One of the Most Hated Job Interview Questions And How to Answer it.

Question MarksThere are two different kinds of people (actually, there are several different kinds of people, but for the sake of this post we’re going to focus on two types). There are the people that have always known, not only what they want to be when they grow up, (another question for the ages, asked both by career beginners and boomers) but at what stage of their lives they want to be there.

Then there are the people who don’t have a fixed path or objective. They’re people who sometimes happen across their careers serendipitously by exposing themselves to different courses in college and different jobs in the “real world”.

For the first group, the dreaded question of “where do you want to be in five years?” is easier to answer. They have a plan and a goal. They can answer the question and frame it so the answer dovetails with the goals of the organization with whom they’re interviewing.

Now, for the second group, that’s a much more difficult question to answer. I’ve had clients who are very envious of the first group, the ones that know exactly what direction they want to take. Members of the second group will often say to me, “If I knew what I wanted to do, it would be so much easier, I could just go for it.” And they could better answer the “where do you want to be in five years question?”

So for those of you out there who don’t know where you want to be in five years, a good answer would be to focus on the organization you’re attempting to join and how its mission fits with your own skills, attributes and passions. In other words, the answer could be along the lines of ” I want to be with a dynamic and growing company, where I can use my ability at doing X, Y and Z to help contribute to the company’s success.”

The bottom line when answering the question is to be authentic, highlight the skills that you bring to the table and demonstrate how your own personal growth will contribute to that of the company’s.


An App To Help You Ace Your Job Interview?

Application For InterviewWe’re humans who are always looking for ways to make our lives easier and more productive. These days that means apps (unless your spending your time on Angry Birds, then your productivity definitely comes into question).

There are apps for everything and job searching is no exception. The latest app I’ve run across that’s designed to help you in landing your next position is InterviewPrep. It’s free and that’s always a bonus. It’s designed to work like a flip card (remember index cards?), with an interview question on one side and guidance on the proper approach to answering the question on the other.

Overall, the questions are good ones that are often asked in interviews and the suggested response strategies are also insightful. However, to appeal to the masses, the app deals in vague generalities. While helpful in preparing for an interview, the app doesn’t and can’t give you feedback on several things.

For instance, it can’t give you feedback on the way you specifically are answering questions and whether your answers are raising red flags for the interviewer. The app also can’t help you deal with unique problems or liabilities you might have in your background and how to address them.

While I think the app is a great primer, especially for those of you just starting out your careers, nothing replaces the insight and advice of an experienced career coach who can listen to your answers and then instruct you on how to make them better and more polished.

I’ve worked with hundreds of executives and professionals, many of whom think they are great at interviewing because they’ve conducted so many interviews themselves. But, there’s a big difference being on the other side of the table. After leading some role-playing with even the most seasoned executives and professionals, there’s always been room for improvement (in some cases, a lot of room).

So don’t worry if you haven’t downloaded the latest app, sometimes nothing beats some good old fashioned coaching. In other words, on your next job interview you won’t be hapless if you’re app-less, that is if you engage the services of a professional, because there will always be some things that require the human touch.


3 Reasons Why You Didn’t Get That Job

BusinessmanJob interviewing is one of life’s necessary evils. While I work with a lot of confident professionals and executives who welcome an opportunity to interview and believe strongly that if they just get the interview, they’ll land the job, that isn’t always the case. Obviously, only one candidate can come out on top, so just making it to the interview is not enough, no matter how confident you are.

That raises the question, especially for folks who interview well, why didn’t I get that job? There isn’t one pat answer to that question. When you’re interviewing you’re dealing with human beings who come to the table with their own opinions, biases and preferences. Sometimes you may never know why you didn’t make it through to the next round of interviews. But the following are three reasons that frequently hold a candidate back:

1. You didn’t make a good first impression. It takes just seconds for an interviewer to form a first impression about you. Make sure you’re dressed professionally, have a firm handshake and a good smile when you initially meet your interviewer.

2. You didn’t do your research. There’s no excuse for not having researched the company and even the person with whom you’re interviewing. In our Internet age with information at our finger tips there are several things that you must do: read the company’s website, look for the person and company you’re interviewing with on LinkedIn and Google, and you may even want to check out some financial websites for additional information. Remember, knowledge is power. Not only do you want to impress the interviewer that you care enough to learn more about the position, this is your time to determine whether it’s really a company that suits you as well.

3. You didn’t have any questions about the company or the position. Really, you’re looking at making a career move and taking a job where you’ll be spending at least 40 hours of your life every week and  you have no questions about the company or your duties? Interviewers want to see that you’re intellectually curious, that you’re interested in their company and that you have intelligent questions about your role within the organization.

Interviewing well is more important now than ever before. So remember, it’s important to primp, prepare, and practice.