General Interview Questions and Tips

Job InterviewSmart job seekers know the importance of preparing for job interviews. Doing your homework beforehand will help put you in a position to convince the hiring manager that you have the talent they need to fill the seat.

This segment will cover the most general interview questions that hiring managers often use along with tips to assist you with coming up with great answers.

If you are actively looking for employment, a good resource will be to go through each question and create a cheat sheet. Come up with answers to each question and study the answers before every scheduled interview.

Let’s get into the most common general interview questions and tips.

1) Can you tell me a little about yourself? 
I firmly believe this is the most dreaded interview question. This question, when asked, makes most interviewers cringe, their eyes cross and smoke come out of their ears. This is why it is imperative to prepare for interviews. When you are faced with this question, a great way to answer it is using your elevator pitch. What is an elevator pitch you ask?

ELEVATOR PITCH

Elevator

Now let’s say you don’t have an elevator pitch, start off with specific accomplishments or experiences that you want the interviewer to know about. Gear the answer to this question with the position you are interviewing for. You want to end this question with a pitch that is concise, compelling and one that shows why you are the right fit for the position you are interviewing for.

2) What do you know about the company?
Take a moment before the interview to read through the organizations website. Mid-to-large sized organizations usually have their mission and vision statements in the “About Me” section of the website. Familiarize yourself with a couple of keywords and phrases from the website however make all your statements personal, show that you care about their mission.

3) How did you hear about the position?
Simple question right? Straight to the point, no need to dress up? WRONG. This question gives you an opportunity to stand out and express your passion for and connection to the company. If you were referred to by a colleague or friend, share why you were so excited to have the opportunity to interview with their organization.

4) Why do you want this job?
You want to have a great answer for this question. So, what makes a good answer? First, identify key factors that make the role a great fit for you, then share why you want to be a part of their organization. You can relate this to the industry or the type of services/products they represent.

5) What are you looking for in a new position?
Put the Job Descriptions to use. If you found the position using a job search website or applying online from the organizations website, read through and familiarize yourself with the position description. Those are the items you want to mention, the same things that this position has to offer. Be sure to be specific.

6) What type of work environment do you prefer?
Use the same tactic as you did for the “What are you looking for a new position?” question. Review the Job Description and say one that’s similar to the environment of the company you are applying to.

7) Why we should hire you?
Time to sell yourself and your skills! Your answer should cover three items:

  • That you can do the work and deliver great results;
  • that you will really fit in with the organizational culture and team;
  • that you would be a better hire than any of the other candidates.

8) Why are you leaving your current job?
I emphasize… KEEP THINGS POSITIVE. You have nothing to gain by bashing or being negative about past employers. Instead, focus the conversation in a way that indicates you are eager to take on a new role and new responsibilities. If you are interviewing in a different industry, you can say you are looking for an industry change, one that aligns you with your future career goals. If you were let go from your previous employer, keep it simple. Saying “Unfortunately, I was released,” is an acceptable answer.

9) What other companies are you interviewing with?
This is a popular question with recruiters. I typically keep the answer to this question short and sweet. If you are actively looking, it’s okay to mention that you are exploring a number of other similar options within the company’s industry. Also a great angle is to state there is a common characteristic of all the jobs you are applying to such as abilities and skills you possess.

10) What are your salary requirements?
Research… research… RESEARCH! Use sites like Payscale and Glassdoor to do research on the industry salary trends. This is a great source to help you come up with a range based on the industry, your experience, education and skills. You want to make sure the hiring manager knows that you are flexible. You want to communicate that you know your skills are valuable, you value your knowledge, skills and abilities BUT that you want the job and are more than willing to negotiate.

11) Do you have any questions for us?
What do you want to know about the position that you haven’t already covered? How about the company, department, the team? This is your opportunity to catch up on anything that may have been missed throughout the interview. You can also ask questions that target the interviewer, the company’s benefit packages or the growth of the company.

Be sure to take a moment and review tips on how best to prepare for an interview: You’ve got an interview… NOW WHAT?

Lastly, click on the link to access a handout for you to print and use as a reference to come up with your answers. Be sure to study your answers and be a smart job seeker, BE PREPARED: GENERAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS & TIPS HANDOUT

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Professionalism in the Workplace

How many of you have heard the quote, “Perception is reality.” There is a constant battle on the concept of this quote, however, perception is equated with reality for most practical purposes and guides human behavior in general.

How you carry yourself in an interview and in the workplace often defines to others (whether fact or not, solely based on perception), the type of worker you are or will be. It’s in how you communicate, your appearance, and your overall work ethic, that helps define your total package.

The below infographic “Professionalism in the Workplace” provides the results of a survey on Professionalism conducted by the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania. Contributing to the survey was a sample HR professionals, undergraduates, and workplace managers

Take a look at the below infographic and see what characteristics you can brush up on to give the right impression!

Professionalism

What is Emotional Intelligence and why is it important?

Did you know that for most people, emotional intelligence is more important than one’s intelligence in attaining success in not only their lives but careers as well? As individuals a lot of our success depends on our ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them.

Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.
– Howard Gardner, Harvard theorist

What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)? Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, leading researchers on EI, defined emotional intelligence as the “ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional meanings, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote both better emotion and thought.”

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.
– Dr. Daniel Goleman, Ph.D, Psychologist

Breaking down Emotional Intelligence. Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on emotional intelligence and proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence.

  1. Perceiving Emotions:  The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them.
  2. Reasoning with Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity.
  3. Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean.
  4. Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence.

Travis Bradberry, in his Forbes article titled “Emotional Intelligence – EQ” uses the below graphic by TalentSmart to explain that emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.

aboutei-4box

As described by Travis Bradberry, personal competence is made up of your self-awareness and self-management skills, which focus more on you individually than on your interactions with other people. Personal competence is your ability to stay aware of your emotions and manage your behavior. Social competence is made up of your social awareness and relationship management skills; social competence is your ability to understand other people’s moods, behavior, and motives in order to improve the quality of your relationships.

For a more thorough and interesting overview of Emotional Intelligence, check out Travis Bradberry published Forbes article by clicking here.

Want to see more-or-less how emotionally intelligent you are? Take a short quiz provided by psychology.about.com to find out! Emotional Intelligence Quiz

Lastly, the “Emotional ID and You” infographic provided by eleraninginfographics.com created by the University of Maryland dives deeper into what emotional intelligence entails as well as why it’s important in the workplace.

The-importance-of-Emotional-Intelligence-infographic

Reference: Meyer, J.D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is Emotional Intelligence? In P. Salovey & D.J. Slyter (Eds.) Emotional Development and Emotional Intellgence. New York: Basic Books.

What “Million Dollar Listing NY” can teach you about professional development…

One of my favorite shows on TV is Million Dollar Listing NY. Some may see this show simply as reality hogwash. Just a bunch of realtors, with the egos the size of a mammoth competing against each other for listings, however, from a personal development and professional development standpoint, one can learn invaluable lessons from this show.

For those readers that do not know what the Million Dollar Listing franchise is, it is a series that chronicles the professional and personal lives of real estate agents in NY and LA. It also gives viewers an inside look at the world of high-priced real estate in NY and LA.

million-dollar-listing-new-york-season-3-hero-premiere-party

In Million Dollar Listing NY, they follow three real estate agents, (left to right) Fredrik Eklund, Luis D. Ortiz and Ryan Serhant.

Fredrik Eklund (37) has closed over two billion dollars in residential real estate over the last 11 years. He works for Douglas Elliman, the largest real estate brokerage on the East Coast, alongside his business Partner John Gomes, together they run The Eklund Gomes Team at Douglas Elliman. Eklund is also the Founder of the most high-end residential real estate brokerage in Scandinavia, Eklund Stockholm New York with three offices and 50 employees.

Ryan Serhant (30) in less than 5 years has sold nearly one billion dollars in real estate. He works for NestSeekers International. Serhant’s motto “Expansion. Always, in all ways.” is fitting in that his real estate team has grown to include eight seasoned agents, allowing him to service clients all over the world. Ryan leads a team in NY and is currently expanding with a team in Los Angeles.

Luis D. Ortiz (27), the youngest of the bunch, has seven years experience in real estate. Luis has sold more than $100 million in residential real estate over the past three years. In August of 2013, Ortiz joined forces with Douglas Elliman and founded his own real estate Team – Ortiz & Co.

Now to why I find this show so fascinating…

With every sell, with every showing, even when these gentleman are simply walking down the street (or riding their bike) they walk with an air of confidence. They are an example of a walking brand. They are not just real estate agents in New York City, they are Fredrik Eklund, Ryan Serhant, Luis Ortiz. They don’t need your business, but you want their business! You want to create a brand that sells itself. These gentleman have created a pristine brand reflective of their passion, charisma, drive, integrity and hard work.

You may not be at the Eklund, Serhant, Ortiz level but as a professional you should always be considering YOUR professional brand. There really isn’t much of a difference between your personal and professional brand but for the sake of keeping this professional let’s focus on what matters to a potential employer, networking contact, or anyone who can help you find a job or grow your career. In today’s world we have two brand representations, our walking brand being how we carry ourselves and handle our business daily as well as our online presence. (Yep… that online presence thing again…) When a colleague, potential employer, or a networking friend researches you online, your professional brand is the culmination of information easily attained.

Next is passion… passion… PASSION! These three love what they do and it shows in their interaction with their clients and colleagues. Passion SELLS! You want to get the person you are interacting with as excited and as passionate with your vision as you are. Passion is one of the core sales competencies. Have you ever tried selling a product you don’t like, or maybe a product you don’t have complete faith in? Do you realize in interviews, in relationships, in networking, you are selling yourself? Now is a good time to ask yourself, do you know what it is you are trying to sell? What does your walking brand and online presence represent? Does it match your vision? Confidence comes into play here as well. Passion and confidence go hand-in-hand when selling your product. Not only do you have to be exciting but you have to be believable. You have to believe in yourself and the product to effectively convey your message to the receiver.

In Season 3, Luis has to take under his wing a client’s son, Todd,  to help sell the family home. Todd had very little, if NO, real estate experience. To get the sale, and for the sake of reality show entertainment, Luis agreed to work with Todd on the listing. Rather than seeing it as an inconvenience, Luis approached it as an opportunity. He wanted to help Todd work towards his goal of becoming a good real estate agent.

In the episode, Luis takes Todd for a run around Central Park. This run was not for the sake of fitness, rather it was a run to teach a lesson. The lesson: do not take rejection personally. Luis had Todd run around and stop random people to give them his, what I call the 30 Second Elevator Pitch. Some people looked at him like he was insane, others ran faster and away from him and there was even a few that actually stopped and listened graciously. Luis’ goal was to get Todd out of his comfort zone. He wanted Todd to understand that it is okay to be rejected, it is not personal. One situation drops, you pick up and move on to the next. In life you have to keep it moving. In the real estate game, rejection is not personal, and it’s quite the norm.

Like every reality show, the formula is to throw in the drama and this show has no shortage of drama. If you look past that and observe the work ethic each of these gentleman have you can see a formula for success. It’s all about perspective. When I watch this show I focus on the formula, the drama just adds some extra fun to the tale. One cannot deny the success of these 3 men, take a look at their online presence if there is any doubt. You can learn a lot about them just from that!

The 10 Most Important Work Skills in 2020 [Infographic]

The workplace is ever changing. Social and technical dynamics of the workplace are constantly shifting and that means that the skills that are important in today’s working culture may no longer be valuable in a few years.

The website Top 10 Online Colleges has created an infographic that documents “The 10 Most Important Work Skills In 2020”. Take a look at the below infographic and see what they list as the “Future Work Skills of 2020” and the “6 Drivers of Change” for those skills.

You may want to start cultivating these skills in the near future!

Imp Workskills 2020