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Panel interviews can be stressful and intimidating, but in a lot of ways, they’re similar to any other face-to-face job interview. And the answers you give will be similar as well, with a few adjustments.

In this article, I’ll cover what to expect in your panel interview, and the common questions and answers to know!

Common Panel Interview Questions and Answers:

First, what is a panel interview? It’s an in-person interview where you sit in a room with multiple people from the company at the same time, instead of meeting with each person one-on-one.

Since it’s a face-to-face interview, and it requires the company to get the whole team together, it usually will come after a phone interview (so they can make sure they’re interested in you before spending the time in a panel interview).

So the good news is that if you’re on a panel interview, they’re probably interested in your background and really thinking of hiring you. So that’s one reason to be confident!

Panel Interview Questions to Expect (and Answers)

In a panel interview, they’re going to ask similar questions that they would in any interview. And your strategy to give great answers should be similar.

This includes:

  • Do your research and know about their business. Who are their customers? How do they make money? What is their history?
  • Research the job description. What are the requirements? What skills do they want? Those are the things you need to show them in the interview. Focus your answers on THEIR needs.
  • Be familiar with your own background and work history. Prepare stories and examples. Be ready to talk about your own resume and summary of your accomplishments.
  • Be specific – use facts, numbers and examples whenever an answer calls for it. That’s a great way to make your answers stand out in any interview and one of my top interview success tips.
These are sample questions they’re likely to ask you in a panel interview (that you’ll need great answers for): Now, those are just a few questions. There are over 100 more questions they could ask.

So, you’re better off preparing for topics, not individual questions. I talk about this strategy in my job interview answer guide because it’s one of the best ways to prepare for any interview.

What do I mean by “topics?”

Be ready to explain why you’re job searching. That’s one general topic. What you’re looking for, what types of positions you’re targeting, etc. And why their job interested you based on what you’re looking for.

Here’s another idea for a topic to prepare for: Review your past accomplishments and come up with a few stories/examples of what you’ve done and what you’re great at. That will help you answer a TON of questions… like:

Here’s another idea: Think about your communication skills and teamwork skills. Come up with one or two examples of how you worked as a part of team, how you interacted with your boss in the past to make sure your last job was a success, etc.

Think about weaknesses too, and things you’re working to improve (and how). That way you’ll be ready for questions like:

Another topic: Think about what motivates you (besides money). Employers want to see that you’re resilient and will overcome obstacles and stay motivated even if things get tough. So you need to show them this.

This is a lot faster and easier than preparing for each question individually…

And even if you do prepare for 100+ questions, they might ask something different than what you expected.

So if you want to give great answers in your panel interview, prepare for general topics that you think they’ll ask about.

You can get more clues about topics to prepare for by studying the job description. What do they mention most or seem to care about? Communication skills? Leadership? Problem-solving? etc.

That’s what to practice great answers for.

Other Tips for Panel Interview Success:

Final words of advice and tips for your panel interview…

  1. Show up 10 minutes early. If you’re late you will not get hired.
  2. Learn everyone’s names and use them in the conversation.
  3. Prepare great questions to ask them. You can direct questions to an individual, or the panel in general.
  4. Make eye contact with everyone when giving an answer to a question, but focus slightly more on the person whose question you are answering.

If you want more tips, hints and help with your panel interview, I wrote one more article with further details on how to ace your panel interview.

Good luck!

The post Common Panel Interview Questions and Answers appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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I’ve been fortunate to interview many successful career professionals throughout my career, and have had the opportunity to pick their brains about what worked (and what didn’t!) during their job searches.

Common themes have emerged. Here’s a list of 4 things most would do differently if turning back time was an option. These tips will help you conduct a successful job search online and offline to get hired faster.

How to Conduct a Successful Job Search: 1. Figure Out What Roles You Want to Target

Most people don’t want to pigeon-hole themselves during a job search. This is especially true for people whose skills are wide-ranging or diverse.

Unfortunately, when your resume and LinkedIn position you as a jack-of-all-trades, no one will be able to figure out where to place you, and you will likely be passed up for a peer who positions themselves as an expert.

The truth is that hiring managers THINK they want a specialist, but once hired they appreciate a candidate’s versatility. Until you get hired, however, it is best to ensure that your resume positions you as an expert or specialist in a specific industry or role.

2. Look Great Online

Recruiters and hiring managers are online, and will scour social media to look for people and to vet them. So looking great online is an important key to conducting a successful job search in today’s market.

According to a 2017 Career Builder study, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates. Perhaps of greater interest, a 2017 SHRM study revealed that 85% of organizations recruit via social media.

Control what they see by keeping the social networks you don’t want people to see private, and by putting your best foot forward on sites where you’d like them to find you.

I recommend having a strong LinkedIn presence that includes a complete profile, a great headshot, a headline that tells readers the kinds of roles for which you are ideally suited, and a summary section that says why you should be hired.

If you have the time (and I recommend finding the time), share and comment on articles that align with your career aspirations a few times a week – even when you are not job searching.

This will keep your profile top of mind when opportunities arise, and position you as an expert in your field of interest.

3. Remain in Perpetual Networking Mode

While your job search is something you will (hopefully!) have to tackle only a few times in your life, networking is forever.

Given that most jobs are filled via referral, it is much less painful to reach out for help from a friend/colleague when you speak to them semi-regularly than if you wait until you are desperate and reach out after many years of radio silence.

The person you meet (and keep in touch with) now may be the same person you will work with (or wish to work with) down the road. He/she might be a potential business partner, colleague or manager.

Remember that networking is a two-way street. Your approach can vary – from checking in every few months via text, email or even a good-old-fashioned call (it’s OK to leave a voicemail!), or scheduling 2 coffee chats per month with different people.

4. Avoid the ATS Black Hole

Piggy-backing onto my earlier point, most jobs get filled by referral. This means most roles posted online already have someone in mind once they’ve been published. The why’s behind this make sense if you think about it.

As a hiring manager, what would be the first thing you’d do if you had an opening? Would it be to create a job description and work to get it published? Or would you instead ask yourself and others who might be a perfect candidate for the role? The bottom line is it’s human nature to try and fill roles through people we trust.

While job postings are great to get a sense for which companies have budgets, and which skills are critical to possess and include in your resume and LinkedIn profile, most job seekers I know wish they had spent less time on applying online on job boards, and more time connecting with real human beings.

Hindsight is 20/20

Take it from those that wished they’d done things differently, and spun their wheels ineffectively when in job hunt mode. By spending time wisely and keeping your network and social media presence alive, you will see a far greater job search ROI.

About this guest author:

In need of some career advice, a refreshed resume or rebranded LinkedIn? As the founder and chief writer at Virginia Franco Resumes, I offer customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker. I would be happy to chat!

The post How to Conduct a Successful Job Search – 4 Things Top Job Seekers Do Differently appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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Once you’ve applied to a job post, you may be invited to do a phone interview. This is an indication that the recruiter has reviewed your resume and found that you have the basic skills and experience required for the role. The goal of the phone interview – or phone screen – is to weed out the most desirable candidates from a larger pool of candidates who, at least on paper, appear to be qualified.

Phone screens typically last between 15 and 30 minutes, during which a hiring manager will ask you a series of questions about your background. It is also an opportunity for them to evaluate your communication skills, get a sense of your personality, and determine whether you’d be a good cultural fit for the organization.

To help you prepare for your next phone screen, we’ve compiled some commonly asked questions, as well as do’s and don’ts. Study up and make a great impression next time you take a call from a recruiter.

Phone Interview Do’s, Don’ts, and Common Questions: When should I schedule a phone screen?

While those job seekers who are eager to find a new job might be tempted to schedule a phone screen during the work day, try to avoid this if possible. Many recruiters will make arrangements to speak to you either before or after business hours, and you’ll be more relaxed if you aren’t worried about getting back to work on time.

Allow yourself twice as much time as you think you’ll need for a phone screen. This will allow you to be organized and ready a few minutes early and will provide a buffer on the back end in case the recruiter calls you a few minutes late.

What questions will I be asked during my phone interview?

Without a crystal ball, this one is a bit hard to answer but, below, we have compiled a list of questions you could be asked during your call. Here is a pro tip: write out your responses to each of the following questions. The best part of a phone screen is that you can have a cheat sheet with you during the call, which can help you get your key points across to the recruiter.

Questions during phone screens typically fall into two categories: questions about you and your experience and questions about what you are seeking in your next role. Here are some sample questions:

Potential questions about you:

  • Tell me more about your current role
  • Why are you looking to leave your current job?
  • What do you see as your greatest strength/ weakness?
  • Tell me about a major challenge you’ve faced and how you handled it?
  • What kind of manager best motivates you?
  • How would your coworkers describe you?
  • What was your starting salary in your current role? What are you earning now?

(Note: In some cities and states, employers are banned from asking about current and past compensation. Click here to find out if you live in one of these cities or states.)

Potential questions about the company and the role:

  • How much do you know about our company?
  • What interests you about this role and why do you think you’d be a good fit?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you hope to gain from your next position?
  • What can you contribute to this company?
  • Are you willing to travel for work?
  • What are your salary expectations? (Even in states and cities that have banned questions about salary, questions about salary expectations are allowed.)

If you can’t answer these questions, your interview is more likely to go poorly. So make sure to be ready.

What research should I do before my phone interview?

Do your homework by thoroughly researching the company and the interviewer. Knowing the basics about the company and recruiter is critical.

Go to the company’s website and read the About page for an overview. Next, read recent news articles written about the company. Add your findings to your cheat sheet. Next, look up the recruiter on LinkedIn. Look for commonalities; perhaps you share an alma mater, or maybe you have common connections. These facts are nice to have in your back pocket as conversation starters during the call.

Where should I take the call?

Find a quiet room in your house; you’ll be most comfortable at home and will have the most control over the environment. Ideally, do your call when pets and children are out of the house. A child asking for a juice box mid-call can make you lose your train of thought. Consider whether you’d be most comfortable in a chair or if pacing helps you to gather your thoughts and plan your location accordingly.

What will I need during the call?

Print out your résumé and cheat sheet and mark the important skills you want to highlight during the conversation (and consider fine-tuning the doc with a resume builder to make sure it’s in tip-top shape). Keep a pad and pen handy for taking notes. Pour yourself a glass of water and have it nearby, just in case. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and turn off any sounds or alerts that could distract you.

Prepare your own questions

The quality of your questions can show a recruiter your level of interest. Formulate questions from the research you’ve done on the company and from information in the job description. Ask questions about the role, the team you’ll be working with, and about company culture. Don’t ask about compensation at this stage of the interview process. If the recruiter doesn’t offer the information, save those inquiries for the next round of interviews.

Ask about next steps

When the screen is winding down, ask about next steps. A recruiter should be able to give you a timeline for when you can expect to hear back about in-person interviews or when they hope to hire for the role.

Follow up

Send a hand-written thank-you note, if possible, though a well-crafted email will suffice. You should mail or email within one day of your interview, but not immediately after the call. Keep it short but sweet. Express your interest in the company, your ability to do the job, and emphasize your desire to take the next step in the interview process.

About this guest author:

Since 2005, LiveCareer’s team of career coaches, certified resume writers, and savvy technologists have been developing career tools that have helped over 10 million users build stronger resumes, write persuasive cover letters, and develop better interview skills. Land the job you want faster using our free resume examples and resume templates, writing guides, and easy-to-use resume builder.

The post Phone Interview Do’s and Don’ts for 2018 appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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After working as a recruiter for most of my career, I’m going to share the top 10 tips for interview success that I picked up over the years. If I could only recommend 10 things to focus on before your interview, this would be it.

These are the interview success tips that will have the BIGGEST impact on your results. Let’s jump into the list and get started…

10 Top Interview Success Tips: 1. Research the company

Interviewers can tell when you’ve done your research, and they love seeing it.

And if you haven’t… it looks really bad, especially at the start of the interview when they ask things like:

The start of the interview is your chance to make a great first impression. Walking in with zero knowledge of their business is one of the fastest ways to shoot yourself in the foot and NOT get hired.

2. Talk about specific accomplishments

Most people go into their interview and make general statements and talk in very general terms. To set yourself apart, you want to prepare specific examples and talk about DETAILS. Facts, numbers and real accomplishments.

Hint: this is true on your resume also. You’ll get far more interviews if you cram your resume with facts, figures and statistics instead of general statements like “responsible for handling customer requests”.

So when the hiring manager asks what you accomplished in your last job, or what you do each day, you should be ready to impress! This is not the time to hesitate or be unsure. Prepare ahead of time for this.

If you’re looking for your first job without any work experience, then think about accomplishments in your academic career – classes you’ve taken, projects you’ve completed, etc. That’s your most relevant experience!

3. Know what you want and what you’re looking for

If you seem like you are desperate or willing to take any job, you won’t get any good job offers.

You need to seem like you’re looking for the right fit, not the first job offer you can get. 

This is a key part of interview success, and one of the most important tips I can give you.

So, how do you do this? You walk in knowing specific things about the company and the job (study the job description), and be able to explain how it fits what you’re looking for in your current job search.

Then the interview becomes about discussing whether the job is a good match for what you’re looking for. That’s the general idea. Most job seekers don’t realize this though, and go in thinking it’s an interrogation or a series of questions they need to “pass” or answer “correctly”.

4. Be human

You don’t need to seem perfect in the interview to get hired. Don’t try. Be human.

If you seem fake, or if you try too hard to give “perfect” answers, the hiring manager might not be able to get a real sense of what your strengths and weaknesses are. And if they can’t tell, they won’t hire you.

So, don’t go in with interview answers you read from the top of Google. If you found those in 5 minutes, everyone else did too. Come up with great answers that are unique.

Remember that it’s also okay to occasionally say, “I’m not sure”, or “Sorry, I’m drawing a total blank”. (This is okay once or twice per interview. If you find yourself doing it more, it’s a sign you didn’t prepare enough).

5. Ask great questions

Employers judge you heavily based on the questions you ask.

Running out of questions before you’ve met everyone, or saying, “I don’t have any questions,” can cost you the job. Asking “bad” questions can cost you the job too.

If you aren’t sure what to ask, I wrote an article with the best questions.

This is often the difference between interview success and failure, so don’t neglect this part of preparing for your interview.

6. Learn the interviewer’s name and use it

I’m horrible at remembering names. I always have been. So if I can do this, you can too…

When you hear someone’s name, repeat it to yourself in your head once or twice IMMEDIATELY after you shake hands. This helps you remember it.

Most of the time, if you forget someone’s name, it’s because you never really “got” it. Immediately after you heard it, you forgot. So this is how to remember.

Then, use it in the conversation within the first 5-10 minutes of the interview. Now you’ll never forget it.

There’s another benefit to this too – using someone’s name helps you build a bond with them and build trust. Studies have shown you seem more confident, competent and impressive when you say someone’s name when talking to them.

Go talk to the CEO in your company, and I bet they’ll use your name in the conversation. Leaders do this. Successful people do this.

This is a very under-rated tip for interview success that anyone can do. It just takes effort.

You will build a stronger bond/rapport with the interviewer if you do this, and they’ll be more likely to remember you favorably and hire you.

7. Be upfront and use clear language

Don’t use vague language and “dodge” their questions. And don’t lie. They’ll usually know. Hiring managers interview a lot of people and have a great sense for this.

If you lie and get caught, there is no way they’re going to hire you.

And if you seem like you’re trying to hide information, they won’t trust you and won’t hire you either.

Hiring managers aren’t just evaluating your skill; they’re evaluating your character. If you’re going to be joining their team, they need to see what type of person you are. And no hiring manager wants someone who is dishonest on their team.

What do they want? Someone who stands up and takes responsibility when things go wrong, who can learn from past mistakes, who is honest if there’s a problem, and who isn’t afraid to tell the truth.

The interview is where they test this before hiring you. So just remember that while they’re judging your experience and skills, they’re also judging these character traits.

8. Never badmouth

Don’t badmouth former bosses, former employers, coworkers or anyone else.

Here’s what happens when you do: The interviewer will immediately become curious about the other side of the story. They’ll wonder if you were part of the problem (or the whole problem).

They’ll wonder if you’re someone who always looks to blame others. They’ll worry you have a bad attitude and won’t be able to fit into their organization. And they won’t hire you because of this.

So never, ever badmouth anyone from your past in your interview. Also, you never know if the interviewer knows somebody who you’re bad mouthing! Many industries have pretty tight-knit communities.

9. Make everything about THEM

Here’s a little secret: The interview isn’t really about you.

If you want to start getting a TON of job offers from your interviews, you need to start thinking about what the company wants. Make yourself seem like a solution to their problems.

How can you help them make money, save money, save time, etc.?

How will you make the hiring manager’s life easier if he or she hires you?

Figure out how to show this, start thinking about their needs and answering their questions with this mindset and you will be in the top 10% of job seekers.

Same goes for writing your resume. You want to stand out? Start thinking of your resume as being about THEM. It’s a document that should be “tailored” to the employer’s needs, showing them how your qualifications and past work will help you step into *their* job and be successful in their organization.

That’s the general idea, and it’s true for resumes, cover letters, and interviews.

10. Send great follow-ups

When your interview is wrapping up, ask each person you met for a business card. This will help you follow-up and boost your chances of getting hired.

Then, here’s what to do next…

One day after your interview, send “thank you” emails to each person you met, mentioning something specific you discussed with them and thanking them for their time. (You mention something specific so they know it’s not a cut & paste email).

If you want a word-for-word template you can use, read this article.

Also, at the end of your interview, ask the company when you can expect to hear feedback.

Then… let’s say they told you it would take five business days. On the sixth business day, if you haven’t heard anything, you’ll want to send an email to follow up and check for feedback.

Doing this will maximize the chance you get the job offer.

The post Top 10 Tips for Interview Success (From a Recruiter) appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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Job searching takes time. Lots of time.

Much of this time is wasted on tasks that can be simplified–if not completely cut out–by getting organized during the job search process.

Here are five tips to help you get organized in your job search so you aren’t bogged down with busy-work. With your new found time, you focus on what will really land you the job of your dreams—networking, customizing your resumes and cover letters, and preparing for interviews.

5 Tips to Get Organized in Your Job Search 1. Target companies directly

If you’re not directly visiting the websites of the companies you want to work at, you’re missing out on key job opportunities.

“But Kyle, I use Craigslist, Indeed, LinkedIn and other sites to find open positions. Aren’t the jobs posted there, too?”

Yes and no.

While it’s true that plenty of jobs are posted on websites such as Craigslist, Indeed and similar job search sites, the majority of openings never make it past the company’s Careers page.

So, save yourself some crucial time and energy by going directly to the hiring company’s jobs page if you want to know about their current openings.

By bookmarking the Careers pages of all of the companies you want to work at, then organizing them in a folder (see Step 4), you’re saving yourself tons of time and dramatically increasing the number of legit jobs you’ll be able to apply to.

2. Get organized with search alerts

Creating saved job searches takes even more of the busy work out of researching jobs, allowing you to spend more time on those tasks that really matter.

While each site calls the function something slightly different (‘saved search,’ ‘search alert’ and so on), sites like Craigslist, Indeed and LinkedIn allow you to search for a job and save the search parameters. They’ll send you an email notification each time a job that matches those parameters is posted to their site.

You can set similar search alerts with Google Alerts or any other preferred search platform. You can also change the search alert frequency to ‘daily’ so job opportunities are bunched into a single email, saving you even more time.

Just a few minutes of your time and your inbox will begin filling with job opportunities!

3. Export and organize your LinkedIn contacts into a spreadsheet

Statistically speaking, the best way to land a new job is still via networking. Most positions are never even posted online because often they are filled through word of mouth referrals or recommendations.

Before spending your valuable time filling out applications, you should be checking if any of your friends, family, colleagues or other connections work at the hiring company.

This process can often seem time-consuming, but can be simplified by using LinkedIn’s job searching features!

Furthermore, LinkedIn allows you to export a list of your connections, their current company and position, and other relevant information into a spreadsheet.

After you’ve downloaded this list, search it each time you apply for a job. If one of your connections work there, ask them for a referral!

While you can do this search via LinkedIn using the ‘Current Company’ field, the first method (exporting your contacts) is much quicker. Plus, the spreadsheet allows you to filter your results by company name, and then sort with color coded columns and add notes each time you reach out to someone. So much customization!

4. Create a system to stay organized

This job searching stuff is stressful in itself. Don’t let your lack of organization be an added stressor.

You don’t want to be called in weeks or months later for an interview, only to find that the hiring managers remove the job posting and you forgot what position you applied to. Avoid the awkwardness—take a screen capture of the job posting.

While you’re at it, create an individual folder for each company you apply to. Don’t just save your customized resume and personalized cover letter in the folder, but also add a screen capture of the job posting including the full job description, responsibilities, minimum requirements, desired skills and education.

Add in an Excel or Google Sheets to log every place you apply to. Include the company name, position and how you submitted your application.

This is a powerful way to get organized and keep track of everything going on in your job search.

5. Use Streak as your personal job search CRM

In addition to using a spreadsheet, consider downloading Streak (it’s free!). Streak is a tool for your inbox that allows you to create a ‘box’ (a folder) for each job applied to, helping you stay organized throughout your job search.

For us night owls, Streak allows you to delay sending emails. If you’re working on applications at 2 AM, but don’t want them to go out until the morning, you’re good to go.

Streak also tells you whether someone has read your email, solving the age-old question, “Did they receive my application?”

Now, go send out some applications!

NOTE: I am in no way, shape or form connected with Streak, other than being someone who uses the product. I did not receive any form of compensation in return for mentioning Streak.

About this guest author:

Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES runs CaffeinatedKyle.com. His goal is simple – to help people find jobs they LOVE (or at least tolerate). Kyle loves coffee (if you couldn’t tell), writing and eating the same thing at different restaurants.


The post 5 Ways to Get Organized and Save Time in Your Job Search appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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Recruiters agree, according to this Monster.com article, that recruiting cycles occur in waves. Although personally not a fan of winter and the cold weather that comes with it, I’ll acknowledge the one upside: January and February are hands down the BEST time to job hunt. Here’s why:

#1 Companies Have Their Foot Back on the Accelerator

Well aware that many companies hold off on until December to dole out annual bonuses, and that many qualified candidates won’t leave until said bonus is deposited, companies will begin after the New Year to tap into this rich pool of talent.

#2 Decision Makers are In the Building

It is rare that interviewing and hiring-related decision making occurs by a single decision maker. Instead, these decisions tend to occur with a group of people in agreement. With so many people taking time off for the holidays, finding people to act “as of one mind” is challenging.

Come January – agreement is much easier . . . thanks to the simple fact that everyone is at work at the same time!

#3 Companies are (more) Flush with Cash

While many department heads have their hiring plans ready to roll before the end of the year, it is often not until the New Year that the funds for said plans are readily available.

In other words, not only do they know how many people they can hire and how much they can spend, they have the cash to do so!

Ready Set Go!

Here’s the situation right now: The jobs reports from late 2017 are exciting – and 2018 is promising to be a fantastic year for people looking to test the job search waters.

However, in today’s world where decision makers spend seconds (not minutes) reviewing a resume, documents and profiles get read on screens (printing is virtually dead), and many jobs are filled through referral before the role ever gets posted online – it is critical you be ready before taking the plunge.

Here’s what I recommend:


Spend some time engaging in online sleuthing to see who might be hiring and in what kinds of roles. Do a bit of research to target companies of interest, and use LinkedIn to see who works there and how they came to those roles.



Get your resume and LinkedIn ready to roll. Make sure both documents are easily skimmable on screens of all sizes, and show readers how you are ideally suited for specific roles – preferably by telling your career story using quantifiable achievements rather than an exhaustive list of your roles and responsibilities.


We all know recruiters and hiring managers find and vet talent online. They are looking for “social proof” of who you are. My advice? Shore up any social media accounts that belong to you. Make private any accounts that reveal information you don’t want shared publicly, or beef up public sites by sharing information that aligns with your career aspirations.


Spend some time identifying who is in your network, and who should be in your network.

Think beyond immediate friends to include connections of connections, friends of friends, etc. LinkedIn and other social media sites are a great resource for finding the people that should be a part of your “virtual rolodex.”


If your documents and your network are ready to go, and you look great online, why not take advantage of this wonderful time of the year to job hunt?

The case is powerful – the months of January and February are possibly your best chance to get out and start interviewing. While timing isn’t always everything, it certainly helps. Go ahead – put the word out that you’re looking, and start the conversation rolling. This can be accomplished through phone calls, emails and even LinkedIn groups.

Picture yourself in 6 months or this same time next year. Will you be frustrated if nothing has changed? If the answer is yes – this winter may be the time to get started!

About this guest author:

In need of some career advice, a refreshed resume or rebranded LinkedIn? As the founder and chief writer at Virginia Franco Resumes, I offer customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker. I would be happy to chat!

The post 3 Reasons Winter is THE BEST TIME to Job Hunt appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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First impressions count for a lot, so it’s important to dress for success in any job interview. Yet there’s a fine line between being well-dressed, and over-doing it.

So let’s take a look at how to dress for any type of interview. We’ll cover how to dress for casual interviews, as well as business dress and professional dress for interviews, so you can walk in feeling confident and land the job!

Dressing for Success in Interviews:

As a general rule of thumb, you want to dress at least as nice as the typical employee working there, and usually nicer. (For example just because the employees wear jeans doesn’t mean it’s okay to come to the interview in jeans. The interview is not a typical day of work).

If you’re not sure what the employees wear, play it safe and wear a business suit.

You also want to avoid wearing anything distracting, like bright colors or big earrings. Dress up, but keep it simple and subtle too. You want the focus to be on your interview answers, not what you’re wearing.

You’ll also need to make sure your clothes look new and wrinkle-free. Don’t wear anything that looks worn or old. This is extremely important when you decide how you’re going to dress for your interview.

Also, if you’re traveling to the interview in snow or bad weather, bring a tissue to clean your shoes before going in. You can step into the bathroom before entering to do this.

Quick tip: If you have a video or Skype interview, you should still dress professionally. The same rules apply.

How to Dress for a Casual Interview

A casual interview would include a “blue-collar” job (like landscaping), a retail job, or some tech jobs where employees dress casual and typically wear jeans, polo shirts or short sleeve shirts, casual shoes, etc.

Casual dress for an interview should still follow some rules though, and in general you do *not* want to dress like a typical employee – you should go in looking nicer and being better-dressed than them.

I would not recommend wearing jeans. Ever. Instead, if employees wear jeans, I’d wear khakis or nice business pants at the very least, with a collared shirt (tucked in).

Also wear nice shoes. Even if you’re interviewing at a tech startup where employees wear sneakers, find some black or brown shoes to wear for the interview.

As a general rule, it’s always better to be a little over-dressed in a casual interview, or any interview. You don’t want to walk in wearing jeans when the interviewer or hiring manager is wearing a dress shirt and slacks.

So if in doubt, dress up. At the very least, wear “business casual” – dress shirt, tucked in. Dress pants. Black or brown “business” shoes. But no need for a tie, business coat, or anything like that in a lot of casual jobs.

But if you’re not sure, do more, not less. It’s always better to go in over-dressed.

That’s how to dress for a casual interview. Now let’s talk about if it’s a more formal work environment and you need to wear professional dress or business dress in the interview.

How to Dress for a Business or Professional Interview

Business dress or professional dress in an interview is different. In this case, you want to aim to dress as professionally as possible (without being flashy or distracting). This usually means a business suit or an outfit you’d wear to an important business meeting.

Even if employees at a company don’t always stick to a full business or professional dress code (suit, tie, etc.), you should wear that for the interview.

Wear a dress shirt, tucked into business pants (not khakis!). If you’re a man, wear a tie. If you’re a woman you could also wear a professional-looking skirt instead of pants.

Wear black or brown business shoes and a jacket. If you are bringing papers or documents, consider carrying them in a nice bag or briefcase. (Studies show that carrying multiple objects in your hands when you enter the room makes you appear less competent and more disorganized/scattered, so this is another reason to bring a nice bag!)

What Happens if You Don’t Dress for Success in Your Interview?

You might be thinking “okay, I don’t own a tie,” or “I don’t own nice dress-shoes,” etc. And you’re wondering what happens if you dress a little “down” for your interview.

You’re going to be in there feeling uncomfortable, looking at an interviewer that’s dressed nicer than you. That’s NOT what you want.

You also NEVER want to be dressed worse than any employees. In fact, you need to be dressed better than the typical employee.

You’re going to feel awful if you show up wearing khakis and a shirt, and the employees are wearing full business-wear.

My advice: Don’t risk it. Always dress nicer than you think you need. Invest in nice, professional dress clothes to interview in.

If you dress for success in your interview, it’s going to pay for itself after a couple days of work at this new job you’re going to land, so it really is an investment, not an expense.

That’s how to look at it.

It’ll also help you feel confident in your interview. And it will help you impress the interviewer.

Most importantly, it’ll put your mind at ease…

If you go in dressed poorly and you regret it, or notice people are dressed up more than you, it’s going to distract you throughout the entire interview… you’re going to be worrying about that and wondering if you blew it, instead of focusing on giving awesome interview answers that land you the job.

So it’s a lose-lose situation if you don’t put in the extra time and effort here to get it right.

The good news is once you figure out one or two interview outfits, you can wear them every time.

Other Questions/Concerns About How to Dress For Interview Success: If you’re going to your interview from your current job:

If you’re going to an afternoon on-site interview, and spending the morning working at your current job, you MIGHT be able to dress more casually.

Example: You wear business-casual attire at your current job (no jacket, no tie, etc.)

So if you dress extremely nice for your morning, they’ll know you’re interviewing somewhere (not good!)

Or maybe you’re going for an early morning interview, and then going to your job immediately after, at 9 AM or 10 AM. Same situation- if you show up dressed much nicer than usual, they’ll know something’s up.


In this case, you have a few options:

  1. You can ask the company you’re interviewing at for permission to come into the interview wearing business casual dress, so that your current employer doesn’t know you’re interviewing. I’ve done this and it’s been totally fine with the employer.
  2. Bring formal business attire, but leave the jacket (and tie, if you’re a man), in your car or in a bag. Then only wear it for the interview.
If you’re completely stumped and have no idea how nice people dress at the company:

Just wear a suit or nice business attire. Don’t risk it. Even if it’s a relatively casual job, showing up in a suit isn’t the worst thing in the world.

If you follow the steps above you’ll be well-dressed and confident so you can stand out in your interview and get more job offers.

And if you want all our best tips for how to get hired faster, make sure to check out our complete job interview answers guide too.

Good luck!

The post How to Dress for Success in Your Interview appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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It’s natural to want to show off your impressive hard skills when you are looking for a new job. But to succeed in today’s job market, jobseekers have to include an equal balance of hard skills and soft skills on their resumes.

New research suggests that even those jobseekers who are adding soft skills to their resumes may not be choosing the right ones. In fact, in LiveCareer’s recently released 2018 Skills Gap Report, indicators point to a major disconnect between the soft skills that employers seek and those that jobseekers list on their resume.

To understand the skills employers want and, conversely, what skills jobseekers offer and include on their resumes, the study took a “big data” approach to analyzing thousands of resumes and job ads across 12 different occupations. The question the study sought to answer is this one: is the skills gap is real, or are jobseekers just underreporting their skill sets in resumes?

The study found that jobseekers’ resumes only matched 62 percent of the soft skills listed in job ads. One of the most striking insights the report uncovered is that jobseekers are listing far too few soft skills on their resumes, overall. It also found that three soft skills – customer service (13 percent of total top 20 skills occurrences), communication (8.9 percent), and written communication (8.3 percent) – account for 30 percent of the most frequently mentioned skills in job ads.

So, how can jobseekers more effectively communicate their soft skills to employers to succeed in 2018? Here are five tips…

How to Get Hired With Soft Skills
  1. Mention customer service and written and verbal communication skills in your resume, if you possess these. These soft skills greatly appeal to employers, and can play a big part in helping you land the job you want a lot faster.
  1. Study the job ad. Which other soft skills is the employer seeking? Make a list of all the required skills listed in the job ad and separate out the soft skills, those intangible abilities such as conflict resolution or collaboration. Study the list and determine which of these skills you possess; add those to your resume.


  1. Use the job ad to bolster your skill set. Piggybacking off the point above—for the skills you come across in a job ad that you don’t possess, consider mapping out a plan to acquire the ones that are most relevant to your particular industry (i.e., the ones you repeatedly see cropping up in job ads). Doing so will strengthen your position in the job marketplace.
  1. Take care to echo the exact language of the job post. This will help your resume get past an applicant tracking system (ATS), which is a standard initial screening process for recruiters. An ATS is looking for keywords in resumes to determine which candidates are a solid fit. So, if the job ad lists “verbal communication skills” as a requirement, don’t write “oral communication skills” on your resume. ATSs can’t interpret nuance, which means that the language has to be a match for you to be considered a match for the job.
  1. Create a skills section on your resume. Creating a skills section on your resume is a great way to add soft skills to your resume. Each of your listings under “Work Experience” presumably will be ripe with hard skills you utilized in each role. A skills section allows you more flexibility to mention general soft skills that you possess, such as a sense of humor, honesty, or dependability, traits that might be more difficult to fit into your work section.

An additional eye-opening finding uncovered in the study is the overall mismatch in skills requirements (both soft skills and hard skills) listed in job ads compared to those in applicant resumes. Job ads contain an average of 21.8 skills, while applicant resumes contain an average of only 13 skills. All this points to one thing—jobseekers must improve their resume writing abilities in 2018, and do a far better job of aligning their resume skills to the skills specifications laid out in job ads by prospective employers.

Additional takeaways for resume writers—as well as a downloadable version of the full report—are available via the 2018 Skills Gap Report here.

About this guest author:

Since 2005, LiveCareer’s team of career coaches, certified resume writers, and savvy technologists have been developing career tools that have helped over 10 million users build stronger resumes, write persuasive cover letters, and develop better interview skills. Land the job you want faster using our free resume examples and templates, writing guides, and easy-to-use resume builder.

The post The Soft Skills You Need to Succeed in 2018 appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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Preparing for a panel interview is slightly different than other interviews. Some steps are the same, but there are a few extra areas to focus on when preparing, so I’m going to walk you through how to prepare to ace your panel interview from start to finish.

Let’s get started…

How to Prepare to Ace a Panel Interview

When preparing for your panel interview, you’ll want to cover all of the typical interview preparation steps for any interview – like researching the company, reviewing your resume, coming up with examples and stories you can share to highlight your past accomplishments, etc.

Yet there are some additional things you should do and keep in mind if you want to ace your panel interview and walk in fully prepared for this specific type of interview process.

So let’s look at the areas to spend extra time focusing on and preparing for with panel interviews.

1. Body language and eye contact

Be ready to maintain eye contact with the whole panel, with slightly more attention toward whoever asked the question you’re answering.

And practice your body language in general – eye contact, posture, keeping your hands and feet still (not tapping), etc.

If you don’t feel confident or don’t have good body language habits, it’s going to become a bigger problem in a panel interview or group interview because it’s more pressure, more people to make eye contact with and interact with, etc.

2. Prepare some questions

It’s important to ask a lot of questions in a panel interview. So a big portion of your effort in preparing for the panel interview should be writing down great questions to ask them.

I recommend bringing the questions in a notebook and just ask the interviewer if it’s okay to bring it in with you.

Example of what you can say: “I brought a notepad with a few questions. Is it alright if I bring this into interview?”

99% of the time they’ll say “yes”.

When you ask your questions, you can direct a question to a specific person or the entire panel.

How many questions should you ask in your panel interview? I’d say you should take the total number of people on the panel, and then add 1-2 to that number. That’s how many questions to ask. So if the panel is 4 people, prepare 5-6 questions.

3. Try to find out who will be on the panel in advance

If you want to prepare to ace your panel interview, you should spend some time learning as much as you can about the people on the panel.

How many people are you meeting with? What are their names and job titles?

If you’re not sure, ask the person who scheduled the interview (the recruiter, HR person, hiring manager, etc.)

Then do some research on LinkedIn and find out what type of background these people have. Do they have a more technical background? Is it mostly people from HR and non-technical areas? Does anyone on the panel have the job title you’d have if they hire you? (e.g. someone who is your peer?). And who are the more senior-level people on the panel, such as your future boss?

All of this will help you feel more confident and relaxed in the interview, and give better interview answer. So don’t neglect this part of preparing for your panel interview.

Note: Treat everyone the same in the panel interview. Just because one person is “lower” in the company does not mean you should act any differently or address their questions any differently.

In fact, this is good advice for any interview process, and it’s something we recommend in the advice across our site. Why? Because you never know who the hiring manager is going to ask an opinion from before making the yes/no decision on whether to hire you. This includes the receptionist too!

4. Bring a resume for each person on the panel

This is a simple and easy way to look prepared and make sure everyone in the panel interview is familiar with your background or can quickly catch up at the start of the meeting. So when you prepare for your interview, print out enough copies of your resume so that you’re sure you’ll have enough to hand out at the beginning.

In fact bring a few extras in case someone unexpected joins the panel.

Sure, they might have copies already. That’s fine. Do this anyway; it’ll make you look great.

5. Be ready to take notes

Earlier I mentioned you should bring a notepad with questions to ask.

Well, you can write your own notes too. You’re going to be taking in a *lot* of information in the typical panel interview so this is important. You’ll need to remember key facts about the position when you follow-up, when you ask questions later, and when you prepare for future interviews or discuss the role further.

So take notes, but remember one rule: I call it the 90% rule. Maintain eye contact 90% of the time throughout the panel interview.

That means less than 10% of your time should be spent looking down or taking notes.

Don’t do more than this ratio or it’ll disrupt the flow of the interview and hurt your chances at getting the job offer.

6. Build rapport and try to make a strong connection

Do your best to build a connection with as many people in the panel interview as possible.

Find common areas of interest when preparing for the interview, share stories, mix your questions into the interview instead of just waiting until the end (this makes it feel more like a back-and-forth conversation, and less like an interrogation).

Also make sure to learn everyone’s name, and use their names in the conversation.

Remember in any interview, and especially a panel interview, they’re not just evaluating your skills and experience – they’re looking to see how you’ll fit in with the current team, company culture and more.

This is also a reason researching the company when preparing for your panel interview is so important…. because you can learn about their current team, company culture and more on their website and social media. Then you can use this information to build a stronger bond and show them the traits they’re looking for.

But you can’t do that if you don’t research the company when you prepare for the interview.

How to conclude your panel interview

If you follow the tips above and have a general understanding of how to answer common interview questions, you should be in great shape to ace your panel interview!

Now here’s what to do to finish your interview:

  1. Shake each person’s hand and thank them for their time.
  2. Get business cards from each person you met so you’ll have their names and emails to follow up.
  3. Then ask them who will be in touch about next steps, and how long it will take to hear back.

That way you’ll know when to follow-up after the interview, and who to get in touch with if you have questions.

Also, make sure to send “Thank you” notes the day after the interview. You should send an email to each person you met with.

The post How to Ace Your Panel Interview – Preparation Tips appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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It’s important to send thank you notes after any interview to confirm your interest, show the employer you’re serious about your job search and that you’re someone who follows up and communicates well.

The fastest and easiest way to send your thank you note is by email, and that’s what I typically recommend. So let’s talk about exactly how to send great follow up thank you emails after the interview.

How to Send a Thank You Note After Your Interview:

It’s a good idea to send “thank you” emails to each person you met.

Also, customize each email if you’re emailing multiple people, so they don’t compare and see you sent the exact same cut & paste email. The “thank you” email templates below will help you do this.

When to send your thank you emails:

I’d recommend sending these follow-up thank you emails one day after your interview, at 10 AM or 11 AM. If you interviewed on a Friday, you can send it at the end of day Friday, or Monday morning.

How to get their email address:

After meeting each person in an interview, I strongly recommend asking for their business card. Say, “By the way, do you have a business card so I can follow-up? I really enjoyed our conversation”. That’s it. Now put it in your pocket, and you’ll have their email address when you get home.

The best subject line to use in your thank you note:

I’d recommend one of these subject lines:

  • Thanks for your time <DATE> (e.g. “Thanks for your time yesterday” or “thanks for your time Friday”)
  • Great speaking with you <TODAY/YESTERDAY/ETC> (e.g. “Great speaking with you yesterday”).

Customize these for the date you spoke. So if you’re sending it the following day, you’d say “yesterday”. If you’re emailing on a Monday about the interview you had last Friday, you’d say “Friday”.

Now let’s talk about the most important piece of these follow up thank you notes… the actual content you type into the email…

Word-For-Word Thank You Email Template:

You’ll notice this thank you note template below will allow you to customize it for each person you’re sending to. That’s important. (I explained why earlier in this article).

Now here’s what to send… word-for-word.

Thank You Email Template for After an Interview:

Hello <NAME>,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday. I really enjoyed our conversation about the <JOB TITLE> job. The info you shared about <SPECIFIC TOPIC RELATED TO JOB> was great, and I’m definitely interested in continuing in the process and hearing any feedback once you have it. Thanks again, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions I can answer for you.

Best Regards,


Note: If you change the timing of when you send this note, replace the word “yesterday” with the appropriate day.

Mistakes to Avoid:

Mistake #1:

Templates can save you time and make your life easier, but if you make a mistake filling it out, it’s painfully obvious to the reader.

So be careful, proofread everything before sending, and make sure you filled it in with the correct job title, dates, etc. Otherwise this thank you note won’t do you any good after your interview… and it’ll actually make you look worse!

Mistake #2:

Another mistake to avoid after your interview: Never send the exact same email to multiple people when following up. That’s why the template above has a spot to customize it. Don’t get lazy and skip this, it could cost you the job!

Mistake #3:

Also don’t decide one or two people aren’t important enough to email. Thank everyone you met. So if you went for a full day of interviews and met the Director, an HR Manager, and two junior associates who would be working as your peers, email everyone and put equal effort into each email!

If someone took the time to meet with you, they should receive a thank you follow-up from you. And they’re likely going to be asked by the more senior people (like a Director) what they thought of you. So their opinion could be the difference in whether you get hired or not.

Mistake #4:

One other mistake: Assuming you don’t need to send a thank you note to follow up after a phone interview. It’s still an opportunity to stand out and show you’re a great communicator who puts in the extra effort.

So use the same follow up template I gave you earlier in this article to send thank you notes after a phone interview. Nothing changes.

What if They Don’t Respond to Your Thank You Email?

If more than 5 days pass and you haven’t heard back after sending this thank you note, it’s time to follow up again. Read this article on how to follow up for feedback after no response.

Additional Resources:

If you want more help getting hired faster, here are a couple other articles that will help you immediately:

The best questions to ask in your interview.

How to write a great resume summary to land more interviews.

The top reasons you can’t find a job.

How to create a great elevator pitch to stand out in any interview.

The best day to apply for jobs online. 

The post How to Send Great Thank You Notes After an Interview appeared first on Career Sidekick.

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