Dear Sam: I read last week’s column where you referenced how to answer some challenging interview questions and it prompted me to write. I struggle to know how to close an interview, especially when the interviewer asks me if I have any questions. Sometimes I find myself stumbling and asking about the company, making it seem like I am unprepared when I am just nervous! Help! – Zak
Dear Zak: It is excellent you recognize you are nervous; that way, you can prepare accordingly. When a job interview is coming to an end, and an employer asks you if you have any questions, the answer should always be “yes.” If you don’t have any questions prepared, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to show that you’ve done your research and to ask some critical questions that could help determine if the company is a good fit for you.
Consider these five questions like:
1) Can you describe the company culture and the style of the team with which I would be working?
2) Can you tell me more about the strengths of the person exiting this role and what opportunities for improvement you may be seeking for that role?
3) Can you tell me more about the key challenges of this role?
4) How is performance measured in this role? Would I have specific goals to hit?
5) How could I prepare for day one as a member of your team? Is there any information I could begin learning or tools I should start becoming familiar with?
With these questions, the company will get the sense that you are driven and motivated to be a part of their team for the long-run. I wish you success navigating your next interviews!
Dear Sam: I am perplexed! My career began when I was 17 years old, and now, as a nearly 40-year-old, I have been out of a job for more than 2 years.
I left two temporary jobs in 2018, unavoidably and without notice, due to my father’s health. I completed three very short-term assignments for those agencies. The problem is that I left without providing notice, so the agency’s records now show a “non-hire” status. I have had a stellar work history and do not wish for these temporary assignments to overshadow my previous work ethic and future possibilities. How do I include those two agencies on my resume?
Also, since 2018 I have been earning an MBA degree. I have been applying for numerous jobs—mostly entry-level—to no avail. How can I make a great resume despite work gaps and possible reference concerns? – Tamela
Dear Tamela: You can omit your short-term and somewhat unrelated employment agency experiences. Your resume does not need to be a narrative of everything you have ever done. Instead, your resume should be a strategic image of what you have done that supports your candidacy for what you want to do next. So, omitting such short-term roles that add little, if anything, to your candidacy is perfectly acceptable.
As for your employment gap, you have recent academic studies, so you have, in essence, filled the gap. Just be sure to place your education section, or some note as to your recent pursuit of a graduate degree, up-front on your resume so readers can understand why they won’t see recent employment. You may want to use the combination approach (see past columns for explanations of this approach, available at www.nolanbranding.com/blog) so you minimize the appearance of the gap and showcase the strengths of your prior experience. Doing so will also help position you for higher-level opportunities. I am confident, if presented appropriately, your recent stumbling blocks will not impact the success of your search.