By Eileen Williams
Are you preparing for a job interview? If so, ask yourself the
following: How certain are you that your responses will make the grade?
How can you build rapport, speak to your abilities with confidence and
leave a favorable impression? How might you best position yourself as a
knowledgeable insider—someone who can be counted on to hit the ground
In order to present yourself well at a job interview, it goes without
saying that you need to prepare in detail. You have to thoroughly
research the company, the needs of the hiring manager and the principle
goals of the organization. Once you’ve done that, you will want target
your responses to the specific skills and attributes they are seeking in
a future employee.
But there are some shortcuts. You can count on several basic
questions coming up—in one form or another—in almost every job
interview. And fumbling your answers to these frequently asked questions
can really trip you up. If you don’t take adequate time to prepare and
target your responses, you will swiftly be eliminated from the candidate
The following are 5 basic questions you absolutely need to nail:
4) Give me a time when you… (the event-specific, behavioral-style question)
5) Do you have any questions for us?
Yes, you do! It is critical that you come with a list of well
thought out questions. Then you can pick and choose the most appropriate
as the interview unfolds.
- Study the job description and pinpoint the specific skills requested in the ad
- Anticipate questions and prepare targeted examples
- Create a “cheat sheet” (using a resume copy for yourself) complete
with trigger words that will help you remember the examples you want to
Also be certain to ask questions that show you’ve done your homework.
- It’s best to start with open-ended questions that will get the hiring manager talking about his/her true needs.
- What do you see to be the most critical components of the job?
- What needs to be done immediately?
- What are some of the long-range goals of the position?
- How can the new person make your life easier?
If you prepare compelling and targeted responses to these 5 typically
asked questions, you can approach the interview from a position of
strength. Take pride in the skills and experience you offer a future
employer and get yourself psyched to win. With the right attitude,
confidence in your abilities and a little luck, you just might find
yourself at the top of the candidate list!
Read all 5 Questions and their Answers + the complete article
- I understand your company is expanding into new markets in Asia. How will this affect your department?
- With the launch of product X, how do anticipate customer reaction?
By Karen Wickre
My new book, Take the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections That Count,
is for job seekers of all ages, but I’d like to offer some advice here
about networking and job hunting specifically to people who are 50+.
It’s easy to understand the reluctance people this age sometimes have
about networking — meeting strangers, especially those who might be
younger and may represent the change they fear. Not unreasonably, the
older worker might think: Why would they help me? What will we have to talk about? What if they say no?
I’ve seen quite a few work veterans set their sights lower or stay in
a stale longtime role, playing the waiting game for a severance
package, because of such fears.
Job Hunting Advice About Age Discrimination
To combat age discrimination of employers, when you’re job hunting
look closely at the diversity and inclusion record of companies you’re
interested in, search LinkedIn to see if people in your age range work
there and make connections to get a reality check.
An efficient way to learn about a new industry or pick up a variety
of skills quickly is to join a specialist consulting agency (for
example, marketing and advertising, tech support, communications) that
has clients across a range of businesses.
Or you might consider roles in firms that are not brand names, less
well-known companies outside the spotlight where you can get the skills
you need to transition into a new area.
The Networking Advantage People 50+ Have
Two more points about job hunting and networking when you’re in the 50+ club:
First, the longer you’ve worked (and lived), the more contacts you’ll
have from a wide variety of backgrounds. Your weak ties (people you
know very slightly at best, perhaps worked with briefly or met through a
friend) are especially useful as you explore new options and locations. Think very broadly about who you know, including people you may have
met in passing or who are colleagues of friends, to learn about
opportunities that are not familiar.
Second, think about how you can position yourself as a “men- tern” — a neologism that describes someone who can mentor others while learning new skills as an intern does (not that you have to actually be in that role).
In his new book Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder,
the seasoned hotelier and entrepreneur Chip Conley tells the story of
joining Airbnb at age 52. Though Chip has earned plenty of EQ (emotional
intelligence) over his career, he says he came to the young company
with no discernible DQ (digital intelligence). As he tells it, his time
at Airbnb helped him gain DQ as he was able to impart EQ to younger
When it comes to the job interview process, whoever tells the best story
wins. But certain phrases and ideas can short-circuit your career
plans. Are you really able to have the kind of leadership conversation
your job search deserves? When it comes to creating the career
conversation that leads to consideration, avoid these five show-stoppers
in the interview.
1 - When Is Honesty NOT the Best Policy? - do you ever find
yourself saying a version of this phrase: “If I’m being honest...”?
TBH, that phrase is honestly hurting your chances in the interview
process. Here’s why: if I need to call out the fact that I’m being
honest right now, doesn’t it make you wonder if I’ve been honest with
you up until this point? Why did I wait until now to get real and spill
the T? Actually, in the interview, honesty is the only policy that works.
Highlighting the fact that you are getting to the truth, but only just
right now, can arouse suspicion and make people wonder why you aren’t
full-on honest all the time. If you are a person of integrity, honesty
is your default setting. Don’t create unnecessary suspicion. “To be
honest...” is a filler phrase — like “umm” “Uh...” and “like.” None of
those fillers are very satisfying in the job interview. So be really
honest with yourself, and leave out the words that don’t serve you.
5 - Ultimatums - an ultimatum is a statement of what you
won’t tolerate, usually phrased as a demand. Ultimatums reflect terms
that you will or won’t accept, period. By definition, ultimatums point
to your lack of flexibility and adaptability (two characteristics that
might be useful for a new hire, wouldn’t you agree? Why would you
demonstrate that you lack these two key qualities?) Now some ultimatums
are important: “I won’t tolerate racism on my team,” for example, points
to your beliefs and values. But “I won’t work on weekends” or “I need
every Thursday afternoon off, or I can’t work here” is really pointing
out your limitations.
Look for phrases like “I can’t accept _______,” “I won’t allow that” or
“That just won’t work for me.” Because if it won’t work for you, maybe
you won’t work for this company. Every job interview is a negotiation.
Once you get to “yes” you can decide if you want to take the job or not.
You’re in the interview to explore your options — why start cutting
yourself off from possibilities? Does it help your career to present
demands and requirements, or are there other ways of looking at the
situation? Is your ultimatum a personal preference that you’re clinging
to, like a security blanket, or a statement of your integrity, values
and work ethic? It’s better to keep your options open if you really want
the job. Know the difference between uncompromising values and limiting
statements that knock you out of the running. Keep your options open.
Find out what’s really on offer and make a business decision to see if
it fits for you. Ultimately, what you will and won’t accept is your
choice, but arriving at that place without ultimatums is a smart way to
frame the conversation.
See all 5 deadly phrases and the complete Forbes article