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Job Interview Tips: How to Survive 10 Awkward Situations

Bad Online Reviews

If you have to ‘clear your mind’ regarding the companies perception, or bad reviews online, before you make a multi-year career commitment, you can ask in a collaborative way, like: “I noticed there are some concerns online regarding the culture and work hours of the company. I am curious about what your take is on this, and if there is something being done to change it.”

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Job Interview Tips: How to Survive 10 Awkward Situations

Job Interview Tips: How to Survive 10 Awkward Situations

https://www.thecut.com/article/job-interview-tips-how-to-survive-10-awkward-situations.html

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Key Ideas

The Job Interview

Hunting for a job is a tricky process and may have many pitfalls. Many of us are not accustomed to having these kinds of conversations or handling the power dynamics of a job interview. There can be many scenarios and awkward situations that we need help with.

A Long Multi-Round Process

If you feel there is fog ahead of you due to opacity in the interview process and the multiple rounds, you can simply ask the next steps of the process and the timeline for a decision.

If you think the employer has an elongated set of rounds ahead, request to consolidate them if possible.

Stumped By A Question

Instead of bluffing your way through a question that you are completely stumped with, it is better to be upfront and handle it with honesty and grace. Tell them straight away that you do not know the answer to this question and what similar things you have done which have been effective.

Your life experiences are unique and not identical to what the interviewer is trying to ‘slot’ you into.

Bad Online Reviews

If you have to ‘clear your mind’ regarding the companies perception, or bad reviews online, before you make a multi-year career commitment, you can ask in a collaborative way, like: “I noticed there are some concerns online regarding the culture and work hours of the company. I am curious about what your take is on this, and if there is something being done to change it.”

Different Interviewers Saying Different Things

Often, in a multi-round interview, where one gets to meet a variety of interviewers, there can be conflicting information regarding key result areas or training method/duration, and the transition process.

It is great to ask about it while balancing everyone’s views and staying neutral and flexible.

Handling Inappropriate Questions

While it is illegal to select based on one’s religion, ethnicity, or plans for children, many interviewers still ask about this as it is not illegal to ask.

Answer with a smile and ask a probing question to clarify the reason this kind of a question is asked, and what is the basic concern behind it, in the guise of understanding the core issue and how you can help with it.

Explaining A Past Firing

While a majority of prospects have murky pasts, full of setbacks, gap months and difficult to explain scenarios, like getting fired, the employer will still ask and it can be a challenge to answer with ease.

The trick is to be calm and concise, not getting into too many details, not passing judgement against anyone and talking about your learning. Good to practise this one on the mirror first.

Handling Sample Or Free Work

From a learning perspective, it is good to have some assignment that the interviewer provides you with, as long as it does not hamper your current work or your work-life balance.

If you cannot do it, be upfront and state your concern in a polite way. Let them know about your limitations and what is currently on your plate.

Asking For A Perk

Asking for a Working From Home option or your own personal office seems like something you should negotiate in advance.

  1. For Work From Home, try to ask only if your job is possible from home and negotiate on a certain salary politely keeping the WFH condition on the table and providing a reasonable explanation of the same. It’s good to convey this as a suggestion.
  2. For Office Space, if your work requires concentration, you can politely ask for a private space to work, and provide the benefits it would have for the employer(I’ll get more done for the company!)

A Bad Interview

If you are convinced your ‘performance’ was a bad and it happens, you can still try to salvage it. A thank you note/email explaining a few things and showing your interest in the job might help change the interviewer’s mind. Botching up the interview does have a side effect: they would remember you!

Providing an honest reason for your bad performance can help, provided it’s not too long and boring. Do keep in mind that this is an effort from your side, and the rest of the factors are out of your control.

Negotiating Salary

There are some phrases that can be used to enthusiastically ask for the package you want.

“I am really excited about this job and am hoping the salary would be higher! Would you be able to go up to $X?” or something in similar lines, *and then keep quiet.*

There will be an awkward silence, but you have to endure those few seconds, and then the interviewer will have to speak something. This is how you negotiate.

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Confirm with everyone

It's not uncommon for hiring managers to hand you over to someone else on the team to meet you at the last minute. Send a quick email to encourage them to plan: 

Hi Kamala, I’m really...

The interviewer’s LinkedIn and Twitter

Skim their history on LinkedIn, then move way down to the bottom. If they have endorsements and recommendations, it can give you a feel for their management style.

Twitter can help you guess at an interviewer's personality, interests, and values.

Your “about me” answer

Your interviewer will probably open with some form of "Tell me a little about yourself.Plan your answer using a few quick bullet points to keep things brief en then commit it loosely to memory.

  • Skip your personal history.
  • Give two or three sentences about your career path.
  • Mention how you decided to apply to this job.
  • Leave enough curiosity that the interviewer becomes excited to learn more about you.

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“Tell me about yourself”

... is one of the interview questions that most intimidates job seekers and one that most interviewers assume will be easy. It sounds straightforward — but as every job seeker knows, it...

What your interviewer is looking for

"Tell me about yourself" doesn’t mean “give me your complete history from birth until today.”  It doesn’t even mean “walk me through your work history.” It means “give me a brief overview of who you are as a professional.”

Interviewers who ask this question are generally looking to get a broad overview of how you see yourself, as a sort of introduction or an icebreaker before starting to dive into the specifics. 

"Tell me about yourself" - recommended answer
  • Summarize where you are in your career, note anything distinctive about how you approach your work and end with a bit about what you’re looking for next.
  • Your answer only needs to be about 1 minute long.
  • Don’t drag yourself. This isn’t the time to explain you were fired from your last job or to confess your difficulties finding the right career path.
  • Keep your focus professional, not personal.
The reason for the question

Interviewers ask questions like "tell me about yourself "  to determine if you're qualified to do the work and if you will fit in with the team.

How to Answer the Question

It might be a good idea to share something about yourself that is doesn't relate directly to your career. 

For example, interests like running might represent that you are healthy and energetic. Pursuits like being an avid reader might showcase your intellectual leaning. Volunteer work will demonstrate your commitment to the welfare of your community.

The “present-past-future” formula

This is a simple formula to construct your response.

  • Start with a short overview of where you are now (which could include your current job along with a reference to a personal hobby or passion).
  • Reference how you got to where you are (you could mention education, or an important experience, internship or volunteer experience).
  • Finish by describing a probable goal for the future.

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Why Interviewers Ask It

This introductory question serves as an icebreaker to lend an easy flow to the conversation. It helps the recruiter to get to know you in terms of hard and soft skills.

It’s a great op...

How to build your response
  • Present: Talk a little bit about what your current role is, the scope of it, and possibly a recent achievement.
  • Past: Tell the interviewer how you got there and/or mention a past experience that’s relevant to the job and company you’re applying for.
  • Future: Continue with what you’re looking to do next and why you’re interested in this job.
You do not have to respond in this order. Tweak it to suit you. Make sure to tie it to the job and company.
Tailor Your Answer

Interviewers want to know how your answer about yourself is relevant to the position and company you’re applying for.

This is an opportunity to articulate why you’re interested and how your objective fulfills their goals. In order to do that, spend some time researching the company. If your answers resonate with them, it shows that you really understand the role.

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Answers To Common Interview Questions
  1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Don’t tell your life story; answer clearly and concisely. Focus on professional accomplishments.
  2. Why should we hire you over the other appl...
The Smartest Way To Answer Interview Questions

The interviewer is likely looking for someone who can solve problems, has good interpersonal skills and the ability to get things done using good judgment and effectiveness. 

Not every question lets you show skills easily, so reframing a question to get to the answer you want to communicate might be the best way to do so.

The STAR Interview Response Technique
The STAR Interview Response Technique
  • (S) Situation: Explain the background of the situation. What was your job?
  • (T) Task: What was the particular task you had to perform? If there was a particular probl...
The Interviewer’s Perspective

When the interviewer asks you, “Tell me about yourself”, he is hoping this question will get you talking. It will give him a first impression of you, and set the tone for the inte...

How Not to Answer
  • Prepare a brief summary of the high points of each of your past positions, but do not turn it into a very long monologue that makes the interviewer glaze over with information overload.
  • You do not have to brag, but don't rely on the interviewer to see past your humble exterior and figure out how great you are. Find a way to present yourself to your full advantage.
  • This is not the time to talk about all your personal details. Focus on who you are as a professional.
  • Because this question can be interpreted in many ways, do not be overwhelmed by it. Delve right in with your prepared answers.
Your elevator pitch
You need a short summary of yourself as a job candidate. Keep it focused, ideally less than a minute, and no more than two minutes.
  • Address what your primary selling points are for this job. The number of years of experience or special skill.  Focus on the qualifications in the job description and how you meet and exceed it.
  • Explain why you are interested in this position. 

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Virtual Job Interviews

While it’s a big deal to score a (virtual)job interview in the middle of a global crisis as big as right now, there are certain factors that need to be taken care of when appearing for an interview...

Subjective Hiring Decisions

Job interviews are still mostly subjective and rarely focus on merit, work quality, or important job skills. There are always biases, preferences and on-the-spot decisions that are not entirely professional or by the book.

Professional Environment

Prospects are advised not to showcase their personal aspects in a job interview, and to keep it professional and ‘office-like’ in the video conference. The proper dress code and mannerisms of an actual job interview are to be mimicked, and that means the pants have to be worn!

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What you should not say
  • Starting with something personal like family or hobbies, or launching into your life story.
  • Sharing the problems with your current job.
  • Summarizing your resume, point-by-point....
Craft an elevator pitch
  • Spend some time reviewing the job description in the recruitment ad for the position and research the company.
  • Prepare a short script that highlights the skills, strengths and expertise you have that make you especially qualified for this particular position. 
  • Explain the reasons you’re applying for this particular job. Focus on career-related motivations.
Your purpose to the question

Your purpose to the question "tell me about yourself" is to give just enough details of yourself to spark the interest of the interviewer.

Answering this question gives you a great opportunity to spotlight the skills and experience that make you the ideal candidate for the job.