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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 April 8, 2020

9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career

9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career

Congratulations, you’re starting a new job! You’re feeling relieved that the interviews and the wait for a decision from the hiring manager is over, and you’ve finally signed the offer.

Feelings of fear and anticipation may surface now as you think about starting work on Monday. Or you may feel really confident if you have plenty of work experience.

Remember to not assume that your new work environment will be similar to previous ones. It’s very common for seasoned professionals to overestimate themselves due to the breadth of their experience.

Companies offer different depths of on-boarding experiences.[1] Ultimately, success in your career depends on you.

Below are 9 tips for starting a new job and succeeding in your career.

1. Your Work Starts Before Your First Day

When you prepared for your interview, you likely did some research about the company. Now it’s time to go more in depth.

  • How would your manager like you to prepare for your first day? What are his/her expectations?
  • What other information can your manager provide so that you can start learning more about the role or company?
  • What company policies or reports can you review that can get you acclimatized to your new job and work environment?

You’ll need to embrace a lot of new people and information when you start your new job. What you learn before your first day at work can help you feel more grounded and prepare your mind to process new information.

2. Know Your Role and the Organization

Review the job posting and know your responsibilities. Sometimes, job postings are simplified versions of the job description. Ask your manager or human resources if there is a detailed job description of your role.

Once you understand your key responsibilities and accountabilities, ask yourself:

  • What questions do you have about the role?
  • What information do you need to do your job effectively?
  • Who do you need to meet and start building relationships with?

Continue to increase your knowledge and do your research through the company Intranet site, organizational charts, the media, LinkedIn profiles, the industry and who your company competitors are.

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This is not a one time event. Continue to do this throughout your time with the company. Every team or project you engage with will evolve and change.

Keep current and be ready to adapt by using your observational skills to be aware of changes to your work environment and people’s behaviour.

3. Learn the Unwritten Rules at Work

Understanding your work culture is key to help you succeed in your career.

Many of these unwritten rules will not be listed on company policies. This means you’ll need to use all of your senses to observe the environment and the people within it.

What should you wear? See what your peers and leaders are wearing. Notice everything from their jewelry down to their shoes. Once you have a good idea of the dress code you can then infuse your own style.

What are your hours of work? What do you notice about start, break and end times? Are your observations different from what you learned at the interview? What questions do you have based on your observations? Asking for clarity will help you make informed decisions and thrive in a new work setting.

What are the main communication channels?[2] What communication mediums do people use (phone, email, in-person, video)? Does the medium change in different work situations? What is your manager’s communication style and preference? These observations will help you better navigate your work environment and thrive in the workplace.

4. Be Mindful of Your Assumptions

You got the job, you’re feeling confident and are eager to show how you can contribute. Check the type of language you are using when you’re approaching your work and sharing your experiences.

I’ve heard many new employees say:

  • “I used to do this at ‘X’ company …”
  • “When I worked at “X” company we implemented this really effective process …”
  • “We did this at my other company … how come you guys are not …”
  • “Why are you doing that … we used to do this …”

People usually don’t want to hear about your past company. The experiences that you had in the past are different in this new environment.

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Remember to:

  • Notice your assumptions
  • Focus on your own work
  • Ask questions, and
  • Learn more about the situation before offering suggestions.

You can then better position yourself as a trusted resource that makes informed decisions tailored to business needs.

5. Ask Questions and Seek Clarification

Contrary to common belief, asking questions when you’re starting a new job is not a vulnerability.

Asking relevant questions related to your job and the company:

  • Helps you clarify expectations
  • Shows that you’ve done your research
  • Demonstrates your initiative to learn

Seeking to clarify and understand your environment and the people within it will help you become more effective at your job.

6. Set Clear Expectations to Develop Your Personal Brand

Starting a new job is the perfect time to set clear expectations with your manager and colleagues. Your actions and behaviors at work tells others about your work style and how you like to operate. So it’s essential to get clear on what feels natural to you at work and ensure that your own values are aligned with your work actions.

Here are a few questions to reflect on so that you can clearly articulate your intentions and follow through with consistent actions:

Where do you need to set expectations? Reflect on lessons learned from your previous work experiences. What types of expectations do you need to set so that you can succeed?

Why are you setting these expectations? You’ll likely need to provide context and justify why you’re setting these boundaries. Are your expectations reasonable? What are the impacts on the business?

What are your values? If you value work life balance, but you’re answering emails on weekends and during your vacation time, people will continue to expect this from you. What boundaries do you need to set for yourself at work?

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What do you want to be known for? This question requires some deep reflection. Do you want to be known as a leader who develops and empowers others? Maybe you want to be known for someone who creates an environment of respect where everyone can openly share ideas. Or maybe you want to be someone who challenges people to get outside their comfort zones?

7. Manage Up, Down, and Across

Understanding the work styles of those around you is key to a successful career. Particularly how you communicate and interact with your immediate manager.

Here are a few key questions to consider:

  • How can you make your manager’s job easier?
  • What can you do to anticipate her/his needs?
  • How can you keep them informed (and prepared) so they don’t get caught off-guard?
  • What are your strengths? How can you communicate these to him/her so that they fully understand your capabilities?

These questions can also apply if you manage a team or if you deal with multiple stakeholders.

8. Build Relationships Throughout the Company

It’s important to keep learning from diverse groups and individuals within the company. You’ll get different perspectives about the organization and others may be able to help you succeed in your role.

What types of relationships do you need to build? Why are you building this relationship?

Here are some examples of workplace relationships:

  • Immediate Manager. He/she controls your work assignments. The work can shape the success of your career.
  • Mentors. These are people who are knowledgeable about their field and the company. They are willing to share their experiences with you to help you navigate the workplace and even your career.
  • Direct Reports. Your staff can influence how successful you are at meeting your goals.
  • Mentees. They are another resource to help you keep informed about the organization and your opportunity to develop others.

Other workplace relationships include team members, stakeholders, or strategic partners/sponsors that will advocate for your work.

Learn more in this article: 10 Ways to Build Positive And Effective Work Relationships

9. Keep in Touch With Those in Your Existing Network

“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama

You are part of an ecosystem that has gotten you to where you are today. Every single person and each moment that you have encountered with someone has shaped who you are – both positive and negative.

Here’s How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

Make sure you continue to nurture the relationships that you value and show gratitude to those who have helped you achieve your goals.

Summing It Up

There are many aspects of your career that you are in control of. Observe, listen, and make informed decisions. Career success depends on your actions.

Remember to not assume that your new work environment will be similar to previous ones.

Here are the 9 tips for starting a new job and succeeding in your career:

  1. Your Work Starts Before Your 1st Day
  2. Know Your Role and the Organization
  3. Learn the Unwritten Rules at Work
  4. Be Mindful of Your Assumptions
  5. Ask Questions and Seek Clarification
  6. Set Clear Expectations to Develop Your Personal Brand
  7. Manage Up, Down, and Across
  8. Build Relationships Throughout the Company
  9. Keep in Touch With Those in Your Existing Network

Celebrate, enjoy your new role, and take good care of yourself!

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Featured photo credit: Frank Romero via unsplash.com

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