preparing for your next career move
We are all familiar with the phrase, 'success is when preparation meets opportunity', however, many candidates still lack the proper training and knowledge to get through an interview. To combat this, we've highlighted the many layers of the interview process and included key insights and tips to help you land your dream job. To learn more about a specific topic, please click the links below.
Frequently asked questions and suggested responses
- "Tell me about yourself." Briefly describe your experience and background. If you are unsure what information the interviewer is seeking, say, "Are there any areas in particular you'd like to know about?"
- "What is your weakest point?" (A stress question) Mention something that is actually a strength. Some examples are:
- "I'm something of a perfectionist."
- "I'm a stickler for punctuality."
- "I'm tenacious."
- Give a specific situation from your previous job to illustrate your point.
- "What is your strongest point?"
- "I work well under pressure."
- "I am organized and manage my time well."
- If you have just graduated from college you might say,
- "I am eager to learn, and I don't have to unlearn old techniques."
- Give a specific example to illustrate your point.
- "What do you hope to be doing five years from now?"
- "I hope I will still be working here and have increased my level of responsibility based on my performance and abilities."
- "I hope I will still be working here and have increased my level of responsibility based on my performance and abilities."
- "Why have you been out of work for so long?" (A stress question)
- "I spent some time re-evaluating my past experience and the current job market to see what direction I wanted to take".
- "I had some offers but I'm not just looking for another job; I'm looking for a career."
- "What do you know about our company? Why do you want to work here?"
- This is where your research on the company will come in handy.
- "You are a small/large firm and a leading force in the local/national economy"
- "Your company is a leader in your field and growing."
- "Your company has a superior product/service."
- You might try to get the interviewer to give you additional information about the company by saying that you are very interested in learning more about the company objectives. This will help you to focus your response on relevant areas.
- "What is your greatest accomplishment?" Give a specific illustration from your previous or current job where you saved the company money or helped increase their profits. If you have just graduated from college, try to find some accomplishment from your school work, part-time jobs, or extra-curricular activities.
- "Why should we hire you?" (A stress question) Highlight your background based on the company's current needs. Recap your qualifications keeping the interviewer's job description in mind. If you don't have much experience, talk about how your education and training prepared you for this job.
- "Why do you want to make a change now?"
- "I want to develop my potential."
- "The opportunities in my present company are limited."
- "Tell me about a problem you had in your last job and how you resolved it." The employer wants to assess your analytical skills and see if you are a team player. Select a problem from your last job and explain how you solved it.
- Some Questions You Should Ask
- "What are the company's current challenges?"
- "Could you give me a more detailed job description?"
- "Why is this position open?"
- "Are there opportunities for advancement?"
- "To whom would I report?"
Before the Interview
The interview strategies discussed below can be used effectively in any type of interview
- Prepare in advance. The better prepared you are, the less anxious you will be and the greater your chances for success.
- Knowing the following things will allow you to present those strengths and abilities that the employer wants
- Why does the company need someone in this position?
- Exactly what would they expect of you?
- Are they looking for traditional or innovative solutions to problems?
- Learn the questions that are commonly asked and prepare answers to them. Practice giving answers which are brief but thorough.
- Decide what questions you would like to ask and practice politely interjecting them at different points in the interview.
- Evaluate your strengths. Evaluate your skills, abilities, and education as they relate to the type of job you are seeking.
- Practice tailoring your answers to show how you meet the company's needs, if you have details about the specific job before the interview.
- Your clothes should be clean and pressed, and your shoes polished.
- Make sure your hair is neat, your nails clean, and you are generally well groomed.
- Research the company. The more you know about the company and the job you are applying for, the better you will do in the interview.
- Have extra copies of your résumé available to take on the interview. The interviewer may ask you for extra copies.
- Make sure you bring along the same version of your résumé that you originally sent the company. You can also refer to your résumé to complete applications that ask for job history information (e.g., dates of employment, names of former employers and their telephone numbers, job responsibilities, and accomplishments).
- Arrive early at the interview. Plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early.
- It's important to make a good impression from the moment you enter the reception area. Greet the receptionist cordially and try to appear confident. You never know what influence the receptionist has with your interviewer. If you are asked to fill out an application while you're waiting, be sure to fill it out completely.
Question to prepare for an interview
- What do you know about our organization?
- What would you do for our organization in the first 90 days And beyond?
- What do you look for in a job?
- What has been your most difficult challenge that you overcame?
- Do you consider yourself to be a good leader? Provide an example.
- Are you a strong manager?
- Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what were the reasons and how did you handle it?
- Why would you leave your present job?
- Describe the ideal work environment for you.
- What style of management do you like working for?
- What kind of boss are you?
- What is your single greatest business success?
- In your current or last position, what features did you like the most? Least?
- What do your subordinates think of you?
- In your current or last position, what are or were your five most significant accomplishments?
- What do you think of your boss?
- Would you describe a few situations in which your work was challenged? How did you handle it?
- If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? What would he/she tell me you still need to work on?
- Can you quantify the value you have brought your current employer (revenue, cost savings)?
- In your present position, what problems have you identified that have been previously overlooked?
- How have you improved communication in your department?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What was the last book you read? Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended?
- Are you creative? Give examples.
- Are you results oriented? Give examples.
- What are your career goals?
- What are you doing or have you done to achieve them?
- How do you keep yourself current in your industry?
- Have you ever been a mentor to someone? Describe the situation.
- According to your definition of success, how successful have you been so far?
- Have you ever received critical feedback? What was it? How did you respond?
- How would your subordinates describe your management style?
- What was the best job you ever had?
- What did you like the most?
- Describe a recent situation that best illustrates your style in leading others to accomplish a task?
- Have you had a subordinate who was not performing up to their potential? Describe the situation and how you handled it as well as the outcome.
- Have you ever fired an employee? Describe the situation and the results.
- Describe the last time you disagreed with one of your bosses or co-workers. What was the reason?
- How did you express your disagreement? What was the person's reaction? What was the outcome?
- Tell me about a recent time when you had to rely on the cooperation of your peers to get the job done. What was the task? How did you go about gaining their cooperation? What difficulties did you run into? How did you handle the difficulties? How did it turn out?
- Despite our best intentions, we don't always see eye-to-eye with people. Tell me about the co-worker you just don't get along with. Why does this person irritate you? Tell about the time you got along best with this person.
- Recall a time when you were really angry or frustrated at work. What was the situation and what did you do about it?
- Recall a conflict between your personal/business life. What was the conflict? How did you resolve it?
- Describe the most prominent mistake you made in your career and how it was handled. What were the results and what did you learn from it?
- Describe a setback in your career and what you did about it. What was the end result?
- Tell me about the last time you received critical feedback? What was it? Was there a pattern to it and how did you handle it? What were the results?
- What was the most difficult ethical business decision you have had to make? What did you do and what were the end results?
- Tell me about the most long-term, extra-hour effort you have undertaken in the last year. What was the project or assignment? What extra effort did you put in? Were you successful? Why or why not?
- Tell me about a recent time when your work was very hectic. What did you do to keep it under control?
- If you could start your career over, what would you do differently?
- Which of your past jobs has been most demanding in terms of having to handle a variety of tasks at once? What competing demands did you have to deal with? How did you decide what to do first? How did it turn out?
When to ask questions
The problem with a traditional interview structure is that your chance to ask questions occurs late in the interview. How can you get the information you need early in the process without making the interviewer feel that you are taking control?
Deciding exactly when to ask your questions is the tricky part. Timing is everything. You may have to make a decision based on intuition and your first impressions of the interviewer. Does the interviewer seem comfortable or nervous, soft spoken or forceful, formal or casual? These signals will help you to judge the best time to ask your questions. The sooner you ask the questions, the less likely you are to disrupt the interviewer's agenda. However, if you ask questions too early, the interviewer may feel you are trying to control the interview. Try asking questions right after the greeting and small talk.
Since most interviewers like to set the tone of the interview and maintain initial control, always phrase your questions in a way that leaves control with the interviewer. Perhaps say, "Would you mind telling me a little more about the job so that I can focus on the information that would be most important to the company?" If there is no job opening but you are trying to develop one or you need more information about the company, try saying, "Could you tell me a little more about where the company is going so I can focus on those areas of my background that are most relevant?" You may want to wait until the interviewer has given an overview of what will be discussed.
This overview may answer some of your questions or may provide some details that you can use to ask additional questions. Once the middle phase of the interview has begun, you may find it more difficult to ask questions.
During the interview
The job interview is usually a two way discussion between you and a prospective employer. The interviewer is attempting to determine whether you have what the company needs, and you are attempting to determine if you would accept the job if offered. Both of you will be trying to get as much information as possible in order to make those decisions.
The interview that you are most likely to face is a structured interview with a traditional format. It usually consists of three phases. The introductory phase covers the greeting, small talk, and an overview of which areas will be discussed during the interview. The middle phase is a question and answer period. The interviewer asks most of the questions, but you are given an opportunity to ask questions as well. The closing phase gives you an opportunity to ask any final questions you might have, cover any important points that haven't been discussed, and get information about the next step in the process.
questions for hiring manager
- Why is this position open?
- How often has it been filled in the past three years?
- What have been the primary reasons for the persons leaving?
- Why did the person who held this position most recently leave?
- In what ways were you most pleased with what he or she did?
- Where was the greatest room for improvement?
- What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this job?
- What are some of the objectives you would like accomplished in this job?
- What is most pressing?
- What would you like to have done within the next two or three months?
- What are some of the long-term objectives that you would like completed?
- What freedom would I have in determining my work objectives, deadlines and methods of measurement?
- What kind of support does this position receive in terms of people, finances, etc.?
- What are some of the more difficult problems that one would have to face in this position?
- How do you think these could be handled best?In terms of status, prestige, and influence, how does this department compare with others, especially from the viewpoint of the top person?
- How would you describe your management style?
- How does this compare with your boss and those above him or her especially the chief executive?
- What do you see as my strengths, shortcomings, and chances for this position?
- Where could a person go who is successful in this position and within what timeframe?
- In what ways has this organization been most successful in terms of products and services over the years, particularly more recently?
- What significant changes do you foresee in the near future?
After the interview
You are not finished yet. It is important to assess the interview shortly after it is concluded.
Following your interview you should:
- Write down the name and title (be sure the spelling is correct) of the interviewer
- Review what the job entails and record what the next step will be
- Note your reactions to the interview; include what went well and what went poorly
- Assess what you learned from the experience and how you can improve your performance in future interviews
- Make sure you send a thank you note within 24 hours; your thank you note should:
- Be hand-written only if you have a very good handwriting; most people type thank you notes
- Be on good quality paper
- Be simple and brief
- Express your appreciation for the interviewer's time
- Show enthusiasm for the job
- Get across that you want the job and can do it
- Everyone knows that a thank you letter should be sent after an interview, but very few people actually send one. Make sure you are one of those few. It could give you the edge.
- Phone follow-up. If you were not told during the interview when a hiring decision will be made, call after one week. At that time, if you learn that the decision has not been made, find out whether you are still under consideration for the job. Ask if there are any other questions the interviewer might have about your qualifications and offer to come in for another interview if necessary.
- Reiterate that you are very interested in the job. If you learn that you did not get the job, try to find out why. You might also inquire whether the interviewer can think of anyone else who might be able to use someone with your abilities, either in another department or at another company. If you are offered the job, you have to decide whether you want it. If you are not sure, thank the employer and ask for several days to think about it. Ask any other questions you might need answered to help you with the decision. If you know you want the job and have all the information you need, accept the job with thanks and get the details on when you start. Ask whether the employer will be sending a letter of confirmation, as it is best to have the offer in writing.
The closing phase
During the closing phase of an interview, you will be asked whether you have any other questions. Ask any relevant question that has not yet been answered. Highlight any of your strengths that have not been discussed. If another interview is to be scheduled, get the necessary information. If this is the final interview, find out when the decision is to be made and when you can call. Thank the interviewer by name and say good-bye.
- Be sincere and direct
- Be attentive and polite
- Ask relevant questions
- Answer questions concisely
- Use specific examples to illustrate points
- Try to control the entire interview
- Bring up salary, benefits or working hours
- Let your depression or discouragement show
- Make negative comments about anyone or anything, including former employers
The recruiters at TRI understand that leaving your current job can be very tough. With that in mind, we would like to offer some suggestions on how to be tactful and think rationally about your decision. Managers who value key employees will do everything in their powers to keep them from leaving. This is because, when key employees leave, it almost always carries a negative connotation about the supervisors and the company itself. To avoid that outcome, the company’s general reaction is to do whatever they can do to get the employee to change his mind and stay. At this point it may seem that the company has the employee’s best interests at heart judging by the promises that might be made.
Think about the following points before you decide to accept any offer made in an effort to get you to stay:
Well –managed, reputable companies will probably not make a counter offer
Your manager is not likely to forget about your intentions to leave, and if you accept a counter offer you can be assured that you will be replaced soon thereafter
Moreover, any “good standing” you held with the company is thereby nullified by your resignation so if you change your mind and stay, you will most likely not be considered for advancement.
Studies have determined that the things that cause employees to want to leave to begin with will probably not change or get any better.
You should always submit a well thought out resignation in writing so as to avoid any misunderstanding about your intentions.
Be prepared to handle type of reaction about your resignation in a calm and professional manner.
Remember to give your best effort during the last impression.
Do not respond to any inquires about why you are leaving; just say that you simply been offered an opportunity that you cannot pass up.
The counter offer
Counter offers are specifically designed to get you to second guess your decision to resign by using means of flattery. Your manager may even call in his supervisor to extend the counter offer so as to make you feel that you are important enough to involve upper management. They might tell you things like how invaluable your are to them and how your co-workers really need you. You might also be asked what can be done to get you to stay.
Here are a few of the things you can expect to be included in a counter offer:
- You may be offered more money
- You may be offered a promotion and/or more responsibility
- You may be made promises about your future with the company if you decide to stay
- You may hear negative remarks about the company you are leaving them for
- You may be made to feel guilty about your decision
Since a counter offer is very rarely extended in a sincere manner, it is best to just turn it down. Ask yourself “why are they motivated all of a sudden to offer opportunities and promises that they did not consider me for prior to my resignation?”
Ten Reasons for not accepting a counter offer:
- What type of company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you are worth?
- Where is the money for the counter offer coming from?
- Is it your next raise early (All companies have strict wage and salary guidelines which must be followed)
- Your company will start looking for a new person at a lower salary.
- You have now made your employer aware that you are un happy. From this day on, your loyalty will always be in question.
- When promotion time comes around, your employer will remember who was loyal and who wasn’t
- When times get tough, your employer will begin the cutbacks with you.
- The same circumstances that now cause you to consider a change will repeat themselves in the future, even if you accept a counter offer
- Statistics show that if you accept a counter offer, the probability of being let go within one year is extremely high. National statistics indicate that 89% accepting counter offers are gone in 6 months.
- Accepting a counter offer is an insult to your intelligence and a blow to your personal pride, knowing that you were bought.