3 Key Job Interview Questions to Prepare For

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

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As you prepare for your next job interview it can be overwhelming to think through all the possible questions that could be asked, especially if you are progressing past the first round. As a ProTip, here are three questions I recommend thinking through not just for the interview, but for yourself:

1. Tell Me About Yourself

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This is a tough question because you may not know where to start or where to end. I find it helps if I translate that question into “TELL ME ABOUT THE RELEVANT PARTS OF YOUR CAREER.”  By thinking of it in this way you can tell the story of how you arrived at this moment, without getting too far out into the weeds. 

I will share with you a framework for how to answer this question beyond a step-by-step walkthrough of your resume in another post.

2. Why Do You Want THIS Job?

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This is a key question because, like in dating, everyone wants to feel special.  If you share some blanket statement that could seem to be shared with ANY prospective employer then it may seem as though you have not put much thought into your candidacy. 

One of the key things recruiters want to see is effort, so they are looking to weed out those doing a “spray and pray” approach to throwing around resumes and seeing what sticks.  If you craft an answer that shows that THIS role matters to you then maybe…just maybe your application will get a second look.

3. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

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While it may be true that there is no way to know, but it is important to have a longer-term goal, a North Star, so that you have a direction for your growth. Sometimes it is too easy to stay where and how you are while the world – and innovation – passes by.

With this answer, you may not share all of your plans, but you definitely want to share how this role will help you to develop the skills to grow into the professional you want to become.

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Target Junior Roles NOT Junior Goals

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Man working on computer next to woman writing.

What should you be considering when targeting junior-level roles?

Even if you are going after junior level roles it is important to be proactive about what you want and what you expect. What I mean by that is:

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 5 YEARS? 

People create a mission statement for a reason. As in the case of project management, sometimes it will take a series of iterations to get you where you want to be. If a job or an opportunity does not get you all the way to your end goal, does it move you in that direction?  Recognizing when there is progress is key toward getting to your destination.

WHAT DO YOU NEED WITH THIS NEXT STEP?

Key to knowing where you are going is also knowing what you need support to look like. If you need to be a part of a team, what does that look like? Does that mean collaborating with others to generate ideas and then autonomy upon execution? Or does that mean there are a few of you in it to win it

However you envision this being, you can do the research to identify the companies that provide this OR you have it in your power to meet new people and build your own network, community, and mentoring relationships.

ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

Silence isn’t always golden because not everyone is clairvoyant. If something is NOT working for you – or if something IS – articulate it. 

In the interview process, you are evaluating a company, situation, or the team as much as they are evaluating you, so it can be important to identify what matters to you sooner rather than later.

RESOURCES

Register for a LIVE Career Q&A session (limited space)

Subscribe to CAREER GPS for ongoing job search support.

Find additional SACRED TIME OFFERINGS.

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3 Ways to Handle Overqualification Bias

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Career Changers and Job Seekers ask me about what I am noticing in the market around ageism, or they express their concerns about being discriminated against. While there are approaches that can be used when putting together a job search strategy or resume, a game-changer for me was seeing it positioned as an overqualification bias by the Harvard Business Review (HBR).

While I find it more pleasing to say ‘overqualification bias’ than ‘ageism,’ this also resonates for those I work with. As a mid-career professional, some of my clients report getting feedback that they are overqualified. To help, I recommend considering why it matters in the first place. As a Job Seeker, you can proactively address an employer’s concern from the start.

When I dig into employer feedback, I hear concerns that the candidate would be bored in the role as it is more ‘entry-level.’ If you’ve ever done a contract or a probationary period on a new role, within three months – if not in the first week –  it is clear whether the job you are doing is truly a good fit for you.

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In addition to expressing concerns about boredom, I have heard some employers suggest that the candidate would not be truly committed to the role, the company, or the team. Essentially, what they’re worried about is that if you’re overqualified, this is a ‘for the moment’ role when they intended it to be permanent. 

This matters because hiring is an investment and to do it poorly means not seeing a return on that investment (ROI) or, worse, having to start all over.  While I had encountered a report that said it cost 15% of the annual salary to hire a new employee, here is a more detailed breakdown from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Getting somebody in place and up to speed from onboarding and mentoring to the point of full autonomy costs both time and money.  Here are three ways to address the employer’s concern as a Job Seeker:

Why This Job

Make sure you are clear with an employer why you want this particular role.  In some cases, you have applied on purpose, or you have followed through on a networking lead with intention and are not just “spraying and praying” to get just any job. Employers, like you as the Job Seeker, want to feel special. Chosen. This effort to be clear why you want this role will help to distinguish your application from all the others.

How This Job Fits Long-Term

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The second thing you want to be sure and do is explain how you see this role fitting in with your longer-term career goals. What skills would you be able to use? What is the next stage of your career and how does this role help get you there? This can involve anything from gaining experience with a certain aspect of the industry – like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or software sales – or it can be to develop skills – like team leadership with the goal of one day becoming a manager. Positioning your candidacy as a growth opportunity can shift how the employer views your fit into the existing team and it can help you set expectations as you continue the hiring conversation.

How You Can Help

The third thing that I recommend doing is explaining how you could help the company and the team. This can feel like bragging, as Job Seekers often tell me, but I challenge you to reframe this as how you can help or what your qualifications can empower the organization to accomplish.  With this approach, you can both indicate you are ready to hit the ground running, and you are creating a way to bring your whole self to the position. 

By explaining how this role fits into your career plan and how you see yourself fitting in with the team, you can proactively pre-empt an employer’s concern with overqualification and help make this job interview a more productive conversation so you can both decide if this is a job you want to take.

If you have career questions you would like to discuss with me, join me for Career Q&A or enroll in Career GPS.

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Why Specifics Matter

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

I understand wanting to be vague.  On one hand I believe that when we say what we want, it calls it from the universe.  On the other hand, specifics are what sets people apart and THAT is what I recommend practicing as you prepare for the job search ahead.

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What may help is if you and WHY to your WHAT.  For example you may say I want to work on the moon which is your WHAT but if you explain, because you want to fly and aim for greater heights, then your WHY is how you can evaluate other opportunities that can still get you where you want to go.

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Also consider this: The crazy thing about business is that you can write your marketing message for a target end-user (persona) that is a pink-haired dinosaur (example) but that doesn’t stop other people (like the blue-haired beluga) from buying into your vision or product.  What the specifics also allow you to do is create a focus so that you can more confidently go in the direction of your dreams.

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Career Q&A

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

No matter how many articles we may read, there can be one issue that makes our situations seem different. I get a lot of questions and realizing how much more I can cover if I record my answers or create forums that we can discuss as a group, I have decided to start trying to answer questions in a vlog I will host on YouTube.

Refine the Vision

Just as we find ourselves constantly checking in on what we want in our career, I am finding that everything I have done since the launch of Sacred Time has led me to this and refinement of the vision behind the practice. That is what I worked to capture in that opening entry and that same message I share with you here:

Welcome to the Sacred Time…

…where purpose-driven professionals are empowered to work outside the box of buildings, expectations, and routines.

CAREER Q&A is here to let you know that you are not alone.  Others have questions about their job search, their career, and what’s next.

So I see myself as a cross-pollinator of ideas because I am a career changer with a background in software training, video editing, & career advisement.

So any “answers” I share are really insights into why or how things can be.  I will share with you what I have noticed and what seems to work for others so that you can make the best decision for your journey.

What do you want to know about your job search, resumes, or your career?

Join me for a live Career Q&A or sign up for ongoing job search support with Career GPS.

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How to Love Writing Your Cover Letter (at Least Tolerate it)

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

When I ask about the cover letter portion of an application, most everyone I talk to resists it for the same reason: “I hate selling myself!” This is because those who say this to me are helpers at heart – a service-oriented professional who finds purpose in removing the barriers to success for others. My response? Instead of selling yourself – which makes it so personal – offer to help. To do that, you would need to think of the job announcement not as a Save the Date invitation to a party but as a distress signal for a ship taking on water.

The Job Description as a Cry for Help

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The reason a company will pay good money to advertise a role in their organization is that they need more hands-on-deck to support a project or program that already exists or is being launched. If someone has vacated the role, then it is a matter of maintaining the size of the crew with a clear understanding that every pair of hands or mind matters and can contribute to the success of the whole.

Using this shift in perspective, the job description can help you identify pain points.  If you feel called into service – by applying for the job – then it is your task to pinpoint the opportunity to contribute to the rescue or support mission by echoing industry keywords as if they were a response to an SOS signal in Morse Code. Incorporating keywords into your cover letter also shows how well you can listen and decipher a company’s needs even when they cannot properly articulate them. In this section, you will also want to briefly outline one solution or illustrate how you have and can use the skills that will help right the ship – the company – chart its course for the island of success.

Answering the Call

I understand that it is one thing to feel better about writing the cover letter and another thing to do it when you are faced with a blank page. Because I am a fan of simple approaches that make daunting tasks more manageable, I suggest following the Simon Sinek method of inspiring others:  Start with Why.

Why

The first sentence of the cover letter, as I would recommend it, is your why.  Why you are the best candidate or why you are in the industry in the first place.  This is usually aspirational in nature because it can cut through the clutter to get the attention of the reader.  The rest of the first paragraph is for why you are writing to these poor people when clearly they have a lot on their minds.  Be direct so they can hear you through the SOS signal and their own attempts to save themselves.

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How

Next is the second paragraph, which can also be a set of bulleted content since you may be sending this via email. Here, explain how you can help. Give an example of your approach to assisting businesses and teams, solutions you have devised to overcome challenges or even your unique method of problem-solving that could turn the tide of the situation at hand.

Next is the second paragraph, which can also be a set of bulleted content since you may be sending this via email. Here, explain how you can help. Give an example of your approach to assisting businesses and teams, solutions you have devised to overcome challenges or even your unique method of problem-solving that could turn the tide of the situation at hand.

What

Finally, there is the close. You have just thrown out a rescue line, so it is important to deliver a call-to-action regarding what is next that inspires them to grab onto the lifeline that you have just thrown them. Whether they are in full-on panic mode or simply just extremely distracted with busyness, your message must be clear and to the point so that the company understands that you ‘get it.’  From there, you will be invited aboard to begin assessing the situation in what is commonly known as the job interview.

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Why This Matters

Hiring is already scary. It has already cost a lot of money.  The company needs to know that you mean it when you say you are interested just as – with a big breath – you need them to know you are here to help.

Speaking of which, I am also here to help. If you still feel as though you need help with your cover letter, you are invited to join me for the next Career Q&A session.

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What Do You Wish I Had Asked You?

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

This is the question I have learned to ask at the end of any mock interview I

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facilitate. While some struggle to know at that moment if I am asking them as an interviewer or as a coach, few do not have an answer. As if in a Breakfast Club montage, they say:

  • I wish you had asked me about my strengths.
  • How my strengths from my previous career carry over to this one.
  • Where do you get your inspiration from?
  • What is the most important lesson I have learned?
  • Who I am.

If any of these are what you have thought at the end of any job interview, I ask you this:

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What Are You Waiting For?

It may be easier to see while in the middle of a pandemic, but time is precious. I recommend sharing who you are and what you are about from the beginning of a job interview.  Work it into the famous “Tell Me About Yourself” setup, the recounting of a favorite project that relates to the role you are targeting, or even in the time when you ask questions of the employer.

The reason is that nothing is ever perfectly scripted.  Even the Game of Thrones series felt rushed and not entirely thought through at the end of its reign. Before the interview is even scheduled think through:

  • What the three most important things are for you to convey to the listener
  • Why it is important
  • Why it matters.

Come to think of it, if you have not yet been introduced to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why,” or it has been a while and you could use reminding, allow me to share:

How you talk to and about yourself matters. That is why what I post and what I encourage you to say to yourself tends toward the positive. I deal in do’s not don’ts. I want to be and am here to be your cheerleader, your reminder, your partner in a journey to be your best self.

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Career Wake Up Call

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

To me, louder than a church bell on a quiet Sunday morning, was the statement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, “We’re never going to be the same again.

He is right.  We are forever changed. I say this not just because I think in terms of habit formation and some of us are at or nearing the 21 days in captivity, but because we have a whole generation – actually two –  who must build their careers out of a crisis. I understand every generation has its own crisis to rise above, but it never seems fair does it?

“Careers are disrupted every day regardless how well an individual performs.” ~ Patricia Romboletti

What is important to know and realize is that this time – this Corona Cocoon – that has us all frozen in place or frantically fighting for survival is both a gift and a wake-up call. In her Ted Talk “The Gig Economy,” Patricia Romboletti recognizes that we must consider every role is a gig because just as we may all swear that this will never happen again and plan to save more money in a nest egg or work for a larger company to create a sense of stability, businesses are doing the same exact thing.  Romboletti points out that during a retail renaissance where many companies were reinventing themselves, that restructuring meant companies did not need the same workforce with the same skillset they required before. If they are realizing it, so should you.

“[Companies] have to remain nimble in order to remain relevant.” ~ Patricia Romboletti

Remembering a time when I was beta testing a new service called Netflix, I had a vague recollection of pulling DVDs out of a mailbox thinking it was a long time between movies.  I do not remember when they moved to streaming but I do remember the fuss that was created when the pricing was restructured. Romboletti points out that not only did Netflix disrupt itself twice to remain relevant (in moving from DVDs to streaming and again in moving into original content creation), but that disruption – change – is and will continue to be at an accelerated pace. This means the lifespan of a company or of tenure is significantly less than it was a generation ago.

I have built and evolved my own practice, Sacred Time, to coach people through change because I recognize that it happens by chance or by choice and is always disruptive. What this change – this Corona Cocoon – has afforded many of us is the chance to rethink our approach to our lives and our careers. According to Romboletti, even as some return to the role of being an employee, it is important to inhabit the gig economy mindset in order to have viable careers. Her tips for staying agile in a dynamic world include:

  • Constantly build and expand your network
  • Partner with those who have different skillsets so you can expand your offerings
  • Always be looking (ABL) for your next gig
  • Carve your own career path
  • Watch for larger economic trends

Your career is your company and it is time to prepare for what will come in a post-pandemic world. While it can be helpful for a business to layout a path of promotion for each employee, it will be one that fits in with their needs and their vision for the future. It is important for you to look outside your role, your team, and your department to see what opportunities excite you because this is where true career satisfaction comes from.

I invite you to both follow me and walk with me. Together we can look forward to success.

References

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/video-audio-photos-rush-transcript-governor-cuomo-how-covid-19-will-change-society-were-never

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonselk/2013/04/15/habit-formation-the-21-day-myth/#1942aeebdebc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y180PWHdYLA

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Nama-slay

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Questions for Your 2020 Vision

James Lipton changed my life.

The career change that transformed my life was inspired by the questions Mr. Lipton would ask at the end of every episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio.

While I shared my process for career transformation at a conference for establishing a vision for 2020 (ironic, no?), the exact questions are a part of my Pioneer a Career seminar. In memory of James Lipton and to empower you, here are questions to inspire your career pivot:

  • What is the best possible future for yourself if you continue to work? 
  • What is the best possible future for yourself if you didn’t have to work? 
  • What turns you on (creatively, spiritually, and emotionally) 
  • What turns you off (creatively, spiritually, and emotionally) 

 

  • What is the worst possible future for yourself if you continue to work? 
  • What is the worst possible future for yourself if you didn’t have to work? 
  • What’s your favorite word?  
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