7 Questions You Should Ask During an Interview

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Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Caitlin Olszewski

It happens at the end of every single interview and yet it still seems to secretly tie the shoelaces of even the most prepared candidates. We often find that when we are preparing candidates for interviews they ask for advice on how to answer, “Do you have any questions for me about the role?” It’s important to remember that an interview is meant to be more of a conversation and not an interrogation. Asking questions is the best way to demonstrate that you understand the company and their challenges while showing how you can bring value to their organization.

We compiled this list of 7 questions you can ask during an  interview to show your vested interest in the position and help answer some burning questions that might spark up in your mind later:

1. Can you describe a typical day in this role?

The answer to this question will give you more insight into what the position is currently like while showing that you’re already thinking about how you can jump right into things.

2. How would you describe the work environment or company culture?

“Cultural fit” is a term employers use to gauge if a candidate could thrive in their specific work environment. This question shows that you’re determined to be successful by ensuring that you’re the right fit for the job.

3. What are the company’s short and long term goals?

This question shows your interest in the company and where it’s headed. It lets the interviewer know that you’re thinking about the future and how you can contribute to the company’s success.

4. In what way is performance measured and evaluated?

Understanding the role and the company is the most important aspect of an interview. Asking how the performance of the role is evaluated will be memorable to the interviewer because it shows that you’re thinking about the quality of your work.

5. What career opportunities could open up for this role down the road?

Asking this question will demonstrate that you’re interested in professional development and advancement within in the company.

6. What would you say are the top two personality traits someone needs to do this job well?

This question will allow you to feel out whether you’ll be a good fit, and will get your interviewer to look past your resume and see you as an individual.

7. What types of initiatives does the company offer in reference to training and development?

During the time you’re in the interview, remember that this is a chance for you to show your enthusiasm and interest not only in the role for which you are applying, but also the business.


Seems Like Everybody’s on Vacation…

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by Ed Weirauch, Career Transition Coach

Summer’s here, work has slowed, perfect time to look for that new job, right? Not quite.

Your schedule isn’t the only one to have slowed. Inevitably, the world slows, just like it does during those two weeks for Christmas and New Year’s. For the pro-active, aggressive job seeker, this can be especially frustrating because you’re amped up and ready to go…where’s everybody else?

First, just in case you haven’t figure this out yet:

  • Your e-mail inquiries are going unanswered because the recipient is on the beach.

  • Your phone calls aren’t getting returned because that decision maker is off with his family.

  • Every Friday feels like the 4th of July because people are taking three-day weekends.

So instead of feeling de-energized and discouraged, take advantage of this time of year by focusing on more behind-the-scenes job searching and/or career development.

Research companies. Remember, whether you’re just looking to change jobs or are trying to get back in the market, you ultimately want to select your new employer as much as that employer selects you. So scour industry websites, read your daily newspaper and its website and develop your own inventory of insight. Within the BCA portal, we offer sites that lead you to a seemingly unlimited number of employers. Cliche alert: information is power!

Get social. Make summer’s laid back atmosphere work for you by setting up lunches, breakfast and/or coffee meetings to connect with friends and catch up with former co-workers. And while you’re at it, set a goal that at least two such meetings a week will be with a new contact in your industry or the field you are trying to break into. Hesitant? Read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.

Look inward. If seemingly no one’s out there to meet, interview you, hire you or make any decisions, work on yourself. Summer can be a good time to stop and think…“am I looking to get out of this job or to really make a good move?” “I know I want a new job, but why? What’s my goal?” Once you have these answers, you may need to develop a new strategy.

Maybe your last job ended and you’re at a new beginning. “What should I do next?” “What’s important to me?” “Who do I want to work with?” “What really are my salary requirements?” The career/job search book What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles lists these and other thought-provoking questions aimed to lead you to your next opportunity.

Freshen your resume. Does the information on your resume put you above your competition or just in the same ballpark? Think about your accomplishments, the impact you have had and the difference you have made on your jobs. That’s our focus with our clients. I suggest that your resume shouldn’t just say “hire me” but “look at the impact I have, how can you NOT hire me?” Consult trusted former colleagues by asking them about your impact, what they remember about you. Even if they don’t give you word-for-word sentences for your resume, they’re bound to spur your thinking.

Take a breath. No matter what the calendar says, job seekers need to pay attention to other aspects of your lives. Are you getting a change of scenery, even for just a day? Are you exercising? How about reading fiction or biographies so you spend part of your day focused on   somebody else.

Finally, give your mind a break. Maybe you haven’t heard back from a hiring manager because she’s on vacation. Or her manager is on vacation. Or a prospective colleague who wants to meet you is on vacation. One summer after I had an interview that seemed to go really well, a month went by with no communication. When I finally did get a call back, that was exactly the scenario. “Here I am self-absorbed in my job search and they’re off enjoying themselves,” I thought. Then when I started that job in late August, I was only too happy to hear about their vacations.

An Entrepreneurial View of Failure

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When Edison searched for something to use to illuminate a light bulb he spent months and months with hundreds of different filaments until he found one that worked. Do you think he viewed each unlit bulb as a waste of time or something irrecoverable? He knew with each failed experiment, he was one step closer to something that would work!

ID-100209779As a small business owner, I have failed many times. I have hired the wrong people, put the wrong programs in place, even launched the wrong business ideas. However, I don’t view this as failure. Rather, this is a process to make something right and unique. This is how business works. Try something, fail quickly. Tweak it. Make adjustments. Learn from it. These are the basics. This is not failure. This is how we grow and gain knowledge.

Some say that being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. How do you handle the rejection? The no’s? The pats on the head when your business is just starting? Some will say, “When are you going to go get a job?” This is all part of the failing—dealing with the fact that most people really can’t handle the risk of trying.

I always feel as if I have more control of my own destiny when I am my own boss than when I work for others. That is just my my view. I would rather have tried to be a small business owner,  to have launched new services, and to have hired the wrong person because most of the times we end up getting it right. And we only need to get it right more often than not in order to be successful!

So the next time someone is taking a risk, think twice about your commentary. Risks create learning, knowledge, and opportunity. Everything changes. Why not be the one that initiates and drives change? Then failure will not be an option!

7 Deadly Interview Sins

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Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Caitlin Olszewski

There’s no beating around the bush about it—interviews are scary. All of your achievements, education, and skills culminate and boil down into a firm handshake and a nerve-racking hour in a conference room. Many candidates research and Google interview tactics to help them find success in their next endeavor. We asked our recruiters what some of the biggest interview turn offs were and here’s what they had to say:

  • Sin #1 Sloth: Nothing is worse than showing up late for an interview. Mom’s age old adage, “To be early is to be on time; To be on time is to be late” holds true outside of the dinner table. The rule of thumb here is to be punctual but never be more than 15 minutes early. Think of it this way, your timeliness to show up to the interview reflects how you would treat projects in your job.

  • Sin #2 Pride: A little pride in your appearance goes a long way. Clean up your shave/brush your hair, put some shine in your shoes, and do not overdo it with the perfume/cologne. Basically do not come in with a Duck Dynasty beard or in the clubbing clothes you wore last night (I’ve actually seen it). Also, pro tip for phone interviews: treat the call as if you were being interviewed face to face. Yes, we can hear you flush the toilet.

  • Sin #3 Greed: Do not talk about salary or compensation in the first interview phase. Instead, focus on professional development, experience, and bringing value to your work.

  • Sin #4 Wrath: Something that happens all too often, with no reasonable explanation why, is candidates bad-mouthing their past employers. This raises huge red flags of “Is this person impossible to please? Will they quit the first time they experience something they don’t like? Will they be bad-mouthing us to future employers?” In lieu of shaming former management, simply discuss seeking new challenges or striving for professional development.

  • Sin #5 Envy: One of our recruiters said one of the biggest mistakes one of her candidates ever made was conveying to a client that she really wanted to work in a completely different industry than the one where she was interviewing! Needless to mention, no second interview for her. Make sure you read the job description and convey that you are a viable candidate for the role!

  • Sin #6 Gluttony: Do not ramble or go on tangents. Be sure to answer the question fully and elaborate where necessary but keep the incessant talking to a minimum. If the interviewer needs more information from you they will ask. Stay focused on the interview and the job for which you are applying—leave personal stories at the door!

  • Sin #7 Lust: Many people inquire about how to properly follow up after an interview. The important thing to remember here is not to be overly lustful. A very big red flag is to see five voicemails from a candidate within an hour. Follow up by writing some handwritten thank yous or shoot a quick email if the position is time sensitive. Show interest but don’t be desperate.

CBI Way: Employment Situation and Talent Acquisition

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Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton 

The recent June employment situation released early this month has shed some new light on the workforce changes occurring since the new year. Another 288,000 jobs (predicted) were added in June, marking the fifth consecutive month more than 200,000 were added. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the first time since September, 1999 to January 2000, this has happened, almost fifteen years ago. Additionally, the 1.4 Millions jobs added in the first half of 2014, is also the highest number since the first half of that same year, 1999. Equally impressive is the unemployment rate of 6.1%, which has fallen 1.4% over the past year, the sharpest year-to-year decline in almost three decades, according to the BLS. While exciting, the report not only tells us something about the improving job market, but also speaks to the evolving and challenging world of sourcing and recruiting. In this CBI Way Blog, let’s first discuss the groundwork, sourcing.

ID-10098602More jobs and a lower unemployment rate means less candidates who are actively pursuing a new opportunity. As a refresher, active candidate sourcing is related to those candidates that are unhappy, concerned with their job security, or unemployed, for example. Active candidates are easier to find, as not only are they likely looking for you, the employer, but you are searching for them. Resumes are easy to find and applications aplenty. On the other hand, those candidates which are happy, fully employed, and not thinking about possibly making a move, prove much more difficult to identify, but are often the type quality talent being sought.

Passive sourcing is about generating interest, creating excitement, and establishing relationships, and networking with candidates about the opportunity. Whether by phone, email, or social networks, passive sourcing requires a focus on the candidate. Creating a strategy of who to target, where to target, and HOW to target these individuals is key. Where are they in their career? What sparks their interest? Who may they know? These are some questions that could potentially help with marketing your opportunity and employer brand in the best way possible. Still not interested? Make sure to express your desire to help if they may ever be in the market, or if anything changes in their career. The stronger network you have, the more options available to proactively source and engage the marketplace of talent.

The Recruiter’s Dozen: 12 Resume Tips to Kickstart Your Job Search

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Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Caitlin Olszewski

Writing your resume for the approval of a hiring manager can always be a frustrating challenge. At Placers, we are often sought after for job application and resume advice. We’ve put together this carton of tricks and tips to take your resume from scrambled to sunny-side up.

  1. Read and re-read the job description. Are you a good fit for the position? Read the job description carefully to ensure that you meet the requirements and would be a viable candidate for the position.
  2. Stay focused. Keep your resume clear, concise, and tightly focused on the job you are seeking.
  3. Market yourself. Think of your resume as a representation of your own personal brand. Market it with strong words and a clean, crisp design that makes you stand out.
  4. Action words speak louder. Use actions words such as executed, administered, and directed when describing your accomplishments.
  5. Put your best font forward. Don’t get crazy or kitschy with fonts. (I’m talking to you, Comic Sans and Papyrus.) Stick with appropriate fonts like Arial or Times New Roman.
  6. Keep it short & sweet. Try to keep your resume to one page if possible. Multiple-page resumes often drown in a sea of candidates navigated by recruiters and manager sailors with short attention spans.
  7. Know the lingo. Use industry keywords and phrases within your resume to attract the experts and put you a cut above the rest.
  8. Make sure it can be copied. Chances are, your resume will be copied and scanned quite a few times while it makes its way to key industry players. Print your resume on 20-24 lb. paper to ensure that it copies clear and sharp.
  9. Wear your heart on your resume. Low on work experience? Be sure to list volunteer work.
  10. Brag a little. List all associations, memberships, and relevant awards.
  11. Habla Español. Knowing another language is what could put you a step ahead of another bueno candidate. Don’t forget to include any knowledge of other languages!
  12. Impress in 10 seconds. The “10 second test” is a term recruiters often use to describe how quickly they can tell if you are a good fit for the job or not based on your resume. This ain’t their first rodeo—grab the recruiter or manager’s attention and retain it using the above steps to find success in your next job search.