October 28, 2009

How to Answer the Trickiest Interview Question

A few weeks ago, I was featured on Career Rocketeer for their article on interviewing tips. In the article, I talked about how to answer the "Tell me about yourself," question. I blogged about this ages ago, so I wanted to repost the original blog to give you more detail, perspective and guidance than what is listed in the article. However, I also encourage you to visit the Career Rocketeer article, since it has other really useful tips as well.

You can access the Career Rocketeer article here. Or continue reading for the original post on answering some of the trickiest interview questions.


If you have done more than a few interviews in your life thus far, then you've probably had one of these three tricky interview questions thrown at you. Here they are:

1.) Why should I hire you?
2.) What makes you special over any other candidate?
3.) Tell me about yourself?

The most difficult of these is usually the last one, because it is so nebulous. However, if you'll notice, they're all asking pretty much the same thing.

Translation: Give me some skills and experience that will make me think you'll add value to the organization.

You need to think about crafting your answer to discuss your background and strengths in a way that brings a benefit to the organization. The most common mistakes people make when answering these is 1.) Not knowing what the organization is looking for and 2.) not sticking to strengths and work experience.

As I'm sure you've heard before, you'll need to do some research on the company and the desired position, and know how you can bring positive to all parties. This involves not just external Google searches, but also your own internal assessment of your strengths and talents. You can avoid the second mistake by remembering that employers want to know "what's in it for them" if they hire you. While stories of your family and youth may help them get you know you better, it is not what they're looking for. So keep it professional and work experience based, and you'll be that much closer to landing your next job.

October 23, 2009

Do You Know What You Were Born to Do?

"Forget mid-life crisis; I am suffering from a quarter life crisis!" Years ago, there were so many dark days when I would sit at my work desk thinking, "What am I doing here?" Some of those jobs were absolutely not what I loved doing. The problem was I had no idea what I loved doing. Nowadays, this is exactly what I help people figure out through my coaching and training programs. However, even if we never get to work together, I still want to help out.

That's why I was so excited when I found this nifty little quiz from Marcus Buckingham called "The Strong Life Test." With a few quick clicks, you can get a feel for the kind of work that resonates with you. Of course, your test results will not completely define you—there's a good deal more fine-tuning you'll want to do on your own to add detail and specificity. But what the test will do is show you where to start your search for a strong life.

Take the Find Your Strongest Life Test now.

If you are interested in how to use your strengths to improve your career aspirations, I would recommend the following books from Marcus Buckingham. It is a refreshing departure from the "I need to have an improvement plan for all my weaknesses" philosophy that is rampant in corporate cultures today.

October 21, 2009

Finding a Career You Love

Quite awhile ago, I wrote about my friend, Tiffany Westrich, who had left her corporate job to start her own jewelry business. As it turns out, she developed rheumatoid arthritis and is now working on jewelry with a message to help increase awareness for this autoimmune disease. I find it so poignant that once you decide to follow your passions, new paths open up for you that you didn't see before. As soon as she chose to focus on this new niche, her sales skyrocketed.

For those of you who are still trying to figure out your next step in life, here's a quote from Joseph Conrad:

"Follow Your Bliss and the Universe Will Open Doors Where There Were Only Walls.
And now to help you follow your own bliss, below is the original post with tips on discovering a new career path. Here's to your continued power and success!


My girlfriend recently gave up a job as a principal at a well-known design firm to start her own
jewelry business, and it made me start thinking about how we decide what we want to be when we grow up.

It used to be that you could graduate from high school, go to college and somehow have some semblance of what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. And then again, maybe this notion has always been a farce, since it seems like more and more baby boomers are experiencing mid-life career changes than ever before (including my own mother). So if parents and grandparents are struggling with their career choices, just how are young adults supposed to traverse their own rugged, winding trail of career options?

The truth is I got lost on some of the switchbacks in my own career trail. I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but as it turned out, this kept changing. First, it was a singer. I tried that on for size, and it wasn't half bad. However, I felt like there was something more for me. What that "more" was I couldn't tell. Then, it was various roles in business that taught me even more about what I needed in a job. And this cycle kept repeating for quite some time, as I hopped from job to job trying to better define my "dream career."

It wasn't until my thirties that I felt I had enough clarity to really decide what I wanted for my life. The one thing that I can honestly say I did was follow my heart. As soon as something felt wrong, I started working on the next stage of the game. More than anything else, I think this was the truest measure of the direction I needed to take. But just how do you figure out what your heart wants? I put together a list of questions that I used to ask myself in case it could be of any help to others in the same quandary.

  • What do you enjoy about your current job?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What are you good at?
  • In what areas do people ask you for advice (i.e. in what areas do others consider you to be an expert?)?
  • What do close friends and family see as your talents?
  • What do/did you dislike about current/previous jobs?
  • What are your life goals?

Regarding this last question, if you don't know what your life goals are, then, it's time to start thinking about them. Your life goals will define what you want to accomplish with your life, and may help you figure out what career could facilitate meeting all your expectations. Go to our website to get a free copy of our Dream Explorer E-Course , which will help you define your personal goals. Otherwise, you can just start making a list of things you want to do or accomplish during your lifetime.