How to answer the interview question “Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict in a professional environment”

Welcome back! If you have been following along and coming to the site every day, I owe you an apology. The initial plan was to write one blog post a day for 31 business days. However, the last two days I have not posted a blog post because work has been extremely hectic and required more attention. But I am back now and ready to tackle a really difficult question today, “Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict in a professional environment.”

This is a classic “walk the line” question. By that I mean answering it is a combination of revealing a challenge but at the same time, not making yourself look bad. It’s like “what is your biggest weakness” or “what would you like to improve upon”.

There are a few keys to answering this question correctly. The first key is your answer can’t be total BS. It needs to be a believable scenario in which a reasonable person could find themselves in while in an office setting. If you make the scenario seems improbable, it’s going to throw up red flags.

The second key is make the conflict one that makes you look reasonable and professional. At the end of the day, using an example where you and a colleague whom you respect had slightly different approaches to accomplish the same thing is probably best.

Thirdly, your example must demonstrate your ability to listen to their reasons and ultimately explain your reasoning well enough for your colleague to come over to your side and agree with you. The term conflict could mean quite a bit of different things in this scenario. It could mean an actual disagreement in which people become slightly unprofessional or it could just be a civil disagreement on approach. It will always serve you better to use an example in which everyone acts professional.

As long as you can do those three things, you should be fine. This is an example of a question you should practice answering. Have the scenario thought out and ready to go. If you have to think about this on the spot, odds are the story won’t come out as you would like. You also want to make sure you are direct and to the point. When people recall stories, they occasionally tend to let the stories drag on. If you can avoid that, it’s a great idea. Be direct and to the point.

Well there you have it. If you do those things you should have an easy time answering this question. Make sure you come back tomorrow when we answer the interview question “Tell me about a time you disappointed a customer”. If you liked this post, please share it or like it on social media. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “How do you handle competing deadlines?”

Yesterday we discussed how to handle salary questions. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read that one, I recommend checking it out “What are you looking for in terms of compensation?”. Today we are going to tackle the interview question, “How do you handle competing deadlines?” This is another question you will find yourself asked frequently.

I think it makes sense to discuss why this question gets asked first. This question gets asked because at some point, someone in the interview process thought it made sense to get an idea as to how you deal with multiple tasks. Now, they might be asking this because it is a big part of the job that you are interviewing for. Another reason is they want to get an idea of how detail oriented you are, how you schedule your time or how self-sufficient you are.

I have had hiring managers tell me they would like me to ask this question solely for the purpose of weeding out candidates they think will come to them with every little issue. They might want to avoid candidates who answer this question by saying something like, “I would ask my manager what task is more important”.

Now there are two ways you might get asked this question. The first is the way I phrased it in the title of this post. If they ask you how, then they are looking for your methods and strategies for handling those types of issues. However, they may also ask the question like this, “Give me an example of a time when you had to handle competing deadlines”.

Now if they ask the question the second way, they aren’t looking for hypotheticals, they want an example. As a recruiter, when I ask for a specific example but instead a candidate answers with a hypothetical, it is quite frustrating. It says to me that you can’t think of a time or are avoiding the question.

So, if you are asked in a way that allows you to answer hypothetically, make sure you give a clear, concise explanation that demonstrates your ability to both plan out your time effectively as well as make decisions yourself when appropriate.

If you are asked for a specific example, make sure you have one prepared. The example should demonstrate your strategies for staying organized, it should show your ability to prioritize tasks based on timelines or important and ultimately it should demonstrate a successful outcome. Bonus points if your example is something you can realistically expect to run into in the job you are interviewing for.

Well there you have it. If you can do those simple things you will nail this interview question. Come back tomorrow when we discuss how to answer the interview question, “Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict in a professional environment?”

How to answer the interview question “What are you looking for in terms of compensation?”

Welcome back, yesterday we covered “What is your biggest weakness?”. If you haven’t read that, check it out after this. But don’t skip today’s question because it is one of the big ones! This is another question I knew I absolutely must cover. In fact, I think if I was to put a poll out there it might be the question people fear the most. I ask this question to people every single day and the response I get is unique to this question. People sight, people say “I knew you were going to as that” and all kinds of other responses.

The fact of the matter is most recruiters don’t like asking it either. I have had recruiters tell me they hate asking the question just based on the responses they get and the way candidates sometimes react. Not me however. I know it’s a question that absolutely needs to be asked and I have no problem asking the question.

I have seen posts saying that your salary requirements are none of the recruiter’s business. That is certainly one way to look at it, I however, disagree. If I send a candidate over to a hiring manager and they have absolutely no idea what that person is making I am not really doing my job. So, I ask every single time.

Now I also get why candidates don’t want to give up that information. Candidates often feel that by giving that information up they are compromising their ability to negotiate later. That’s fair. However, I would counter that just because you tell them what you are making now in no way keeps you from countering an offer or walking away.

However, I know some of you want to know how to avoid giving your salary requirements, so here is my advice on that. If you are asked what you are currently making you can respond by saying “In terms of a new role, salary is not the most important thing to me but I am open to a fair a equitable offer”. Now, some people will press further and ask what that means. If they do, I would recommend giving them a salary range and say something like “it is open to negotiation but I am targeting a salary in the 75-95k range in order to make a move”. This gives them a wide range and if they are willing to accept that answer, you still haven’t given them what you are currently making.

Now, I always think that in terms of negotiation, you are better off not giving them your current salary. If you are able to tell them a range instead of an exact amount, it will help you down the road. However, you are going to deal with recruiters who hear that answer and still want to know specifically what was on your W2 last year. If they continue to push and as for this, I would recommend telling them.

Probably not what you wanted to hear but the fact of the matter is, the situation becoming hostile doesn’t help your chances at landing the role. Some people will also say, if they are going to push you here, then that’s a company you don’t want to work for. I disagree, one person not taking not taking no for an answer doesn’t mean it still isn’t a great company. So, if they really push I would say something like “I am currently making 65k but would be targeting a salary of 75-85 in order to make a move”.

If they wont take no for an answer, better to move forward positively then get into a hostile back and forth. By stating what you need to move you are reinforcing the fact that regardless of current compensation, this is what it will take of you want me to join your organization. And as I said earlier, if they come back with 70k because you are currently at 65k, you don’t have to accept that. Counter. And if they are willing to lose you over 5k, you probably don’t want to be there anyway.

The biggest takeaway here is don’t be afraid of this question and don’t let it turn into a hostile exchange. At the end of the day you decide your worth and don’t need to accept anything that doesn’t appropriately value what you bring to the table. Another takeaway is that asking is part of the job, so don’t be too hard on your recruiter.

Well there you have it. The way to properly handle the most dreaded interview question. Come back tomorrow when we answer the interview question “How do you handle competing deadlines?” Until then, please like and share this post on social media. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “What is your biggest weakness?”

Welcome back! Yesterday we covered answering the interview question “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?” If you haven’t read that yet, head on over there after you read this post. I am actually surprised I was able to wait as long as I did to answer this question. This is a stable of interviews and I think what really makes it interesting is there is a general consensus on how to answer this question that I think is wrong.

I think the general school of thought on this question is you answer this question with something that really isn’t a weakness but rather is a strength. The problem with that is everyone see’s through that. Everyone immediately dismisses your answer as disingenuous. I mean think about it. I imagine your are interviewing someone for your team and you ask this question and there answer is “Well, I guess my biggest weakness is I am willing to stay late to make sure I accomplish all my goals and I meet my objectives”.

Do you take the answer seriously? I have heard that answer and guess what, I didn’t. Its seen as dodging the question and really isn’t appreciated. You are actually much better served picking an actual weakness that wouldn’t impact your ability to function at a high level in the role you are interviewing for followed up by the ways you are working to bolster that weakness.

So, first, make sure it isn’t a weakness that is going to severely impact your ability to do your job. So, if you are applying to be an internal auditor, your weakness should not be your inability to stay focused and occasional lack of attention to detail. If you are applying to be a surgeon, it shouldn’t be that you get really shaky hands when under pressure. You get the idea.

Instead find something that is reasonable that you have been working on improving. For example, I often ask the question, “What areas would you like to improve upon in your career?” That is essentially the same question. Some of the best answer are just honest answers about what they value and want to make sure they can turn into a strength. I want to get better at mentoring more junior engineers. I want to make sure continue to learn as the technology advances in my industry.

I had a person answer the other day that her greatest weakness was public speaking. This is an excellent answer to the question. Why? Because it wasn’t a major component of her role, it’s a fear many people share and it’s something she is working towards improving. That right there is the trifecta. If you answer does those three things you will be just fine.

There you have it! Make sure you come back again tomorrow when we cover answering he interview question “What are you looking for in terms of compensation?” Also, if you like these posts, go down load my FREE Interview Prep Guide, its totally free. As always, I appreciate any likes or shares of these posts. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?”

Welcome back to 31 interview questions in 31 days. If you are new to this, I have committed to answering 31 interview questions of 31 business days. Today is the 5th day, so we have 26 more to go. Over the next 26 days I will answer a variety of interview questions, including behavioral interview questions, motivation questions and even salary questions. Yesterday we covered the interview question “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” If you haven’t read that one yet, hop over there when you finish today’s!

Speaking of today, we are going to cover the interview question “What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?” Now on the surface this might seem like an easy question to answer, right? I am not so sure about that actually. You see this is another question where if you are prepared to answer the question, then it should be an issue for you. However, if you are unprepared and fumble the answer on the spot it will give the person interviewing a lot of questions about you as a candidate. Does this person really not have anything they are proud of in their career?

So, the first key here is to be prepared. Know that this is a question that could very likely be asked and know exactly what you are going to say ahead of time. Secondly, do not make something up. Recruiting Legend Lou Adler once held a full day training class with my company. He spent the entire day teaching us what has worked for him in his storied career and towards the end of the day he talked about what he considered the most important interview question you can ask.

The question today was the question he was referring to. The reason being is that you can really get a solid idea about what this person’s level of ability is with this question. You can also get the people they interface with, scope of their role, organizational impact and a lot of other information when you ask the right follow ups. You see, for a recruiter, the key isn’t to ask the question, take down the answer and move on. The key to this is in the follow up questions. A good recruiter will ask what their specific role was, who they interfaced with, how long it took, who else was involved, who did you need signoff from etc.

It’s easy for a person to be asked this question and exaggerate their impact if there are no follow up questions. However, if you ask the right follow up questions it is near impossible for a person to keep fabricating without it becoming obvious. So, to recap, have an answer prepared and don’t lie. The one additional tip I will give is that it helps if your biggest accomplishment is something that would add value to your potential new role. Most of us will have several accomplishments we are proud of so if you can pick one that would be particularly attractive based on what you know of the company and role, then it’s a good idea to use that as an answer.

Well there you have it. This is a pretty straightforward question as long as you can avoid those pitfalls. Tomorrow we will cover the question “What is your biggest weakness?” If you liked this post, please feel free to like and share it with your social media. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “Where you do want to be in 5 years?”

Welcome back to 31 interview questions in 31 days. This will be the last post until Monday when we resume our 31 business day journey to helping you succeed at answering some of the most frequently asked interview questions. Yesterday we covered the interview question “What do you consider to be your biggest strength?” If you haven’t read that post check it out after we go through today’s question. Today we will be tackling the interview question, “Where do you want to be in five years?”

Now there are actually a few versions of this question you might be asked. You might be asked what are you career goals. Or how do you see yourself expanding professionally within the next five years. But basically, they are all getting at one main concept. Do you have a vision for your future? Do you have a plan?

The most successful people in the world plan. Most people don’t trip, stumble and fall into success. Success is having a goal, breaking down the steps you need to take to achieve that success and tirelessly pursuing those goals and objectives until you reach your target.

So, when you are asked this question, its best to have a plan. However, its best to have a plan that is reasonable as well. When you answer this question, there are a few no no’s. The first is it needs to be something achievable. If you are asked what you want to be doing in five years as you are interviewing for a Jr Accountant and your answer is CFO, that isn’t really a realistic target. They will either think you are naive or are not taking the question seriously.

Secondly, avoid answers that make it seem like you aren’t interested in your current role. If you are interviewing for that same Jr Accountant role and your answer is “I wanted to be leading scrums as a software developer, I am currently take night classes to get a computer science degree.” That may be honest but to me it says I am actively taking steps to move out of the role I am currently interviewing for.

There are also some things you want to make sure you do. I always liked stating my interest in the current role before I moved on to stating where I liked to be. For example, I might say, “Well currently I really enjoy recruiting so my short term goal is to continue to develop and grow my skills in recruitment. However, in five years I would like to be in a role or making good progress to a role in which I am able to lead a team of recruiters.”  Answering like this is helpful because it lets them know you aren’t a flight risk and you still have learning to do in your current role but it also lets them know you have a vision for your future.

You should also mention development steps you are currently taking if they happen to be relevant. For example, if you have interest in people managing and you are currently completing your MBA, I would mention that while answering this question. And as with every question, I consider it important to be enthusiastic while answering.

Well there you have it. If you can do those things correctly, you will be able to knock this question out of the park. If you liked this post, please feel free to share. Make sure you come back Monday when we tackle our next interview question, “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?” Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity!

How to answer the interview question “What do you consider to be your biggest strength?”

Welcome back to 31 Interview questions in 31 days! For the record, I mean 31 business days. I figure you all don’t want to be reading about interview questions on your weekend. Yesterday we discussed how to answer the interview question, Why are you interested in this role? If you haven’t read that one, feel free to check it out. Today however, we will cover the interview question, “What do you consider to be your biggest strengths?”

Now, this is another question that should be relatively easy to answer. However, if you are not ready to answer this question it can be disastrous. Imagine you are interviewing someone and you ask them what they are good at. Then imagine they have no idea what they are good at and have trouble answering your question. What kind of confidence would that inspire?

So, the first key to answering this question well is be prepared. If you stammer and stutter and struggle to find a way that you are above average, they will not struggle with having serious concerns about your candidacy.

The second key is that your key strength will be one that will allow you to be successful in the role you are applying for. If your answer is contradictory to the bulk of the responsibilities of the role, then that’s really not helping your case much. So, don’t lie, but look at the role and the industry. Find one of your skills that will allow you to flourish in the environment and pick that one.

Finally, you must find a way to not come off cocky. You want to inspire confidence and at the same time come off as a mix of humble and confidence. Perhaps work in how it’s a strength because you have really worked hard and put in effort to develop it as a strength.

There you have it! As long as you are prepared and the strength is relevant, you will do just fine. If you liked this post, please like and share it! Also, come back tomorrow when we tackle the interview question, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” As always, have a great day and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity!

How to answer the interview question “Why are you interested in this role?”

Welcome to day two of 31 interview questions in 31 days. Yesterday we tackled the question, Why are you looking for a new role? If you missed that post, go back and check it out after this one. Today we are going to cover how to answer the question, why are you interested in this role. This might sound like an easy question to answer but people actually get it just little bit wrong all the time.

That being said, with proper preparation this is a relatively easy question to knock out of the park. At the same time, if you don’t get it right it’s one that might leave the interviewer scratching their head.

I am going to start by breaking it out down into do’s and don’ts. Make sure that you don’t speak negatively about your current employer. Trust me, your potential future manager doesn’t like hearing you speak poorly about your past manager. Don’t give a reason that seems uninspired. For example, “I don’t know, it seems similar to what I am doing now”. For those of you who are shaking your head right now thinking that isn’t a response recruiters get, I can assure you I have heard that answer hundreds of times. You can say that while your current position and this role seem similar, you feel this new role would offer you the opportunity to expand your scope or something to that effect.

Now let’s talk about a few things you should do when answering this question. Make sure that you have done enough research to comfortably speak about the things you admire about the company. Also, make sure you speak passionately. You don’t have to be over the top but people like enthusiasm. If you can put a little enthusiasm into your answer you will be much better off.

Finally, be prepared to talk about how this role would represent growth and development that is important to you in your career. These are all good reasons. When someone asks you this question, more than anything they just want to hear positive things that make sense. They want to know you are just looking for a new role for a pay bump or because you dislike your boss.

In my opinion, the perfect way to answer this question is to enthusiastically talk a little bit about why you feel the company is the kind of company you want to work for and how the role fits in with the type of development you were hoping to experience. Avoid negativity about your current company/boss as well and you will be just fine.

Hopefully you found that helpful. Tomorrow we will cover the question, what do you consider to be your biggest strength. If you have any questions you would like me to address, please comment below and I will add them to the list. If you liked this post, please feel free to share it with your social networks. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

How to answer the interview question “Why are you looking for a new role?”

This is day one of 31 interview questions in 31 days. If you are wondering what this is all about check out yesterday’s post, 31 Interview Questions in 31 Days, detailing my plan for the next month. Today we will start with a question you will be asked virtually every time you interview, why are you looking for a new role? This one is first up so let’s tackle it!

In just about every interview you ever take, you will be asked why you are looking for a new role. In every corporate interview, I have ever conducted it has been on my interview form. Every head hunting call I have ever made, if the conversation progressed, I would ask why they are interested in entertaining a new opportunity. The fact of the matter is if you ever plan on interviewing again, odds are you will need to answer this question.

So, let’s start with why. Why do recruiters and hiring manages alike ask this question? The reason is that there are good and bad ways to answer. An example of a good way to answer it is, “Well I am not actively looking, but I have always admired your company and the description for the role sounds exciting”. They might push further because the assumption is that if you are willing to leave then something must be wrong, but generally speaking, that is a good way to answer that question.

An example of a bad way to answer the questions is, “Um, I don’t know, I just wanted to see what else is out there”. That answer is bad because it doesn’t inspire confidence in your desire to ultimately take the job. From a recruiter perspective, it is just really important to know the candidate’s motivation. If they let you know they are looking for a new role because they don’t see any realistic way to move up within their current organization, it’s something you want to emphasize your company having, assuming that’s the case. Also, if you ever find that candidate accepting your offer and then receiving a counter offer, it’s important to be able to remind them exactly why they were looking in the first place. Does that counter offer you were just extended solve your original reasons for looking for employment elsewhere?

So, let’s talk about answering this question. Let’s assume you are already employed, because if you are unemployed then answering this question is much more straight forward, you are looking for a new job. So, start by establishing leverage, “I am actually not really looking, I am quite happy where I currently am, I just so happen to stumble upon this position and it really intrigued me”. By answering the question in this manner, you let them know that you aren’t desperate, you would be perfectly fine going back to your current job if this doesn’t work out and that if they really want you they are going to have to bring it.

There is a possibility they will push further and try to get a deeper answer. They might say something like, “well sure but there must be some reason why you are entertaining other opportunities”. I like responding to that question by saying something along the lines of while you really enjoy your current role, you don’t see a lot of future growth, development opportunities or ways for you to expand the scope of your work. This gives them the additional “why” they are looking for while also positioning you as someone who seeks development.

You must avoid sounding like you don’t care about this role and are doing it for kicks. That is the wrong way to establish leverage. You also must avoid saying negative things about your current employer. They may all be true but you will come off as difficult to work with. There you have it. If you do those things you will have done a great job answering that question. Tomorrow we will tackle the question likely to come up next, “why are you interested in this role?” So, come back and find out the secret to answering that question. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity!

31 Interview Questions in 31 Days

I going to do something drastically different. For the last year, I have run this blog and for the most part I would create one post per week. Typically, they range from 1100 to 1500 hundred words. And frankly, it has actually gone quite well. I have received significant traffic, people have purchased My eBook, people have downloaded my FREE Interview Prep Guide and I have even been asked to be on a few podcasts. So why change it? Well my plan is to change it for one month only. For the next 31 days, I plan on posting a post every single day.

Now, I don’t plan on posting 1400 word posts. That would be a ton of writing. I plan on creating 31 quick hitting posts. Each of these posts will be designed to help my audience answer one interview question. Of all the questions, I get asked, the greatest majority of those question are how to answer specific interview questions. How do I answer “why are you looking for a new job”? How do I answer “what are you targeting in terms of compensation”? You get the point.

For the next 31 days I will attack an interview question. I will tell you why the question gets asked, what the recruiter will be looking for and how you can answer the question to the best of your ability. At the end of the 31 days I plan on returning to my normal format. However, in the meantime I hope this flood of content can help you prepare for 2017. Because while we have hit the slow months in terms of recruiting, it will be 2017 before you know it and those of you who are interested in pursuing new career opportunities will need to get going quick.

So, I hope you enjoy. If you have any questions you specifically want me to ask feel free to comment below. If you happen to see this post on LinkedIn, please feel free to comment below. That is usually the easiest way for me to see it. Well that is all I had. Tomorrow come back to the blog to see me answer the question, “Why are you looking for a new role”? Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity!