Sustainability (and such)

Jobs, interviews, more

Here are some thoughts about how to stand out in the job market.

And here are some thoughts about how to answer interview questions:

Question 1: Can you tell the panel why you want to work at XX corporation/organization?

Sample Answer: After reading the job description carefully I felt I was qualified for the position and was excited about the possibility of working for your company. On the surface, it seemed like the right fit for me – I would be able to use the skills I already have. So, I went on your website and did some research about your mission and the work you do. Now I know your company is the right fit for me – and I know this job will allow me to take my skills to the next level. Also, after researching your company, I believe the position I’m applying for will give me a window to be innovative, grow professionally and to be a part of this company for some time to come.

On a more personal level, I believe your company values are a match with my own and I would appreciate the opportunity to work at a company whose mission I can support fully and help to further. I want to be part of a team that is making a real difference in the work that it does. That’s very important to me.

Question 2: Can you describe for the panel how your skills match the duties outlined in the job description?

Sample Answer: First, let me say that, as evidenced in my resume and application, my educational background is a fit for the position. I have a degree in ____________ from _________________. Secondly, my skills match the duties of the position in that I am (THIS IS THE SPOT WHERE YOU REFERENCE THE JOB DESCRIPTION SPECIFICALLY AND POINT OUT THE MAJOR TASKS – THREE TASKS AT MOST SO YOU DON’T TAKE UP TOO MUCH TIME – AND HOW YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO PERFORM THEM).

For example, if one of the major tasks of the position is to send marketing materials to niche audiences, you might say: I understand a major task of this position is to write and submit press releases to local media outlets. My job history demonstrates that I have ample experience writing, editing, and submitting press releases. I have written press releases as part of my duties at my two previous jobs, and I am glad to provide you with writing samples. Also, I noticed that working collaboratively with outside organizations is another major task of the position. I want you to know that I see collaboration with outside entities as a critical part of the press release process, from start to finish. What I mean is, creating and sustaining solid and meaningful relationships with media contacts can be the difference in a press release being published or not, so I want to point out that I understand the value of building relationships and maintaining them.

Question 3: Describe a time when you experienced conflict with a co-worker. Tell the panel how you worked to resolve this conflict.


 For example, we all know what it’s like to experience miscommunication at work! The answer to this question might go something like this:

Yes, I had an experience with a co-worker at my previous job that taught me a great lesson in communication. We were working on a project we had agreed to do and I felt that I was doing the majority of the work. I felt my colleague had essentially bailed on the project. I let these feelings go for a couple of weeks, but the work kept piling on my desk. I wanted us to be successful so I finally decided that I needed to provide my colleague with feedback about my concerns. I asked her if we could talk, and she agreed.

During our conversation I was able to tell her that I felt I was taking on work that we had said we would do together, even though I admitted we really didn’t have a plan of action, and I was curious about her point of view. It was then that she told me she was struggling through a personal issue that was distracting her from her work, and she apologized. She also said she felt that our past discussions about the project were helpful but that she had a hard time with not having a written task list to help keep her moving forward – she said she did better work when she had something in front of her that was specific. I asked her if there was anything I could do to help her and to help us get our project completed.

We agreed that writing out a work plan that clearly outlined our responsibilities was the best idea. We both realized that we had to be responsible for our individual work load and agree to complete the work we signed on to do. Having the written outline really helped keep us both on track from that point and our project was a success. I felt I got my needs met – I was doing my share of the work that I had agreed to do – and I believe she got her needs met – she had a clear outline of her responsibilities and was therefore able to complete her part.


Question 4: This job entails a great deal of collaboration with other individuals and organizations. Describe for the panel your experience in a team environment.

Sample Answer: As evidenced in my resume, I have worked successfully in team environments throughout my career. While I believe I’m a self-starter, I can’t think of a job that one can do successfully or productively by oneself. We serve people, and we need people. It’s that simple. That’s what I like about your organization: my research of your company leads me to believe that yours is a company where teamwork thrives and is essential to the daily work of the office. That said, I have experience working on writing teams, production teams, and graphics teams (HERE AGAIN IS WHERE YOU GO BACK TO THE JOB DESCRIPTION AND PLUG YOUR EXPERIENCE). My thinking about team environments extends beyond the job description, however. For instance, while I believe that everyone ultimately must be responsible for his or her piece of the task at hand, it really does come down to relationships, and utilizing the strengths that each person brings to the table. I am believer in building relationships at all levels of the work. Good relationships help us to identify each person’s strengths and build off of them – that’s how good work becomes great work. Relationships are what get tight deadlines met. In all of this, critical to the success of team relationships are clear communications and clear expectations. When every member of the team makes a commitment to solid communication and expectations, and sticks to them, there are fewer mistakes and the whole team wins, and so does the company. It doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen, it just means you have more opportunity to avert them.

Question 5: Do you have any questions for us?

 Sample Answer: YES! YOU ALWAYS HAVE QUESTIONS! YOU WANT TO ENGAGE WITH THE INTERVIEW PANEL! REMEMBER: People remember people who ask questions! They want to see that you care about the job you may be getting!

The top questions may  include:

  • Can you tell me if this is a new or continuing position within the company?
  • If this is a continuing position: can you tell me how the position has evolved over time?
  • If this is a new position: can you tell me the company’s thinking behind creating this position? In other words, how did you come to conclusion you needed this position to help support your company?
  • Is there opportunity for growth within the company?
  • Can you tell me the next steps in the hiring process?
  • Do you have a start date in mind?

** NEVER INQUIRE ABOUT THE SALARY OR BENEFITS IN THE FIRST INTERVIEW – be patient, those questions come later, in the second interview or when the job offer is made to you.


GOOD LUCK!  And any questions:

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