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Interview Prep Tips

Amateur Resume Mistakes

Industry experts and eye-tracking studies agree that you have only a handful of seconds to make a good first impression with your resume. On average, recruiters and hiring managers spend only  six or seven seconds scanning a resume before deciding on what to do with it. In this tight window of time, small mistakes stand out. Makes sense to get rid of any amateur resume mistakes right?

Fortunately, the worst resume mistakes are also the easiest to avoid. Before applying to another position, check your resume against this list of avoidable mistakes. Then use Voomer to start prepping for the next step in the hiring process: interviews.

Not Using Spellcheck

Nothing ends up in the trash faster than a resume riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and misspellings. Spellcheck can catch most of these issues, so be sure to use it. But remember that running a basic spellcheck is the least you can do.

For a more thorough review, we recommend using Grammarly, a free online writing assistant with apps for Windows, Chrome, iOS, and Android. Grammarly’s free plan checks grammar, spelling, punctuation, conciseness, and tone. If you’d like a little extra help, Grammarly Premium offers tone suggestions, word-choice alternatives, and even full-sentence rewrites.

As great as Grammarly is, it’s still a good idea to manually proofread your resume. If you can get a couple of other people to look at it, too, all the better.

Omitting Contact Information

Your resume must feature your basic contact information. Otherwise, how will your potential new employer let you know you made the cut?

Fortunately, this section of your resume is pretty simple. Be sure to include both your email address and your phone number, at a minimum. Although you should include the city and state where you live, you do not need to list your full address.

Your contact information should be at the top of your resume, directly below your name. You can list all of your details on a single line, separated by vertical lines or interpuncts. Alternatively, you can use a multiline format that resembles the way contact details are listed at the top of a letter or the bottom of an email. If you have a LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, or personal website, it’s a good idea to include that, too.

Be sure to carefully review your contact information as part of your proofreading process. From a practical standpoint, there’s no difference between an error and an omission. Either one makes it impossible for an employer to schedule an interview with you.

Adding a Photo

Modeling and acting gigs aside, most job applications do not require a headshot. In fact, adding a photo to your resume can actually hurt your chances of being hired. 

Because employers’ hiring practices are subject to federal anti-discrimination laws, most recruiters are careful to avoid bias. Resumes with a photo make unconscious bias more likely, which in turn opens the door for a discrimination lawsuit. To avoid any appearance of discrimination, many recruiters immediately discard any resumes that include a headshot.

Beyond this, including a headshot can make you seem out of touch and distract from the substance of your resume. A photo also takes up valuable space that you could otherwise use to highlight your qualifications.

Choosing a Fancy Design

An eye-catching design might seem like a good way to stand out, but it’s more likely to harm your chances and distract from the body of your resume. Focus on optimizing your resume for applicant tracking system (ATS) software rather than trying to make it look cool.

Photos and other graphics can make it more difficult for an employer’s ATS to scan your resume and are a classic amateur resume mistake. Fancy templates, headers, and other unusual design elements can also interfere with the software.

To ensure that your resume makes it past the ATS screening, err on the side of boring and organized. Also, be sure to submit your resume as a PDF rather than an editable file type, such as a Word document or Google Doc with a .docx extension.

Cramming In Too Much

Many resume tips focus on what you should include on your resume: keywords from the job description, lots of action verbs, quantifiable results and accomplishments, details that are relevant to the job posting, and so on. However, it’s just as important to leave some empty space. If you cram in too much information, your resume will either be too long or too crowded to scan easily.

With that in mind, be selective about what you include. In many cases, less is more, so aim for one to two pages. Include enough details to highlight your qualifications without resorting to small fonts or cramped spacing. If you need to free up some space, start by excising information that is irrelevant or redundant. 

Forgetting to Trim or Remove Older Entries

When you first enter the workforce, you may have plenty of room to include several bullet points about each job in your work history and list all of your academic achievements. As time goes on, however, you may need to rethink some entries.

As time goes on, your work experience will begin to carry more weight than your educational background — especially if your most recent degree is decades old. Keep that in mind as you update your resume. Trim older entries to make room for your most recent and relevant experiences.

Using the Same Resume for Every Job

For the best results, update your resume every time you apply for a job. Highlight skills and experiences that line up neatly with the requirements listed in the job description. Incorporate keywords from the job posting, and do so in a way that sounds natural.

Remember that the best resume examples are deceptively simple. Although they feature a minimalist design, succinct bullet points, and plenty of white space, a lot of thought goes into creating them. Customizing your resume for each application takes time, but the extra effort is worth it.

Aim for a clear and concise resume that is error-free and easy to scan. By avoiding the mistakes above, you can ensure that your resume makes the most of that six-second window. 

Once your resume is ready, check out Voomer’s interview prep services. We use AI analysis, scientifically proven methods, and company-specific questions to help you prepare for your next video interview. Get started with a free evaluation today.

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Interview Prep Tips

Avoidable Resume Mistakes

Looking for a job, applying, and interviewing can be a daunting process. You’re likely to apply to dozens of positions, and even if you’re among the most qualified, you still have to make a good impression in a few short paragraphs with your resume. So stay clear of these avoidable resume mistakes!

The average recruiter spends six seconds scanning a resume before deciding it’s worth reading. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure yours is in tip-top shape and be ready for the interview process. 

A resume needs the right amount of information — not too much, and not too little. It should leave the reader wanting more — hopefully leading to a job interview.

As you’re applying for jobs, here are some tips to help you avoid resume mistakes that can turn off recruiters and keep yours at the top of the pile. Then, Voomer will help you ensure you’re ready to ace the interview process that your resume helps you land.

Contact Information

There’s no need to mention your full address on the resume. Only city and state are enough for recruiters to ascertain your location.

Don’t forget to add a professional email address and a working cellphone number.

Unless you’re targeting an artsy industry, don’t use graphics-heavy templates. They confuse readers — both humans and automated resume readers, commonly known as ATS.

Resume Sections

A resume has four main sections: executive summary, experience, education, and skills and interests.

Executive summary

Many job seekers are missing the biggest piece of the resume puzzle: the executive summary. This is a short paragraph in your resume that summarizes your value to a potential employer.

Do you remember the last time you read a book with a boring first page? Did you read the rest carefully, or did you skim it? The same thing happens when a recruiter reads resumes. If the first portion doesn’t grab them, the rest will likely be skipped over.

The executive summary shouldn’t be a block of text stating how or why you’re in a certain field. It should be two lines maximum. One line summarizing your career so far, and the second line stating what you want for the future. For example, ”I have 10 years of experience in a wide array of sales roles within the automotive industry. I believe I have the skills required for the next step in my career — a sales management role.”

Experience

The experience section of a resume is a key part of getting hired. But it can also be difficult to write. You want to highlight the past jobs you’ve held, but how can you explain the impact you made? Coming up with specific examples is the key to writing a great experience section.

Many job seekers have resumes that read like job descriptions because they are, quite simply, a collection of responsibilities. If you catch yourself writing “responsible for” anywhere, delete it.

Your resume should include quantifiable accomplishments and the positive results of your day-to-day work. 

For example, instead of:

  • Analyzed financial investments and reported to management.

Write:

  • Improved business competitiveness and leadership view of profitability by presenting insights on investment performance.

To do so, ask yourself the following questions:

  • External-facing result: Did you help acquire new business or improve client relations?
  • Internal-facing result: Did you revamp internal processes like employee hiring, warehouse organization, team collaboration, etc.?
  • Leadership: Did you coach/train/mentor/manage someone?

There are many ways to organize the experience section, but reverse chronological order is the most widely used and accepted. In this order, your most recent job comes first, followed by your second-last job, and so on. Organize your experience in bullet form for easier readability. Three bullet points are generally sufficient for each experience.

Many candidates mistakenly believe they have to mention every single professional experience, no matter how irrelevant or old. Instead, they should only mention the experiences relevant to their target industry.

Education

In your education section, add your degree major and if applicable, minor, name of the institution, and graduation year or anticipated graduation date. If you have a shining academic record, don’t hesitate to include your honors, GPA, and scholarship to impress your future employer.

What if you’re new to the workforce and don’t have much experience yet? Highlight your education section.

If you are starting your career, add in your extracurricular activities.

  • Were you part of any society?
  • Did you participate in notable social events or competitions?
  • Did you play sports?

Again, order this section reverse-chronologically and drop high school if you have an undergraduate degree.

Skills and Interests

Add in any volunteer work. More and more companies are using volunteer work as an indicator of candidate personality and a factor to judge their fit, especially for new graduates. Volunteer work shows that the candidate is more than a job seeker. Volunteerism can also become a vital source of proof of leadership and transferable skills for those without sufficient professional experience.

Add any certifications, courses, languages, etc. This helps the recruiter see your progression and gives the reader a sense of your growth as a professional. Just make sure it’s relevant to the job you’re targeting. For instance, some jobs prefer bilingual applicants due to a role’s responsibilities.

Add relevant hobbies. This is another way to instill personality and humanize a resume. A hiring manager is more likely to remember you as a hiker, guitarist, or dog lover. This typically works best for fresh graduates.

Conclusion

This is a tough time to be job hunting. But don’t let that stop you from pursuing your career goals. The job market will bounce back. After you’ve created a job-winning resume that secures you an interview, are you all set to ace it and land a great position?

Ditch expensive interview coaching services and try Voomer. Voomer is a free tool that provides questions specific to your target company and shares AI-powered but personalized feedback to your answers. Whether you’re preparing for your in-person or video interview, try our services here.

After you’ve written your resume, if you need a hand with your cover letter, we’ve got you covered!

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Interview Prep Tips

Job Interview Tips For You To Stand Out

Most recruiters today use structured interviews. They ask candidates the same set of questions to better gauge their responses. This provides a more objective way to compare and contrast job seekers based on their answers. It also means that you need great interview tips to beat these interviews!

That’s good news for those looking for employment because you can better prepare yourself to answer structured interview questions. There are proven ways to answer questions that can help increase your odds of getting hired.

Whether or not you take part in a structured interview, here are a few job interview tips to help you ace your interview. After you are done with this article, head over to Voomer so you can practice answering interview questions and you’ll get AI-powered feedback on your answers.

Do Your Research

You want to show your interviewer that you’ve done your homework. Fortunately, there is so much information available online that it’s easy to visit the company’s website and look at any recent news items and other information about it.

Research the values and principles of the company you’re applying to. Companies want to find people that fit their culture, so it helps when you know what that culture is. It can help you frame responses in a way that fits with the way they do business.

Study the job listing carefully. You’ll want to make sure you touch on the key requirements during your discussion to relate how your experience matches with what they need. You may want to make a note about specific keywords and phrasing, but it’s most important that you can share relevant examples that show you’re a good fit.

Start Strong and Watch Your Body Language

We’d all like to think we get hired on our merits and skills, but there are other factors at play. Many interviewers make up their minds quickly, picking up on subconscious signals that may impact their assessment. 

A third of interviewers say they know whether they plan to move forward with a candidate within the first 90 seconds of meeting them. That means, in less time than it takes to read this article, recruiters may have already made up their minds about you.

You need to start strong. That means being on time, being dressed properly, watching your body language, and being positive.

  • Make sure to maintain eye contact during in-person interviews.
  • During video interviews, look directly at the camera and limit any visual distractions around you.
  • Watch your posture and avoid nervous habits like touching your face or hair.
  • Smile and don’t be afraid to laugh! 
  • Be enthusiastic and energetic.

Use the STAR Method for Answering Questions

Here’s one of the most powerful tips for a successful interview. The STAR method is a structured way to respond that helps demonstrate your expertise. STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Try to think about your response in these terms. Describe a specific situation that you encountered and the goals of the task. Then, discuss the actions you took to meet those goals and the results. You want to show quantifiable results whenever possible.

For example, you might be asked what you would do to grow sales. Your answer might be something like:

  • Situation: In my current job, we’re focused on developing new business. We have aggressive goals, and I’ve been able to meet or exceed every one of them.
  • Task: I’m responsible for finding my own leads and making sure I always have my pipeline full.
  • Action: I set aside an hour every day to prospect and pre-qualify potential customers. Then I do a little online research before contacting them. While sales is a numbers game, you can’t afford to waste your time on prospects that aren’t a good fit for what you’re selling.
  • Result: I consistently bring in the most new business at my company. We have sales contests each quarter, and I’ve won them three out of the last few quarters.

Ask Intelligent Questions

At the end of the interview, you may be given a chance to ask questions. If so, have a few ready ahead of time. It’s another opportunity to demonstrate both your interest and your knowledge. A few sample questions might include:

  • Why is this position open?
  • If you could pinpoint one thing that would determine whether the person you hire will be great at their job, what would it be?
  • If you hire me, what goals would you want me to achieve in my first month, two months, or six months?
  • What is the biggest challenge for your company?
  • What do you love about working here?
  • What is the next step in your hiring process?

Don’t ask about things that you can answer yourself. If it’s public information or on the company’s website, you should know already.

After the Interview

When the interview is concluded, take a moment to thank the recruiter. This interview tip might seem corny, but they’ve invested their time in learning about you and you should show some appreciation. Sending a follow-up note or email thanking them and mentioning specifics from your conversation can make a big impression.

It sounds simple, but people rarely send thank-you notes for job interviews anymore. Doing so can help you stand out and reinforce the positive points from your interview.

Practice and Prepare to Be Your Best Self

You don’t want the first time you’re thinking of the right answer to be in front of the interviewer. Practice ahead of time by thinking about what types of questions will be asked and how to ace a job interview.

Especially in structured interviews, you’re likely to hear many of the same questions. Here are some of the more common ones, with links to some tips on how to answer them best.

This interview tip is key since it’s important to have answers ready that always come back to meeting company goals. This is where your research and preparation pay off.

Voomer can give you a significant advantage when you’ve got a crucial job interview lined up. Using scientifically proven methods and artificial intelligence-enhanced video analysis, you get instant video feedback on how you’re doing so you can refine your performance for when it matters most. 

Voomer also has interview questions from thousands of different companies so you can see the types of questions they’ve asked in the past. Start practicing today!

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Interview Prep Tips

The Guide to a Great Job Interview First Impression

A great interviewer comes to an interview with the basics already, having reviewed your resume and cover letter. They may have a positive impression of you, but the moment that cements this is the job interview first impression: You communicate many things in that first 60 seconds! 

Practicing for your interview with a service like Voomer can help you make the most of that critical first impression and feel natural while you do it.

Start With the Basics of a Job Interview First Impression

Punctuality

Being on time may not be particularly tough, but it’s worth the extra effort on interview day for those who struggle to get places on time.

Walking through the door calmly two minutes before your interview is a totally different impression than rushing through two minutes late.

Follow Dress Code or a Touch More Formal

It’s entirely fair to check in ahead of time about dress code expectations, but if you aren’t sure, default to a little more formal: a blazer and formal dress or a suit, even if it is a simple one, are likely to work well for most interview situations.

Following the dress code makes you more comfortable when you arrive.

You can also put attention into your clothes in ways that come across well: Choose clothes that fit you nicely, aren’t wrinkled or stained, and are comfortable enough for you not to fidget or adjust them.

Practice wearing them ahead of time if you worry about any of these possibilities.

Know About the Company and the Job

Coming through the door — or virtual waiting room — you want to know as much as possible about this job and the company.

One of the best ways to ease nerves and feel better about your upcoming interview is to know so much about the job description and the company’s website that you’ll be able to ask good questions and feel connected to everything the interviewer mentions. 

Minimize Distractions

It’s easy to look at your phone to check the time or a message, but checking your phone during that all-important first impression has an outsized impact.

Instead, turn your phone down before entering the building, and don’t look at it again until the interview is over. There are exceptions if you are waiting for a critical call, but recognize that being distracted by anything, phone included, can negatively affect your first impression.

Prepare for First Moments: How To Make a Job Interview Good First Impression

Good Eye Contact

From the start, make eye contact with your interviewer. If you’re used to looking away from people, practice before the day of, but making eye contact is one of the best ways to show someone you’re giving them your full attention.

Enthusiasm and Alertness

Enthusiasm doesn’t have to be putting an exclamation point at the end of everything you say, but rather just a fully attentive, awake attitude.

Coming to an interview visibly exhausted or distracted will come across poorly — as if the interview doesn’t matter to you — and that can be hard to come back from later in the interview.

Firm Handshake

Find a friend and practice “meeting” them for the first time. You want your handshake to be firm and brief but also natural and not a source of awkwardness.

Practice offering a handshake and greeting someone simultaneously — it may feel silly, but it’s way better to be practiced and comfortable for that key job interview first impression. 

Overall Positivity With Mirroring as Needed

While you don’t have to be thrilled with every detail of the job, you want to show positivity — or at least neutral pleasantness — about most of what is said in the interview.

If you come in with a frustrated look or a frown, your interviewer will be focused on that energy rather than on all your great qualities.

Of course, if your interviewer comes to the interview with negative energy, such as a downcast expression or sadness, you should and can mirror them, asking if they are alright.

Positivity is the default for interviews, but mirroring (showing you are noticing the other person’s mood) can also help if, for some reason, your interviewer isn’t coming to the experience in a positive headspace. 

Sustain Your First Impression

Confidently Discuss Your Background With a Strengths Focus

One of the most important things to remember in an interview is that you are the expert on your experiences, and you know what made this job seem like a good fit.

You aren’t here to prove you’re the best at something, but rather that your unique combination of training and experience will fit this job perfectly.

As such, discuss your accomplishments confidently and turn any setbacks into lessons you’ve learned that make you a well-rounded candidate.

Use the STAR Method To Offer Thorough Responses Without Rambling

Interviewees often use the STAR method to answer questions: it stands for Situation, Task at hand, Action you took, and Result.

Learning how to tell work-related anecdotes this way does two things. First, it makes it very easy for the interviewer to see your role in a given situation and helps you not to ramble or clam up during an interview. 

Practicing interview questions using this structure will help ensure you’ll answer with all relevant details — and without going on for too long. 

Ready To Practice Job Interview First Impressions? Meet Voomer

The importance of the first interaction can sometimes make people nervous about interviewing for a job. We all feel more comfortable when we’ve practiced a little more, and Voomer is the perfect platform to practice and do interview prep. 

We help job searchers like yourself to feel confident and easygoing so you can focus on sharing your unique story with your interviewer. Powered by AI and with lots of customization, Voomer is ready to help you become truly interview-ready. 

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Interview Prep Tips

Why you weren’t hired

Bad interviews are not always your fault.

Getting your job application rejected is not always because of what you did or said.

Sometimes the interviewer (or interviewers) bungle the interview so badly, even the most qualified candidate will flunk out.

How do you identify an interview that is going South? How fix it in time, so that your application is still seriously considered?

After 20 years working as a hiring manager across several industries, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of interviews. Let’s go through several train wrecks of an interview.

Later on, I highly recommend checking out Voomer. It is an AI-powered interview preparation system which you can try for free and get instant feedback on your answers. So on your next interview – you’ll be prepared!

Interviews rely on first impressions

About one third of interviewers decide whether a job applicant is fit for a job within the first 90 seconds of the interview.

Unfortunately for those interviewers, first impressions are not the best predictors of future job performance.

What is a good predictor of future job performance is how job applicants performed in the past. Unlike financial products, for people past performance definitively is indicative of future results!

So how do you hit it out of the park during those crucial first seconds? Research shows the following:

  • Make eye contact: Two thirds of interviewers say not making eye contact is a common mistake
  • Non-verbal confidence: When meeting new applicants, on average 55% of the first impression an interviewers gets comes from how the person walks through the door and acts during those first crucial seconds.
  • Appearance:  Two thirds of interviewers claim that clothes will be the deciding factor between two identical candidates. What this means is that you have to dress for the job. Find out what the dress code is for the company and industry you are applying to and adhere to that.

There is very little you can do here but “play the game” to check all of the subconscious boxes that the interview probably has in their mind.

Infographic with interviewer data
Interviewers usually make snap decisions

Interviews overwhelmingly rely on human judgement

You might think “wait, aren’t all interviews reliant on human judgement”?

Well yes and no.

Interviews are – by their very nature – conducted by humans that ask questions, listen to and interpret the answer. Then they’ll pass judgement on that answer. Unfortunately, relying solely on human judgment is only slightly better than flipping a coin.

If you are an interviewer and all you know about the applicant was discovered during the interview itself, the probability that the interviewer will choose the better qualified of two candidates is a frighteningly low 56%.

Avoid this by using structured interviews, where the same questions are asked to multiple candidates, allowing for a better comparison between them.

Unfortunately, you have little to no influence on how the interview will be conducted!

Therefore, if your interviewer is clearly playing things by ear and not following a pre-determined structure, take charge of the interview.

Proactively suggest the questions you want to answer. If the initial ice breaking session is taking too long, introduce yourself with a executive summary of your career or explain why you want to work at that organization.

Panel interviews aren’t any better

Many organizations claim to conduct better, fairer interviews by running panel interviews – where two or more people interview an applicant.

The theory is that multiple interviewers will listen to your answer, and therefore it more likely that the interviewers will agree on the “truth”, rather than just what they remember hearing.

However, the science says otherwise.

Adding as many interviewers as one might like does not make a better interview.

A paper published in the Journal of Business Research shows that adding two or more interviewers makes no difference when choosing the best qualified candidate for a job.

So what do you do when there are multiple interviewers at your interview?

The paper discusses how the most experienced interviewers tend to have better hit rates than less experienced interviews – who also tend to defer to the judgment of their seniors.

Therefore, focus your attention on the interviewer that appears to be the most senior, make most of your eye contact with that person and do everything you can so that your answers to their questions are outstanding.

Interviewers that rely on pseudoscience

“If you could be an animal, which would you be?”

“What is your favorite color?”

“Which football team do you cheer for?”

Questions like these are painfully common in job interviews.

Interviewers that ask them generally reply with pseudoscientific justifications when challenged on why they insist on using those questions in a job interview.

Those questions – and their answers – have no bearing on anyone’s ability to perform any job to any level of satisfaction.

Person frustrated at interview question
Being asked silly interview questions can be exhausting

Asking questions similar to the ones listed above are a dangerous and lazy crutch that un prepared interviewers will use in the place of well thought out, insightful, open ended questions.

Even asking the job applicants to answer personality type questionnaires is of dubious value . Including established tests like the MBTI questionnaire will return completely different results depending on when a job applicants answers them.

If your interviewer asks a similar question – quickly identify and challenge it. Mention that you aren’t sure how that question relates to your ability to perform the job and talk about something that is relevant to the job.

Interviews that use brain teasers

“How many ping pong balls fit in a bathtub?”

Closely related to the previous point about pseudoscience, interviewers that quiz job applicants on questions that resemble brain teasers are doing themselves and the applicant a disservice.

Questions like the example above also have no bearing on a job applicant’s performance.

Many interviewers still like to use questions like that to catch out applicants and make them uncomfortable.

If your interviewer tries something like that and they really want you to answer the question, just focus on the process.

There are no right answers, so go through how you’d answer the question. Use analogies and comparisons to things you know (for example, you think 30 ping pong balls will fit in a gallon, and you guess there are 100 gallons in a bathtub, so 3000 ping pong balls will fit in a bath tub).

Interviews that gather impressions rather than data

If your interview feels like a conversation, with little or no structure or clearly defined questions – you might be falling into a situation where the interviewer is mostly collecting impressions rather than data. That means you are in an unstructured interview.

Structured interviews, on the other hand, are where the interviewer asks all candidates the same questions. On top of that, they assess candidates using the same method and take contemporaneous notes. Structures interviews are up to twice as effective at predicting job performance than unstructured interviews.

So what should you do when faced with an interview that feels like an unstructured conversation?

When the interviewer begins wrapping up, proactively close with a short statement of why you would be great for the job. That places a clear and organized list into the interviewers mind – sneaking structure into the interview.

Interviews that don’t verify hard knowledge

Many jobs require hard skills to perform effectively and/or efficiently. Those can be skills such as programming, scientific knowledge, knowledge and certifications regarding business processes, etc.

If your interviewer does not test or ask about hard skills – be weary!

They are probably relying on their own impressions rather than hard data collected in the interview.

So if an interviewer does not ask questions about your hard skills, what do you do? And what do you do when these hard skills are a core part to performing the advertised role effectively?

When the interviewer is wrapping up, bring up the qualifications or certificates you have which would allow you to perform the advertised job.

That way, you inject a degree of structure and verifiability into the interview, setting you apart from the other applicants.

Getting ready for your next interview

Interviewers have many hidden biases despite all the training they might have received. These biases cause a disconnect between perception and reality. If you haven’t played your cards right, those biases will work against you.

So what should the job applicant that really wants to shine through do?

Practice, practice and more practice.

Next time you have an interview coming up, give Voomer a try and practice for your interview. Voomer is free to try and you’ll get instant AI-powered feedback on your answers.

Voomer has interview questions for thousands of different companies so you can practice on past and present questions.

Practice will help you project the best version of yourself and ensure you can land that dream job!

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Interview Prep Tips

How to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”

Introduction on how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”

Job seekers frequently ask me how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses”. This classic job interview question is still very popular among recruiters, hiring managers and HR – so it is definitively worth taking a minute to prepare. This article will cover everything you need to know about how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses” so that you outshine the competition. After you are done reading, practice your answers at Voomer, so you can get free AI-powered interview prep and land that dream job.

Strengths – What your answer should communicate

The best answer to the first part of the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question should communicate one thing, and one thing only:

  • A competency of yours that aligns with the hiring organization’s values or competencies

Think of it this way – recruiters and hiring managers ultimately are trying to tick boxes during an interview. If you offer the information they are looking for on a silver platter, the chances of them ticking the necessary boxes and moving you onto the next stage of the job application process shoot up significantly. Search for the hiring organization’s values and competencies on their website and work those into your answer. Examples of values and competencies include:

  • Customer focus
  • Data analysis
  • Attention to detail
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • And many more

Find the ones that matter most to the hiring organization and build your answer around them. Keep scrolling to view some example answers.

Weaknesses – What your answer should communicate

The best answer to the second part of the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question should communicate two things:

  • Your weaknesses are consequences of being great at something else
  • You are aware of your weaknesses and work to address them

If you cover those two items, your application will be stronger after you answer the “what is your weakness” question! In case you want to deliver an absolutely stellar answer, ensure you use the STAR method. That will keep your answer on track and make the interviewer’s life easier. Below are some example answers that will help illustrate the above points.

Example “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” answers

These example answers to “what are your strengths and weaknesses” are meant to inspire you and help you figure out a strong answer for you. Everyone’s career was built differently, so use the concepts shown below rather than copying something that doesn’t apply to you. A half-decent interviewer will quickly pick up on an answer that does not make sense.

Strength example 1: Innovation

“After visiting a trade show, I realized there were two technologies we used in our manufacturing processes but we could also adapt and combine them in a certain way to work with a department we always had productivity issues. The end result of using this technology in a new way was an increase in productivity of 30%!”

Strength example 2: Perseverance

“We needed to change our customer acquisition system to a more financially sustainable model. We started dabbling with YouTube videos but the first ones were terrible flops. However, we learned from the experience and made gradual improvements to our videos and today organic acquisition is how the business is powered.”

Strength example 3: Teamwork

“Different departments were only interested in their own departmental goals, not caring about the broader picture. I developed a program where once every two weeks people from non client facing departments would join the sales team on customer calls. It quickly became clear to many that we needed to have a stronger outward looking perspective on the business. We’ve adapted our processes as a consequence of that and today customers much happier.”

Weakness example 1: Not asking for help

“When I am given a task at work, my attitude is that is has to be done no matter what – and with the resources initially allocated. This means that sometimes if the task was harder or more complex that anticipated, I have a tough time asking for help and more resources. I’m working on this issue by giving myself a deadline to accomplish a task. If the task hasn’t been completed by that deadline, then I’ll ask a manager for help”. Why is this a strong answer: Despite the fact that the candidate reveals a weakness, that weakness also reveals very desirable attitudes – initiative, determination and grit. The candidate also makes it clear that this is an issue that they are working on and have already put systems in place to solve the issue.


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Weakness example 2: Impatience

“On occasion I don’t like the way a project is going and I get very impatient with our execution. This results in some tense meetings where I want to see results sooner rather than later. I’ve been working on this by recognizing that some strategies take time to bear fruit”. Why is this a strong answer: The candidate recognizes that impatience is a problem for them. However, they frame it in a way that demonstrates being extremely goal-orientated. That is a fantastic quality that any organization would love to have in all its employees.

Weakness example 3: I bit off more than I can chew

“I love taking on complex tasks that test the limits of my capabilities. Unfortunately that usually leaves me scrambling for more information or help from others so that we can deliver on time. I’ve been working on developing my capabilities BEFORE taking on challenging tasks!” Why is this a strong answer: The candidate revels a weakness but frames it in a way that demonstrates a massive amount of initiative. Interviewers love candidates with initiative since that skill is very hard to develop in people.

Next steps for you

Now that you know a couple of examples, it is time for you to try answering the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question yourself with examples that pertain to you. Head over to Voomer where you can get AI-powered feedback on your answers and prep on questions for thousands of other organizations and land that dream job!

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Interview Prep Tips

How to answer “why do you want to work here?”

How to answer “why do you want to work here?”

If you are a cynic like me, hearing this question during an interview can be exasperating. But the truth is that you are more likely than not to be asked that question – and you better nail the answer.

A strong answer to the “why do you want to work here” question will set you apart from all other applicants.

This article will explain everything you need to know about this question and we’ll go over some of the best example answers out there so you can understand how to make your answer shine.

After you are done reading this article, make sure to practice answering this question for free at Voomer – where you’ll get AI-powered feedback on your answer so you can land that dream job!  

 

Why do interviewers ask this question?

While you might be desperate just to get an offer, employers have lots of job applicants to choose from.

So it makes perfect sense for them to find out who is the best fit for the organization and the specific role.

Their job is to find someone that will excel at their job and stick around for a long time. Weeding out people who applied just because LinkedIn or some other platform made it easy is essential, and the “why do you want to work here” question does the trick.

What your answer should communicate

Your answer’s job is to make you a more desirable candidate after your answer the question! When you prep for this question, you should communicate the below points, that you are:

  • A good fit for the organization
  • A good fit for the role
  • Want to excel at this role
  • Plan to stay at that organization for a reasonably long time

If your answer covers all – or most – of those points, your answer will be very strong.

Best example answers to “why do you want to work here?”

Since each person’s career is wildly different, don’t just copy these answers and use them yourself. Any half-decent interviewer will see through a stock answer.

Use the examples below to get inspired for when you think about how you’d answer the “why do you want to work here” question!

Ensure you answer using the STAR method. This helps keep your answer on track and makes the interviewer’s life easier!

Example 1: Admiration

“I want to work here because this organization, in my opinion, is the best at brand management. Everywhere I’ve worked before has brought up innovations developed by this organization as examples to be followed.”

Why this is a strong answer: This answer shows the interviewer that you actually know something about the organization and that working there would give you a sense of pride and belonging.

Example 2: Personal growth

“I want to work here because I believe my skills are being under utilized at my current employer. Working here will allow me to put my proven skills to work and bring a lot more value to the organization”.

Why this is a strong answer: Show the interviewer you are ambitious and welcome new responsibilities. This tells them you are going to be a force for positive change and growth at the organization, which is something very hard to develop organically and therefore is a highly sought after skill.

Example 3: Values

“I want to work here because this organization’s values really resonate with me. I’ve struggled to find a place where I feel like I am building something meaningful for society and the organization’s consumers. Your clear values (make sure you list them!) resonate with me and working here would be

Why this is a strong answer: This is an answer interviewers love to hear. Not only does it show them you took the time to research the organization, you tell them that your values are highly aligned with the organization’s. This usually means that you’ll be a happy, motivated employee.


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We’ve not been able to send you a Question Bank, but at Voomer you can start practicing with these questions now.

Next steps

Now that you know how to frame your answer, make sure you practice answering this question for free at Voomer.

You’ll get AI-powered feedback on your answers so you can quickly improve and land that dream job!

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Interview Prep Tips

What is your weaknesses – best answer for job interviews

What is your weakness – best answer

This staple of job interview questions invariably sends the majority of job applicants into a panic. You are being asked to deliberately shoot yourself in the foot!

Unless you’ve prepared for this question beforehand, chances are you’ll fall into this question’s trap and do just that.

This article goes into how you should think about answering “what is your weakness” and a couple of best answer examples so that you end up as a stronger candidate after answering the question!

After you’ve read this article, head over to Voomer, where you can practice for free on this question and others for 1,000’s of different companies and get AI-powered feedback on your answers to quickly improve and land your dream job!

Why is this question asked?

This question is asked thousands of times every day by recruiters and hiring managers, but the sad truth is that this is a very outdated question.

“What is your weakness” is a lazy way for the interviewer to identify your weak spots as a job applicant.

There are far more sophisticated ways to find out that information that reduce the probabilities that a job applicant will add their spin to the answer – which is exactly what I’m going to show you how to do!

What your answer should communicate

The best answers to “what are your weaknesses” should communicate two things:

  • Your weaknesses are consequences of being great at something else
  • You are aware of your weaknesses and work to address them

If you cover those two items, your application will be stronger after you answer the “what is your weakness” question!

In case you want to deliver an absolutely stellar answer, ensure you use the STAR method. That will keep your answer on track and make the interviewer’s life easier.

What is your weakness: best example answers

These example answers to “what is your weakness” are meant to inspire you and help you figure out a strong answer for you.

Everyone’s career was built differently, so use the concepts shown below rather than copying something that doesn’t apply to you.

A half-decent interviewer will quickly pick up on an answer that does not make sense.

Example 1: Not asking for help

“When I am given a task at work, my attitude is that is has to be done no matter what – and with the resources initially allocated. This means that sometimes if the task was harder or more complex that anticipated, I have a tough time asking for help and more resources. I’m working on this issue by giving myself a deadline to accomplish a task. If the task hasn’t been completed by that deadline, then I’ll ask a manager for help”.

Why is this a strong answer: Despite the fact that the candidate reveals a weakness, that weakness also reveals very desirable attitudes – initiative, determination and grit. The candidate also makes it clear that this is an issue that they are working on and have already put systems in place to solve the issue.

Example 2: Impatience

“On occasion I don’t like the way a project is going and I get very impatient with our execution. This results in some tense meetings where I want to see results sooner rather than later. I’ve been working on this by recognizing that some strategies take time to bear fruit”.

Why is this a strong answer: The candidate recognizes that impatience is a problem for them – but frames it in a way that demonstrates that they are extremely goal-orientated. That is a fantastic quality that any organization would love to have in all its employees.

Example 3: I bite off more than I can chew

“I love taking on complex tasks that test the limits of my capabilities. Unfortunately that usually leaves me scrambling for more information or help from others so that we can deliver on time. I’ve been working on developing my capabilities BEFORE taking on challenging tasks!”

Why is this a strong answer: The candidate revels a weakness but frames it in a way that demonstrates a massive amount of initiative – a highly sought after skill that is very hard to develop in people.


Your question bank sample is on the way! You can practice live now at https://tryvoomer.com!
We’ve not been able to send you a Question Bank, but at Voomer you can start practicing with these questions now.

Next steps

Now that you know the general idea of how to answer these questions, head over to Voomer to practice for free.

You can practice on questions for thousands of companies and get AI-powered feedback to quickly improve and land that dream job!

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Interview Prep Tips

How to explain a gap in your resume

We’ve all been there

How to explain a gap in your resume is a skill that everyone should know. 59% of Americans will take a break from the workforce at some point in their careers – either voluntarily or involuntarily.

When you’re back to interviewing for a job and you have a gap in your resume, odds are the hiring manager will want to know why.

This question should not give you any anxiety or diminish your chances of landing the job. In this article we’ll discuss why employers freak out over gaps in resumes, what you should always keep in mind and example answers according to your circumstances.

By the way, if you want to practice for your interview Voomer is a great tool where you’ll get instant, AI-powered feedback on your answers for free!

Why employers hate resume gaps

Picture yourself as the employer for a moment. You’ll certainly have limited resources to source, screen, select, hire and train a new employee, so what do you do?

Play it safe. Playing it safe is the name of the game for hiring mangers, because the last thing they want to do is waste time on someone that won’t work out.

They don’t know if that gap in your resume is due to some understandable personal reason or because you were in prison for murder!

It is your job to explain any gaps in your resume in a way that enhances your job application – we’ll show you how.

What applies to everyone

Regardless of the reasons you have for a gap in your resume, you have to do the following:

  • Own the gap in your resume – When properly explained, a gap in your resume will actually improve your chances of getting hired! Don’t blame others for your problems, always frame things as under control (see examples below).
  • Tell the truth – Don’t hide any gaps in your resume, the truth will eventually come out when the employers ask for references.
  • Remember you aren’t alone – 59% of Americans have some sort of gap in their resume. Chances are most of the top applicants to a role will have to explain a gap in their resume!
  • Use the STAR method to organize your answer to the interviewer’s challenge.  The STAR method keeps you on track and makes the interviewer’s life easy when listening to the answer.

Let’s look at some reasons for temporarily leaving the workforce and how you should position your answer to enhance your chances of getting hired.

You tried, but couldn’t find a job

We are surrounded by success stories – how you should always earn more, get promoted every so often and “keep up with the Joneses”.

The truth is that most people will involuntarily leave their jobs at some point – either because they were fired for a reason specific to them or through a major corporate re-organization (or bankruptcy!).

Unless you are exceedingly lucky, odds are you spent a few weeks or months unemployed – potentially even a year or more.

Depending on your specific circumstances, the following framings will help you answer confidently:

  • You are looking for a company where you have a great cultural match
  • Have a very clear idea of what you want next for your career and the right opportunity hasn’t materialized yet (until now of course!)
  • You feel like your skill set has surpassed your past job description and are looking for a job with more responsibilities (which takes more time!). Just keep in mind you’ll have to back this claim up!

You needed a break

The “daily grind” can wear any of us down. Sometimes you just need a break to rebalance and recover from a particularly bad spell at work and that is perfectly understandable.

Let’s look at example ways to frame a gap in your resume simply because you were on a break:

  • You wanted to re-assess whether your career to date was on the right track (perhaps you thought of changing roles). Doing so while caught up in the midst of the intense day-to-day of a job is not always feasible
  • Your previous employer crossed a line you could not accept. Unfortunately, while not necessarily breaching labor laws, workplace toxicity is still widespread within many companies. Showing you have principles and don’t deal with unacceptable behavior shows your interviewer you are a stand up person
  • Talk about the things you’ve learnt on your break. Just because you were on a break doesn’t mean you didn’t grow
  • Ensure you tell your interviewer how you were happy with the break and you are now ready to jump back into the workforce – and won’t need another break

You had to take care of your family

Family emergencies happen all the time and most people will prioritize their loved ones over a job.

This is how you should explain a gap in your resume due to family issues:

  • This issue rarely needs a deep explanation. Employers understand personal issues might come up where you need to drop everything
  • The main thing you need to communicate is that the issue that drove your employment gap is now either resolved or there are arrangements in place so that you can re-join the workforce

You had a health issue

Similar to the above point health emergencies happen all the time and most people will prioritize their health over a job.

This is how you should explain a gap in your resume due to health issues:

  • This issue rarely needs a deep explanation. Employers understand health issues might come up where you need to drop everything
  • The main thing you need to communicate is that the issue that drove your employment gap is now either resolved or there are arrangements in place so that you can re-join the workforce

You went back to school

This is probably the easiest resume gap to explain. Finishing or continuing your education is generally viewed positively by hiring managers, simply because that shows you have long term planning.

  • Explain that you went back to school to accomplish a particular goal (either fill skill gaps, switch to a career that appeals more to you, unlock a potential promotion, etc)
  • If you didn’t leave the workforce to join a “regular” school but a training course (either online or in-person), the same rationale applies
  • Focus on how you plan to use the new skills you acquired

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You were freelancing

Freelancers have resume gaps all the time due to the nature of their work.

The best way to deal with this is to explicitly state that freelancing involves times of barley any work and times that you have so much work you need to turn inquiries away!

You can also avoid this issue entirely by adding a blanket entry in your resume where you mention you were freelancing.

Your next steps

When the interviewer challenges you on the gaps in your resume – confidently own the gap.

  • Be truthful about the gap.
  • Sound like a person in demand that knows what they want.
  • Come across as a person on a mission.
  • The past is the past, you want to talk about the future.

If your interviewer understands that your employment gap was reasonable and that the odds of that happening again are minimal, you’ll probably do just fine on the interview!

To give yourself that extra confidence boost, head over to Voomer.

You can practice for free on questions for thousands of companies and get instant, AI-powered feedback on your answers so you can quickly improve and land that dream job!

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Interview Prep Tips

STAR method: The job interview cheat code

Introduction – Why the STAR method matters

It is easier than ever to land a job interview invitation these days due to the massive labor shortages just about every industry faces. So why does the STAR method even matter? Simply because the most desirable companies and organizations are still incredibly difficult to get into. 

You need to ace all steps of the recruiting and vetting process until an offer lands in your inbox. The STAR method is an easy to learn and incredibly effective way to organize your job interview responses. Not using it is a handicapping yourself versus the competition – the best of which will definitively use the STAR method.

Once you are finished with this article, take a look at Voomer, a place where you can practice for your interview for free, get used to the STAR method and get AI-powered feedback on your answers so you can land that dream job.

When do I use the STAR method?

Whenever you are being interviewed – seriously! And that applies to all types of interviews:

  • Phone screens
  • Text message interviews
  • One-way interviews (like HireVue, Sonru, Pymetrics, etc)
  • Face-to-face interviews (either in person or through something like Zoom)
  • Panel interviews

 

The trick is to know what questions are the best to deploy this method. You’ll face several types of questions in an interview – such as motivational, technical, attitude, and behavioral questions – but not all require using the STAR method.

In fact, for some of those question types, it is better not to use the STAR method at all – use this method mostly on behavioral questions for maximum impact.

Behavioral questions are what most recruiters and hiring managers at top organizations use to assess job applicants.

What is a behavioral question?

A behavioral question is one that tries to understand how you’ve handled certain situations or circumstances. They should be based on past events and therefore completely grounded in facts.

If you’ve been through an interview before, behavioral questions are the ones that typically begin with “tell me about a time…”. Below are a few behavioral question examples:

  • Tell me about a time you improved something
  • Describe a time you took a risk
  • Tell me about a time you were overwhelmed with responsibilities

Do not even think of making up something on the spot or stretching the facts of your answer. A well-trained recruiter or hiring manager can easily pick out inconsistencies across your entire application. Probing questions are bound to uncover exaggerations.

The STAR method is the best method to approach those questions since the STAR method structure helps to keep you on track and answer everything that the recruiter is looking for.

What is the STAR method?

The STAR method is a framework that breaks down your answer into four steps:

  • S – Situation
  • T – Task
  • A – Action
  • R – Results

Situation – The first section of your answer should describe the situation you faced. Usually, this is a sub-optimal situation, either with angry customers, declining numbers, a disorganized workspace, low productivity, etc.

Task – Here you’ll explain what tasks you were assigned to resolve the above situation. Keep in mind that you could have thought up and assigned the task yourself if you were unhappy with the above situation – that helps to show initiative!

Action – Describe the actions you took to achieve the tasks and resolve the situation. If you had to do several things, focus only on the most important, most impactful, and most interesting actions.

Results – In the final section of the STAR method, wrap up your answer by talking about the results of your actions. Did you achieve the results you set out to accomplish? If not, what would you have done differently? Let’s take a look at some example questions and answers that use the STAR method effectively:

Answer example 1:

Let’s take a look at some example questions and answers that use the STAR method effectively:

Question 1: Tell me about a time you improved something.

Situation: I was transferred to a new department where sales had been stagnant for years. Management did not believe in the product anymore. To make matters worse, that department wasn’t well funded.

Task: My director tasked me with figuring out a way to increase sales – without using any new investment.

Action: I set up meetings with our largest distributors to understand what their concerns were. After talking to them, it was clear that our promotional strategy was completely out of synch with the market. I re-balanced our existing promotional budget.

Result: Our numbers immediately started going up. Our distributors were so happy that they brought forward more initiatives they believed would improve sales. Those are currently being worked on!

Answer example 2:

Let’s take a look at some example questions and answers that use the STAR method effectively:

Question 2: Describe a time you took a risk

Situation: At the private equity fund I worked at, returns were low since we only invested in very mature businesses. My department was in a particularly perilous situation after a technological change had sent one of our portfolio companies into bankruptcy.

Task: I had to improve returns immediately as well as compensate for the shortfall of the bankrupt portfolio company. However, using the usual methods would not work.

Action: I decided to go against the fund’s usual way of doing business and found several promising crypto start-ups. Highly risky but with a high reward potential. I made small investments in those start-ups.

Result: Most of the start-ups went bankrupt, however one increased in value tremendously and helped me achieve my objectives. My boss was intrigued by what happened. Following my recommendation, we set up a venture arm that is better equipped to take on those sorts of risks.

Answer example 3:

Let’s take a look at some example questions and answers that use the STAR method effectively:

Question 3: Tell me about a time you were overwhelmed with responsibilities

Situation: I had a new research assistant at the lab who took care of critical steps in our quality assurance program. Unfortunately, that person was unable to work at the standard the lab demanded and was responsible for many careless mistakes.

Task: I took it upon myself to re-train that person up to our lab’s standards on top of my regular responsibilities.

Action: Together with the research assistant, we discussed which areas they thought should be addressed first. We designed several checklists and scheduled various training to remedy their shortcomings. Unfortunately, that person would call in sick on days we had training schedules or simply not show up. I had to take on their responsibilities as well as mine, which was overwhelming and risked affecting our delivery schedule.

Result: I decided to ask my supervisor to fire that person. I also volunteered to lead a process that would re-vamp our hiring practices so that we would only hire capable people, interested in working at our lab. My next research assistant also needed some training, but within a few weeks they were operating at an acceptable level and we were able to maintain our delivery schedules.

STAR method tips:

Use these tips to maximize your chances of acing the job interview:

  • Before the interview, think of several interesting things that happened during your career and write them down
  • For each example, break down what you did into situation, task, action, and results
  • Practice answering job interview questions with the STAR method on a free platform like Voomer
  • During the interview, keep an eye out for any question that is best answered using the STAR method!
  • Answer the questions talking about what YOU did! Not your team, not your manager, not your direct reports. You are being interviewed, not the people you used to work with!
  • Balance your answers. Don’t spend all your time describing the situation only to race through the results!

Conclusion and final tips

Follow the steps outlined above and you’ll come across to the recruiters and hiring managers as a well-prepared candidate, a cut above the rest. Make sure you do lots of practice runs to familiarize yourself with the STAR method.

You can do this using AI at any time of the day. Voomer is a great way to get that practice since it was built from the ground up with this scenario in mind.

Voomer has past and present interview questions for thousands of companies. You’ll also get AI-powered feedback on your answers to quickly improve and land that dream job!