• Ask Matt: How to respond to the 5 most basic interview questions [video]

    May 11, 2017 by

     

    Dear Matt: I recently completed an interview, and realized, I wasn’t prepared to answer the most basic interview questions. I spent more time preparing for that odd, or unique question that may come up, and not enough time on the basics. What are some answers or responses to the most basic interview questions every recent job seeker should be sure to master before the next interview?  Continue Reading

  • Ask Matt: The best job interview questions to ask employers

    April 13, 2017 by

     

    Dear Matt: Do you have any interview tips? I always read about how important it is for recent college grads to ask the right interview questions during a job interview, but, I never know what job interview questions to ask. Can you provide a list of these interview questions and what employers want recent college grads and entry-level job seekers to ask?

    Matt: I will say this, I wish I had a list of job interview questions to ask when I was interviewing for entry-level jobs. Because it certainly would have not only helped me ask the right interview questions, it would have also helped with interview preparation, and confidence.

    Good news! There is a great, extended list of the best job interview questions to ask employers listed below, featuring outstanding advice from recruiters from corporate America, and career management leaders from two of the top business schools in the country.

    The reality is, if you are confident, and prepared, going into an interview, you can relax, be yourself, and shine.

    But many job seekers, especially recent college grads, are shy or timid when going into those first job interviews. I was one of them, and looking back at those early interviews, I never did ask the right questions, because I wasn’t prepared to ask the right questions. That makes a huge difference in how employers view you, and your potential to succeed in the job and fit in with the team.

    “Not asking questions can signal lack of interest, and a missed opportunity to sell yourself,” says Susie Clarke, director of Undergraduate Career Services at Indiana’s Kelley School of Business. “It is important to remember that an interview is a two way street and they expect you will have questions, so show them you are prepared and interested in their position.”

    Corinne M. Snell, Ed.D., the Assistant Dean of Student Professional Development at Fox School of Business at Temple University, agrees. Prior to her current role, Snell worked in corporate America, working in college relations roles for Campbell’s Soup Company, Siemens Health Services, and Lutron Electronics.

    “A certain level of spontaneity is expected in any job interview, but candidates should have a list of questions prepared in advance,” said Snell. “The worst thing one can do is indicate he/she has no questions or say something like, “Um, I think we already covered everything.”

    One of the biggest things a college student or recent graduate needs to remember is that just as much as the recruiter or hiring manager is interviewing them, they are also interviewing the potential employer, says Justin Bischoff, Talent Acquisition Advisor at Buffalo Wild Wings, a casual dining restaurant and sports bar franchise.

    “Ask questions about the things that matter to you,” says Bischoff. “These should be things that you feel will make you stay with an employer long term.”

    Try to keep it conversational, says Bischoff. For example, if you’re interested in sales, ask something such as “earlier in our interview you mentioned that one of the main focuses of this role is to drive sales in the restaurant, can you tell me a little more about that?”

    Asking about the culture of the organization and development programs also impresses employers, says Bischoff.

    “I am also impressed by a candidate who has done their research on the organization and the position prior to the interview,” says Bischoff. “By asking questions on matters that are truly important to you about what you have learned, you are able to showcase the time and effort you’re putting into joining the organization’s team.”

    Snell puts it bluntly, saying “Job seekers need to prepare for that moment when the employer turns the table and asks ‘what questions do you have for me?'”

    That’s what impresses today’s corporate recruiter, says Asma Anees, a Talent Advisor with Blue Cross, a Minnesota healthcare provider. She leads college relations at Blue Cross and is one of the first persons to interview/phone screen recent college grads and entry-level employees who interview with the company.

    Anees suggest job seekers break down interview questions into four categories, focusing on asking about:

    • The position/job
    • Evaluation
    • Training
    • About the company

    Anees provides these job interview question and answer tips:

    The position/job
    Job seekers who ask about the challenges of the position stand out, says Anees. Employers like candidates who want to be challenged, and who want to know about what it takes to succeed in that role. “It helps me understand their willingness to take on certain duties,” says Anees.

    Evaluation
    Anees likes it when job seekers ask job interview questions such as “What are the performance expectations or how will I be evaluated?”

    “These students have received grades for everything they do for the last however many years,” says Anees. “These Millennials want to know where they stand, and I can appreciate that. It tells me they want to perform well and be rewarded for it.”

    Training
    Good question to ask: Will there be any training or mentorship for this role? Anees says job seekers who want to pursue professional development opportunities stand out to her.

    Company
    Job seekers who are curious about the business, strategic plan, how the company makes a difference, and if the company is growing, are “all great questions,” says Anees. “It tells me they care for the well-being of the organization and their future.”

    Snell provides these sample job interview questions to ask employers:

    1. Questions related to the position:

    • What are the key qualities necessary for someone to excel in this role?
    • What are your expectations for this role during the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
    • What is the typical career path for someone in this position?

    2. Questions related to the company?

    • How would you describe the company culture (or values)?
    • What do you like best about working for this company?

    3. Questions related to the industry (these should vary from industry to industry):

    • What recent changes has the company made to product packaging?
    • How has industry consolidation affected the company?
    • How does the economy affect company sales?
    • What percentage of revenues does the company invest in R&D?
    • How is the company challenged by government regulations?

    4. Questions related to the hiring process:

    • What are the next steps in the interview process?
    • When do you expect to make a decision?

    “The likelihood of having sufficient time to ask a multitude of questions is slim, so the candidate needs to be prepared and have several questions ready,” says Snell. “Interviewing is a two-way street and employers do expect job seekers to be prepared with thoughtful, insightful questions.”

    Remember this though – thoughtful and insightful do not revolve around asking how much vacation time one gets, salary, or benefits. In time, that information will be discussed.

    Some of the best job interview questions to ask employers, says Clarke, include:

    1. Would you please tell me about yourself and your career path?
    Yes – job seekers should ask the person conducting the interview this. This will allow you to learn more about the employer, what this person likes about the company, and could create a common interest to make the follow-up connection stronger. “It is all about building relationships and showing genuine interest is important,” says Clarke.

    2. What are the reasons you stay with this company, or why did you recently join the company?
    Their response will typically tell you a lot about the work environment/culture of the company. “For many college students and recent college grads, the company culture is an important criteria when making their decision,” says Clarke.

    3. What skills or characteristics have led to your success here?
    This is an opportunity for you then to highlight your strength that relates to one of these skills if you have not already.

    4. I have learned a lot today and even more excited about this opportunity, so is there anything else I could provide or questions I can address about my ability to do this job?
    “This shows that you want the job and want to eliminate any concern that they might still have,” says Clarke.

    When the interview is near completion, and if the employer has not covered this already, Clarke says you should always ask: What are the next steps in the interview process?

    “This is important, so you know what to expect and when to follow-up if you have not heard back from them,” says Clarke.

    Asking the right questions during your interview can impact your chances of landing the job, says Bischoff.

    “When a candidate asks thought-provoking questions, it shows that they have solid communication skills, are genuinely interested in the opportunity, and are looking to make a long-term investment,” says Bischoff. Ultimately, asking the right questions makes that interview and the candidate memorable when it comes time for a hiring decision.”

    Dara Warn, Chief Outcomes Officer, Penn Foster Education Group, says that asking questions about how the company onboards new employees can impress employers:

    How does the company onboard new employees? Can you talk about what that process looks like?
    Why this question: By asking this question, the job candidate is demonstrating their interest in the company culture and its commitment to employees and their career path and setting them up for success from the outset. “The first several months in a new job are a key period in building the relationship between employee and employer, and the candidate wants to know that the company is a place they can grow and mature,” says Warn. “In our work with employer partners, we’ve helped design mentor programs, where new employees develop and strengthen workplace and interpersonal skills.”

    Another good question, says Warn, is asking “How does your company encourage its employees to collaborate/work as a team, and demonstrate integrity and initiative?”   
    Why this question: This question coming from a candidate demonstrates that he/she already possesses some “soft skills” that are typically learned and honed once in the workforce. This student may have graduated from an institution that offers soft skills (or “power skills”) training in the form of a standalone program and is already ahead of the curve when it comes to developing these critical work/life skills.

    Good questions will show that you have researched the position, company, and even highlight some of your strengths. “This signals to the employer that you are very interested and enthusiastic about the opportunity,” says Clarke.

    Show enthusiasm and interest when wrapping up the interview.

    “I appreciate when candidates take the last couple of minutes to reiterate their interest and why their skills and abilities would make an impact to the team,” says Anees. “Don’t forget to smile and a firm handshake.”

    Want more career and job search advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

    Matt Krumrie CollegeRecruiter.com

    Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for CollegeRecruiter.com

    About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
    Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.

  • Ask Matt: 5 tips for new managers who are now managing friends

    January 12, 2017 by

    Dear Matt: I really like my current job and company. But what I like most is the team I work with. We are all close and get along well. We are also good friends outside of work, and do a lot socially. However, I recently received a promotion, and am now the manager of these co-workers who are also my friends. I went from being part of the team, to leading the team. And now, I have to conduct weekly meetings with them, performance reviews, approve their days off, and face the fact I also suddenly know their salaries. It’s created an awkward situation for me in and outside of work.  Do you have any tips for a new manager who is now also managing friends?

    Matt: It’s exciting to be promoted, but when you’re now supervising former peers that are also friends, there’s an added complexity to the situation. Here’s how to handle both the professional and personal relationships when you suddenly find yourself managing your friends:

    1. Schedule group and individual meetings
    To address these changes and challenges, schedule a group meeting, and one-on-one individual meetings with your team, says Arlene Vernon, an HR consultant who provides management training for first-time managers, small business owners, and corporate clients.

    Set guidelines and expectations from the start.

    “Be prepared for these discussions – do not wing the meetings, as it will look like you’re not taking your new job as supervisor seriously,” says Vernon. “Use the group meeting to set the tone for future meetings and general ground rules for attendance and participation.”

    Analyze what was and wasn’t working under the previous supervisor, and decide what to keep and what to tweak. “Don’t bash the previous supervisor, just introduce the enhancements as part of your style,” says Vernon.

    Then schedule a one-on-one meeting with direct reports. This is the most important step in this new relationship.

    “This helps establish your new supervisory relationship with each individual,” says Vernon. “Some of your former peers may be thrilled that you got this new position – others may not.”

    So approach each discussion, taking into consideration each person’s feelings.

    Sample one-on-one discussion items may include:

    • How you plan to supervise – pointing out where you can be hands off and where you may need to be more hands on.
    • How often you want to meet.
    • The best ways to communicate with you (in person, email, text).
    • The strengths you recognize in the individual and how you want to best utilize those strengths.

    “The first discussion is not the time to point out the individuals’ weaknesses and how you want to see them improve,” says Vernon. “This meeting is to set the stage for a successful partnering with each person considering your new role.”

    2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
    Chances are, your friends are truly happy for you and will be supportive and understanding that you have this new role. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes for fear of disappointing friends, says B. Max Dubroff, an HR Consultant at Einfluss, LLC, an HR advisory firm, in Albuquerque, NM. Dubroff has led teams from 2 to 570 people in a wide variety of industries throughout his career, leading those businesses to many best of workplace lists.

    “The promotion is a sign of confidence that you can learn to manage and lead well,” says Dubroff. “All manager-leaders make mistakes and are imperfect; the ones who hide their errors or feign perfection are less effective as leaders because they miss out on the lessons of leadership. Manager-leaders who show integrity and embrace their errors will earn credibility, their network of friends will provide feedback and perspective, and their progress will be even greater. Capitalize on the open communication, because in the long run that is what is going to be more important.”

    The promotion is also a sign that any awkwardness is your challenge to solve. Tap into the experience of your boss and fellow managers, but in the end, solve it yourself. Also, if you find yourself saying or doing things that you would not respect about your own boss, don’t say/do them; they undermine your integrity.

    3. Transitioning from friend to boss
    The elephant in the room, of course, is how you handle transitioning from friend to boss. Some people can handle this dual role effectively and others cannot. That goes both ways – from the boss and the employee perspective. So it’s important to discuss this reality with each employee up front and early on.

    “Discuss the importance of maintaining a solid relationship with the person along with the recognition that you cannot show favoritism for your friends – that you will be treating everyone as equally as possible,” says Vernon.

    Set ground rules for not discussing co-workers or work after hours, during work. Vernon also recommends discussing confidentiality.

    “It’s likely you have confidential and/or personal information about your friends that shouldn’t be considered from a boss-employee perspective and the same applies to what private information they have about you,” says Vernon. “These can be difficult discussions, but it’s vital to set communication standards, personal/professional boundaries, and to recognize that while at work, you’re committed to taking your leadership responsibilities seriously.”

    4. How to address the relationship in social situations
    But even though becoming a supervisor of colleagues who were formally peers does present a somewhat awkward social scenario, it doesn’t mean friendships and social relationships have to end, says Elliot D. Lasson, Professor of the Practice and I/O Psychology Graduate Program Director at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County at Shady Grove. In fact, aside from the one-on-one conversations to be open about the changing relationship, Lasson suggests maintaining the same type of social relationship off of the job.

    “If socialized together off the clock before the promotion, there is no reason why that should not continue,” says Lasson.

    His reason is simple.

    “Life and transitions happen,” he says. “The same way that you would include someone who has retired or left for another company beforehand, you should continue to maintain those same social circles. Part of professional maturity is to adapt to new roles and reporting relationships. If there is any anticipated anxiety about the modified role, that should probably be preemptively broached during the one-one-one meeting by the supervisor.”

    There could be another added benefit: Your friends may work harder for you because they respect you outside of work. Now you just have to earn their respect as a manager. They also be more willing to bring up issues, concerns, or ideas – positive and negative – because they feel a closer connection to you.

    5. Understand things will change
    Keep in mind though, that despite attempts to salvage personal and professional relationships, managers must ultimately realize that some personal relationships fall apart when one person is now the supervisor.  Whether or not that occurs is unique to each relationship.

    Through it all, make sure that you’re consistent in how you interact, oversee, communicate with, and lead all your employees.

    “As a manager-leader, you have a responsibility to manage any perceptions of favoritism to the best of your ability,” says Dubroff. “The tough part about this is others may attribute favoritism, even if you know facts that demonstrate otherwise. Since your facts are not going to change their perceptions, the only control you have is through your actions.”

    Vernon agrees.

    “Everyone is watching to see how you begin your supervisory position and whether they can trust you in that role – to do your job well, be their voice for upper management and treat employees fairly and equitably,” says Vernon.

    Want more career and job search advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

    Matt Krumrie CollegeRecruiter.com

    Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for CollegeRecruiter.com

    About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
    Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.

  • [Infographic] Ask Matt: 7 things college seniors should do now to land a job before graduation [video]

    December 22, 2016 by

     

    Dear Matt: I’m heading into the home stretch of my senior year of college, and have one semester left until graduation. A few classmates have already secured jobs that they will start soon after graduation. It made me realize that I too, should start the job search now. What tips do you have for college seniors who want to try and secure a job before graduation? What are those who get hired now doing to stand out and impress employers? Please share any tips and advice you can so I can start a job search and hopefully get hired before graduation! 

    Matt: The senior year can be challenging for college students. And, for many, simply graduating is a major accomplishment. But the excitement of earning a college degree can quickly fade when there is no internship or job lined up after graduating. The reality is, most college seniors graduate without a job lined up. At the same time, there are also many who do graduate with a job lined up. Continue Reading

  • Ask Matt: How recent college grads can benefit from joining professional associations

    November 18, 2016 by

    Networking2Dear Matt: I’m a recent college graduate who is seeking opportunities to grow and network within my field. I’ve always heard that professional associations are beneficial. Why should recent college grads join professional/industry associations?

    Matt: Joining an industry-related association or trade organization, or young professionals networking organization, are great ways for recent college graduates to network, meet other like-minded professionals, and learn. Many recent college grads have met professionals who have become future co-workers, managers, and even friends, through associations or various professional networking organizations.

    But meeting people and making contacts and friends are only a small reason why joining industry associations are highly recommended for college students and recent college grads.

    “Recent graduates benefit immensely from joining professional associations – and there’s much more to it than networking for job opportunities or brushing up on your interviewing skills,” says Richard Baseil, executive director of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, the world’s premier association for signal processing engineers and industry professionals.

    Joining professional associations allows college students and recent college graduates to stay on top of industry trends, learn about volunteer or leadership opportunities, and enables project collaboration. For example, IEEE’s Signal Processing Society offers current students and recent graduates exclusive member benefits including continuing education, substantial discounts on various technical and industry resources, and career recognition through scholarships and awards.  And, since most employees do not stay with a single employer through their career, an association such as IEEE can act as a stable “home base” as members seek other opportunities.

    Employers like employees who step outside their comfort zone Continue Reading

  • Ask Matt: Recent college grads shouldn’t let helicopter parents hinder their job search

    October 12, 2016 by
    Helicopter parents in the job search; Tips for recent college grads

    Photo from StockUnlimited.com

    Dear Matt: I’m responsible for hiring entry-level employees for a large company, and I am amazed at how many recent college grads have their parents reaching out to us on behalf of their children – they even show up at interviews! I thought helicopter parents were only involved at the youth and high school level. But we’re now seeing it in the business world. Can you remind your readers and all recent college grads that parental involvement shouldn’t take place in the workplace?

    Matt: By one definition, a helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are also prevalent at the youth and high school level, often hovering over their children and every decision involving those children at youth or high school activities, in school, or with friends.

    And now, helicopter parents are invading the workplace. Yikes! It’s true.

    “Believe it or not, recruiters and hiring managers are seeing a surprising influx of parental involvement in the job search, recruiting, and interviewing process,” says Brandi Britton, district president for OfficeTeam, the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. “As a staffing firm, we’ve heard our share of helicopter parent stories and experienced some unique situations with moms and dads ourselves.”

    Today’s working parent can be a great resource for that recent college grad seeking job search advice, or with connecting them to members of their professional network. But they shouldn’t accompany their child to job interviews, contact employers on behalf of their child, or listen in on speaker phone or Skype/Facetime during the interview. Those are all things that are happening today and all things recent college grads should be sure to avoid to land that first job, or move forward in their career.

    According to a survey of 608 senior managers by Office Team, 35 percent of senior managers interviewed said they find it annoying when helicopter parents are involved in their kids’ search for work. Another one-third (34 percent) of respondents prefer mom and dad stay out of the job hunt, but would let it slide. Only 29 percent said this parental guidance is not a problem.

    The reasons for mom and dad getting involved are simple, says Britton: Recent college grads may not have as much job search experience and therefore turn to their parents for guidance.

    “The job search process can be extremely challenging and daunting,” says Britton. “Parental support and advice throughout the process can help you stay positive and on track.”

    But…

    “Although most parents mean well with their efforts, they need to know where to draw the line to avoid hurting their son or daughter’s chances of securing a job,” says Britton

    Managers were also asked to recount the most unusual or surprising behavior they’ve heard of or seen from helicopter parents of job seekers. Here are some of their responses:

    • “The candidate opened his laptop and had his mother Skype in for the interview.”
    • “A woman brought a cake to try to convince us to hire her daughter.”
    • “One parent asked if she could do the interview for her child because he had somewhere else to be.”
    • “A father asked us to pay his son a higher salary.”
    • “One mom knocked on the office door during an interview and asked if she could sit in.”
    • “Parents have arrived with their child’s resume and tried to convince us to hire him or her.”
    • “A job seeker was texting his parent the questions I was asking during the interview and waiting for a response.”
    • “Once a father called us pretending he was from the candidate’s previous company and offered praise for his son.”
    • “Parents have followed up to ask how their child’s interview went.”
    • “A father started filling out a job application on behalf of his kid.”
    • “I had one mother call and set up an interview for her son.”
    • “Moms and dads have called to ask why their child didn’t get hired.”

    When it comes to parental involvement in the job search, Britton provided the five biggest mistakes college grads make when involving parents in the job search:

    1. Parents should avoid direct contact with potential employers. They should not participate in interviews or call, email or visit companies on behalf of their children.
    2. Job seekers should be the ones filling out the applications and submitting resumes, not their parents.
    3. Helicopter parents should steer clear of involvement in following up after their child has applied or interviewed for a position.
    4. Having your mom or dad try to bribe a potential employer is a definite no-no. In our survey, one woman brought a cake to a company to try to convince them to hire her daughter.
    5. Parents shouldn’t be involved in job offer discussions, such as negotiating salary or benefits.

    “Parents should absolutely not be included in their children’s job interviews,” says Britton. “The meeting is meant to be a discussion involving only the interviewer(s) and job candidate. “Parents participating in interviews can distract from the goal of making sure it’s a fit for the applicant and employer. The employer is evaluating whether to hire the applicant — not his or her parent.”

    Employers usually appreciate candidates who are assertive, but when a parent is clearly handholding or answering questions for their child, it sends the message that the individual lacks initiative and independence, adds Britton.

    Does this automatically eliminate a candidate?

    “Not all employers will automatically take a candidate out of contention if his or her parents become too involved in the job search, but chances are that most hiring managers would be put off by this type of behavior,” says Britton. “Parents who become overly involved in their children’s job searches can cause more harm than good because employers may question the applicant’s abilities and maturity.”

    Professionals need to take ownership of their careers – they’re responsible for applying to and ultimately landing positions. So how can parents assist recent college grads in the job search? Britton offered these additional tips on how parents can assist recent college grads in the job search:

    1. Uncovering hidden job opportunities: Family members and others in your network can be great sources for advice and help you uncover hidden job opportunities.
    2. Job search and interview preparation: It’s perfectly fine to tap your parents for behind-the-scenes assistance, such as reviewing resumes, conducting mock interviews or offering networking contacts.
    3. Access to professional contacts: Parents or those in their network can provide access to contacts at companies or alert you to opportunities.
    4. Resume and cover letter review: Have your mom or dad review your resume and cover letter to ensure they’re error-free and clearly showcase the most important information.
    5. Mock interview assistance: Prepare for interviews by practicing responses to common (and tricky) questions with your parents. They can also provide constructive criticism regarding your answers and delivery.
    6. Decision-making: Juggling a few offers? Children may want to get their parents’ opinions when weighing potential opportunities. But ultimately, it’s the job seekers decision, not the parents.

    “Parents want the best for their kids, but being overly involved in a child’s job search can cause more harm than good,” says Britton. “It’s a positive for mom and dad to help behind the scenes by reviewing resumes, conducting mock interviews and offering networking contacts. However, ultimately, companies seek employees who display self-sufficiency and maturity.”

    Want more tips and advice on how to successfully navigate the job search? Then stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

    Matt Krumrie

    Matt Krumrie

    About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
    Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.