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How to Prep for An Interview in 2021

How to Prep for An Interview in 2021

A new year is often a symbol for a fresh start, and for many people, that means a career change. 2020 was a rough year for many of us, and a new job opportunity might be a much-needed spark. If you are planning on hitting the job market hard during the new year, here is how to prep for an interview in 2021.

Be physically and mentally prepared

The best way to prep for an interview in 2021 is to be physically and mentally ready. To physically prepare, have a notepad ready to take notes throughout the interview; this will help you craft the perfect thank you note or ask thoughtful questions later on during your interview. Additionally, you should take the time to research the company, its mission and values, and the hiring manager. Proper research will help you confidently answer interview questions and tie them back into the company or the role.

To mentally prepare, get a good night’s sleep before your interview. If you are sleep-deprived, it will be difficult for you to be on you’re A-game. Also, try not to work yourself up too much. Interviews can be stressful, especially if you are out of work. To mitigate this stress, do something that relaxes you beforehand. Go for a walk to clear your mind, drink your favorite tea or coffee, read a book, or whatever it is that will put you in a calm mindset. If you enter your interview with a load of stress on your shoulders, it will come through during your meeting.

Brush up on common interview questions

Another great way to prep for an interview in 2021 is to brush up on some common interview questions. Every interview is different, but most hiring managers will ask you a set of fundamental questions. These questions can range from “what is your biggest weakness?” to “tell us about a time you overcame a failure.” Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of the most common job interview questions with tips on how to answer them successfully (and with examples!).

Take a look at them here if you really want to ace your interview.

Prepare to interview virtually

As you prepare for an interview in 2021, you must be ready to interview virtually. Even as the pandemic winds down, many companies will continue to interview virtually as it is much more efficient. It’s easier for hiring managers to hop on a Zoom meeting for an interview instead of forcing candidates to come to the office or facility to meet face-to-face.

So, to prepare, ensure your equipment is up and running. If possible, use a web camera on a computer as you won’t have to worry about fumbling around with a phone. If not possible, prop up your phone or tablet, so the camera is steady and clear. Make sure your audio is working well and that you have a strong internet connection. Also, dress for success. Even though the interview is virtual, that doesn’t mean you can relax on your dress code. Dress appropriately for the interview to set a good impression. Most importantly, sit in a clean, quiet room with no distractions. The last thing you want to do is display your messy kitchen or have your kids running around in the background!

why are you looking for a new job

How to Explain Why Are You Looking for A New Job

At the beginning of almost every job interview, you will likely be asked something on the lines of, “Why are you looking for a new job?” Now, there is a multitude of reasons why you may be looking for a new job opportunity. However, successfully answering this question will make or break your interview. Here are three common scenarios of why you may be looking for a new job and how to respond to this tricky subject.

Prepare your answer beforehand

First of all, prepare an answer to this question before your interview. Whether you quit you’re your job, you were let go, or you are just simply looking for a better opportunity, your answer to this question should focus on the position at hand. Don’t focus on the negatives regarding your past or current employer. Instead, your response should focus on why you’re an excellent fit for the position and the company.

Stay positive

This is a difficult interview question to answer. If you’re looking for a new job, you are probably unsatisfied with some aspect of your job: your compensation, your day-to-day duties, your manager, etc. But the absolute last thing you want to do is badmouth your employer. No matter how bad your job or manager is, never speak ill of them. It creates a wrong impression and will put a dark shadow over your candidacy.

Why were you were let go, fired, or laid off?

It happens to the best of us. Being laid off or fired from your position stinks, but lying about it makes it worse. When formulating your answer, honesty is the best policy. But don’t be honest to a fault. The best way to answer this question in this situation is to be direct but not divulge too much information. Essentially, you want to give a straight answer that is truthful and one that doesn’t sound bitter.

Here’s a good example explaining why you were fired:

“Unfortunately, I was let go from my previous position. However, I have learned a lot from the experience, and I am confident this will not happen again. I am a hard-working employee, and I am ready to prove that my skillset is a great match for this position.”

Why did you quit?

There could be dozens of reasons why you quit your job and are currently looking for new opportunities. However, you once again want to stay positive and forgo giving away too much information. Have your answer focus on the job that’s in front of you, not the one you left. Here’s a great example from Indeed on how to answer why you quit your job:

“Ultimately, I’ve learned a lot from my previous role, but I’m looking for the next step where I can continue to grow and use the skills I’ve honed to contribute to a company I love, and this opportunity seems to be the perfect fit.”

Why do you want to leave your current position?

If you are still employed and interviewing for a new position, this is probably the easiest of the three scenarios. As long as you don’t badmouth your current employer or talk about better compensation, you can easily generate an answer to this question. Focus on your skill set and why you would be a great match for this position.

Here’s an example:

“At my current position, I don’t believe I am being challenged anymore and want to find a new position that better fits my growing skillset. I saw the job description for this position, and was really excited about this opportunity because I believe my background and passion for [insert role/industry/field/etc.] will allow me to be a successful addition to the team.”

Regardless of why you are looking for a new job, your best bet is, to be honest, positive, and tie in your excitement for the position. And if you want some leads on exciting job opportunities, check out our job board! Good luck!

interview

Don’t Forget This Prep Before Your Next Interview

interview

You submitted your resume and cover letter and were fortunate enough to secure an interview. You’ve actively been performing due diligence, trying to get a feel for what it’s like to work there. You’ve selected the perfect outfit, and are practicing responses to commonly asked questions you’ve found online. While these are essential in your preparedness for your interview, many candidates forget these preparation steps that make them stand out from the competition.

Soften Up

Your hard skills are likely what moved you from the resume to the interview stage. But now that you’re here, your soft skills and character will also play a part in the hiring decision. Soft skills are a mixture of your social, people, and communication skills that, combined with your personality traits, allow you to understand an environment and work well with those around you.

A recent survey of over 5,000 talent professionals reveals that 91% felt that soft skills will be important to the future of the workplace. Soft skills topped this list that also included work flexibility (72%) and anti-harassment (71%). 45% of those interviewed indicated that bad hires often lacked soft skills, with another 44% claiming it was a lack of a combination of soft and hard skills. As you can tell from these numbers, employers want to hire people who have soft skills. So how do you showcase yours and what can you do to prepare this information?

Tell Your Story (Then Prove It)

Leading up to the interview, practice is key. While researching common interview questions can be helpful, it’s key to practice talking about yourself because it’s harder than you think. Make a list of your top three to five soft skills. They should be clear and specific, as you aren’t hinting at being adaptable, you are telling them you are adaptable. While apprehension is common because this can feel like bragging, it is exactly what this time has been allotted for. This is your chance to talk about yourself, rather than counting on the hiring manager to connect the dots on their own once the interview has concluded.

Now that you’ve shared your soft skills, you need to back it up. Words mean nothing without evidence. A statement about being adaptable will be much more powerful with proof behind it. So, make sure to back this claim up with a quick but relevant example. Try to showcase a situation when you demonstrated the soft skills discussed.

Sticking with the adaptability example, one could share a story about taking on more responsibility in a previous role. Just be prepared to explain any example you give. The best way to ensure that your story proves your point is to practice ahead of time.

Job Interview

These 7 Behaviors Will Ruin Your Job Interview

Job InterviewWe all know a job interview is a make or break moment when it comes to getting a job offer or not. So, being prepared and ensuring you avoid behaviors that could hurt your chances if necessary! Even though you may be nervous about your job interview… If you remember to avoid doing any of these things, you should be a shoe-in for getting the job!

Arriving late

This should be a no-brainer. Arriving late shows that you don’t care about the position, let alone the time of those who are interviewing you. And this, no doubt, will leave a bad taste in their mouths. Of course, things can happen, but if you’re going to be late, make sure to contact them. This will give you a saving grace and hopefully help them give you a second chance.

But if you’re not planning on being late, arriving around 10 – 15 minutes early is perfect. This shows you are eager and interested in the position and that you’re prepared. Which is a great way to start off an interview!

Not doing your homework

You should always do research of the job, employees, and company before you go in for a job interview. They will ask you questions, and if you’re interested in the position, you will know the answers. It’s not only for them though. This is the time for you to really see if you’d be interested in working for this company and see if you’re really wanting to do the job.

Take the time to check out their ratings and other employee’s opinions. Doing your research not only prepares you for the interview but it helps give you an idea on if this job is really a fit for you.

Dressing inappropriate

This is important. A lot of people are worried about what to wear to a job interview, and this is a good thing! But the rule of thumb is to always dress business appropriate. Don’t get carried away on the makeup, perfume, or aftershave. The theme here is to stay as conservative and professional as possible. The more professional you dress, the better you will come across in an interview.

Avoiding eye contact

Make eye contact! If you avoid eye contact, you look like you’re hiding something and not a genuine person. Of course, they know you’re nervous, but if you can’t even have a conversation and look at them, they will question how you will fit into their culture and company.

Inappropriate Language

If you want to be seen as a professional, don’t use or talk about inappropriate things during an interview. Bad language and inappropriate conversations will dig you into a huge hole that you won’t be able to work your way out of.

Being Overly Confident

Being stuck up and overly confident doesn’t make you look good. To be honest, it makes you look like a terrible culture fit, and that you’d be a liability when getting along and working with other employees.

Not Asking Questions

And the last one on our list is asking questions. If you don’t ask questions, it makes you look like you don’t care about the position enough to see if you’d really be a good fit. Having a set of questions prepared before going into an interview will only help you. This way you don’t forget what you want to ask about and you look interested in the position. The last thing you want the interviewers to think is that you just wanted to waste their time and weren’t very interested in the position. When you most likely are!

If you’re excited and want the job you’re applying for, you shouldn’t have to worry about making these mistakes! But, it’s always nice to know what to avoid. Especially, when you’re going in to interview for the job of your dreams!

job interview

Job Interview Question: Why Are You Looking For A New Job?

job interview

If you’re currently employed when on the lookout for a new job, know that this question will come up. This interview question is designed to see what kind of person you are and what your intentions are. Are you looking for just money or are you wanting to grow in your career and you just can’t do that at your current company?

There are tons of reasons you could be wanting to leave your current position, but you must approach it the right way in a job interview. This way you put your best foot forward and hopefully land the new position.

Keep it positive

When this question is asked, make sure you remember to always make your answer positive! Even if the reason you’re leaving may not be for the most positive reasons. Regardless of the reason, just don’t walk into the interview and start bad-mouthing your current employer. That is distasteful and won’t make a good first impression on the hiring manager.

Talk about what you’re looking for, not what you don’t have. If you’re looking for a new position because you want something different, explain that. Demonstrate to the interviewers that you want to grow into a management role. Or maybe it’s because you want a better work-life balance. Whatever it is, make sure that you state it proudly and honestly, so they know exactly what you’re looking for.

Be honest

Answering this question honestly is essential to making a good impression. Obviously, spinning it in a positive light is important but if you totally lie about what you’re looking for or why you’re leaving, it will negatively impact your job interview.

If you need more money to support your family, that’s okay to say! They just want this to be a question where they get to know who you are and what you’re looking for. By being honest with them, they can ensure that you’re a good fit for the role and the organization.

Make it about new opportunities

You’re wanting to leave for a new opportunity. By demonstrating that you are looking for new opportunities to grow into your career, you will leave a great first impression from the very beginning of the job interview.  New opportunities help everyone grow and gain great experience in their careers. If your current position or organization just won’t allow you to grow as a professional, that is perfectly acceptable to state in your answer! Employers want a candidate who is willing to come into the organization and start making strides. With this tight job market, employee retention has become essential in the recruitment process.

Don’t let the nerves of this question affect your answer. With these pointers, you will rock it and leave them ready to hand you an offer letter.

thank you

How to Write the Perfect Post-Interview Thank You Note

thank you note

Congratulations! You’ve navigated your way through the job interview and you’re excited about the opportunity. The company is everything that you are looking for and you feel like you nailed the interview. But wait! Now is not the time to sit back and wait to hear back from HR. You must send a thank you note to seal the deal.

Here’s how to write the perfect thank you note that’ll leave a lasting impression on the interviewers.

Highlight why you are the best candidate

Now, I’m not saying you should actually state that you are the best candidate in your thank you note. However, this is your opportunity to remind them why you are a perfect fit for the position. Remember, your goal is to express your gratitude, not make another pitch. Subtly remind them why you are a good fit for not only the position but also for the organization!

Send a thank you to each interviewer

This is crucial. You must send a thank you note to each person you interviewed with. And you can’t just send the same thank you note to each interviewer. You must make each email unique. The easiest way to do this is to bring a notebook with you for an interview.

To be polite, you can ask the interviewers if it’s okay to jot down some notes during the interview. Write down everyone’s name on a notebook so you remember their names. When crafting your notes, reflect on something each interviewer said and mention that in your interview. For example, if an interviewer brings up a new product launch, you can say something like “I enjoyed discussing ABC company’s recent product launch and how it…” By mentioning a certain talking point in your thank you, it proves that you mean business about the job.

Send it promptly

This is key. Sending a thank you note is important. But sending it promptly can make or break your chances of progressing through the interviewing process. If you wait until the end of the day to send it, chances are, the employer has interviewed another candidate. Think about it: If they have interviewed another candidate and they promptly send their well-crafted thank you, you instantly become an afterthought.

If you want to leave a lasting impression, it’s best to send a thank you note within the hour. What happens after a job interview? Everyone that sat in on the interviewer starts talking about you and how well you did. The best possible scenario that could happen is them sitting around the office talking about how much they liked you and boom! They get a notification on their phone from the thank you note you just sent. Pretty impactful, right?

Let your personality shine through

Yes, hiring managers are concerned with your hard skills and qualifications. But they are also interested in learning your soft skills. Employers can train you to learn hard skills, such as using Excel spreadsheets, understanding a new CRM, or blogging. However, they can’t teach you soft skills like critical thinking or certain personality traits.

With this tight market, employers want to know the real you and ensure that you’re a good fit for the organization as well as the role. Showing your personality is a great way to prove that you’ll be a successful addition to the team.

If you follow these steps, you’ll surely get a call back from the hiring manager. Good luck!

Interview

5 Phrases to Never Say in an Interview

Interview

Interviews can make or break your chance of getting a job offer. And when you’re interviewing for a company, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t do in certain scenarios. So here are five things you should never say during a job interview.

“So what does your company do exactly?”

First off, this is one of the worst things to ask or say in an interview because it shows you didn’t do your homework. Before every interview, you need to be researching the company and know as many facts as possible. If you walk into an interview not knowing what the company does, how are you supposed to demonstrate that you’re a good fit?

If you don’t show initiative and you expect those interviewing you to be “pitching” their company to you, you’re going to be cut from the running of the position. They’re the ones interviewing you. And if you think that not doing your research before coming into an interview will help land you the job, you’re sadly mistaken.

“I hated working for my last company.”

Even if this is 100 percent true, you shouldn’t say this in an interview. It will just give the hiring manager a bad taste in their mouth. Everyone knows there are obvious reasons you’re looking for a new job. But bashing your old company makes you look pessimistic and that you think you’re too good for people. This is obviously not the impression you want to be giving off in an interview.

So, instead of focusing on the negative that has happened in your past work history, focus on all the skills you learned that have prepared you for this new position. Maybe explain how the difficult working conditions helped you advance your leadership skills. This way the interviewees know that even in adversity, you take the high road and do the best you can.

“I need to be paid X amount”

When it comes to discussing salary and benefits, it’s a huge part of negotiating a new job. But if you are in the first rounds of interviews, it can show that you’re a little too eager and expecting to be hired. Which can be seen in a very negative light.

Don’t bring up salary expectations until it is prompted by the interviewee. This way you don’t make the mistake of hiring yourself before the company does.

“I’ll do anything”

The last thing you want to do in an interview is set yourself up for failure. When saying this phrase, it makes you look desperate and that you might be easily taken advantage of. Every company wants employees that will go over and beyond. But they want each person to know they can’t do everything. And it’s impossible to expect someone to do that.

When you say this in an interview, it looks like you just get walked on in a working environment. The last thing you want a new company to think about is that you’ll get burned out quickly and leave.

“I don’t have any bad qualities.”

First, we all have bad qualities. But not being able to spot them is an even bigger red flag for a future company. Of course, no one wants to talk about these weaknesses, but there is a way to make them sound positive instead of negative. With this answer, you’re coming across as someone who doesn’t want to work on themselves. And someone who might not be much of a team player. In an interview, this isn’t the way you want to come across.

So, instead of saying you don’t have bad qualities, just be honest. Make sure you tell them how working on these characteristics has helped you become a better employee. And more willing to work on yourself to get better so that you can help the company become more successful.

Overall, avoiding these statements in an interview will help you tremendously. Interviews can be hard and stressful, but if you’re prepared on what not to do, you’ll be more successful and could even get that job offer you’ve been waiting for.

Video Interview

V is for Video Interview: How to Prepare for a Video Interview

Video Interview

Have you ever had to do a video interview? I have been forced to do a handful of them, and I’ll be honest, they can be intimidating. It can be awkward talking with someone of a video chat like Skype or FaceTime. It’s even more awkward if you’re just recording your audio responses to interview questions.

However, with how technology is advancing, it’s becoming more and more common to conduct video interviews. They are more efficient for non-local candidates, and they allow you to have the interview at more convenient times and locations. Here are eight tips to nail that scary video interview.

Ensure you have a strong WiFi connection

This is one of the most important tips for a successful video interview. If your WiFi connection is weak or spotty, your interview won’t go well. The connection may be laggy, or worse, the video call may drop altogether.

Nothing is more distracting than poor video quality! To improve your WiFi signal, hardwire your computer directly into your router if possible. Also, ensure nobody else on the network is streaming Netflix during the interview. The less traffic on your network, the better the signal will be for your interview!

Charge it up

This may seem obvious, but when the stress kicks in before an interview, it can be easy to forget the little things. Ensure your computer is charged up! You don’t want your device dying on you in the middle of the interview.

Double-check your audio/video

Video calling software can be tricky. Sometimes the audio is playing right, or the video won’t play on one end or the other. My advice would be to test it out the night before the interview. Call a friend to do a quick test call to make sure the video and audio are working like it should be.

Choose an appropriate background

You want the focus to be on you, not the background. Thus, pick a clean background that won’t cause a distraction. Avoid windows that are bringing in too much light. Remove any posters from your college dorm room and ensure there isn’t anything behind you that could hurt your chances of getting a callback.

Having proper lighting

Lighting is a key to a great video interview. You want the room to be well-lit, so the interviewers can see your face, but you don’t want the room to be too bright that the video looks washed out. If your room isn’t well-lit, temporarily move another lamp into the room to improve the lighting. Trust me, it will be worth the hassle.

Dress for success

Just because your interview at home, doesn’t mean that you get the luxury of interviewing in your pajamas. You want to dress as if you are interviewing in person. You always want to look your best in an interview, so a video interview is no different.

Proper camera angle and eye contact

Just like any other interview, good eye contact and posture are crucial. You want to be looking at the camera as you speak, not down at your notes. Sitting up straight illustrates confidence and professionalism, so avoid slouching in your chair.

You also want to make sure the camera angle is good. Make sure the camera is capturing your entire head, all the way down to your chest. This will show off your interview outfit and so you don’t look like a floating head.

Prep like a normal interview

Keep in mind that a video interview is no different than any other interview; all of the same rules and guidelines exist. You want to make sure you know the job description like the back of your hand.

Do your due diligence and have a good understanding of the organization you are applying to and the industry they operate. And as always, have a handful of questions ready to ask at the end of the interview and be sure to follow up afterward. Good luck!

take notes during an interview

Should You Take Notes During An Interview?

take notes during an interview

If you’ve read our blog about what to bring to an interview, you will have noticed we listed a pen and paper to take notes. But should you really be taking notes during an interview? And if so, how should you take notes and when is it appropriate to do so? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’re tackling interview note-taking head-on so you can conquer your interview with confidence.

So… should you take notes during an interview?

The answer is of course… it depends! Here are some reasons why you might want to jot down notes:

  • You know you have a poor memory
  • You’re interviewing with multiple people
  • You want to send a really great customized thank you note

But there is a right way and a wrong way to take notes during an interview. If you decide that it might help you in the long run, here are some things to keep in mind.

Ask for permission.

9/10 your interviewer won’t mind at all, but asking for permission lets them know what you’re doing. If you just pull out a notepad and pen, it may give the wrong impression. A simple, “Do you mind if I jot down a few notes during the interview?” will not only let the interviewer in on what you’re up to, it will signal that you’re invested in this interview.

Keep it brief.

While taking notes during the interview can be helpful, it will definitely be counterproductive if you start writing a novel. Focus only on the things that are most important like the interviewer’s names, notable things about each person, and details essential to the job you’re interviewing for.

Use them!

If you take notes, make sure to put them to good use! Our favorite way is to reference a specific talking point from your interview in each thank you note you write. It shows thoughtfulness (and that you were paying attention!)

what to bring to an interview

What Should You Bring to an Interview?

what to bring to an interview

What should you bring to an interview? It’s essential to be well-prepared, both mentally and physically, when you walk into the door for an interview. Here are six things you must bring in an interview if you want to land the job.

Copies of your resume

Bring at least five copies of your resume. You never know how many people may actually show up for the job interview. Even if the interviewers have a copy of your resume, bringing a few extra copies shows that you are prepared and organized.

Have the resumes in a professional folder or folio so they stay fresh and free of creases or bends.

Your portfolio or work samples

Depending on the position you are applying for, you may be required to submit a portfolio or work samples. This is typically the case for graphic designers, writers, or other creative roles.

You may have electronically submitted a portfolio or work samples before your interview. However, not everyone in the room may have had the opportunity to review your work. Bringing a portfolio to an interview is a great way to show the interviewers examples of your work, all while looking organized and prepared for the big day.

A good handshake

Nothing illustrates confidence like a solid handshake. When you walk into the room, introduce yourself to every interviewer, and firmly shake their hands. Be sure to make eye contact while you shake their hands.

This is a great opportunity to learn every interviewers’ name, so you can send a thank you note after the job interview!

A pen and a notebook

It’s always wise to bring a pen and a notebook. Place a notebook and a reliable pen in your padfolio or folder so you can take notes throughout the interview.

I would advise you to ask permission first before you pull out your pen and paper. Just simply ask “do you mind if I jot down some notes during the interview?” This is just the courteous thing to do before you start writing notes.

I would also advise you to not write down every little detail. Just take a few notes on conversations you may want to bring up at the end of the interview when you get a chance to ask some questions. It’s also beneficial to write down your interviewers’ names, so you can write a personal thank you note to each of them!

Good attitude

Nothing will get an interviewer more excited than a big grin and positive attitude! If you’re excited during the interview, they’ll be fired up about you! Smiling and nodding your head shows that you are not only eager for the position but that you are attentively paying attention.

Knowledge of company

Enter the office door with a good understanding of the company’s mission and values, the background of the company, the industry they operate in, some of their competitors, and any recent news you can find on the organization.

Check out the company’s website to get a better feel for the culture and what’s important to them. Hop on Google and LinkedIn and spend some time doing your research. This will help you think of specific questions to ask during the interview, and once again, will demonstrate how prepared you are!

Now that you know what to bring to an interview, you’ll be ready for success. Good luck!