Be Prepared with Interview Questions

October 12th, 2018 No comments

Asking Interview Questions

A common question you’ll hear when interviewing is – “Do you have any questions for me?”  You should ALWAYS have a list of interview questions prepared.  If you have ever been in that situation and feel ‘stumped’ you need to change that right away!  Start thinking about what is important to you and what you want to know before the interview concludes.

Also, by asking questions, you are showing your interest in the company, the role and the person who is taking time out of their day to interview you.  Take this opportunity to show that you care and are curious about working at the organization.  You will learn a lot and they’ll get a better understanding of what’s important to you.

Whether you are interviewing with an executive, your potential new manager, or a possible co-worker/team member – you must be prepared with appropriate interview questions.

Below is a list of great questions to memorize or bring with you when interviewing.  No company is perfect so by asking the candid questions, you’ll get a better understanding of the challenges that you might face if you do join the organization.

Review these questions and ask them in your own way.  You want to come across as genuine – so ask questions in your own words.  Always be truthful and remember job searching basics.


Big Picture Interview Questions (Ask the Executive/VP level):

  • What is your company’s long term vision for its products/services?
  • What divisions are getting the most investment right now (dollars, people, expansion, etc)?
  • What is the focus – to grow fast or become profitable?
  • What is company’s plan for attracting and retaining a diverse team?


Interview Questions Specific to the Position (Ask the Hiring Manager):

  • What are the 2-3 traits that the ideal candidate must have?
  • Are there any concerns about my background that I can help alleviate?
  • What are the 1-2 challenges that you think this role needs to be prepared for?
  • What is the team structure and how does this role fit in?


Individual Focused Interview Questions (Ask the Team Member):

  • Why do you love working here?  What do you think could be improved?
  • What surprised you most when you started working here?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment here?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?


There are also questions that you should not ask.  The main rule is don’t ask questions that you can find answers to on the Internet.  Take a look at this guide on questions to avoid asking.


Photo Credit: © Can Stock Photo / photography33


Grandma’s Wisdom for Job Searching

October 3rd, 2018 No comments

Recruitment Technology in Job Search

The StartWire Team recently attended some of the largest HR and recruitment technology events in our industry.  We were in Las Vegas for the HR Tech Show and in New Orleans for the TATech Fall Congress. 

A lot of the talk in our industry is around Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and how it will transform recruitment.  If you are interested in these topics, I would suggest reading the following articles.

We are at the beginning of a new phase in recruitment technology.  This phase will have profound impact on the industry, but . . .

The basics are still the basics.

People want to work with great people.  One often spends more time in a week with their co-workers than their family or friends.

Recruitment technology can help in many areas, but if you stick to “Grandma’s Wisdom,” you will be successful in finding your next career opportunity.

What is Grandma’s Wisdom for Job Searching?

  • Be on Time — If you have an interview, don’t be late. Actually, you should arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Look People in the Eye – Eye contact matters.  Trust and understanding are learned through eye contact.
  • Say Please and Thank You — Ask how you can help an organization and thank them for their time.  Write a thank you note, even if it is an e-mail.
  • Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s – Take your time to thoroughly proofread your applications and communications.  Mispelings matter. Poor gramar look bad!
  • Trust Your Instincts – If an organization doesn’t feel like the right fit, it probably isn’t.  Ask about the company culture and try to meet as many people at the organization as you can.

Read more about Job Search in the Digital Age: Keeping Up with the Changes

The Salary Question During an Interview

April 7th, 2016 No comments


Q: How do I answer when I’m asked about my salary preferences?

A: This question is tricky because answer too high and you’ll seem too expensive of a candidate. Answer too low and you’re effectively selling yourself short.

Before you go into any interview, whether it be through phone or in person, make sure you perform a quick research of the position you’re interviewing for. Check your salary estimates using sites such as, or Unfortunately, not all of these are accurate based on the level of experience you have and the importance of your skills relative to that company, so be sure not to base your salary entirely on these estimates. However, definitely use these sites as a good reference point.

Next, always answer this question as a range. For example, saying that your salary expectations are 40,000 to 50,000 broadens your chances of answering within the range that the employer is willing to offer. Be prepared to receive an offer towards the lower side of your range. If this is not something you’re willing to accept, don’t say that lower range just for the purpose of having a range.

If possible, deflect the question if you are at an early stage of the interview. Put the focus on understanding the job requirements instead by saying, I’d love to learn more about this job’s requirements and how well I meet these needs before discussing salary. Another approach is to try and ask them what kind of range they’re offering instead. Say, I’m sure you’ve budgeted a salary range for this position and I’m certain we’ll reach an agreement if I am your preferred candidate. What is this budgeted range?

Finally, make sure you practice answering this question. Money talks are always sensitive subjects, so to prevent yourself from choking up during the interview, practice before hand.

To brush up on other interview related skills, read on for some more interviewing tips!

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How to Determine Company Culture

March 21st, 2016 No comments















Q: How can I figure out the company culture and whether it’s a right fit for me?

A: To best tell a company’s culture, ask questions. During the interview, play detective and search for attributes that would be a good cultural fit for you.

First, figure out the elements that would help you succeed in a company. Do you prefer a culture that is highly social where co-workers spend time together inside and outside of the office? Or do you perform better in an environment where there is quiet space for you to focus entirely on work? Do you like working in a highly individualistic and competitive environment or do you prefer one that is more collaborative with group decisions? Understanding what you prefer is the first step to identifying a specific company’s unique culture.

Once you understand your side of the equation, start to investigate your prospective company’s with questions that help uncover culture:

1) How often are decisions made in group settings?

2) How often do people collaborate in team projects?/ How often does the staff meet?

3) What attributes would make me successful in this work environment?

4) How would you describe your company culture in 3 words?

5) Who are your mentors?

6) What ways do employers achieve work life balance?

7) What activities or sponsorships do the company hold?

8) How is performance feedback given to employees?

 Make simple observations of your setting during the interview as well. Take a look at your surroundings and observe the dress code. Are people dressed in business professional attire or casual clothing? Do you see any family photos? Take a look at the makeup of your co-workers. Does your employer value diversity?

Other ways to discover a company’s culture is through social media! Take a look at the company’s Facebook or Twitter pages. There might be pictures posted about social events or casual Fridays.

Have more questions? Read on for tips on how to answer the salary question during an interview, best times of day to schedule an interview, and more.


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Application Black Hole – How to Start Hearing Back

September 7th, 2015 No comments

8214124711_a9f6738627_nThe Application Black Hole

If you’re like most job seekers, as soon as you hit the apply button on a job, your brain is flooded with questions. “Did they get my resume?” “Where do I stand?” “Am I still in the running?”

This is the Application Black Hole – the bane of online job search.

Happily, StartWire can help.

We connect with the recruiting systems used by more than 12,000 companies we can let you know if they got your resume, if you are still in the running, or even if they want to chat about an interview.. We are adding more ‘supported’ companies every day.

Here’s how it works

Tell us where you have applied. If you’ve applied to company that is in our ‘blackhole’ network, we will let you know.  Just follow the online instructions and we’ll provide you with updates via email or text message.

All your information is safely organized at your StartWire account where you can also track applications on your own, and quickly print out your Job Search History Report with just a few clicks.

If you need help, reach out to us by clicking on Feedback and Support.

It’s time for you to conquer the Application Black Hole so get tracking!

If you don’t already have an account, head over to StartWire for your free account.

StartWire Launches Job Search Video Series

July 25th, 2015 No comments


Wondering where we have been?

At StartWire we have been hard at work bringing you the tools you need for a successful job search and to get hired fast. While we have the blog, we wanted to offer our job seekers something more. We wanted to give everyone the knowledge of what is happening behind the scenes during the recruiting and hiring process.

So we came up with a set of Videos that are now live on the StartWire site – Unlike other sites that charge you for this information, we thought the best way to help someone during one of the most stressful time in their lives would be to let them know we are truly here to help.

In the upcoming blogs, I’m going to discuss some of the topics found in the videos around your resume, networking, search tips and interviewing.

We tried to pack as much information in the videos as possible but we know that there is so much more. So we’ll use the blog to expand on some of these topics.

Look for videos on interviewing and networking to go live later this summer.

Do you have any questions or thoughts on these strategies? What’s worked for you? Let us know!

Best Times of the Day to Interview

August 14th, 2013 No comments

You’re invited to an interview and the employer asks, “What are some times you are available for an interview?

While it’s important to pick times that work for you, studies actually show that some times and days work better than others. Read on to figure out good times to schedule your interview.


Mondays and Fridays are generally not ideal days to interview.

People tend to stray from their usual weekday sleep routine during the weekends. We stay up later, sleep in on Sundays, and come Monday, it’s easier to lose track of schedule and push things behind. Work-related situations might also crop up during the weekend, so Mondays can be spent wrapping up weekend crisis’. Typically, Mondays aren’t an ideal day to interview.

Similarly, Fridays can get the same treatment as Monday because people are ready to take a break from the busy work week and unwind during the weekends.



Hunger can affect mood and make afternoon interviews a bad time slot.

Afternoon time slots are susceptible to employers who’ve had a long morning and need a lunch break by 12pm. However, if your interview is scheduled for 12pm, this means that they might spend your interview hungry and distracted.

Hunger affects mood, causing people to feel impatient, irritable and find it harder to focus on work.


Towards the end of the day, employers can get distracted.

Avoiding the last time slot of the day is also a good idea. By then, employers may have had a long day and are ready to call it a day. It’s also easier to be distracted and while they’re interviewing you, they might actually be thinking about what to make for dinner or something going on at home!


Strive for earlier in the day and Tuesday through Thursday.

Studies of our brain show that we have a tendency to remember the first and last things better than those in the middle. What this means for your interviews is, being early can increase your chances of standing out among other interviewees later in the day.

As mentioned above, Mondays and Fridays can lead to backed up schedules. By Tuesday to Thursday, things in the office are more on pace, and become better days to interview.


Keep in mind that although timing is important, ultimately, it’s more important to interview at a time you are most alert and at the top of your game. For example, some people think better at night rather than the early mornings. If this is you, it would make more sense to schedule an interview later in the afternoon.

We hope this helps – Now that you know good time slots to schedule your next interview, brush up on your interviewing skills!


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5 Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job Offer

August 6th, 2013 No comments

Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy

This article is for job seekers who fall into this category: I’ve been interviewing, but I’m not getting any offers!

The good news is that you’re halfway there. Your resume and experiences are clearly working to get you interviews. Your only problem is getting over the last hurdle – the interview.

Something in the presentation of your interviewing is throwing off employers and figuring out what that is requires some self-reflection. Here are some common and possible reasons why you aren’t getting that job offer. Ask yourself, do I do these?



1.    Not treating the interview as a 2-way conversation.

Employers want to hire candidates that not only can get the job done, but will be easy to work with day-to-day. The truth is, they also need to be convinced that they could see you in the office every day and like that. The best way to convince your employer of this is through engaging them in a dialogue – Show them that you could get along well with your co-workers.

Don’t think of the interview  as a time for the employer to ask you questions – ones that you need to answer right. Instead, feel free to ask them questions back. Have a natural conversation.

2.    Not being prepared with short stories of your work experience.

Show, don’t tell. That’s what your English teachers probably told you…and there’s truth in it!

If someone says, “It was a long climb” versus “The climb consisted of 2,000 steps and two hours later, we finally made it to the top!” I bet you’re more convinced by the latter.

The same applies in interviews. It’s always better to go prepared with short stories of your work experiences because stories are more engaging and paints a visual picture in the employer’s head. Tip: Don’t ramble and keep these stories short and under 2 minutes.

3.    Not knowing what the company does and why you’re a good fit for the role.

For example: You may be interviewing for a human resources position and know everything about your specific career function and the human resources department, but the company you’re working for is an investment banking firm. Be prepared to answer: “What role does an investment banker in our company provide?”

Make sure you’re versed on the kinds of products the company sells and what the company actually does. Employers want to make sure the candidate understands how their specific job function fits into helping the company’s mission as a whole.

4.    Rambling and being vague, instead of giving direct and concise answers.

A lot of people hate the silence during interviews and will cover it up by rambling. However, it’s usually better to give concise answers and take your time while speaking. It’s okay to say phrases such as: “That’s a great question. Let me think about that.”

It buys you time and signals to the employer that you’re thinking through your answer. It’s almost always better to take your time before delivering a well-thought out answer than trying to appear quick-witted, yet giving a poorly executed answer.

5.    Forgetting about non-verbal body cues.

Many interviewers don’t realize that nonverbal body cues also tell a story of their own and can be a deal breaker during an interview.

Some positive nonverbal body cues include:

  • Making eye contact with the interviewer not only when the interviewer is speaking, but when you are speaking
  • Smile and look engaged while the interviewer is talking
  • Laugh only if the interviewer does so first
  • Don’t lean backwards on your chair or you’ll appear too casual
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer mid speech
  • Rest your hands on your notepad or lap and don’t wave them too much when you’re talking
  • Avoid touching your arm, fidgeting your hands, tapping feet, or drumming your fingers – these give the impression that you’re uncomfortable
  • Appearing confident and comfortable

If you want to improve your body language to exude more positivity and confidence, social psychologist Amy Cuddy shares a powerful message on how to improve body language.








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3 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Interviews

July 18th, 2013 No comments

4606534345_dc916aa4d9This article is for job seekers who fall into this category: I’ve been applying to jobs, but I’m not getting any interviews!

In some ways, job seekers in the midst of a job search are like athletes preparing for a new season. You start off with a game plan, know that practice makes perfect, and over time, learn ways to improve your job search or season. Just like many things in life, the first attempt at something difficult won’t always be successful. It’s useful to take a few steps back to analyze what’s been working and what can be improved. Therefore, today we’re arming you with ways to step back and take a look at your job search from a new angle. These are reasons that might explain why you aren’t getting interviews:

Spelling or grammatical errors and resume length.

The first thing you should take a look at is your resume. Are there any spelling or grammatical errors? Have a friend proofread your resume because most times, we get so used to the format of our resumes that our eyes easily skip over those errors.

Furthermore, what length is your resume? Is it over a page long and bogged down by fluff words (I get the job done!) or is it too short? Usually a page is a good length and may be lengthened due to your level of experience in the industry and its relevance to the position.

Forgetting the importance of keywords.

Another aspect to take a look at is keywords. Companies filter resumes according to keywords using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), and only consider resumes that contain the keywords they’re looking for. How can you figure out what keywords the company is looking for? A good resource is the job description. Look for keywords that appear more than once and place those early on in your resume. A great trick to figuring out good keywords is getting a tag cloud generator to pinpoint the best keywords.

It also helps to include a Professional Summary or Relevant Skills section where these keywords can be introduced. The goal is not to force keywords into your resume, but to use these keywords to strengthen your resume for the ATS and recruiter, while maintaining good readability.

A weak online reputation.

Employers are checking out people on social media and they’ll use what they find to make quick judgments on your candidacy. Run an engine search on your name and see what results come up. Strengthen the privacy settings to your social media accounts, and make sure what you’ve set as private stays private.

Some social media sites have changing privacy settings, and there are tools that exist to make sure your content stays safe. For facebook, is an application that scans your Facebook profile to monitor posts that affect your security and reputation.

While having social media accounts with risky content can affect your candidacy, the other side to this is… not having one might create the same effect. Some employers like to find the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, as it shows professionalism and matches a face to the name on the resume. It personalizes the hire, which is important to achieve — especially during an online job search inundated by names on resumes. Luckily, creating a linkedin profile and adding a picture (make sure to add a professional one) is easy enough and free to create.

Figuring out what works is a process – and everyone needs to tweak their job search before they find what works. Don’t give up on improving your job search!




How to: Follow-up Successfully after a Job Interview

May 7th, 2013 No comments

This is the second post in our series of how, when, and why to follow-up in the job search process. In our previous post, we touched on why it’s important to follow up after you apply for a job. Here’s an overview on how to write a great thank you note to follow-up on a job interviewing process.thankyou

Woody Allen’s quote “70% of success is showing up” does not apply well to thank you notes.  Sending a thank you note after a job interview can help you stand out and demonstrate your ability to be polite. That said, it can also sink your candidacy if you:

  1. Address someone by the wrong name
  2. Make a spelling or grammatical error
  3. Ask the wrong questions: What is the salary for the job? What’s your vacation policy? When will you make up your mind?

Thank you notes should be written and sent within two business days of your interview. Unless you know for a fact that the hiring decision won’t be made for several weeks, plan on sending your thank you note via e-mail.

If you’ve met with multiple people during an interview,  send a different thank you note to each person that you spoke with if you can. (If you don’t have all of the details and contact information, use your online research skills. Google * and you will discover how the company assigns e-mail addresses; then just plug in your potential contact’s information, write your message and hit send. If you get it wrong, the email should end up back in your inbox as an “address unknown.”)

Here is a template for writing a great thank you note. (Do not use this exact language, but do note the structure and sentiment expressed. Instructions in italics.)


Dear [Name],

Start with a brief refresher. Many employers hire for multiple positions at once, so always acknowledge what you are applying for.

Thanks for meeting with me to discuss [position]. I appreciate your time and consideration. My interest in the position increased as a result of our meeting.

Show you paid attention.

I was especially impressed by [add detail, practice, or comment on organizational set-up]. Example: I was particularly impressed by the physical layout of your office. It’s easy to see why your employees have a strong record for collaboration and finishing projects on-time and under budget, as the work environment seems to inspire cooperation. I would enjoy working in this environment.

Follow up on any questions you missed. If possible, provide information on how you work.

As an employee, I find that I can come up with a quick solution, but often produce a better one when I’ve had time to process the situation and explore potential options. In thinking about your question on [topic] more fully, I offer you an additional perspective: [insert solution].

Say thank you.

Thank you again for the opportunity to interview and I look forward to hearing from you soon regarding next steps. In the interim, if you require any additional information regarding my candidacy, please feel free to contact me.

That’s it. Keep it short, simple, and stay on message that you want the job!


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