Asking questions in an interview

Get your interviewer talking!

Advice for creating interview dialogue

An interview is all about you, right? Well, not really. 

An interview is about your potential future employer’s needs and how your skills and experience align with their needs. Also, it’s about how much they like you and see you as a “culture fit” for their team. 

A successful interview is a dialogue, not a presentation (nor an interrogation).

If you’re doing 95% of the talking, you’re doing it wrong. Here are a couple tips:

1) Flip the script

One of my favorite techniques to use in an interview is to start with flipping the script on the interviewer after introductions. Here’s how it might go:

“Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me today. I really admire your company and am honored to be considered for this role. If you don’t mind me asking, could you please tell me more about the role and what kind of candidate you’re seeking?”

Basically, this is asking them for the answers to the test before you take it. Most of the time, they will tell you what they’re looking for. You can then use all of this information to confirm that you’re the ideal candidate while you answer their questions about your skills and experience.

2) Connect personally

I recommend you find some small way to connect to your interviewer personally. Create small talk, listen for their response, and search for personal commonalities, such as a favorite pet, sports team, or even movie you’ve seen. You will have tons of things in common with anyone you meet!

Once you’ve found that commonality, get them talking about it.

“That’s really cool to hear you’re a dog lover too. Can I show you a picture of my dog? I’d love to see one of yours too.”

Reinforce what you have in common in order to make them like you personally and make them evaluate you as a better “culture fit.”

3) Ending Well

Finally, at the end of the interview they’ll often ask “what questions do you have for me?” This gives you an opening to ask questions. 

Focus on open-ended, feel-good questions, such as “why do you love working here?” and “what makes your team great?” and “what attracted you to this company?”

Then, always ask:

“Do you have any reservations about hiring me?”

This gives you one last chance to address any concerns they have and also gives you valuable intel about how you come across in the interview. Also, it will give you insight into whether or not you’re likely to even get the job.

Also, check out our jobs!

If you’re in the labor market, our team of recruiters and hiring managers don’t bite! They’re here to engage you in a conversation, understand your skills, and consider you for our open jobs. Check out our jobs here!

Changing your resume

Advice for how and when to change your resume

Your resume is not a tattoo. Be ready to change it.

A lot of job seekers I work with have played the job search before. This is not their first job…it might even be their tenth. And while this experience can be valuable, sometimes we need to recognize that what worked for us before might not work again. You will need to change your resume

Resumes are marketing pieces that will change based on the current needs.

Tips for changing your resume

Exercise creative writing.

Many of us will be pulled into tasks and projects that go beyond our job description. After a couple years, you have your core job as well as many other miscellaneous experiences. Pay attention to these experiences and be prepared to present them on your resume in order to “check all the boxes” on this new job you’re applying for.

Job titles are more flexible than you realize.

With many organizations, you’ll be issued a cool sounding title, such as “Customer Success Manager.” Or, you might be given a generic title that doesn’t tell an outsider anything about what you do, such as “Program Specialist.” Be prepared to change your job title after the fact to better market yourself. If you want to be completely transparent about it, you can put your functional job title in parentheses.

Curate your content.

A lot of us could write a short book about our work experiences. The problem is employers want to skim your resume, not read it. While reading, our goal is to do a quick evaluation, see if you are in the right ball park of what we’re looking for, and then get you to an interview. This means you will need to leave a good deal of your experience that’s not directly relevant to this job on the sidelines.

Take notes after an interview.

Each time you interview with a recruiter, take a note of 1) what they ask you and 2) why they were interested in interviewing you. If they’re asking you for clarification, it might be worth clarifying something on your resume, and if they are really interested in you because of a certain skill/experience, highlight this in future versions of your resume so that other employers will notice it.

Change your resume regularly.

As you take interviews and apply for jobs and have others give you feedback on your resume, it will change. In order to be as agile as possible, make a habit of changing your resume regularly. So make it routine in order to keep yourself agile. Just remember to save all those earlier versions too!

You should have multiple versions of your resume.

My own position is a mixture of community relations, marketing, business development, and recruiting. If I were to look for a new job, I would create four different resumes focused around each of these core duties. Be prepared to have multiple resumes in order to give yourself flexibility in what jobs you can apply for.

Want more resume tips?

Check out our Youtube Channel!

Also make sure to apply for one of our open jobs!

Career coaches

All about career coaches

What does a career coach do?

A career coach will often help you with several key activities:

  • Editing your resume, LinkedIn, and cover letters
  • Helping you expand your network
  • Advising you on making a career shift or overcoming employment barriers
  • Evaluating job prospects
  • Preparing for interviews

How do I find a career coach?

You can find potential career coaches by simply going to LinkedIn and searching for “career coach.” However, if possible you should find a career coach that has worked with someone you know or is in your target industry. Ask friends, family members, and network connections for people who might be able to help you in your career search.

When should you hire a career coach?

1) If you can’t do it yourself. Some people struggle with composing a resume or need significant help with being able to overcome an employment gap or switching careers. If the difference between you getting a job and not getting a job, it may be worthwhile to hire a job coach. However, realize that they can’t do it for you—they can give you advice and help you craft a well-written resume, but it is ultimately your job search activities that will lead to a job.

2) If you’ve exhausted all your resources. A little while back I wrote “a guide to Austin job seeking resources.” Utilize services such as Workforce Solutions, job clubs, and online resources first before you seek out a coach. Attend networking events and send messages to people you know on LinkedIn. There is a wealth of information out there and available to you as a job seeker. Paying for assistance can expedite the process but make sure you’re not overlooking free resources.

3) It’s risky for you to look for work. If you’re already currently fully employed and planning to make a big career shift, it might be worthwhile to hire a career coach to help advise you. Making a career shift can be really hard, and they may be able help you strategically prepare for this all while minimizing the risk of losing your current job. After all, sometimes the best path is to seek a new role or alternate job duties in your current company instead of quitting it outright.

What should you consider when hiring a career coach?

  • It’s a fuzzy science. Many successful job coaches gain their experience from working in HR or recruiting, or even going through the job search process successfully themselves. Some will go on to gain credentials such as Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC). Instead of looking for fancy credentials, look for local career coaches who have helped other people you know or who come from industries you want to focus on. Hire career coaches for their skills and their network.
  • Most will do an initial conversation for free. It never hurts to take a free consultation. At the very least, they may offer some free DIY advice or general guidance to help steer your search, even if you don’t hire them. Just be wary of a hard sell or over-inflated promises. 
  • Most do it to help people. Most people who get into career coaching do it because they want to help people. Many come from HR roles and want to take a more direct role in helping the job seekers they encounter. Yes, they want to charge money for their services but many also have an altruistic motives.
  • You’re still going to do this yourself. No matter how good the coach, they should not write your resume and cover letters for you. They should not apply for jobs for you. And they should not attend networking events for you. At the end of the day, you’re the one that an employer is hiring. 

How much does it cost to hire a career coach?

Business news daily estimates it to be $75-150 per hour with rates going higher depending on the industry and demand.

If this makes you wince, remember that most job seekers go without a career coach. However, recognize that we are each our own small business and sometimes paying for the expertise of a consultant can be valuable.

If you’re looking for a job, we’re hiring.

We’re hiring and would be happy to look at your resume.

Here at Peak Performers, we don’t charge candidates to help them with their job search. We make our revenue from having employees work for the customer and typically will spend some time with a job seeker for free to provide feedback and guidance so they can better market themselves. Our services offer a bit of coaching, but not at the level that everyone needs.