is a problem. Your interviewer might think:

  1. You don’t like interacting with others and might be a problem on team projects or in customer service positions.
  2. You don’t really want the job in the first place. (Why are you here?)
  3. You dislike your interviewer.

If you’re a person who doesn’t smile very often, you’re probably aware of it. Friends might bring it up from time to time, saying you need to smile more often. And honestly? It’s ok if you’re not a super smiler. Some of us just aren’t.

But in an interview, you do need to smile. For all of the reasons stated above. Remember, your interviewer doesn’t know who you are as a person. They’re basing their entire approximation of who you are based on a 40 to 60-minute interview. So, you need to do everything you can to show them you’re right for the job.

Playing with Something on the Table/Fidgeting Too Much in His/Her Seat

These came in at third and fourth, respectively, on CareerBuilder’s list. We’re including them in the same section since they’re similar types of behavior.

An interviewer is here to speak with you. They expect to be your main point of focus. You should answer questions promptly and succinctly. If you’re engaging in the behaviors outlined above they might think:

  1. You’re bored and don’t want to be in the interview.
  2. You won’t be able to focus on projects if they hire you.
  3. You won’t be able to handle the pressure of the job in general.

Also, you shouldn’t touch anything on the desk unless prompted by your interviewer.

This is another behavior you might not be aware of. Next time you’re watching TV or talking to someone that outranks you, check how long you can stay completely still. If it’s an issue, take a few moments each day to meditate or sit still.

Not Quite Sure How to Up Your Interview Game?

Express Employment Professionals can help.

We have a video about interviewing in our Job Genius educational program.

And, if you’re looking for a job and more interviews in general, call your local office. Our recruiters will work with you to figure out your interview strengths and weaknesses.

Check out our online office locator to find a location near you and schedule an in-person visit, or apply online.

 

Ask a Recruiter: Your Questions Answered—Part 1

Everything you wanted to know about the recruiting process.

Last month, we asked readers what they wanted to hear about from recruiters. The response was huge.

The same few questions kept popping up again and again, so we decided to feature them in a two-part blog series. We took your questions to our top recruiters, and they replied with expert responses.

  1. If an employee asks for a staffing company to help them find a new job, do they tell your current job that you are looking for work elsewhere or keep that information confidential?

All our recruiters agree that keeping the job search confidential is key. They never notify your current employer that you’ve started the job search, and they recommend that you keep quiet on the topic as well.

“It would depend on the situation. I have found that when a layoff is imminent, managers know and understand that their cohorts will be looking and interviewing at other companies. If this is not the case and business is ‘good,’ I would advise against letting your manager know that you are looking for work.” Desiree Stevens, Littleton, CO.

“In my experience, many applicants ask that we do not contact their current employer in fear of losing their job. Last week, a coworker of mine was working with an associate who was looking to leave their current employer. The employer overheard a conversation that took place at work and fired them for it.”—John Calabrese Jr., Utica, NY.

  1. Why do companies require a college degree when it isn’t necessary for the job?

Many companies use a college degree as a baseline. Sometimes a degree is indicative of passion and hard work. However, that doesn’t mean that you might not be able to make up for the lack of a degree in other ways.

“Sometimes this is a company policy. I tell people to never let it deter you in applying. Many clients will take on-the-job experience in lieu of a degree.”—Shannon Jacoby, Bellingham, WA.

“Some positions may require a degree for specialized positions, for example, a mechanical engineer. For other positions, completing a degree signals to an employer that you are a person who is determined to see a task through and committed to doing so.”—Desiree Stevens, Littleton, CO.

  1. Why do some companies/staffing companies continue to post jobs that have already been filled ?

This one’s a bit complicated. When it’s a posting from a staffing company, it could be that the same position is being offered at multiple companies. In addition, some job listings are purchased for a certain amount of time and will stay online regardless of being filled or not.

“A lot of the time, for a staffing company, there is more than one job available or the same job is available with a different company. Also, when a job is posted, it usually has an ad run time of 30+ days to attract the most job seekers. Even if they find an applicant before that time, the ad will continue to run.”—Heather Buster, Texarkana, Arkansas.

“Our office often leaves jobs up on the job boards just in case the candidate who was chosen doesn’t work out. It is good to have extra candidates in our back pocket if we need them. We also use the same strategy for jobs that we may not have now but know we will get soon, so we can cut down on the time it takes to fill the position.”— John Calabrese Jr., Utica, NY.

Have any more questions for our recruiters? Let us know in the comments below!

Poll Results: Ace Your Next Interview With These Top Tips

 

Last month we drilled down on what readers want to see on Movin’ On Up. We asked one simple question: “What part of the job interview process do you need help with?”

Your answers were as follows:

 

What’s next?

The results were almost evenly split among the top four, so we’ll be sure to cover all those topics in upcoming blogs. But before that, here’s a bit of information about the top four.

Asking Relevant Questions

Questions you ask after an interview should be uniquely tailored to yourself or your interviewer. The key is to ask insightful, culture-based questions that won’t typically pop up during the interview. A few examples:

  • What is a typical day like at [company name]?
  • How is this company different from other companies you’ve worked at?
    • What makes it unique?
  • Tell me about a project or incident you experienced that truly embodied the spirit of [company name].

How to Create an “Elevator Pitch”

First things first—what is an elevator pitch? As defined by Investopedia, an elevator pitch is a “…term used to describe a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service, or project.” In the world of interviewing, your “elevator pitch” is a short way of describing who you are and why you’re right for the job. Think of it as a super quick version of your cover letter.

The easiest way to craft an “elevator pitch” is to look at your cover letter. You’ve already done the work! Just condense it into a few bullet points, and mix those with details specific to the job you’re interviewing for.

Despite the name, an “elevator pitch” doesn’t have to take place in an elevator. It works perfectly as an answer to an introductory question like “tell me about yourself.” When an interviewer asks that, they don’t want to hear you list your resume. They want to know about you as a person and how your experiences make you qualified for this position.

Discussing Skills/Past Experience

Listing past jobs in an interview is easy. Really getting into those experiences and the skills they represent is harder.

First, remember that you’re focusing on accomplishments, not job descriptions. Speak on how you increased ROI by a certain amount, typed a certain WPM (words per minute), or completed however many projects in a certain amount of time.

How Much to Share About a Previous Job

It can be difficult to answer questions about your previous job experiences when some of those experiences weren’t exactly positive. If you had a boss that was a tyrant, should you mention it? What about a company culture you didn’t fit in with?

Always keep in mind that your personality is being interviewed just as much as your job experience. You don’t want to appear rude or unprofessional. So, when an interviewer asks you about your previous manager, keep it to the basics. Feel free to mention why you didn’t fit in with a particular management style or company culture, but stay away from personal judgements.

Anything else you want to know about the interview process? Let us know in the comments section below!