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Why You Should Ask These Questions During Job Interviews?

Why You Should Ask These Questions During Job Interviews?

TED talk presenter Meg Jay illustrated beautifully, in her captivating speech that went vial last week, the danger of dismissing an entire decade of your 20’s. If I may piggyback, understanding important tactics of an interviewee fresh out of college (or high school) is beneficial to fighting this. Among many things, it makes you appear more professional, qualified, wise, and able to do any job with integrity, poise, and talent. The questions you ask can easily make or break a crucial career opportunity.

We don’t want you to squander that, and you don’t either.

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What would better equip you than a mental database of stellar questions to ask interviewers? Here we’ll cover 10 important questions, in sequential order of how you should ask them, with vivid descriptions behind the psychology of each. As a bonus, I’ll include a short list of questions at the very end that you should avoid like Liberian Ebola when in the interviewee chair.

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Pre-interview question to ask yourself: How much do I know about this company?

  • A quick Google search you can pretty much find anything you want to know about a company. Nothing screams unprepared amateur like waltzing into an interview and asking basic questions like, “What does your company do?” How enthusiastic, motivated, and intelligent will you appear when you drop knowledge about when the company was founded, it’s cornerstone ethics, and some notable successes of the past?

1. How is the culture of this workplace? What will my roles and expectations be?

  • Expressing interest in knowing what’s expected of you before you get the position shows that you’re serious. It’s a display of your desire to fully understand your obligations before the first day of training. In one word: ambition.

2. Do you enjoy working here? Can you name a time when you felt extra proud to be a part of this company?

  • Chances are high that if they’re in a role that involves interviewing people, both of these questions will be a resounding ‘yes.’ Everyone enjoys talking about themselves, too. If you give them permission to take the floor, you’ll not only learn valuable lessons from someone who may very well be your boss if you land the job. It’ll also relieve a lot of the tension interviewing environments evoke.

3. How does my position contribute to the goals of the company?

  • A bit like #1, but different enough to note. Understanding the layout and structure of the company, as well as your personal involvement, breeds a team-first attitude. This will rub potential bosses and interviewers the right way by persuading them that you’re someone who can take direction, but knows their role and can lead when necessary.

4. What does your company consider a “success?” -or- What does your company consider “excelling?”

  • No matter what job, success is what we all strive for. Knowing what that means to a given company is crucial to your daily workflow, development, and progress. This will speak well to a potential employer considering their performance is often based on how well or poorly their underlings perform.

5. Can you describe for me the ideal candidate for this role?

  • This is to provide you with a “bar” per say. It gives you something to strive towards, shoot for, and a set criteria of what it takes to be accomplished in the job. Also, if you’re asking this it tells the interviewer that you wish to know the golden standard of workmanship that needs to be upheld day in and day out.

6. Does anything on my resume concern you? Do you have questions about anything you see?

  • This is a bit testy because it puts them on the spot, but not in an abrasive, awkward, or strange way. Instead, it will encourage them to ask questions about you personally, which would be a good chance to point out special things on your resume that shine like amateur curling and Easy-Bake-Oven-Offs. Furthermore, this is a good chance to let your personality show, as the other 9 questions are quite professionally oriented.

7. Who will I report to? May I meet them before I start, please?

  • The second part of this question is assuming you have the job locked down, but in my experience I’m not often reporting to the person who interviewed me so this is good to ask. Use this opportunity to get to know more about the people in your office. For your own sake, don’t be a suck up.

8. Can you describe for me the typical day or week in this company?

  • This is as more for your benefit, but it reiterates your aspiration. It’s definitely nice to know what to expect, too.

9. Are there any other important people you recommend I reach out to?

  • Assuming that you don’t have the job yet, this will show your interviewer that you have enthusiasm for the position and want to expand your further reach into the company. It’s also a valuable habit that will make networking a breeze. You’ll be surprised what happens when you ask.

10. I love challenges. Can you provide me with an example of a difficult challenge you’ve overcome in your current role?

  • I put this one last, and encourage you to use it last, for a few reasons. First, it shows that you have a solid backbone and good resolve that you won’t shy away from difficult situations. Second, I have yet to meet one boss who turned down a challenge taker (Warning: I’m not recommending you force this if you despise challenges, but the job world, your dreams, and nearly everything else in your life will be full of them. No sense in running from them.) Third, it gives them the podium once more to speak their piece and share their wisdom. I can’t tell you enough how much people like talking about themselves.

As promised, here are your never mentions:

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  • Does the company require drug or alcohol tests?
  • Will you perform a background check?
  • When will I get paid and how much?
  • How much vacation and sick time will I get?
  • Does the company track my internet and email activity?

These may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. Arm yourself with the proper mental artillery to nail the interview, seal the opportunity, and begin a fresh chapter in your newly developing career.

Featured photo credit: Businessman / bowie15 via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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