JL Careers Blog

Commonly Asked Interview Questions: "Walk Me Through Your Resume" & more ...

Got an upcoming meeting with a recruiter or headhunter? You need to be prepared to strategically position yourself as a lead candidate. Often the first questions interviewers pose are designed to raise possible red flags in the quest to fill coveted executive and senior leadership positions.

Have you faced – and failed – these in interviews “Walk me through your resume” and “Why are you interested in leaving your current job”?

These common job interview questions aren’t softball questions: They’re specifically designed to help the headhunter weed out the individuals who aren’t qualified or won’t fit in with their client’s corporate culture. Planning your response to these tricky questions is the best way to perform well.

“Walk me through your resume.”

Prep for this question by working through the chronological order of your resume. The key is to keep the prospective employer’s needs in mind, and use each previous job, certification or educational opportunity to highlight how your skillset matches the job description. Use language from the job posting in your answers, demonstrating how your qualifications and experience fulfill the job’s requirements.

A final recommendation: Don’t dismiss your answer to this powerful job interview question, thinking you can wing it. According to Wall Street Prep, “it is a deal breaker for some interviewers and is one of the few questions that you can prepare for because you should be expecting it.” 

“Why are you leaving your current job?”

If there is one guiding factor to consider when answering this question, it’s to be positive. Never answer this question with a negative, saying “I was bored,” or “My boss was a pain.” Indeed, interviewers will view answers that reveal negative patterns as a sign that you’re not an ideal candidate.

The story you tell needs to be a positive one, demonstrating how you excelled at your job and are at the top of your game. Avoid any answers that diminish the role at your existing employer. Create a compelling reason which includes a summary of your skills and experience related to the hiring manager’s needs.  i.e. “This opportunity truly grabbed my attention as you need someone who has expertise devising and leading enterprise–wide change initiatives. As I have 10 years’ experience driving innovation and change in order to successfully reposition organizations as market leaders, I saw this as an exciting opportunity I wanted to explore.”

Here are some additional strategies for effectively navigating this common leadership interview question:
 

  • Always paint your employer in a positive light. Interviewers want to hear positive responses that also show enthusiasm for new opportunities. U.S. News and World Report reiterates this advice, “because [the answer] demonstrates your loyalty and respect for the company, even though they obviously know you’re not happy there. They see that you’re able to ‘play the game,’ keep emotions out of it and protect the image of the company even if and when things don’t work out.” Try praising your current employer during the interview but show excitement about the future. 

 

  • Reveal the goal you’re focusing on. Instead of talking about what you’re leaving (a challenging coworker, for instance), discuss what you’re moving toward. Keep in mind that the reason you’re sitting in front of the interviewer is for possible opportunities in the future. In this way, you can avoid having to bring up a hard-to-work-for boss or being passed over for a promotion.

Overcome the challenging but sure-to-be-asked interview questions, “Walk me through your interview,” and “Why are you interested in moving on from your current job?” With careful planning and practice, you’ll avoid bumbling around for answers. A successful answer will drive you to the next stage in the hiring process, and bring you one step closer to landing the job.

Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional.  She specializes in working with professional and executive clients to provide job search strategies and tools including career testing, professional resumes, LinkedIn profiles, targeted cover letters, and interview strategies and practice. Copyright 2015 JL Careers Inc.  All rights reserved.

Reboot your Career: Launch into Fall with the 30 Day Career Shift Challenge

Feeling Stuck in Your Career?  Needing a new career challenge, or a new job?  The Fall is a great time to regroup and strategize next steps.  Let’s connect for a complimentary 30 minute telephone Career Consultation to determine what's getting in the way of your moving forward. By identifying this root issue or roadblock, we can then determine next steps to reaching your career goals and getting more of what you want in your career.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

3 Mistakes Sabotaging Your Chances of Landing Job Interviews

It’s frustrating. A lot of work goes into your job search - networking, creating an impactful resume, and creating compelling cover letters.  If you aren’t landing job interviews, discouragement and frustration quickly grows. You’re not alone. According to Business Insider, as many as one-third of job applicants never hear back from companies they have applied to. 

Increase your chances of securing job interviews by determining if you’re making these fatal mistakes. Are you:

Applying to the black hole? Don’t give in to lazy job-search methods. While wading through job postings can be demanding, it pays to go the extra mile to avoid applying to the black hole. What is this “black hole”? It’s that generic HR email address like “contact@JOBS.com” or “jobs@JOBS.com” that receives hundreds of applications.   The challenge with the “black hole’’ is your resume can be easily overlooked, and there too your chances of snagging an interview.

Instead, ensure your resume gets into the hands of the movers and shakers who schedule interviews. Forbes suggests job seekers should “figure out who their direct hiring manager is in each of their target organizations, and [then] reach out to that person directly.” 

Using the wrong buzz words? Larger organizations in particular rely on digital applicant tracking systems that scan resumes for job relevant keywords. If your resume precisely fits the hiring profile, you’ll likely be called in for an interview. Recruiters rely on this system because it simplifies their lives and quickly culls inexperienced candidates, or candidates who are blanketing the market looking for any job. Business Insider states that “50 percent of job applicants aren’t qualified for the jobs they’re applying to.” 

The secret to grabbing recruiters’ attention is to adjust your resume to fit the posting and the needs of the organization.   Review the job posting for relevant keywords to include in your resume. Along with creating a keyword-rich resume, your application should also feature your accomplishments, and showcase your successes related to the hiring manager’s needs.  For more resume writing tips read:  Propel Your Career Forward: 3 Tips for Writing a Professional Resume.

Applying too late?  Quickly responding to job postings is one of the best ways to increase your chances of “getting seen.” Many job applicants are passed over – even if they’re a good fit for the role.  In a study by TheLadders, it was shown that those that apply within 72 hours of the job posting have a higher chance of getting their resume viewed or landing the interview.   One of the best ways to stay informed about new job postings is to leverage your network and set up internet alerts.

Landing a job interview becomes much easier when you know the mistakes to avoid. Go the extra mile and send your resume to the hiring manager, include relevant keywords and accomplishments in your resume, and apply within the first 72 hours of the job being posted. These steps will increase your resume’s chances of getting seen, and help drive a more successful job-search campaign.

Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional.  She specializes in working with professional and executive clients to provide job search strategies and tools including career testing, professional resumes, LinkedIn profiles, targeted cover letters, and interview strategies and practice.  Copyright 2015 JL Careers Inc.  All rights reserved.

Wishing you much career success!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Career Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

Forbes Recommended Best New Career Books

Need a great new book for your summer reading list?  Whether looking for strategies for career success, help to get unstuck in your career, or tactics to land your next job, Forbes recommends these game changing books: 

Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success  

Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness and Sustaining Positive Change 

Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, 2nd edition by Joshua Waldman  

Knock ‘em Dead 2014: The Ultimate Job Search Guide by career expert Martin Yate 

Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future by Dorie Clark  

Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together 

Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities 

Happy reading!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

 

Stress-free Vacation: How to manage office emails and calls

Looking forward to a long awaited summer vacation, but dread being tethered to your cell phone or email?  How available “should” you be?  How much is enough?

It depends: on your organizational culture; the nature and profile of the projects you are working on; your back up plan; and most importantly, what you decide to do to manage phone calls /emails BEFORE you leave. 

Before you zip your suitcase, decide now how available you want and need to be.  Agree with your manager and colleagues how accessible you will be.  Discuss outstanding projects and critical issues that may require your input.  Then, establish how accessible you will be should they need to connect with you.  It’s reasonable to take a 15 minute call, or briefly check your emails.  But attending a conference call while lounging poolside is not a great description of an ideal vacation.  

You can also opt to delegate to subordinates and colleagues. Consider your absence as an opportunity to offer stretch assignments and cross training.  Ask colleagues if they will step into your role to address any outstanding issues, and in exchange reciprocate when they go on vacation.  Often colleagues can address immediate concerns and de-escalate issues, avoiding those urgent/low priority calls and emails during your vacation. 

Now, how to manage the deluge of emails.  Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just not worth being completely off-line or unplugged as you spend hours catching up when you return.  If emails are getting in the way of a relaxing vacation, before you leave determine when and how often you will check in.  15-20 minutes of scanning your email inbox will help you stay on top of what’s going on back at the office. 

You can breathe easier now as you have a strategy in place to mitigate those unnecessary phone calls and emails, are in the loop for any critical issues, and still have lots of time to enjoy your vacation.

Happy vacationing!  

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

14 things successful people do in the last 10 minutes of the workday

Want to maximize your success?  During your last 10 minutes at work Business Insider reports best practices to incorporate before leaving your desk.  Do a quick review to determine what you can start doing today to strengthen your performance: 
 

  1. Update your to do list.
     
  2. Organize your desk and desktop.
     
  3. Review your successes.
     
  4. Pause to reflect on your day.
     
  5. Decide what can wait.
     
  6. Set goals for the next day.
     
  7. Decide how much contact you want from work colleagues during your off hours.
     
  8. Manage communications: Decide if you need to be in the loop during your off hours. 
     
  9. Review priorities for the next day.
     
  10. Never leave anyone in the lurch. 
     
  11. Say "thanks".
     
  12. Walk away saying "goodbye".
     
  13. Leave a great impression.
     
  14. Avoid lingering. 

Continue Reading:  14 things successful people do in the last 10 minutes of the workday  

Wishing you much career success!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

“Tell me about yourself…” Does this interview question bring you to your knees?

They can bring you to your knees: Vague, open questions designed to show interviewers your true self. To succeed in the interview, you’ll need to craft a compelling story about your skills and experience with every interview question you answer. And it should be done so in a way that demonstrates your track record of success driving results related to the hiring manager's needs. 

That’s a tall order to fill.

Recruiters and business experts agree: Job interviews are tough, even for professionals with a great deal to offer. Author and workplace expert Lynn Taylor reports that “while some of these questions may seem as if they're designed to put you on the defensive, the intent is usually to evaluate candidate responses on multiple levels — not just at face value. Hiring managers can discern a great deal about job seekers with thought provoking, challenging questions.” One of the tricky leadership interview questions organizations often use is the “Tell me about yourself” question.

Here’s how you can navigate the tough job interview question, “Tell me about yourself,” with ease:
 

  • Give a high-level overview. Prepare a response that gets right to the point. Business Insider advises a three-part strategy: Provide a condensed version of your work history; summarize specific achievements (and highlight how they impacted the bottom line); and wrap it up with what you want to accomplish next. Keep in mind that your job interview answers should be relevant to the potential job-at-hand.
     
  • ​Keep it focused. Avoid telling your life story – or even your entire work history. That’s not what interviewers want to know when they ask this question. Here’s a proven job interview tip: Start with where you are now – your current employer, responsibilities and contributions. Then, show where you came from, or how your work experience led to the current position – and more responsibility. End with how you see your value and expertise contributing to the current position. The final “story” you create should highlight your overall value as a contributor to the organization.
     
  • Turn the tables. Another approach involves spinning the question to uncover more details about the role. According to Forbes, “You want to find out where the pain is, because once you’ve got the hiring manager talking about his or her pain, the conversation can go to a completely different place.” With this insight, you can craft your answers to reveal how your skills and expertise will help alleviate this pain. From this position, you’re a consultant, offering sage advice about how to tackle the problem. For example, after sharing about your marketing background, ask the interviewer how the company’s own marketing philosophy drives the sales process. Then, piggyback on their answer by revealing how you’d improve or further enhance that process, based on your previous work history and results.

Regardless of the way you choose to tackle the dreaded "Tell me about yourself" question, consider the perspective and needs of the hiring manager and hone your answer accordingly.  Craft your response to ensure the interviewer clearly sees how you add value to their organization and that you are  well equipped to address their needs.

For more Leadership Interview Questions: Top 10 Executive Interview Questions.

And be sure to end your interview with thought provoking questions: Powerful Questions to Ask during your Job Interview.

Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional.  She specializes in working with professional and executive clients to provide job search strategies and tools including career testing, professional resumes, LinkedIn profiles, targeted cover letters, and interview strategies and practice.  Copyright 2015 JL Careers Inc.  All rights reserved.

Not landing interviews or getting job offers?

Let’s connect for a complimentary 30 minute telephone Career Strategy Consultation. I specialize in working with professionals and executives to: develop accomplishment-based resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles that grab recruiters' attention, and devise strategies to ace the interview.

Your consultation will focus on: Determining strategies to support your career goals and help you get promoted; a Resume and/or Cover Letter Critique, or an Interview Audit to determine what you need to do to ace the interview and start landing job offers.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

Leadership advice from Caldwell Partners: Tips for excelling in Private Equity owned companies

Private Equity (PE) firms demand urgency and a laser focus on results.  Executives and senior leaders are under scrutiny to deliver top and bottom-line results often at the speed of light

Are you are considering a move to a PE-owned company, or is your current employer undergoing this transformation? Caldwell Partners, a leading international provider of executive search, outlines what it takes to succeed as an Executive, and specifically as a CFO, in their article: “What type of CFO excels within a PE-owned company?”

Les Gombik, managing partner of Caldwell Partners' Calgary office stresses the need to be agile, responsive, and comfortable with the PE firm’s interest in monitoring your daily leadership decisions. But along with this, your tool kit will be fine-tuned as you will be propelled into heavy data analytics, refining ERP and leading enterprise-wide system transformations. 

The voyage with a PE-owned firm can be challenging, but it also offers the opportunity to work with sharp minds that will drive you to be your best and excel as an executive.   

Continue reading:  What type of CFO excels within a PE-owned company?

Wishing you much career success!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

 

Five Worst Job Search Problems

From creating Dragon-Slaying Stories to avoiding the Black Hole of recruiting portals, Forbes offers tips to help you avoid the Five Worst Job Search Problems.

Wishing you much career success!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

“Chief of Ideas” & Other Creative Job Titles – the Pros & Cons

MarketWatch reporter Daniel Goldstein investigates: When a fancy new job title is better than a raise – and when it isn't.

He interviews Joanne Loberg of JL Careers for her job search coaching expertise and perspective on how recruiters view creative job titles.

Click here for the full article.

1 Surprising Job Performance Strategy That Works (Hint: It’s Not Time Management)

That weighed-down feeling, being overwhelmed with challenges on the job, not having enough hours to tackle time-sensitive projects, and waking up the next day to do it all over again – these are all factors that compete with optimal job performance.  However, you don’t have to repeat one stressful day after another.  With the right approach, you can eliminate the pressure of meeting deadlines, reaching job performance goals, and successfully leading your team – without the side effects of job stress.

Demand on executives 

It’s hard to perform on the job – and ensure career advancement – when stressors compete for your energy. When you’re tired, overwhelmed or feeling like you can’t sustain under the pressures of your job, stress rears its ugly head – a force with which to be reckoned. The American Institute of Stress cites four primary reasons for workplace stress: workload (46%), people issues (28%), work/life balance (20%) and job insecurity (6%). 

It’s evident that workplace stress is a problem, and typical stress management advice isn’t helping. There is a way, however, to counter the seemingly insurmountable stress that blindsides you every day: think of yourself as a corporate athlete.

A new way to manage stress

Author Jim Loehr writes extensively about how executives and managers can adopt a corporate athlete’s mindset, learning to manage their energy in order to fuel performance and purpose. His central tenet is this: Follow the training regimen of elite athletes, who have learned when to expend energy, when to recover and when to kick it into high gear. 

Loehr doesn’t suggest you physically train for a race, but instead, adopt training principles to help manage your energy output on the job to ultimately drive performance. His suggestions include:
 

  • Growing your body’s capacity to expend energy. Like a muscle, lack of use and over-use are both damaging. Instead, the muscle needs balance: Push it to its limit, and then allow for recovery. In the workplace, learn how to push your energy output, but then pull back to recover – and ensure optimal job performance.
     
  • Adapting rituals that energize you. Athletes create routines that help them drive higher levels of output. Establish a daily routine with events like a coffee break, water cooler talk, or a set of push-ups to break up the periods of high-energy output.
     
  • Scheduling time for recovery. Purposefully incorporate times into your day where you let the energy level come down so you can recover. Setting aside time helps you avoid overtraining and undertraining.
     
  • Identifying barriers. For athletes, barriers to full-energy engagement may include the lack of a healthy diet, not stretching post-workout or not getting enough sleep. Identify those barriers in your life that are preventing you from reaching higher energy levels and sabotaging career resilience. These may include wasting energy on projects that can be delegated, people who require too much of your energy, and even a lack of a healthy diet, exercise or sleep.

 “Sustained high performance is best served by assuming the mentality of a sprinter not a marathoner.” says Leohr in his book, The Power of Full Engagement.  He also recommends “scheduling 90- to 120- minute periods of intense effort followed by shorter periods of recovery and renewal.” 

So instead of plowing your way through a mountain of work, leaving yourself drained and exhausted, incorporate the mindset of a corporate sprinter.  Take breaks to sustain your output, and incorporate other healthy best practices which will drive your job performance to unforeseen, unthinkable heights. 

Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional.  She specializes in working with professional and executive clients to provide job search strategies and tools including career testing, professional resumes, LinkedIn profiles, targeted cover letters, and interview strategies and practice. Copyright 2015 JL Careers Inc.  All rights reserved.

Wishing you much career success!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Career Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers

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JL Careers provides Career and Leadership Coaching, Career Development Workshops, and Career Transition Services which support organizational succession planning, leadership development and employee engagement strategies.