How To Answer
You should never leave an interview thinking, “I should have asked them that.”
Most people see an interview as the person behind the desk asking all the questions. The reality is, an interview is a meeting of people, with the prefix “inter” meaning mutually or between. If you’re not asking questions during your interview, you’ll feel as though you’re on the receiving end of a firing squad rather than hunting for a job. When you’re looking for a job, your interviewer shouldn’t be the only one asking questions.
If you don’t get a clear picture of your potential responsibilities, ask for more information. Just because you’ve held a similar position before doesn’t mean that the one you are interviewing for will be the same. Find out how frequently the position has changed hands. If it’s been very volatile, ask why. Ask them to give you an idea of the role that the particular department you’re interviewing for plays in the overall organization.
Just because a position looks great today doesn’t mean it will five years down the road. You never want to be stagnant in the business world, so inquire to see if the position fits nicely with your career aspirations. Does the firm encourage or even fund continued education? What have previous employees in the same position gone on to do? Will you be able to grow from within the firm, or is it a dead end? Be wary of any employees who can’t give you a clear role that the position plays in a career path, and look for a position that encourages growth.
Salary discussion usually doesn’t come until you have a job offer. That being said, don’t be afraid to ask what the range is for the position, and don’t shy away from smaller details about compensation. If the interviewer isn’t forward about it, ask about health and retirement plans. Does the company have health coverage? Do employees have access to a 401(k) plan? If bonuses are part of your compensation, what is the criteria? Are they performance based? The more you know about how compensation works before you are offered a position gives you a better perspective of how strong the offer is.
Lastly, be sure to gain some knowledge on how the company is doing and where it’s headed. Is the company living up to its mission? Is it meeting its revenue goals? How are business operations funded? If the answer to that question is venture capital and bank loans and the revenue goals aren’t being met, there’s a very good chance changes are brewing. Asking to review the firms business plan isn’t a bad idea if you’re applying for a senior position either. You’ll be able to compare what the firm wants to do and what it’s actually doing.
If you’ve been on the hunt for a job for a while it can be easy to jump at the first offer that comes your way. Look before you leap; don’t accept anything before you have a good feel for the company as a whole. Asking questions during your interview conveys your interest in the position and encourages the interviewer to believe that you’re dedicated and success-driven. Regardless of what your elementary school teacher told you, there are such things as stupid questions, but you can avoid asking them by going into an interview with a prepared set of questions designed to cover the bases that the interviewer doesn’t.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on March 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, How To Answer, Interview, Interview With The Interviewer. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
How do you handle employment gaps on your resume? Most people have a gap in their employment history at some point in time. The length of this time may vary and this is where the difficulty in addressing it lies. On top of this, there are numerous reasons for gaps, perhaps because of a company-wide layoff, maternity leave, health issues, family emergencies, going back to college? These are all valid reasons for employment gaps. But how do you explain this on your resume?
A short employment gap of a month or two is not of high concern to those with several years of experience. However, at first glance, a recruiter or hiring manager is likely to see a long employment gap and immediately raise a brow. A great analogy was stated on Careerealism, an employee is like a house that’s for sale. If it sits on the market for too long, buyers assume that something is wrong. When you decide to take six to nine months off, employers start to wonder the same thing about you.
If you left to pursue a degree, the “education” section of your resume will show this gap. You can also create a “volunteer” section if you took time off to pursue this route. For parenting or other family related reasons be sure to highlight the reasons in your cover letter. You don’t have to get too personal, but a brief explanation If you’re returning to the workforce after an extended absence unrelated to these topics, show how you’ve kept up-to-date with changes in your industry. Don’t just let the cover letter explain it all. That’s like leaving your job search to chance. On your resume showcase how you have remained up to date with your skills.
If asked about the gap during a job interview, use the same brief explanation indicated in your cover letter. You want to convey that the situation is over and you are focused on rejoining the workforce.
For more advice on how to explain employment gaps, click here.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on January 28, 2013 at 10:06 am, and is filed under How To Answer, Right Your Resume. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
This question is very similar to our last “How to Answer Post…” We have received feedback from readers regarding questions that ask to provide a negative answer.
What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about the worst boss you ever had.
Tell me about a time when you failed.
There is no way around this question. You have to answer with an appropriate experience relating to a time when you failed. You can, however, spin the failure into a positive experience where you learned and grew from making a mistake.
Do not say that you have never failed, because we have all failed at something at one point in our careers. Try your best not to blame someone else in the process of relaying a “failure” story.
It shows courage and strength when you take full responsibility for your actions. Take the fault and spin the failure into something positive. Show examples that relate to how you’ve made a conscious effort to never fail in that way again. Live and learn!
For more on how to answer this question please comment on our Facebook page.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on May 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm, and is filed under How To Answer. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
We said it before and we’ll say it one hundred times more, do not say anything negative in a job interview, even if the interviewer is asking for it.
This question, “Tell me about the worst boss you ever had,” is the perfect example of how you can get trapped. The interviewer is asking you to divulge a negative experience or interaction with a supervisor or co-worker.
Try not to fall in to the trap. We’re sure some of you have had bosses that you weren’t too fond of, but try and focus on the positives and steer very clear of bad mouthing.
Here are some answers we would recommend considering:
- “I’ve been lucky enough to have exceptional bosses throughout my career thus far. However, some have taught me more than others.
- “I have never had an awful boss. There were those whose management styles were different than mine. Thankfully, those experiences showed me which styles I work with best.
- Throughout my past experiences my bosses have all been very different. This worked in my favor because it has shown me how versatile I can be in various environments. All of my bosses were very pleasant and taught me something different. For instance…
It’s always a good tactic to follow these answers with specific scenarios. Give some examples of how your bosses differed and how they taught you different things. Change the question around to focus on positive experiences.
Do you have some other answers to this question that you’d like to share with our readers? Please comment on our Facebook page. Thank you!
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on May 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm, and is filed under How To Answer. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
If you find yourself interviewing for a job while you’re currently employed, you will, most likely, encounter this question:
“Why do you want to leave your current job?”
Tread lightly here because you should not mention any reasons that may cross over the job responsibilities that match the job your interviewing for.
Pick two things that you feel you have outgrown in your current role. The main reason for your leaving should never be negative.
“While I have really enjoyed my time at company, I am looking for a more challenging role where I can learn and grow.”
You also must elaborate on why you are not learning and growing with your current company.
Go to the interview prepared to give specific examples why and how you think you can take these new responsibilities and learn, contribute, and grow within this company.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on May 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm, and is filed under How To Answer, Interview, Interview With The Interviewer. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Proceed with caution because this is a tricky question. If you answer with a strong, “I want to grow with the company,” the hiring manager may get the impression that you’re “too” eager and may not be honed in on the job at hand. If you don’t respond with a growth focused answer, the hiring manager may walk away thinking you’re not interested in a long term career within the company.
We asked around and searched for unique, strong answers.
We liked the response we found on Work Coach Cafe.
“I don’t have a specific plan! I would like to advance. However, I am flexible. I will do my current job to the best of my ability and keep my eyes open for opportunities within the organization to advance even if it means changing roles. I am prepared to learn new things and contribute to the overall success of the organization in a number of ways. The only specific within that “plan of willingness” is that the opportunity be within my ability to learn, interesting enough for me to dig in and do a good job, and the compensation increase a reasonable amount in relation to the demands of the position.”
This is, obviously, the answer of a confident person who knows what they want. We like it because it’s honest. This person was hired and promoted eight times in the past thirty years.
For the interviewing faint of heart, a shorter answer and a connection with the hiring manager may be more your speed. Make eye contact, speak slow, and speak from the heart.
If you’re interested in various answers to this question please visit our Facebook page and leave a comment. Good luck!
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on April 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm, and is filed under How To Answer. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
We are trained not to discuss salary in a first job interview. However, that does not mean the hiring manager will steer clear of asking the question:
What is your salary requirement?
Some are truly stumped by this question because they don’t want to say a number and regret it. By committing to a number you run the risk of low balling yourself. This can result in a potential offer that’s not what you want at a company you really want to work for.
Below are some tips to prepare you for this question.
- Go into the interview knowing the answer to this question. Never say, “Oh, I have never really thought about it.”
- Know your market. Research the position you’re interviewing for and note the standard salaries based on job requirements and qualifications
- Don’t throw out any number. Have a conversation about what you’re currently making and what you earned in your previous positions so that the hiring manager can see your growth potential
- Ask questions. How many people will I be managing? Are there any job responsibilities added to this job that aren’t necessarily on the job description? Will I be commuting (some people require added pay to contribute to transportation)
- Make sure your answer isn’t greedy but don’t devalue yourself either. A great way to avoid this is to do your research
You always want to be honest about what you’re currently making and have made in the past. However, if this conversation is taking place during your first interview, don’t say a number! Leave it open ended and express that you’re willing to explore various salaries based on benefits and added bonuses.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on April 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm, and is filed under How To Answer. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
In this week’s edition of “How To Answer,” we would like to focus on strengths you have acquired and utilized in previous roles.
During an interview it is beneficial to have at least 3-4 strengths memorized so you can answer:
“What do you think you can bring to this company?”
Use this question to your advantage by answering with hard evidence proving your great skills and qualities that are unique to you and no one else. This is an opportunity to show that you would be a valuable asset to the company. Here are some reasons why.
Think of a time when you:
- Were a leader
- Handled pressure in a professional manner
- Went above and beyond for a co-worker or client
- Showed loyalty
- Solved a problem with a can-do attitude
Make sure you tie in a scenario to each point above and any others you would like to showcase.
How do you answer this question? What interview questions have stumped you in the past?
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on April 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm, and is filed under How To Answer. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Last week’s “How To Answer” blog post got a great response, thank you!
One of our Facebook fans suggested we post about a question that has stumped her in the past.
“Tell me more about yourself.”
This is less of a question and more of a demand.
The question is tricky because:
- You want to make sure you list qualities about yourself, as a person, that match the job itself
- You want to express your interest in the job and it’s responsibilities by explaining some hobbies or past times that complement the qualifications of the role
- You have to be aware of how personal you get with the information you share. Don’t take it too far or the interview could become awkward
In order to hit all the positive points about your wonderful and outgoing personality, you should make a list before the interview. Jot down what you do on your spare time and how that contributes to your persona and work ethic.
- I enjoy Yoga and Ballet – These activities not only keep me healthy and in shape but it’s a great way to make new friends, engage in a new community, and learn new things (This shows that you’re friendly, active, and open to new things)
- I volunteer once a month with City Harvest – When I work with the people and charities associate with City Harvest I find that I feel fulfilled and proud that I am using my strength and free time to help others in need (This shows that you care about others and are willing to put others before yourself. It also proves that you’re responsible and can commit to tasks and obligations.)
- I belong to a book club that I started – I coordinate meetings and assign books to read once a month. There are 10 girls in my club, a number which has grown from 5 in one year! We have been doing this for over a year and it’s a great way to catch up and share ideas. (This shows that you are a team leader and you take initiative.)
Have you been stumped by an interview question? Please tell us what’s stumped you and you may be featured in next week’s post!
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on April 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm, and is filed under How To Answer, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
We would like to start dedicating Tuesday’s posts to how to answer hard interview questions.
There are some questions that stump while others are no brainers.
It’s important to be consistent with your answers, keeping them short and on point.
One candidate asked us how to answer:
“What is your work ethic like?”
This stumped her because she already answered questions with the answers:
- I’m hardworking
- I do not procrastinate
- I am dedicated and committed to being successful
With this particular question we would recommend answering with a specific instance where you showed a strong work ethic. Don’t limit your answer to: “I have a strong work ethic.”
Lengthen your answer with two or three examples of how you exhibited this “strong” ethic.
Stay tuned for next week’s “How To Answer.” If you’ve been stumped by an interview question and need some clarity for your next interview – email – sbellow(at)pyramidcg(dot)com and you could be featured on our blog!
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on March 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm, and is filed under Awkwardly Asking, Chronicles For Candidates, How To Answer, Interview, Interview With The Interviewer. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|