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 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 “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.

3 Absolute Interview Killers – Avoid saying these at all costs

In the past I have written posts about things you shouldn’t say, things you should say and ways to phrase certain things. However, after some recent feedback on an interview I felt it made sense to share this post on things you absolutely have to avoid saying. These are things where if you say them, you will absolutely not be getting that job. Now, I will say this is of course subject to the Welding Engineer exception. If you have read any of my posts in the past I have referred to the fact that some of the standard rules may not apply to people who happen to have a really rare skill set, like Welding Engineers. Bit for the rest of us, like you and me, if we say these things in the middle of an interview, you might as well save everyone’s time by picking up your stuff and going home. So with that being said let’s look at the things you must avoid saying at all cost if you want to be successful in your interview.

My last job/boss was terrible!

Most of us have had several bosses or jobs that were terrible. Maybe the culture was toxic or perhaps there was no work life balance. This happens. It’s out there and if you have avoided these situations, that is awesome. However, most working adults have situations we look back not so fondly on. However, if at any point in your interview you mention that your prior boss sucked you aren’t getting that job. That’s pretty black and white and yes, perhaps there are instances where you will get the job. However, you just put yourself at a disadvantage, unnecessarily I might add. If you were going to run a marathon, would you want to eat a bunch of McDonalds right before the race began? Of course not. Could you still end up finishing? Yea, of course. But is it a smart idea? Of course it isn’t. Be positive and take the high road for your own good.

 

I decided to take this interview just to see what’s out there

I want to start by saying that obviously this one isn’t as bad as the first. However, you still need to avoid saying it.  Imagine you go on a date and the person you are out with says something along the lines of “the only reason I am here is to see what’s on the menu at this restaurant”. How excited are you about that response? Might you have taken the interview out of curiosity? Sure. However, that goes under the category things you may actually feel but make no sense for you to disclose. That answer benefits no one. And quite frankly, it’s not true. Nobody goes on an interview solely out of curiosity. There is more to it. Perhaps they heard great things about the culture or feel like their current role doesn’t afford them the growth they desire and they want to know if this role might. There is always something else. That something else is usually way better than just seeing what else is out there. If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, people buy passion. People want to feel the excitement in your voice. They want enthusiasm and if you really want to move forward in an interview process you would be wise to give it to them.

 

Saying anything offensive or inappropriate

This falls under the no brainer category. That being said, much to my shock and bewilderment, it still happens all the time. Most people spend a very short amount of their professionals lives immersed in the interview process. They occasionally interview or if they have a team, they occasionally hire someone to join it. As a recruiter, a live in it. Every day of my working life I am involved in it in some way or the other. The fact if the matter is people say things that are shocking all the time. If its political, inappropriate or in any way offensive, you need to avoid it. If you would have a hard time explaining yourself in an HR meeting or in front of your grandmother, don’t say it. If its political or religious, I would avoid saying it. You might say something and the person interviewing you agrees. For the sake of argument, let’s say 50% of the people you will ever interview with will have that same opinion. Well guess what, with that math, 50% of the time you will offend the person you are interviewing with. Do you like that math? I don’t. Now let’s circle back. Imagine the 50% of the people who agree with you. Let’s be conservative and assume that will half of them will find what you said to be poor judgement, which most reasonable people will. Given that you exhibit poor judgement they will probably opt for a different choice. That means that your comment will disqualify you 75% of the time. Guess, what, that other 25% of the time it doesn’t actually help you, it just doesn’t hurt you. If you were in a room with two doors and you had to make a choice which one you exited through and one of the doors you had a 75% chance of getting kicked by Connor McGregor and the other had a zero percent chance, which one would you chose? Also, the Connor McGregor door doesn’t add any additional benefit remember. It’s an easy choice. Well so is this, avoid saying those things and you will be much better off.

 

Well there you have it, those are my 3 absolute interview killers. If you can avoid saying them, you will be much better off. I hope you found value in that post, if you did please feel free to “like” it and share it on social media. And if you haven’t checked out last week’s post, give it a read here, When does your interview start?. Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!

3 Great Interview Questions That Will Catch the Interviewer Off Guard

When I have interviewed in the past there have been several times where I was caught off guard. There have been questions I was expecting to have to answer and thusly wasn’t prepared to do so. Having done a ton of interviewing myself, someone has to come up with a really off the wall question to catch me by surprise. Basically that means that the person was intentionally trying to catch me off guard. But…why would you want to intentionally catch someone off guard? The reason is simple, when you catch someone off guard, you are increasingly the likelihood that you are going to get a candid response.

When you interview someone, you can pretty much rest assured they have prepared a ton. They have practiced answering questions they think you are going to ask ahead of time so that their answer comes off more polished than it might otherwise. I personally can’t blame anyone for that, I do it myself. There are so many resources available today to help someone prepare for phone interviews as well as in person interviews. For example, this site is a solid resource to learn how to interview. There are eBooks out there to help you prepare like My eBook and my FREE Interview Prep Guide. So to try and get some authentic, not prepackaged answer, sometimes interviews ask unique questions that will catch you off guard. They want to see you think on your feet and get a gauge on how you handle pressure.

However, this goes both ways, as the interviewee you also have the ability to catch the interviewer off guard. Why would you do that you ask? Well you could do it for some of the same reasons. Maybe you want to get an honest answer from them. Personally when I am asked a question, as the interviewer, that really makes me think I appreciate it. It’s not that often that its flipped around and all of a sudden I am the one trying to figure out the best way to response. So in some ways I think it is the sign of a good interviewer. It’s also a good way to perhaps shift the balance of power just a bit. At the very least, you can gather a little more information and it won’t hurt your chances of getting the job. So with that being said let’s take a look at 3 great interview questions that will catch the interviewer off guard.

 

What will be the most challenging aspect of this job for the person who ultimately ends up filling it?

What a great question. Its good because as recruiters you are so used to selling a role. However, you don’t spend a lot of time talking about why the role will at times be challenging. Quite frankly, I don’t care what your job is, there are aspects of it that are less pleasant than others and this gives you a glimpse at what some of those are.

 

What is your biggest reason for staying at this company?

This is one of my personal favorites to ask someone interviewing me. In fact, the last several interviews I have taken I have asked this question. I ask this question for a few reasons. The first being I want to hear the enthusiasm in their voice. If they are unconvincing with their answer that might tell you everything you need to know about securing employment there. Are they having a hard time coming up with a reason to stay? Well that’s not good. Do they seem like they are describing why they continue with the same dentist? “Well it’s close to my house, I have been here for a long time, it’s close to my gym…” While I find it extremely convenient to have my work situated close to the place I go and throw weights around, that isn’t what I want to hear here. I want enthusiasm, passion, I want solid reasons that motivate me to take an offer if presented with one. From what they say, to the way they say it, every bit of information you get from this question is valuable.

 

Do you have any questions or concerns about my ability to do the job?

Game changer…. Read that question again. In my My eBook I have this question as a must ask in the closing section. I had an awesome boss once who told me to prep all my candidates to ask this question at the end of their interviews. Why? For two simple reasons. If they say something like “No, not at all, you are a total fit for this role” you can respond by saying “Great, in that case I want you to know that I am very interested in this role and I look forward to hearing from you further”. However, if the response isn’t as positive and they say something like “well, everyone really liked you but there are concerns about your job stability” than that’s awesome! I mean, it’s not awesome that they have concerns but it’s awesome you get a chance to address them. You almost walked out and you would have never gotten the chance to address their concerns. If they say that then use the next moment to try and answer their concerns. Don’t be pushy but you can confidently explain why their concern shouldn’t disqualify you from coming and working here.

 

Well there you have it, those are 3 great interview questions that will catch the interviewer off guard. Not only that but there will be value in the answers for you as well. Can you think of any other great questions to ask? If so comment below, I always love seeing the great ones you guys come up with. If you liked this post, as always please share it with your networks! Have an awesome day!

Video Interviews (Why Companies Use them & How You Beat Them)

As a recruiter the type of interview I get the most push back on is video interviewing. People hate doing them. Some people don’t like the way they look on their computer and some people don’t like the feeling of talking to a computer screen. The advice I would give to those people is that you better get used to it. More and more companies are utilizing video interviews because of the cost saving ramifications and the convenience they afford the hiring team.

Types of Video Interview

So when most people think about video interviews they think about your standard video interview in which you are speaking with someone live, usually via Skype of some other video service. And while yes, currently this is the most used, some companies are using another format of video interviewing where you are answering prerecorded questions. At my last company we had implemented this for most of the technical roles we were recruiting for. These interviews would usually have about 5-10 questions, a mix of standard interview questions and technical questions, usually determined by the hiring manager and the recruiter.

So why do companies use these?

The main reason companies use interviews like these is that they expedite the process. For example a typical hiring process is a recruiter interview followed by a hiring manager (these first two done over the phone) followed by a final onsite interview where you might end up meeting with several people. The problem with that is that process can take a really long time. So if a company was to substitute the 2nd round with a prerecorded interview you can have all the hiring managers questions answered and save a lot of time.

Instead of worrying about scheduling another phone interview, the recruiter simply sends you a link that can be completed at your discretion. Often that means completing it that very same day which can remove one to two weeks from the process. In addition to that, most people can get a better sense of if the person is going to be a fit when they watch them as opposed to just listen to them.

How to Beat them

While video interviews can be intimidating I have a few simple guidelines I recommend so that you can make sure that you come out on top.

  1. Make sure you prepare as you would for any other interview. The video specific tips aren’g going to help at all if you aren’t ready to answer the questions asked of you.
  2. Make sure that you practice using the software or platform beforehand. If you need an account make sure to register well in advance. If its as simple as logging, try to log on early so that the beginning of your interview isn’t fixing technical issues.
  3. Make sure that the area is well lit and you are visible. Don’t be too far away or too close. Make sure that you it is easy for the hiring manager to see you.
  4. Have a clear wall behind you for the interview. Perhaps you are the worlds greatest Backstreet Boys fan, that’s great, but nobody wants to see their poster on your wall behind you while u=you explain how you are capable of contributing to an organization. WIndows are bad as well, they can be an unnecessary distraction.
  5. Dress as if it was an onsite interview. Just because you are in your home doesn’t mean you get to wear your pajamas. Dress to impress, they can see you after all.
  6. Be confident. People sometimes get nervous seeing themselves or even just because its something they haven’t done before. Don’t let it throw you off your game. Know that it is weird for some of the managers doing it as well and put your best foot forward. Speak loudly, clearly and be sure of yourself and your accomplishments.

So there you have it. You know why companies use them and you now know how to beat them! Good luck!