What should you NOT say in a job interview? The first thing that comes to my mind is nothing. You should not say nothing.
If somebody asks you a question and you’re not sure of the answer or all the words just completely left your head, it’s important to acknowledge that, say, ‘oh my goodness, I just forgot that the word I was looking for,’ and then from there, share your thought process, like how you would go about solving the problem.
We’re all human. So it’s just about connecting with the other person, and not feeling bad about not being perfect.
How should you respond when a recruiter or hiring manager says they currently don’t have the budget for new staff? Or do they say they just hired for the role?
That could be a go-to line but there are a few things to know and that you can ask to turn this into an opportunity:
When do they expect to have the new budget?
Because it could be a matter of when an employer decides on headcount or the number of people that they could hire, it could be helpful to ask when they expect to have a new budget. For example, not all companies might actually have a fiscal year that ends in December and then starts again in January. There might in fact be some that start in June so their hiring practices could ramp up during the Summer. You could essentially plan for the turnover to start happening at that time or the expansion of the teams.
What should you be preparing for?
While you continue your job search, there may be some new technology you could learn, especially if there are months to go before they start hiring.
The mission behind adding in different kinds of videos morphed from frequently asked questions that I could answer around careers and job search to an attempt to help as many people as possible.
Taking the position of Chief Empowerment Officer, as it were, I want to be the glass half full and to explain the why behind some of the things that I’m noticing in recruitment and in career journeys because that part can help us to understand and embrace change when it occurs or it can help us to decide between a couple of options.
These videos are really about empowering you to think outside of the box for yourself and be able to contribute in an authentic way to the world.
What exactly should you be studying if you want a certain role?
Check Job Boards for Current Skills
Nowadays in careers where we get to drive our careers ourselves. We’re not waiting for an employer to do it and employers aren’t taking on that responsibility. Essentially what I would recommend doing is first and foremost, if you’re ready to look now, go out and pull up at least three jobs and those jobs should be what you’re targeting now, then go through the requirements area.
And if they are in fact asking for the skills you’re looking to study, then go ahead and study those skills, especially if you don’t feel like you’re very strong in them right now.
Use Skills to Search for Jobs
If the job descriptions are not requiring the skills you are looking to study, then the next step is to look for jobs with your target title. Go ahead and search for the skills and see what types of jobs come up. You can actually search for jobs according to skills and not just job titles. And that might help be insightful as to if that is a path you want to go, at least for what the market is asking for right now.
Search Market Trends
Now there’s a couple of other things that you can do to determine if, in fact, this is the right job or study pattern for you. One thing you could do is look at Google Trends, and start searching for that and see if that’s a popular term or skill in your area in the market. I’ve seen businesses use that to determine what they should focus on.
Network. Network. Network.
Now, something else that you could do is you could actually use this as a good excuse to network. Find somebody who is senior in their experience level, in their career, who’s been doing this awhile, and find out what trends they see happening in the area.
Ask them a couple of questions, get to know them, build that relationship. And I say it that way in case you don’t already know them, but this is a way where you could network and get a chance to answer the questions for yourself. By gathering the information for yourself so you can take ownership of your next steps.
I wanted to gather and share my thoughts a little bit on what Sacred Time is because the name tends to be presented back to me when people realize that it’s about setting aside time for yourself, for self-care, for the things that matter to you, and that helped to fuel you so that you can be a part of the community.
So some of that can be just taking time to read or breathe or play music, or, practice a hobby that gets you excited and keeps you going because that’s really, what’s needed. A lot of things that we do aren’t really about the destination, which is why we’re not necessarily always excited when we arrive somewhere. It’s about the journey.
And so what can you do to be present in this moment so that you can be a part of the journey, to the purpose, of your life, and to the destination that you’re headed towards. That’s what Sacred Time is about. At least to me.
I wanted to share thoughts on why I consider the full-time to be and embrace the season. Um, and part of that is because usually changes afoot, fall is the time of year when I noticed that hiring picks up and that corresponds when students go back to school, children go back to school. Um, and then the hiring picks up somewhere, uh, the beginning of, or middle of September.
And then I also started to notice that that’s my favorite time of year, uh, that the leaves start to turn and you get the pop of color cause I’m in Washington state. Um, and then the leaves, um, when the storms come, the leaves fall off, um, and it, it can be a very sad time because then I realized winter is coming. Winter is here Game of Thrones. Thank you. Um, but then the starkness of the trees without the leaves, um, is a bit much and a bit sad.
So this is a time that I consider to embrace the change and embrace the process because, for every Fall and Winter, there is a Spring.
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
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.