Interview Tips

Following up After the Interview

Congratulations! You’ve gotten past the interview stage. Now it’s time to……wait.

Within 24 hours of an interview, you should email or phone your interviewers to say “thanks for your time” but that’s all. If you’re anxious to get an offer, to be invited back for a second round interview or to receive feedback about how you’ve done, you’re best next move is to……wait.

The golden rule of following up is: though you must be at the ready to meet, greet and provide info to interviewers, employers are not under any obligation to get in touch with you within a set time. In fact, if the role you’re vying for is very competitive, having to wait a while for a response may be a good thing  – you’re still in the running!

If more than 2 weeks have gone by since your interview or the suggested time for follow up that you confirmed in your interview has gone by, you can make a very brief inquiry. Following up once by phone or email with HR or a contact from the office to see if there is anything else they need from you is a great way to find out where they are in the process.

Calling or emailing again is a risky move. The majority of companies, public and private, large and small, view hiring as an important investment. They are considering entrusting you with delivering their business goals and will be sure to follow up with top candidates quickly.

If you’ve not heard back after one thank you and one follow up, you may decide that it is you who is not interested in this particular role. If you feel you haven’t received enough feedback at this stage in your job search, explore other options for feedback such as informational interviews, networking meetings or chatting with recruiters.

Happy job hunting!

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Asking Questions in an Interview: Dos and Don’ts

When an interviewer turns to you and asks “Do you have any questions for us?”, this is your opportunity to shine.

You’ve gotten through all of those difficult interview questions, here’s your chance to pose questions to the interviewer that are thoughtful and specific to the role and company. When the interviewer turns the floor over to you, take a moment to check your list to ensure that your questions haven’t been covered. Be sure to take notes based on their answers, if you are nervous, you may forget what they’ve said soon after! Here are some dos and don’ts to help you prep a list of questions so you can excel in your next interview:

Do ask about company culture: What is the learning/training philosophy? Are there opportunities for additional training and professional development?

Do ask about your role in the team: Who will I be working with? Is the work team or individual focused? Who do I report to? What is the management/leadership philosophy?

Do ask about the need for a hire: Is this a new role or was someone in the role before me? If someone was in the role, how will they train/pass on knowledge? If it’s new, how much has been defined and to what degree will I be able to contribute to the role?

Do ask about the next challenge or opportunity for the prospective company whether you are interviewing for a contract or permanent role: What are the goals and objectives of the next 2-3 years in this department/company and how will that influence my work? Are there pressing short term priorities that I should be aware of?

Do show what you know: State your knowledge of a problem or opportunity that is relevant to the role or industry and ask how it may be addressed within the role. For example: in a software sales job, you might ask: Given the vast increase in boutique marketing firms that have adopted social media/software applications both as marketing tools and products, in what ways has this agency explored non-traditional sales and advertising?

Do engage directly with the hiring manager: What is the greatest challenge in your day and what would help you to overcome it? Then, provide ways in which you may assist. Alternatively, you may ask: What is the greatest skill/knowledge gap in your team? You may have that exact skill set.

Do ask if there is anything else they need from you: Are there any other questions you have for me regarding my suitability for this role? Is there any other information I can offer to show that I am the right candidate?

Do ask about follow up: What are the next steps?

Caution….

Don’t ask about pay: Unless the interviewer has already provided salary/rate of pay OR has asked to you suggest one, this is not the best time to ask about salary. Do some research and assess your own skills and needs. This will give you a good idea of what to expect and help you to determine what you will or will not accept should you be asked to discuss salary or offered the job .

Don’t ask about working hours or location. Do not ask the employer about working weekends, overtime or if you can work from home. You are still vying for the job and not yet negotiating.

Don’t ask about benefits/vacation time/overtime pay. Benefits/vacation/overtime pay may be quite consistent to an industry and may not be negotiable at this stage or even after you are hired. Again, in an interview, focus on what you bring to the table.

Don’t ask about promotions: Although you can ask politely about learning opportunities, training and professional development, asking specific questions about promotions in pay, title or responsibility may signal to the employer that the job you are currently discussing is not of interest to you – or that they will have to hire again for it in the near future!

Don’t ask questions related to any competing interviews or offers you may be lucky enough to have. At this stage, employers are interested in what you can offer them. They may have already assumed that you have other interviews/offers lined up. Don’t jeopardize your chances by indicating that you have interests elsewhere – treat them as your first priority.

Don’t fail to prepare any questions. Failing to prepare any questions is a big risk. This may indicate to the employer that you are not serious about their company and the job. In the rare case that an interviewer has answered all of your prepared questions, take a moment to go back to your notes and ask them to expand on a topic/skill/job requirement. You can also try to think of another skill set you have or a constructive experience in your work history and ask if these skills would be an asset to their team.

Check back soon for tips and tricks on following up!

10 Difficult Interview Questions

You’ve booked an interview based on your superior job search skills and your resume and cover letter! Now, you’ll have to answer a few interview questions…

In addition to standard questions about your experience and skills, during an interview you may receive some behavioral or situational questions in an interview…”tell me about a time when”. Here are 10 examples of challenging questions you may receive and strategies on developing great answers. Remember, when answering a question about a past experience or a tough situation, make sure your answers are objective and try your best to relate them to the job you’re interviewing for.

1) Tell me about a time when had a conflict with a co-worker, how did you resolve it?

Focus here on your role in resolving an issue and what you learned. Try to raise a concern that could be generalized to any work environment (scheduling, group work contributions) rather than something about you or a unique situation you may not be in again. Though you may have had an experience in the past that was a real crisis, take caution in raising these special situations. For example, drawing attention to a time when HR had to get involved is a very risky move!

2) Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a supervisor, how did you resolve it?

As with the previous, raise a concern that is common to many employee/supervisor relationships, such as prioritizing work or a time when a supervisor taught you something. This is a good time to show that you value direction and can be managed easily, rather than a time to display your independent streak.

3) How would you handle a situation in which a co-worker did not do their fair share of work?

Show your sense of cooperation here: clearly explain how you assessed that a co-worker was not contributing fairly and explain whether you managed this issue directly with your colleague, with management, or both and why.

4) Give me an example of a time when you misjudged someone.

This is an occasion to show modesty (that you may have judged someone unfairly) and also flexibility (that you changed your thinking). Focus on actions and outcomes here rather than personality traits.

5) Have you ever worked with someone you did not like? How did you handle it?

This is where objectivity really counts. Try to explain what you have learned about cooperation in the workplace, focus on the positive.

6) Tell me about a time you failed.

Here, the interviewer is seeking to understand your problem solving, planning or time management skills. Provide a simple example where you know what went wrong and how you would change your actions the next time around. You may have had some catastrophic failures in your career, but save these harrowing tales for your friends!

7) Tell me about a time when you made the wrong decision.

This question is a little different than discussing a time that you failed. Here, you should display your understanding of decision making and the steps involved in getting from point A to B. Explain a time that making a different choice could have changed the outcome of a project or presented new opportunities for growth for your team or company.

8) How do you manage conflicting priorities?

Priorities in the workplace can be determined in many ways, for example, by timelines, budgets or management/executive decisions and priorities. Describe how you assign priority to tasks given these restrictions and how you adjust to changing priorities.

9) Have you ever started something from scratch?

The interviewer may pose this question to learn more about your interests, motivations or learning styles. Start with any of these, but ensure that you reference a skill that can be used in the job you are applying to.

10) How many lifeboats were on the Titanic?

Questions like this are posed to learn about your problem solving skills, you don’t have to have the right answer, just explain how you would get to one!

In a couple of days, we’ll talk about questions you may ask in an interview, check it out!