Stumped in an Interview?

Worried about being asked an interview question that you have no idea how to answer? Here’s what to say when you have no clue what to say – and come out ahead.

First, you need to fill that awkward silence with something, so…

Ask for clarification.

If you don’t understand the question, ask the interviewer to explain a bit more about a specific part of the question. This means that instead of saying a general “Can you please explain that question?” say, “Can you please expand a bit further on what you mean by X?”

Don’t Panic.

It’s okay not to know the answer. Really. It’s not always about whether every answer you give is perfect, but about how you answer the questions, and your thought process. Even if you can’t come up with a good answer, think of it as a test to see how you handle a difficult situation.

Give the information that you do know.

Instead of simply saying ‘I don’t know how to answer that’ right away, give an answer that relates to part of the question. This shows that you know at least some of the answer, or part of the topic in question, even if you can’t answer the full question. You may find that the act of saying something may lead you to give the answer the interviewer is looking for anyway.

Say how you would find the answer.

Sometimes employers will throw a curveball question designed to see how you think on your feet. It’s okay that you don’t know how many mailboxes there are in Newfoundland, but you can list the steps you’d use to find out.

If the question is very technical or mathematical, where you don’t remember the numbers or hard data off the top of your head – say that you don’t have this type of thing memorized, but you know it requires X calculation, or Y resource. It’s ok not to know everything, and it makes you a more likeable and honest person to simply admit this.

DON’T try to make something up.

While it’s best to not jump straight to saying “I don’t know” it’s even worse to pretend you know something you don’t. If you honestly can’t come up with any kind of answer, it’s time to admit to that. “That’s a great question, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t have the answer right at this moment. I’ll follow up with this after the interview.”

Coming clean shows honesty and humility, and promising to follow up (whether this is doing research on your own, or providing an answer via email) shows you are genuinely interested in the topic.

Follow up.

You should always send a thank you email after an interview, and this offers the perfect opportunity to give a better response to a question you were unhappy about. For example, “I’ve had a chance to think about/look into/research the question regarding X and my opinion/answer/thoughts are that…” Do not apologize for not knowing the answer, focus on the fact that you are expanding or clarifying the answer you gave.

Keep this answer brief and confident. Following up shows you pay attention to detail, and don’t like to leave loose threads hanging. These are important qualities for any job. It also helps to redeems a poor interview answer, helping to raise your chances of being a contender for the job.

You don’t have to be perfect!

Being able to correctly answer every difficult question an interviewer throws at you is great. Clearly you are a smart and knowledgeable person. But employers aren’t just looking for smarts – they are looking for personality, enthusiasm and passion. They are looking for capable people who are willing to learn. So don’t stress if you are stumped by a question, use this as an opportunity to show your personality.

Click to Apply Rates for Mobile Applications

There’s an interesting article on ere.net which describes a study on the impact of mobile recruiting on click to apply rates. One main conclusion of the article was that the more time-consuming a job application is to complete, the greater a chance mobile candidates will drop-off, or give up.

Application rates drop by a staggering 365 percent if an application takes more than 15 minutes to complete.

Essentially, the more questions an employer adds to their application process, the fewer candidates will take the time to complete it.

Some other important points:

  • Encouraging mobile applications is important, and the main reason for this is sourcing cost, which is greatly reduced with more mobile applicants as compared to desktop. Employers can double their applications simply by reducing the time required to apply.
  • While research shows that candidates want an easy mobile application process, they simply aren’t finding this. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that it is inherently more difficult to apply to a job on a small touchscreen.

Read the full article here >>

Why Cover Letters are Really Useful

Do you specifically ask for a cover letter from your job applicants? Some employers love them, and others couldn’t care less. Here are some reasons why the cover letter should always be a part of your hiring process.

They give information that isn’t shown in the resume alone. Candidates often use their cover letter to explain why they want to work at your company and what makes them stand out for the job. This is exactly the kind of insight you need to know, that won’t be found in a resume or simple objective line. Continue reading Why Cover Letters are Really Useful

Backing up Your Data: Why & How

Risks of losing data

Anyone who has used a computer for any amount of time has likely experienced data loss after an unexpected crash. You know firsthand how painful it is to lose that project you were working on, the document you were almost finished or even photos you just uploaded. On a personal level, missing a backup can be a minor aggravation, but on a company level, losing valuable data can have huge consequences.

Remember that your data is really only as good as your last backup. Without a backup and storage system in place, any system runs the risk of losing its information and becoming useless in the event of hardware failure or downtime. Continue reading Backing up Your Data: Why & How

5 Easy Ways to be an Attractive Employer

1. Be transparent about your hiring process

A very simple addition to the job posting is to add some details about the hiring process. When can applicants expect to hear back? When is the job expected to be filled by? These details help you appear organized and transparent, as well as understanding of applicants’ concerns. Even a rough timeline is better than leaving applicants completely in the dark.

2. List the company benefits & perks

Another quick few sentences in the job description will immediately boost your appeal as an employer. A list of the perks of working at a company is surprisingly rare to find in job postings, and give insight and encouragement to apply. If there is a full health or benefits package, this is an easy task, but even if there are no formal benefits, every company has its perks.

Consider listing items like flexible hours, dog-friendly days, bagel Wednesdays, drinks fridge or free coffee. It’s often the small details that give a company personality and make it more appealing.

3. Have an easy application process

No matter how wonderful your benefits are, any applicant will start to hate a company after spending over half an hour applying to a single job. Lengthy screening questions, personality tests, generic or unrelated questions and asking for too much information as part of the application process is a sure-fire way to lose applicants.

Instead, consider what information is most useful and pertinent to the role to initially screen applicants, and focus on that. Do you really need a list of references or why a candidate left their last 3 jobs to determine whether to phone-screen them? No.

4. Reply to all job applicants

This is one of the easiest ways to stand out above other employers: a simple rejection letter. Job applicants of all levels hate not knowing if they got the job or not. Should they hold on hope, for how long? Or should they just move forward? Sending a quick rejection email notifying applicants that you’ve moved on with other candidates is a nice courtesy, and one that leaves recipients with a good impression of you as an employer.

Set up an email template in your online system for this purpose, so it doesn’t have to be a chore.

5. Make your office space friendly

The interview stage is an opportunity for candidates to get an idea of your company culture and what it’s like to work there. Take a moment and pretend you are looking at your office for the first time. How welcoming and friendly is the atmosphere? Some items you may not have much control over (the lighting, the furniture, the cubicles), but some small, inexpensive changes can make a big difference. Consider adding plants and hanging or updating artwork. Here at HireGround we have a couple of walls covered in whiteboard paint: writing on walls is useful, colourful and fun.

Take a look at how this company decorated their walls with sticky notes.

Instead of quickly ushering interviewees into a closed room, take the ‘scenic route’ or give a quick tour of the space. Another nice touch is to introduce one or two key employees.

What are you doing to show you’re a great employer?