The Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer

When preparing for an interview, you’ve got to do more than know how to respond to tough interview questions. You also have to ask some of your own – so you can find out if the job, your potential boss, and the company are the right fit for you.

Beyond that, hiring managers expect you to ask good questions. If you don’t, they’ll be less-than-impressed by your preparation.

But when you have limited time in the interview, what are the best questions to ask? Here are some questions and tips from Houston’s top resume writers, ResumeSpice:

What are the most important qualities for someone to succeed in this role?

The hiring manager likely told you about the daily tasks and responsibilities associated with the job. But it’s also important to have an understanding of what it takes to succeed in the role. The hiring manager’s answer to this question will often give you insight beyond the position itself and into the company culture.

What are the biggest challenges of the job?

Hiring managers can sometimes paint a rosy picture of a position they’re trying to hire for. But to gain a clearer sense of what the role truly entails – and to assess whether it’s right for you-you to need to know about the good, the bad and the ugly, too.

What are your goals and expectations for the first month on the job? What about the first six months?

You want to ensure you’re able to meet expectations within the designated time period. Beyond that, asking this question ensures that you’re not blindsided by unrealistic goals once on the job.

How many people work in the department? What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in it?

Even if the company is a big one, you’re likely mostly going to be working alongside those in your department, day in and out. That’s why it’s important to get a sense of the team – how big it is and important projects, areas of focus, or trends coming up that impact it.

What’s the culture like at the company?

Many job seekers make the mistake of asking questions only about the job and the responsibilities, without also delving into the company’s culture. But if the culture is a poor fit for you and your personality, you’re not going to be happy there, even if you can do the work. 

What do you like most about working at this company?

Asking this question can offer you further insight into the company’s culture and what it’s really like to work there.

What’s the next step in your decision-making process?

Don’t forget to ask this question before you leave the interview. If the hiring manager isn’t going to be making a decision for three weeks, it’s important for you to know that. Otherwise, you might sit around, wondering, waiting and worrying. Asking this question will also give you a timeframe that’s appropriate in which to follow up.

Need more help getting the interview – and getting the job?                                           

At ResumeSpice, as Houston’s trusted resume writers, we do more than offer tips, but also interview preparation help along with resume and cover letter writing, career coaching, and LinkedIn assistance. Call us today at 832.930.7378 to learn more.

Four of the Worst Interview Answers – And What to Say Instead

Four of the Worst Interview Answers – And What to Say Instead

Have you ever browsed the web and come across an ad targeted to you, but the message doesn’t fully resonate because you’re distracted by the stock photos? The overused photos take away from the credibility of the product being advertised because they’re not unique. That’s akin to what an interviewer experiences when you give a “stock” response to interview questions. They’ve heard them all before and the interviewer believes your answer isn’t authentic.

If you’re new to interviewing and/or haven’t been on the candidate side of the interview process in a while, we put together some cliché interview responses to avoid.

“I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m too hard on myself”

These responses, and similar variations, are often answers to the classic (and dreaded) question, “What are your weaknesses?” Employers ask you to talk about your weaknesses because they’re testing for self-awareness and what actions you’ve taken to improve your shortcomings.

A more authentic-sounding answer might sound something like, “I become deeply invested in projects I work on and in many ways I feel the work that I produce is me, so if a project gets scrapped halfway through I can sometimes be deeply disappointed. However, I’ve learned to prepare myself for any outcome when taking on new projects. As I’ve reached positions of more authority, I’m more aware of the global business rationale for which projects the company pursues and do my best to convey that to my team. I remember being in their shoes not long ago – so I believe in consistent communication. That way when a project is put on the backburner, they stay understand the rationale and stay engaged.

“I always meet my goals.”

If you’re trying to set yourself apart from other interviewees, it can be tempting to claim that you never make mistakes, that you never miss your goals, and that all your projects are completed on time and on budget. Most experienced interviewers will believe that either you’re not being truthful or that you don’t have enough experience to have endured and overcome failure.

If you want to set yourself apart, talk more about how you never stop striving for your goals – even in the face of failure and setbacks – and that you keep pushing forward and putting in the work to succeed. Give specific examples of a challenge you faced, how you overcame it, and what the result was. Most candidates won’t go through that process – and you’ll have the edge.

“In five years, I see myself in your position.”

Employers want to know that you’re ambitious and that you can visualize being with the company in the foreseeable future, but you don’t want that to be interpreted (correctly or incorrectly) that you’re gunning for the interviewer’s job. If you really want to earn a managerial role in the future, it’s okay to communicate that, but we recommend expressing it in a more diplomatic way. You don’t want to give an answer that will put the interviewer on the defensive.

“I’m a team player / people person”

You may very well be a team player and/or a people person, but unfortunately those terms are so overused, they’re virtually meaningless. A better way to convey that you’re a team player is to give specific examples of successful projects you’ve worked on with other team members and how you were able to achieve a successful outcome working together. And if you’re a people person – that will come across by the way you greet the receptionist, smile warmly, conduct yourself throughout the interview process, and follow-up after the process.

Are you getting ready to interview for a new job and you don’t know quite how to prepare? Give ResumeSpice a call today at 832.930.7378! Our interview prep services will have you polished and ready to impress!

Is it Possible to Over-prepare for a Job Interview?

Preparation is one of the basic tenets of searching for a job. If you show up underprepared, you’ll rarely leave a good impression. For that reason, we always recommend researching the company and job for which you’re interviewing. But can you over-prepare to the point where you hurt your chances of being hired? Put simply: yes.

As one of the leading interview prep, career coaching, and professional resume writing services, ResumeSpice knows that over-preparation can result in sounding like a robot instead of an authentic human being. You might also back yourself into a corner. If the interview doesn’t go according to the script you’re writing, you might freeze and, strangely, come off as unprepared.

When prepping for an interview, look to these three tips for guidance:

Prepare for your interview, but don’t memorize

If you’ve spent countless hours Googling interview questions, writing out answers, and practicing your responses like your interview is opening night on Broadway, you’re going to sound rehearsed and inauthentic. Instead, look up common questions and simply jot down a few bullet points you’d like to get across about each one. Yes, practice, but don’t memorize your answers. You should be able to deliver a great answer without sounding scripted.

Speak to your strong points

Spend time thinking about your experience and background – and what unique strengths you bring to the table – so that you can honestly answer questions. Really think through the job and why you’re a great fit for it. Have relevant accomplishments in mind that you’re ready to talk about and which showcase your skills and abilities.

Be yourself

Sure, you might look great on paper. But if you appear nervous, jittery, or give canned answers, you’re not going to get hired. Employers want to hire people who have positive attitudes and are enthusiastic about the job. So don’t deliver stiff answers, even if you think they’re the “right” ones. Instead, let your personality shine through and show the hiring manager why you’re interested in the job.

Remember, there’s a big difference between being well-prepared and sounding rehearsed. You need to think about why you’re a great fit for the job and be ready to get specific with examples. But you don’t need to script exactly what you’re going to say ahead of time.

Do you need more help preparing for interviewsCall the team at ResumeSpice! Our team of career consultants and career coaches can help you prep for any interview situation.

3 Keys to Preparing for Any Interview

Getting your resume seen and receiving a call from a hiring manager is just the first part of the job search process. For many people it’s the next step that brings the most anxiety – the interview.

Because ResumeSpice was built by recruiters, we know what hiring managers are looking for from candidates in an interview. Below are three tips for acing the all important interview.

Know the job description

The great thing about a job description is that it leaves very little guesswork about what an employer wants and expects from a successful candidate. Most hiring managers spend considerable time developing a job description that accurately describes what they’re looking for. You can use this to your advantage during an interview. Consider printing the job description and making notes on it to bring to the interview. Make cues for yourself about how you want to talk about your experience as it pertains to certain requirements of the job.

For example, if a job description for a recruiting position states that “agency experience is desirable but not required,” you can be sure that there will be candidates who apply who don’t have the “desired” experience. However, if you do have that experience, make sure you discuss it in the interview, as that can give you a leg up from candidates who don’t.

Do your research

Employers aren’t impressed when candidates don’t know about a company’s values, services, and products. Companies want to know you’re passionate about the work they do. That means, if you go into the interview with a vague sense of what the company offers, you might not receive a call back. The positive news is that most candidates don’t do their homework before an interview, so if you do, you’ll have an advantage.

You don’t have to know everything about the company, but gain a solid understanding of what they do and what drives their business. A little research will help you navigate those tricky questions, such as, “Why do you want to work for us?” The more information you have about the company, the more authentically you can answer those types of questions.

List the questions you have and bring them to the interview

Asking thoughtful questions is one of the best ways to demonstrate to an employer that you care about getting the job, that you’ve been actively engaged during the entire interview, and that you want demonstrate how you can add value to the company.

While you don’t want to robotically read from a list, but we do recommend bringing a list of questions with you to the interview so you can review them before you enter the meeting.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you prepare for your next interview. The good news is that we are here to help! Call our career consultants at ResumeSpice to get started on your way to your perfect job!

6 Tips for Your First Job Interview

We know going on an interview for a job you really want can be stressful, especially if you’re interviewing for your very first job. Because ResumeSpice’s interview preparation and career coaching services were built by recruiters, we also know the most important ways to prepare and present yourself to hiring managers.

Below are some helpful starting points from the career consultants at ResumeSpice to help you put your best foot forward in any interview situation.

  1. Prepare

Hiring managers want to hire people who know, care, and are passionate about what the company does. Do your research on the company’s products or services, check to see if they’ve issued any press releases lately, and re-read the job description to ensure you understand the job fully. It’s important to be able to speak confidently about your ability to perform each required task.

  1. Dress to impress

The day-to-day work attire may be casual, but on your interview, you’ll want to dress professionally. Dressing professionally will demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re serious about the job and respect the company and person with whom you’re interviewing.

  1. Be on time

No one likes to be kept waiting, least of all someone who could be deciding whether or not you’ll receive an offer. Check in for your interview 15 minutes before your scheduled time unless instructed otherwise.

  1. Be yourself

Up to this point, the hiring manager has only seen your professional skillsets on a piece of paper. The interview is an opportunity to show him or her who you are and how well you’ll fit in with their corporate values and culture. This goes back to preparation. Remember why you applied for this specific position and speak to that during the interview. Pinpoint a few different points that genuinely interested you about the position or the company so that when they come up, you can have a genuine dialogue about them.

  1. Ask questions

Asking insightful questions is critical. Being prepared with questions shows a hiring manager that you’re truly interested in the position and that you want to understand more about how you’ll bring value to the organization. Write down a list of questions that are important to you and bring them with you to review before the interview.

  1. Follow Up

After your interview, send a thank you email the same day to thank the recruiter and the hiring manager for their time and consideration. Keep it brief, but thoughtful. You can also send a handwritten thank you in the mail after you send your email.

Interviewing for a job can be stressful, but these six pointers can help with your interview preparation. If you want one-on-one advice from a career consultant who knows exactly what hiring managers are looking for, contact our career consultants at ResumeSpice today.

How to Follow Up After an Interview

At ResumeSpice, we offer interview preparation along with resume and cover letter writing, career coaching, and LinkedIn help. One of our clients’ most common concerns, from entry-level to executive candidates, is how to best follow-up after an interview.

There are a few elements that can make your follow-up memorable – and it starts while you’re still in the interview.

Before the interview ends, ask your interviewer about the timeline for making a decision and then request permission to follow-up. For example, if the interviewer tells you they’ll have a decision on the next step in the process within a week – ask them if it’s ok if you reach back out to them in a week. We recommend an email over a phone call, as it’s less intrusive. Be sure to request a business card from everyone with whom you meet so you have their contact information.

After the interview, send an email to the recruiter or the hiring manager to thank them for their time and consideration. This should happen the same day as the interview. Keep it brief, polite, and express enthusiasm for the role.

We also recommend sending a handwritten thank you note, the same day as the interview. You’re likely one of many candidates for the role – when your note arrives, it can help separate you from other candidates. Few candidates follow-up this way, so it’s a great way to leave a positive impression. In the note, thank your interviewer once again for their time and mention something you enjoyed, appreciated, or felt excited about when learning more about the company and the job.

For more tips on preparing for – and following-up – after an interview, contact ResumeSpice today to schedule your one-on-one interview prep session.