Hard Work and ‘Likability’ Win Big in Interviews

Being called in for an interview is a great sign. Not only did your resume and cover letter make an impression, it means your chances of getting a job have improved immensely. In fact, if you’re being asked to interview you have a 10-15% of getting the job. Assuming that there has already been an initial phone screen, the last thing needed is an in person 1:1.

Recently, Cass Business School conducted a study that found when people communicated their successes emphasizing their hard work they were more likely to ace a job interview (and a date) versus simply speaking about their talents and listing off successes.

Your hard work overcoming tough situations and navigating difficult projects makes you, the candidate, more relatable. So, how do you answer interview questions effectively while coming across as ‘likeable’? Here are some examples:

Interviewer: You’re obviously very qualified. Why do you want this job?

You: I believe strongly in the importance of teamwork; working towards a common goal cross-functionally is often times required. Wires can get crossed and projects in turn delayed. This position inherently requires strong communication, and after meeting the members of your team I see how dedicated they are to identifying and solving problems both independently and collectively. Not only would the work bring me an immense amount of satisfaction, I know I would be an value teammate.

Not only does this answer emphasize the importance of teamwork, but also the disfunction if communication isn’t prioritized. Cross-functional communication isn’t always easy, but acknowledging that it’s an important part of a company’s success demonstrates your work ethic and understanding of the position.

Interviewer: What is your greatest professional strength? 

You: I would say my time management skills are one of my better professional qualities, though it wasn’t always that way. It took me working at it using resources and techniques such as scheduling, prioritization and defining both good and bad distractions. Suffice to say, it’s improved both my productivity and stress levels immensely and become a part of who I am personally and professionally.

It would be easy to list off your greatest strengths, but sharing how it took time and energy to perfect adds another dimension of your personality.

Interviewer: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

You: In five years, I’d love to have taken the requisite steps of becoming a project manager. I noticed on your website that you offer an internal training program and that would definitely be something I’d be interested in pursuing. 

Demonstrating that your personal goals align with the company’s goals while also realistically showing that, although you’re happy with this position at hand, you’d like to possibly pivot in the future (with the company) is an effective way to show that you’re ready to put in work…and, that you’ve done your research!

Conclusion

Highlighting your hard work and creating a story around your accomplishments gives you depth and dimensionality as a job candidate. Find ways in your interview answers to relate to the hiring manager and interviewers on a difference level and you’ll find much more success in getting the job you deserve.

Need more help formulating your interview answers? For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

 

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.

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.

To even get to these questions, though, you have to leap some pretty big hurdles. That’s where we can help. Allow us to optimize your resume and automate your job search to ensure that you’re sweating over interview questions quicker. For just $10, we guarantee that we can land you the interviews you’ve been after.