How to answer: “Do you have any questions for us?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer do you have any questions for usThis might seem like a less important interview question, but don’t be fooled. And never answer with ‘no’! This interview question is actually one of the most important ones to prepare for, because it allows you to demonstrate your interest in the role and the company – while also assessing if you really want to work there.

In an interview, there are a few questions we can almost guarantee you’ll be asked, and “Do you have any questions for us?” is one of them. That means you can take time to prepare a great response – one that helps you demonstrate your passion for your work, your interest in the company and your understanding of their challenges and goals.

The questions you ask in response could focus on a wide range of areas, such as:

  • The company and its future direction
  • The industry
  • Competitors
  • Recent news or events
  • The department’s direction and how it fits with company strategy
  • Why the incumbent is leaving (or where the work has come from for a newly created role)
  • The expectations of the role and how success is measured
  • Scope for future expansion
  • Company culture
  • The recruitment process timeline and/or next steps

Think about what matters most to you, as well as how you can effectively demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role. Below are some example questions to get you started.

  • What’s it like to work here? This is a fairly broad and open question; however, it can often be very revealing. If the interviewer gets a little defensive or guarded, it may suggest you need to explore further.
  • How would you describe your culture? Most interviewers should be prepared to answer this question. Cultural fit is becoming more and more important for recruiters because companies recognise it as being integral to job satisfaction and employee retention. By asking the question, you’re showing that it’s an important consideration for you too.
  • How did the role become vacant? Why did the incumbent leave? This question can uncover some interesting insights into the workplace, the challenges of the role and the workplace culture.
  • What is your leadership style like? This would obviously only be relevant if your reporting manager was the interviewer, but you could also ask an independent recruiter if they know much about the manager’s style. This question can provide insight into whether or not their style will work well for you.
  • What do you expect from your direct reports (or from me, if I’m successful)? This question (like the previous one) lets the interviewer know that relationships and performance expectations are important to you. It is also a fairly open question, which allows for varied responses – again providing a useful indicator for you to assess personality and cultural fit.
  • What are the critical challenges of this role? The way the interviewer answers this can provide some really important insight. You might think you know what the focus of the role is – but by asking about the challenges, you can sometimes learn far more about the most important aspects. The answer should give you a good indication of what’s valued most across the different areas of responsibility, which a role description can’t really provide.
  • What are the hours and remuneration? This should have been explained by the recruiter prior to your interview. However, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions if you’re unclear on any aspects relating to remuneration, hours, travel and workplace policies. Don’t appear overzealous in your line of questioning, particularly around flexible hours and perks, but it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Topical questions: demonstrating your knowledge of the company

In addition to the questions above, you should do some research about the company to learn as much as you can about recent announcements, news and other company happenings. This will enable you to ask some topical questions, which could focus on:

  • Strategic direction
  • Threats and opportunities
  • Competitive activity
  • Operational issues
  • Progress on specific projects

These types of questions are especially relevant if your potential new role is likely to be involved in any recently announced projects or initiatives.

You could also ask more technical questions about current projects where appropriate, but be careful not to pass critical comments about how the company is managing them. This could appear presumptuous or arrogant and might put the recruiter off.

Answering the question “Do you have any questions for us?” is a great opportunity to get a better feel for the role, and to show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework. Be honest and authentic, while staying positive and enthusiastic about the job, and be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare! 

Do you struggle with nerves during interviews? For help building your confidence, making a great impression and increasing your interview success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

 

How to answer: hypothetical interview questions

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer a hypothetical interview questionHypothetical interview questions put you in an imaginary situation and ask how you’d react. They are similar to role plays. Interviewers ask these types of questions to assess your problem-solving skills, how quickly you can think on your feet and how clearly you express yourself. Questions will often begin with “Imagine you are…” and are designed to assess your thought process rather than extract ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.

These questions also help recruiters put candidates on an even playing field, since the same hypothetical situation can be proposed and candidates’ answers can be assessed against each other.

How to prepare for a hypothetical

You might think it would be difficult to prepare for hypothetical questions, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Questions usually revolve around solving a work-related problem, so it can help to think about possible issues that could arise in the role you’re applying for. Depending on the role, the question might focus on:

  • Resolving a customer complaint or issue.
  • Addressing a case of employee theft or misconduct.
  • Getting to the bottom of employee conflict.
  • Missing an important deadline.
  • Dealing with an aggressive customer.
  • Working with team members who aren’t pulling their weight.
  • Being passed over for promotion or additional responsibility.

Once you’ve come up with some potential situations, the next step is to think about how you’d resolve them and why you’d take that approach. Drawing on past experience to describe a similar situation you’ve faced and how you reacted is a good way to respond. This shows the interviewer that you’ve ‘been there, done that’ and worked successfully in a similar scenario. You also shouldn’t be afraid to mention things you wouldn’t do.

Tips for answering a hypothetical question

  • Don’t feel pressured to rush your answer: Take a few seconds to gather your thoughts and resist the temptation to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. The interviewer is testing your problem-solving skills and wants to see reasoned thinking.
  • Clarify if you’re not sure: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need further explanation. Asking a question or two can also buy you a little thinking time.
  • Stay on point: Try not to ramble or go off on tangents. Tell your story in a structured way, with a beginning, middle and end. Come to the conclusion naturally with a clear description of your desired outcome or result.
  • Don’t think there is a definitive right answer: Discussing your approach – where you’d start, what you’d think about, who you’d talk to, what steps you’d take, etc. – is sometimes better than trying to provide an answer or resolution. The interviewer isn’t necessarily asking you to solve the problem for them – they want to know how you would approach it.
  • Use your own history: Consider preparing some examples focused on common skills such as problem solving, communication, people skills and customer service, as well as general challenges you’ve faced. When a question is posed, you may be able to draw on one of your prepared examples and adapt it to suit the hypothetical situation. You can then say “I actually faced a similar situation and was able to do XYZ.” Again, this shows that you have relevant experience.

It might seem impossible to prepare for hypothetical questions, but by analysing the job description, you can get a sense of what an interviewer might ask. What are the focus areas for the role? If it’s heavy on customer service, you might be asked how to resolve a complaint; if deadlines are important, you may need to explain how you’d handle a missed deadline; if you’re leading people, you might have to discuss handling a conflict. Take time to prepare some thoughts and examples, and boost your chances of success.

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

How to answer: “What do you know about our company?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer What do you know about our companyInterview questions come in all formats. A recruiter will often see you as a stronger candidate if they believe you’re genuinely interested in the company. When you’re asked “What do you know about our company?” – it is the ideal opportunity to demonstrate your interest, and being well prepared will help you do it well. If you don’t answer well, the recruiter might assume you’re not really interested in the job.

To prepare your best possible answer, do as much research as you can about the employer, the role, the industry, employees and even the interviewer. Below are the things you should focus on.

  • The employer: Explore the company website to understand exactly what the company does. Research products or services, size (revenue and employee numbers), locations, customers and news. Do a general Google search to see what pops up -for example, news items, client stories, reviews and competitor information. Pay particular attention to names of products or services and think about your experience using/purchasing them (if relevant). Look for a LinkedIn company profile and other social media profiles. If it’s a public company, you could review their annual report, which you can usually download from their website. Some companies may also send a printed copy of their annual report if you request it. Annual reports for all government entities can be found on the Australian Government website.
     
    When delivering your response, it can help to discuss an example that relates to what the organisation is going through. For example, you could say something like, “I noticed you’re going through a period of rapid growth but have several changes to deal with as a result of legislation. When I was working at ABC Company, we experienced similar change in a short time-frame. While it was an extremely challenging time, it was also exciting and I’m drawn to working in that environment again, helping the organisation to transition while maintaining its sharp growth trajectory.”
  • The role: Carefully read the job description sentence by sentence to ensure you understand exactly what they are looking for. Then think about how to relate your experience to the requirements and discuss aspects that interest you most (focusing on the company). If you can, prepare one or more examples that demonstrate your success in each of the role’s focus areas. You can then draw on that to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and how this role might impact the company’s overall success.
  • The industry: Understand what market the company is in. Who buys the products or services? Research competitors and determine how this company compares in terms of size, approach and where they all sit in the marketplace. Look for reviews or threads in forums. Find out whether the industry and/or organisation is growing or declining.
  • The employees: To gain further insight into the company, you could also talk to current or former employees. Look to your network to see whether you know anyone who could give you some additional facts about the company – for example, future plans or upcoming projects. Research profiles of employees in similar roles to the one you’re applying for to get a feel for their backgrounds. You can do this within the company you’re interviewing with as well as its competitors.
  • The interviewer: Review the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile to get a sense of their background. Having something in common or knowing a small fact about their professional experience to comment on can help you form a connection and make a lasting impression. This might just set you apart from other candidates.

Answering the question, “What do you know about our company” is a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the employer and how you can help the company achieve its goals. Try to deliver your response with a focus on the recruiter, to build a personal connection, and be positive and upbeat about the company. Put yourself in the recruiter’s or employer’s shoes and help them understand the benefits of hiring you.

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

How to answer: “What interests you about this role?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer: “What interests you about this role?” The latest instalment in our ‘How to answer’ series looks at the question “What interests you about this role?” This very general question can seem tricky to answer – exactly what should you focus on? Often it’s another way for the recruiter to ask “Why should we hire you?”. It’s not enough to simply say “I’m a great fit for the role”. Instead, your answer needs to touch on your relevant abilities, skills and experiences as well as demonstrate your interest in the company. It’s an opportunity to show why you’re ideal for the job and why you’re excited about it.

You should ideally frame your answer in a way that shows enthusiasm (for the role and the company) and understanding (of the role, the company and how you can add value). It’s essential to research the company and role beforehand and have a strong answer prepared. When considering your response, we recommend you focus on three key areas: the job, the company and how you fit. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about these areas and what your answer might sound like.

The job

  • Talk about your priorities and preferences – identify three key things you really like about the role.
  • Discuss areas of the role in which you excel and support those with examples using the STAR technique. These examples should demonstrate your accomplishments and success in the context of the role you’re applying for.
  • Mention the opportunities the role offers to further develop special knowledge or skills.

Example: This role really interests me because I’d be responsible for X, Y and Z. In my current role, I manage X and Y, and I’ve excelled at providing X to various internal and external stakeholders. I’m keen to continue building on that success while also developing specialist expertise in the area of Z.

The company

  • Mention the company’s reputation or history of success (if relevant) or discuss a recent innovation.
  • Demonstrate an understanding or appreciation of the work culture (based on what you’ve learnt through friends, colleagues, media etc.).
  • Talk about a problem or issue that you know needs to be addressed (and your interest in supporting or participating in that process).

Example: I also value the company’s long history of success in the market and recent innovations that are seeing significant market share gains. I heard about the issue with distribution of ABC – I faced a similar problem in my last role, which we solved by rethinking the customer experience. I’d love to be able to contribute to something similar again.

Your fit

  • Compare the job description with your experience, and explain how you’ll be able to contribute, again using examples from your past to demonstrate success.
  • Discuss your fit with company culture.
  • Mention your interest in career progression (if relevant).
  • Talk about any experience you have with the company (for example, that you use their products or services).

Example: My previous experience and success would help me to achieve some quick wins in certain areas, including XXX. I’m also excited at the prospect of learning more about XXX. The company’s mission aligns with my own professional values and I believe I’d be a great fit culturally. I loved what I read in the recent article by the CEO about the initiatives the company is undertaking to ensure ongoing enhancement to culture and employee engagement.

As with all interview questions, remember to answer the “What interests you about this role?” question strategically and with enthusiasm. Give the recruiter something to think about – a point of differentiation from the next candidate. Work out a response that includes something about the role you’re going for, the company and your suitability, and you’ll come off looking great.

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

 

How to answer: “Why are you leaving your current job?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer Why are you leaving your current jobThe next instalment in our ‘How to answer’ series looks at the question “Why are you leaving your current job?”. Some people dread being asked this question, but you should prepare for it since it’s commonly asked. While it’s easy to list the things you don’t like about your current role, the most effective response focuses on the positives and uses the question as an opportunity to explain why you’re perfect for the job.

This is a commonly asked question – and one that many people are unsure how to answer. The top thing to keep in mind is to make it positive yet honest. Your response should focus on the fact that you are seeking new or greater opportunities, responsibilities and/or challenges. If you’re trying to secure a role in a different industry, you should mention that and the reasons why.

If you were involved in a redundancy, say so. It’s best to be honest and simply say something like, “Unfortunately the company undertook a complete restructure and as a result of that my position was made redundant.”

Try framing your answer around the following positive reasons for moving on:

  • Seeking new challenges.
  • Desire to learn – gain new or grow existing skills and expertise.
  • Desire to take on more responsibility.
  • Changing career and/or industry.
  • Looking for better career growth opportunities.
  • Using recently completed study in a different area.
  • Company restructure changed your job focus and now it doesn’t align with your interests.
  • A need or desire to relocate.
  • Desire for a shorter commute to work.

When responding, be enthusiastic, gloss over negatives and use the question as an opportunity to talk about the company you’re interviewing with. Show your knowledge and understanding about the role, the company, its customers and the market. For example, “I’ve learnt a lot about XYZ at [current/former organisation] and I’d like to now extend that at a company like [new organisation]. I know [new organisation] is moving into new markets, and that really interests me since I have spent a lot of time building expertise in that area. I’d like to leverage that while increasing my understanding of …”

You could also use the question as an opportunity to demonstrate specific interest in this role by saying something like: “I’ve enjoyed working on some really interesting projects with a great team in my current role, but this new opportunity aligns perfectly with the direction I’d like to take my career in.”

Remember: answer the “Why are you leaving your current job?” question in a positive way. Be honest but look to the future. Work out a response that includes something about the role you’re going for, the market it’s in, and/or possibly the company direction. Use it as an opportunity to talk about your previous accomplishments and how you hope to build on them in the future.

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

 

 

How to answer: “Why should we hire you?”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer Why should we hire youOur new ‘How to answer’ series proved popular last month, when we looked at how to respond to the interview question, “Tell me about yourself”. This month’s question – “Why should we hire you?” – is just as important, and can be just as tricky to answer. You’ll need to prepare a compelling summary of why they should hire you, while remaining flexible enough to think and respond on the spot.

An interviewer’s main purpose is to collect information on candidates to help make the best decision about who to hire. They may ask this question in several ways, but your response will provide the same outcome. Examples include:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why are you the best candidate for the job?
  • Why are you the right fit for the position?
  • What would you bring to the position?

Even if you don’t get asked this question specifically, you should try to communicate the key reasons they should hire you throughout the interview. If you are asked this question, you’ll have a great opportunity to present a concise sales pitch describing what you offer. You’re usually being hired to solve a problem or address a requirement. The better you demonstrate how you’re going to do that, the more chance you’ll have of getting the job. Follow our step-by-step process to prepare.

  1. Create a pitch. Identify the skills, qualifications and experience you need to succeed in the role, and relate them back to yourself. Do this by reviewing the job description and highlighting key requirements, including qualifications, specialist technical skills, experience, soft skills and personality traits. Then match them with the qualities you possess. Select three of your strongest areas and make these the core of your answer. When you’re developing your pitch, focus on the positives and keep linking your response back to the company and the position.
  2. Research the organisation. Once you’ve identified the personal and professional capabilities you need to highlight, do some research on the company. Pay particular attention to social media accounts since this is where you’ll get a better understanding of company culture. This is important because employees who are a good cultural fit are more likely to feel satisfied in their jobs. This generally leads to higher retention rates, and since recruitment is a costly and time-consuming exercise, organisations tend to hire based on shared values and cultural beliefs.
  3. Tell stories. Stories paint a picture and a picture paints a thousand words! Rather than simply stating you have a particular skill or personality trait, support it with a story that ‘shows’ rather than just ‘tells’. For each of the points you highlighted above, think of a time you used that skill or trait to achieve a positive result. Structure your story using the STAR formula to ensure you cover all the important areas, and make sure your examples end with a positive outcome or result. (Want more tips on using storytelling to engage and persuade in the workplace? Take a look at our previous blog post.)
  4. Think beyond the obvious. You know you’re up against candidates who are likely to be just as qualified and experienced as you, so work out what you offer that others don’t. By thinking outside the job description, you can demonstrate how you’re a better candidate. Highlighting unique traits or experiences will set you apart. This is key in a competitive job market.
  5. Solve a problem. If you’ve researched the company well, you may identify a specific need or problem that’s driven this round of recruitment. Try to demonstrate previous success in a similar situation, or simply articulate an approach or an idea about how you’d begin to solve the problem.

“Why should we hire you?” is an important question to answer well, but try not to overthink it. While it’s a good idea to practise your pitch so you can deliver it smoothly, you don’t need to memorise it word for word or it will sound forced. Have a general idea of what you’d like to say, but remain open to addressing additional issues or information that arises during the interview. Talk for no longer than two minutes and aim to cover three main points.

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

 

 

How to answer: “Tell me about yourself”

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to answer Tell me about yourselfThis is the first article in our brand new series ‘How to answer’, which explores the best ways to answer specific interview questions. This month we look at the recruiter’s all-time favourite, “Tell me about yourself”. This seemingly simple question can stump candidates who aren’t sure which details to share about their personal and professional background, and how much information to provide.

Our best advice for answering this question is to be prepared for it and keep your response simple and relevant. This question is often asked early on and can set the tone for the entire interview. Read on for our key tips for success.

Preparation:

If you aren’t prepared, you run the risk of rambling on without actually saying much, and skipping important details, which could jeopardise your chances. So take some time to think through your response before the interview.

  1. Instead of just summarising your resume, go through the job description in detail and identify the skills, experience and qualifications needed to succeed in the role. Think about how your expertise relates to this job and then pinpoint ways to demonstrate capacity in those areas.
  2. Keep your response concise by preparing a summary that you can recite in around two minutes. If you include enough topics of interest, the recruiter can ask you to expand on certain areas if they wish.
  3. Instead of listing multiple, vague strengths, use examples to demonstrate your relevant capabilities. Short, sharp stories about what you did, how you did it and what the outcome was work well. These examples should ideally come from recent work experience, but you can also include volunteer experience or student projects or activities if necessary.

Relevance:

A recruiter or employer probably isn’t interested in your life story, but they are interested in hearing how your professional experience and background makes you an ideal candidate for the role.

  1. Avoid mentioning personal information such as marital status, children, and political and religious beliefs. These details aren’t necessary for an employer to determine whether you can perform a role, and they can be sensitive topics that may impact an employer’s personal opinion of you. You can talk a little about personal interests, but only if it has some relevance to the role or the personal skills required to succeed.
  2. Don’t rush into talking about what you are seeking in a role or how the company might benefit you. Save that for if you’re asked, or mention it in the final stages of the interview.

Structuring your response:

An ideal way to construct your response to the question “Tell me about yourself” is to focus on present, past and future. This will help you organise your thoughts.

  1. PRESENT – Start talking about what you’re doing (and achieving) in your current role. List your areas of responsibility that relate directly to the role you’re applying for, and highlight recent successes. Use statistics, numbers and other hard measures of success where you can, with specific details that demonstrate the value you’re adding. You might say something like: “In my current business development manager role for <Company> I’m responsible for leading a team of four people to support a portfolio of 400 national clients. I’m accountable for achieving sales targets and KPIs, and have consistently exceeded my sales targets since starting in the role five years ago. I’ve also initiated and developed several strategic partnerships to drive industry engagement, built the team from one to four, and managed revenue growth in the region from $3 million to $5 million.”
  2. PAST – Next, talk about what you’ve done in previous roles, again not going into too much detail but focusing on relevant experience/achievements and how you’ve grown. You might say: “Previously, I worked as an account manager for <Company> with a focus on the media and entertainment sector. I developed a fantastic professional network within some of the largest media companies in Australia, which I’d be able to leverage in this role.”
  3. FUTURE – Finish with a statement about why you’re looking for a new role and what it is about this role that appeals. You might say something like: “I’ve been working towards a role like this for several years now. I feel I’ve gained enough success in this market to progress into a more focused account management role. I’m excited about this role at <Company> and the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with fewer, larger clients.”

“Tell me about yourself” can be a surprisingly tricky question to answer well. Remember to focus on the experiences and skills that are most relevant to the role and company you’re interviewing for. Ask yourself what you’d most like the recruiter to remember about you and focus on that. A well-thought-out answer will create a good first impression and set you up for a positive interview experience.

Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

 

Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Article by Belinda Fuller

Common Interview Questions and How to Prepare for ThemCongratulations if you’ve secured an interview! Now comes the all-important preparation. Even the most confident and fearless individuals can be terrified of interviews. Whilst they can be nerve wracking experiences, taking time to prepare yourself can make all the difference to the outcome.

You have more than likely applied for a role you are qualified for, you think you have the experience and skills to succeed, and you like the sound of the role or company – so making an effort to prepare as best as you can prior to the interview will give you the best chance of success. Depending on the type of role, level, and company you’re interviewing with, the questions will vary, however to help you get started with your preparation, we’ve provided 10 common questions with suggestions on how to respond:

  1. Tell me about yourself. The recruiter is looking for a brief summary about you and is interested in your professional background – not your hobbies, relationship status, and favourite foods. Try summarising recent professional achievements in less than two minutes, and relate what you say back to the role you are interviewing for so the recruiter can immediately recognise your potential value. Include a summary of qualifications as well if that’s important to this role.
  2. Why do you want to work for us? It’s essential to research the company and role beforehand and have a good strong answer to this question. You could talk about the market the company is in, your interest in that area, the role itself, and what appeals to you. Relate your future aspirations to the position, then reiterate why you’d be an asset in the role. Make sure you understand the company and role and discuss specific aspects so the recruiter recognises you are genuine about working there.
  3. Tell me about a time you improved on something. This question is a great one to prepare for using the STAR technique. It could relate to anything – a process, a relationship, an approach, or a competitive situation. Identify a relevant example beforehand and make sure to include just enough detail about what you did, why you did it, and how you did it, then summarise the eventual positive outcome.
  4. Why do you want to leave your current role? Focus your response on the fact you are seeking new or greater opportunities, responsibilities and/or challenges. If you’re trying to break into a new industry, mention it and the reasons why, then try making a link to the new focus. For example, you could showcase why you think you’ll succeed in this new area, based on what you’ve achieved previously, and how you want to extend yourself.
  5. What are your strengths? The interviewer is looking for your strongest qualities that relate to the role you are applying for. We suggest providing three key strengths with examples that demonstrate those strengths in action.
  6. What are your weaknesses? Most employers don’t want to hear something basic like “I’m a perfectionist”, or “I work too late”! The most important part of this question is to emphasise what you’ve done to overcome and/or mitigate your weakness. This question is all about how you turn your answer into a positive.
  7. Describe a time when your best laid plans didn’t work out. Give a specific example of a particularly difficult situation you encountered in the workplace. Again, prepare for this question using the STAR technique so you can discuss what went wrong, how you went about resolving the issue, and the eventual outcome. Ensure the outcome is positive though – don’t use negative examples and show the interviewer what or how you learnt from the experience for next time.
  8. Do you have any questions for us? This is one of the most important interview questions you can prepare for. It’s essential you have some well thought out questions prepared. It not only demonstrates your interest in the role and the company – but will also help you decide if you want to work there. Your questions could focus on the company and its future direction, the industry, competitors, recent news or events, the department’s direction and how it fits with company strategy, why the incumbent is leaving or where the work has come from (for newly created roles), the expectations of the role, scope for expansion down the track, performance expectations, success measurements, company culture, the timeline for a decision and/or next steps in the recruitment process.
  9. Why should we hire you? The best way to respond to this question is with specific examples of your skills and accomplishments that relate directly to the role. Compare the job description with your expertise, maintain a positive approach and showcase the value you could provide.
  10. What do you know about us? Again, it’s important to research the company so you can respond in an intelligent way to this question. Check their website and social media pages to see the latest promotions and information being shared. Look up the person or people interviewing you on LinkedIn to gain some insight into their interests and background as well.

Preparing in advance by doing some research about the company, the role, and the people who are interviewing you will ensure you put your best foot forward in the interview.  Of course, interviews are two-way and while the interviewer needs to determine if you are right for the company, you should also assess whether the company is right for you. Feeling confident and in control is all about preparation, so do as much as you can.

Do you struggle with nerves or knowing how to answer questions in interviews? If so, Interview Training can help prepare you for your next job interview. Please see our Interview Coaching Services for more information.

7 ways to boost your job search this Christmas

Article by Belinda Fuller

7 ways to boost your job search this ChristmasThe end of the year is typically a slow time for the job market, but don’t let that slow you down! While you may be unlikely to receive a job offer between now and the new year, the holidays are the perfect time to get organised and kick-start your job search for 2020.

Here are seven things you can do over the festive season to supercharge your job search.

  1. Research your options: Review job ads on sites such as Seek and LinkedIn. You don’t need to actually apply, but seeing what’s out there now will help you tailor your approach when the time comes. Play around with search options using different titles, industries and keywords. Open your search out to other locations or industries. You may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but some positions will be a close match. Read each relevant ad to understand all the requirements. This will help you decide what’s important to include in your application and determine if you have any major skills gaps that you need to think about how to address.
  2. Get organised: Today’s job market is competitive and multifaceted. Use your downtime to establish automated job searches, identify relevant recruiters, update your application materials (see tip 4 for more on this) and enhance your online presence. Having these things in place will help you stand out from other candidates when it’s time to apply. For tips on developing a structured job search strategy that helps you connect with recruiters and employers, read our previous article, Winning Job Search Strategies and start planning.
  3. Understand the hidden job market: Many of the jobs available are never advertised, so accessing the hidden job market is an important piece of the puzzle. The key here is building your networks. Establish connections via LinkedIn with the recruiters you identified in the previous step, and create a standard pitch that explains why you want to connect and what you can offer. Write a list of companies you’d like to work for, then read their websites’ careers pages and follow them on social media. To start building your profile, look for opportunities to network with others in your industry, such as through LinkedIn Groups, and contribute to discussions.
  4. Update your application materials: This includes your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Our career advice blog is packed with tips on writing a great resume that’ll get you noticed. We also recommend writing a customised cover letter for every job you apply for, which addresses as many job requirements as possible. Use the holidays to prepare generic cover letters and/or paragraphs that you can then modify to suit specific roles. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, so optimise your profile with keywords, so you can be found. Include a current professional photo and try to complete every section. Don’t waste your About section (previously called the Summary section) – use it to highlight your key skills, experience and strengths, and create a picture of who you are and the value you offer.
  5. Prepare for interviews: A big mistake many job seekers make is not preparing for an interview. Use the holidays to brainstorm the types of questions you might be asked and how you can articulate your successes. Think about examples that demonstrate your strengths, accomplishments and how you’ve handled different work situations. Having a bank of examples to draw on will increase your confidence and improve your performance. To help you formulate your examples, read our previous article about using the STAR approach. You can also find numerous articles on preparing for an interview, as well as our ‘how to answer’ series, which looks at common interview questions.
  6. Build your network: Connecting with existing and new contacts is a powerful way to uncover work opportunities. While the holidays might not be the best time to reach out to everyone, you can use the time to plan how you’ll grow your network in the new year. For example, you might draft emails that can be sent later, write a list of people to call in the new year, learn how to use LinkedIn and Facebook more effectively, and/or research face-to-face and online networking groups you could join.
  7. Assess your social media: Many recruiters and employers look up candidate’s social media pages as part of their screening process, so ensure you’ve set privacy settings to an appropriate level. Also make sure that if potential recruiters and employers can see your feed, the content is appropriate and won’t hurt your chances of securing an interview.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex so being prepared is key. Take advantage of the quiet holiday period to get organised and develop a job search strategy, and you’ll be ready to go in the new year!

Do you need help developing a standout resume, detailed job search strategy or professional LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to work on your interview skills? See our Resume Writing, Job Search Coaching and Interview Training services to find out more.

Katie Roberts gift vouchers are also available and make an inspiring Christmas gift for friends or family.

Can a recruiter ask you that?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Can a recruiter ask you thatCertain topics of conversation are no-go zones during the hiring process, but there are many questions recruiters can ask in an interview that may surprise some candidates. In Australia, we have laws that make it unlawful for employers to ask job applicants specific discriminatory questions. There are situations, however, when you might be asked a question you’re not expecting that is perfectly legitimate.

In Australia we are protected by strong anti-discrimination laws at both a federal and state level. For example, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of a number of protected attributes including age, disability, race, gender, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation. However, on the flip-side there are many attributes that are not protected by law and some of the questions that recruiters are legally able to ask may surprise you:

  • Do you smoke? Legally, a potential employer can ask you if you smoke since it’s not a protected attribute. Whether or not that employer discriminates against you based on your answer is a grey area but the question in itself is legal.
  • Where do you live? Again, this is not a protected attribute. Employers want to know this for many reasons – primarily if your commute is too long and they feel you may not be reliable or that you will get tired of the travel time and leave after a short period. I had a client who lived in a regional area around 60 minutes from the Gold Coast where she was seeking work as a travelling sales rep. She was comfortable with the commute, but was knocked back six times for roles due to the distance. The travel time wasn’t an issue for her since she’d previously lived in Sydney and was used to long commutes, but for Gold Coast natives it was too long.
  • Do you have any medical problems? Whilst employers need to be careful here, asking questions about your health or requesting a pre-employment medical check is within their rights. While the question might be okay, it must be asked in relation to any potential health risks associated with the job or the industry, and your ability to effectively perform the job. E.g. If you had an existing issue with your back that would prevent you from lifting boxes or performing some other physical requirement of a role.
  • How old are you? Age is usually irrelevant, and it is unlawful to discriminate against someone based on their age (because it’s a protected attribute). However, where age relates to a specific job requirement, such as serving alcohol, then the question becomes a legitimate and legal one.
  • Do you have the right to work in Australia? We know that discrimination based on race or ethnicity is most certainly unlawful in Australia, however employers are able to ask you to prove your right to work in Australia. This means they can ask whether you are an Australian citizen or you have an appropriate work visa. In addition, there are certain examples where race might be a genuine occupational requirement – for example where specific local or cultural knowledge is required – particularly in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
  • Do you have a criminal record? Whilst it is okay to ask this, and it’s also okay for a recruiter to make a job offer conditional upon a candidate obtaining a satisfactory criminal history check, refusing to provide it is not unlawful. In addition, there are limitations as to how the potential employer can use the information. In some states, it is unlawful to discriminate against a job applicant based on the fact that they have a criminal record – providing it is not relevant to their ability to perform the job. For example, if you’re working with people, a conviction relating to violence may be relevant, whereas a theft conviction might not. You also have no obligation to reveal spent convictions (which means you’ve fulfilled the 10 year waiting period from the date of conviction).
  • Do you have any tattoos or piercings? While tattoos and body piercings have certainly become more mainstream in recent years, with some employers relaxing their standards regarding visible tattoos and piercings, many employers still have policies that require employees to totally cover or remove them. The fact is there are no current laws that prohibit discrimination against people with visible tattoos, body piercings, unnatural hair colours, or unique hairstyles or other physical attributes. While it may seem unfair to be discriminated against for this reason, appearances still count and it most certainly could occur.

Job interviews can make even the most prepared candidates uncomfortable. If you’re feeling intimidated before your interview, understand that this is not uncommon. Doing some research on the company, being prepared about why you want the role, and having some answers ready that you can draw upon will help you feel confident. Understanding how to answer tricky questions if they’re asked is a great strategy to help you feel better prepared.

If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview and advice on how to maintain positive body language, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

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