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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 April 25, 2019

How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

Shifting careers, tiny or big, can be paralyzing. Whether your desire for a career change is self-driven or involuntary, you can manage the panic and fear by understanding ‘why’ you are making the change.

Your ability to clearly and confidently articulate your transferable skills makes it easier for employers to understand how you are best suited for the job or industry.

A well written career change resume that shows you have read the job description and markets your transferable skills can increase your success for a career change.

3 Steps to Prepare Your Mind Before Working on the Resume

Step 1: Know Your ‘Why’

Career changes can be an unnerving experience. However, you can lessen the stress by making informed decisions through research.

One of the best ways to do this is by conducting informational interviews.[1] Invest time to gather information from diverse sources. Speaking to people in the career or industry that you’re pursuing will help you get clarity and check your assumptions.

Here are some questions to help you get clear on your career change:

  • What’s your ideal work environment?
  • What’s most important to you right now?
  • What type of people do you like to work with?
  • What are the work skills that you enjoy doing the most?
  • What do you like to do so much that you lose track of time?
  • Whose career inspires you? What is it about his/her career that you admire?
  • What do you dislike about your current role and work environment?

Step 2: Get Clear on What Your Transferable Skills Are[2]

The data gathered from your research and informational interviews will give you a clear picture of the career change that you want. There will likely be a gap between your current experience and the experience required for your desired job. This is your chance to tell your personal story and make it easy for recruiters to understand the logic behind your career change.

Make a list and describe your existing skills and experience. Ask yourself:

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What experience do you have that is relevant to the new job or industry?

Include any experience e.g., work, community, volunteer, or helping a neighbour. The key here is ANY relevant experience. Don’t be afraid to list any tasks that may seem minor to you right now. Remember this is about showcasing the fact that you have experience in the new area of work.

What will the hiring manager care about and how can you demonstrate this?

Based on your research you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be doing in the new job or industry. Be specific and show how your existing experience and skills make you the best candidate for the job. Hiring managers will likely scan your resume in less than 7 seconds. Make it easy for them to see the connection between your skills and the skills that are needed.

Clearly identifying your transferable skills and explaining the rationale for your career change shows the employer that you are making a serious and informed decision about your transition.

Step 3: Read the Job Posting

Each job application will be different even if they are for similar roles. Companies use different language to describe how they conduct business. For example, some companies use words like ‘systems’ while other companies use ‘processes’.

When you review the job description, pay attention to the sections that describe WHAT you’ll be doing and the qualifications/skills. Take note of the type of language and words that the employer uses. You’ll want to use similar language in your resume to show that your experience meets their needs.

5 Key Sections on Your Career Change Resume (Example)

The content of the examples presented below are tailored for a high school educator who wants to change careers to become a client engagement manager, however, you can easily use the same structure for your career change resume.

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Don’t forget to write a well crafted cover letter for your career change to match your updated resume. Your career change cover letter will provide the context and personal story that you’re not able to show in a resume.

1. Contact Information and Header

Create your own letterhead that includes your contact information. Remember to hyperlink your email and LinkedIn profile. Again, make it easy for the recruiter to contact you and learn more about you.

Example:

Jill Young

Toronto, ON | [email protected] | 416.222.2222 | LinkedIn Profile

2. Qualification Highlights or Summary

This is the first section that recruiters will see to determine if you meet the qualifications for the job. Use the language from the job posting combined with your transferable skills to show that you are qualified for the role.

Keep this section concise and use 3 to 4 bullets. Be specific and focus on the qualifications needed for the specific job that you’re applying to. This section should be tailored for each job application. What makes you qualified for the role?

Example:

Qualifications Summary

  • Experienced managing multiple stakeholder interests by building a strong network of relationships to support a variety of programs
  • Experienced at resolving problems in a timely and diplomatic manner
  • Ability to work with diverse groups and ensure collaboration while meeting tight timelines

3. Work Experience

Only present experiences that are relevant to the job posting. Focus on your specific transferable skills and how they apply to the new role.

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How this section is structured will depend on your experience and the type of career change you are making.

For example, if you are changing industries you may want to list your roles before the company name. However, if you want to highlight some of the big companies you’ve worked with then you may want to list the company name first. Just make sure that you are consistent throughout your resume.

Be clear and concise. Use 1 to 4 bullets to highlight your relevant work experiences for each job you list on your resume. Ensure that the information demonstrates your qualifications for the new job. Remember to align all the dates on your resume to the right margin.

Example:

Work Experience

Theater Production Manager 2018 – present

YourLocalTheater

  • Collaborated with diverse groups of people to ensure a successful production while meeting tight timelines

4. Education

List your formal education in this section. For example, the name of the degrees you received and the school who issued it. To eliminate biases, I would recommend removing the year you graduated.

Example:

Education

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  • Bachelor of Education, University of Western Ontario
  • Bachelor of Theater Studies with Honors, University of British Columbia

5. Other Activities or Interests

When you took an inventory of your transferable skills, what experiences were relevant to your new career path (that may not fit in the other resume sections?).

Example:

Other Activities

  • Mentor, Pathways to Education
  • Volunteer lead for coordinating all community festival vendors

Bonus Tips

Remember these core resume tips to help you effectively showcase your transferable skills:

  • CAR (Context Action Result) method. Remember that each bullet on your resume needs to state the situation, the action you took and the result of your experience.
  • Font. Use modern Sans Serif fonts like Tahoma, Verdana, or Arial.
  • White space. Ensure that there is enough white space on your resume by adjusting your margins to a minimum of 1.5 cm. Your resume should be no more than two pages long.
  • Tailor your resume for each job posting. Pay attention to the language and key words used on the job posting and adjust your resume accordingly. Make the application process easy on yourself by creating your own resume template. Highlight sections that you need to tailor for each job application.
  • Get someone else to review your resume. Ideally you’d want to have someone with industry or hiring experience to provide you with insights to hone your resume. However, you also want to have someone proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors.

The Bottom Line

It’s essential that you know why you want to change careers. Setting this foundation not only helps you with your resume, but can also help you to change your cover letter, adjust your LinkedIn profile, network during your job search, and during interviews.

Ensure that all the content on your resume is relevant for the specific job you’re applying to.

Remember to focus on the job posting and your transferable skills. You have a wealth of experience to draw from – don’t discount any of it! It’s time to showcase and brand yourself in the direction you’re moving towards!

More Resources to Help You Change Career Swiftly

Featured photo credit: Parker Byrd via unsplash.com

Reference

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