To land a job at Facebook, you have to give the right answer to one question. But unfortunately, you don’t get to answer that question: only the interviewer does. For Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, hiring a new candidate all comes down to this: “Would I work for that person?”
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Zuckerberg said, “What it does mean, in an alternate universe, if things were different and I didn’t start the company, I would be happy to work for that person. Or if Facebook just disappeared and I had to go find something else to go do, then I’d be happy to go work for that person.”
It’s a simple question and one that won’t be uttered out loud, but it’s a great thing to think about as you prep for your next big interview. The stakes are high in a job interview and this question proves it. Your interviewer is not only seeing if you tick the boxes on their checklist but they’re thinking about you as a potential coworker, manager, or business partner.
Craft your interview responses in a way that shows off your strengths and smarts in business and in life. Only then can an interviewer see your true potential. There’s one other way to think about this. Would you want to work for yourself? Hopefully the answer is yes!
You may have taken silly personality quizzes, but have you taken a strengths test? It’s a multiple choice questionnaire that reveals your strong suits. It uncovers personality traits, how you communicate with others, what environments you best succeed in, and more.
These kinds of tests usually go into great detail about how your strengths are beneficial in the workplace and you’ll even get some insight into how to give a positive spin to a trait that others might view negatively upon. For example, if you’re an introvert. The results from these tests are basically a script for an interview and a scientific-like way of explaining your behavior to those who might not mesh well with it.
Next time you’re asked that guaranteed interview question, “What are your strengths?”, you’ll have an educated, rock solid answer. And when they follow up with, “Tell me about your weaknesses,” you’ll have a clear approach and a positive spin. What are you waiting for?
Here are some options for online personality and strength tests:
- Gallup’s Clifton Strengthfinder Assessment: $10 but well worth the money and time as this test provides very detailed responses for your top five strengths and how to use these strengths to your advantage.
- Archetypes: a free test that unveils your top three archetypes. While free, the answers are still relevant and helpful for both your personal and professional life.
- a search for “free strength tests” brings up a plethora of options that will only help you build a narrative in your next interview.
A 30-year-old Leonardo da Vinci wrote the above resume in 1482. And Marc Cenedella, who gives job search and recruiting advice, decided to analyze it in a recent post. You’d be surprised at how relevant this resume of yesteryear is today. Jump over to Cenedella’s post to read the translation of Leonardo’s CV. You’ll quickly learn that this is a skills-based resume that touts all of da Vinci’s talents. But that’s not all. He spins his talents so that they perfectly address the needs of his potential employer, the Duke of Milan, making himself an irresistible hire and instant problem solver.
Here’s what Cenedella says:
“You’ll notice he doesn’t recite past achievements. He doesn’t mention the painting of the altarpiece for the Chapel of St Bernard; he doesn’t provide a laundry list of past bombs he’s built; he doesn’t cite his prior employment in artist Andrea di Cione’s studio.
No, he does none of these things, because those are about his achievements, and not about the Duke’s needs.
Instead, he sells his prospective employer on what he can do for him.”
It goes without saying that Leonardo was smart but it turns out he was also a savvy job seeker. How will you apply this knowledge to your resume?
Image Courtesy of Leonardo3 from Hoepli edition 1894-1094 – www.leonardo3.net
Self sabotage. Have you heard of it? It’s a weird thing we do to ourselves sometimes. Perhaps we do it because we’re scared of failing. Or scared of succeeding. Or we’re just feeling lazy. Who knows? But when it comes to the job hunt, there are enough variables in your path without you standing in your own way. So start supporting yourself during your job search and make sure you’re not guilty of any of these self-sabotage tactics.
1. You say “no” too early.
Whether it’s because you’re too proud or too close-minded, don’t immediately turn down an opportunity just because it wasn’t exactly what you’re looking for. At the very least, you can meet a new connection and get some interview practice — or maybe even an offer! You can always turn down an offer if it doesn’t feel like the right fit in the end.
2. You don’t know what YOU want.
During a job search, it’s easy to take advice from others. From your friends and relatives to your significant other to a recruiter or head hunter, everyone has some advice to give. But when it comes down to it, all that matters is what you want out of your career. That’s what you need to figure out. And it’s not always an easy task.
3. You’re too self centered.
Salary, vacation time, and commute time are all extremely important — but these are lifestyle quesitons to ponder privately post interview. During the interview, you should focus on what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you.
You. Me. We. Such little words but they can have a big impact, especially during an interview. Fortune recently wrote a piece on “The two most important words in a job interview.” You guessed it — they are “we” and “I.” It turns out that recruiters and interviewers are not only paying attention to the answers you give during an interview but also dissecting them for verbal clues that can give a glimpse into your work ethic, personality, and potential.
One way to do this is to pay attention to how many times you say “we” in an interview versus how many times you say “I.” Too many “I’s” and not enough “we’s” means you may be self-centered and like to take too much credit. Too many “we’s” means you might not take the blame when things go south. Here’s a quick guide to when you should say “we” or “I.”
When talking about failures… say I.
Accept accountability for when things went wrong. Don’t place the blame on everyone or everything except yourself. There are always extenuating circumstances that may be out of your control but make sure you keep the “we” to a minimum.
When talking about successes… say we.
Of course you’ve had individual successes in your career, but there were others who likely helped you along the way. Give credit when deserved and you’ll show off that you’re not only a team player but potentially a future leader.
Learn more about this topic over at Fortune.
Image via 드림포유/Flickr.
If you’re doing the job search right then you’re networking like crazy and applying for more jobs than one — but how do you keep track of it all? It’s easy to completely forget about a position you applied for or forget why you reached out to a certain person to network. You don’t want to get caught like a deer in headlights when a phone call for an interview comes through. You don’t want to let a missed networking opportunity slip by especially when it often takes a few follow ups before you get a response. So what’s a job seeker to do? Here are our favorite organizational tips and tricks.
1. Google Sheets
Spreadsheets are perfect for job searching. Google Sheets is free and can be accessed from your phone or desktop. Create multiple tabs within a sheet for keeping track of companies and positions you’ve applied for, connections you’ve reached out to, and any follow-up conversations you’ve had.
This Gmail extension allows you to schedule when you’d like your email to be sent. That means if you’re job searching or networking late at night or on the weekends, you can choose a different time for your mail to be sent. Perhaps first thing Monday morning. Or during the afternoon slump mid-week. It’s your call.
This email app keeps track of whether or not your emails have been opened and whether or not the links within it have been clicked. No more wondering if that recruiter saw your message. You can also schedule emails with Sidekick, similar to Boomerang, and even send reminders to yourself.
Job interviews are stressful. You should spend most of your time preparing your pitch, practicing interview questions, and researching the company and the position. But there’s also one more thing to consider: first impressions do matter. Here’s an easy-to-use checklist of all those little things that might accidentally slip your mind when you’re stressing before your big day. Run through this list and you’ll step into your interview feeling more confident, calm, and collected.
The Night Before
1. Pick out your outfit and iron it. It’s amazing how much better and more professional you’ll look with crisp and clean clothing.
2. Find a tailored, professional-looking briefcase, laptop bag, or tote. That college backpack isn’t going to cut it.
3. Look up directions so you can perfectly time when you should leave. Give yourself at least 15 minutes of wiggle room just in case.
The Morning Of
1. Skip the perfume or aftershave, as well as that cigarette. Many people are sensitive to smells and you don’t want to give anyone a reason not to like you.
2. Pack a water bottle and some tissues. Now if you get thirsty or you sneeze, you’ll be prepared.
3. Print a few extra copies of your resume just in case. Always better to have them on hand.
1. Get rid of that gum.
2. Take a quick bathroom trip or a glance in a mirror. Make sure you look presentable and there’s nothing in your teeth. Practice your smile.
3. Turn off your phone. (Don’t be that guy!)
Who is your best friend at work? If you can’t name anyone right now at this moment, there’s a chance that you’re not fully engaged with your job. Perhaps you’re feeling unmotivated, under-appreciated, and are even thinking about leaving the company. But what does having a work best friend have to do with career success? A lot it turns out. Those with best friends at work could be described as happier, more fulfilled, and more productive in their careers. Here’s what a Gallup Business Journal study found about people who said, “Yes, I have a best friend at work.”
- 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days.
- 37% more likely to report that someone at work encourages their development.
- 35% more likely to report coworker commitment to quality.
- 28% more likely to report that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress.
- 27% more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important.
- 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work.
- 21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.
That’s some pretty serious stuff. And while some people want to separate their work life from their home life and don’t want to get “too involved” with their coworkers, this study shows the importance of friendship in the workplace. Friendly coworkers tend to be more loyal, trustworthy, and productive to one another and to the organization. And here’s the kickers: those with best friends at work even manage stress levels better than those without one. If that’s not motivation to start a work friendship, than I don’t know what is!
We love sharing inspiring career-focused blog posts when we find them — and this one is right up there with the best of them. It’s called Treating Your Career Like a Small Business. Here’s how it works: “Your career is a business and you are a product.” You need a marketable product and a solid brand. Make sense? If you’re struggling to land a job, keep a job, or excel at your current job, this frame of mind might help you find success. Here’s how to apply this analogy to real life:
If you can’t land an interview…
You simply aren’t packaging your product in the best way. That means you aren’t presenting your experiences and your skills in the best light. Part of landing a job is being able to sell yourself even if that seems awkward to you. If you can’t be confident in yourself, why should anyone else? Find that confidence!
If you can’t get hired because of a questionable past…
You might have to work on your brand image. That means you might have a bit of polishing up to do both online and in person. You’ll need personal references, online testimonials, and a thoughtful explanation for any gaps in your career. There’s always a way to spin a story — find the one that works for you and your career.
If you haven’t heard from anyone during your job search…
You aren’t marketing yourself to enough of your demographic. That means you need to send out more resumes to many targeted companies! Landing a job is a bit of a numbers game and you need to market yourself to your target demographic — a large segment of your target demographic!
Read more about why you should treat your career like a small business at hb.org.
If you have an upcoming interview, you’ve probably practiced your pitch and perfected your interview questions, but did you even think of the small talk? It’s an easy thing to overlook. But if you find yourself tongue-tied at the beginning of an interview it can really throw you off your game. Luckily, there’s another option: smooth talk yourself into a casual conversation and start the interview on the right foot. Easier said than done, right? Here are a few conversation starters for those first crucial moments of your next interview.
1. “Thank you so much for meeting with me today!”
You can take this one as far as you’d like. Thank the interviewer for his or her time, and even reference his or her busy schedule like, “I hope I’m not hugely interrupting your busy workday.” Hopefully they’ll give you something back. If there’s an awkward silence, move on to step two.
2. “I’m so excited to be here.”
This is a sentiment you need to express at the beginning, middle, and end of your interview so you might as well blatantly say it right off the bat. Be sure to have a follow-up sentence here because you might get a sneak attack question like, “What excites you most about this company and this position?” Eek! Better have an answer up your sleeve.
3. “Did you have a nice weekend?” or “Got any exciting weekend plans?”
People like to talk about themselves. So let them! Be sure you have a response in mind just in case they return the question and ask about your weekend plans. It’s best to edit your weekend plans and shed a positive, interesting light on whatever it was that you did.
4. Reference something timely.
It’s easy to fill in an awkward silences. Be it the freak snowstorm that just hit yesterday or the big loss of your city’s football team or a bit of interesting industry news, say something lighthearted, short, and chuckle-worthy to keep the conversation flowing. Feel free to brainstorm a few scripted conversation starters pre-interview.
How do you fill the awkward silences during an interview? We’d love to hear your best lines! Comment below or Tweet us.