Categories
Career

Top 5 Interview Questions Most College Students Bomb

When you’re going out on your first round of professional interviews, you may be worried about your lack of a lengthy resume, relevant experience, or salary history. Luckily, many companies realize young professionals may not have the depth of a resume older professionals do. And if you’ve practiced typical interview questions, you’ll likely do a great job of explaining how the experience you do have will benefit your potential employer.

However, there are some questions that college students completely bomb. College students typically fail these interview questions because they lack experience and practice. Luckily, I’ve faced several of these questions and, while I initially failed at answering them too, preparation can help you successfully navigate these difficult interview questions.

1. “What would you add to our company? What about our company stood out to you?”

If you’re new to an organization, as in you haven’t already interned with the company or worked there before, you’ll likely face interview questions related to your knowledge of the company and its business.

Companies want to know you’ve done your homework, you know what the company does, and you’ve thought about the value you’ll provide if hired. If you can’t talk about one project the company has worked on, you haven’t done a thorough job to understand the position or the company culture. Not knowing anything about the company you’re interviewing for could not only doom your chances of getting the job, but could also doom you if you do get the job. After all, why apply for a job if you don’t know anything about the company – good or bad? Will you even like it there?

2. “Why did you leave your last job?”

Out of all the interview questions asked of recent college graduates, this one is by far the easiest – if you know how to answer it correctly. This question could also be one of the most difficult if you haven’t prepared for it. It’s difficult because many college students don’t realize diplomacy is an important skill during the interview process, and often take the opportunity to discuss everything they didn’t like about a previous employer.

This question is designed to see if you know how to diplomatically yet truthfully answer why you left a previous job. For many college students and graduates, this question is easy. Many college students and graduates are typically leaving previous employment or internships to utilize and improve their skills, as well as get into a particular field.

This question is not designed for you to tell your potential future employer about all the things you hated in your last job. As your grandmother may have said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Above all, be diplomatic and professional in your answers.

3. “Tell us about the time you worked with a difficult coworker.”

Similar to the “Why did you leave your last job/former employer, etc.” interview questions, this question about difficult coworkers is not an opportunity for you to complain. However, you might fail this question if you answer it the same as the question above.

An interview question about a difficult coworker is not a time for you to be diplomatic, but it is time for you to be creative and persuasive. This question is looking to see how you handle adversity, because you’ll likely face some challenges in your new job. Succeed in answering this question by focusing on a difficult encounter with a coworker and how you still were successful.

You may have been successful at managing your interactions with this difficult coworker, or you may have been successful at completing a project while still working with a difficult coworker. Show how you can handle adversity without melting down and running to a supervisor, and this may be a question that gets you the job!

4. “Tell us where you see yourself in 5 years.”

These types of “Where will you be in our organization?” interview questions are becoming less popular as employers realize Millennials aren’t like Baby Boomers. Millennials don’t typically plan on staying with one company forever. This interview question is tricky, because you don’t want to lie. While you may not plan on being with the company forever, you do have to make the company want you and see you as a long term investment. While many companies nowadays know young employees won’t stay forever, they want to know the commitment they’re making to you will pay off – i.e., hopefully you’ll stay longer than 6 months.

Focus on the skills you want to achieve in your new position at the company. Talk about how you’d like to develop communication, leadership, or specific hard skills in your role, and about any type of training or advanced certificates you’d like to learn. Keep it broad and, whatever you do, don’t tell them you “want their job” in 5 years – even if it’s true!

5. “What salary do you believe you deserve?”

Salary interview questions are far less common in the public sector, as salaries are typically fixed and lack wiggle room. However, these questions are still fairly common in the nonprofit and private sectors. These are tricky interview questions too, because you don’t want to answer something too low that undervalues your worth, but you don’t want to answer too high and lose out on the position all because of salary.

Temper your answer in terms of opportunities, like vacation, flex time, or a change in title. Try to avoid giving a hard number, but say you’re looking to work with the company to come to something that is equitable for both of you. If pushed to give a number, do your homework on salaries within the company, and include overall compensation instead of an hourly wage in your answer.

With some practice and preparation, you can save yourself a bombed interview and potential embarrassment. While you may lack a lengthy resume, you can make up for it with a professional and polished interview.

Originally posted 2015-11-02 10:00:37.

Categories
Career

Smart Answers to Stupid Interview Questions

Getting a job interview can be tough! As a recent graduate, you likely don’t have vast work experience or networks to draw on. After submitting dozens of applications, you finally get a call: you have an interview! It’s time to practice for those interview questions.

Unfortunately, some interview questions are really dumb. We’ve all been there: interview questions we don’t expect, or questions so stupid you wonder why employers bother to ask them at all. Unfortunately, many companies still ask dumb interview questions, so it’s best to be prepared for them. Here are several stupid interview questions you may face and the smart way to answer them.

What Did You Not Like About Your Last Job/Boss?

This interview question is terrible for so many reasons: it tries to bait you into speaking badly about your previous employer, it may embarrass you, and it doesn’t help the company hiring you. Employers want to know about your personality and if they’ll like you, so being negative in this negative question sets you up for failure.

The smart way to answer negative interview questions like this is to be positive about what your previous jobs have taught you. If a micromanaging boss ruined a job for you, you may want to highlight how you’ve learned to communicate effectively with managers. This shows the interviewer(s) that you’ve thought about challenging aspects in the workplace but have learned how to handle them. It’s important to stay positive throughout an interview.

Tell Us Your Greatest Weakness

This stupid interview question is terrible because it’s old and won’t go away, and because almost no one tells the truth with this question. If your greatest weakness is difficulty waking up on time, you likely wouldn’t tell your future employer this.

The smart way to answer interview questions like this is to focus on the things that make you great. Use your knowledge of the company to highlight things they’re looking for in the job: writing skills, analytical skills, or technical knowledge. You can also talk about a weakness you’ve improved, which shows your tenacity and willingness to learn. Again, stay positive!

Why Should We Hire You?

This is one of those dumb interview questions that just makes you want to stare at your interviewer in disbelief. They will meet your competition. You will not. You don’t know what qualifications the others have. How could you possibly know who’s the best person to hire?

The smart way to answer this interview question is actually pretty easy. This question usually comes at the end of your interview. It’s your time to remind the interviewers why you think the position is right for you. This question is a chance for you to summarize your qualifications. A strong close will be remembered.

Tell Us Your Salary Range

This dumb interview question is sometimes asked during the interview or on your application. If you’re applying to a public sector job, you can look up salary ranges online, making this question irrelevant. If it’s a private sector job, you can try to use sites like Glassdoor.com to find salary ranges. Or there are many ways to determine what the job will pay.

This question is stupid, especially for recent graduates with limited work experience. Don’t say that $12/hour would be good enough to pay rent. You have to answer this question very carefully.

The smart way to answer this question is to say that you expect the salary to be commensurate with experience. If you can find salary ranges, state those ranges and add any experience you already have in the field to boost your salary estimate. Give them a reason to pay you more.

Where Do You See Yourself in 5/10/15 Years?

This interview question is not just stupid, but difficult. No one can predict with certainty where they will be in 5 years. You may not even expect to stay in that job for 5 years, as you could move or choose to start your own business.

The smart way to answer this question is to talk about skills you hope to acquire or improve over the next few years. If you do see yourself interested in becoming a manager, you could talk about your interest in mentorship opportunities and training. This will show your potential employers you’re interested in improving yourself, which is what they’re looking for in an employee.

It’s Time to Get out There

While many employers are moving away from stupid interview questions, you will occasionally run into them.

Above all, stay positive during negative interview questions. Employers want to hire people they can get along with. Life will always be a bit of a popularity contest.

[Tweet “”People won’t always remember what you’ve done but they will remember how you made them feel.” -Napoleon Hill”]

Originally posted 2015-10-05 10:00:48.

Categories
Career

How to Shake Hands Like a Professional

For entry-level young professionals, there are a myriad of office-related rules to follow. These are rarely talked about so it’s hard to master them as a young professional. But this is YoungFinances! We talk about taboo topics. The purpose of this post is to show you how to shake hands like a professional. Few people discuss it but it’s important to know. After all, not knowing how to make a good handshake could ruin an interview. It sounds silly but it’s true. Many people hold a lot of stake in a handshake.
You must master the art of the handshake. And I’m not using ‘art’ lightly. It takes skill to do it properly. If you don’t think so, shake the hand of a child. They don’t know how to do it well. Furthermore, go to a networking event. Many people there don’t give confident handshakes. Heck, even go to church and shake hands with the people around you. It’s not something everyone has been trained on.
[Tweet “Learning how to do a proper handshake is important. No one likes to feel like they’re shaking a dead fish.”]
But men and women can both master this skill by following the rules outlined below:

Knowing When to Shake Hands

According to Psychology Today, the old rule that communication is broken down into 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% actual words spoken, is true in most cases. Of course, some people may cross their arms because they’re cold, not because they dislike you. In these cases, it’s necessary to take into account their personal environment.
All things equal, body language is incredibly important. The statistic that most language is nonverbal (55%) is true. This means you have to approach every encounter with professionalism and confidence.
There are certain definitive times you will need to shake hands. They include:
  • Job interviews
  • Initial meetings of coworkers and your supervisor
  • Greeting and saying goodbye to business partners or clients
  • When acting as a host for an event
  • When introduced as a guest at an event

How to Properly Shake Hands

The best handshake does not try to dominate the other person but it does display strength along with respect. The best way to shake hands is to follow this basic outline:
  1. Go in straight for the handshake, with your palm vertical to the ground. Don’t put your palm over the other person’s palm, as this signifies dominance. Dominance is not something a young professional wants to convey in most circumstances. It may come off as arrogance and disrespect for the status quo. Save the palm-over-palm technique for when you’re the boss.
  2. Clasp the entire hand, curling your index finger and thumb slightly in to each other.
  3. Squeeze their hand and release after approximately 2-5 seconds. During this time, the other person may pump your hand up and down from the elbow.
  4. Make eye contact while introducing yourself. In most cases, your superior will start the introduction and offer their hand to you first. Respond with a proper handshake while making eye contact and say your name.

If you’re uncertain of the importance of proper hand shaking, realize that a poor hand shake generally reflects negatively on you.

For better or worse, many people base their assumptions about you on how you shake hands. Do you approach a hand shake professionally and decisively, or do you shy away and offer a limp handshake? Do you try to overpower your client? Or do you respectfully grasp their hand and release?

How you handle these interactions can shape how others think of you. Learning how to properly shake hands is not an insurmountable task. I recommend practicing this technique with people which you are comfortable. It takes a little practice but it can be mastered fairly quickly.
Good luck and inspire confidence!

Originally posted 2015-07-29 10:00:26.

Categories
Career

3 Ways to Find a Job By Networking Online

Just searching, applying, and attending interviews while looking for your first career position directly after college can be a full time job all by itself. I remember looking for my first job. I used to get frustrated when I saw former classmates getting hired by friends. It made me think that all of the work I did to earn good grades was for nothing.

But getting good grades is only half of the battle when it comes to finding a job. Who you know is the other half of the battle. And it can be the most important part of the battle. Networking in person can help you find jobs before they are listed online, but what if you see a job online and you don’t have the connections? You will need to begin networking online. Use these tips to make the process easier and leverage your networks.

Use Multiple Job Search Engines

Don’t be afraid to use more than one search engine to find a job. You may think that open positions will be listed on all of the large sites but that is just not how it works. Try Monster.com AND CareerBuilder.com. Test out Indeed.com and look for positions directly on company websites. After you’ve checked these sources, try an industry specific job search engine. For example, in finance, you can search OneWire.com for entry-level and more advanced financial positions. The site also has a networking option so candidates can meet potential employers.

LinkedIn is a great place to look for a job because it already includes the element of professional networking. The job search feature is limited to jobs that might interest you. But if you perform a search using the right keywords, you may find other jobs. A major advantage to job searching on LinkedIn is the ability to connect with the recruiter directly.

Get Noticed for Your Skills

Before you start reaching out, it’s important that you update your resume and write a cover letter for your job search. You may receive an immediate request and you should be ready. Take the time to clean up your social networks and remove any potentially embarrassing material. You want to be noticed for your skills, not your ability to do a keg stand. Update your LinkedIn profile and ask your close connections and previous employers for recommendations and endorsements. Highlight relevant work history, skills and professional memberships.

You can also stand out by creating a blog or one page online resume. Create a blog to talk about your experience, your industry, and explore topics that interest you. A one page resume is similar to a LinkedIn profile but you can customize it more to match your specific skills. If you are in the design or creative field, you can create an online portfolio and stand out as a candidate.

Connect Online Via Professional Networking

Recruiters are always on the hunt for solid candidates. Take the time to find and connect with recruiters in your industry. Then, add all of your professional connections on LinkedIn. Start to share updates on interesting articles that you have read and stay active on a weekly basis. Join a group dedicated to your industry and chat with those members.

Once you start making meaningful connections, take it a step further. Ask for an in person meeting or Skype chat. Once the meeting is set up, prepare some questions that you can ask. This is not an interview but a conversation. Your goal is to simply create a deeper connection with an online friend.

Networking online is very similar to networking in person. You meet a new connection, find out how you can help them and discuss how they may be able to help you. Then you continue the conversation and look for ways to add value going forward.

Originally posted 2015-07-06 10:00:56.

Categories
Career Earn Extra Income

#QUIZ: Should I Start a Business or Get a Job After College?

This is a question that many college students ask themselves. Most people like to set their own schedule. We want to be able to be in control of our time and be rewarded for our efforts. Starting a business will give you that freedom but it also comes with a price. Often you will have to put in hours and hours before you reap the benefits. Getting a job will allow you to get your reward immediately and every two weeks in the form of a paycheck, but you will be much more constrained. I’ve created a simple quiz that will help you begin to decide if you should start a business or get a job.

FYI, if you are reading this through your feed reader, hop on over to the site. The quiz is a jump page quiz. Small business facts sourced from the National Federation of Small Businesses small business polls.

Start the Quiz Here

But Don’t Scroll Down, Click Your Answer Choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any debt?

Yes, I have some debt.

No I am debt free.

Since the beginning of early September, 30 percent of small employers applied for credit or commercial loans in one form or another, at least half of which applied more than one time. Seventy (70) percent did not apply of which 12 percent, or 8 percent of the population, did not apply because they thought they could not get credit they wanted.

 

Do you have a business idea already?

Photo via Flickr

Yes, I have a business idea.

No, I don’t know what business I want to start.

Forty-two (42) percent of all small businesses introduced at least one new or significantly improved product, service, process or design into their sales inventory in the prior year. Most often the introduction was a product (55%), followed by a service (29%), a process (8%) and a design (7%). Thirty-four (34) percent have never introduced a new or significantly improved product, service, process or design. It has been three years or more since another 11 percent have.

 

Do you have any savings?

Photo via Flickr

Yes, I have some savings.

Savings, what’s that?

Small-business owners believe that the primary reason they experience cash flow problems is the difficulty they encounter collecting money due them (30%). The second most frequently cited reason is seasonality (23%). The third is unexpected variations in sales (15%) and the fourth, weak sales (13%).

 

How much business knowledge do you have?

Photo via Flickr

I have a business degree.

I’ve learned from experience.

I have no business experience.

The most frequent course of study completed by small employers was business administration and related subjects. Fifty-five (55) percent did so. The second most frequently completed course of study was one of the hard sciences including engineering. Except for the few who took advanced degrees in law and health/medicine, those who took business were most likely to find their studies directly relevant to their current enterprise.

 

Have you ever worked in a management position?

Photo via Flickr

Yes, retail or some other management position.

No, I have no management experience.

Seventy (70) percent of small employers supervised people prior to entering their current business. Most now manage fewer people than they once did. This is particularly characteristic of those owning ventures now employing fewer than 10 people.

 

Do you have a hard time getting along with others?

Photo via Flickr

Yes, I often find that others are wrong.

No, I’m pretty easy going.

 

Do you consider yourself an active person?

Photo via Flickr

Yes, I work out, get outdoors, etc.

No, I don’t have time for extra activity.

 

How many hours a week are you willing to work?

Photo via Flickr

40 hours

Less than 40

More than 40

 

Do you work best with a coach or motivator?

Photo via Flickr

Yes, I find it helps me.

No, I motivate myself.

 

Do you consider yourself to be persistent?

Photo via Wikipedia

Yes

No

 

Why do you want to go into business?

Photo via Flickr

If you’ve made it to this question then you might have what it takes to start a business.

About one in 10 adult (18-64 years) Americans are currently taking active steps to create a business. Virtually all are doing so because they want to (or see an opportunity to do so) rather than because they have no alternative economic opportunity. This puts the United States at the top of the industrialized world (second to Australia in 2006), a position Americans traditionally occupy. The reason that this number is important is the direct relationship between the number of people trying to start a business and national economic growth (Source: Neils Bosma and Rebecca Harding, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2006, Babson College, 2006.)
 
 

Are you willing to take advice?

Photo via Flickr

Yes

No

This is probably not the best time for you to go into business. Either you have too much debt or no savings, both will make starting a business very hard. If you expect to work only 40 hours a week and you give up easily then entrepreneurship may not be for you. However, may entrepreneurs are successful based on their networks and desire for more. If you can find the passion then there’s still a chance for success.

Originally posted 2015-05-30 10:00:11.

Categories
Career

What to Expect in an Entry-Level Job Interview

As you start the process of finding, interviewing for, and landing your first entry-level job, you might feel a bit apprehensive. I know I felt that way.
As a type-A personality, I like to be prepared. I want to know exactly what I should expect and when I should be expecting to expect this thing I’ve been expecting.

With this in mind, I set off to research as much as I could about landing my first job.

Click here to get my 5 interview tips for recent college graduates.

I found that I could expect a few of the same typical questions. These are the questions that I have laid out below along with suggested answers.
As a unique candidate, your suggested answer will be different than the answer of the next candidate simply because you have different life experiences.

Top 10 Entry-Level Interview Questions

1) Tell me about yourself.

This question presents an opportunity for you to give your elevator pitch. Don’t give your life story. I remember one time I started talking about my childhood and I got a weird look from the interviewer. Stick to personal and professional accomplishments that directly relate to the position for which you are applying.

2) What are your strengths?

This question is also an opportunity to emphasize your key selling points. But get ready for what is coming next…

3) What are your weaknesses?

Use this question as an opportunity to show personal growth. You can throw in an old weakness and how you’ve developed professionally. Or, you can use a strength disguised as a weakness. My favorite one goes something like this, “I have a hard time sharing responsibility. I always like to see a project to the end.” I have a few that I alternate but I always have at least one weakness prepared.

4) What motivates you?

This question helps the interviewer decide how well you will do in the company. If you are motivated by praise, for example, then they know how to squeeze that extra productivity out of you.

5) Tell me about a time you experienced ___. What did you do?

It may be a bit more difficult to prepare for this question. You’ll have to think on your feet. They may ask you for a time that you had to struggle, or a time that you had to deal with a lazy coworker. If you can’t think of something, use an experience from college. They will understand. Most importantly, you have to show that you have experience dealing with tough situations.

6) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

You should discuss that you see yourself growing with the company. Even if you think that you will likely leave in a few years for a higher salary, don’t say it. Make sure they know that you are willing to stay for the right opportunity.

7) Why did you leave your previous job?

You might think this is an opportunity to bash your previous employer but it’s not. That is in bad taste. Instead, discuss opportunity. You wanted to stretch yourself and reach for a better opportunity. Don’t discuss pay or conflict as a reason for leaving your previous job.

8 ) Why do you want to work for us?

“Um..because I want to get paid?” Sorry but the logical answer is not the proper answer. Demonstrate your desire to work for this company in particular. Maybe you appreciate how they do business. Talk about that. Keep it short but powerful.

9) Why should we hire you?

You are not the only candidate. You have to show that you are the best one for the job. Emphasize your skills and play down any concerns that the interviewer has brought up.

10) Do you have any questions for us?

Always. You should have at least 3 questions prepared. Ask about the interviewer, maybe why they like the company. Ask about the company and its goals. And finally ask about the position. When they expect to fill it, if they see you as a good fit. Leave on a high note and after the final questions, thank the interviewer for their time.

Starting with a phone interview? Watch this video with 3 tips for phone interviews.

Oddball Interview Questions That You Shouldn’t Expect

I found these questions very interesting and super odd. What would you do if you were asked one of these weird questions?

I wouldn’t expect that you would hear these questions but if you are interviewing for the employers below, you might want to go in prepared.

“How lucky are you and why?” – Asked at Airbnb.
“If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?” – Asked at Apple.
“If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?” – Asked at Bed Bath & Beyond.
“How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the US each year?” – Asked at Goldman Sachs.
“What’s the color of money???….” – Asked at American Heart Association.

View answers to these questions and the remainder of the top 25 oddball interview questions at GlassDoor.

Preparing with questions is the first step in having a successful interview. When you know what to expect, you can avoid any awkward silences. Obviously, there is no way to know exactly how the interview will go but preparing with these top interview questions will help you get that much further in the interview process.

Are there any questions that you would add?

What question do you remember as being the hardest?

Originally posted 2015-05-29 10:00:21.