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How to Create Killer Questions for Your Interview

How to Create Killer Questions for Your Interview

“So do you have any questions for me?”

You hear the question. Your brain freezes. Yeah you have questions about salary, vacation time and benefits. But you know this isn’t what the employer wants to hear. They’ve just thrown the ball in your court. What do you do?

Properly asking questions in interviews can be tough. especially if you’ve spent most of the interview doing your best to give full answers to their questions. As hard as it is, if you can master asking questions in interviews, you’ll be the one directing the interview.

Why is asking questions important?

If there’s one thing that impresses employers, it’s an employee that knows their stuff. Asking solid questions in interviews is a basic technique to used to show your worth. You want to take the qualities that employers are looking for (resourcefulness, technical skills, dedication, for example) and ask questions that show you embody these qualities.

When the employer gives you the opportunity to ask questions, you’re being given control of where the interview will now go. It’s up to you to direct the interview to a place where you can elaborate on your skills and gets the employer to further inquire about them. If you can influence the line of questioning in a interview you can put yourself at an advantage.

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Questions are also important because they can show employers your dedication and commitment. Preparing concrete interview questions beforehand shows dedication since you’re not guaranteed the job even if you do spend the time preparing. Employers are looking for people with this drive to succeed. The is the bare minimum employers expect from potential employees.

It’s easy to say the right things during an interview, but candidates that can showcase their skills are able to stand out. Asking questions is the most important part of selling your skill set to a potential employer.

Here are some rules and tips to follow when creating your interview questions.

1. Stay away from basic questions

It’s important not to ask just any question during an interview. Its better to ask one in depth, concrete question than two flimsy ones. Questions about what to expect on the job or what your day might look like aren’t indicative of an exceptional employee. In order to come up with impressive questions you need to do research.

2. Be extremely specific with your questions

Ask questions specific to your industry based on things that you have noticed. For example, if you are applying for a position as a secretary, ask how the company plans to use technology to increase productivity and use this questions as a segue in to telling them about your efficiency and technical skills as a secretary.

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If you notice specific things a company is trying to achieve, show how you can contribute to their company meeting its goals. Always be looking to show how you can help them outside of your normal duties.

3. When coming up with questions, ask yourself these two things:

First, what quality do you want to show off with this question? Are you trying to show a specific skill, a personality trait, or an industry related idea? This question should be based on research that you’ve done about what the employer is looking for.

Second, what experience do you have personally that proves this? Think of a time you put this thing in practice. Draw from your practical experiences, from work, and volunteer positions. Incorporate this example into your question. 

4. Take the time to properly word your question

The way you phrase your questions is also important. Use action words in key places to show that you’ve done your homework.  After sharing what you noticed from your homework, tie it in with your skills. Your questions should start off like this:

I was reading *insert industry related magazine, website, study, book ect*

You mentioned that * insert quality, task or necessity that interviewer mentioned*

While watching * insert industry related tv show, webinar, seminar ect*

I noticed that * insert industry trend, something related companies are doing ect*

Use variations of the following lines to finish your questions:

Is there any opportunity for ___ here?

I noticed ____ is important to your company. What skills are you looking for to achieve this?  Follow up with your skills that fit this quality. 

Use the above to come up with at least 3 solid questions. You’ll walk in the interview ready to take anyone out. When in doubt, just ask one of your questions. If done properly, you’ll have a concrete question that show off qualities in you that employers desire.

Featured photo credit: Businessman reading company report via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on August 14, 2020

How to Find a Career That Is Right For You

How to Find a Career That Is Right For You

There are thousands of careers to choose from. No wonder finding the one that’s right for you can feel like a guessing game.

Choosing or changing careers can be scary. Even if it’s right for you now, you might wonder, who says it’ll still be a fit in the future?

The truth is, you have to start somewhere. Whether you’re looking for a first job out of college or need a new career, follow this process to find the right one for you:

1. List Out Careers You Could Pursue

It sounds simple, but it’s good advice: Start with what you like. Even before you begin looking for the right career, you probably have an idea of what you’re interested in.

Next, make a second list, this one including your strengths. If you aren’t sure whether you’re actually good at something, ask someone close to you who’ll give you a truthful answer.

Once your lists are made, cross-reference them: What do you like to do and do well?

In a third list, rank these. If you’re skilled at something you don’t particularly like, for instance, that should fall lower on the list.

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2. Take a Career Assessment

Standardized tests shouldn’t make decisions for you, but they can get you pointed in the right direction. Career assessment tests gauge your abilities and interests and make recommendations for career paths based on the answers you give.[1]

Before reviewing your results, take a break. Getting some perspective can help you see whether your answers were guided by your mood. Look at the percentage match and ask yourself whether you could see yourself doing the work of the career or role every day.

For example, if your responses emphasized helping others, the test might point you to a medical career. However, if you don’t want to work in a hospital or clinical environment, you might cut that option or place it lower on your list.

3. Sweat the Details

Every career has gratifying and frustrating things about it. Before you choose one, you need to be clear on those. Reading reviews and job descriptions you find related to each career, make a list of its pros and cons.

There are a lot of factors to think through. Key questions to ask yourself include:

  • What are the hours required by this type of work? Can they be flexible?
  • What skills are required? Do I possess them, or would I be willing to learn them?
  • What are the education requirements? Can I afford to go back to school?
  • How much do jobs in the field pay? Is the payscale top-heavy or evenly distributed?
  • What does job growth in this sector look like? Are they traditional or contracted roles?
  • Are opportunities in the field available in my area? If not, would I be willing to move?
  • Would I be working solo or on a team?

In answering these questions, you’ll find yourself crossing a lot of careers off your list. Remember, that’s a good thing: You’d rather find out a career isn’t right for you now than after you’ve put yourself on that path.

4. Find the Sweet Spot

The crux of the career question is this: What’s the “sweet spot” between your interests and strengths and the market’s needs? The greater the overlap, the better.

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Be warned that you’ll have to compromise. Perhaps you enjoy working with animals, but there’s no demand for that line of work in your area. You might be good at math, but you wouldn’t want to crunch numbers in a cubicle for a living. Finding balance is crucial.

5. Start Networking

What’s the best way to get the real story about the careers you’re interested in? Talking to professionals in the field.

Where should you find these people?

  • Reach out to local businesses.
  • Scour your social media networks, particularly LinkedIn.
  • Ask a past employer for recommendations.
  • Sign up for industry events and conferences.

Schedule a short interview with each of your new connections. Ask them to weigh in on the comments you see online. Every role and company is a bit different, so don’t be surprised if their responses don’t align.

Regardless of who you find or what they say, write it down. If one interviewee’s responses differ wildly from online responses, chat with someone else in the field. Do your best to find out what’s the rule and what’s the exception.

6. Shadow and Volunteer

As valuable as networking can be, you need a firsthand glimpse of the work. If you hit it off with one of your interviewees, ask to do some job shadowing. Sitting beside someone as they work can help you understand not just the pay and the responsibilities but also the culture and work environment associated with each career.

Job shadowing is a good way to get your feet wet before taking a career plunge. If you felt uninterested or unhappy during your shadowing experience, it’s a good sign that you should ponder a different career path. If your shadowing experience made you want to come back for more, you may have found your calling.

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Volunteer work is an alternative to job shadowing that can get you the experience you need as you analyze your career options. As a volunteer, you can be more flexible with your time and get opportunities you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

7. Sign Up for Classes

Many careers have an academic component that you can’t ignore. If you decide you want to be a lawyer, for instance, you might want to know you can survive law school first.

Sign up for an introductory class or two related to each career you’re interested in. The earlier you do this, the better. If you’re still in college, the class will count as an elective and may be covered by your scholarship, but if not, look for a community college option to keep costs low.

Taking a single class is not the same as earning a degree in the field. With that said, it’s a good way to test the waters before you invest thousands of dollars.

If the content interests you and you look forward to class each week, that’s a good sign. If you start dreading the class or choose to drop it, focus your attention elsewhere.

8. Enter the Gig Economy

Contracted work is a great “try it before you buy it” career tactic. Skipping to an entry-level role requires more commitment than you might want to give while you’re still investigating your options. The gig economy offers the best of both worlds: paid work as well as flexibility.[2]

Gig workers take work from companies or individuals that do not directly employ them. Plumbers and artists are good examples. Rather than receiving a regular paycheck, they sell their services by the task or deliverable.

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In the gig economy, you aren’t bound by long-term agreements. If you don’t like the experience, you can simply move on.

You never know if you’ll enjoy something until you try it. And because contractors work with professionals in the field, gig workers naturally get networking and shadowing opportunities.

9. Market Yourself

As you zero in on your dream career, there’s one final test you can use to find out whether you’ll be successful: marketing yourself as a candidate for hire. Whether you get bites is a key indicator of how you’ll fare in the field.

Beware that, as someone without much experience in the field, you’re going to get a lot of rejections. Don’t be discouraged. If you get two interviews out of 50 applications, think of it as two opportunities you didn’t have before to find your ideal career.

Just as important as outreach is a good inbound strategy. Set up a website, and post your portfolio on it. Describe your dream job on your social media.

Recruiters are constantly on the lookout for candidates that fit their company. The more exposure you get, the more people will be interested in what you have to offer. Put yourself out there, and you just might find the perfect fit.

Don’t Give Up!

Nobody ever said it was easy to find a career that’s right for you. Finding one is tough enough, and even then, you may find yourself looking for a new field ten years into your career.

Whatever you want from your professional life, you have to be willing to put in the time. Don’t hesitate, and don’t give up. Start your search today.

More Tips on How to Find a Career

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

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