Category: Job Hunting Tips

7 Questions to Ask in An Interview and Why

I absolutely hate the part of job interviews where the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions?” However I recently learnt that one of the reasons that I got my current role was because I was apparently really eager when it came time for me to ask questions.

Of course I was eager. It was my dream job! But that was what made me realize how important this part of the interview was for a candidate. This is the time to show your interviewer that you are interested in the job as more than just a paycheck. This is also the time for YOU to evaluate whether or not this job is a good fit for you. Here are 7 questions that you should be asking and why.

1) What does a typical day look like?

If you get this job, you want to know beforehand what exactly a day will look like for you? This is especially great if you are speaking to someone who held the role before you. They would be able to advise what your duties are, who you work closely with and why. Their answer will also tell you how they felt about the job.  Asking this question shows that you are serious about the role and want to know more.

2) Where is the last person who held this job moving on to?

This is something I picked up from the media buyer I interned under. Asking this question allows you to find out if the person who previously held this role was promoted (yay for internal growth) or if they left the company. If they left the company, you might want to dig deeper and investigate why. Was it just for a higher paycheck or was there more to the story? Is there an issue with staff constantly leaving?

3) What’s your favorite part about working here?

This question is an excellent way to evaluate what type of an environment you are going into. What is the interviewer’s favorite part, if any? It is important that they have something that you too can see as fun or a highlight. If you asked me this back when I was in a toxic workplace, my answer would have been “home-time”. For my Marketing interview, the interviewer seemed genuinely excited about her work and that made me excited about the job.

4) What are the next steps in the interview process?

This is a great question to help you know if you were successful, what would you be doing next. Is it a personality test? A skills test? A group interview? This is also a great way to find out when you will receive feedback on your interview. 

5) If you were starting this job now, what advice would you give yourself?

This is another way to show that you are genuinely interested in the role and would like to know how to kick ass at it. People like to give advice to new starts (or atleast nice, helpful people do) so this is also a good way to build rapport with your interviewer. Again, be sure to evaluate the answers so that you know if this role is for you. I once had an interview where the interviewer told me that lunch breaks were often sacrificed for deadlines. What they didn’t mention was that the team NEVER took a lunch break (they ate at odd hours and they ate at their desks) and those who did take lunch away from their desks were looked down on. Thankfully, I never got this specific job.

6) What kinds of challenges can I expect in this role?

Again this is more of a “I want to know how to do my best at this job” as opposed to “I want this job because I need money”. Knowing what challenges await you in this role if you are successful allows you to know what to prepare for. Do you need to brush up on your Excel knowledge? Do you need to spend more time working on your presentation skills? Now is the time to find out.

7) What is the company culture like?

THIS! This is a really important question but also it is one that is rarely answered honestly. If you get the chance to walk around or speak to other people in the workplace, this is a good idea. Another idea is to get a glance at the staff if you can. You can clearly see the difference between happy and unhappy staff. Happy staff are bubbly and chatty. Unhappy staff are…not. Keep your eyes open. And if the interviewer comes up with the old “We are like a family” line- RUN!

The most important thing when it comes to asking questions in an interview is that you show a genuine interest for the role and the company as opposed to just being interested in money. Income is important but it’s the actual work that you’re going to be doing everyday and you want to make sure it isn’t something that will make you miserable.

5 Things to Check Before Starting Your Job Hunt

It’s the most awful time of the year (Sorry, not a fan of January. It is the Monday of the year) and for those who are unemployed or actively looking for a job, January could be the start of a year that brings with it a brand-new career.

But are you really ready? Before you start sending out applications, here are a few things to check.

1. How are your Google results looking?

Before applying for a job, Google your full name and see what comes up. It is also a good idea to Google your full name and your title. You never know what you might find and it helps if you are aware of exactly what pops up when you’re Google’d. For me, I have never found anything besides my social media profiles but I do have an issue where family and friends keep finding me and my blog on Google. Yes I want readers but not people who know me. That just feels weird. Google yourself on your browser and even a friend or family member’s just to ensure that there are no nasty surprises if prospective employers decide to do the same (Trust me, this is a thing).

 2. Are your social media profiles okay?

Similar to Google, your social media profiles can tell A LOT about you. Be sure to go through all of your accounts and make sure there is nothing inappropriate such as pictures of you getting drunk/high or wearing something unprofessional. Yes, animal onesies are adorable but is that picture something you want your future employer and co-workers to see? This would also be a good time to set your profiles on private.

 3. Are all your documents updated?

This one…is pretty obvious. But do check to ensure that you have the latest copy of your resume. Back when our company was hiring for a Marketing Intern, I was horrified when my former manager told me that one of the staff didn’t update their resume with their latest role (i.e the current role that they were occupying in the company at that time) and Recruitment emailed them back to decline their application. This is a tiny error and it upset me that something so minor cost her.

 4. Do you have a cover letter?

Yes, cover letters are not mandatory for all applications. But it feels so good when you can explain to the company more about you and why they should hire you. Try to have a cover letter tailored to each of the jobs you apply for. Hack- have a cover letter template for each industry you are applying in and then simply edit your cover letter for each application.

 5. How is your elevator pitch?

“Tell me about yourself” is the ABSOLUTE worse interview question ever. And yet every time it feels like you do not know who you are. Prepare yourself for this by coming up with an elevator pitch- a one or two minute speech about who you are, what your background is (again this is to show why you are the best candidate so make sure you focus on skills you have that will be an asset in your prospective new role) and what you are looking for in a job.

Working on an elevator pitch for yourself is also great for when you start a new job and need to introduce yourself to others.

7 Things You Must Do Before an Interview

No matter how old you get or how far you are in your career, interviews are an unavoidable part of life. Here are 7 tips to help you minimize your stress on the big day:

  1. Figure out where you’re going and how long it takes you-This is especially important if you’re going somewhere you haven’t been before or if the venue is situated somewhere out of the way. Take a drive to the interview venue and monitor how long it takes you. It’ll save you from being late on the day of the interview. And if the “did you have trouble finding this place?” pops up in conversation, you can show that you know how to plan ahead. I did this for one of my earlier interviews and while I did not remain in that position, this was something that impressed the hiring manager (who tracked me down a few months later for another job).
  1. Research the business and if possible the interviewers- check out the company’s website and social media pages to get an idea of their work as well as their values. This helps you to learn more about them as well as see if you fit in with their company culture. If you know who is your interviewer, try to find out more about them too. LinkedIn is great for finding who knows who but you can also try social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Maybe you and your interviewer went to the same university or have similar interests which you can use as a talking point during the interview. However I do recommend confessing to cyber stalking. Remember you are trying to build a connection, not get a restraining order.
  1. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep- Ensure you’re well rested before an interview. If necessary do something the night before to ease your stress such as a workout or meditation. I have a bedtime ritual of tea, face mask and then colouring that always calms me before an interview.
  1. Revise your resume and cover letter- Go over your cover letter and resume, paying special attention to what projects or job roles may help you in this interview. Have you demonstrated teamwork? Excellent leadership skills? Figure out how you can tie your past and present experience into this job role. This is also a great time to practice your elevator pitch.
  1. Pick out a professional outfit- be sure to pick out an outfit that looks professional but is also comfortable. The last thing you want is to be tugging and adjusting your clothes throughout the interview. It’s uncomfortable for you and distracting for the interviewer.
  1. Promote yourself to yourself- An important part of an interview is to project confidence. Remind yourself of all of your amazing accomplishments both in and out of work. Keep a list of everything you’ve done that you’re proud of. You want to project confidence in your interview so it’s important that you remind yourself why you’re so great. 
  1. Prepare questions and your answers- Do your research and prepare answers to some common interview questions. I like to look for general interview questions and as well as questions specific to the field that you’re applying for a job in. Be sure to also make a list of any questions you might have (and make sure they show your sincere interest in the position).

Interviews may be nerve-wracking but with enough practice, you can train yourself to be calmer as well as more prepared.

Anatomy of a Cover Letter

I detest cover letters. Is there anything more difficult to write? Thankfully, cover letters are one of those things that get easier to do with time. Below, I’ve listed a short guide to what your cover letter should look like.

tablet

Address to who you’re writing

Dear Sir/Madam
(it’s always a good idea to know who’s going to be receiving your application and then addressing them here. It shows that you have done your research on the business).

Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself. State your name, where you go to school and what you’re studying. State why you’re applying. Make sure you catch the readers attention so that he or she is eager to continue reading.

Paragraph 2: Highlight anything important you think they need to know. For example, have you have previous experience in this field?
Do you have a skill that makes you excellent for the job? EVERYTHING is important. Jobs teach you skills that can be used in any field.

Paragraph 3: Make it clear that you will be an asset to them. Whether it’s because you thrive on pressure and deadlines or because you have amazing qualifications, show the company that they should want to hire you.

I look forward to your response

Sincerely,

Enter full name here

5 Tips for Cleaning Your Social Media Profiles

Remember back when you knew nothing about anyone and had to actually interact with a person to find out more about them? Yeah, I don’t remember so far back either. In today’s age of social media, you can find out much about a person by simply stalking them online. But while this is great for when it comes to checking out your crush, this technique can backfire when it comes to jobs. Employers can reject your simply because of the image you project on social media. Here are five tips to help you clean up your social media presence:

 

1) Rule of thumb: If  you wouldn’t want your gran to see it, don’t put it up. This rule works great for me since I do actually have my grandmother on Facebook. This rule has served me well in social media…mainly because as a teen, I was always getting in trouble for posting something or the other that people deemed offensive.

2) Set your profiles on private: I think this is a great rule since you have some sort of control over who views your profile. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have settings that protect your privacy. However if you work in a field like social media or marketing, doing this may be like shooting yourself in the foot. My Facebook can only be viewed by friends while my Twitter and Instagram are open to the world since I use those accounts for blogging.

3) Google yourself: Googling a person online is the fastest way to learn more about them. Google your name and see what comes up. If there’s anything that could be considered as rude, unprofessional or portrays an image that you don’t want, get rid of it.

4) Delete past posts: Delete posts that are rude, mean or just have a negative air about them. Untag yourself from pictures of alcohol, drugs, that picture of you in the bikini, etc. You don’t want to be seen as a party girl by potential employers (even if that is who you are).

5) Ask a third party to double-check: Get someone you trust to do a Google search on you and evaluate the results as well as checking your social media. Having someone else look through your stuff lets you see how others may view your online presence.

 

While the popularity of social media has killed the concept of privacy, using the tips above can help you use this lack of privacy to your advantage.

5 Things to Do Before a Job Interview

Job interviews are absolutely nerve-wracking. But while there is no way to escape them, you can help make things easier by following these five simple tips:

  1. Check out the location of your interview the day before- My first job interview was at a place that was really difficult to find. However I made my dad take me to the venue the day before so I would know how to get there and how long the drive would take. When I went in for the interview, the manager was super-impressed that I found the place without any trouble and that I was early. Especially when I explained to him that I had visited the location the day before so that I wouldn’t get lost.
  2. Print out multiple copies of your CV/Resume- Print out atleast five copies of your relevant documentation in case your interview is conducted by more than one person. I did this just because I read this advice somewhere online. I never thought I would actually need it until I went for an interview that was conducted by two managers. They each had a copy of my CV and the receptionist took one for their records. It’s better to have extras just in case.
  3. Leave home early- You certainly don’t want to be late for an interview. It reflects  very poorly on you no matter what the circumstances were. Make sure you leave home early enough to get to the interview on time.
  4. Learn everything you can about the company and the position that you’re applying- I always like to distract myself during interviews by making friends with the other interviewees. I met a girl once who had no idea what the position we were applying for was (it was debt collecting) and when this was revealed in the interview, she was sent home.
  5. Ensure that your outfit is professional- Dressing professionally shows that you are serious about the job. First impressions matter and when it comes to an interview, it might be the only impression that you make.

What are your tips for handling job interviews? I’d love to know below.

5 Tips For Writing a Cover Letter

I posted this before but I’m sharing again for anyone who needs cover letter help for the new year.

Notebook and pen

1) Personalize your letter for each application- even if you’re applying for the same position at different companies, it is important that your cover letter is tailored for each company. For example, your application for a fashion magazine and a newspaper should each mention what you could bring to the specific company and position.

2) Try to stand out- Standard introductions are boring. Remember that the person reading your letter goes through several other cover letters as well. Try to stand out in your letter to get their attention. For example, instead of starting with “my name is x and I am applying for y”, start with something out of the box like a quote or motto that you believe in.

3) Do not write an essay- a cover letter that is succinct is more successful that a three – page – essay.  Ideally a cover letter should say who you are, what you can bring to the table and briefly list your experience or qualifications for the job.

4) Show what you can bring to the job- I’ve stated this before. This is just to emphasis it. The company has hundreds of applicants. Obviously everyone wants the job. Obviously they have something to offer. But what do you have? Stellar social media skills? Writing experience? Show that you stand out from others with your unique skills.

5) Stick to the format- a cover letter is just that a letter. So stick to the usual format of a letter. Don’t know the format? Google it! And remember to ensure that you have no typos. Nothing spells unprofessional easier than a badly-formatted, typo – riddled cover letter.

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