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7 Powerful Questions To Determine Whether You Can Get Your Dream Job

7 Powerful Questions To Determine Whether You Can Get Your Dream Job

When ramping up for an interview, it’s important to have all your ducks in a row. You’ve no doubt crafted a list that includes social media blitzes to improve your online presence and pressing your new suit, not to mention crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on your resume.

That’s all well and good, but the real ticket to landing your dream job likely isn’t the color of your tie or the font on your CV. No, the biggest determinant of whether or not you’ll get hired is how you answer the questions put forth by your interviewer. Unfortunately, employers are inundated with freshly minted college graduates and middle-aged jobseekers alike. With such a large pool to choose from, old-fashioned questions such as, “What can you offer the company?” and, “Are you a team player?” are no longer enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Instead, you’ll be asked to take on trickier questions.

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Today’s interview is as likely to cover personal branding as it is strengths and weaknesses, and today’s employer is likely to be more curious about your life outside of work than in years past. When trying to land your dream job, you’ll be much better off if you can answer these 7 modern, nontraditional questions.

1. How Do You Like to Be Told You’re Doing a Good Job?

This can be a surprising question if you’ve never received it before, but it makes sense: Interviewers want to figure out how you work and whether you’ll mesh with their team. They’re also trying to determine if you’re independent but willing to take criticism and ask for help when you need it. The right answer here is the honest one. Be open about the type of feedback to which you respond well, and the type that doesn’t work as well for you. Paint yourself as a self-starter but someone who likes the occasional gold star — just make sure your description is accurate.

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2. If You Could Do Any Job at All, What Would It Be?

This is a fun question to answer when Aunt Martha is asking it, but potentially alarming when an interviewer throws it at you. They’re posing it because they want to get to know you, so you should be honest, but you should also tread lightly. Steer clear of describing your boss’s job, for example, or the career you hope this job will lead to. You don’t want to come off overambitious or entitled. Even if you hope eventually to be working in the higher echelons, remember that this is your dream job and stick to describing it as it is.

3. What Does Brand Mean to You?

Branding is all the rage these days, and employers want to know how you’ll use your own image to reflect theirs. Don’t be shy. Share how you really see yourself and be honest about the self-promotion tools that you use. Most likely the person asking the questions already knows some of what you’ll say, so try to be detailed about how you’ve built your presence online and off, and what you intend to do in future.

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4. What Would Your Mother Tell Me About You?

Interviewers ask this to get to the core of your personality. Because your mama is likely your biggest fan and, at least when you were growing up, your biggest critic as well, you have to be honest. Your interviewer will be suspicious if you just spout off the good stuff. Instead, try to be candid: If someone who loved you were sitting in on the interview, what would they say? Which personality traits and skills would they review glowingly, and which would they throw a caution sign in front of? Your honesty will not only tell your employer a lot about you, it will be appreciated.

5. What Do You Do When You’re not at Work?

This may sound like a throwaway, but really it isn’t. Employers care about the type of person they’re hiring, and leisure activities are a great window into that. Unless you work as a television writer, you probably don’t want to answer, “I watch TV,” and leave it at that. Similarly, an outdoor lifestyle company wants to know about your weekend warring, not your latest quilting project. Focus on relevant pursuits. But don’t fudge, because you never know what you might be called upon to demonstrate.

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6. Why Is This Job Right for You?

Your potential employer genuinely wants to know why you’ve applied for this job, but be careful with your answer. Many of us determine our dream jobs based at least partially on elements such as the amount of money we’ll bring in or the lack of travel required. While these are perfectly legitimate factors in any job search, if your employer thinks you’re simply trying to top your last job, you don’t stand as good a chance. Instead, tell them why this really is your dream job. How have you worked for it? Where do you see it going? What does it mean to you to get this opportunity?

7. What’s Your Favorite Book/Movie/Color/International Food?

We all love a random question, but in interviews they’re usually asked to see how well you think on your toes. Before heading in, prep a short list of your favorites so you can answer without a lot of umming and ahhing. Although having to think about a favorite food isn’t so bad, if you can’t come up with a book you may come off as uncultured, and if movie titles escape you it’ll look like you’ve been living under a rock. Avoid that by nailing this easy question ahead of time.

Featured photo credit: Writing In a Diary Close-Up/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on July 22, 2019

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

3. Address the reader directly if you can

It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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5. Tell the company what you can do for them

As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

7. Numbers are important — show proof

It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

Bonus Advice

When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

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Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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