Candidate Tips
Late for an interview? Here’s how to recover.

 

 

The Irish playwirght, George Bernard Shaw, once said, ”Better never than late.” Bearing these words in mind, if you suddenly find yourself waylaid en route to an interview, is it better to turn around and head home? Or, can you find your way back into the interviewer’s good books and salvage a possible missed opportunity? 

 

I’m sure it’s happened to most of us in our day to day lives, even when we have the very best intentions we often find ourselves in situations beyond our control - like a delayed train - rendering even the most punctual among us hapless victims of tardiness. 

 

When a potential new job is on the line, what’s the best way to handle this situation? 

Here are five tips for rebounding from a late arrival.

 

1. Call if You Can 

 

If you are able to, it’s important to call the interviewer and give them the heads up that you’ve found yourself in this unfortunate situation and won’t be arriving on time. When you call, let them know your ETA and ask if that time will still work for them. If it doesn’t, offer to reschedule. 

 

Don't forget that everyone has an agenda. If you’re meant to arrive at 1.30pm and show up at 2pm then it can throw off the afternoon schedule. Offering to reschedule shows that you’re respectful of that person’s time. 

 

2. Apologise, But Don’t Go Over the Top

 

Overdoing an apology can do more damage than good. So whether you’re apologising on the phone or in person, always stay professional - don’t gush and ramble. Let the interviewer know how sincerely sorry are and how out of character this is, make your apology and then move on. These things happen, and people understand that. Don't undermine yourself by giving them lots of silly excuses. 

 

3. Take A Minute To Compose Yourself 

 

You’re already running late, and your brain is telling you there’s no time for anything. Who has a second to take 10 deep breaths and pull themselves together? You do. 

 

Yes, it hasn't been the best start, which will automatically put you at a disadvantage, but entering an interview flustered will only harm you further. Instead take a few moments and do whatever you need to do to get yourself back on track. Whether that’s counting, listening to music; take that extra minute to do whatever you need to, to calm down. If your heart is racing and your blood pressure is up, you’re not going to make a good impression. 

 

4. Keep it Positive

 

When you arrive into your interview, apologise again by saying, “I’m sorry; this is not ordinarily how I conduct myself,” then let it go. Always bear in mind that if things go well, this is the person you’ll either be working for or with, so keep the conversation positive and professional. Give him or her a chance to get to know you - particularly your strengths, such as how you can overcome a challenge like an unexpected detour on the way to an important meeting. 

 

Woody Allen once said, 80% of success is just showing up. So when you do show up, be present and give them 100%. 

 

5. Prove You Are Adaptable 

 

50% of an interview is about getting to know you, the candidate, as a person and getting a feel for who you are and if you’ll fit well within the company or organisation. How you handle yourself under pressure says a lot about you and how you’ll conduct yourself as the company’s employee. 

If you’re late to your job interview, there’s a possibility you could be late to see a client, and the company will be paying attention to see how you recover. It becomes a test of how you handle the situation, so use it to your advantage. 

 

If you do find yourself in the uncomfortable position of arriving late to an interview, all may not be lost. Being prepared and working through the situation like a professional could save the interview and also the job opportunity.

 
How to Prepare for a Design Interview

 

 

The Creative and Digital Industries are highly competitive, so be under no illusions, a portfolio may get your foot in the door, but it would be highly unusual for a company to hire someone solely on them being a good designer, no matter how good they are. 

 

Meeting with the designer behind the portfolio is the real suitability test for our clients. Being prepared and aware of what the interview will entail will hopefully avoid you stumbling at the first hurdle. You’d be surprised just how often this happens. 

 

The following tips, although some may seem obvious, are always worth discussing and offer a refresher for anyone looking for a job in design. 

 

1. Ask yourself if you’re 100% committed and interested in the job

 

Yes, it’s an obvious question, but it’s important to ask yourself this simple question. Whilst you should feel genuinely committed and interested in a job before applying, things can change. So if it happens that before an interview you know that you’re not longer interested and nothing can change your mind, then it’s probably best for all parties that you take yourself out of the process. 

 

If you decide that it’s time to withdraw, it’s important to provide sufficient notice - and we’re not talking an hour before! Always call your interviewer or recruiter to talk through a decision like this, rather than just sending an email. 

 

2. Use your recruiter to help you to understand the structure of your interview 

 

It often happens that candidates are given little information about their interview and a very informal “here’s the time of your interview, let us now how it goes,” type of send-off. 

 

We try to give our candidates as much detail as possible including:

 

Who you are meeting; who you should ask for when you arrive; what you should take with you; how you should prepare beforehand; what to expect in your interview. 

 

Usually a first stage design interview will focus on a portfolio review, where you will be asked to walk through your key projects. With that in mind…

 

3. Always decide beforehand what projects you're going to present

 

As well as creative talent, good communication skills in designers are highly desirable. The ability to understand the needs of a client and effectively communicate their ideas and vision visually, verbally, and in writing will make you stand out from the crowd. 

 

Your portfolio and portfolio review provides a great opportunity to showcase your range of communication skills. It’s worth taking some time to consider the following:

 

Don’t let your interview be the first time you’re talking about your work. You wouldn't dream of delivering a presentation without preparation and a run though, so don’t consider your interview to be any different. Get some practice in beforehand with friends and family. 

 

Be careful to choose projects that are relevant to the job you are applying and interviewing for. Remember a project can be relevant for a number of reasons. Think about a project in categories, such as platform type, sector and processes. 

 

Don’t be tempted to talk through everything in your portfolio. Think quality not quantity. There’s more value to be thorough on two or three projects than to rush through 10. 

 

Practice talking about your process. Almost all clients will want to hear the details about your thought process behind your work. Avoid “Here’s a website I designed… isn’t it great!” focus more on, “Here’s a website I designed. The brief was x, the problem the client needed solving was y, and these were the steps I took to get to the end result.”

 

4. Do your research 

 

The most frustrating thing for a hiring manager or interviewer is dealing with a candidate who comes across as not knowing why and what they're there for, or hasn’t researched the company. 

 

It’s important to really read up on the company before an interview. Search for recent news articles and stories, and don’t forget to look at their website and social media pages to get a feel for the brand and tone of the company. 

 

Make a note of any of their design work you like (and also dislike). Identifying any work that resonates with you, or that you're curious about, will provide points of interest throughout your interview. It will also show that you have a genuine interest in the company.

 

And finally, here’s some quick tips for you.

 

  • Take your own laptop to showcase your own work. 

The interviewer wont be able to take any notes if you're looking at your work on their screen. this will also avoid the panic of an unfamiliar laptop; who knows how they've setup up their scroll! 

 

  • Organise your work.

You don't want to spend your interview rifling through folders and sub-folders. Have all your work neatly organised into PDF case studies or all on your website to ensure a crisp presentation.

 

  • Be constructive, never negative.

It’s NOT advisable to put down the company/people you are currently working for! 

 

And remember that this is definitely not just a chat, it’s an interview. Design can be a casual industry, but it’s important to be casual whilst also being professional, organised and prepared! 

 
5 Golden Touches to Your LinkedIn Profile

 

 

With close to 500 million users LinkedIn is the world’s biggest professional network and it continues to grow - 2 new members sign up every second. Every LinkedIn user that signs up gets a profile when they join. So with all those profiles available to view, it’s important to ensure that your profile gets found and read by the right people - whether thats recruiters, headhunters, or the company you really want to work with.

 

 

1. Killer Headline 

 

There are currently 242 million monthly active users on LinkedIn. With all those people in one place all trying to do similar things to you, it's easy to become a small fish in a big pond. That’s why you have to find a way to stand out amongst the pack. 

 

The most viewed part of a LinkedIn profile is the headline - the text that appears under the persons name. LinkedIn does a good job of generating this for you, but we suggest writing something that really shows who you are. How many years have you been working in your current position? What else have you done in the past? These can all be included in your headline to make it eye-catching and interesting. 

 

Be creative, outline who you are (more than just your job title) and be genuine. Your LinkedIn profile is the place to showcase the real you. 

 

 

2. Outline Contact Details 

 

If you’re on LinkedIn to launch yourself into a new job or career then you want to make communication easy and accessible. Sending a connection request can take a while sometimes, however an email or a phone call is usually instant. Unless you are connected with someone on LinkedIn, you’re unable to see their contact details, and you will have to wait until you are connected. 

 

If you are looking to receive opportunities from recruiters or headhunters, outline your main contact details at the end of your summary section. You can list whichever method you prefer, just make sure it’s easy for people to contact you. You can always send them a connection request once you’ve received their email, and this will save you a lot of time in the long run. 

 

Don't forget, LinkedIn is an online networking platform, so don’t shy away from sharing your contact details. Who knows what you might miss out on. 

 

 

3. Share Interesting Content

 

Recently there have been a lot of frustrations surrounding LinkedIn and how people feel that it’s becoming more like Facebook. This is due to non-business related updates, such as selfies etc. 

 

Ensure that any content you share on your LinkedIn isn’t just click-baiting, and it’s genuinely interesting to yourself and your peers. Don't post content for the sake of it. Make it interesting, entertaining or educational - but be sure that your connections can get something out of it. 

 

 

4. Make Your Profile (suitably) Public

 

Lets not forget that your privacy settings keep you safe, so it’s important to strike that balance between visibility and security. 

 

Take 5 minutes out of your day to ensure that your settings are switched to their optimum. And while you’re there, review your public profile, as this setting outlines what will be seen when you are found via Google search. Switch on all relevant options, and make yourself extremely visible to the outside. 

 

Top Tip: LinkedIn profiles with professional headshots get 14 times more profile views! 

 

 

5. Have Some Personality

 

We mentioned at the start that there are a huge amount of profiles on LinkedIn, that’s why it's important to not be like everyone else. Show that you’re unique and different. Like to paint? Add it on. Do you like to go rock climbing? Put that on too. Use your LinkedIn to create a profile that shows off your personality in and outside of work, and proves every aspect of you. 

 

LinkedIn is an extremely powerful tool when used correctly. Make your profile as strong as it can be and watch the job offers come rolling in! 

 
Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

 

 

Before they even get to your CV, most employers will focus on your cover letter. An effective cover letter shows that you can write well, think clearly, and offer the skills and qualities required to succeed in the job. We’ve rounded up the most common mistakes to avoid - getting your cover letter write is jumping the first hurdle on your way to securing an interview. 

 

Grammar and Spelling Errors

Submitting a cover letter peppered with grammar and spelling errors is a sure fire way to get you placed on the no pile. Don’t get lazy and just rely on spell check! Read through thoroughly to pick up on every error. We also suggest having a friend or family member review it too. Two sets of eyes are always better than one. 

 

Sending a Generic Cover Letter

A very common mistake is using a generic approach and sending the same cover letter to each employer. Don’t forget cover letters are a chance to mention the specific job you’re applying for. Carefully consider the characteristics of the ideal candidate, as listed in the job posting, and explain how your skills, experience and personal qualities will enable you to excel in that particular  job. 

 

Using an Outdated Greeting

Steer clear of old fashioned terms like “Dear Sir or Madam” if you don't have the name of the contact person. Instead try gender-neutral terms like “Dear Human Resources Manager” or “Dear Hiring Manager.” Address women as “Ms.” as opposed to Mrs.” or simply start with the first paragraph and don't address it to anyone. 

 

Cover Letter is too Short

Sending off a letter that is too short can send the wrong signal to employers about your work ethic or level of interest in the job. You will also miss a great opportunity to frame your background for employers and lead them towards a positive view of your candidacy.

 

Cover Letter is too Long

A long letter can often put employers off, and increase the likelihood that they will jump over your letter and move straight to your CV. Try to strike a balance. Aim for 3 to 5 paragraphs no longer than six lines each.

 

Including Too Much Information 

There is some information that doesn’t need to be included in your cover letter. In fact, including it can hurt your chances of securing an interview. Don't give employers any more information than they need to know.

 

Not Providing Concrete Examples 

It’s important to back up your statements about your skills and assets by referencing a job or role where you successfully employed that strength. Be aware that expressing empty opinions about your strengths will generally not convince employers about your suitability for the job. 

 

For example, instead of simply stating “I possess strong written skills and an outstanding work ethic,” try “Strong writing skills enabled me to revise a sponsorship proposal and secure £50,000 in additional sponsorship from the Jones Foundation.”

 

Not Expressing Enough Interest 

Don't leave the hiring manager wondering about your level of interest. Your cover letter is a chance to express genuine enthusiasm for the job so that the employer knows that you are highly motivated to pursue the job.

 
The 5 Most Common CV Grammar Mistakes to Avoid

 

 

Your CV is your introduction to potential employers. It’s the first impression you’re able to make, and it will determine whether or not you will get to meet them face to face. if you want to get a foot in the door for your dream job, you’ll need to ensure your CV is polished and professional. 

 

Grammar mistakes tend to trip up even the most diligent of writers. Here are some pitfalls to avoid when checking through your CV - Don't just rely on spell check! 

 

Ready for a grammar refresher….here we go. 

 

 

Homophones

 

Homophones are words that sound the same, but have different spellings and meanings. Common examples include “their”, “they’re” and “there”, as well as “too”, “two” and “to.” It’s very easy to miss these words in a spell check as the spelling isn’t the problem. The problem is the misuse of the word, which can only be caught by double checking through your CV. Be sure to proofread with the intention to catch errors of this kind. In fact, having a friend or relative look over it is usually a safe bet, especially if you feel grammar is not your strong point. What you want to avoid is employers thinking you have a lack of attention to detail. 

 

 

Possessives & Contractions

 

One of the more annoying CV grammar mistakes made by job seekers is the confusion between words of possession and words that are simply contractions of two other words. Here’s an example. The word “your” is a possessive. It describes something belonging to “you.” However the word “you’re” is a contraction of the words “you” and “are,” and it implies an action rather than possession. Confusing these two words will give the impression that you might not be the right candidate for the job. 

 

 

Poor Use of Apostrophes

 

Occasionally, people will throw in an unnecessary apostrophe, such as in words they may intend to make plural. One such common error is when stating, “supervised staff of 10 employee’s.” There is no need to insert an apostrophe in the word “employees” because it is used as a plural in this instance, not as a possessive word. This one seems straightforward, but it’s seen far more often than it should be seen on CVs. 

 

 

Subject-Verb Agreement 

 

When writing sentences in your CV, pay special attention that the subject matches the verb in number and person. This kind of error is usually an easily-made, careless slip-ip, but it’s also one that can be avoided through simply proofreading out loud. You’ll be able to hear straight away whether you may have added an unnecessary “s” to a first-person singular verb when you might overlook the mistake by simply reading it silently. 

 

 

Inconsistent Tense 

 

When writing your CV, you want to use the past tense when talking about precious jobs or experiences. When referring to your current position, you can use the present tense. Be sure to stick with the correct tense throughout your CV. Switching from terms like “work” and “worked” haphazardly throughout the CV without rhyme or reason looks unprofessional and sloppy. It’s a sign you may not take pride in the work you put out. 

 
What should your CV look like?

 

 

CV layouts go through trends just as quickly as fashion. We've seen the inclusion of everything from QR codes to headshots. It’s a hard task to try to second guess which additional extras will make your CV standout from the rest, and those which will ensure its thrown out.

There's always some things that'll never go out of style. Remember, when it comes to writing your CV, clarity and brevity will always top the list. Pair this with a clean, modern design and you have all the tools needed to help you land that interview.

Competition will always be tough, so take some time to understand how to make your CV stand out by using the tips below.

 

1. Pay Attention to Format

Pay Attention to Format Whether you’re applying for a role in the creative industries or not, design will always matter. It all boils down to balance; a clean, smooth look that has just enough style to stand out. Adding a touch of colour is an easy way to jazz things up without putting off the reader. And pay attention to fonts. Times New Roman looks a little dated and boring; instead choose a clean font that gives a more tightened-up presentation, something like a bit of Helvetica Neue.

 

2. Make the Top Part Count

The top third of your CV is what we as recruiters or an HR will scan through quickly to determine whether or not we will read the rest. This will take 5 seconds tops. So it’s vital that the top part is attention grabbing. Point the reader to places where you have samples of your work product, like LinkedIn for example - and always add your phone number and email address.

Agenda Advice: If you still have a Hotmail email address, think about upgrading to a Gmail account. Hotmail can often be seen as an ‘education’ based email, and may look like you’re living a little in the past.

 

3. Promote Your Brand

You need to show what you can do for an employer, not what they can do for you. The point of your CV is to highlight what you can’t afford a potential employer to miss. Your qualification summary should take up prime position on your CV, and should also parallel the summary section on your LinkedIn page. For both your CV and LinkedIn summaries, remember to use language that calls out some of the achievements and attributes that make you most valuable to an employer.

 

4. Emphasise Key Skills Catch attention by emphasising your skill set close to the top of your CV. Doing this cements the value you can bring to the role, as opposed to what you're looking for in a job. As you apply for different posts, re-work this section to emphasis the skills that make the most sense for each, rather than using the same language for every job application. It’s helpful to identify phrases from the job posting and mirror them in your CV. This will give you a better chance of making it into the yes pile.

Agenda Advice: Save your Soft Skills, such as ‘quick learner’, ‘great communicator’ for your interview; CVs are built for your list of hard skills. Distinguishable tech and social media knowledge is particularly relevant in today’s job market. (And no, the Microsoft Office suite does not count!)

 

5. Highlight Performance

Don't make us hunt down your achievements, instead pull out a standalone summary of what you’ve accomplished. This is another place where you’ll want to tailor awards, benchmarks etc to the job you’re applying for. If you’ve been promoted previously then tell us why, If you’ve saved money, how much? Did you successfully win a design contract? How?

This part of your CV will always feel the hardest to put together. We suggest looking through past performance reviews, and thinking back to what your past bosses and coworkers said you did better than anyone else. Think of it as your superpower section. To make this section different to your summary, try to focus on quantifiable evidence. Think pound signs and percentage points.

 

6. Show Key Work Metrics

When you get to listing your work experience, don’t just list titles and dates. Use a few lines of text to weave a story for hiring managers. For example, When did you change industries? Why were you promoted? Where do you aim to go next?

Use bullet points to back up your claims with relevant facts and figures. The only way to make yourself look unique is to dig into what you did beyond the expected. Statistics are an easy way to prove you did more than the job description demanded.

 

7. Control Your Timeline

Your CV is a curation of your most relevant work history. If you’re anything beyond entry-level employee, your internships and early jobs will be taking up valuable space. Get rid of experiences that date back further than 10 years, unless they’re essential to the narrative - for example, an internship that changed your career trajectory. Also leave out school/university graduation dates. Don't give that ageist employer an excuse to pass over your CV because they feel you’re too young, or too old.

 
Mindfulness At Work: 5 Tricks For A Healthier, Less Stressful Work Day

 

 

“Meditation is an act of sanity,” scientist and writer John Kabat-Zinn told Google employees in a mindfulness session at the company’s headquarters in 2007. Six years later, Google incorporates mindfulness into their “Search Inside Yourself” training, and meditative practices have become common in businesses from Silicon Valley to Wall Street.

 

Many corporations and employees are realising that the benefits of mindfulness practices can be dramatic. In addition to supporting overall health and well-being, mindfulness has been linked to improved cognitive functioning and lower stress levels.

 

“Mindfulness essentially means awareness,” Dr. Danny Penman, author of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide To Finding Peace In A Frantic World, tells the Huffington Post. “Becoming aware of what’s going on around you can make a huge difference, because we spend so much time wrapped up in our thoughts that we lose contact with the real world. That’s especially the case if you’re constantly bombarded by email, Facebook posts and Twitter. It’s not really conducive to a calm and productive work environment. “

 

If you’re stressed out by your job, try these five mindfulness tricks that could help you feel more in control of your everyday work life.

 

1. Practice “strategic acceptance.”

When you get stressed out and start thinking of every little setback in catastrophic terms, your mind tends to accept this black-and-white thinking as the absolute truth, which creates even more stress. But really, this thinking is a just product of our emotional reaction to a situation. When you find your stress levels rising, don’t try to force yourself to cheer up or calm down, Penman says. The first step to returning to equilibrium is to simply accept the way you currently feel.

 

“If you accept that that is how you feel at this moment, you take the sting out of your emotion, and out of the stress, anger, worry and unhappiness,” says Penman. “The act of observation and the act of accepting the situation is tremendously powerful.”

But this doesn’t mean resigning to a bad situation at work — it’s a matter of accepting how things are at this moment before making a plan to do what you can to improve them.

“It’s a strategic acceptance, the way a general will accept the situation when he is going into the heat of battle,” says Penman. “He may not like it, but by accepting it, he can then find a solution.”

 

2. Try a three-minute breathing space.

The best (and easiest) way to become more mindful at work, according to Penman, is to periodically take what he calls a “three-minute breathing space.” At your desk or in a quiet space, take three minutes to stop what you’re doing, inhale and exhale deeply and focus your attention fully on the breath and then the body as a whole.

“You do that two or three times a day, and it will transform the day,” says Penman. “If you’re feeling especially frantic, a three-minute breathing space will help clarify your thoughts, calm down your whole approach to life and will make you so much more productive and on-the-ball. It’s just transformative.”

 

Click here for more detailed instructions and a downloadable guided breathing space meditation.

 

3. Tune into distractions around you.

In open-concept offices in particular, distractions are rampant, whether they’re in the form of a noisy neighbouring coworker, loud typing or phones going off. But paradoxically, Penman says that paying attention to those distractions rather than trying to tune them out can be a good way to prevent them from stressing you out. Gently notice the sounds and see if you can become aware of the effects they have on your body. The observation tends to rob the distractions of their power.

 

“When you get distracted and stress, you might start tensing up in your stomach, neck or shoulders,” says Penman. “The simple act of observing the effects of stress and worry on the body causes our tension to run into the sand.”

 

4. Take breaks.

There is evidence to support the idea that taking regular breaks during the workday can boost productivity and creativity. So instead of eating in front of your computer while plowing through your follow-up folder, try taking a tech-free lunch break, in addition to leaving your desk for several shorter breaks throughout the day. If you’re struggling to accomplish a task that requires innovative thinking, a break could be just the creative boost you need, says Penman.

 

“Breaks give your mind space to digest information,” says Penman. “It’s very important to daydream, to let your mind run free at the deepest level. That’s the source of creativity — taking disparate ideas from different disciplines and putting them together. You can’t really do that consciously. It’s something that the brain just does naturally below the surface. And then the solution will just bubble to the surface.”

 

For an effective mini-break to help you focus on the task at hand when you can’t leave your desk, try this 30-second email meditation.

 

5. Find a time to unplug

With constant email access, it’s easy to stay plugged in all day at work and outside the office. But this 24/7 connectivity could be taking a toll on our health: Studies have found that excessive reliance on technology could make us more distracted, impatient and forgetful. Recently, digital detox retreats have sprung up as a way for stressed-out workers to truly get away from it all, more and more individuals are electing to take weekly “technology shabbats,” and many of us are looking for ways to live our tech-saturated lives more mindfully.

 

“Technology kind of compresses the time that we have to evaluate information,” says Penman. “We’re constantly bombarded with information, and the only solution is to switch off for a while.”

 

It may seem impossible at work, but taking even short breaks from technology can help keep stress levels at bay and boost productivity. Try leaving your smartphone at your desk when you leave for lunch or finding a quiet, tech-free area for a three-minute breathing space in the afternoon. And on the weekends, consider taking an afternoon or a full day to unplug so you can return to work on Monday feeling recharged.

 

Original article published on Huffington Post.

 
The 10 Most Common Job interview Questions - and how to handle them!

 

 

Job interviews are daunting, and its scary to be thinking about how to handle all the questions employers often like to ask. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the most common interview questions alongside a few insider tips on how to handle them, so you can come up with your own original answers. 

 

But, firstly, let us let you in on a little secret - the secret for answering any interview questions, even the tough ones - is to simply listen carefully to what the interviewer is asking you, don’t be tempted to think ahead, and just try your best to make your answers feel real, and part of a natural, flowing conversation. 

 

As tempting as it might be to come prepared with ready made answers you’ve spent hours memorising, you not only run the risk of sounding a bit like a robot, but you'll probably end up with the same boring answer as the candidate before you. 

 

Below are some techniques that can help you develop your own answers for various types of questions. Think carefully about how each example question relates to you, your experience and the job you’re applying for. 

 

Help yourself to feel more confident with your responses and practice ahead of time with friends and family. And then on the day of the interview, trust yourself to answer the questions in your own voice and personality. Remember, the employer is trying to discover who you are. 

 

Remember, listen carefully to the interviewer and stay in the moment, don’t force your brain to get ahead of itself and spout out a memorised response. Once you get the idea, you can usually use similar techniques on any questions thrown your way. 


1. What’s your greatest weakness?

 

This question is often used by people new to interviewing, but since it can show how a person handles the obvious, even longtime job interview pros may ask it. Aim for a response that sounds sincere, but winds up positive, using the basic format of (1) this is my weakness; (2) I’ve worked on it; and (3) now I’ve learned to turn it into a strength.

 

It can vary from that, but mainly you want to leave a good impression of how well you face and then overcome issues. What you don’t want to do is play the old worn-out “I work way too hard” weakness card. You might get away with it, but it shows no creativity and possibly leaves a taste of someone who thinks they are outsmarting the interviewer – or trying to.

 

2. What’s your greatest strength? 

 

There are many good ways to answer this question, but when you prepare think ahead of time about what the new job requires, by carefully reviewing the job description, and what you’ve done in the past - check over your CV for this. Think of a strength of yours that fits nicely with the job you want. And make sure to have a quick story as an example of how you successfully used that skill or strength in a prior job.

 

You don’t want to brag, but you also don’t want to seem like you’re uncomfortable talking about your strengths. Again, just answer naturally.

3. Tell me something about yourself 

 

Often a favourite question to ask a job candidate. It’s usually used at the beginning of an interview to get a feel for the candidate – and to see what they choose to tell about themselves. Remember that there are a lot more questions to come, so you don’t want to start with “I was born on a Sunday… ” And you definitely don’t want to focus on overly personal things like marriage status, health issues, or unrelated hobbies.

 

This is a time to tell your short career story, perhaps starting with education, and touching on key points in your career that ideally lead up to this moment – and the reason you're their ideal candidate. The best things you can tell them about yourself are things that make them think “we can use someone like that.”

4. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

 

This is one of those questions with no one-size-fits-all answer. It all depends on the type of company and job. Some interviewers look for strong signs of ambition. Others, for a person who will be content to grow slowly, taking on more responsibility as the need arises. And some, although they may not tell you this, are fully aware that you may not see yourself at all in this company in 5 years, but are just looking to see how you handle the question.

 

Hopefully your research prior to the interview will help you decide what is best. A good answer usually paints a picture of a person who will look to build solid working relationships, and do their best wherever they are and whatever challenges they are given. Someone looking to become an essential part of the company and take on new projects and opportunities as they arise. You may also want to mention some particular goals or things you’d like to take on at some point based on the type of job.

5. What do you know about our company?

 

Companies like to know that you took the time to research them and learn about what they do, and perhaps something about their values and stated mission, if they have one. The last thing you want to do is show up and say that you don’t know much, but are very willing to learn. That tells them you’ll have the same passive attitude as an employee.

6. Why do you want to work here / why are you right for this job?

 

Once again, find a way to use your career story to point to exactly this job at this time. Really think about this ahead of time. You don’t have to prove that this is all you’ve ever dreamed about since you were a little kid – unless that’s true. But even then, try not to be too over the top.

 

And try not to make your answer completely about what this generally represents such as I’ve always dreamed of working in the creative industry, as opposed to explaining why this company in particular fits so well with your career goals.

 

Again, doing your research ahead of time can make all the difference. And remember when you answer to keep their needs in mind. “I would love to help you to ___.” (Fill in the blank based on your research.)

7. Why did you leave, or are thinking of leaving, your last job?
 

If you’re still in a job, then your answer can say something about looking for a more challenging job, or realising that what you really want to do is what this new job offers, or you’re looking for advancement. The main thing is to make it positive and NOT knock your current (or former) employer.

 

If you were fired or quit your last job, it’s especially important to think about your answer ahead of time. You don’t want to badmouth the last employer, because it makes the interviewer think that one day you’ll be saying this about them, even if you assure them it’s not true.

 

If something went wrong that they may hear about, be honest (you don’t need to go into major detail here), and follow up with what you learned from it and how you’re more determined than ever to do a great job now. If it’s just that it wasn’t a great fit, you can say that – adding something about why you think this job is.

8. What’s your greatest accomplishment up to now?

 

Think about everything you’ve ever done – both in the workplace and elsewhere – and then choose one experience that speaks to the job you’re applying for in some way. Most of you will think of things from other jobs, but there are also things you may have started or taken charge of that you’re especially proud of that can apply. Try to fit the skills of that experience, and the way you tell the story, to the new job.

9. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to overcome?

 

If possible, you can use the same story from the previous question (odds are they won’t ask both), and simply adapt the story as needed. Or, there may be some other thing, especially from a prior or current job, where you saved the day despite some really tough circumstances. Where I’d be careful is taking a story from your personal life.

 

You don’t want to let them too far into things that should stay personal at this point. So while your biggest challenge may have been overcoming cancer, disability or a serious accident, this is probably not the time to bring that up, unless of course it relates directly to the job you’re applying for.

 

Just as an fyi … from a legal standpoint, illness and disabilities are not areas the interviewer should go into. And if they do, just bring it right back to your skills and work abilities.

10. Do you have any questions you’d like to ask us?

 

If you don’t already know this, most interviewers end the interview by asking what you’d like to know about them or any other questions you might have. So come prepared with some questions that show you understand the company and job. You can ask things like what an average day on the job might be like or what challenges they see for the department over the coming year or something specific that you got from your research. Please don’t stick with just those. Use them to help spark your own questions!

 

As a rule, a first interview is usually not a good time to ask about salary or benefits, unless they raise the issue – or unless you’re sure this is your only interview and the salary wasn’t stated anywhere you could see it. At the very least, don’t try to negotiate salary at this point unless an offer is made.

 

 

In the end, it’s important to remember that it’s not so much the exact words you use when answering questions, but more the overall impression you leave. So answer each question as well as you can, but don’t get caught up worrying about what you just said. 

 

Keep it flowing and conversational. Remember to stay pleasant and have good energy, and leave with a smile and a firm handshake. 

 

The rest is about how well you fit within the company’s goals and culture, and those are things a good interviewer can get a feel for no matter how much you try to figure them out and adjust.

 

All you can really do in any interview is to help them see the best real you – and the potential match!

 

 
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