Thinking Of Returning To School?


If you are one of the many people who are finding that landing a job is difficult at present, one of the things you might be thinking of is returning to school to further your education. This could be just the remedy you need or a colossal waste of your time and money, resulting in kick-starting your career or leaving you saddled with debt and still with no job. Yikes! Isn’t that your biggest fear!?

Debt; four simple letters which together could find you with a poor credit rating, affecting your future ability to buy a car, a house, even land a job with some organizations. Just the thought of going to school and investing a year or more of your precious time only to have the possibility you could emerge still in the same situation with no job prospects? Why it’s enough to drive a person crazy!

Hang on a minute. Let’s look at this rationally and objectively. Take a breath; a deep one that fills your lungs and then exhale. Do it again. Better? Okay, let’s begin. Oh and I should add that I have no vested interests in any educational institution.

Supposing that as our premise, you are finding it difficult to get job interviews and when you do, you’re not getting job offers. It could be that there are too many people with the same qualifications as you, and in addition, some of your competition have added education. The decision to head on back to school and may be exactly the right decision if employers in your field place a high value on extra education, or you learn they view your education as out-of-date.

Could be that your degree from 1981 is now of questionable value, or in a field like technology where advances come often and quickly, you’re losing out to new grads. If you have been able to narrow down what course or training you’re lacking that is holding you back, then returning to the classroom to get it is wisdom my friend. Don’t even read the rest of this article; get up and go register now!

Another solid reason for more education is if you have come to a point in your life where a completely different career is in order. You’ve grown and with aging you’ve found you have new interests; interests which you’d like to pursue as a career and your current education doesn’t qualify you to compete. Same advice, quit reading and contact the College or University and get yourself registered.

There is another kind of situation you might be in which could also have you considering the classroom as an option. You might not be at all sure what kind of work you’d like to do. Returning to school would cocoon you from the world of work for 2-3 years while you pursued a degree or diploma.  Couldn’t hurt at any rate to add some letters to the end of your name, and hopefully you’d figure it out in that time.

Well it’s not up to me to say one way or the other but generally I’d say all education is worthwhile. It will add to your resume and maybe some time in a placement applying those skills could indeed spark a real interest you then pursue and life all works out beautifully. That money you owe when you graduate isn’t debt at all but rather an investment you’ve made in your mind and your future. Well done!

However, that time you spend in a classroom could actually prove harmful. If you graduate and then don’t feel inspired to look for work doing what you went back to school to learn, that money you spent might actually just be plain old debt; with you no closer to knowing what to do with your working life.

A good idea perhaps is before investing your time and money in school, interview some people doing the work you might be doing upon graduation. Pick their brain, find out what they really do and ask yourself if you’d be happy in a similar position? Ask the employers you’d be asking to hire you when you graduate if they prefer graduates from certain schools or programs. Not much point happily going to school somewhere only to graduate and then find employers don’t value what you received or the institution you got it from isn’t recognized.

One thing is for sure; don’t return to school just to hide from work. If you’re not sure what to do, spend some time working in several jobs. Invest a year – maybe two or three actually – doing a number of jobs finding out what you like and what you don’t.  You choose what goes on a future resume anyhow, so don’t fret about job hopping; you’re on a mission of discovery.

Going back to school is a wise decision which will improve the way you think, make you more competitively employable and give you an edge. However, upgrading your education and then finding out you’re eventually working in a job you could have got three years ago without your new degree might be a waste of time or just part of your education in the game of Life. Depends on your attitude and how you view things.

Best advice if you’re on the fence? Make a decision either way, and make it NOW; the stress of not deciding isn’t helpful. You’re on the clock.

How Many Jobs Should You Apply To Per Day?


The short answer is a nice big fuzzy, “it depends.”

Now of course the logical question you’re framing in your mind is what does it depend on? Am I correct? While setting goals for yourself is commendable and strongly encouraged, it’s not always the best strategy to set a number of jobs to apply to each day when you’re out of work. That may come as a surprise to some of my readers given that I’m an Employment Counsellor.

An effective job search is about more than just filling out applications and firing off resumes to organizations online or via email. In fact, a healthy job search allocates time to a number of activities which will keep you busy and productive.

Now while you may be driven to actually apply for employment, it’s not always the case that the person who applies for the most number of jobs is ultimately the first one hired. Nor is it the case that the one who applies for the most number of jobs is the one who lands in the right job; and that can lead to many job changes when the positions don’t last long.

Sure you should look for jobs daily. By all means set aside some time in the morning to see what new postings may have come out in the last 24 hours. You don’t want to miss an opportunity that you’ve otherwise kept your eye on and find it has some extremely short deadline to apply and then miss it. How unfortunate that would be! If you also look into postings once during the afternoon, you’re already doing a good job of staying on top of what’s available.

There are other things you should be paying attention to however; and it’s these other things that will keep you productively engaged in your job search and give you enough variety so you avoid discouragement. Here’s a list:

  1. References. Now is the best time to put together a list of the people you know who will vouch for your work performance. Current or former employers, supervisors and/or co-workers are excellent choices. You’ll need a minimum of 3 of these, including the correct spelling of their names, titles, company names, phone numbers and emails. By the way, send them a current resume to have on hand as well as a note of appreciation for their ongoing support.
  2. Social Media Profile. When applying for a position, many employers will turn to the internet and dig around to find what they can about you. If you started a LinkedIn profile but never really developed it much, now is a great time to devote some attention to developing and fleshing out your profile. Put in a little effort now and you won’t feel embarrassed about your profile later.
  3. Exercise. Job searching is stressful for almost everybody and it manifests itself in physical ways. Getting out for a walk, bicycle ride, the elliptical gathering cobwebs in the basement or a trip to the gym will not only improve your physical fitness but ward off aches and pains.
  4. Enjoy A Pastime. If you need permission to spend some time doing things you enjoy, here it is. Get out in the garden, work those knitting needles, pound those keyboards, pick up that paintbrush. Setting aside some time to do things which bring you happiness and keep up your sense of normal day-to-day living is strongly encouraged. Job searching need not be all-consuming.
  5. Practice Interviewing. I know, I know, I know. This is likely something you don’t enjoy and only want to do when absolutely necessary. Still, without practice and more practice, you’re not going to be at your best just winging it on the day of the big interview. You’ll feel mounting anxiety if you put off practicing and end up sitting in some Reception area wishing you had dusted off your interview skills earlier.
  6. Work Your Network. Networking is essential; engaging with other people, taping into their resources, gaining support and advice, drawing on their expertise and experience. Be it phone calls, face-to-face, over the net, etc., devote some time to reaching out. All those friends on FB and connections on LI you’ve been building are a good place to start.
  7. Diet. By diet I do not mean lose weight. What I do mean is pay attention to both the quantity of food you consume and the quality. When you’re off work, the proximity to your pantry and fridge is considerably reduced, and your trips to both may be much more frequent. If you don’t bring junk into the house in the first place it won’t be there for you to over-indulge in during those weak moments when you crave comfort food.

There’s more you could be doing for sure, but these 7 are a good start. Setting yourself an arbitrary goal of say, 8 job applications a day will either set you up to fail or have you applying at jobs you don’t really want at all just to meet this quota.

If you’re only applying to a single job every week or less you’ve got to step things up my friend. What I’m saying is balance is the key; apply for jobs that you’re truly qualified to do and motivated to do – absolutely. It’s equally important however to get out from in front of a monitor and keep living.

 

Ask The Right Questions Or Don’t


I am privileged as an Employment Counsellor to engage in meaningful conversations with people looking for employment. If you listened in on these, you’d hear me pose a number of questions and with each answer a clearer picture of the person would be revealed.

The trap someone in my place can easily fall into is to size up the job seeker in a few moments based on all the previous job seekers one’s worked with and miss what makes this person unique. The questions I ask and especially the ones I might not, can and do make all the difference in helping that one person find the right match; what they’re really after.

For example ask the question, “So what job are you looking for?”, and I’m likely to get a simple job title. “Personal Support Worker”. This reply is correct, definitive and tells me nothing of the person themselves. If I worked in an environment where success was based solely on churning out resumes and getting people to apply for jobs measured my performance, this would be the fastest way to carry out that goal. However, that seems backwards measuring my success rather than the job seekers based on quantity and not quality.

There’s better questions to ask of someone looking for work; questions which are far more effective at assisting someone to find and keep employment. Better questions that get at the person themselves and their motivation for work.

When I ask, “So what do you want out of your next job?”, one will glibly state, “A pay cheque.” Another will say, “I want to find meaning in what I do”, or, “I want a job where I can make a difference; where I can really help others.” So of the two answers, which person would you rather have caring for you as a Personal Support Worker? I’ll opt for the person who is motivated by their wish to make a difference in the lives they’ll touch over the person working for a pay cheque.

Another good question I like to pose is, “Tell me about that job; what would you actually do?” I ask this question whether I have a really solid understanding of the daily functions of the role or not. This question is really designed to give me information on what the job entails from their perspective and how well that matches up with what employer’s set out as the responsibilities and job functions. Working in a Veterinary Clinic for example sounds appealing to those who like animals but many aren’t ready to keep their opinions and values to themselves when an owner comes to an agonizing decision to put down their beloved pet. It’s not all cuddling and grooming.

As I listen to someone describe the job they are after, I also focus my attention on not only the actual words they use but whether there is any passion or genuine love for the work described. This is most often revealed through a smile on the face, a softening of the eyes, a change in the pace of their words and some varying of the tone in their voice. Do they show and demonstrate some enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of doing this job or not? Some speak very matter-of-factly about their work of course and for many that’s exactly what it is; work.

Perhaps you’ve heard that expression, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Well, even the most ardent worker who loves their job with all they’ve got will tell you they still make a significant investment in their time working to improve their productivity, working to keep their high standard of performance or working to keep up with best practices. Stop working at being your best and you rot. So if we all ‘work’ at work, why isn’t the experience of work the same for everyone?

Simply put, it’s what we put in and what we get out of it; investment and return. The best athletes aren’t just naturally gifted, they invest countless hours training, improving, working on elevating their performance to be the best they can be. The brightest often experiment and when they don’t succeed they embrace that failure and learn from what didn’t work to discover what will. So when I ask, “What are willing to put into the job?”, if they answer with the question, “You mean overtime?” that tells me volumes.

Here’s what I think about, “overtime”. I find that a person I work with will often end up over time securing a job which differs from the one they originally identified to me because having got to know them better, together we’ve found a better fit. In other words, with some question and answers, they’ve discovered that finding satisfying and fulfilling work is more than just finding a job.

If you believe that in this economy this kind of thinking is a luxury and one can only hope for a job and a pay cheque, you are entitled to that opinion. There are professionals who will gladly take your money and your time while mass producing your resumes.

As an alternative, let’s ask some probing questions; get to the heart of what makes you unique and find where you’ll truly live that passion that seems so elusive.

I’d love to hear your own thoughts on this. Please comment and share.

 

On A Career Journey? Learn From Tracey


On March 1 I received a message via LinkedIn from a woman who had read one of my blog posts and was touched by it enough that she reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to meet with her face-to-face to hear first-hand about my career path. On her own career journey, she respectfully asked for 20 minutes of my time over a coffee, and even then said if not, she’d understand and wished me well in my passionate endeavors.

First thing I did was look up her profile on LinkedIn and read up on who this person was and what she’d done to date. We exchanged a couple of messages and the short of it is that we agreed to meet last evening in a public café. I mean here was someone doing exactly what I and many others so often suggest doing; reach out and network, ask for 20 minutes and see what you can learn. I was impressed.

So last evening we met at our agreed time and after introducing ourselves, Tracey made good on her offer of buying me a tea. In exchange for that small investment and the cost of the gas to get to and from the meeting, what she got was more than 20 minutes. We sat there and had a great conversation for…are you ready?…..3 hours. Yep, 3 hours.

When did you last meet someone for the first time and not only found yourself happily immersed in talking but found this interest reciprocated for so long? This was special. The conversation had a nice flow back and forth, both of us sharing experiences, and how those experiences have us where we are in the present. There was something in that post of mine that prompted Tracey to feel she could benefit from meeting; perhaps gaining some insight into what she herself might do with her own career moving forward.

So I shared my working philosophy, the significant characteristics I believe are essential in this line of work, the benefits I derive, what I actually do and what I learn in return. As I spoke I observed Tracey and noted many positive qualities which we’d all do well to replicate in similar situations should we initiate such meetings ourselves.

She listened attentively, made excellent eye contact, smiled, commented on what she heard,  added her own experiences to the conversation so it was a two-way exchange. She was well dressed, came prepared with some written questions and had a pen and paper at hand. Now ironically, the questions she’d prepared didn’t play much of a part in the meeting, as our conversation went back and forth at a comfortable pace and apparently satisfied her questions.

I was interested to hear that in addition to myself, she was meeting with others too; people she had been referred to by others. She said it this meeting was the first time she’d reached out on her own to someone she didn’t know, and we laughed a bit at that. It’s prudent to be cautious when doing so of course, but we were meeting in a public space and sometimes that courage provides new perspectives; hearing from others actually doing the kind of work you might be considering yourself.

I found it interesting that she’d spent 4 years teaching abroad, has recently invested in upgrading her education in Social Sciences and has experience working as a Researcher. More significant to me was hearing her speak about her own love for helping others, having a need for innovation and creativity and how much she enjoys interacting one-to-one. Like attracts like, and so being innovative myself, connecting with others one-on-one, loving helping others and being creative I envisioned her as a professional colleague in the same line of work. Having just met, I don’t know her inside and out, but still, I started to read her and see if she had what it would take to be in this field and succeed. No question about it.

What struck me was her dilemma. What to do? Look for work in the field she just upgraded her education in or possibly pursue a career in something else. Now as I said to her, if her heart was in the work she’d just went to school for, she likely wouldn’t be sitting in a café having a conversation like the one we were having; she’d be enthusiastically out there applying for jobs. Yet here she was. That is a most telling reality; seems to me she’s looking for some work to do with passion herself; helping others in some capacity and looking to feel fulfilled. That apparently hasn’t manifested itself where she is right now.

In the end, it will be Tracey who makes up her mind as to where she goes from here and what she does next in her career journey. She’s an intelligent woman gathering information and others perspectives, and I’m very interested myself to stay in touch and hear what transpires. I’ve made myself available in any way that she might find helpful too, be it further conversations in-person or otherwise.

Now as for you and me, this is yet another example where connecting via social media is a good start, but leveraging these connections into actual conversations and truly networking is what we could do more of. 3 hours you might not get I acknowledge, but asking for 20 minutes…priceless. Happy networking!

 

Take A Short-Term Job? Why?


So you’re looking for a job. Excellent! Good for you. You even know what you’re looking for and it’s something you’re qualified to do in terms of your education and experience. The problem? It’s taking longer than you would have thought. Your financial resources are being depleted and the stress of unemployment is mounting. Sound familiar?

While it’s commendable that you have this narrow job focus and aren’t being distracted with the temptation of every job opening that comes your way, you’re entertaining the idea more and more of applying for positions other than your targeted career. Is this something you should or shouldn’t do?

These jobs you are thinking about applying for more and more are typically called survival or transition jobs. The idea of pursuing these kinds of jobs while at the same time still putting the bulk of your time and energy into your ideal career job has been around for a very long time. So if you’re thinking more and more about going this route, you’re in good company.

Let’s look at some of the pros shall we? So we are clear, you haven’t given up entirely on your career job. You’ve just come to the point where you looking at another job for the here and now. Don’t worry about that voice in your ear that keeps telling you if you seek out one of these other jobs you’re somehow a failure and have given up on yourself. That’s rubbish and can only lead to lower self-esteem and is anything but productively helpful.

First of all a transition or survival job (and from here on let’s use either one of these terms interchangeably) is short-term in nature. By short-term, the actual length can vary and is only intended to be kept once secured for as long as it takes to land your career job; a longer-term proposition and source of income. The fact that it is short-term should appease that fear you might experience of making a big mistake by taking one.

These jobs are typically entry-level positions in organizations and come with lower pay as a consequence, but the lower pay and the entry-level status also means you’ll have fewer responsibilities and that in turn means you should have both physical and mental energy left to devote to your career-based job search. Please don’t misread that I believe short-term transitions jobs are always filled by people who don’t have to use their brains whatsoever and you could do the job blindfolded. We’re all made up different and so the job you take as a sideline until something better comes up might at the same time be someone else’s career job bringing them great satisfaction. I’m not judging the people holding these jobs and you shouldn’t either.

As these are entry-level and lower paying positions more often than not, there is also a greater number of people available in the job market with the necessary skills to fill vacancies as they come up. Hence if and when you quit a short-term job you’ve taken as a survival job, the employer will have less of a challenge filling it come your departure. Less guilt for you if you’ve got a conscious.

A job by its very nature is going to provide you with income; income you need perhaps to pay some bills and keep your debt to a minimum. The nice thing about seeking one of these positions is that you’re likely to hear the words, “you’re hired” quicker than holding out for that dream career position you’ve been applying for. There’s likely only one interview, two at the most; and you’re in. That’s good for the self-esteem; ie. somebody wants me.

Another benefit of these jobs is the human connection. Job searching is isolating as in unemployment. It’s you against the world and it seems like you’re the lone wolf scavenging to stay alive. When you’re working in a transition job you benefit from being part of a team, meeting people and having adult conversations about just about anything other than your own lack of employment success. So even if you’re making someone a sandwich or selling them a sweater, what you’re doing is exercising your people skills; communication skills, customer service skills etc.

Play it right and you might also be working in a job where one of the other benefits is a break on the purchase of whatever it is your producing. Need some shoes and income? Take a job in a shoe store and perhaps you get an employee discount. Need to update your wardrobe? A job in a fashion store means they’ll want you wearing their goods, so count on some of your income going towards an outfit or two which could in turn become your new work clothes when you leave.

You won’t lose sight of your long-term objective in a short-term transition job. There are people however who have taken short-term work and found they liked it so much they actually stayed for years and it became their career jobs as they moved up the ladder. Hey, if you like it once there, why not?

Other benefits? They get you out of the house, keeping a good pattern of behaviour, fill up your gaps on a resume and get you current references. There’s a lot of good to be found in short-term survival jobs if and when you’re ready.

 

Do You HAVE To Bring Passion?


Q. “As a condition of being hired, you have to bring passion to the job every day. Can you do that?”

A. “Absolutely. Never met her but give me her address and I’ll swing by on my way to work.”

Funny? Maybe. And if you want to go ahead and steal that from me, be my guest. It’s original; well as far as I know anyhow.

I ask you though, is it essential that you bring passion to work on a daily basis? Given that there are billions of people on the planet and a broad spectrum of jobs out there, it’s conceivable that some jobs demand it and others don’t. Look at a lot of job postings these days however and you see that word more often than not.

So this becomes problematic if you aren’t the demonstrative sort. You might in fact be the very kind of person who isn’t really passionate about anything in your life be it professional or personal. That by the way doesn’t make you negatively abnormal, nor does it mean you are disinterested in your work, or are you destined to be any less likely to succeed.

It does mean however that some employers are going to pass you over because you don’t exhibit that key quality which they’ve identified as essential in each of the members of their workforce. This isn’t the end of the world; it just means you’re not well-suited for that particular company and if you were hired, you’d undoubtedly not be a good fit with the others working there. In passing you over, the employer has done themselves and you a big favour by wisely hiring someone else who best exhibits that enthusiasm and passion so necessary to perform at the levels they expect.

So instead of lamenting the fact that you don’t bring passion to the job, or worse yet trying to fake it and be something other than your authentic self, turn your attention to your natural strengths and disposition. It is of course quite possible to be punctual, reliable, work hard and work to meet deadlines with a high degree of regularity without necessarily needing to add passion to the mix. These are also highly desirable qualities which employers value too.

Take the assorted tools a Gardener would use. Whether it’s a shovel with a rounded head, an edger, a pick axe, a hoe or a rake, each tool is the right tool; the perfect tool, depending on the job you use it for. Likewise, each tool is not well designed for some jobs and no tool is the best tool for all jobs. The same can be said for any personal quality you have.

In fact, that analogy of the Gardener’s tools is a good one for you to think about and possibly even share with an interviewer if they are questioning your passion and you meet the job requirements in every facet except that one. You can have a solid work ethic without it for example and should you be able to extol this virtue, you might win over an employer who started out looking for passion in their employees but didn’t themselves really understand why.

Returning to the notion of faking it, is it possible to, ‘fake it until you make it’? Well I suppose anything is possible. The notion that you could fake being passionate about your job responsibilities until one day you wake up and realize you are genuinely passionate about it might occur; who am I to say? But I suspect that would be a rare thing. Far more likely is the idea that you could fake it and get hired only to find you can’t maintain the pretense of bringing passion to the job and then you are exposed. Besides, do you really want to start off this way and feel you have to keep up appearances instead of being your genuine authentic self?

To do the above, it would consume a tremendous amount of mental and physical energy; energy which you would be better advised to put into the very work you are being paid to do. You only have so much of it to start with and if your mind is split between the work to be done and trying to keep your body language and attitude attuned to what a passionate person would look like, you can’t be working at your best.

Now don’t get me wrong. Any employer has the right to establish the qualities they desire in the people who join their workforce and passion may be one of them.  Good questions to approach your research with when considering applying for such an employer are, “What do they mean by passion?” “What does passion translate into on a daily basis?” “Why is passion defined as critical?”

Keep in mind that the work you are looking for is likely out there with a variety of employers. So if passion is sought by one employer and not another for essentially the same work, choose your employer and pass the other by. The fit has to be right for you as well as them. If however you note that this single quality is sought be every employer in your line of work, that would be something to reflect strongly on.

All the very best to you this day and every day to come!

 

“So Tell Me About Yourself.”


You’re fortunate if the job interview starts off with this question. Not everybody agrees of course; in fact, this question seems to rank pretty high up there on the list of questions people dread in an interview. So let’s look at this question; why it’s asked and most importantly how to answer it intelligently so you get off to a positive start in the job interview.

To begin, imagine yourself as the interviewer; sitting on the other side of the table and meeting job applicants for the first time. Presumably the number of applicants has been reduced from all of those who applied down to a few people who – at least on paper  – meet your stated qualifications. After all, whether your company used applicant tracking software or human eyes, it’s highly probable that the reason you were invited in to meet with company personnel as a potential new hire is that you have done a good job matching yourself up with their needs as stated in the job posting.

At this point, you as the interviewer are coming face-to-face with people for the first time. Your job is to meet these candidates, listen to them respond to your questions, confirm their credentials, expose any liabilities and in the end, determine the best of those you meet in terms of finding a fit for the organization. Make the right choice and you add to the overall strength of the company; choose the wrong person and you have two problems: a) you let the right person walk away and b) you’re going to have to release the person you’ve hired and return to the interview and selection process costing you time and money.

As the interviewer, you can look at the resume of the 5 or 6 finalists for the position you are interviewing people for and compare education achievements and professional development. If the job requires a diploma or degree, presumably all the people you are meeting will have this credential. Not much point wasting valuable time confirming that in person, unless of course you’ve requested they bring in the original document for confirmation. Even so, that would take less than a minute to verify.

What you’re really interested in is getting information from the meeting itself which you will compile in order to form a complete picture of the person you are interviewing. Your ears will pick up the person’s vocabulary, ability to express themselves, hesitations and uncertainties and quality of their answers. Your eyes will provide information you’ll use to form a first and last impression based on their clothing, their grooming, posture, facial expressions, gait, smile etc. Your hands will note their handshake quality and will relay information you’ll interpret as their confidence, nervousness, confidence etc.

Leading up to the interview, you’ve no doubt sat down either alone or with someone else and come up with the questions you plan on asking in order to best extract the information you want and need to know in order to make the proper job offer to the best candidate. Some of these questions will focus on technical skills, past experiences, future plans and all the while the interviewer is listening and gathering information they’ll need to determine the right person.

In addition to the objective education (your formal schooling), experience (have you previously done the work required of you now) and skills (how well or poorly have you performed) the interviewer is focused on determining the right personal fit. From your words, tone of voice, visual cues, body language and your own questions, they are sizing up your attitude, values, personality and visualizing how you might fit or not in the environment that makes up the workplace. They know the other employees in the department you could be assigned to, the supervisor you’d report to, the qualities of the best employees they currently have who have made a success of the work. They are in short, measuring you up against this unique knowledge they possess, trying to determine not only if you have what it takes, but the impact of your hiring on the existing workforce and ultimately the services and products they produce for their end-users. Whew! No pressure there!

Okay, so upon first meeting you and the other candidates, they only know what they’ve read on your CV or resume and in the 23 seconds they first eyed you and you took your seat across from them. They are now ready and take the lead on the conversation welcoming and thanking you for coming in to meet them. The opening question is really the ice-breaker; the in-depth questions are yet to come but in the beginning there’s one question that’s really just designed to hear you speak and give them some lead data from which to add to a first impression.

To answer the question intelligently, respond to their stated needs as outlined in the job posting. Get them checking off their own needs based on your answer. You’re a proven professional in your field with the required years of expertise. You’re passionate about your industry and identify your strengths as they relate to the job at hand. Ensure your body language and words reflect your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

Personal hobbies? Avoid these unless they add to the position. Family situation? Irrelevant and could expose liabilities. What’s your motivation, what will you add?

Look at the job posting; don’t wing your opening answer or you may find by their reaction you’re going to be spending the rest of the interview in damage control.