Interview Tips

why do you want to work here

Prepping for the “Why Do You Want to Work Here?” Question

All right, you’re well underway in your search for a new job, and you even have an interview (or a few) on your calendar. As you’re preparing for your interview, you think of one question you just know will come up: “Why do you want to work here?” Hopefully you’re interviewing with a company that has a mission you believe in, but if not, it’s wise to have a good answer for this question before you sit down with a hiring manager. So, what’s the best way to answer “Why do you want to work here?” Keep reading! I’ll share a few tips and scripts to set you up for success when it’s time for you to answer this common interview question.

The Reason Behind “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

When you’re preparing for a job interview, no matter what the company does, you can expect a few of the same questions. Aside from the classic “Tell me about yourself?” question, another predictable question you’ll hear during an interview is, “Why are you interested in this position?” Employers ask this to find out how much you really know about the company and position and to see if you’d be a good, long-term fit—for the culture and for the position. They’re looking for the right fit just as much as you are, and they want to offer a job and invest in hiring someone who’s prepared and ready to take the reins. They’re also curious about how well you explain yourself and the connections you see between your top skills and passions and what the company needs from its team.

How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

This is one of the most popular interview questions, which is good news because you know it’s coming. You can research and prepare a great answer ahead of time—one that will set you apart from other job seekers and position you as an excellent candidate for the role.

So, when you’re planning how to answer “Why do you want to work here?” keep these points in mind:

1. Talk About the Company’s Mission

It’s easy enough to explain why you’re looking for a new job, but if you can explain why you’re excited about the company’s mission, you have a better chance of standing out in the interview process. Research the company’s mission and vision statements on their website for more information.

2. Be Honest About What You’re Looking For

But not too honest. You don’t want to bash your old company and use this new opportunity as an escape hatch. Instead, explain how this new role could be a great fit for your long-term career goals. Keep it positive. Review the job description and see how your skills and goals match up with what they’re looking for.

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hire the right candidate

How To Hire the Right Candidate

Is the candidate sitting in front of you right for this job? How do you know if you are going to hire the right candidate? How do you know when market conditions are so volatile, it’s hard to predict all the qualifications and attributes you’re going to need six months or one year down the road?

As the world of work is changing — constantly reorganizing, fragmenting, and requiring market reconceptualization – you’ve got to ask the right interview questions as well as internal questions to see if the candidate has the attributes you need to grow your business and adapt to constant change.

Tips To Hire The Right Candidate

Old command and control work environments didn’t demand the kind of flexibility, adaptability, and broad business knowledge that new dynamic work environments do. Desirable candidates, even ones who have the right qualifications, must be flexible, rapid, and eager learners. Here are some questions you need to ask.

Are They Highly Adaptive?

You want someone who is fleet on their feet in adapting to changes in the work environment, since right now change is the only constant in most organizational systems. Can the candidate offer you examples of how they were able to grow, shift, and evolve to workplace change in their last position? Adaptability, the capacity to take on new roles and embrace new ways of thinking, are critical when the winds of the economy swirl.

Do They Ask Worthy Questions?

Everyone knows you need to come to a job interview having researched the position. But once they’re in the interview, what do they “hear” about the business or your work? Are they able to listen, synthesize and ask thoughtful questions about the heart of your business? Great interview questions from the candidate can tell you a lot about how a candidate thinks and whether they will be able to diagnose a market problem as it is occurring, and respond to it.

Are They Curious?

What else do they want to know? Are they lit up with questions? In a new book about curiosity, Todd Kashdan notes that curiosity is about “appreciating and seeking out the new. Instead of desperately seeking certainty, it is about embracing uncertainty.” Because a great employee now needs to be a great learner, being voraciously curious is key to high productivity and breakthrough thinking.

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career change

How To Explain Your Career Change in an Interview

There’s a pervasive and convincing lie circulating through colleges and workplaces everywhere: You get an education in a certain field (formal or otherwise) and then work in that field until you retire or collapse on your desk one day. A career change is not an option.

Unfortunately, this belief causes a lot of distress for people who desire a career change. They believe they’ve invested their resources in a certain area, and shifting to a new field means starting from scratch. Yes, this process often does mean backtracking at least a bit. But it’s not like you revert to being a newborn. Making a change simply means applying your knowledge and experience to a new area and filling in the gaps as needed.

How to Positively Explain Your Career Change

Thankfully, landing an interview means you succeeded in selling your experience on paper, so you’re well on your way in the career-changing transition process. Now, your job is to help an employer see the value that your experience will bring to the team. Read on to see how you can do exactly that.

1. Know Your Worth

If you’re going to convince a new employer you’re the best candidate for a job, you have to believe it yourself first. When you value yourself, you start to describe your work history and experience in another language. Start by writing out everything you do, in detail. Include all of your tasks and your accomplishments. This will help you to see your experience in a fluid way that can apply to many settings. You weren’t a “customer service representative for Caris’ Cupcake Emporium;” you were someone who “assisted customers with orders, promoted new products and services, and addressed customer complaints professionally.” Learn to spin your past positions in this way, and you’ll find it much easier to explain how your work history lends itself to the transition you’re seeking.

Examples paint a picture of your experience and abilities for an employer, versus answering questions with a hypothetical, “Well in that situation, I think I would…” With a career change in particular, examples help an employer understand how your experience fits into a new role.

So when asked about working with customers, for example, incorporate an anecdote about your interactions with people from your current or previous jobs, even if those people weren’t customers, per se. Then, explain how you would put that experience to work in your new role. The skills you used to manage conflict with a co-worker or to explain a difficult concept to management are the same ones you would use with customers, after all. If asked about problem-solving, talk about a time you actually worked through a conundrum or came up with an innovative solution. Even if the industry was entirely different, the ability to think critically and problem-solve speaks volumes of your competence level. When you provide examples, an employer knows you’ve actually done the things you’re claiming, and that ought to give you a leg up in the interview process.

2. Provide Evidence of Experience

Go out of your way to show an employer—literally—that you’re capable of taking on this new role by bringing evidence with you. This might include sample work, training certificates, or a mock grant proposal, marketing plan, or something else that makes your abilities concrete. Are you shifting into a writing-heavy field like communications or journalism? Bring writing samples. It’s OK if you haven’t written a news story; a well-written annual report still demonstrates your mastery of language and ability to weave complex details into a coherent whole.

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employment gap

Explaining the Employment Gap On Your Resume

You took some time away from your career, and that’s OK. Maybe you tended to a sick family member, catered to your kids, pursued another degree, or traveled the world. Whatever it might have been, you’re now ready to jump back into the workforce.

Not so fast.

If your resume reveals an employment gap, expect hiring managers to inquire.

Of course, what seems like a simple question will be paired with a simple answer … right? You know why you took that time away from your career. But can you clearly explain your decision and how it worked to your advantage? After all, you’re vying for a job against candidates who might boast more recent experience.

Instead of getting caught in a bind of stress and fumbling your words (we’ve all been there), enter your interview prepared to master your employment gap explanation.

Here are six tips to help you overcome the inevitable “What have you been up to?” interview question.

1. Exercise Discretion

If not properly prepared, a moment of panic could lead to you to divulging way too much information.

Does someone who’s been sitting behind a desk for 10 years straight, want to hear every detail of your six-month adventure through Asia? Does he or she need to know how you afforded it? Or that a brutal breakup sparked it? Probably not.

Nor does the hiring manager want to know the nitty-gritty details of the diapers you’ve changed or how awful little Tim is before bedtime.

If you’ve faced challenges and were forced to take a gap in employment due to tragedy or hardship, be careful here too. Sometimes people — especially mere strangers — don’t know how to respond when it comes to grief, so spare them. And you certainly don’t want to break down in tears during your interview. Try to keep those details to yourself.

2. Provide Clarification

You definitely don’t want to overshare, but don’t cloak yourself in mystery, either.

Instead, find the right balance. Explain you took time off to spend with your kids, needed to decompress after several high-pressure years in your field, or that you faced little choice and owed it to your mom to help her out. There’s no shame in that.

By explaining why you elected to call it quits for a while (without oversharing), a hiring manager will likely feel more comfortable knowing what happened — and that you didn’t just run away.

Important note: Remember there’s a difference between explaining and justifying. Don’t get stuck feeling like you have to justify why you stepped away from your career. You’re not out to prove anything.

3. Tell Them About Your New Skills

Unfortunately, changing a diaper in under a minute doesn’t count as a new skill set (though that is a commendable feat).

Be sure to mention any volunteer work, classes, certifications, or even conferences you attended during your employment gap. If none of those options are relevant, know you probably picked up a new soft skill.

General soft skills to discuss during an interview include communication, adaptability, problem-solving, and critical observation. Remember to show, not tell. Offer concrete examples and situations that show how you learned to better communicate or how you became more comfortable adapting to unexpected situations.

Being able to show you’ve grown during your employment gap is respectable, so don’t forget to highlight it.

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re-entering the workforce

Re-Entering the Workforce? Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents

Deciding to stay home for the family is a big one, but returning to work after being a stay-at-home parent can feel like quite the transition. But with the proper preparation, some personal investment and a confident, realistic outlook, you can make the return to a gratifying career.

In this article, we explore career tips for stay-at-home parents returning to work, the importance of preparation and best practices on how to re-enter the workforce.

Preparing for re-entering the workforce

Preparing before re-entering the workforce helps you focus on a job search, gets you ready for an opportunity when it presents itself, and establishes realistic goals. It also can reduce anxiety, boost confidence and concentrate your energy.

Finding a job after being a stay-at-home parent is more common than in years past. Companies can find talented candidates in those returning to work, though it’s important to recognize the transition. A lot may have changed in your profession, and while gap years between employment are not rare, it requires a thoughtful explanation.

Even if your field saw dramatic changes or you no longer hold licenses or certifications, your highly transferable skills can apply to other professions, roles and perhaps even a career pivot. Re-entering the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent can be a time to align your new interests with a career change, which may even prove more rewarding than your previous line of work.

Advice for re-entering the workforce

Focusing on what kind of job to pursue and how to best present yourself to follow it is a task in itself. Consider this career transition guidance for returning to work and see how it can help you navigate finding the right role:

1. Discover what you really want

List out your needs and wishes—the clearer you are, the easier it is to narrow down the number of job openings and focus on those that match your wants. Start by asking yourself what kind of company and position you’d like. For example, you might be interested in a corporate role with room for growth and higher-level opportunities, or you might desire a low-key role that contributes valuable work without intense demands or additional time.

If you’re unsure, use career self-assessment tools to understand your interests and uncover new skills. Consider asking yourself these questions:

  • Would I like to work part-time or full-time?
  • What kind of career growth am I seeking?
  • What are my financial goals with re-entering the workforce?
  • What are my passions, skills, training, education and experience?
  • Do I want to find a job, or is there an opportunity to be my boss?
  • Am I able to do consulting, contract or freelance work?
  • What roles fit with the rest of my schedule and responsibilities?

2. Revise your materials

Updating your resume is a given with any job search. If your employment gap as a stay-at-home parent is long, consider a skills-based resume outline rather than a typical chronological one. Add important causes and accomplishments that call attention to your strengths!

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tell me about yourself

7 Ways to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in a Job Interview

Whether this is your first job interview or your hundredth, I can guarantee there’s one question you’ll want to prepare to answer. And that’s the standard “Tell me about yourself” interview question. The good news is, you’re the expert on you! But it’s always a good idea to have a plan for how to answer any question related to “Tell me about yourself.” We’re going to walk through why hiring managers ask you to do this and how you can respond with confidence and clarity…and set yourself up for interview success.

Why Do Interviewers Say, “Tell Me About Yourself”?

“Tell me about yourself” is one of the most common job interview questions. But interviewers aren’t listening to your personal elevator pitch because they want to know where you were born, what you do in your free time, and what your Enneagram or Myers-Briggs results are. What they really want to learn is how you present yourself under pressure, if you’ll mesh with the company culture, and a little bit about your background and why you’re interested in this opportunity. Think of this as a chance to practice your sales pitch before the rest of the interview questions start rolling in. Answering “Tell me about yourself” well is your opportunity to make a lasting first impression and get the interview off to a good start.

Other Versions of the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question

When you’re preparing for an interview, keep in mind that interviewers might ask this question in different ways. But even if the question changes, they’re looking for the same information: Are you well spoken? How do your skills match up? Do you have a good understanding of the job? Here are a few ways an interviewer might ask you to share who you are and what you’re all about:

“Walk me through your resumé.”    

“Why do you want to work here?”

“Tell me about your previous experience.”

“What’s your story?”

“What brings you here today?”

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview

Okay, so you’re interviewing for a great job opportunity—or a role that’s one step closer to the career you’d like to have. Now, how do you prepare to answer this question? There are a few things I want you to keep in mind so you’re ready with the best possible answer. Not only will this impress the hiring manager, but it’ll ease any feelings of anxiety and set you up for confidence in the rest of the interview.

1. Keep your answer related to the job.

I know you’re proud of them, but now is not the time to gush over your pets or your son’s recent baseball tournament grand slam! You’ll have time to share your personal interests later in the interview. For now, keep your answer focused on your professional interests and what you appreciate about the company.

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How to Interview Prep to Get the Job You Want [10 Key Steps]

So, you’ve done your part to find the CRE job you want and land an interview. You’ve networked and connected with the right people to get the job you want. They have your CV. And they want to talk with you.

Now it’s just time to shine.

No sweat. You’ve got this. But before you show up, you need to make sure you’re prepared. Interview prep is often overlooked or minimized. But if you want to stand out, feel at ease, and make a positive impression, proper preparation is crucial.

Below are 10 key interview prep steps you can take to help you get that job. You’ve done so much to get you this far. You’re in the home stretch. Now, just follow these steps to cross that finish line:

Step 1: Research Your Company

Research your prospective employer thoroughly. Know their history, culture, and industry position. Understand their products or services. This knowledge shows your commitment and genuine interest in the company and helps convince them you’re the right hire.

Step 2: Prepare Your Questions

Craft thoughtful, relevant questions to ask the interviewer. This demonstrates your engagement and helps you gain insights into the role and company culture. But don’t plan on discussing salary or pay – those negotiations come later.

Step 3: Get Your Story Straight

Prepare concise, compelling stories, anecdotes, and responses to set yourself up for success. Highlight your skills. Discuss your experiences. Point out your alignment with the job requirements. This helps you present yourself effectively as a good fit during the interview.

Step 4: Practice Common Interview Questions

Rehearse responses to common questions such as “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” This helps you articulate your qualifications and build confidence.

Step 5: Mock Interviews

Go the extra mile. Conduct practice interviews with a friend or career counselor! Receive feedback and refine your interview style.

Step 6: Body Language & Etiquette

Practice strong body language – a firm handshake, eye contact, and attentive listening. These non-verbal cues may need rehearsal, but they help you come off as more natural and relatable, enhancing your professional image during the interview.

Step 7: Dress Appropriately

Choose attire that aligns with the company culture and the role you’re applying for. Especially in the CRE field, professional appearance is crucial for making a strong first impression.

Step 8: Bring Necessary Documents

Part of the best pre-interview strategy is simply to gather, prepare, and organize all essential documents. These likely include your resume, cover letter, references, and identification at a minimum. It goes without saying that being prepared ensures a smooth interview process.

Step 9: Study the Job Description

Thoroughly understand the job description and be ready to discuss how your skills and experiences match the role’s requirements. Your knowledge of what the company is actually looking for helps you show them you’re the perfect fit.

Step 10: Follow-Up

After the interview, send a thank-you email expressing your gratitude and reaffirming your interest in the position. This courteous gesture can leave a positive lasting impression and put you ahead of the competition to get the job.

It’s that simple!

With a little interview prep under your belt, you’ll be more confident in meeting with the hiring team and landing the job you want. And when you connect with them, answering all their questions smoothly and getting the answers you want, the interview will be far more enjoyable, too. Yes, CRE can be a competitive field, but now you’ve got the edge.

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popular interview questions

Popular Interview Questions and Answers for 2023

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what questions a hiring manager would be asking you in your next job interview? Unfortunately, we can’t read minds, but here are some of the most popular interview questions, along with advice for answering them all, for 2023.

While we don’t recommend having a canned response for every interview question (in fact, please don’t), we do recommend spending some time getting comfortable with what you might be asked, what hiring managers are really looking for in your responses, and what it takes to show that you’re the right person for the job. Consider this list your interview question and answer study guide!

Tell Me About Yourself

This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial and one of the most popular interview questions out there. Here’s the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead, give a pitch—one that’s concise and compelling and that shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Talk a little bit about your current role (including the scope and perhaps one big accomplishment), then give some background as to how you got there and experience you have that’s relevant. Finally, segue into why you want—and would be perfect for—this role.

Possible answer to “Tell me about yourself.”

“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top-performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”

Tell Me About A Time You Made A Mistake

You’re probably not too eager to dig into past blunders when you’re trying to impress an interviewer and land a job. But talking about a mistake and winning someone over aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, if you do it right, it can help you. The key is to be honest without placing blame on other people, then explain what you learned from your mistake and what actions you took to ensure it didn’t happen again. At the end of the day, employers are looking for folks who are self-aware, can take feedback, and care about doing better.

Possible answer to “Tell me about a time you made a mistake.”

“Early in my career, I missed a deadline that ended up costing us a really big account. There were a lot of factors that contributed to this, but ultimately, I was the one who dropped the ball. From that experience, I went back and thought really hard about what I could’ve controlled and what I would’ve changed. It turns out that I was not nearly as organized as I thought I was. I sat down with my boss, asked for suggestions on how to improve my organizational skills, and a few months later I was able to score an even bigger account for the department.”

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smart interview questions

Smart Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

You’re sitting under the fluorescent lights of an unfamiliar conference room across from the person who may decide the fate of your job search, trying desperately to remember that perfect story you prepared and wondering if the AC is always set to “arctic blast.” Or maybe you’re at home in front of the most professional wall in your apartment, looking at your interviewer on a computer screen and hoping your camera won’t shift and reveal the stack of empty La Croix cans you forgot to move before the Zoom call started.

Then, the hiring manager asks the interview question you know is a signal that things are about to wrap up: “Do you have any questions for me?”

No matter how much power you might feel like employers hold in the situation, a job interview isn’t just a chance for the hiring manager to grill you—it’s your opportunity to sniff out whether a position would be as great for you as you would be for the position. So it’s vital to ask some questions of your own. What do you want to know about the role? The company? The department? The team? The person interviewing you who may be your future boss, coworker, or mid-afternoon coffee buddy?

To get you thinking, we’ve put together a list of the best, smart interview questions for your upcoming interview. We definitely don’t suggest asking all of them rapid-fire—some of this stuff will be covered during the course of your discussion, and you’ll have specific questions about any given job or workplace.

So this list isn’t the be-all and end-all—it’s your jumping-off point.

Best Tips For Asking An Employer Questions

Before we get to the list, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Don’t say you have no questions. You probably already know that whether you’re stressed or relaxed, whether you think you’ve fumbled the conversation badly or you’ve got this job in the bag, the worst thing you could say is, “Nope, I’m good.”
  • Be flexible. It’s OK (and encouraged) to jot down a few questions ahead of your interview, but don’t be afraid to deviate from the list if your questions have already been answered and/or if your discussion prompts a few more questions you’d like answered. Plus, you don’t want to sound like you’re reading the questions off some sort of internet list rather than having a real conversation.
  • Ask at least a few specific questions. Show you’re invested and you’ve been paying attention throughout the interview process by customizing your questions to the specific position and company—and reminding your interviewers of the background knowledge and experience you bring to the role.

Smart Interview Questions To Ask About The Job

Make sure you have a handle on exactly what the day-to-day responsibilities of the job will be—both now and in the future. This will help you make an informed decision if and when that job offer comes and avoid Shift Shock or a toxic workplace.

  • What does a typical day or week look like in this role? (Or one of these alternatives.)
  • What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
  • Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?
  • What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
  • What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful in this position?
  • What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
  • What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
  • What sort of budget would I be working with?
  • Is this a new role or will I be taking over for an employee who’s leaving?
  • How does this position contribute to the company overall?
  • Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?

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wear to a job interview

What to Wear to a Job Interview

What’s the best outfit to wear to a job interview? The answer will vary depending on the type of job and company you’re interviewing with.

You always want to dress to make the best impression, but the outfit you choose depends on whether you’re interviewing at a company with a formal dress code, at a casual startup, or for an informal summer job or internship.

What to Wear to a Job Interview

Dressing appropriately is important because the first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing.

If you wear a suit to an interview for a camp counselor, or a T-shirt to an interview at a bank, it’ll send the message that you don’t truly understand what’s involved in the role. Find out what to wear (and what not to wear) for interviews at every type of company.

To dress appropriately for a job interview, follow the employer’s dress code. If the job interview calls for business attire, wear a suit, a sweater and button-down shirt, or a professional-looking dress or skirt. Startup jobs may call for more casual interview attire but be sure to dress professionally. Also, choose accessories carefully to ensure that they don’t distract the interviewer. Let’s dive into this further!

Business Professional Attire

Generally, a job interview calls for you to wear professional, or business, attire. This might mean:

  • A suit jacket and slacks with a button-down shirt and tie
  • A sweater and a button-down shirt
  • A blouse and dress pants
  • A statement dress

You can also incorporate some modern style trends into your outfit. All interviewees should consider color when selecting an interview outfit and avoid wearing anything too bright or flashy that will distract the hiring manager.

The more important thing to consider when you’re dressing for a job interview is that you should look professional and polished regardless of the type of position you’re seeking. Even though your interview attire depends on the role you’re applying for, no matter what the position, you should go to the interview looking neat, tidy, and well-dressed.

Business Casual Attire

If you have a job interview in a more informal work environment, you might wear a business casual outfit. Business casual outfits are less formal than a suit, but they are also more professional and polished than, say, a T-shirt and shorts or a sundress and sandals.

Of course, make sure you know the dress code before you assume that business casual is acceptable. And if you aren’t sure, call the office and ask the administrative coordinator, or contact the person who scheduled the interview and ask them for advice!

Always dress a bit more professionally than the average employee at the company. If everyone is wearing shorts and T-shirts, for example, you might wear khakis and a polo shirt or button-down.

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