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Ask questions in the interview to stand out and get the job

As you walk into your interview, ready to sell yourself for the job, you are more than likely concentrating on your best answers to interview questions—not on what you need to ask your interviewer. But asking questions of your own not only gives you information you need to make an informed decision about whether to take the job once you get the offer, it also gives you the information you need to do a better job at selling yourself.

  1. What are you looking for in an ideal candidate? This will give you an idea as to what skills they need that you have and what key points about your experience will you want to highlight.
  2. What characteristics does a successful person have in your organization? This is a follow up to the first question that gives you another perspective on what they value.
  3. What does your company expect from new hires within the first three months on the job? During your interview preparation, you should have created a 30-60-90 plan to show to hiring managers exactly what you plan to do once you jump into your new role and this is your chance to use it.
  4. Does company management encourage promoting from within the organization? Find out what the opportunities are like once you are hired and are looking for possibilities to advance your career.
  5. In what way does this position fit into the long-term goals of the organization? Here you are hoping for an answer that will define the purpose of this job within the company, the security of the position, and the potential for long-term growth.
  6. Where do you think your team needs improvement and how do you see the person in this role contributing to that? This gives you an opportunity to bounce back with the qualities that they said they needed.
  7. What were the positive and negative attributes of the person who held this position before me? The hiring manager will be able to give you clues as to what they liked about your predecessor and what they did wrong that you can avoid.
  8. How would I be evaluated in this position and who would be responsible for the evaluations? Finding out this answer will give you more insight into the priorities for candidate and who will be managing you in the position.
  9. Why would a candidate want to work for you instead of your competitor and why would they stay? You are giving them an opportunity to sell you on the position now and to give you some ideas about whether the job would be right for you.
  10. Is there any reason why I would not be successful in this role? Is there any reason why I could not move forward into this position? While this may feel pretty bold or even slightly pushy, this aggressiveness and honesty in asking for the job is what gets people hired. If you find out what misgivings they have before you leave the interview, you will have a chance to clear things up and counter their doubts–and quite possibly save your job offer.

Thinking about your job interview with this kind of strategic, thoughtful approach will help you get the job. Check out my Strategic Approach to the Interview for a comprehensive approach to getting the job.

The 10 Best Interview Questions to Ask, along with additional job search articles and tools, is available on Career Confidential.

Guest post from Peggy McKee, CEO of Career Confidential

Tips for answering good job interview questions

Hiring managers usually have a list of questions they love to ask when they interview you. But just because you get asked a common question doesn’t mean you should give a common answer. If you plan ahead, you can come up with a standout answer.

In the video below, I will tell you two standard job interview questions and give you my best advice to show you’ve done your homework and sell yourself for the job.

Go here to watch the video => Good Interview Questions You Should Know How to Answer

If you’d like more help with job interview questions and answers, check out my tips for a Strategic Approach to the Interview.

Guest post by Peggy McKee of Career Confidential

Thank you notes make you stand out from your competition after the interview

  1. Send a substantial thank you note. Don’t just say thanks. This is another selling opportunity here. Another chance to point out why you’d be a great fit. Tie it in with something you spoke about in the interview conversation. So mention that you enjoyed talking with them, add some additional thoughts about how you and your skills are a great fit, and what you learned makes you even more enthusiastic about working there.
  2. Send your note by email, not snail mail. Thank you emails are entirely appropriate. They show you understand the speed of business and are comfortable with technology. And most importantly, they keep you in the conversation because lots of hiring decisions happen fast. You don’t want them to make a decision while the post office still has your letter.
  3. If you didn’t get their email address, here’s a trick: Use Google. Do a search of the general email addresses of the company. Type in a * and then @ plus whatever the name of the company is, so it looks like this: “*@thecompanyname.com”. That should lead you to the address of everyone who works there, or at least show you how their email addresses are constructed.

Click the links to get a sample thank you note and a free follow up after the interview audio.

Guest post by Peggy McKee of Career Confidential

Fast follow up emails after the interview are better than handwritten notes

Lots of job seekers underestimate just how important it is to say “thank you”….for the time, for the conversation, for the opportunity to meet. And it’s also important that you get it to your interviewer fast: within 24 hours of your interview. A handwritten, snail-mailed note just won’t do that. Send an email.

Why is it so important?

Hiring decisions (or decisions to offer a second interview) are often made very quickly. You don’t want to lose an opportunity to sway their opinion in favor of hiring you.

What should it say?

It should address how much you appreciated the opportunity to meet with them, how much you enjoyed learning more about the organization, how you think your XYZ will really help them with their ABC, and how you’re looking forward to talking with them further.

Who should you send a note to?

Send a thank you email to everyone you speak with. They will be talking to each other about you, comparing notes. So make sure everyone you speak with gets one, and make sure they are tailored to the person you’re writing it to about the conversation you had with them. A ‘form letter’ thank you is almost as bad as no thank you at all.

Get my Follow Up After the Interview podcast for no-fail follow up tips.

Guest post by Peggy McKee of Career Confidential

The questions to ask in your job interviews might surprise you.

You always want to ask questions during your job interview because (1) it shows that you researched the company, (2) it helps you have a more relaxed and productive conversation, and (3) it helps you uncover information you can’t get anywhere else. It’s that third one that’s the tricky one. Some of the information you need is not just ‘inside’ information about the company and the job.

You can have a much better, more successful interview (and a better shot at the job) if you ask two key questions. They are what I call strategic questions that give you big clues as to what the hiring manager is hoping you’ll say so he can hire you. You can nudge him into making you the offer just by asking these questions and using the information you get from them.

Click to watch a video of the two most important questions to ask in a job interview.

If you’ve got an interview in your future, first make sure you get our free Job Interview Prep Kit and then get more strategies for success in our Strategic Approach to Interviewing.

Guest post by Peggy McKee of Career Confidential

Thank you emails are a key piece of every interview process.

There is never a good reason not to send a thank you note after any interview. It doesn’t matter if you knocked it out of the park and they told you the job is yours already. (It’s never a done deal until the written offer is signed, sealed and delivered.) It doesn’t matter if it was only a phone interview. (Every interview matters.)

Why are thank you notes so important? It’s all part of the interview follow up process. They give you one more chance to touch the hiring manager and make the case for hiring you. And they tell that hiring manager a lot about what kind of manners you have, what kind of communication skills you have, and if you are enthusiastic about this job. In many cases, it’s a tipping point. (See a sample thank you note for your job interview.)

One hiring manager called me a few days after a phone interview with one of my candidates. The manager felt that the candidate was qualified but was reluctant to say that he wanted to move the candidate forward. Then he asked if the candidate had talked with me after the interview and did the candidate ask for the hiring manager’s email address. Yes, I had talked with the candidate and no – she had not asked for the email address. That answer was the kiss of death for that candidate. That simple piece of information was the tipping point for him.

That particular job was in sales and marketing. Those managers often feel that if you don’t use all the tools to persuade them in your job search, you won’t use all of the tools you need to be successful in their position. If you’re in sales or marketing, not sending a thank you email gives them an excuse not to hire you.

In other jobs, the thank you note is a tipping point for other reasons. But it still can be the only thing separating you and another candidate in this competitive market. So use everything you can to influence them to hire you.

Guest post by Peggy McKee of Career Confidential

Best tips for answering job interview questions

You won’t find the best way to answer job interview questions from a Google search of ‘best answers to interview questions’. Mostly what you’ll find are answers that make you sound just like everyone else.

The best way to answer interview questions is to do it with a strategy of your own. Your mission in this interview is to sell yourself for the job…so all your answers have to help you accomplish that mission. How can you talk about your background and your skills in a way that all works together to present you as a ‘gotta have’ candidate? That’s a strategy.

But it’s a lot easier to show than tell, right? So…let me introduce you to my free Mock Interview Training program. It’s a fun, fast, very easy way to get standout answers to a multitude of typical job interview questions. Click the link below to see a video about how it works:

How to Answer Job Interview Questions

Guest post by Peggy McKee of Career Confidential

Send a thank you email after your job interview, not a handwritten note

You’ll find a lot of information still online about the importance of sending a handwritten, snail-mailed thank you note after your job interview. They usually talk about the ‘personal’ aspect of it, and how it will make you stand out even more because you took the time to write it.

I have been in recruiting and career coaching for about 15 years now, and I’ve talked with hundreds of hiring managers, and I’m telling you that you do not have to send a handwritten note. Just by sending a thank you note at all, you’re already going to stand out. It would surprise you how many job seekers don’t say thank you.

So why is a thank you email better than a handwritten thank you note?

  1. Speed. Many hiring decisions are made very quickly in the interview process. Companies very often don’t have weeks to make a decision. They need someone in that spot now. If you’re convinced the note is the way to go, the best you can do is have it addressed and ready to mail immediately after your interview because speed matters. But sending an email is appropriate, it’s fast, and it won’t get lost in the mail ever.
  2. Adaptability. It lends itself to one of my favorite tactics, which is sending an updated 30-60-90-day plan that includes all the stuff you talked over with the hiring manager in the interview. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, find out about 30-60-90-day plans and create one for your next interview.)
  3. Potential for ongoing communication. I’ve known of more than one hiring manager to continue the conversation with the candidate by responding to the email in a way that they never would with a handwritten thank you note. An email could open up a new conversation that gives you one more edge in the process.

Always send a thank you email after the interview!

Get more interview follow up tips (and a FREE audio) in this post on Thank You Note Etiquette.

Guest post by Peggy McKee of Career Confidential

Are you asking the right question in your job interview?

Lots of job seekers don’t even realize they should be asking questions in the interview. If they do, they limit themselves to information-gathering about the job. Information-gathering is great (as long as you don’t ask about salary!), but there’s one question that can either seal the deal on you getting the job, or even rescue an offer you’re already losing.

Click here to watch a video about

the top question to ask in your job interview

Want an amazing tool to support your question-asking and help you show your stuff? Bring a 30/60/90-day plan. It works beautifully to give you a better conversation and a successful interview.

Guest post by Peggy McKee of Career Confidential

Tips for writing job interview thank you notes

If the only thing your job interview thank you note says is “Thanks for the interview. I’m looking forward to working with you!”, you have already stood out from the crowd, but you have still wasted a prime opportunity to boost your chance to get the job by nudging that hiring manager farther along toward making you the offer.

How do you do that? By writing a thank you note that looks like this:

Dear Mr. Manager,

I really enjoyed our conversation on Monday. The more I learn, the more excited I am about working for ______ company. I am more convinced than ever that my skills in X, Y, and Z are perfect to help with your A, B, and C challenges. And in fact, I can see that my experience in D, E, and F would bring another advantage to solving your issues with _________. I am really looking forward to discussing this with you again. I’ll call you on Thursday to discuss next steps.

Your name

This is a rough example of what your email should look like, but you get the idea. You’re taking this additional opportunity to sell yourself for the job and you’re taking active steps to keep the conversation going. It’s not just “thanks, I hope to hear from you”. That doesn’t get you to the next step, but this does.

A few more job interview thank you note tips:

  • If the interview didn’t go so well, you can use this opportunity for damage control. Address misconceptions, things you forgot, etc.
  • Send your thank you as an email within 24 hours of your meeting.
  • Send a personalized note to everyone you spoke with about this job…whether it’s the 3 people on the panel, or the 5 people you spoke with individually.

It’s worth your time to get your job interview follow up done right.

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