Ballerina in Charge, Lourdes Lopez

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Lourdes Lopez was already a serious dance student at the prestigious School of American Ballet before she realized she could pursue a career in the art form she loved. It was while preparing a school report on what she wanted to be when she grew up that she found an article on famed New York City Ballet dancer Jacques d’Amboise.

“Until I read that article, I never believed that I could actually do what I do for a living,” remembers Lopez. “I don’t think we deliver the message as a nation that you can support yourself as an artist.”

Not only would she become a principal for the New York City Ballet, where she worked with legendary choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, it also led to a varied post-ballet career. Lopez was still with the company when she was offered a job as a cultural reporter for WNBC-TV in New York. She took a leave of absence which became permanent in 1997. “No one dances forever,” says Lourdes.

Lopez went on to serve on the faculties of New York’s Ballet Academy East and Barnard College, became the executive director of the George Balanchine Foundation, and co-founded Morphoses, a contemporary dance company, with Christopher Wheeldon.

Now Lopez is the artistic director of the acclaimed Miami City Ballet since taking over for its founding director in 2012. She’s made it one of her missions to ensure that all south Florida school children can see a future for themselves in the arts.

Lopez understands what they’re up against. Born in Cuba, Lourdes emigrated with her family to the United States in 1959 and started dancing at the age of five. A Ford Foundation scholarship made it possible to study dance in New York City full time.

“I never thought I could do what I was doing, there was always something that I had to be better at when I was dancing,” admits Lopez. “One of the things that I love about dancing is that it’s never perfect and you’re constantly trying to achieve this goal.”

The rigorous world of ballet prepared her well to lead a company as dynamic and diverse as the Miami City Ballet. Though she’s one of the few women to hold the top position in a national ballet company, she keeps this singular achievement in context.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Latina Director Launches Production Company to Tell Stories About Queer Women of Color

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Back in 2016, director Deborah S. Esquenazi’s documentary Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four documented the case of four Latina lesbians put on trial for assaulting two young girls.The four were convicted and served time before their case was investigated as an example of prosecutorial prejudice and the well-known homophobia that was present in their town. It remains one of the best Latino movies you should seek out, and audiences who were fortunate to see the film then were eager to find out what the Cuban Esquenazi would do next.

The director, who holds both an Emmy nomination and a Peabody award, has announced today she is starting her own production company, Myth of Monsters. The company will “focus on utilizing media and multilingual projects to upend myths about women of color and queer-identified individuals.” The first project set to debut under the Myth of Monsters banner is a scripted adaptation of Esquenazi’s own Southwest of Salem. The TV adaptation has brought on Mad Men writer Jason Grote to work on the script alongside Esquenazi.

The company is also moving forward on a bilingual coming-of-age LGBTQ drama called Queen of Wands. The film will be set in 1989 and is a semi-autobiographical look at Esquenazi’s life growing up as a lesbian in a Cuban-Sephardic household. It is said to draw from the Bible, family stories, and “gay phantasmagoria.”

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.

Manufacturing: A High-Paying ‘New Collar’ Career

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Women in Manufacturing

We’ve heard of white collar jobs and blue collar jobs, but “new collar” jobs? There’s a new trend in employment, and it’s in career fields that don’t necessarily require a college degree but require a specific set of highly technical skills.

In manufacturing, there is a tremendous opportunity for new collar workers to be well paid as they fill hundreds of thousands of vacancies. And the time to take advantage of this opportunity is now.

“Today in America, manufacturers need to fill some 364,000 jobs. Over the next 7 to 8 years, we’ll need to fill around 3.5 million, according to a study from Deloitte and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturing Institute,” says NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “But two million of those jobs could go unfilled because we haven’t upskilled enough workers.”

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was the first to urge politicians and business leaders to not think in terms of white or blue collar jobs, but to broadly consider these future unfilled positions as “new collar” jobs—jobs that don’t require a traditional 4-year degree but do require a good amount of skill. Manufacturing is a great new collar career choice, and here’s why.

Well paying positions. According to the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA), those in a manufacturing-related job in America tend to make an average of $15,000 more per year than other job fields. This extra amount of money alone can pay for rent, a new car, or help to significantly pay off school or other related debts, while still having money left over each year. More money for vacations, or saving to get to retirement faster.

Flexible work environment with a changing technological and social landscape. Machinist jobs are well known to have a casual dress code, which is usually comprised of thick t-shirts, jeans and hoodies, due to the work environments they expose themselves to. There are also lots of young machinists working today who have tattoos, piercings, and an overall unconventional look, which is completely fine with most manufacturing shop floor employers.

There is also the flexibility in being able to bring these skills to any manufacturing shop floor.

With the industry getting younger, it is also easier for people in this job field to not only find their niche community within the realm social media, but for employers to reach new talent via the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond.

Less time in school after high school, and you can often learn the trade during high school. While there is a serious need of resources for STEM learning (science, tech, engineering and math) for youth these days, there are some resources that can be highlighted as great examples.

For any classroom environment, it is highly recommended that educators check out the video platform called Edge Factor, which has an abundance of resources to let young people discover what they would like about working in this industry. There is also the Cardinal Manufacturing program from the Eleva-Strum School District – it’s a real machine shop high school kids can work in, and that school district also has a very progressive Digital Learning Initiative to keep these kids up to pace with current technology.

The great news is that to get a job in the manufacturing field working at a machine, a college degree is not necessary. Most employers will look for certifications, or may even offer an apprenticeship, to get new talent through the door. To gain certifications, there are online colleges, community colleges, and even vendors who offer these valuable certification learning resources, as well as the program Workshops for Warriors for military veterans.

Source: monster.com; Alliance for American Manufacturing; nam.org

Oprah Winfrey, Apple Sign Multi-Year Content Partnership

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Apple and Oprah Winfrey have a signed a multi-year content partnership. Under the deal, Winfrey and Apple will create programs that will be released as part of Apple’s original content lineup.

The deal marks one of the first such agreements struck between Apple and a content creator. Previously, Apple set an overall deal with veteran showrunner Kerry Ehrin. Ehrin will also serve as the showrunner on Apple’s upcoming morning show drama series starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

This is also the latest addition to Winfrey’s media empire. The former hit talk show host formed her own cable network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Communications. The channel has become one of the fastest-growing cable networks among women and has produced hit shows like “Queen Sugar,” which boasts Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay as showrunner.

Winfrey recently extended her contract with Discovery through 2025. Sources tell Variety that Apple’s deal with Winfrey does not conflict with the Discovery agreement. Winfrey remains exclusive in an on-screen capacity to OWN with limited carve-outs, such as her role as a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and her recent acting work for HBO.

Via her Harpo Productions banner, Winfrey has also developed several long-running hit syndicated shows including “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” Through her Harpo Films, she has produced several Academy Award-winning features including “Selma,” which was directed by DuVernay. Winfrey also had a featured role in that film, and recently starred in other films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and HBO’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Winfrey also runs O, The Oprah Magazine and published the New York Times best-selling cookbook “Food, Health and Happiness” last year. As a noted philanthropist, Winfrey has contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017.

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.

How Vimeo’s 34-Year-Old CEO Mastered The Nonlinear Career Path

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The gifts of the digital age are wildly abundant. We have in our pockets the ability to teach ourselves anything, meet people and build communities across the globe and an endless market for goods and services. This level of access and freedom means you don’t have to follow a traditional career path, but when you are thinking about designing your own, whether right out of college or during a career pivot, this unlimited possibility can be totally overwhelming. It’s the paradox of choice.

“You don’t have to follow a traditional career path. There’s no rule book or playbook for success. Write your own roles. Don’t take people’s paths as the way that you have to do things. You have to do it yourself.”

This is Anjali Sud’s advice for us. And as Vimeo’s CEO at 34, she is undoubtedly the master of the non-linear career. “I did everything from investment banking to being a toy buyer to marketing diapers online to coming to Vimeo to do marketing and finding myself in my dream job now as the CEO.”

But how do you create a strategy for building a non-linear career without a playbook? And, how do you advocate for your work when you’re new to a field or if you have the skills but not the experience? I sat down with Anjali Sud at Collision in New Orleans to learn about her journey to the C-Suite and what she’s learned along the way.

When you started your career, did you see your path as non-linear? How did this shift for you over time?

I wish I had known that careers aren’t linear. When you’re young and in school, you work so hard and there is sort of a linear path. You know? You find a major and you specialize in it, you try to get a job. And then when you get out in the workforce, there can sometimes be this pressure — especially when you look at people around you. I remember, right out of college, I wanted to be an investment banker and I couldn’t get a job at a big bank. I got rejected by every big bank. And so you start to feel like, “If I don’t get the job at Goldman Sachs, I’ll never be able to become an operator and do what I want to do.” When I look back at my career path it was incredibly not linear. I wish I had known that so I wouldn’t stress out so much about not having a perfect path or not getting that job interview. Instead, having the faith that you can affect your career path at any point and realizing that opportunities come from places you could never imagine. I wish I had known that. I think I would have been more chill.

When you realized you wanted to transition from finance into operations, you hit a couple of walls — namely companies who didn’t want to give you a shot without this experience. How did you navigate this and end up as an operator at Amazon?

I met with a bunch of startups in NYC and asked them what skill sets they thought were most transferable between finance and operations. One recommendation I got was to try business development as a good “transition” function. The reason is that business development often requires deal-making skills – something I had picked up in finance – but it also involves a deep operational understanding of the business and its growth strategy. So, I applied for a summer internship at Amazon in business development. I worked my butt off that summer and got a full-time offer to join the business development team, but instead asked to take on an operational role. Because I had gotten my foot in the door and proved myself, Amazon was willing to give me a shot as an operator, first in a merchandising role, and then in marketing.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

In reviving a franchise, ‘Ocean’s 8’ brings diversity in representation to the classic heist series

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Women made up 24 percent of protagonists in the 100 top domestic grossing films of 2017, according to one study.

When director Steven Soderbergh rebooted the classic heist film “Ocean’s 11,” the ensemble cast sought to capture the spirit of the 1960s Sinatra-led Rat Pack while paying homage to the original film: same name (with “11” becoming “Eleven”), same setting (Las Vegas), same recognizable — and male — names to bring the story to life on screen.

The 2001 “Ocean’s Eleven” was a box office success, and now 11 years after the last film in the franchise, a new pack is picking up where the “Ocean’s” trilogy left off: “Ocean’s 8” will tell a similar heist-themed plot with a slew of recognizable names — but this time, it’s the women who are front and center of the story.

“We’re celebrating eight distinct women from eight distinct backgrounds, and this is what the world looks like, not just what Hollywood has made the world look like,” director Gary Ross told reporters in May at a press conference to promote the film in New York City.

“Ocean’s 8” follows Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), who has been released from jail after 5 years and assembles a team of experts to rob the Met Gala in New York City. The concept, Ross said, came after he directed “The Hunger Games” and found himself wanting to explore more films starring powerful, female protagonists with complex upbringings.

According to a study by The Center of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, females comprised 24 percent of protagonists in the 100 top domestic grossing films of 2017, which represents a 5 percent decline (down from 29 percent) in 2016.

At the May press conference, “Ocean’s 8” co-star Mindy Kaling said she felt like the film “passes the Bechdel test with flying colors,” referring to the Wallace-Bechdel test, which originated from cartoonist Alison Bechdel and examines if a work of fiction features two female characters who are speaking about something other than a man.

“These women are orchestrating a crime as opposed to fighting over a man,” Kaling said.

BEYOND THE BECHDEL TEST

The Bechdel test is often referenced in Hollywood when talking about female representation on screen, and it’s also inspired theaters in other countries as a grading tool in an effort to make audiences more mindful of what they’re watching. In 2013, four theaters in Sweden announced they would give a film an “A” rating on its movie poster if it passed the Bechdel test.

In 2013, according toIndieWire, only 30 percent of Swedish films passed the Bechdel test. The next year, it jumped to 60 percent; in 2015, 80 percent of films earned an “A.”

But using the Bechdel test as a measurement can also miss the point, according to Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

“A far better test would consider the centrality of female characters to the narrative, the agency of female characters and the dimensionality of female characters,” Lauzen said.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

First FedEx African American Woman Pilot Reflects Journey

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FedEx Airbus Captain and Line Check Airman Tahirah Lamont Brown recalls her very first time in the cockpit in 1992—a momentous occasion for any pilot, but especially for an African American woman entering an industry dominated by men.  Brown later became the first African American woman pilot for FedEx, and shares how hard work, creativity, determination and mentors helped her build her “office in the sky.”

FedEx:  When did you decide you wanted to be a pilot, and what about flying intrigued you?

Tahirah: I decided to be a pilot in high school. At that time I had only flown twice in my life, but the more I learned about aviation, the more fascinated I became. I enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures. Aviation matched my personality. It was an epiphany for me. I decided this is what I want to do, and God put people in my path along the way that helped me achieve my goal.

FedEx:  How did your parents react when you told them about your plans? 

Tahirah: My mother was nervous. My father was supportive, but wasn’t sure I was serious.

FedEx:  As an African American woman in a field dominated by men, did you feel there were barriers to your dream? 

Tahirah: There were barriers, for sure. I didn’t know any pilots and didn’t know how to pay for flight school.

I worked two jobs to pay for college and for flight training. I also wrote my family a letter asking them for support. I promised that if they would help me now, I would pay them back when I had the money, and they helped me.

I met Bill Norwood, the first black pilot at United Airlines, while in Tuskegee, Alabama, at Operation Skyhook and he introduced me to OBAP, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. That introduction provided me with the guidance I needed, and also helped me with scholarships for flight training.

FedEx: Describe your first flight and how it made you feel.

Tahirah: I still remember it vividly as it was exhilarating. I was twenty years old. My first flight was in a Cessna 172, a four-seat single engine prop plane. My instructor in college was with me, along with my supportive, yet reluctant father in the backseat. We took off out of Long Island and flew to Greenwich, Connecticut. I was on top of the world. I could not believe that my view was the sky.

We flew around as I tried to maintain wing level. I looked back at my dad and he was giving me the thumbs up, but I could tell he was getting a little queasy. I said: “you’re doubting me, right?” When we landed I felt like a child that was taking her first step–like the world had no limits. My father told me this was what I was meant to do. All his doubts were alleviated at that moment and going forward he only asked how he could help me.

Continue onto FedEx to read the complete article.

The new Sally Ride stamp ensures astronaut will be a role model for generations

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sally ride stamp

by: Lynn Sherr

Sally Ride soared into history 35 years ago as the first American woman in space. This week, six years after her death made her eligible for recognition, the United States Postal Service is commemorating her extraordinary achievement with a postage stamp.

It’s an iconic honor, a time-hallowed tribute to a genuine hero who joins superstars from George Washington to John Lennon in the American stampbook.

True, an envelope bearing the image of Sally in space gear will take longer to get across town than it took her to orbit Earth.

But this bold young woman whose grin once lit up the skies — the jaunty astrophysicist who broke the ultimate glass ceiling and convinced millions that they, too, could do anything — remains a valuable role model for today’s emerging leaders. Her beaming face on a tiny rectangle of colored paper represents the perfect intersection between the daring achievements of the recent past and the lofty goals of the #MeToo revolution.

Ride was born in 1951, when outer space was science fiction and women’s rights were almost nonexistent. She fully appreciated that her selection as one of NASA’s first six female astronauts was due largely to the women’s movement, which had liberated more than one men’s club. In 1982, when she was chosen as the first woman to fly, she mused, publicly, “maybe it’s too bad that our society isn’t further along and that this is such a big deal.”

That she did not reveal she was a lesbian until her obituary was published, or rightfully felt she could not reveal it without risking her career, shows just how much further we had to travel.

I met Sally in 1981 when, as a reporter for ABC News, I interviewed her for a story on the upcoming space shuttle and its new breed of astronauts. Her unflappable manner and unreserved feminism were refreshing, and we quickly became friends. Just before the June 1983 launch, she confessed, candidly, that yes, she did feel under pressure:  “not to mess up.”

Sally never elaborated — she rarely did — but I knew what she meant.  She didn’t want to mess up for space exploration, because she cared about its goals; she didn’t want to mess up for NASA, because she deeply respected its mission; she didn’t want to mess up for her crew, because she was a team player; but mostly, she didn’t want to mess up for other women, because she knew she was their representative on that first, critical flight.

She understood that you can’t be one if you can’t see one.

Sally proved that you don’t need the right plumbing to have the right stuff. Throughout her life — another shuttle mission, several years managing and investigating NASA,  teaching physics, creating a company to entice youngsters to the sciences that so entranced her — she learned how to succeed in a world often set against her. With wry wit.

Continue onto USA Today to read the complete article.

Goldman Sachs Goes Online for Next Step in Its 10,000 Women Push

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woman entrepreneur standing with arms crossed

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has made a push to be more digital, even in its charitable operations.

The bank has hit the goal it set a decade ago to help 10,000 female entrepreneurs in developing countries grow their business and access capital. Now, one of Wall Street’s most well-known philanthropic efforts is expanding its reach by offering free online classes.

In the wake of public scrutiny after the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs set up two programs to try to improve its image — 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses. As part of the former, the firm has donated more than $100 million and taught business skills to women in countries such as Brazil, India and Nigeria. In developing countries, female entrepreneurship has been increasing, and there are now about 8 to 10 million of these businesses, according to research from the World Bank.

“By virtue of contributing to their families economically, the barriers — whether cultural or religious — were lifted,” John Rogers, chairman of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, said in an interview. “And lifted enough that their daughters were able to go to school.”

The new curriculum will be offered in English through Coursera, an online learning platform accessed by more than 32 million users. It will feature graduates of the program in case studies and videos in the course.

The bank originally built the program around research it did showing global economic growth could be increased by boosting women in the workplace. The firm is battling with that itself — women made up 38 percent of the bank’s U.S. employees and its top executives have pledged to increase to 50 percent at some point in the future. It’s aiming to start with an even split in its hiring of recent college graduates by 2021.

Continue onto Bloomberg to read the complete article.

The Growing Influence of Women Entrepreneurs

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Business people meeting in conference room

There are many challenges that women face in the modern workplace — and that goes double for the boardroom or when trying to break through the ever-present ‘glass ceiling.’ These issues are never more of a challenge than when a woman decides she is going to go ‘off on her own’ as an entrepreneur. With locating reasonable financing, confronting gender bias and the paucity of appropriate mentors and the diminutive learning curve, a business owned and run by a woman can be a real struggle for survival.

Because of these special challenges, some backward-looking people still insist that women aren’t cut out to become business owners in their own right. This kind of negative mindset increases, sadly, when the woman is a person of color or disabled — or in any other way marginalized by lingering male prejudices. To break down these persistent barriers to success, women must be willing to understand and recognize the problems they face when beginning a woman-centric enterprise. With understanding comes the determination to not let such medieval concepts upset their plans and helps to bring more women into entrepreneurial endeavors.

Finding the money

Traditional lenders, such as banks and credit unions, are some of the worst offenders when it comes to gender prejudice. Studies show that such lending institutions continue to be resistant to loaning out seed money to women entrepreneurs, to the extent that their approval rating is as much as 20 percent less than it is for men who are starting their own companies. While women do have a healthy access to alternative lenders offering business loans, which somewhat levels the playing field, these other lenders, usually online, charge interest rates that are always higher than a regular bank. So this means a woman-owned business starts off with a heavier debt load.

One alternative that seems to be working in women’s favor, though, is the rise in crowdfunding initiatives. This is a completely gender-neutral venue for raising capital for new businesses.

Mentoring

The process of mentoring is a recognized necessity for most male entrepreneurs, and there are many channels through which a man can obtain another older and experienced man’s help in starting up a new business. The same cannot be said for women — yet. Luckily, the numbers are going in an encouraging direction.

While traditional infrastructure, such as banks, is still male-dominated, other areas, especially in sales and marketing, are now becoming rapidly equalized between men and women, and a woman who is beginning her own business should look to the marketing and/or sales sector for an experienced and savvy mentor to help her steer her ship through the riptides and shoals of the startup ocean.

Continue onto Entrepreneur to read the complete article.

Cliché Answers to the Most Common Interview Questions—What you should say instead

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interview candidate

By Brianna Flavin

The internet offers a massive amount of job interview advice, sample questions and potential responses. When you are trying to land a job, it’s easy to devour this advice in bulk, but that might actually be more detrimental to your career than you realize.

What’s resulted is hiring managers hearing the same cliché responses over and over again. When your objective is to learn about applicants to determine if they will be a good fit for the position, and they all say their biggest flaw is “perfectionism,” it’s frustrating, to say the least.

As a job seeker, you want to do your homework and come to the interview prepared to answer the most common interview questions. But how can you avoid sounding like an echo of every other candidate?

“The preferred response to any question is one that is honest and upfront,” says staffing and onboarding coach Jen Teague. Ideally, your circumstances, interests and aspirations will factor into every answer, leaving your interviewer with a clear and accurate impression of who you are.

To get you started in the right direction—and to help you steer clear of some responses that could leave a bad impression—we asked hiring managers to share the most cliché answers they encounter when interviewing job candidates. See what the folks in the hiring seats are sick of hearing and their advice on how to craft a more impressive response.

  1. Why would you excel at this job?

What NOT to say: “I like working with people.”

“This is one of the most robotic answers a candidate could provide,” according to Beth Tucker, CEO of KNF&T Staffing Resources. She says though it might seem like a friendly answer, it doesn’t actually reveal anything about you as a person or employee.

“Most people like to work with other people,” Tucker explains. “Instead of saying this, try thinking of the core message you’re trying to communicate.” Are you an especially strong communicator? Do you work harder when you’re collaborating with coworkers on a project? Do you enjoy delegating responsibility?

“You’re much better off giving an example that demonstrates your abilities,” Tucker says.

A better approach: Talk about a team project where you interacted with a diverse group of people—or difficult people. This will have a much bigger impact and make a better impression on the interviewer.

  1. What do you know about our company?

What NOT to say: “Not much. I was hoping you could tell me.”

“This answer highlights your lack of initiative and preparation,” says Mike Smith, founder of SalesCoaching1. He urges to always do your research on any company you are interviewing with and come prepared to dazzle.

A better approach: Smith suggests a statement that displays what you understand about the company and what you might still want clarification on. An example is, “I found your annual report and noticed your company has grown your market share and is opening other branches. What is the next location planned?”

  1. Why do you want to be in this business?

What NOT to say: “It looks like a cool company to work for.”

This vague enthusiasm also reveals a lack of research. Smith says experienced interviewers hear this same answer time and time again. Why would you prefer to work for this company, rather than some of their competitors? Even if you do plan to interview at both companies, you are better off being specific.

A better approach: “I have done a lot of research in this marketplace. Your company and your competitors (name them) are in the fastest growing sector. I want to be a part of that growth.”

  1. Why did you apply for this position?

What NOT to say: “I want to get my career started.”

“The worst cliché answer I receive is something along the lines of, ‘I’m not picky about my position; I just want a chance to work,’” says Shell Harris, President of Big Oak Studios Inc. He says this kind of answer typically comes from the mouths of college graduates having difficulty landing their first job.

“When I hear this response, I am thinking this person is desperate to work and will say anything to get any job, even a job they may not like,” Harris says. He adds that this is often an indicator that the candidate will continue job searching even if he or she does land the position. He believes applicants who have specific expectations about what kind of work they will do in the company come off much better.

“It tells me they understand what we do, how they can help and, most importantly, that they want to be a part of the company,” Harris says. “Sure, I believe they want to work, but they aren’t being honest with me or themselves if they say they’ll take any job.”

A better approach: Talk about what the role you’re applying for does for you. Could it help you develop a skill you’re hoping to sharpen? Does it align with your strengths or expertise? What excites you about the position?

  1. What is your biggest weakness as an employee?

What NOT to say: “I’m a perfectionist.”

This is one of the biggest clichés out there in interviewing world. “The age-old advice about spinning any negative about yourself into a positive only works when it’s specific,” says Gail Abelman, recruiter at Staffing Perfection.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people tell me, ‘I’m a perfectionist,’ or ‘I’m too honest,’” she says. “These are about as cliché and phony as it gets.”

“You can tell immediately when people are not being genuine,” says Rebecca Baggett, Director of Human Resources at Bigger Pockets. She says responses like ‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I’m too loyal’ really communicate either a lack of honesty or a lack of self-awareness. “I always appreciate when a candidate says, ‘I messed up and this is how I corrected the situation,’” she says.

Ableman advises telling a story to answer this kind of question. It will sound more personal and realistic, and you will provide your interviewer with a better picture of who you are and what it will be like to hire you.

A better approach: Describe an issue you experienced at a previous job, the problem you had solving it and the steps you took to ultimately overcome it.

  1. What are your long-term goals?

What NOT to say: “I want to move up within the company.”

Advancement might seem like the only right answer to give to this question, but thinking of your goals in terms of a one line track to the top is actually rather limiting. Teague says personal goals as well as professional goals can play into your answer here, particularly if they could intersect (i.e., Wanting to learn another language).

Once again, get specific. Your interviewer wants to know what motivates you. Try to think beyond a larger paycheck and detail some goals that make you excited about what you do.

A better approach: Explain that you’re motivated to advance as a professional, and list some particular goals you’d like to achieve (both personal and professional).

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

What NOT to say: “No, I think you covered them all.”

This answer if often on the tip of everyone’s jittery tongue at the close of an interview, but it reveals no preparation or willingness to research the industry, according to Smith. As this is often the question that will conclude the interview, your response has the potential to leave a particularly lasting impression.

Smith suggests thanking interviewers for what they did cover and offering at least one, in-depth question. You can riff off something they already mentioned in the interview or bring up something you found in your research. “This shows a business maturity and a professional approach,” Smith adds.

A better approach: Ask about a recent announcement you encountered in your research or ask the interviewer about what brought them to the company.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Source: rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/college-life/cliche-answers-to-the-most-common-interview-questions/