The 6 Key Ingredients of Every Successful Job Interview

The 6 Key Ingredients of Every Successful Job Interview

While a strong resume or portfolio can get you one step closer to your dream position, it’s the ensuing interview process that really helps hiring managers and recruiters determine whether or not you are the right fit. Preparing for a job interview usually requires more than simply researching a company’s products or services.

First of all, what do recruiters look for when interviewing candidates? According to Nicholls’s State University, a professional appearance, great communication skills, the right qualifications, and knowledge of the company and industry are key ingredients to a successful interview. Here are some key ingredients to help you stand out from other candidates during — and after — an interview. We have also put together a suite of tools and resources to help job seekers with the recruiting and hiring process.

1. Research the position and the company

Learning as much as you can about the company and position will go a long way during the interview. Interviewers are busy people, and they are often required to go through many resumes and conduct multiple interviews every day. Doing your research beforehand will save both you and your interviewer time during the interview. How long has this company been in business? What do they do or make? What is their mission statement? Do you know anyone who currently works there who could give you pointers as to what they look for in candidates? Almost all of this information can be found online.

2. Practice before the interview

It is common practice for artists to rehearse before an event or concert. This is just as valid for a job interview. Practice makes perfect, as they say. A simple way to get some practice under your belt is to do a mock interview. In order to do this, all you really need is a basic outline of an interview and a camera. Filming yourself answering questions and talking about yourself, your skills, strengths, and interests, will help tremendously in finding flaws in your answers as well as getting more comfortable with the whole interview process.

3. Dress appropriately

First impressions matter — no secrets there. How you should dress for an interview depends greatly on the industry and the position you are applying for. Dressing appropriately indicates you are taking the opportunity seriously and you care about making a good impression. When in doubt, this article from CNBC mentions that in most industries, dressing appropriately communicates that you have respect for the interviewer. This can go a long way and make you stand out from other candidates.

4. Play your strengths, tell a story

All of us have strengths — and an interview is a perfect occasion to show your interviewer that you will be a strong asset to their company.”What are your strengths?” is a question that you will inevitably have to answer during an interview. Creating a list of skills and strengths, while useful, might not help your storytelling during an interview. Instead of answering your interviewer with a long and boring list of your strengths and work experience, why not focus on your achievements and tell a story? Interviewers are interested in hearing about situations where you thrive and are able to achieve great results — or show ambition and self-motivation. A good and honest story might be easier to relate to for the person interviewing you.

5. Be prepared for unusual questions

Hiring managers and interviewers are increasingly looking for unusual job interview questions. This is not necessarily meant to trick you, but rather help them understand how you react in unusual and sometimes uncomfortable situations. You should be able to answer the age-old “what makes you the most qualified candidate for this job?” type of questions. But be prepared for some unusual questions, like If you were an animal, which would you be?” Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer questions. This will not only help you better understand the position, but showing interest and being motivated are personality traits that recruiters and interviewers often look for in a candidate.

6. Always follow up and ask for feedback

Whether you get the position or not, sending a thank you note is always a nice gesture, and it is now considered common practice in most industries. In the event you did not land the job, this is the perfect opportunity to ask for feedback as well. This is how you will improve and perform better at your next job interview. Receiving criticism might not be the most fun experience, but as you get more comfortable with the interview process — and ultimately land your dream job — negative feedback will eventually turn into more positive input from interviewers.


4 Tips and Tricks for Networking Online

4 Tips and Tricks for Networking Online

The old networking playbook included getting some business cards printed, preparing an elevator pitch, and attending industry conferences and mixers. But as ever more in-person events are canceled due to coronavirus, people the world over are shifting to doing most of their professional networking online.

Here are four tips to help you improve your virtual networking game—and some recommended tools for maximum success.

1. Find thought leaders and influencers

Let’s say you want to find a job as an interior designer. The first step is to follow thought leaders and influencers in the industry. You can find them by searching “interior design” on Twitter and Instagram. One way to make your search more strategic, however, is to use a tool like Followerwonk. Search “interior design” + “blogger” or “writer,” and you will get a list of people who write about interior design, ranked by their number of followers.

See who they follow to grow your network. Through the people you follow, you are likely to learn about important industry news, online events, webinars, and webcasts. Sign up and participate when interesting ones come along.

2. Start listening

Once you’ve found the right people to follow, start listening to what they have to say and gathering the latest and greatest news and insights in your industry. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Quora, Yelp, Meetup, and Listly. Download their podcasts. Put their names in Talkwalker and Newsle so you get emailed when they appear in the news. Subscribe to their newsletters and YouTube channels, and subscribe to their content on Patreon.

3. Build awareness

Now that you’re aware of them, you can start making them aware of you. The key to successful networking is not to go around begging people for favors and being a nuisance, but to create value for them, too. Retweet their content, +1 their posts, share their content on Facebook, comment (insightfully) on their publications and videos, and include their insights in your content (with appropriate attribution, tags, and hashtags).

4. Connect 

Only then—once you know a little bit about them and have a clue about what’s going on in the industry, and once you’ve created some value for them through retweets and shares and engagement—should you reach out. Friending them on Facebook will likely come across as creepy because it is more of a personal network. But reaching out on LinkedIn and other professional network platforms is totally appropriate. Lead with a sentence that starts with something like “I loved your article last week about…” And then let them know what you want (e.g., “I’ve written this … and would appreciate your advice” or “I’d appreciate the chance to interview you about your career for my blog” or “I’m starting out in the industry and would appreciate your mentorship. Are you available for a quick virtual coffee meeting?”

If you don’t hear back, send a quick follow-up message about a week later. Chances are the person you’re contacting is busy and misses messages from time-to-time due to the high volume of incoming requests. Don’t harass the person, though. Stalker is not the impression you want to leave. After two or three follow-ups, it’s time to move on to the next person on your list. But keep the door open by continuing steps 1, 2, and 3. The first secret of success is showing up—even when the room is a Zoom room.

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Job Search Tips Every Military Veteran Should Know

Job Search Tips Every Military Veteran Should Know

As  a labor economist, my job is to generate insights that help job seekers find their next great opportunity, and employers find their next great hire. But I am also a drilling reservist in the U.S. Navy Reserve. That means I spend one-tenth of my time on a military base maintaining helicopters alongside active duty sailors. Some of that time is spent around military service members who are just months away from separating from the military or retiring. Here are the most common job search questions they ask me, and the top tips every military veteran or soon-to-be veteran should know.

Q: Where should I look for work?

A: The answer is the same for veterans and non-veterans—use the leading job sites 

Military bases frequently host career fairs and hiring events. And the Transition Assistance Program provides valuable information and training to service members to prepare them for civilian life. You should take advantage of these programs.

But don’t limit yourself to the options they suggest. The best way to find a job these days is to use the top-rated job search sites: ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and Indeed. Search all the jobs from across the web on ZipRecruiter and Indeed, and use your network to find a job on LinkedIn.

A major benefit of ZipRecruiter is that our powerful technology does much of the hard work for you. We present you to employers, so they can proactively reach out to you. And we prompt you to apply to new jobs for which you’d be a great match to make sure you never pass up a great opportunity.

Just like it’s OK for you to use both Uber and Lyft, or both Visa and American Express, it is a good idea to use all three job search sites. There isn’t perfect overlap across them—and once you’ve prepared your resume for one site, it’s not that hard to create a profile on another.

If you use veteran-specific or industry-specific job boards, that’s great. But don’t forget to use “the big three” in addition. Cover your bases!

Q: What should I do if I don’t have any work experience?

A: Your military experience counts as work experience! Learn how to describe it in ways civilian employers can understand. 

Service members often tell me they’re worried about the job search because they “have no work experience.” And then I learn that they have been active-duty service members for 12 years, supervised dozens of junior personnel, earned numerous military awards, and used their military education benefits to complete multiple professional certifications. That counts. All of it!

So don’t sell yourself short or somehow think military experience isn’t relevant in the civilian world. Instead, learn how to talk about your military experience and skills in ways civilian employers will understand. This tool can help you translate your professional military training into job skills civilian employers want. Several online Military Skills Translators do so for a wider range of military skills. Be sure to describe even your more technical skills using the terms civilian employers commonly use in job postings, not military jargon.

Q: What kinds of industries should I explore?

A: There are industries that tend to be popular with service members. But don’t let yourself be typecast. Military skills and experience are relevant across the economy. 

Veterans often struggle to appreciate how broadly applicable their skills and experience are in the civilian workplace. Too often, they believe that jobs at defense contractors or in security are their only options, and see artificially stovepiped career paths ahead of them.

Don’t let anyone put you in a box. Veterans are underrepresented in industries like healthcare, education, and finance, despite the large number of organizations committed to hiring veterans. T

It’s good to know which industries tend to hire large numbers of veterans (see the table below). Veterans do tend to get civilian jobs in occupations related to their military experience—and they tend to earn slightly more in those occupations than nonveterans. But don’t restrict your job search to those occupations.

Veterans are overrepresented in the following occupations and industries:

  • Protective services
    • Transportation security screeners
    • Police/sheriff’s patrol officers
    • Detectives/criminal investigators
  • Installation/maintenance/repair
    • Avionics technicians
    • Aircraft mechanics/service technicians
    • Radio/telecommunications equipment installation
  • Transportation
    • Air traffic controllers/airfield operations
    • Aircraft pilots/flight engineers
    • Sailors/marine oilers
  • Architecture/engineering
    • Engineering technicians
    • Marine engineers/naval architecture
    • Aerospace engineers
  • Computer/mathematics
    • Information security analysts
    • Computer network architects
    • Operations research analysts
  • Production
    • Power plant operations/distributors
    • Engine/other machine assembly
    • Stationary engineers/boiler ops


Source: David Schulker, “The Recent Occupation and Industry Employment Patterns of American Veterans,” Armed Forces and Society, 2017, Vol. 43(4), 695-710. (source)

Q: How much should I expect to earn?

A: US Labor Occupational Handbook salary information to find out what typical salary ranges are across the country for the job you want. Don’t let your military basic pay serve as an “anchor.” 

Veterans also often struggle to know what they should reasonably expect to earn in a civilian job. Compared with civilians, they have historically accepted lower wages in their first post-military job. Perhaps that’s because their military basic pay serves as an unconscious anchor. (Anchoring describes our tendency to give too much weight to the first number we hear or think of, even if it’s not really relevant to the issue at hand.)

Because much of military compensation is deferred or nonmonetary, service members may underestimate its value. Many service members underestimate the costs of housing, healthcare, and other expenses which the military provides, but which civilians typically pay for out of pocket. Veterans may also underestimate how susceptible to economic and business shocks employment outside the military can be. Civilian salaries typically compensate workers for some of that risk.

In other words, your military basic pay is really not the relevant benchmark. Find out the total value of your military compensation using an online tool like the Defense Department’s regular military compensation calculator. You’ll see there is a big difference between your basic pay and the total value of your compensation. For example, a single E-6 sailor with 10 years of military service living in San Diego might be earning annual basic pay of $45,237.60, but receiving a total compensation package valued at $85,051.83. Your opening offer in a salary negotiation should be informed by your total military compensation and civilian industry standards, not by irrelevant anchors.

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COVID-19 Resources for Job Seekers

COVID-19 Resources for Job Seekers

The coronavirus pandemic has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs. Many others are seeing their hours or pay cut. At the same time, new hiring has slowed temporarily in most industries. But tens of thousands of employers are still hiring despite the pandemic. And thousands more are expanding hiring precisely because the crisis has caused demand for their goods and services to surge.

For example, soaring sales and rapid user growth are creating new employment opportunities in the following kinds of companies:

  • E-commerce companies
  • Remote work software companies
  • Video game companies
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Warehousing services
  • Delivery driver services
  • Home exercise equipment producers
  • At-home beauty product producers
  • Meal kit delivery services
  • Online entertainment companies

To help you find those opportunities, ZipRecruiter has placed an “Actively Hiring During COVID-19” banner on job postings where employers have verified that they are currently extending offers and an “Urgent” banner on job postings where requested by employers. ZipRecruiter also highlights jobs that are new.  So that you get through the downturn and your job search successfully, healthily, and happily, we have collected some tips and resources to help.


Applying for Unemployment Insurance

Finding a Job 

Developing Your Skills and Experience

Supplementing Your Income 

Improving your Wellbeing 

Working from Home

Applying for Jobs

Finding Support for Your Small Businesses

Ensuring Workplace Health and Safety

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