How Do I Negotiate My Salary?

Sarah,

I’ll start this letter by highlighting the positive: I got a job! But every step in the job-hunting seems to create a new hurdle to clear. And this one is no different.

The time has come to go against all my natural instincts and talk about money. I’m as uncomfortable as the average bear about asking for the amount I think I’m worth, but I don’t want to talk myself out of money I would otherwise earn.

Do you have any tips for someone who has to dig in their heels and ask to be paid?

Sincerely,
Broke And Nervous

Hey BAN,

The first thing you should know is that most people are wary of fighting over money. After all, they’ve been hunting for a job for a while and they don’t want to scare anyone off by insisting on a salary higher than what they’re potential new bosses might be willing to pay.

That’s before we get to the unique disadvantage of salary negotiations at a new job: they know how much money they have to spend and you don’t. But negotiating is crucial for any employee. In fact, people who don’t negotiate can lose as much as $500,000 over the course of a career.

Here are a few tips that will help you when you find yourself having to pull honey from a stone:

Be Brave

We know it sucks. We know you’re nervous. But the absolute worst thing that anybody can do in a salary negotiation is say “no.” Don’t talk yourself down from the salary you want before the negotiation even starts because you’re worried about a bad reaction.

Be Ready

Do your research on the company and do an honest evaluation of yourself. Knowing what you can bring to the company and how much they typically pay will help you argue for the exact amount you believe yourself to be worth.

Stand Strong

Don’t let a “no” throw you off. Before you abandon a request entirely, try and see if you can convince them to see things your way using the facts you know about yourself and the position in question.

Give A Little

Sometimes you aren’t going to get exactly what you want. But if they aren’t able to pay the full salary you expected, seek out other perks and benefits that can add to the overall value of the job for you.

Keeping these in mind will help you avoid starting off your latest gig on a grumpy foot, knowing that your paycheck is going to be exactly what you need it to be.

Best of luck!

ask-sarah

Ace Your Phone Interview With These Tips

You finally did it. You managed to climb your way up out of the abyss of hundreds of resumes to land an interview with a real, live person. Well, a real live person’s voice, at least. The job you’re looking for is ready to do their first interview of you and they want to talk to you over the phone

To a generation of text-based communicators who only call when someone’s dead or in jail, this can be nerve-wracking. When was the last time you had to react immediately to what was being said? But there’s plenty of ways to work around that fear and not just get through a phone interview, but make it work for you. Here’s a few quick tips that will help you ace your next job-searching convo:

Be Ready

The job interview process is a slog on all sides. While you might feel discouraged when you don’t land the responses you want, the person on the other end has to sort through mountains of underqualified applicants just to get to the interview.

To combat fatigue and speed things along, the interview process has built up a few core questions that almost every recruiter is going to ask. An open-ended directive to “tell me about yourself” is the starting gambit of just about every chat and you can also expect to discuss strengths and weaknesses. If you need a few tips on how to handle those, we got your back.

Be Enthusiastic

The interviewer needs to leave the conversation thinking you want the job. Try and be a little chipper about the idea that they might be giving you steady work. It helps if you only apply for the jobs you want, which is definitely something our AI can do for you.

Do Enough Research To Make Your Questions Smart

You should know quite a bit about the company you are looking to join, but don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview. Most interviewers are expecting you to have questions for them and will knock you down a few notches if you don’t ask any. Feel free to ask questions you know the answer to to flex your knowledge about the company’s practices and day-to-day operations.

Find A Quiet Place

We’re not saying that John Krasinski-style boogins will come for you if you try and hold an interview somewhere noisy. But it will irritate the interviewer if they can’t hear you over the sound of your environment.

Breathe

You don’t want to sound shaky on the phone. Relax and remind yourself that the person on the other end is just that, a person. Keep calm and steady yourself to avoid putting the interviewer off by audibly sweating.

To use these tips, however, you have to land an interview. That’s what we do best. We can optimize your resume using our wealth of experience (as well as mountains of data) and send it out for you in an automated process that we guarantee will land you a phone call. Check it out if you don’t believe us.

Resume Tips from Hiring Managers: Pros Tell How To Get Noticed

The job search internet is rife with articles telling you all the many ways that you can get ahead in the job search process. Frequently, these are written by journalists and bloggers, the occupations that most readily come to mind when someone says the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none.” While it might be true that in the land of the unemployed and desperate, the semi-knowledgeable contract worker is king, we want you to live under a somewhat more justifiable monarchy.

That’s why we went straight to the source, pulling our job search tips directly from hiring managers — the true experts in this situation — to find out what advice they would give to people who most need it.

Don’t Lie

While it might be tempting to juice your resume a bit with half-truths, too frequently these become whole lies. Sell yourself as you actually are and avoid an awkward conversation at an interview that is wasting everyone’s time. As USA Today put it, “don’t end up embarrassed or out of your depth because you stretched the truth on your resume.”

Share Your Actual Weaknesses

Nothing irks a hiring manager more than asking for a weakness and getting an eye-rolling answer like “being a perfectionist.” Ask A Manager’s Allison Green says that “candidates who won’t come up with a realistic assessment…make me think they lack insight and self-awareness.”

Use Task/Result Speech

Write actively. List your accomplishments in a way that lets the hiring manager know exactly what you did and what the outcome was. Another tip: quantifiable data is amazing. If you have numbers that can demonstrate your impact, don’t hesitate to use them.

If You’re Overqualified, Address It

Don’t be afraid to mention that a job is below what you’ve typically done. Explain to the hiring manager why you’re willing to take on this role to avoid them thinking you might get bored.

Don’t Use An Objective (Unless It Helps)

Unless you belong to a specific subset of careers (writers, teachers and mission-driven jobs like non-profit work), ditch the objective. While there are plenty of hiring managers willing to tell you outright that they don’t help, we put hard data behind it and found that it greatly reduces your chances of landing a job. If you aren’t a recent grad,  a writer or entering a profession that will get you called “a saint” leave it off.

For even more do’s and don’ts check out our in-depth rundown of all the things to avoid in an application. And if you’re tired of digesting tips, just let us handle it.

For just $10, we can optimize your resume, bulking it up or cutting it down to its leanest, meanest possible self and sending it out to the exact people who want to hire you. And this isn’t some wishy-washy soft science service, we use a trove of data and our own AI to ensure that your resume is the best it can possibly be and is only going to the hiring managers who want to hear from you.

How Long Does The Average Job Search Take?

Sarah –

I’ve been hunting for a 2 months and I’m starting to get discouraged. It’s been hard to keep my enthusiasm level high while working on a seemingly unending stream of cover letters and resumes. I just need to know there’s a light at the end of this tunnel of black ink on obsessed-over .pdfs.

My question is: how long does the average job search take? And how close am I to that point?

Thanks,
Impatient Applicant.

 

Hey Impatient,

If anyone understands how frustrating the job search can be, it’s us. I mean, we cared so much about the ways that the job search sucks that we started  a whole company just to make it better.

On paper, the wait time doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We want the hunt to be quick and painless and the folks doing the hiring want talented candidates. You think this would make the hiring process quick, but unfortunately, people are still people and there are only so many hours for applying and reviewing in the day.

But don’t let it get you down. According to stats (our fave!) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the  average job search takes around 13 weeks. You’re almost there!

And if it doesn’t come in exactly that amount of time, know that it doesn’t mean anything is off about you or your work history. The tight labor market and low unemployment rate means that there are less jobs coming available. And the type of work your looking for can greatly effect the length of your job search.  We found that it could take mechanical engineers well over three months to find a spot and the average administrative assistant has to send over 200 job applications before being offered a job.

If you won’t believe me, take it from our CEO Kushal Chakrabarti:

There isn’t anything wrong with you. There are good, reasonable, scientific explanations for why it’s so hard to get a job right now. And even though people don’t talk about it, it’s hard for everyone.

Stay strong, folks.”

Hope this helps!

P.S. If you want to give your search a bit of gas, we can increase your chances of landing the job by 5x for just $10. Give our plans the once-over if you’re ready to let us do the hard work.

How Many Applications Do I Have To Send Out Before Getting A Job?

The job search can occasionally feel as effective as chucking a stack of resumes off of a seaside cliff. No doubt there’s more than one discouraged applicant out there feeling that they’re as likely to hear a response from a hiring manager as they would be to get a “do you mind?” from the ocean down below.

Job seekers can’t help but ask “how many applications does it take, on average, to land a job?” Unfortunately, we don’t have the hard science right now to give you a straight answer on that topic. But we can tell you why you’re having so much trouble. There are plenty of factors that are contributing to your applications disappearing into the void.

Our recent research found that only 13% of job applicants were given a job interview. And of those that managed to make it to the interview process, only a few people were offered a position. That puts your chances of landing the average job you apply for at less than 2%.

First, let us explain why most resumes end up in a black hole.

What Gives?

The average HR manager spends less than 7 seconds looking at the average resume. And they’re looking at your application with “no” on their minds, trying to find any reason to disqualify you. This is only after the hundreds of resumes have likely been picked over by a bot that scrapes resumes for appropriate keywords and chucks the ones it finds unsatisfactory.

The odds aren’t in your favor. But they aren’t in anyone’s favor, if we’re being honest. Does that help?

What To Do About It

We’re not here to help applicants wallow, we’re here to give them hope. After all, finding the right jobs for the right people is what we do. You need to bump up your application anyway that you can. Here’s a few quick ways that you can game the system to make sure that your resume lands in the lap of an HR manager and might even catch their eye.

 

 

Still not getting it?

We have your back. For just $10 a month, we can optimize your resume for you. We use AI to determine what it is that recruiters are looking for, scanning thousands of job openings and optimizing your resume to garner the biggest response. Then, we send that resume out for you to openings that match your particular skills. It’s a system that works, we guarantee it.

 

The Science of the Job Search, Part VI: Job Applicants With Resume Objectives Were ~30% Less Hireable

Today, we’re looking at the age-old question: Do you need an objective for your resume? Lots of folks say yes, lots of folks say no. We sampled 6,231 recent job applications, resumes and applicants across 681 cities and 115 roles and figured out the real-world answer for you.

tl;dr: Don’t put an objective on your resume (minus a few exceptions, see below). Not only are they unnecessary, but job applicants whose resume contained an objective were 29.6% less hireable than those who didn’t specify an explicit objective.

Objectives Hurt Everyone (Except Recent Grads)

resume-objective-is-bad-for-everyone-except-recent-grads.png
After 1+ year of experience, job applicants whose listed an objective were 20% to 67% less hireable (varying based on experience) than those who didn’t.

Controlling for experience, job applicants whose resume included an objective got 20.1% to 67.1% fewer job interviews compared to those who didn’t.

The only exception to this rule was for recent college graduates: for job applicants with <1 year of work experience, listing an explicit objective got ~7% more interviews. This isn’t a statistically significant gain, but it’s a significant contrast to everyone else.

Resume Tip: If you have less than ~8 months of experience, you might want to consider adding an objective. [+7% HIREABILITY BOOST]

Resume Tip: If you have 1+ years of experience, you should delete your objective. (See one more exception below.) Although it varies based on your specific experience, you’ll likely see a big hireability boost. [+20-67% HIREABILITY BOOST]

What’s Going On?

With the usual caveat that no one has any idea (anyone who claims otherwise is lying), I can give you my best theory as an experienced hiring manager. Here’s the short version: Most objectives are crap.

For example (anonymized to protect the innocent):

Focused and hard-working individual looking to develop new skills to serve the greater good.

Ambitious student working towards a B.S. in Epidemiology (pending graduation May, 2019).

To acquire, and maintain employment. To utilize the training and skills I’ve received in the past 5 years.

Like, really? As a hiring manager, I don’t really care if you want to “maintain employment.” (And honestly, this is a bit like saying your hamburger is 100% beef. If that’s the best compliment you can give yourself, you might have a bigger problem.)

What I do care is that you can do the job. Your objective gives me zero information about that and it’s something I have to wade past to get to the real stuff. But, if while wading past, I see something… well, it can definitely rule you out. For instance: spelling and grammar mistakes (rare), mismatch of interests (possible), a seed of doubt (common).

Here’s my theory: Most objectives convey zero information to hiring managers. At best, you can hope hiring managers will ignore it. At worst, it’ll give hiring managers an excuse to disqualify you.

This theory also explains why recent grads with objectives get slightly more interviews. Entry-level jobs get a deluge of applicants with no work history, and there’s basically no way to tell apart good applicants. If you can write a good objective (see below), you can squeeze out an edge over your competition.

Does Your Industry or Role Matter?

Controlling for role and industry, having an explicit objective still hurts (or doesn’t help) the overwhelming majority of job applicants.

having-resume-objective-doesnt-help-for-91-percent-roles.png
Listing an explicit objective doesn’t help for 106 out of 116 job roles — 91% of all roles out there.

It’s hard to make definitive claims about every specific role or industry (underwater welding, anyone?), but the overall trend is clear:

  • Only 2 out of 116 industries had statistically significant [*] higher hireability for applicants with an explicit objective. (Marketing Managers were statistically insignificant with a p-value of 0.902.)
  • There was a clear pattern for where it helped: they (a) were over-saturated, entry-level jobs where it was hard to distinguish good applicants, or (b) were in mission-driven fields where applicants’ motivations were especially important.

[* This of course doesn’t mean it only helps for 2 industries in reality, it just means that it either actually doesn’t help or the difference wasn’t big enough to be statistically detectable.]

Based on our holistic knowledge (we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people with their job search) and this analysis, here’s the full list of roles and industries where we believe an explicit objective might be helpful (even if there wasn’t a statistically significant difference):

RoleHireability Gain (%)P-valueWhy?
Budget Analysts121%0.187Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Credit Analysts144%0.456Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Financial Analysts105%0.410Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Counselors~500%-Mission-driven field.
Social Workers~500%-Mission-driven field.
Elementary Teachers~250%-Mission-driven field.
High School Teachers~250%-Mission-driven field.
Writers154%0.060Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Retail Salespeople50%-Hard to distinguish good applicants.
Customer Service Representatives62%-Hard to distinguish good applicants.

Which Kinds of Objectives Work In The Real World?

We took a look at the underlying resumes where objectives were correlated with increased hireability. Here are 3 objectives (details modified again to protect the innocent) from applicants who were 1+ standard deviation more hireable than their industry means:

Seeking a customer service position where I can utilize my multi-tasking abilities and attention to detail to assist in a fast-paced environment. Skills: real-world clerical experience, organizational skills, interpersonal skills.

Summa cum laude graduate with BS in communications studies, graduated May 2015. Proficient in Spanish.

Experienced with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux OSes; popular social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram); OpenTable, AldeloPRO, and NoWait restaurant management software

And here again are the 3 mediocre, low-hireability ones from above (these were all 1+ standard deviation below their industry hireability means):

Focused and hard-working individual looking to develop new skills to serve the greater good.

Ambitious student working towards a B.S. in Epidemiology (pending graduation May, 2019).

To acquire, and maintain employment. To utilize the training and skills I’ve received in the past 5 years.

What do you see? Here’s what I see in the low-hireability objectives:

  • They were generic and basically conveyed zero information to a hiring manager.
  • They spoke to the applicants’ wants & desires (not the hiring managers’ wants & desires).
  • Worse, they sometimes contained spelling or grammar mistakes. (Strictly speaking, the above weren’t grammatically incorrect, but two had awkward punctuation.)

On the other hand, the increased-hireability objectives all name-drop specific qualifications. In fact, they’re almost not even real objectives! They’re objective sections acting as a trojan horse to casually name-drop qualifications in the first few words of the resume. That’s brilliant!

In other words, good objectives weren’t actually objectives at all: rather than summarizing their own personal objectives, well-crafted objective statements gave their audience (hiring managers) what they wanted instead.

Resume Tip: If you have to include an objective, don’t talk about your own wants and desires. Instead, use it to casually name-drop a few of your skills that might appeal to hiring managers (in over-saturated fields) or summarize your motivation (in mission-driven fields).

What Can You Do?

We understand sorting through all the conflicting job search advice (and, hell, even the sheer amount of advice) can be overwhelming. That’s why we try to boil everything down to specific, actionable tips for your resume and back up everything we can with real-world data and concrete examples [*].

job-applicants-objective-30-percent-less-hireable.png
On average, job applicants whose resume included an explicit objective or professional summary were ~30% less hireable than those who didn’t.

Resume Tip: Barring a few exceptions (less than 8 months of work experience, the list of industries above), you should delete your objective ASAP. [+30% HIREABILITY BOOST]

[* If they’re mining your data to sell you crap you don’t need, why not mine their data to help you get a job instead? That’s what we think at least.]

Even so, in just this post itself, we suggested 4 new resume tips. In total, across our six The Science of the Job Search posts this year, we’ve suggested a total 39+ real-world resume & job search tips. (I stopped counting after awhile.) They’re all highly actionable, data-driven tips but honestly, it’s just hard to keep track of it all after awhile.

If you’re looking for a job, you might be interested in signing up for TalentWorks. Among other things:

  • Our AI-driven ApplicationAssistant automatically pre-fills personalized cover letters for you from a template so you don’t have to worry about writing nice things for each of the 100+ job applications you’ll have to submit.
  • Our ResumeOptimizer will instantly scan your resume for all of 39+ tips we’ve written about to date, including optimizing your objective section.

For most things job search, we can just take care of it for you. And if not, one our wonderful TalentAdvocates can help you.


Methodology

First, we took a random sample of 6,231 recent job applications, applicants and outcomes across 681 cities and 116 roles and industries from recent activity on TalentWorks.

For each resume and job, we respectively calculated the MAP global parse tree using a custom, dynamic-vocabulary PCFG (our ResumeParser) and extracted the objective subtree if present and extracted the MAP job role along with 10 other bits of metadata from our index of ~91 million job postings. Finally, we independently regressed hireability for each sub-population with a blended constant-Matern kernel using a Gaussian process.

We did all of the analysis with in-house algorithms and sklearn/scipy in python. All plots were generated with Bokeh in python.

Why Are We Doing This?

With ApplicationAssistant right now, we can boost the average job-seeker’s hireability by ~5.8x. But, what makes ApplicationAssistant work has been an internal company secret until now. We’re fundamentally a mission-driven company and we believe we can help more people by sharing our learnings. So, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Creative Commons

We’re not only sharing this but also sharing all of it under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In other words, as long as you follow a few license terms, this means you can:

  • Share: Copy, redistribute the material in any medium or format.
  • Adapt: Remix, transform, and build upon the material.

 

Here’s A Trick That Will Instantly Make Your Resume Better

Looking for help in the job search can be nearly as overwhelming as the search itself. There are a million different articles full of billions of tips and tricks that will help push your resume to the top of the pile (and we’re just as guilty in creating the clutter).

There’s checklists, templates and run-downs of Never-Ever-Evers. There’s recommendations on everything from how to format a resume on down to file type and font. It’s a lot to take in. So, knowing that you have a few more tabs open to look at, we’re here to offer one simple piece of advice. No top 5, no samples to download, just one tip that will get your resume noticed.

Use task/result sentences.

That’s really it. Fix your sentence formatting in your resume and your callbacks will increase. Hiring managers are looking for people who get results and this one trick of sentence structure will make you that person.

How it works:

A resume is a list of work you’ve done. Because of that, it lends itself to rote listing of your duties and responsibilities in the past. Even if your resume is impressive, laying out your daily to-do list to a stranger is bound to make their eyes gloss over.

Task/result sentences avoid this trap by telling the manager what the outcome of your work was and the ways in which you helped the company. Rather than telling them what you did, you’re telling them how the company fared because of your work. That’s bound to stick out in a sea of drab responsibility-listing.

Any examples?

The way you’re probably writing your resume currently looks something like this:

JOB A

  • Ran the Etcetera, Etcetera Campaign
  • Handled social media outreach
  • Organized the office space

But with task/result sentences, it can look like this:

JOB A

  • Launched a fundraising campaign that raised $10,000 in 8 weeks which extended runway for X months
  • Created a social media influencer outreach campaign that led to 10K new Twitter followers and 11% increase in monthly revenue
  • Led a space planning and reorganization workshop that freed up 160 square feet of office space for the company
    Here’s an additional job search tip. Always use numbers where you can. Quantifiable impacts are much-loved by hiring managers. It makes it that much easier to pitch your worth to the people in the company.

Of course, there’s more than just sentence structure to the job search. That’s where we can help. Our ResumeOptimizer and fully automated job search suite is only $10 and guarantees that you’ll hear back from a job you want.

What To Know On The Day Of Your Job Interview

Every job interview is going to be slightly different. But there are a few key ways in which they will always be the same. We’ve already gone over common questions that you should have a solid answer to before any interview, but don’t forget that an interview is a face-to-face interaction.

Getting wrapped up in your rote answers isn’t the way to go. The interviewer is there to have a conversation with another person and see if they’re a fit for the job, not listen to a series of monologues. Basically, you need to remember that the person on the other side of the desk is just that, a person. Treat them the way you’d expect to be treated and try and talk to them as naturally as possible.

Not to worry, though. If rote memorization is more your style, we have a handy checklist of day-of interview tips for you to run through.

Arrive On Time

You don’t want to start off with the person in charge of hiring you thinking you don’t value their time. If you arrive late and throw off their schedule for the rest of the day, they probably aren’t going to leave the interview with the most glowing portrait of you as a candidate. Plot your route and give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Good enough, Smart Enough and, Gosh darn it…

…people want to hire you. Don’t psych yourself out. If you weren’t qualified enough to catch their eye, they wouldn’t have called you at all. Keep it in mind to keep your confidence up throughout the interview.

Mirror, Mirror

If your interviewer is curt and formal, be curt and formal. If your interviewer is casual, be loose. If your interviewer sits backwards in their chair, they’re probably going to tell you about avoiding drugs. Let them and meet them where they are.

Be Polite

Please and thank you. Yes, sir and no, ma’am. Hold doors and shake hands firmly. Tell people it’s nice to meet them. If it helps, pretend your grandparents are in the room.

Remember Names and Follow Up

People like when you remember their names. People like when you express interest. Do both. Show that you’re committed to the job by asking after it and thanking them for talking to you.

You Gotta Get There First

To wow them, first you need to get in the room. That’s our specialty. We can optimize your resume and send it to the jobs you want for you. For just $10, we’ll turn the scrap parts of your application into a well-oiled machine, get it up and humming and let it generate results.

How To Research A Company Before A Job Interview

We know that the job hunt can be exhausting. All the digging, applying and letter-writing can really take a toll. But that doesn’t excuse shoddy research. If you’ve done enough to wow the hiring managers into calling you up to talk about the position, be sure that you at least sound like you know what you’re talking about. Nothing kills a job interview faster than not knowing about the company you’re trying to join.

Beyond the fact that it demonstrates basic competency and it’s just good manners, you definitely should do a little looking around to get a feel for a company before you’re standing in front of a recruiter’s desk. They can tell when you haven’t prepared and it’s a red flag for them that signals you might not be taking the position seriously.

Of course, if you don’t come from a research-heavy background, knowing how to find the information you need to effectively stunt on an interviewer can be tough. What questions should you even be asking? Luckily, as with all things job-search-related, we’re pros and we’ve got your back.

What To Ask

You can’t find the right answers without asking the right questions. So, here’s a few stock queries that you’ll want to know before any interview.

  • How did their company mission come to be, and does the press around the company support it?
  • What’s their primary product, and who is their customer?
  • Who are their direct (and indirect) competitors?

How To Find It

The company mission is almost always a simple find. Take a look around the website with an eye toward an “About” section. These typically include not only a plain statement of their company’s core values and what they wish to be, they also tend to feature biographical information that will let you know why they felt the need to start the company in the first place.

The primary product can typically be discerned via similar methods. Just look around their online presence to see what it is they are selling. Read over the copy to try and get an idea of who they are talking to if their customers aren’t immediately apparent.

Competitors can be found via a quirk of Google. Type in the name of the company followed by “vs.” and the search will auto-populate with companies that people are considering as an alternative to whatever Company X is offering.

For a deeper dive, search the news for stories about the company to see if it’s fulfilling its core mission or has made any big moves in the recent past. Beyond that, scanning the company’s profile on Crunchbase can give you crucial info about who is supporting the company and who works within it.

How To Use It

Try and incorporate your knowledge of the company into the discussion at an interview. Mention that you saw their most recent positive news in an answer. Ask what they’re doing to fight Competitor Y and offer a few ways that you could join in that scuffle. Talk about the ways that you find their product or mission useful.

If you appear to be engaged with the company, recruiters can’t help but notice.

Of course, you can’t wow a recruiter if you never get in the room with them. That’s where we come in. We can optimize your resume to guarantee that it catches the eye of potential employer and automatically send it to jobs matching your skill set. For just $10, we guarantee that you’ll get your shot to knock off some HR socks.

The Three Job Interview Questions You Should Have Down Pat

Preparing your resume for a new job is difficult, but not impossible. You have the benefit of time — no one is going to burst into the room and demand to look at your CV before you send it — and the comfort of multiple edits to help you feel alright about the part of your history you’re showing to the world.

Interviews are an entirely different beast. You only get one shot one opportunity to look great and whether or not you do is entirely based on your ability to improvise around an interviewer’s pet questions.

Here’s a sampling of a few odd questions I’ve personally been asked:

  • Can you fold a fitted sheet?
  • How do you feel about your name?
  • What kind of animal would you want to reincarnate as?
  • Thoughts on karaoke?
  • (In a windowless room) Which way is north?

These questions are meant to startle, to get you thinking creatively or to get a sense of your priorities without asking about them directly. And because they are so rare they can be hard to prepare for, leading to the dreaded moment of actually having to sit and think about your words before you say them (a big no-no in the job hunting world and nowhere else).

But you can smooth over any potential speed bumps by preparing yourself with a few solid answers to questions you know are going to be asked. I know we just said that interviewers are trying to rattle you with let-field queries, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few questions that almost every recruiter is going to ask.

Tell Me About Yourself

This is the opener for 99% of interviews for obvious reasons. It’s a good, open-ended way to get started talking about the subject at hand, allowing multiple jumping-off points for the interviewer to move forward with the conversation. Or, at least, it will if you don’t completely bungle it.

Knowing that this question is coming is half the battle, as a long-forgotten war hero said. And since you can almost guarantee that this question will kick off any interview, there’s no excuse for flubbing it.

The interviewer wants you to recap your experience in your own words, hopefully leading up to the point that you’re clearly qualified for this gig and ending in an explanation of why you decided to apply.

Job Search Tip: Write out your response, going through your history chronologically and run through it a few times until it feels natural.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This question is truly tough. It flies in the face of a lifetime of home training, asking you to talk bluntly about things you’re good at. It’s akin to straight-up bragging, but within limits.

Both knowing how to brag on yourself and knowing when to stop are difficult, but that can be fixed if you think of it in terms of resume bullet points. What they want to hear is your most relevant skill backed by an example of you using that skill in the past. “I’m really good at X and I got that way doing Y.” Keep this formulation in mind when practicing for your next interview.

Weaknesses can be even trickier. You don’t want to share anything that might disqualify you, but you don’t want to give a non-answer that will leave the interviewer rolling their eyes. Be honest here and share something that you have struggled with in the past, but follow that up with an explanation of the steps you took or are taking to change that. They want to know that you’re self-aware and adaptable.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is a great one for all the dungeon masters out there, because it’s plotting out a bit of a fantasy. Imagine a magical land where job security is assured and you’ve found a job you like doing. Might as well throw in some orcs at that point, right?

What the interviewer wants to hear from you here is how you plan to grow at the company. What do you see yourself doing when you outgrow the position they have offered? What skills will you have honed by that time? And what passions will the job be fulfilling for you? You need to show that there’s something about the job that interests you and that you’ll be willing to grab that part of the gig and run with it.

Job Search Tip: Plot out several trajectories based on the requirements of the job at hand and try and use the one that you feel will resonate the best with the interviewer. If you need to know which skills they are looking for, look out for the points where they ask follow-up questions.

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