As many times as you’re told to be honest and show your true self in interviews, this question might be one for which you ignore that advice. You will not want to respond to this question with a scathing put down of everything wrong with the company. If tact is not your strong suit, you will want to walk softly now.
And really, interviewers are not looking for you to solve their problems – yet. They just want to confirm that you can contribute to the solution, and that you won’t make problems worse. They want to see that you have done your homework before coming in and know something about the company. They want to hear that your ideas are creative and substantive, even if unfounded due to your lack of intimate knowledge about the company, to know that you can add value and perspective to the team. They also want to know that you have the confidence to speak up and won’t always just agree with what everyone says.
What Not to Say
Because you don’t know whose toes you could step on with the criticism you’ve asked to provide – maybe the interviewer is responsible for the problems you cite – there is real potential that you can lose the job on this question. It’s not likely as long as you don’t go off the deep end, but there is a chance, much more of one that most of the other vague, “surprise” questions that interviewers like to throw at candidates. So, let’s start by being careful:
- Don’t mistake this question as seeking criticism. It asks what they can do better; not what they are doing wrong. Therefore, insist on a positive approach by providing real, actionable tips that could improve the performance and reputation of the company as opposed to mere fault-finding.
- Unlike many of these types of questions, there’s no reason to hesitate before answering this one, as if it requires deep thought or that you’ve never considered it before. On the contrary, it’s best to quickly answer as if you have thought about this in the context of researching the company.
- Don’t let your answer sound canned. Just because you’ve researched the company in preparation for the interview shouldn’t mean that you anticipated this question and have an answer already formulated. It’s only a coincidence that you’d thought about a way to improve the company while researching it. Begin to speak quickly because you do have an answer, but explain your answer slower, as you seem to be thinking through how to explain it.
- Keep it as short as possible. You only need to demonstrate the talents mentioned above. Once you’ve shown that you have the skills they want, any more only increases your chances of saying something wrong.
- Don’t describe the obvious problems that anyone can see. That isn’t demonstrating that you are creative and will add value to their team. Even if the problem your idea improves is minor, if yours is a creative and innovative solution, you’ll sound better than the candidate who solves a big problem in a typical way.
- Don’t cite problems with their recruiting process. It doesn’t demonstrate that you’ve researched the company, and the chances are greater that the interviewer is part of that problem.What You Should Say
Of course, start with research. Find out as much as you can about the company, their culture, their products, their business model, sales presentation, etc. Read their press releases. Look for their attendance at trade shows and conference – there might be transcripts of presentations they made. If it’s a public company, see what the industry analysts have to say about them and their predictions of the future stock price. Then, formulate an answer to this question before you go to the interview. Be prepared.
As tempting as it would be to say that you don’t see anything wrong with the company – that’s why you want to work there! – this is not the time to be sucking up. Your goal for this answer is to sound insightful and confident and articulate. Your suggestions don’t have to be sound – you can’t be expected to know enough about the company to really have a great idea. And, if you’re interviewing with a small or mid-sized company, there may not be a lot of information to research any way.
You will definitely want to be diplomatic. Consider prefacing your response with a compliment about the company – for example, you might say, “Well, I do know that you have the best customer service in the industry – I’ve had to use it a couple of times and was very satisfied. On the other hand, however, your instruction manuals could really use an upgrade, with more pictures and diagrams, and it’d be nice if they were available online. Maybe post a YouTube of your more common self-repairs. If so, I might not have had to call your customer service.”
Make sure you offer a solution to the problem you imply they have. Don’t just literally answer their question with, for example, “You could improve the quality of your product so there aren’t so many recalls.” Describe a way to improve that quality. If you can’t, come up with a different improvement.
Your goal is not to solve one of their major problems – wait until after they hire you to do that. Your goal is to exhibit innovation, preparation, and creativity. A very minor issue works just fine for that purpose. What the interviewer is assessing is you, not the solution you recommend.
Explain the rationale behind your suggestion to show that you have a more complete understanding of their business and aren’t just cherry picking an obvious problem and stating an obvious solution. Again, the solution doesn’t have to be complex, just the thought process you undertook to arrive at it.
Close the Topic on a High Note
After explaining your recommendation, finish with another compliment of their organization. You don’t want to come off as a negative fault-finder. Instead, you are a team player who is always looking for ways to make the company better. Perhaps, you could express appreciation that the interviewer wanted to hear your ideas, and that you look forward to working for an organization that encourages employees to voice their suggestions – even those that are critical of current practices.
How should you actually answer interview questions that ask where else you are interviewing? How much is it appropriate for them to know? Is it detrimental to explain you are interviewing with others companies? As we shall find out, it may not be a crime to be interviewing with other companies but how you present this scenario before an interview panel significantly influences your chances of securing the job you are interviewing for.
These are great questions. We will help you answer them. There are many different approaches you may take when answering this question. There are also many common mistakes you should avoid. Why might your interviewer ask you such a thing? They likely want to know what their competition is. They might also want to evaluate how serious you are about this position. Knowing this, you should answer in a way that makes you seem confident, but also in a way that demonstrates your interest in their company. You don’t, however, want to give them more power over you than they need. In other words, it isn’t usually best to tell them they offer the only job you would ever accept.
How do you answer the question then? It truly depends on your particular situation. For example, are you interviewing at other companies within the industry? Are you interviewing in other industries? Is this your only interview? No matter what your circumstances are, we have thrown together a few pieces of advice you will likely find especially helpful when constructing your answer.
The General Approach
Regardless of your situation, there a few things to keep in mind when answering this type of question. Firstly, it is most important to create a balance of power between you and the employer. You don’t want your answer to make you seem completely disinterested in the company. You want to sound very interested, but also that you are not desperate for the position. Your interviewer already has power over you, for they get to decide in the end if you get the job or you don’t. Don’t give them more by asserting that this is the only job you are applying for, even if it is.
Maintain your boundaries. Secondly, keep the focus on your interests versus the actual companies you are considering. For instance, upon being asked this question, you may respond, “I am very interested in many positions within this industry. I am currently exploring my options,” or, “I am pursuing multiple opportunities, but your company excites me particularly because of XYZ.” In the former case, you describe your interests, and very generally mention you are dabbling around. In the latter case, you imply you are interviewing elsewhere, but also that you possess a particular affinity for this company. Both of these statements are fine examples of appropriate responses.
If You’re Interviewing Within the Industry
This is typically the most preferable position for you. Because you’re interviewing with this company’s competitors, you can explain that they have some competition, and more importantly, you can relay that you’re very serious about landing a job in this specific field. Be honest, but also do not be afraid to show some partiality towards this employer’s company. You may say something such as, “I have a few interviews within this industry scheduled soon, but I am most excited about this job position.”
It is wise to then support this statement with a justification for this excitement. Ensure you go into your interview well-prepared; perform some research on the company beforehand. Then, incorporate this knowledge into your answer. For example, you can follow up by saying, “I am most excitement in this company’s opportunities for XYZ.” This shifts the focus of the conversation back onto this company, and further demonstrates your commitment towards earning the position.
If You’re Interviewing in Other Industries
This is a slightly less ideal position for you. You will want to go about answering this question strategically. You do not want to appear as though you are frivolously applying for this particular position. It is wise to somehow relate all of the positions to which you are applying in some manner. For instance, although all the positions differ greatly from field to field, you may connect them through the skills that are required for each.
For example, you may say something such as, “I am exploring my options throughout many industries, but I am very determined to land a job that will exhaust my leadership potential. Therefore, I have applied to many positions that all require great leadership skills.” In this case, you vaguely mention you are interviewing in other industries, but also demonstrate your decisions are not arbitrary. You are still interested in a very specific type of position.
Even though this particular situation might be difficult to incorporate effectively, it is very important you are not dishonest, as you never know when interviewers communicate with each other. It would be very detrimental to be confronted about a lie you told during an interview.
If This Is Your Only Interview
Although this situation might seem desirable, it is actually still very tricky. Again, you do not want to be dishonest, but you also do not want to outright claim you are only interviewing with this company. It is wise to explain that you are interested in many opportunities, and that you are keeping your options open. For instance, you might elect to say, “I am very interested in many opportunities related to this position. I am keeping my options open, and researching many different companies.” In this case, you keep the focus on you and your interests, you do not lie, and you essentially create the illusion of competition to your employer. You implicitly assert that you considering this process meticulously. Even if you are very determined to land this one particular job, you do not want to give the interviewer an excessive amount of power.
Overall, it can be seen that answering this type of interview question heavily depends on the circumstances of your situation. Nonetheless, there are general strategies you should employ regardless of where you stand. Ensure you are well-informed about the company, and ensure you create a power balance between you and the employer. As always, remember to maintain professionalism throughout your response.
This is a question that hiring managers are likely to ask you, if you are applying for a job where you will be managing other people. Like with many questions that can be asked in an interview, it can be difficult to find the balance to show you are an effective leader, whilst not sounding overly cocky or too humble either. The interviewers ask this to get to know more about you and your style, and to also see what you can bring to the company. The style of management someone uses can say a lot about the person, so this can give the interviewer a deeper insight into you – so make sure you plan your answer to give a good impression!
So to begin with, lets think about what style your management is. Here are 6 commonly known management styles:
• The Directive/Coercive Leader
This is a top down (“My way or the highway”) leadership style.
• The Authoritative Leader
This leadership style is for a manager who is looking to provide direction for employees.
• The Affiliative Leader
The style emphasise harmony between employees themselves and also the management and employees.
• The Participative Leader
This is a leadership style where the objective is to build commitment and unity among employees.
• The Pacesetting Leader
This manager is looking to complete the job to a standard of excellence.
• The Coaching LeaderA manager with this style of leadership is aiming to provide development for employees.
So now we know a little more about the different styles of management. However, it is likely you can relate to several of these styles at the same time or in different situations. All of the above styles have things they are effective for and also some drawbacks – this is why when answering this question in a job interview, you should emphasis flexibility in your management style. The main style you would want to talk about with caution is the ‘Directive Leader’. This style of manager closely controls the employees beneath them, and motivates through threats and discipline. This leadership can leave employees underdeveloped and frustrated at the management and it is the least effective management except for is a crisis. Therefore, this management should be used sparingly and in the job interview you should only talk about it if either the company itself is in crisis or you used it previously for a specific problem or employee where all other styles had failed.
So as mentioned briefly above, when you answer this question, the best way to go about it is to avoid naming a single one style. You want to show the interviewer that your management style is flexible and you base it upon the situation it is required for. Different circumstances in a business require different styles of leadership and in general, the most effective management is to use a selection of factors from all the different styles. You should describe you what believe makes a good manager and how you work to make that your management style.
For example you could say: “I think a good manager is someone who gives clear directions and goals to their employees, however they are also prepared to offer guidance, help and their skills when it is needed. This is how I try to make my management style.”
After you have highlight what your management style, you can add something more to let the interviewer know what is unique about your style of management.
For example: “However, what makes me different from other managers is that I make sure my team know they can come to me whenever they need help. I believe this helps promote harmony in the team and establishes a good relationship between myself as the manager and the employees in my team. For me, this seems to make a more effective team.”
Now once you’ve done this, you need to give an example of this. Its all well and good talking the talk, but you also need to show that you can walk the walk! Give the interviewer an example of how you have used the management style you described and this will really drive your effective management style home to the interviewer. When you are giving an example, try not to give a long and complicated tale that includes too many people, as the interviewer may get lost and this will make the example ineffective. If you are applying for a management position but you haven’t actually had a job as manager, you can still give an example to show why you are right for the role. Perhaps you could talk about a time when your actual manager was absent or otherwise engaged and so you stepped up and helped the team out when they needed it. For example: “Although I haven’t had the job title of manager, I have taken on the role before. In my previous job, all the team managers were in a meeting and a lot of the members of my team needed some guidance. I took it upon myself to help them by answering any queries they had and ensuring everyone completed the work we had been set to complete.” Something like this lets the interviewer see that whilst ‘manager’ may not be listed on your resume, you have experience in supervising others and have what it takes.
Once you’ve given your example, you can finish by connecting what you have said back to the position you are applying for, or perhaps ask a question of your own, for example “What sort of management styles does this company look for?”. If you have something solid to finish with, it will help stop you continuing on awkwardly and drawing out a story until the interviewer becomes uninterested.
So now you have the basic structure of your answer:1. What is good management and your structure.2. Taking it a step further with what makes you unique as a manager.3. Give an example.
Now you know, think about your answer, plan, practice and then you can wow! And as always, answer with confidence. Let the interviewer know you know what you are talking about and that you have confidence in yourself. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, neither will the employees you could be managing and the interviewer won’t have confidence in you taking the position as manager.
You’ve written an awesome resume, got the interview and you aced it. So what do you do next, how can you continue to stand out above the rest? The best way to do this is to send a thank you email. Showing gratitude says a lot about a person and this will only reinforce all the positives you have shown so far. You will have said (or I certainly hope so) thank you at the end of the interview, so this takes it a little bit further and shows true courtesy. Not only this, but you can use this letter of thanks to serve as a reminder of your skills and how these are beneficial to the company. Not sending an email, could actually decrease your chances of getting the job, as multiple studies have shown that up to 25% of hiring managers wouldn’t hire someone who didn’t send a thank you letter after their interview! So after all the effort you’ve put it, you don’t want to lose it all now!
Here, I have collected some points to look for, and some to avoid, when writing your thank you note.
What you should aim for when writing the thank you note:
• Recap your skills
The thank you note is a great opportunity to remind the interviewers of why they should hire you – by recapping your skills. If you take the time to let the interviewer know you are grateful for their time and continue to let them know you are interested in the position. This is a chance to really stand out compared to other candidates. If you show that you understand what the qualities that position requires and that you are willing and motivated to take on any challenges (if hired), this will be beneficial to you. However, you don’t want to regurgitate your resume so avoid falling into this trap. The interviewer has already read this and spoken to you in person about all of it so they will just end up zoning out if they have to read the same information again.
• Your timing when sending the email is important. You don’t want to wait too long after the interview and you should aim to send the email within 24 hours of the interview and definitely by 48 hours. However, you don’t want to mention the timing regarding the process in the email. This would have already been discussed in the actual interview, for example they may say there are interviews for the next week and you should expect to hear within two weeks. If you mention timing in your email you may come across as desperate rather than showing gratitude.
• Tailor the letter
You want to aim to tailor the letter towards the position and company you are applying for. Chances are the hiring managers are going to be able to spot a generic thank you that you could send to any possible company, so a thank you letter that is unique to the person for interviewed you and the company it was with, is going to mean a lot more and could earn you those extra points! You can also tailor your thank you to the individual who interviewed you. Think about what went well in the interview and where did you connect in particular. You should also consider the interviewing style and whether the interviewer was friendly and warm or if the process stayed very formal and business like. This can help you figure about how to style your interview.
• Be unique
You know how everyone says that hiring managers only spend a few seconds looking over a resume so it needs to stand out? Well thats understandable really isn’t it? If you had to read hundreds resumes a week, you would probably end up doing the same thing. This applies to thank you letters too. Thank you letters aren’t a rarity and most will follow the same pattern, so like the resumes, the reader isn’t going to pore over yours – therefore, you need to make it unique to catch their interest. This doesn’t mean you should write a poem or draw a picture, mind you, but perhaps just change up the usual script people opt for. However, be careful you don’t go to far out so the letter becomes informal and too causal.
When writing your thank you email, there are some things you want to avoid:
• Don’t be informal
Although the interview is over, and this is seen to be the most formal part of the process, you don’t want to be causal in your language and come across informal. Remember, you don’t have the job yet!
• Don’t pester!
As mentioned in the timing section above, you don’t want to come across as desperate by asking about the job prospects when they have already told you a deadline. This includes sending further messages after the thank you email. By all means, if they reply with an email that in turn deserves a response from you, thats not a problem. But you shouldn’t be emailing them daily or weekly to get an update. They will contact you when they are ready.
• Don’t babble
Keep the message short and sweet. You don’t want to go on and on in the email and lose the meaning behind it – to say thank you.
However, there is something key to remember here. Whilst most companies do most of their correspondence through email, throughout the process and continually if you are hired, there are some who don’t – these companies may be considered ‘old school’. In this case, a hand written note would be more beneficial. If this is the case, you should follow the same principles as above and post your letter within 24 hours of the interview.
Remember, for your thank you letter you want to include:
• Say thank you to the interviewer for meeting with you.
• Express something you liked about the interview.
• Repeat your interest in the job, recap your skills and how you are looking forward to implementing them if hired.
If you follow these steps, you will have a great thank you letter to follow up your interview and your job prospects will only go up!
“What are your weaknesses?”This is one of the most common interview questions, and like many others, it’s a question you need to be well prepared for. Spending some time thinking about it is crucial, especially since it’s such a common question that interviewers know that most people are aware of it and have time to prepare. If you fumble it shows that you didn’t care enough to put in a little time getting ready for a question the interviewer will think you should have known was coming. Even worse, if you can’t manage to come up with a single weakness, the interviewer will believe that either you’re incredibly arrogant (no one is perfect, and thinking you are is a bad sign) or you’re so insecure about your strengths that you can’t bear to admit that there’s anything you don’t do well. Neither of those is a path to sounding like the right person for the job, so get a good answer ready by considering the following ideas.
Why Are They Asking?
The first key thing to think about in preparing for any interview question is what the interviewer actually wants to know. Interviewers are always looking for some sort of information with every question, even if it isn’t exactly what they’re asking. If you know what they’re looking to find out, you can provide an answer that helps them see why you’re a great choice for the job.
When asking this question, the interviewer is not usually not actually trying to find out where you’re weak. Instead, he or she is trying to see that you’ve given the idea some thought and are willing to be honest about something that doesn’t make you look good. Most of the questions will give you obvious opportunities to talk about things you do well, so this one is a change of pace that gives the interviewer an idea of how you deal with quickly changing up what you need to think about. But, because it lets you show off positive qualities that don’t come up with most other questions, this one is an opportunity in disguise. You just need to be sure you’ve got a good answer that gives interviewers the information they want.
What Should I Avoid?
There’s a lot of advice out there about this question, and some of it is a disaster. One of the most common suggestions is to flip it on the interviewer. You would do this by answering with a “weakness” that’s really a strength, turning a question about something undesirable into another opportunity to brag about how great you are. That kind of answer would go something like, “I’m too much of a perfectionist. I just can’t ever do anything without putting in lots of extra time to make sure it’s perfect, so I sometimes work way too hard. Even if it means I’m putting in extra hours and giving up personal time, I just can’t let it go until I’ve done everything just right.” The thinking here is that what you’re presenting as a weakness is really something that sounds like it would make you a great employee, since employers love people who will go the extra mile.
The problem with that idea is that interviewers can see through it and know it’s dishonest. True, it shows that you’ve thought about the question, but you’ve refused to answer what you were actually asked and instead just talked yourself up. That might actually be even worse than not having an answer ready at all. This is to be avoided at all costs.
So What Should I Say Instead?
You can turn the answer to this question into a positive for you, as long as you do it in a way that actually answers the question in the first place. Start by identifying a real weakness that you’ve seen in yourself; telling an interviewer about something you really aren’t great at shows honesty and a willingness to admit that you’re not perfect–those are both strengths the employer will appreciate. But don’t stop there. Your answer should also include an explanation of what you’ve done to try to improve on that area of weakness. That way you also show that you’re willing and able to make a real effort to get better at the things you don’t do well.
Can You Give Me An Example?
Of course! Say you’ve decided that you’re not so great at delegating responsibility. That’s a common problem for people who are new to supervising others–you’re used to doing things yourself, and it can be hard to feel comfortable relying on someone else to take care of important tasks that you’re ultimately responsible for. You might say something like, “When I first started having other people working under me, I realized I wasn’t doing as well as I could at giving them work to do. I held too many things back for myself to do because it was more comfortable for me to know it was going to be done. Since them, I’ve started reminding myself regularly that I need to let them do their jobs and that’s what lets me do mine. I have great people working for me, and knowing that I can trust them to do their part makes me better at my job too.” This makes clear that you understand your limitations but you also will put real effort into fixing them. As a bonus, it also shows that you respect the people you work with–an important point for any employer in any industry.
Summing It Up
The basic idea is that you need to give an honest answer that shows three very important things about yourself: you understand yourself well enough to know where you have room for improvement; you’re honest enough to admit that you’re not perfect even in a situation where you want to present yourself in a positive light; and you care enough about being a good person and a good employee to work at improving where you’re weak. Have an answer ready that will do that for you, and you’ll be well on your way to getting that perfect job.
We’ve discussed some tough questions in this series, and we’ve seen how many of them can be quite a bit more general than we may like, and can lead one down the road of self incrimination without much effort. This next one is a bit odd when you really thing about it, though it seems so obvious. You walk in to the office, give a firm handshake and take your seat. You’re interviewer leans back and casually says with a smile “tell me a little bit about yourself.” It all seems so innocent… doesn’t it.
Don’t Get the Wrong Idea
There is something to remember when you walk into an interview, or any professional situation for that matter: Do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to get too comfortable. The way you speak, the tone of your voice, your movements, and even the way you sit in the chair must never seem as though you are in a casual mode. Leaning back on your seat and throwing an elbow over the back of it as you casually wave your hands back and forth as though you’re out at a bar says to your potential employer that you aren’t taking this seriously. Being stiff or stand-offish says that you have issues with pressure. The attitude that you are looking to cultivate and display is one of calm professionalism and air of confidence that has been earned, not assumed. Your potential employer’s body language may be casual and there is unconscious desire at times to match it, but your not the boss… yet.
What They Don’t Need to Know
Your potential employer has just asked you what is perhaps the most open-ended question possible. You would think it’d be an easy question to answer and it is; perhaps a little too easy. When you’re on a date and someone asks you to talk about yourself you can and should say whatever you happen to feel. After all that’s the point of a date; to get to know each other. You wouldn’t necessarily think that you would need to explain to people that a job interview isn’t the place for that, but after having conducted hundreds of interviews I can promise you the line is less clear than you may believe, and people cross it more often than they should. Keep this in mind: who you are isn’t what your interviewer really wants to know. The fact that you’re a “good guy” or are “personable” or “outgoing” is not necessarily unimportant, but it is something that is better displayed by actions than spelling it out explicitly. Equally unnecessary are thoughts about your hobbies, where you’re from, or what kind of life you’re after in the future. Some of these things may come up later if your interviewer clearly asks you about them, but for now that isn’t a rabbit hole you want to go down.
As always it’s best to prepare yourself to answer any question that you may be asked as much as possible, but it is imperative that you prepare yourself for the questions that you know for a fact you’ll be asked. For this one you’ll want to think of a short list attributes that relate to the job that you’re going after. If you’re asked about yourself and you’re going for a sales position you will want to speak on your previous experiences in speaking and relationship building. If you are going for a more physical job such as construction or factory work, you want to have examples of both your physical fitness and your ability to be steady, and dependable. Always tailor your answers to the job, never give a rote response.
A True Life Example
We’ve talked a lot about what not to say and what not to do, but now let’s talk about how to bring it all together into the right answer to a question that has and almost infinite number of variables. Here are some ground rules for the ideal answer: Firstly, keep it short and sweet. You want to keep your answer down to three or four sentences. Next, choose one main quality of yours that you want to show; just one. This quality will dictate the overall theme of your answer. Lastly, think of a way to show your quality without saying it outright. The “I am awesome” approach will almost invariably come off as a boast, and so many people do it that you will only manage to blend yourself into the crowd in a wholly unimpressive way.
Here’s a real life example for you to consider:
Candidate: “Well, I’ve always thought of myself as someone that enjoys talking to and meeting new people. I enjoy building relationships that last and that I can utilize to build a network for myself. That feeling of creating a network and watching it grow, and knowing that my company is growing because of my efforts, that’s a really great feeling. I want to be a part of building something that lasts… something I can really be proud of.”
Stop! Stop yourself right there. For the moment you have said all that you need to say on the subject of “you.” Now if this sounds a bit corny on paper that’s because it can very easily come off that way if you rattle if off like a robot. But the above is exactly what I said to land a District Manager position for a cell phone company, when I had very little management experience, no upper management experience, and no experience in the cell phone industry whatsoever. I said it calmly, I said it with passion… and I meant every word. Keep in mind this is just an example. You have to find what works for you. You have to think about what you want to convey to your potential employer, and how you’re going to do it in just a few sentences. In closing, it should be considered that you may be asked to elaborate. The interviewer may ask you more personal questions than you prepared for. If that happens all you have to do is keep your cool, stick to the rules… and don’t get too personal. You’ve only got one chance at a first impression.
When you are applying for a job position, you can be sure that others will have applied too. So imagine the hiring manager, sitting at their desk sifting through tens – if not hundreds – of resumes. Its not hard to understand why on average, the hiring manager only spends a few seconds looking at each resume. Therefore, it is very important to try and make yours stand out from the rest. You want to distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd. So when you are writing your resume, this is key to remember to make sure you include the most important skills you have. It is often advised that your resume should be limited to one page, at most two, and in fact some companies can actually limit how long the resume is. Because of this, you don’t want to waste any space with skills that could easily be replaced with another skill that sets you apart.
To begin with, you want to make a list of all the skills you have, particularly ones listed in the job description for the job you are applying for. For example, you could include, hard skills such as computer programming, or soft skills such as problem solving.
To help you decide what skills you should list on your resume, I have collected some of the most valued and important skills that companies tend to look for in their candidates.
• Team work
A lot of jobs will require you to work as part of a team and with co-workers. Therefore, employers look for people for have the ability to fit in and work well with the existing team members. If the company feels that you may not be able to discuss ideas with the team with an open mind and only pay attention to your own interests, this may ruin your chances of getting the job.
• Problem solving
This is a very attractive skill for many employers. In all kinds of business, things do not always go to plan. This is just a fact of life. Therefore, the hiring manager will be looking for someone who is a problem solver. They want someone who will handle any potential problems that could arise whilst you are working for them, rather than someone who will shy away and wait for someone else to take charge.
• Being decisive
Being able to make decisions – provided they are in the interests of the company and not just your own – is an attractive trait for employers. This may be particularly important if you are applying for a managerial or supervisory role as you will not only need to make decisions for yourself but also so the team you are in charge of.
• Being proactive in planning your work
You can help remember this skill by remembering ‘POP’ – plan, organise and prioritise. If you can apply this to your work you will become an asset to the company as this makes the efficient and successful employee. Applying POP to your work can help you keep to deadlines. Of course, when you are writing your resume don’t want POP on there – I just made that up and the person reading won’t know what you are talking about. However, this skill is valued and therefore should be included in your resume, just in the right way.
• Being able to process information
This skill really speaks to an employer. If you have it, they have reason to believe that if you were hired, you would be able to grasp new information quickly and therefore be able to perform the job to a high standard without more training and guidance than they really want to provide. Because of this, the ability to obtain information and process it, is definitely worthy of a spot on your resume.
Communication is an underestimated but highly valued skill. Why is it underestimated? Because everyone can communicate in some way or another, so how does that set you apart from the competition? However, communication or lack there of, can be the bell all or end all of a company. This is very important to have good communication to run a successful business, so although it may sound obvious, it needs to be on your resume.
So, there are some of the most valuable skills employers look for in potential candidates. If you can tailor your resume skills to the job you are applying for, this will be beneficial because you can ensure you include the skills they consider most important. A word of advice though, do not lie. You may feel that you lack the skills the employer is looking for, but if you lie and say you have certain skills for example, systems analysis, when you get to the job interview, you are likely to be asked about this. You may still have got the job interview if you hadn’t lied on your resume, but now you are stuck. Speaking of the job interview, whilst you are thinking about your skills it is a good idea to think about some examples you can give showing how you use these skills. These could be included in some areas of your resume or your cover letter, but definitely you could use examples to showcase your skills in a job interview. If you are interviewing with a high-tech up and coming technology start up like Uber, then I suggest you first take a look at their interview process. Uber interview process is known to be very challenging and that’s where you need to showcase your skillsets in advance with your resume.
Remember, any chance of getting a job lies with your resume. Without, you wouldn’t get an interview which could lead on to be hired. A lot of people put emphasis on the interview but forget that you need to make sure that your resume is good enough to get noticed in the first place. Also, even if you have a lot of the required skills or perhaps you even think you are over qualified for the job, you need to make sure your resume is well written. You wouldn’t be surprised how many times I have heard someone say ‘The resume was poor but they have skills and experience so we are giving them an interview’. This may sound like you don’t need to try if you are qualified because you may get a job interview first, however what this is really saying is we are giving them an interview but they are already on the back foot. On the other hand, if the resume was well written, with the skills and qualities, this could already put your above the rest of the competition.
Now you have all the pointers you need, its time to put the P into POP and start planning what skills to put on your resume.
It is not even a question that it is absolutely essential to make a resume stand out when applying for a job. For most positions, hiring managers normally receive hundreds of applications, which means having the right qualifications and attitude is nowhere near enough. Not to mention that during the application process, the candidate`s personality does not play a part until the interview process, at least not if you choose to follow the traditional resume formats that do not give space to it. There are of course ways to make your resume more memorable, but you need to carefully consider which one is the most suitable for your industry, career level and desired position.
If you want to direct the hiring manager`s attention on your skills, you can choose to add either a resume objective statement or a resume summary statement. The two things are actually very different despite the similar name and they are also suitable for completely different situation. This article will run you through both resume objectives and resume statements to give you an idea and help you decide which one is the best for your situation.
What Is A Resume Objective Statement
To put it simply, a resume objective is a very short, one or two sentence addition to one`s resume to explain who the person is with what skills and what exact position they are hoping to get. Some say resume objectives are old fashioned and unnecessary, they can actually be extremely helpful for certain people. As in its very brief form it puts the skills of the person next to their desired job it is perfect for people who do not have much experience, such as graduates, or people who are about to change industry as it focusses the hiring manager`s attention on why the candidate is the perfect choice based on their skills, rather than their employment history.
The difficulty of the resume objective is that it has to be specific for both the position and the company you are applying for. You cannot write one resume objective for all your job applications as that would make the whole thing redundant. Once you understand, however, how the process of writing a resume objective works, it will all become clear how such a simple thing can advance your career.
How To Write A Resume Objective Statement
The template for a resume objective is pretty straightforward. You have the space of one or two sentences, more than that is too long. Start off with describing who you are as an employee with one or two characteristics (try avoid clichés as much as possible, and keep in mind which characteristics are important and desirable for your hopeful position), then describe past experiences (employment, if you have them, or ones obtained in education or in extra-curricular activities), describe what skills you gained from the experiences, then name the role you are hoping to get and the company you are applying for. This might seem complex for the first sight, but once you have read through it a few times and give it a try following the instructions you will realise it is in fact relatively easy, given that you tailor each one individually to the jobs you are applying for and you are choosing the skills that match your desired role.
What Is A Resume Summary Statement
A resume summary statement, despite the similar name, is very different from the resume objective. A resume summary can be best described as a list of skills, experiences and personality traits the candidate is possessing which is also tailored to show how the candidate is a good fit for the position they are applying for. This may sound a little unnecessary given that it may look as if the points of this list are repeated elsewhere in the resume, but the point of the summary is to explicitly list the applicant`s skills that are otherwise implied by their past employment. It is, therefore, more suitable for people with lots of experience, generally with senior level careers or nearing it, as this format heavily relies on employment history.
How To Write A Resume Summary Statement
As the resume summary is a list, the best format for any lists on a resume is bullet points. The bullet points should be brief and focused. You should use no more than 6 bullet points, but ideally less. Make sure to address a different skill or experience in each bullet point to avoid repeating yourself. When deciding which skills to mention, think about the industry you are working in, the company you are applying for and the role you are hoping to get and decide which one of your skills would make you the most attractive for the hiring manager. It is generally a good idea to think of and mention a certain work experience and matching a skill that you have either obtained while working in said position or you have used successfully in the workplace.
Despite the major difference, resume objectives and resume summaries have one important feature in common that cannot be overemphasized. As they are usually a tool to get in to a very specific position, they always have to be written individually and uniquely to each application. A generic resume objective or summary that you have obviously copied and pasted onto several different resumes you have sent off are not any better than not having anything in their place.
It is also important to remember in both cases to be very precise about yourself and your skills. The purpose of these additions is exactly to give you a chance to tell something very specific to the hiring manager that makes you a lot better choice than the other candidates, especially if these very specific things may not be immediately obvious from simply reading through your resume. Taking the time to write these one by one while applying to jobs might seem a bit too much for how much they are worth, but once you get into the routine of writing the right resume objective or resume summary, they can take you further than you would have thought.