You Say You’re A Problem Solver?


People that say they can solve problems are worth talking to because employers often want problem-solvers in their organizations. People who can actually prove they’ve solved problems both in the past and the present however will always get selected first. Yep, there’s a big difference between saying you can do something and actually demonstrating your ability.

Not long ago I had the occasion to talk with an employer and he was sharing with me an experience he had with an applicant during a job interview. One of the key qualities he was looking for in the next person he hired was a person’s ability to take on problems and find solutions. What he was listening for a person to share was specific examples of when they’ve faced problems, what their options were, the thought process they undertook at the time and after weighing pros and cons, what they actually settled on as a solution and then the action they took. Sometimes he went on, the result itself didn’t even have to always work out favourably as long as the thought process and the effort was there. Results he said would come most of the time.

In this one interview, he heard this applicant describe a situation at work where they were faced with a problem while working alone. They related in their example what they did when consultation wasn’t possible and things actually worked out very favourably for all involved. It was as he said, an impressive example of their ability to problem solve. So much so in fact, that he was impressed enough to offer the candidate a place. It was at this point however, that the applicant made an error that cost her the job.

She mentioned to the interviewer that she wouldn’t be able to work on the weekends (a written requirement in the job posting) as she didn’t have anyone lined up to look after her child on those two days. This as he related it, was a current and ongoing problem that she hadn’t been able to solve. How, he reasoned, was she going to be able to solve his problems associated with the business if she was unable to solve this critical problem of her own? Presumably being more important to her to solve her own problems, he could only imagine she’d put less effort into solving the organizations as they arose were she to be hired. She didn’t get the job.

Now lest you think she was immediately asked to leave, he told me that he had first asked how long the problem had existed. After all he reasoned, if she had only just learned that her childcare provider was suddenly unavailable, she could have made a case that it was a short-term problem and she’d have a solution quickly. Her answer however surprised him; she’d had this childcare problem for over a year.

This was to him more an example of her inability to solve a critical problem than any example she could present to him from her past work experience. Here was a very real problem that in over a year she had not successfully resolved. What she was hoping for was that he’d hire her to work just Monday to Friday and that some of his existing staff with greater seniority would be scheduled to work the weekend shifts. How likely would you think an employer and the fellow employees would see that as a reasonable accommodation? That’s thinking from a very egocentric place; the world resolves around me and others should meet my needs.

Problems exist; they come and they go only to be replaced by new ones. There’s a lot of good in being faced with problems actually. Be careful if you wish you had no problems to deal with in your life. Problems present opportunities to use your existing skills, coupled with your life and work experiences to devise solutions. Being challenged with situations that require you to think, research, brainstorm, consult and eventually make educated and sound decisions based on what you’ve accumulated is a desirable skill.

Now some people can solve problems that benefit themselves only; or benefit an organization but at the price of the customers they serve. Other organizations are bending over backwards so much to keep their customers happy that they actually destroy themselves in the process, so that’s not a long-term problem-solving strategy for success.

The best solutions to problems typically start with one’s ability to correctly comprehend and diagnose the problem. This is followed by coming up with the possible options available that will resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all. Ideally all parties want to feel that they have a resolution that maintains the relationship moving forward, meets their own needs and everyone can move forward.

If you are heading into an interview fully advised in a job posting that problem-solving is one of the requirements of the position, you should expect to be asked to prove through examples from your past that you’re a problem-solver. Don’t wait until that moment, look dumbfounded and sputter out some poor example or worse yet, tell them you’ve never had a problem you couldn’t solve. That could just show you’ve never been properly challenged and your skills in this area are underdeveloped.

You might typically be asked to relate past problems with customers, co-workers, management etc. Be ready. Be a problem-solver.

 

 

 

Lying In Job Interviews? Oh, Oh…


There are those who will lie in job interviews of course; they’ll claim to have diploma’s and degrees, work experiences and skills that they clearly don’t. With little that bothers their conscious, they justify their deceit by believing that everybody lies in job interviews. They bank on being able to con their way into a job and then learn it quickly without the boss finding out what they don’t know, and possibly endangering everyone around them by hurting the company’s reputation.

These folks are unlikely to change their minds; lying after all has probably become easier to do and actually worked in the past for them so why change? Therefore, I will not waste time here reaching out to them requesting they stop. I can only hope that they do not endanger their life or the lives of those they work with by making false claims and hoping to wing it on the job if hired.

Unfortunately, these same people may be passing on such advice to others who are just starting to go through interviews.. Hearing advice and suggestions from these people whom they would otherwise implicitly trust could get them into trouble. Not only could they physically hurt themselves or others, do damage to a company’s reputation and tarnish their image with customers, the person themselves if revealed is going to have a black stain on their reputation. Forget ever working for a company that keeps files and application records.

Establishing a relationship built on deceit, half-truths and outright lies isn’t fair to yourself. After all, if you lie in the job interview you’ll have to carry that lie with you moving forward and remember the lies you’ve told and to whom. You may or may not be surprised to learn that some lies are big enough that you can be fired on the spot if the truth comes out not just a few days into the job but years later. Claim to have that degree that somehow went up with the house in flames 10 year’s ago – as did the school it was issued from – and then reveal 3 years later you made all that up and you’re out on your ear.

The best advice to receive is advice that stands the test of time. Telling the truth is by this definition good advice. When you build a reputation for being honest, your word becomes your bond; people come to trust and believe you and by association, believe IN you. That is something you build up over time, can lose in an instance and may have a longer time rebuilding than you’d imagine.

For most people, it’s more a question of not being truthful or not but rather, how much do I reveal? So for example, if you had a health concern 3 years ago that prevented you from working and now that it’s completely taken care of your declared fit and able to work again, should you or shouldn’t you reveal the original health condition? Should you be a single parent of two darling little ones, should you reveal this or keep your children and marital status to yourself? Yes it’s one thing to lie and another to voluntarily reveal information that could be harmful to your employment for the sake of being completely open and transparent.

Now I wouldn’t suggest revealing one’s single parent status nor having children as this could hurt your chances in most situations. An employer hears, ‘time off’ for not just your illnesses, but also theirs, and in addition anytime the caregiver can’t watch them, they get in trouble at school etc. etc. etc. However, having said this, there are some situations where the employer values applicants with children and they actually give an edge to applicants with little ones. An on-site childcare centre for employees would be a big tip-off that this information wouldn’t be damaging to your chances.

I would caution against voluntarily revealing a criminal record; even a charge you were ultimately cleared of as well. Now if they ask you have to come clean because they will likely want that clean criminal record check in the end, so lying in the interview won’t get you the job anyhow. But volunteer such information if you’re not asked directly? Keep that to yourself. Same goes with any addiction issues be they alcohol or drugs.

The ideal candidate for many employers is squeaky clean. You know, a clear criminal record, no addictions, academically qualified, having the experience level they’ve requested in the job postings and the licences in good standing that go along with the job. Every time you voluntarily show something that you are hoping the employer can work around or see beyond, you risk the one that they can’t. Look, it’s not that they are judgemental, it’s more a question of protecting their good name, maintaining high quality production, safeguarding their reputation, keeping their insurance costs low etc. All of these play into their policies.

Many employers do make allowances for hiring workers that need accommodations. If you see this in an ad, you have an open invitation to share your special needs or disability if you prefer, as the employer is receptive to making some adjustments provided you’re qualified to do the work advertised.

To close, keep it real but think carefully about what you reveal and conceal. Honesty is the best policy but that doesn’t mean the interview is a confessional.

 

 

 

Appropriate Dress Designed To Impress


Whether its your LinkedIn photo, every day work wear, a presentation to the shareholders, pitching your business to a potential investor or indeed an upcoming job interview, you’re wise to put some thought into what your clothing says about you. And make no mistake, if you neglect to put any thought into what you put on as you head out the door, you send a message just the same.

Caleb Wells, a Visual Consultant  with T.M.Lewin; an English heritage brand was kind enough to contact me  recently on this very subject. In part, he penned the following…

“As experts in business wear and dressing smart, we have taken it upon ourselves to help professionals understand the standards of dress for different interview and office settings. As you know, dressing for success is imperative. We have recently developed an exclusive infographic on Cracking the Interview Dress Code, helping growing professionals navigate what to wear and when.”

Here is the link which will open the infographic he refers to which I am happy to share with you my readers. Not only is this information pertinent to my readership, it is also a fine example of networking and I encourage this strongly. Have a look.

http://workbloom.com/interview/dress-for-success.aspx

Now before sharing this here, I took the opportunity to share this with some of the people with whom I work with. I was interested to see if it resonated with them. It was a good fit and good timing actually, as dressing to impress is always a part of the employment workshops I facilitate.

I am happy to report that the infographic has been well received. Some of us are visual learners, and while discussing what’s appropriate and what’s not works for some people, being able see visuals helps many grasp things quickly and accurately.

Now of course there are many who work in occupations where the dress code of the company or the nature of the job doesn’t lend itself to the suggestions in the infographic. The Cook, Valet Attendant, Lab Technician, Child and Youth Worker etc. might all state that their work demands another kind of attire altogether, and I’d agree; so too I suspect would Caleb. However, I think we can all agree – or at least I would hope many of us would agree that the knowledge of what constitutes Business Causal vs. Casual or Formal Business attire is important.

A Cook may not always be a Cook after all, and may one day want to step up his or her game and approach a new employer and want to impress at the first meeting and make a solid impression. That Lab Technician might have to wear the white lab coat on the job, but at the same time they could have functions to attend like conferences where they make a presentation; or similarly applying for employment. A white lab coat is not appropriate attire when you’re granted an interview and want to look your best.

Taking a look at attire, there’s always the question of casual Friday these days as well. If your organization supports casual Friday dress, it’s a good idea to inquire about the standards expected on this particular day. Show up in flip-flops, shorts and a Bermuda shirt and you might be okay or you might be invited to attend a meeting right away with your supervisor. “It’s about your clothes. What were you thinking?” is not a good way to start a conversation if you are on the receiving end.

Is money an issue? Dressing smart doesn’t have to break the bank and you don’t necessarily have to buy your entire wardrobe in one trip which I agree could be crippling. The importance of having some key pieces that you can mix and match to present a different look is excellent advice. Have some grey, black and navy solids on the bottom half of your body and some white or black options on your top half and you’ve made a start.

Depending on your organization and the image they want to convey, you may be able to add splashes of colour which might complement your hair colour or bring out the colour of your eyes. Every so often something I put on draws several positive comments from those I meet, and that information is worthwhile to me. If you experience this as well, you should note that combination; it will give you confidence and improve your delivery and interaction with others as a result.

The other thing I like about passing on this infographic is that while the information is timeless and sensible, it’s also 2017 information; current and up-to-date with the times. It’s a reliable source.

One suggestion I make to you is this. Pick a day when you’re not rushed and make an appointment with a  representative of a reputable clothing store. Explain that you’d like to get some clothing suggestions. Many stores with trained professionals are happy to show you how to coordinate your clothing. They can take a shirt, tie, pants and put together a look that sends the message you want. They also have the expertise to work with you over time and transform your look, often alerting you to sales on the things you’re interested in. Having a relationship with your clothier can and does reap its rewards.

Dressing for success never goes out of style and should never be overlooked as not worthy of attention.

The Words Unspoken


I’m willing to bet this has happened to you; 5 or 10 minutes after you’ve finished a conversation with someone you recall something you had planned on saying. Or perhaps you think of something insightful and knock yourself for having missed that opportunity to say it. You stop yourself in your tracks and say, “Why didn’t I think of this at the time?”

This differs from the other times when we know exactly what it is that we want to say but for whatever reason we intentionally leave unspoken. It’s also quite different from the times when we blurt out something unintended or ill-advised and we say to ourselves, “Why on earth did I say that?”

In the situations above, whether it’s words we said and wished we could take back or words we’ve left unspoken, how we feel is similar in some respects. We might feel disappointed with ourselves, and depending on the situation and what was at stake, we can be downright mad at ourselves and say things like, “Ugh! I’m so stupid! I blew it!” And what did we blow exactly? Usually it’s an opportunity of some kind and something we’d really wanted and figure has passed us by; something we had only one shot at.

Job interviews are like this for example. You apply for a job and land the interview. The more you want the job the more you tend to see this as THE job; the big one. It would be perfect in so many ways like salary, location, advancement etc. but the best part is doing what you’d be great at and therefore love the work. With all those things aligning up this job was made for you! Now with all that accumulated stuff making this the ideal fit, you’re feeling the pressure rise to be perfect.

So what happens? You go in brimming with confidence and high expectations. The first little stumble – maybe a question that caught you off guard or a momentary blank – whatever it is becomes magnified in your eyes. Suddenly you feel things slipping away; the job of your dreams moving just out of reach and so you try harder to get to together. With that increased focus you hope to get a firm grip on things and you wish you could hit the pause button and freeze time long enough to recompose yourself; maybe even hit a rewind button and answer differently something you’ve said previously.

But time marches on doesn’t it? And so, you’re shaking hands walking away, the interview completed and you’re dazed wondering, “Where did my thoughts go? I had everything I wanted to say all ready?” If you’re really fortunate of course things didn’t go nearly as badly as you imagine they did and surprise, surprise you get a call offering you a second interview or even the job itself!

However, just as often, it didn’t turn out like you’d hoped because what you didn’t get out and express was key to marketing your strengths and strong suitability for the job. Sure it’s a moment of learning – if you learn from it. If you don’t learn from it, well, it’s really just a mistake.

So how do you go about ensuring that you don’t leave words unspoken? Excellent question! How fortuitous that you should ask now BEFORE the opportunity before you slips away.

Imagine first a personal conversation you are going to have with someone about an important issue. Whether it’s talking about sex with your son or daughter, speaking with your partner about selling your home, moving mom or dad into a long-term care facility etc. Now you wouldn’t just decide to ‘wing it’ and have a spontaneous chat over a meal. That ‘chat’ is going to be nipped in the bud because they aren’t ready for what you’re springing on them, and you won’t have prepared yourself to address the important things you want to bring up.

The best scenario is to plan in advance what your arguments are and to anticipate the counter arguments so you’re prepared. Of course you have to listen attentively to respond to things you didn’t anticipate as well. Your strength going in to these discussions is the homework you did ahead of time so you’ve got your facts ready; brochures for mom or dad about the home, a budget showing the numbers if you sell your house.

So leading up to the big conversation – aka the job interview – do your homework. Write down what qualifies you; both academic and experiential. Name the qualities you possess that make you an ideal fit with the values and goals of the new employer. Ensure you have tangible examples that prove you’ve done what you claim you have done. Please do yourself a favour and be as specific as you can when relating your past experiences; don’t generalize your past good works.

Jot down a word or two that will trigger your memory if you need to do so – so that even if you blank out for a second or so in the pressure of the moment, you can look down, see that word or phrase and remember what it is that you just have to say in order to make the strongest possible case for what it is you want.

Too many people unfortunately let opportunities to say what’s most important to them slip by and we don’t always get 2nd chances.

Interviews: Asking Nothing Yourself Looks Bad


A key recommendation I always make when preparing people for upcoming job interviews centers on asking some questions of your own. Whether you are extroverted and confident or naturally shy and reserved, you would be well-advised to pose some questions during the process.

In our economic times, out of necessity there are a growing number of people who unfortunately find themselves in the position of applying for work they aren’t entirely or, let’s be honest, even moderately passionate about. For example, the well-educated Physician who finds credentials obtained internationally aren’t recognized in the country they now reside in so they look for a job to pay their bills outside of Healthcare. At the other end, a General Labourer who has never felt true passion for any job they’ve ever had period, who’s once again testing the job market looking for a job.

Then too there are the folks who are extremely excited about upcoming interviews and the opportunities they represent; a chance to do something and make a real difference in the world they know. For example the recent graduate who is excited at the prospect of putting their Business Administration Degree to use looking at an upcoming interview with what they see as their dream employer.

In either of the two situations above – and any other scenario – as I say, I believe asking questions yourself at an interview is not just a good idea but absolutely imperative should you wish to positively influence those interviewing you and increase the odds of receiving a job offer. Of course the opposite is just as true; ask no questions at all and you leave a poor impression and significantly reduce the odds you’ll land the job.

I’ve said many times before that I stress framing the job interview as a conversation where both parties involved agree the topic of conversation is an opportunity; a job for you and a potential new co-worker for them. So imagine a conversation where you asked questions of the other person in an effort to get to know them better and they in return asked none of you. You’d be left with the strong impression that they aren’t interested in you or even getting to know you. The same is true in a job interview scenario; ask no questions and you’re really saying, “I’m not all that interested in learning anything you could tell me.” So why then would an employer hire someone who has no interest in either them or learning more insights into what the job entails, the atmosphere you’d be working in etc.?

For starters, prepare a few questions ahead of time. Before you stress about how you’ll come across or how to exactly phrase the question itself, just identify what you’d most like to know that you haven’t been able to determine through some research. Are you most interested in knowing the hours of work, any overtime requirements, the percentage of time you’d be expected to be on the road vs. in the office, whether or not the organization promotes from within or the style of the person you’d report to? Jot these things down first; don’t worry how to ask, just write down all the things you’d really like to know that might influence your decision to accept the job or not.

Okay so you’ve got a few or a good number of things you could turn into questions. Take each thing you want to know and write it down as a question. Are some of these things you’ve put down more important to you than others? If so, put them in the order which for you personally goes from the most important to the least; the things that would be nice to know yes but aren’t critical to accepting or declining the job if it was offered to you.

If you took these questions to the interview, be listening attentively so you avoid asking one of these which they’ve previously answered. When you listen closely to the interviewer and keep your eyes open to your surroundings, you may discover during the interview itself that your interest is piqued about something you see or hear and this could also form the basis of a question you didn’t think of previously.

Here’s another thing that can be helpful. Once you’ve asked a question and the interview is answering it, focus on them and listen. After they’ve answered, think about making a comment building on their answer. “I like that; I agree that promoting people from within the company gives everyone the opportunity to advance with a sound understanding of the company from the ground up. My second question is…”

Questions to avoid tend to be those that reveal or suggest problems. If you only ask about health benefits and sick leave, it strongly suggests you may have an undisclosed health issue or your own. If you only ask about money and advancement, you appear to be only self-invested and looking beyond the job you are actually applying for right now. Make sure you emphasize that this is the job you are motivated to achieve and dedicate your energy to in the here and now and that you’d like to believe at some point in the future you’d be in a position to take advantage of other opportunities as they arise.

So here’s a question (ironically); what do really want to know?

 

“Why Should I Hire You?”


When preparing for employment interviews, we’re often told a number of things in order to be at our best; be enthusiastic, demonstrate your abilities through specific examples, be honest, etc. Honesty is often exactly what we’re hoping the interviewer would be with us too.

Sometimes we end up feeling that exactly the opposite is the case however. We feel cheated or lied to if we find out later that the job was offered to another candidate and the interviews were a smoke screen to make the process appear legitimate. We can also leave feeling we’ve been deceived if we lose an opportunity because of our age or disability when the job ad clearly stated this employer doesn’t discriminate. Seeing as we’re being honest with the employer, it sure would be nice if we felt they were similarly being honest with us.

There is a question that the job interviewer is never far from thinking the entire interview which is, “Why should I hire you?” True that some interviewers seem to turn the question around in their minds and seemingly ponder, “Why shouldn’t I hire you?” in order to pinpoint problems and hiring issues. Some interviewers do seek to rule out candidates and plan on offering the job to whomever is left; this being the person they are least concerned will present them with any issues.

“Why should I hire you?” is also what you the job applicant should consciously be thinking of both before and during the interview as well as after the interview and right up to the extension of the offer itself. When you keep this question foremost in your mind, you market yourself consistently; focusing on the value you represent to them. Make no mistake, those who interview successfully know that if they truly demonstrate what it is they are able to do for the organizations they interview with, their odds rise of receiving job offers. Those that approach the interview with any other mentality and focus do not share the same success numbers.

Here’s where you’re offered the chance to respond to the employer’s needs. It is for this reason many job seekers who are preparing their cover letters and resumes first do some homework into the organizations they are applying to work for. Often they focus on finding out the mission or purpose of an organization and then the culture or ‘how they go about getting the job done’ mentality. In order to be a good fit, it would be great to know if they want the new hire to assimilate into the mix seamlessly or are they looking for someone to come in with a fresh perspective and different ideas. Do they want someone to shake things up, or if not shake things up, are they looking to add someone with a different set of skills than the people they already have in place? If they’d tell you this ahead of time, it sure would make things easier.

It is for this reason some applicants will ask the interviewer point-blank, “What are the qualities of the person you are looking for?” right in the interview itself. They reason that if the person they are looking for is close or exactly the same as they are themselves, then the thing to do is affirm how well the job fits. If the person described is not who they’ve been presenting themselves as up to this point, then there’s some time in the present moment to take a different strategy if they really want the job and stress other skills and attributes.

Have you ever wanted to say, “Look just be honest with me okay. What concerns do you have about me specifically so I can address them?” You’re seldom going to get that kind of honesty in an answer however because interviewers generally keep their cards pretty close to their chests. They might be afraid of future litigation; you’re too inexperienced, you’re too old, we’re looking for someone with your experience but who is more attractive.

Ah but sometimes they do lay it on the line. “Look here’s my concern; I’m not sure with your education and experience that you’ll stick around if I did hire you.” Our response to this information might be to become exasperated; we’ve heard this before at other interviews and we feel the opportunity slipping through our grasp again. This however, is just the information we need now so we can make our best pitch directed right at their prime decision-making issue.

A good strategy is to acknowledge their concern as legitimate. When an employer says they are concerned we wouldn’t hang around long enough for them to get a return on their investment in hiring us, it has probably happened to them in the past with at least one other applicant. Your job at this moment is to come across as sincere and make your case as best you can regarding the one thing – commitment in this case – they are concerned about.

Should you ever feel an interview is slipping away, you’re being dismissed far too quickly, etc., consider going on the offensive and asking them to lay their reservation(s) about hiring you on the table so you can respond directly to their thinking. Listen with respect for their point of view and empathize with them. Give them in return your honesty and best answer; tell them why they should hire you.

“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.