Job Search Tips and Resources
Academy Canada supports students and graduates by providing instruction in job search techniques, such as resume writing and interview skills. Our team networks with potential employers, watch for business trends and assist graduates in their search for employment as it relates to their field.
The ultimate goal of all graduates is to find employment. In order to support students in this process, Academy Canada offers the services of Employment Coordinators. Their role is to build partnerships with the community and to identify any employment opportunities that may be appropriate for you.
Academy Canada has established Student Resource Centers at each campus. These centers have been established primarily to help students obtain information related to employment prospects and to help students prepare for their employment search. The center will help students identify job openings, find pertinent labor market information, resume and cover letters, and provide computer and printer access. Through the Resource Centre students have access to their weekly hometown newspaper, unlimited use of computers and the Internet and many other resources pertaining to their course of study as well as literature from organizations within the community. In essence, the Resource Centre is an office where students and graduates can work to gain employment. A photocopier is also available for student use.
If used effectively, graduates will find the following resources helpful during their job search.
Employment Resources – Job Search Sites, Company Listings, Temporary Agency Listings, and other Career Resources
To obtain a listing of job search sites, company listings, and other career resources, please click here.
Online Job Search and Application Sites
Contains over ten thousand employer, recruiter, and government job listings from sites across Canada. It also provides listings in a simple, intuitive way to job seekers.
Resume and Cover Letter Templates
Free Resume Templates Resources by Job Nexus
Free resume samples, templates, and examples. Also contains a free resume builder.
Job Search and Interview Preparation Articles
Business Interview – “What to say when the interviewer asks, ‘Why should we hire you?’”
This article gives valuable information about how to prepare for a job interview, handling tough questions like “why should we hire you?”, key points, and proving why you’re a great investment to your company.
Career Fair Tips
During their program and after graduation students will be invited to attend many Career Fairs. These events provide great opportunities to network and identify possible employers. To make the most of your time, however, there are several things that you should do, including:
1. Do your homework. Before the fair, you can review the online employer directory and visit their web sites for current job opportunities. If you spend a little time getting some background information about an organization, then you can ask focused and specific questions. It shows a genuine interest in them.
2. Bring many resume copies and customize each one to match the job description for positions you want to apply.
3. Dress appropriately. First impressions are important. You should dress at least “business casual”.
4. Allow yourself adequate time. Come as early as possible. Fairs are typically less crowded in early hours, and are busiest during the afternoon. Fairs close promptly at publicized ending times to accommodate an employer’s travel arrangements.
5. Get your bearings. Take a few minutes to review the fair map. You may feel more comfortable if you quickly locate and walk to interested employers. This will confirm their location and determine an appropriate wait time to speak with them.
6. Prioritize prospective employers. You may find it easiest to start with your least interested potential employer. This approach allows you to hone your approach with interested employers. Be considerate to others and respect the fact that you will need to wait to speak with some employers.
7. Be flexible. No single agent or recruiter is knowledgeable about every position available, especially large organizations. Some representatives attending fairs share their experiences working at the organization, but may not be involved in the hiring process. If a company representative does not know specifically about interested jobs and internships for you, ask for the name of someone who can help you.
8. Introduce yourself. Extend your hand, say “hello”, and state your name. Have your resume ready to give to the employer.
9. Take notes when you inquire about next steps and the possibility of talking with additional managers. A representative, agent, or recruiter at the fair may not be able to answer all questions or know specifics about your job interests. Write down the other staff’s names, telephone numbers, etc. at a prospective organization to contact later. Note specific employer information sessions and projected hiring dates that will affect you. You will not be able to take advantage of this information if you don’t record it.
10. Ask a representative for his/her business card, and then promptly send a “thank you” note. Having a representative’s business card serves three purposes. First, you have a direct contact with the organization, including the representative’s name, direct telephone line, email, etc. Second, a brief thank-you note acknowledges the help they gave you, including the time they took to attend the job fair. Third, sending thank-you notes is a good way to network potential employers and allow you to broaden your professional contact list.
11. Respect employer’s materials and sample items. Some employers bring large print materials or free product samples intended for participants to take. Always check with employers before taking materials from their tables to ensure they are intended as promotional items.
12. Be courteous! Keep your questions brief and offer to continue your conversation at a later time to demonstrate courtesy for other job seekers. Enjoy the fair and your interaction with employers. Let your positive attitude show!
Resume Design Tips
One of the keys to finding a great job is to have an outstanding resume. There are several secrets that job seekers should be aware of, including:
1. Know the purpose of your resume: Some people write a resume as if the purpose of the document was to land a job. As a result they end up with a really long and boring piece that makes them look like desperate job hunters. The objective of your resume is to land an interview, and the interview will land you the job (hopefully!).
2. Back up your qualities and strengths: Instead of creating a long (and boring) list with all your qualities (e.g., disciplined, creative, problem solver) try to connect them with real life and work experiences. In other words, you need to back these qualities and strengths up, else it will appear that you are just trying to inflate things.
3. Make sure to use the right keywords: Most companies (even smaller ones) are already using digital databases to search for candidates. This means that the HR department will run search queries based on specific keywords. Guess what, if your resume doesn’t have the keywords related to the job you are applying for, you will be out even before the game starts. These keywords will usually be nouns. Check the job description and related job ads for a clue on what the employer might be looking for.
4. Use effective titles: Like it or not, employers will usually make a judgment about your resume in 5 seconds. Under this time frame the most important aspect will be the titles that you listed on the resume, so make sure they grab the attention. Try to be as descriptive as possible, giving the employer a good idea about the nature of your past work experiences. For example: Bad title: Accounting Good title: Management of A/R and A/P and Recordkeeping
5. Proofread it twice: It would be difficult to emphasize the importance of proofreading your resume. One small typo and your chances of getting hired could slip. Proofreading it once is not enough, so do it twice, three times or as many as necessary.
6. Use bullet points: No employer will have the time (or patience) to read long paragraphs of text. Make sure, therefore, to use bullet points and short sentences to describe your experiences, educational background and professional objectives.
7. Where are you going? Including professional goals can help you by giving employers an idea of where you are going, and how you want to arrive there. You don’t need to have a special section devoted to your professional objectives, but overall the resume must communicate it. The question of whether or not to highlight your career objectives on the resume is a polemic one among HR managers, so go with your feeling. If you decide to list them, make sure they are not generic.
8. Put the most important information first: This point is valid both to the overall order of your resume, as well as to the individual sections. Most of the times your previous work experience will be the most important part of the resume, so put it at the top. When describing your experiences or skills, list the most important ones first.
9. Attention to the typography: First of all make sure that your fonts are big enough. The smaller you should go is 11 points, but 12 is probably safer. Do not use capital letters all over the place, remember that your goal is to communicate a message as fast and as clearly as possible. Arial and Times are good choices.
10. Do not include “no kidding” information: There are many people that like to include statements like “Available for interview” or “References available upon request.” If you are sending a resume to a company, it should be a given that you are available for an interview and that you will provide references if requested. Just avoid items that will make the employer think “no kidding!”
11. Explain the benefits of your skills: Merely stating that you can do something will not catch the attention of the employer. If you manage to explain how it will benefit his company, and to connect it to tangible results, then you will greatly improve your chances.
12. Avoid negativity: Do not include information that might sound negative in the eyes of the employer. This is valid both to your resume and to interviews. You don’t need to include, for instance, things that you hated about your last company.
13. Achievements instead of responsibilities: Resumes that include a long list of “responsibilities included…” are plain boring, and not efficient in selling yourself. Instead of listing responsibilities, therefore, describe your professional achievements.
14. No pictures: Sure, we know that you are good looking, but unless you are applying for a job where the physical traits are very important (e.g., modeling, acting and so on), and unless the employer specifically requested it, you should avoid attaching your picture to the resume.
15. Use numbers: This tip is a complement to the 13th one. If you are going to describe your past professional achievements, it would be a good idea to make them as solid as possible. Numbers are your friends here. Don’t merely mention that you increased the annual revenues of your division, say that you increased them by $100,000, by 78%, and so on.
16. One resume for each employer: One of the most common mistakes that people make is to create a standard resume and send it to all the job openings that they can find. Sure it will save you time, but it will also greatly decrease the chances of landing an interview (so in reality it could even represent a waste of time). Tailor your resume for each employer. The same point applies to your cover letters.
17. Identify the problems of the employer: A good starting point to tailor your resume for a specific employer is to identify what possible problems he might have at hand. Try to understand the market of the company you are applying for a job, and identify what kind of difficulties they might be going through. After that illustrate on your resume how you and your skills would help to solve those problems.
18. Avoid age discrimination: It is illegal to discriminate people because of their age, but some employers do these considerations nonetheless. Why risk the trouble? Unless specifically requested, do not include your age on your resume.
19. You don’t need to list all your work experiences: If you have job experiences that you are not proud of, or that are not relevant to the current opportunity, you should just omit them. Mentioning that you used to sell hamburgers when you were 17 is probably not going to help you land that executive position.
20. Go with what you got: If you never had any real working experience, just include your summer jobs or volunteer work. If you don’t have a degree yet, mention the title and the estimated date for completion. As long as those points are relevant to the job in question, it does not matter if they are official or not.
21. Sell your fish: Remember that you are trying to sell yourself. As long as you don’t go over the edge, all the marketing efforts that you can put in your resume (in its content, design, delivery method and so on) will give you an advantage over the other candidates.
22. Don’t include irrelevant information: Irrelevant information such as political affiliation, religion and sexual preference will not help you. In fact it might even hurt your chances of landing an interview. Just skip it.
23. Use Mr. and Ms. (if appropriate): If you have a gender neutral name like Alex or Ryan make sure to include the Mr. or Ms. prefix, so that employers will not get confused about your gender.
24. No lies, please: Seems like a no brainer, but you would be amused to discover the amount of people that lie in their resumes. Even small lies should be avoided. Apart from being wrong, most HR departments do background checks these days, and if you are buster it might ruin your credibility for good.
25. Keep the salary in mind: The image you will create with your resume must match the salary and responsibility level that you are aiming for.
26. Analyze job ads: You will find plenty of useful information on job ads. Analyze no only the ad that you will be applying for, but also those from companies on the same segment or offering related positions. You should be able to identify what profile they are looking for and how the information should be presented.
27. Get someone else to review your resume: Even if you think you resume is looking kinky, it would be a good idea to get a second and third opinion about it. We usually become blind to our own mistakes or way of reasoning, so another people will be in a good position to evaluate the overall quality of your resume and make appropriate suggestions.
28. One or two pages: The ideal length for a resume is a polemic subject. Most employers and recruiting specialists, however, say that it should contain one or two pages at maximum. Just keep in mind that, provided all the necessary information is there, the shorter your resume, the better.
29. Use action verbs: A very common advice to job seekers is to use action verbs. But what are they? Action verbs are basically verbs that will get noticed more easily, and that will clearly communicate what your experience or achievement were. Examples include managed, coached, enforced and planned. Here you can find a complete list of action verbs divided by skill category.
30. Use a good printer: If you are going to use a paper version of your resume, make sure to use a decent printer. Laser printers usually get the job done. Plain white paper is the preferred one as well.
31. No hobbies: Unless you are 100% sure that some of your hobbies will support you candidacy, avoid mentioning them. I know you are proud of your swimming team, but share it with your friends and not with potential employers.
32. Update your resume regularly: It is a good idea to update your resume on a regular basis. Add all the new information that you think is relevant, as well as courses, training programs and other academic qualifications that you might receive along the way. This is the best way to keep track of everything and to make sure that you will not end up sending an obsolete document to the employer.
33. Mention who you worked with: If you have reported or worked with someone that is well known in your industry, it could be a good idea to mention it on the resume. The same thing applies to presidents and CEOs. If you reported to or worked directly with highly ranked executives, add it to the resume.
34. No scattered information: Your resume must have a clear focus. If would cause a negative impression if you mentioned that one year you were studying drama, and the next you were working as an accountant. Make sure that all the information you will include will work towards a unified image. Employers like decided people.
35. Make the design flow with white space: Do not jam your resume with text. Sure we said that you should make your resume as short and concise as possible, but that refers to the overall amount of information and not to how much text you can pack in a single sheet of paper. White space between the words, lines and paragraphs can improve the legibility of your resume.
36. Lists all your positions: If you have worked a long time for the same company (over 10 years) it could be a good idea to list all the different positions and roles that you had during this time separately. You probably had different responsibilities and developed different skills on each role, so the employer will like to know it.
37. No jargon or slang: It should be common sense, but believe me, it is not. Slang should never be present in a resume. As for technical jargon, do not assume that the employer will know what you are talking about. Even if you are sending your resume to a company in the same segment, the person who will read it for the first time might not have any technical expertise.
38. Careful with sample resume templates: There are many websites that offer free resume templates. While they can help you to get an idea of what you are looking for, do not just copy and paste one of the most used ones. You certainly don’t want to look just like any other candidate, do you?
39. Create an email proof formatting: It is very likely that you will end up sending your resume via email to most companies. Apart from having a Word document ready to go as an attachment, you should also have a text version of your resume that does not look disfigured in the body of the email or in online forms. Attachments might get blocked by spam filters, and many people just prefer having the resume on the body of the email itself.
40. Remove your older work experiences: If you have been working for 20 years or more, there is no need to have 2 pages of your resume listing all your work experiences, starting with the job at the local coffee shop at the age of 17! Most experts agree that the last 15 years of your career are enough.
41. No fancy design details: Do not use a colored background, fancy fonts or images on your resume. Sure, you might think that the little flowers will cheer up the document, but other people might just throw it away at the sight.
42. No pronouns: You resume should not contain the pronouns “I” or “me.” That is how we normally structure sentences, but since your resume is a document about your person, using these pronouns is actually redundant.
43. Don’t forget the basics: The first thing on your resume should be your name. It should be bold and with a larger font than the rest of the text. Make sure that your contact details are clearly listed. Secondly, both the name and contact details should be included on all the pages of the resume (if you have more than one).
44. Consider getting professional help: If you are having a hard time to create your resume, or if you are receiving no response whatsoever from companies, you could consider hiring a professional resume writing service. There are both local and online options are available, and usually the investment will be worth the money. Source: Daily Writing Tips
Job Interview Tips
Just as important as having a quality resume is being able to perform in a job interview. Here are 99 tips to impress Interviewers:
I. Mindset and Approach
1. It’s your job to sell yourself. If you don’t do it, then you can be sure that no one else will. Most of us understand this, but that doesn’t mean that we’re all comfortable with it. There is no need to bloat your accomplishments or make false claims, but there is every need to paint the best picture of yourself. If you’re feeling apprehensive about this idea, then remember: it’s not bragging if you did it.
2. Apply to fewer jobs. When you need a job, it’s easy to shotgun your resume in 100 different directions. And that is exactly why the stack of resumes is so high for that job you want. Everyone is sending out the same resume to every job they can find. Slow down. Focus on a few jobs that you actually want. Then tailor everything about your application to each specific job.
3. You’re interviewing them too. Your goal should be to find a job that you actually care about and a company that you want to be a part of. If you focus on jobs like that, then the interview will be much better. You’ll be genuinely engaged. You’ll ask more questions because you’re interested and not because “that’s what you’re supposed to do in an interview.” Plus — and here’s a crazy bonus — if you only apply to jobs that you look interesting, then you aren’t going to end up in a job that you never actually wanted. Sort of makes you wonder why you’re applying to a bunch of jobs that you aren’t going to enjoy, right?
4. Realize that some things are of minimal benefit. If you really wanted, you could write out a list of 1000 things to remember for a job interview. Of course, most of them wouldn’t really help you because some things just aren’t that important. Your focus should be on solving problems for the company, on proving why you’re the best candidate for the job, and on finding a culture and community that you naturally fit in with. If you do those three things, then you’ll find that the little things (like remembering to iron your shirt) are… well… little things.
5. Sometimes you may need to be persistent. If you want to make an impression, then you might have to find the courage to never say die. You might need to take ten people out to lunch before you find a contact that can help you. You might need to send a progress report to the recruiter every week for two months before they even care. You might need to start a project on the side and email a progress report to a recruiter every week for two months before they start to pay attention to you. You might need to ask one person to vouch for you. Then you might need to ask five more. Don’t lose hope and keep moving forward every day. Keep walking and you’ll make it to the finish line.
II. How to Prepare for an Interview
6. If you want to be an exceptional candidate, then you need to do exceptional preparation. Preparation is the number one thing that will set you apart from other candidates. Want to be more impressive? Prepare more. If you are obsessed with preparing for every aspect of the interview, then you will be ready to crush it.
7. Know why you are applying for this job. Yes, you want a job so that you can pay for your lifestyle. But what are your underlying motivations? Why are you driven towards this job? Why are you passionate about this position? How do your values match the values you will need to do your job? This is a deep question and if you know the answer to it, then you will understand what drives a lot of the answers you will give during the interview. You’ll have a better idea of why you’re a good fit for the job … and that makes it easier for you to tell the recruiter why you’re a good candidate.
8. Research everything you can about the company. You want to know about the place you’re going to work not just so that you can sound intelligent in the interview, but so that you can figure out if it’s a place that you actually want to work at. Even if this isn’t a “career” for you, it’s likely that you’ll be in the job for a year or two. A year might not seem that long, but talk to anyone who hated their job for a full year … and they’ll tell you that one year is a long time. See what you can find on the company. You’ll want to know what you’re getting into.
9. If you’re applying for a job at a public company, then check out the financial statements and SEC filings. Go online and search for the Annual Report, Proxy Statement, and 10-K for the company that you’re interested in. These documents aren’t thrilling reads, but they have excellent information in them. Even if you only read the summary near the beginning of each document, then you will be well versed on the inner workings of the company. The corporate filings are also a great way to discover specific questions about the company and you can mention that you read these documents in your research.
10. Get to know someone on the inside. Employees can give you an idea of what “a day in the life” is like and can help you determine if this is a place you would like to work at. Plus, if you mention your meetings with employees during the interview then you will make an impression as someone who is serious about the job. If you don’t know where to start, then head over to LinkedIn or Google and do some searches for people at the company you are interviewing with. If all else fails, give them a call and talk to someone in the department that you want to work in. It shouldn’t be too hard to find someone willing to let you take them to lunch.
11. Show them that you are familiar with that culture and that you’re a good fit for it. Interviewers are looking for qualified candidates and people who fit in well with their community and culture. They want to be able to trust you, so show them that you display values that are consistent with their group. (Side note: if you really aren’t a good fit and don’t match up well with the people you talk to, then you might want to reconsider going there. There is no sense in spending tons of time with people you don’t enjoy being around.)
12. Describe the ideal candidate. Once you know a bit more about the company, spend some time writing out a full description of the ideal candidate. Try to be totally objective about it. What would the company want? See things from their perspective. If you were the recruiter, what would the perfect candidate look like?
13. Reframe your experiences. Once you understand what the company is looking for and what the ideal candidate would look like, you can reframe your experiences to meet those expectations. For example, if the job description requires a “proven ability to motivate others,” then it is basically asking for “effective leadership skills” … but one of those phrases might match up better with your background than another. Spend some time thinking about alternative phrases and how you can reframe your skill set to match the desired qualifications.
14. Create an “I can handle it” list. If you can convince the recruiter that you can handle the job, then you’ll have a much better chance of getting the job. Print out the list of required skills and experience that comes with the job. Next to each item, write down an experience you have had that is relevant. It doesn’t need to be a perfect match… just an experience that proves that you can handle the task. This is also a good place to look for stories from your personal life or previous work that match up well with the “I can handle it” list. It’s a great way to keep your stories relevant to the position. The hiring managers want to make a good call because their reputation is on the line. You need to ease their fears and show them that you can handle the position. (Hat tip to Julie Melillo.)
15. Develop a list of “sound bites.” Sound bites are short phrases or sentences that you want to make sure you say throughout the interview. These are phrases that highlight everything that is great about you as a candidate. The exact way you tell a story might change, but you’ll always want to include the sound bite. For example, “I once worked with a co-worker who constantly pushed her work off on me because Excel spreadsheets are a strong point for me and she knew this…” is a great sound bite to use at the start of a story about dealing with a difficult co-worker. It kicks things off and refers to one of your skills. You can tell the rest of the story naturally and still know that you included a solid sound bite. You should have a sound bite for each story you tell. (Hat tip to Stephanie Kiester)
16. Own your online reputation. Everyone going through the job process is going to have their name searched. You don’t need to be an internet superstar, but it’s a good idea to have an online presence that puts recruiters at ease. You either need to be comfortable with having the hiring manager reading your tweets and browsing your Facebook pictures or you need to adjust your privacy settings so that those areas are hidden. Some people provide a lot of value through social media, so perhaps they want hiring managers to see that. It doesn’t matter which method you choose, but make sure it’s a conscious decision. This is one area of the job process that actually is under your control, so it would be silly to not take responsibility for it.
17. If you know who is interviewing you, then search for them online. You can flip the script and search for your interviewers as well. Of course, you’re not looking for dirt, you’re looking for evidence that you might fit in well at the company, for areas of common interest, and for possible questions you could ask the recruiter.
18. Determine who the most appropriate people are that you can list as references. Then, tell them that you are listing them. It’s important to give your references a heads up. If you feel uncomfortable telling someone that you’re listing them, then what makes you think that they are going to be a good person to talk about you?
19. Do as many practice interviews as you can. It’s not fun — and it might even be more awkward than the real interview — but doing practice interviews with friends, family, or others is a critical piece of the puzzle. You need feedback not just on your responses, but also on body language, tone, and approach. You’ll never know how your answers need to change unless you deliver them a few times.
20. Use the STAR method to guide your answers. This simple formula ensures that you accurately describe your experiences and highlight the results they provided. The STAR method includes,
S: The Situation – describe it
T: The Task or problem – what dilemma or problem did you face?
A: The Action – what action did you take?
R: The Result – what was the result of your action?
Make sure that each experience you describe includes those four areas. (Hat tip to Fred Cooper.)
21. Devise bullet points for each question, not a full script. You will want to write out your answers to hard questions beforehand because the written word forces you to clarify your thoughts. However, you only need to know the main point or primary story that you want to tell for each answer… you don’t need to memorize everything word for word.
What questions should you prepare for? These questions…
III. Tough Job Interview Questions
22. Hiring managers usually ask questions related to five categories.
a) Your background, so that they can understand your experiences, education, and overall qualifications.
b) Your knowledge of the job, so that they can test your understanding of the position, their company, and the industry.
c) Your personality, so that they can understand your work style and social style and decide if that fits in with their company.
d) Your skills, so that they can get an idea of your abilities and test your knowledge and competency for the job.
e) Your future goals, so that they can get an idea of your career aspirations and determine how motivated you will be in the position.
If you’re fully prepared for these five types of questions, then you’ll be ready for most interviews. (Hat tip to Lisa Quast)
Here are a few questions that you should be thinking about beforehand…
23. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Use this question as an opportunity to tell a short story about yourself that describes the values you have and why you think they are important for the job.
24. Why are you interested in our company? This is where you show that you did your research. Tell them what you know about the company, about the challenges they face and the opportunities they have, and how you fit in well with that overall picture.
25. Give us an example of a challenge you faced and how you overcame it. Once again, a good story here is crucial. One solid story about overcoming a challenge will stick with a recruiter long after the interview.
26. What are your strengths? Only mention strengths that you can back up with clear proof. Prove your strengths with numbers and percentages, not generalized statements.
27. What are your weaknesses? This is a classic question that everyone hates. If you say that you “work too hard” then no one takes the answer seriously, but if you say a real weakness then you look like a bad candidate. So what do you do? My suggestion is to pick a technical skill that is real, but mostly unrelated to your job. For example, you could say “Finance isn’t really my thing. I understand the big picture of profit and revenue, but small details and the mechanics of how it works — that’s just not how my mind works. So I would say that’s a weakness, but it’s also a reason I’m applying for this job in marketing. I know that it leverages my strengths and steers clear of some of the weaknesses.”
28. Did you and your former boss ever disagree? Never speak poorly about a former employer in an interview. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were or how bad it was — keep things positive or neutral. Nobody wants to hire someone that might talk bad about them down the road.
29. Why did you leave your last job? Be honest, but also use it as an opportunity to show why this job is a better fit.
30. Are you a team player? Yes, you are — and make sure you have a good story and some proof to back it up. If you can provide the results that your team efforts provided, then that’s great too.
31. What books or magazines do you like to read? This question is meant to find out how much you keep up with the industry, market, and so on. Feel free to throw in some of your own personal tastes, but the hiring manager wants to hear that you read things that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
32. Why should we hire you? Don’t make vague statements here. Show them that you have done your research by highlighting what problems they are facing. Then, provide specific examples of how you’re the right person to help solve those problems. Give them proof of your value and your answer will come across as clear, concise, and confident.
33. You won’t be able to prepare for every possible question. Don’t worry about having all of the answers before your interview. It’s more important to develop stories that highlight your key virtues and adapt those stories to the questions that are asked.
IV. What to Do the Day of the Interview
Before you arrive…
34. Print out your resume and bring multiple copies to the interview. You can’t assume that everyone you meet will have your resume handy, so make sure that you have copies of it ready for anyone you might encounter throughout the day.
35. Print out your list of references and their contact information. If someone asks who they can contact to find out more about you, then you’ll be able to pull that list out at a moment’s notice.
36. Make sure your car is clean and your briefcase, purse, or bag are organized and contain only what you need. You never know if the recruiter will walk you to your car. Seeing a sloppy interior might not be a good way to end the day. (Hat tip Ronald Kaufman.)
37. Don’t even bother bringing your phone to the interview. If someone gives you their number, write it down. You don’t need to type it into your phone right away and it’s worth the peace of mind to not have to worry about it ringing or buzzing accidentally.
38. Dress for the job you want. Stick to the dress code that they will expect of you as an employee. And when all else fails, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
39. If it’s a good fit, then bring a few additional materials that highlight your accomplishments. These could be recommendations, awards, and so on. If it seems appropriate, then you can leave those materials with the hiring manager as further proof of your abilities.
After you arrive…
40. Treat everyone with respect. Smile when you come in and treat the receptionist, secretary, or administrative assistant with respect. It’s not uncommon for recruiters to ask these people about their first impression, so you want to start off well.
41. Remember names. Make sure you know the name of everyone you meet and use their names throughout the interview. If you can’t pronounce their name or don’t know how, then ask again right away. Asking how to say someone’s name isn’t awkward if you do it immediately. If you ask 30 minutes later, then it reflects poorly on you.
42. When you shake hands, pump twice. This is a minor detail, but apparently many people worry about how to shake hands properly, so this tip is worth mentioning. Keep your handshake short and professional. Grasp hands, pump twice (up down, up down) and release. Practice with a friend one time and you’ll get it. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.
43. Answer the question that is asked of you. Don’t stray off topic and babble about unrelated areas. Show that you’re focused on the task at hand and engaged in the conversation. Better to have a short answer that’s on point, than an in–depth one that is off topic.
44. Use time frames and numbers. Remember tip #20, the STAR method? Well, the R is what everyone forgets. Don’t forget to mention the results that you have achieved and how long it took you to achieve them. Results are compelling, broad and general statements are not.
45. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know something. It is far better to truthfully state your skills and experiences than it is to lie, get the job, and be asked to do something you don’t know how to do … and then have to fess up. Keep things truthful and accurate and you’ll put yourself in a position to succeed.
46. Start with a short answer and then go into more depth. If you begin your answers by rambling off on a long story, then it often takes a while for you to get to your point. This confuses the interviewer and can make them wonder if you’re addressing the right question. If you start with a quick statement that shows you understand the question and have a solid answer, then you can continue with a full story and go into more depth. Even a short introduction can make it easier for the listener to follow along. Something like, “Yes, I do believe I have the qualities of a good leader. I’ll tell you a story as an example…”
47. Employers value people who are capable of taking an opportunity and running with it. The situations and circumstances change, but a person who can take advantage of whatever opportunity is presented to them will always be valuable. Regardless of the level you will play in the organization, do your best to showcase that you have the ability to handle whatever comes your way.
48. There are no rules about the types of questions you should be asked. Some people whine and complain about getting a hard question. You should be ready for hard questions. And if you get a question that you don’t understand fully or aren’t sure where to go with it, then ask them a question back. Get more clarity from the interviewer and see if you can get a better understanding of what they are looking for. Have them restate the question in different words. If you have a back and forth conversation, then you will usually talk your way through the tough questions. Sitting in silence, guessing awkwardly, and then complaining about the question later on doesn’t help anyone.
49. The interviewer’s assumption is that this is you at your best, so be ready to bring your best. Enough said.
50. When all else fails, smile as often as is appropriate. It’s hard to hate someone who is happy.
V. Phone Interview Tips
51. Preparing for a phone interview is just as important as preparing for an in–person interview. Usually, you won’t have the chance to meet face–to–face if you ruin it over the phone, so make sure you’ve prepared for these preliminary interviews as well.
52. Make sure you have a location to take the call that is quiet and free from distractions. If possible, avoid going outside since excessive wind can often ruin a call.
53. Wear something that makes you feel like a winner. Maybe that’s a suit, maybe it’s jeans … whatever it is, just make sure you have a physical presence that makes you feel good about yourself. You might not be face–to–face with the interviewer, but what you wear is just as much about how you feel as it is about what others think.
54. Keep it simple. Don’t make the mistake of printing out your answers, laying a bunch of pages on the table in front of you, and thinking that you’ll have time to look up the answer to each question. This isn’t an interview over email, it’s a phone conversation. Your replies are instant. Instead, develop a list of key bullet points and phrases that you absolutely want to cover. You can easily check off these bullet points as you talk about them.
55. Do not reveal your salary expectations on a phone interview. This is a common play by recruiters and they want to box you into a number as early as possible. If you hear something along the lines of, “What are your salary expectations?” Then simply respond with, “Well, I think we’re a little ways from having that chat, but if it seems like a good fit for the both of us, then I’m sure salary won’t be a problem.” If they push further, then just insist that you can’t give a number until you meet your co-workers, visit the company, and have a better idea of what the job will entail. Tell them that you’re simply not comfortable revealing a number until you can see the full picture.
VI. Second Interview Tips
56. Show that you’re in it for a career and not a job. Most people just want a job. They want to be employed and get paid. Show the recruiter that you’re looking for a career. You want to become a part of the culture, of the company, of a team. You want to be there through good and bad and support the people around you. You researched the company history, their culture, their advertisements and marketing campaigns, their Twitter and Facebook pages… you want to get to know them because you want to know the type of family that you’re being a part of. You’re in it for a career — not just a job.
57. Ask “What intrigues you about me enough that you called me in for a second interview?” It’s obvious that they like you because they invited you back for a second interview, so you might as well find out what they like. They will give you some key areas that they are impressed with, which makes it easier for you to briefly highlight those strengths as well as focus on the other areas that will seal the deal.
VII. Questions You Should Ask
58. Start the interview by making it easy on the recruiter. Ask them, “What can I do to make today as easy as possible? How can I make your life easier today?” This sets a nice tone for the interview, gives you an indication of the recruiter’s personality, and will give you some good information to start with. (Hat tip to Bruce Hurwitz.)
59. Find out what is important to them. It might seem like the interview is all about you, your career, and whether or not you’re a good fit for the job… but it’s actually about them. You need to discover what’s important to the company and how you can help them reach their goals. At some point during the interview, be sure to ask “What’s really important to the company within the first 90 days of me joining?” The answer to that question will give you specific problem areas that you can talk about solving for the company.
60. If a question comes to mind during the interview, then ask it. Most recruiters would prefer to have an interactive conversation during the interview. For example, if you give an answer that describes how you’re excellent at working in teams, then it would be the perfect time to ask about the opportunities you would have to work on a team in the new job.
61. You should have at least three excellent questions ready for the end of the interview. If you have fewer then it won’t look like you did your homework. Don’t ask about vacation benefits or something else that can be easily researched. Ask something that is integral to how you’ll perform in the position.
Here are some examples of good questions you can ask…
62. What is the organizations plan for the next five years, and how does this department fit in?
63. How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
64. What do you think is the greatest opportunity facing the organization in the near future? The biggest threat?
65. Now that we’ve had the chance to talk a bit more, do you have any doubts or concerns about whether or not I would be a good fit for this role?
66. Can you explain a typical project that I would be working on? What would “a day in the life” of this position look like?
67. How do my answers compare to other candidates that you’ve seen?
68. Give me an example of someone you hired for a position like this that you are delighted you hired.
69. Twelve months from now, I want you to tell me that hiring me was the best decision you have made the whole year. What needs to happen for us to have that conversation?
70. Give me an example of an employee that exceeded expectations.
71. What are your company’s strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
72. What are the significant trends in the industry?
73. How do you develop your employees and make them better once they start working here?
74. How are decisions made here? How much is team-based and how much is on the individual?
75. What performance expectations do you have for a good employee in this position? What would success look like?
76. Tell me about some of the department’s successes in the last few years.
77. In my research I found the following competitors, [companies A, B, and C]. Can you please tell me what they’re doing that keeps your executive team up at night? If the job doesn’t work out, you can call up their competitors and say, “I just had an interview at Company X and given what they told me about you and why you keep them up at night I think I’d rather work for you! Can we meet for coffee?” You’ll get that coffee and it may just turn into an offer. Only do this only if you’re denied after the first interview. Once you have a second interview with the company, they’re interested and it’s best to keep your discussions confidential until you close it or walkway. (Hat tip to David Perry.)
78. Say thank you and actually ask for the job. If you think you’re a good fit, then say so. If this job is your dream job, then tell them that.
VIII. Negotiating Salary
79. Always be ready to talk salary, but don’t be the first one to bring it up. The one exception to this rule is if the company asks you to start signing papers, but never brought up what you will be paid. This is a discussion you need to have, so make sure you have it before you sign off on a new job.
80. Know what you’re willing to accept before you walk in the door. Many candidates never give themselves a chance to negotiate a better salary because they don’t spend enough time thinking about it beforehand. Take some time and consider the compensation that you would be happy with receiving. What number would you walk away from because it’s too low for you? Don’t get locked in a position because you’re unsure what you are willing to accept in the first place.
81. Know what you’re worth. Get as much data as you can on the going rate for the job. Check online and offline sources. Reach out and talk to people at similar positions in different companies. If they are willing to tell you, find out what they make. Keep the conversation relaxed and simply ask, “What kind of salary could someone like me expect at your company?”
82. Understand the company’s financial position. If a large company and a small company have similar openings, then the large one will usually pay more because they have more financial leeway. Where are you interviewing? How is that company doing financially? Some companies simply don’t have much flexibility and it’s important to realize that going in.
83. Talk with the recruiter, not against them — they need to sell you. The typical recruiter almost never has the ability to make the final decision on your compensation package. After you negotiate with them, they will need to go back and confirm the package with a hiring manager or another supervisor. In other words, the recruiter is going to sell you to the hiring manager. It’s up to them to communicate why you deserve a higher salary. You want their support because they are going to need to sell you. You’re not battling against them. You’re working with them.
84. Some perks are easier to negotiate for than others. Typically, a signing bonus is much easier to negotiate than more vacation days or a shorter waiting period on 401k matching. There is usually some flexibility in your salary range as well, which is another good area to focus on. Not all perks are created equal.
85. If you’re meeting resistance, then ask about starting at a higher pay grade. A higher pay grade helps because you can often earn a raise without needing a promotion.
86. Ask to shorten the period that it takes for you to come up for a raise. You might not be able to start higher on the pay scale, but it’s very possible you could get a raise after 6 months on the job instead of 12. That’s a quick boost for you and it only takes a few minutes to negotiate.
87. Remember that the salary negotiation is a conversation and conversations are two–way streets. If you make an offer and then continue to talk and make another offer, then you’re negotiating with yourself. Allow the conversation to go back and forth and don’t make more than one offer in a row.
88. Ask “What is the salary range you have allocated for someone in this position?” This is a great question to ask at the very beginning of a job interview or the first time you meet a recruiter. It gives you the ability to get information on the expected salary before the actual debate arises later on.
89. “I’m going to need more information about the job/total benefits/expectations before I can name a number…” This is an excellent phrase to use if the interviewer is pressing you for a number and hasn’t revealed their expected salary range yet.
90. “Do you have any flexibility in that number?” This is a great phrase to use right after the interviewer names their expected salary for the position. It offers a nice transition into the conversation of asking for more money.
91. “That sounds really good. What’s the present value of that?” Sometimes recruiters will try to sell you on arbitrary numbers by saying things like “We’re giving you 1000 stock options.” Ask for the present value of all items in your compensation package and find out what the total dollar value is.
92. “I’m a bit disappointed…” This is a great phrase for starting the salary negotiation once you’ve discovered what they have initially offered you. “I’m a bit disappointed in the starting salary. What can we do to figure this out?”
93. “That sounds like a good starting place…” This is another solid phrase to use if you want to ask for a higher salary range. “$45,000. That sounds like a good starting place. Now we just need to figure out the details.”
94. “Let’s review this after 3 months…” If you’re having trouble making headway with the negotiation, but you’re fine with starting at the package they gave you, then you can use this phrases to get a quicker boost. “Let’s review this after 3 months and talk about a raise once you’ve had a chance to see my work.”
95. “Can we get that in writing?” If you negotiate for a better compensation package, then make sure you get all of the details in writing.
96. If you don’t ask for a higher salary, then the answer is always no. It takes some guts to push back and ask for more, but it’s far better to ask and be turned down than not to ask at all. Getting what you want doesn’t mean that you need to act like a jerk. Furthermore, you’re not going to lose an offer because you tried to negotiate for a higher salary. The recruiter is expecting you to negotiate. If you want to keep it really simple, then just smile and ask for what you want while offering some proof to back up your request.
IX. Follow up Email After an Interview
97. Say thank you. Once the interview is over, send an individualized thank you note to each person you interviewed with and mention something specific that happened or that you said during the interview to remind them who you are. Don’t worry about saying all sorts of things. Just keep it short and sweet.
98. Be diligent and keep checking in. You don’t want to pester them, but occasionally check in to see how the process is coming along and remind them of who you are and why you’re committed to the position. Waiting one week before reaching out is usually a good time frame.
99. Smile. You’ve done your best.
Source: James Clear, former Passive Panda CEO