What You Need to Know About Asking Questions During a Job Interview

Asking Questions During a Job Interview

As much of the younger generation and several peers of mine are beginning to pursue their career paths, I find–when they’re seeking advice–they most often ask me for interview tips.

Many times, individuals are not coached on the interview process unless they go out of their way to seek out information and direction. And most, surprisingly, don’t know that a key part of an interview is preparing their own questions to ask the interviewer.

Ask the Right Questions

Asking a combination of questions that address both the interviewer and the position does two things:

  1. It gets the interviewer talking about themselves. Traditionally, when people think of an interview, they think they’ll be the one doing the bulk of the talking when answering questions. In reality, it should be quite the opposite. Asking direct questions about the person interviewing you–how they got into their position, what they enjoy about the company, strengths, weaknesses, etc.–stops the interview from being one-sided and turns it into more of a conversation. People, like your interviewer, want to feel like you’re genuinely interested in them and enjoy expressing themselves, too. If you’re able to get your interviewer talking or conversing with you, it’s always a big bonus.
  2. It shows you’re genuinely interested in how to best fulfill the position you’re applying for, and if you ask specific questions tied to the company AND the position, it shows you care and have done your research. Both elements, sadly, are generally going above and beyond in today’s professional world. It’s amazing how much further it will get you to sit down and do a few minutes of research beforehand on the company’s website to bring into the conversation and questions during the interview.

In today’s career world, it seems that although your resume may be what initially gets your foot in the door, once you’re in for an interview, it becomes less about what’s on paper and more about how you present yourself. After an interview if and when (because there will always be rejection, and that’s okay) you don’t get a position, it often has less to do with your lack of experience and qualification and more to do with who was the most prepared and which person left the best overall impression.

Think about it this way: If the company didn’t think you were qualified, they wouldn’t have called you in for an interview in the first place. At that point, you know you have what they’re looking for; you just have to figure out how to present yourself better than everyone else. 

Getting the position you want can easily be the difference between…

“What are you looking for in this position?”

and

“I noticed ____, ____ and ____ are some of [Company’s Name]’s highest priorities and am curious: what aspects of this position would you like highlighted to improve and support these priorities?”

You see what I did there? If not, it’s simple. Go to just about any company’s “about” page, find the top values or services they offer up on that webpage and fill in the blanks. Incorporate specific info about the company and your position into your questions, and you’ll be much harder to forget. It’s so easy, it shows effort, and I guarantee it will put you above the majority interviewees.

Another key tip when presenting questions is to avoid speaking in “ifs” and “maybes” and use intros like “when working with” and “as the next [position title]” to psychologically take doubt out of the equation completely. In other words, stop using phrases that could go either way and start using phrases that make it seem you are the person that will be in this position in the future. 

Getting the position you want can also be the difference between…

“If I were on the creative team, what are the biggest trouble-spots you’re hoping the person in this position might help with?”

and

“When working with you on the creative team, what are the biggest trouble-spots you’re looking for me to help with?”

Notice that the first question is presented in a very wishy, washy and doubtful manner in comparison to the second which puts a very clear, confident picture in the interviewer’s mind and leaves no room for interpretation.

So, what questions should I ask?

This is a tough one because if you’re truly going into an interview with a strong set of questions, your best ones are going to be unique to the company and position you’re applying for.

However, there are some general questions that are always great to include…

  1. In order to hire the next [position title], what, specifically, are you looking for?
  2. Where do you see the [position title] in five years? Ten years?
  3. When taking a look at your competition like [drop a couple competitors’ companies], what sets you apart and what are you looking to improve?
  4. How did you end up as a part of [Company Name]?
  5. What do you enjoy most about being [interviewer position title]?

And the question I always end an interview with or ask before I leave is…

6. When can I expect to hear from you next?

This is because: A. It prevents you from ending up in the awkward position of constantly questioning when you’re going to hear back and when it’s okay to follow-up. This way you know, if the interviewer said “within two weeks” and it’s been two weeks, you can confidently email them following up on the position. B. It also forces the interviewer to decide upon a time frame and possibly hold themselves accountable–if they hadn’t already.

Some more great questions to consider, from the managers’ mouths, can be found in this Mashable article: The Questions Managers Want You to Ask During a Job Interview

5 Out-of-the-Box Kansas City Shops to Buy Your Gifts in 2016

KC Shops

As we start the New Year, maybe we can actually follow through on our resolution to plan ahead for birthdays, holidays and especially Christmas in 2016. And even when we don’t, discovering new, local, personalized shops is always a solid goal to fulfill when gift-giving throughout the year–last minute or otherwise.

Peppermint Twist

Photo cred: Images West Photography via Peppermint Twist

In order to make our lovely KC lives a little easier this upcoming year, I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 out-of-the-box local shops to purchase all your gift-giving wonders from. And the best part is all of these stores are unique to Kansas City and contain personalized, handmade and/or restored items.

Peppermint Twist

Photo cred: Images West Photography via Peppermint Twist

Peppermint Twist. This shop is my absolute favorite local retailer for personalizing just about anything. What’s great about it is the unique items available that go along with specific holidays, events, locations, clothing or seasons that you can’t generally find at most other shops. For example, the Christmas bags pictured (that I plan to order for next year), personalized with a last name when delivering gifts to a family event or child’s name if you want to present “Santa’s bag of gifts” on Christmas morning, is one of my favorite items in the shop. I originally discovered Peppermint Twist when I received an address pillow as a gift for our first house, which I am in love with. It resembled the one pictured on the top, left–except, of course, representing a KCMO zip!

Artistic Works by Lu

Photo cred: Artistic Works by Lu

Artistic Works by Lu. If you’re looking for upscale clothing and unique jewelry, Lu is where you want to be. This studio-boutique is best defined as country roots meets urban soul, and their mission is to help women feel beautiful and confident every day. They carry a variety of jewelry designs, unique stones and material along with vintage-inspired tops, sweaters, coats, tights, scarves and boots. Lu’s is the perfect place to check out for that trendy friend or family member in your life … and even for yourself when it’s time for a little wardrobe pick-me-up.

Restoration Emporium

Photo Cred: Restoration Emporium

Restoration Emporium. Ever heard of First Fridays? If the answer is ‘no’ then I don’t know if you can consider yourself a true Kansas Citian just yet. Although this shop is open throughout the week, the first place I discovered it was in the West Bottoms on First Fridays. RE:’s motto is “re: purpose re: finish re: new” and when you enter their store, you feel like there’s a clear purpose: their furniture and decor feels beautifully meaningful and full of new life. To top it off RE: will be partnering with The Home Show of Greater Kansas City, which is one of the most awesome events of the Spring in KC–promising the return of Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper in March!

Jowler Creek. If you’re from Kansas City, there are few towns on the outskirts you probably haven’t heard of, but this could very well be one of Jowler Creekthem: Dearborn, Missouri, just 30 minutes North of downtown KC, houses a wonderful, personable winery with an awesome outlook. They use green technologies to make their wine, sheep to keep their weeds low and chicken to bring down the insect count at this 6-acre vineyard started by a couple who were brought together by Kansas City and their love of wine. Their story is as beautiful as their boutique vineyard and winery, and if you’re looking for a great couples’ gift or wine to bring to your next event, check them out!

Westside Storey

Photo cred: Westside Storey

Westside Storey. “LOCAL GOODS and LOCAL MAKERS with ANTIQUES SPRINKLED” is their short description on Facebook, and if that doesn’t make you love this shop already, the handmade, wine-scented candles inside a restored wine bottle candle holder definitely will. Even if you don’t have any gifts to purchase just yet, this shop is well worth a visit for the quality and unique KC themed items, clothing and accessories available that you KCreally can’t find just anywhere else–perhaps a #TreatYoSelf gift? Not to mention the unique foodie selection is on point–my favorite so far being the bacon jam from Our Sassy Pantry, locally made, of course.

As you enjoy the new year and continue loving Kansas City, keep in mind local shops to make your gift giving unique and personal. Do you have any go-to local shops that you enjoy or suggest? Comment and let everyone know below!

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10 Hashtags We Need to Stop Using in 2016

There’s nothing wrong with a couple hashtags in your tweets and posts. They’re there to gain traction, up interaction and make your posts searchable, but for some of these once popular–or still too popular–hashtags, it’s time to put your precious characters into something more meaningful, useful or just not plain stupid.

10 Hashtags

Here’s a list of 10 hashtags we need to stop using in 2016:

1. #WifeyMaterial Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. This is, simply put, degrading to women and wives as a whole. You can make a pie? Awesome. That shouldn’t be the reason a man (or woman) wants to marry you. Nor should your goal in life be to do things that make you societally outdated, 1950’s “marriage material.” Stop it.

2. #HouseWife It’s not really funny or cute anymore. If you want to appear like a girl on The Real Housewives of Orange County then maybe you actually should continue using this hashtag. And also, I feel sorry for you. However, if you think spending the day in yoga pants, drinking wine and watching t.v. makes you a house wife, you’re wrong. It makes you #LazyWife (which is great from time to time). However, you obviously have no idea what many actual married women without mainstream careers do all day, but I guarantee it’s not sit around eating bonbons on their sofa.

3. #SorryNotSorry I understand; sometimes it’s necessary to say very forward things and NOT be sorry about it… So, why are we saying sorry at all? Say it unapologetically and save yourself the 14 characters. (And before you count the characters in “SorryNotSorry” and assume I’m wrong, include the # as a character.)

4. #LOL Are we all, really, collectively as human beings, still 14? Can’t we just know when things are supposed to be funny and laugh on our own without using “lol” anymore? It’s getting old.

5. #Selfie Occasionally, I get it, we all drink a little too much wine. But in general… Are you in high school? Are you of the age where you should be considered a functioning adult in society? Then why in the heck are you taking selfies?

6. #NoFilter Is this an attempt to brag about the selfie you just took or let people know all your other photos are so bad they need filters? You see my point.

7. #YOLO *insert hacking throat noise here* This hashtag is primarily frustrating because of how it’s used. YOLO, meaning “You Only Live Once” is often used as an excuse to do something ridiculously stupid, when in actuality, if you only live once, shouldn’t you be careful to preserve the life you’re only living once or take risks that further enrich your life? Plus, Drake really believes he created this term (although he didn’t really, he did at least make it popular), and if you’ve seen him dance lately, you might be glad you only live once.

8. #AnyRidiculouslyLongHashtagThatHasNothingToDoWithAnythingSomeoneWouldAc
tuallySearch
If you do it every once in a while to be satirical, fine, I get it, but if your serious hashtags are often the size of a sentence, I would suggest not using hashtags at all. Generally, the point of a hashtag is for someone to be able to search a general topic and find your post. Hashtags that no one would ever know to search defeat the purpose.

9. #FirstWorldProblems Are you bragging about being so well-off that your problem really isn’t that much of a problem? You look a little bit like an asshole.

10. #JustSaying You know that feeling when someone texts back “K”? The whole world wants you to feel that by responding with a virtual “K” when you use that hashtag. #JustSaying

What hashtags would you like to see disappear in 2016? Comment and join the conversation below!