Hiring Managers Recall Their Scariest Scenarios

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Job Interview

Interviews are scary—there’s no denying it. We’ve all been there: sweaty palms, clenched fists, face to face with a potential employer. It’s perfectly normal to say something you might regret later because you let your nerves get the best of you.

Most hiring managers can overlook that awkward tension. But what makes an interview truly terrifying? What type of behavior sends hiring managers running for their lives?

We talked with a handful of hiring managers who shared their most shocking interview horror stories. From mistakes as basic as name blunders to stories as outlandish as being lectured by an angry mother, these interviewers were scared silly.

Learn from their experiences so you won’t find yourself haunted by a bad interview.

Six Seriously Scary Interview Stories

1. Too much information

One of the golden rules of interviewing is to never lie. But there are certain scenarios where it’s smart to tone down your true feelings, according to Brad Stultz, human resources coordinator at Totally Promotional. He recalls an interview with a candidate who was a little too honest—and borderline unprofessional.

“During an interview I had posed the question, ‘Why do you want to work here?’” he explains. “The candidate responded, quite candidly, with ‘I really don’t. I just need a job and figured you would do for now.’”

Stultz says he does appreciate candor, but a blunt statement like that left him feeling this wasn’t the best candidate for the job. It’s no secret that people use certain positions as stepping stones, but it is bad form to share this during the interview process. Instead, mention one or two things that impress you about the company.

“There are always positives to any position,” Stultz shares. “A little tact can go a very long way!”

2. Letting it R.I.P.

Sometimes nature calls during the most inopportune times. Gene Caballero, co-founder of Greenpal, remembers a particularly humorous interview experience involving a candidate’s bodily functions.

“The funniest thing that ever happened while conducting an interview was when the interviewee got a little gaseous and actually passed gas, not once, but twice,” Caballero shares. “All three hiring managers in the room lost it after the second one after letting the first one slide. It was very awkward there for a minute, and one of the managers actually had to leave because she couldn’t stop laughing.”

While it’s never a bad idea to show a hiring manager you’re comfortable and confident in their presence, you may want to take care of any disruptive bodily functions before an interview. Otherwise excuse yourself if necessary.

3. A bad sign

From your initial application through the interview and hiring process, honesty is always the best policy. You should never, ever lie on a resume, because you just might get caught red-handed. Ed Fisher, a consultant at Acumax, remembers catching a candidate in the middle of a lie.

While reviewing resumes for an open position, he noticed one candidate listed fluency in sign language as a qualification. This skill wasn’t really relevant for the job, but it caught his attention as he had taken several ASL courses himself. So he decided it would be fun to conduct a portion of the interview in sign language.

“I entered the conference room, sat down at the table with the Rasmussen Collegesmiling applicant and began signing,” Fisher says. “She had no idea what I was saying.” She went on to admit that she had never learned sign language, but her roommate had. Needless to say, the dishonesty made a negative first impression on Fisher.

“The interview concluded in 5 minutes,” he adds.

4. Family matters

We know family is important, but they don’t need to be involved in your interview process. Ben Histand of Equity Track will never forget the time he encountered an angry mama bear after passing on a candidate.

“We also interviewed someone and they had their mom call us after they did not get the job,” Histand shares. “The mother proceeded to berate us for not hiring her precious child.” Take note: While berating another human is almost always a bad idea, bringing a family member into the mix—especially into professional matters—can only make things worse.

5. Name games

If you’re applying for a job, make sure to educate yourself on the company’s background, including its key leaders. It just might come up in the interview, says Marcello Medini, sales team leader at PNG Logistics. He shares a story about a candidate who just couldn’t keep her details straight, at her own expense.

“An applicant had gotten the name of the president of our company wrong multiple times,” Medini recalls. He sent an email explaining that they decided to go a different direction and cited the name mix-up as an unfortunate error. “She then responded that she doesn’t understand and got his first name wrong yet again!”

6. Disappearing act

Though integrity is of utmost importance, there are some instances when too much honesty can be harmful, according to Brandon Hoffman, director of digital marketing for KEA Advertising. He explains on their job application, they include a question asking candidates what they would like to be doing in five years. Typically, he’ll see answers like “running my own business” or “advancing my digital marketing career.” But this candidate was different.

“The applicant answered ‘full-time magician,’” Hoffman recalls. “When he came into my office, I asked him, ‘Can you make yourself disappear?’” The candidate laughed, but Hoffman says he was serious.

“That was the end of the interview,” he says.

Author
Ashley Abramson

Source: rasmussen.edu/student-life

We’re Loving It: Meet The Youngest Black Woman To Own A McDonald’s Franchise

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Jade Colin is making waves in the restaurant franchise business as McDonald’s youngest black woman to own one of the popular fast food eateries.

No doubt an impressive feat, the New Orleans native has been preparing to run her own business for years. In 2010, her parents purchased their first McDonald’s. She began working in her family’s restaurants in 2012, after graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a bachelors in Business Management.

The next step in her journey towards owning her own was joining the Next Generation program. The program helps train children of McDonald’s franchise owners in hopes of one day running their parents’ investments, or franchising a new store themselves. Uniquely, a parent can’t simply pass their franchise down to their kids; they have to go through a process where they’re accepted to take it over, or, like Colin, start their own.

Colin excelled in the program, receiving the Outstanding Restaurant Manager of the Year Award for her region, as well as the Ray Kroc Award, which recognizes the top one percent of restaurant managers in the country.

In 2016, Colin opened her first McDonald’s location, marking her as McDonald’s youngest black franchise owner, at 26 years old.

Now 28, and still McDonald’s youngest black franchise owner, Colin is thinking long term when talking about being black and running your own business. Speaking to The Black Professional, the millennial franchisee said, “As an African American community, we need more men and women to know it’s not just about right now, but it’s about the generations to come.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

Stacy Brown-Philpot of TaskRabbit on Being a Black Woman in Silicon Valley

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The Detroit native studied at Penn and Stanford, worked for Goldman and Google, and now runs the gig economy pioneer that Ikea acquired in 2017.

Stacy Brown-Philpot didn’t grow up aspiring to be the chief executive of a technology company. Instead, she wanted to be an accountant.

While interning at an accounting firm in the 1990s, Ms. Brown-Philpot — who was raised by her mother in Detroit — worked for a partner who happened to be African-American. “I was like, ‘OK, there’s a black person who is a partner at this firm. This is something that I can accomplish.’”

But as Ms. Brown-Philpot acquired more experience and education, her ambitions grew, too. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1997, did a stint as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, then became an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in 1999.

She went back to college to get her graduate degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, then in 2003 joined Google, where Sheryl Sandberg became a mentor. At Google, Ms. Brown-Philpot assumed a series of leadership roles and founded the Black Googlers Network, an employee resource group.

After nine years at Google, she joined TaskRabbit — which lets people hire freelancers for odd jobs — as chief operating officer. She became chief executive in 2016, and last year, she sold the company to Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted at TaskRabbit headquarters in San Francisco.

Tell me about your upbringing.

I grew up on the West Side of Detroit. My mom raised my brother and me by herself. We didn’t have a lot. My mother worked a job that didn’t pay a whole lot of money, so she had to make a lot of sacrifices. But she prioritized education. She would fall asleep helping us with our homework at night. She always taught us that no one can take your learning away from you. And with that, you can go anywhere and do anything.

So I focused on getting good grades. I wasn’t always a popular kid. I didn’t have the best clothes. But I was a smart kid. It’s cool to be smart in Silicon Valley. It’s not cool to be smart on the West Side of Detroit.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route with my brother. I would help him collect the money. I was like the C.F.O. of that operation, making sure we got paid.

And then you went to Penn.

I had no idea what an Ivy League school was. I was a fish out of water. My high school was 98 percent black. Penn was 6 percent black. So I had to find community. I had to figure out how was I going to succeed in this environment where most people don’t look like me, and don’t come from where I came from.

So where’d you find community?

There was a black college house. I didn’t live there. I would just go over there and spend time just sitting around with people that, you know, ate collard greens and fried chicken, just like I did growing up. It just made it safer for me and more confident for me to walk into a classroom and know I knew the answers and speak up.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

Top 5 Highest Paying Government Jobs

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Government jobs offer stability, reasonably normal hours, many benefits and retirement packages. But, many people don’t realize that it offers are many high-paying jobs. See below for the top 5 jobs that pay a high salary.

1 Astronomer

Astronomy is a relatively small field, with about 6,000 professional astronomers in the United States. With a median annual salary of $108,681 a year, you can find them working for the Army, Air Force, and NASA.

2 Criminal Investigator

The projected growth rate for a criminal investigator is 18 percent. With an average base pay of $92,911 a year, criminal investigators work for the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the Army.

3 Microbiologist

Microbiologists earn an average of $87,500 a year, with an estimated increase of about 9 percent, and government agencies will be hiring about 8,000 new employees.  Microbiologists can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Agricultural Research Service, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

4 Chaplain

This field is continuing to grow, and government chaplains earn an average $73,500 a year. You will find chaplains being hired at the Veterans Health Administration, Bureau of Prisons/Federal Prison System, Office Secretary Health and Human Services, and the National Institutes of Health.

5 Correctional Officer

Correctional officers on average make $47, 000 a year. A total of 26,000 new correctional officer jobs are expected to become available by 2020. Most of these are likely to be found at the Bureau of Prisons/Federal Prison System and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most correctional officer jobs only require a high school diploma, but other employers, such as the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, require at least a bachelor’s degree.

Sources: glassdoor.com, financeandcareer.com, salary.com, federalpay.org

Monster Reveals the Top 10 Jobs and Cities for Finding Work in 2018

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black-woman-working

Over the last 99 consecutive months — from March 2010 through May 2018 — employers added more than 19 million jobs, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But employment isn’t the same everywhere, notes Monster, which analyzed its data and found the top 10 U.S. cities for job seekers, as well as the industries that are hiring most.

For the first half of 2018, New York City ranked number one for job seekers, according to Monster’s data — which differs from another job site’s analysis.

However, following the trend of health care-related jobs being in demand, Monster’s most posted job from January to June 2018 was a registered nurse.

Top 10 cities for finding a job:

According to Monster’s data of which cities had the most job postings, the coasts and large metropolitan areas held promise for those searching for a job in the first half of 2018.

  1. New York City
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Dallas
  5. Chicago
  6. Boston
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Atlanta
  9. San Francisco
  10. Houston

The Bureau of Labor Statistics looks at data from 388 metropolitan areas, and “eleven of the most populous metropolitan areas are made up of 38 metropolitan divisions, which are essentially separately identifiable employment centers.”

In May of 2018, the agency saw non-farming employment growth in 37 out of 38 metropolitan divisions — including those on Monster’s list. “The largest over-the-year increase in employment among the metropolitan divisions occurred in New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ (+97,900),” according to the BLS, matching Monster’s data.

However, Indeed, a competing job search website, released its list of best cities for job seekers in April of this year and New York was nowhere near the top. In its evaluation of 50 metropolitan areas, Indeed took other factors into account, including salary, job security and advancement, work/life balance, and the city’s labor market. New York ranked 46 out of 50.

Coming in second on Monster’s list, the Southern California division of Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA was ranked third by the BLS, with a year-over-year employment increase of 63,900. The Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas division ranked second with the BLS, with an increase in employment of 90,700. Monster’s data placed Dallas not far off, in fourth place.

Most posted jobs on Monster

Monster analyzed the most-often posted jobs from employers in the first six months of 2018.

  1. Registered nurses
  2. Software developers
  3. Supervisors of retail sales workers
  4. Customer service representatives
  5. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
  6. Computer user support specialists
  7. Sales representatives
  8. Maintenance and repair workers
  9. Retail salespersons
  10. Network and computer systems administrators

The demand for nurses — top on Monster’s list — isn’t entirely surprising. According to the BLS, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. This is partially due to the aging of the baby boomer generation and the increased need for preventative services.

Continue reading on Fortune.com here

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

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.

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.

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/