Questions to Ask During a Job Interview

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Gone are the days of the job interview that feels more like an interrogation than a conversation. Job interviews aren’t about answering the questions asked of you with little to no color or interaction. The job interview is a two way street. It’s a conversation, between a candidate and a company, trying to determine if there is a good fit.

Let me say this loud and clear:

You are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again. We spend more time at work than we do with our friends and family. Therefore, we need to be darn sure that the job we’re interviewing for and the company we’re interviewing with are really, really good fits for us!

I get it, not every job is your dream job. And not every opportunity is the perfect fit for you. But it needs to serve a purpose or be part of the bigger picture to get you where you want to go! If it doesn’t, then don’t waste your time. I mean this sincerely. Do not take a job or a role that doesn’t fit into you big picture goals, just to get out of a job that you don’t love. Nine times out of ten, it won’t be worth the trouble. I speak from experience.

When you go in for an interview, I recommend having at least 10 questions prepared to ask about the role, the company, the hiring manager, your peers, and the opportunity. I recommend 10, because a few of your questions are likely to be answered during the interview. And it is okay to ask your prepared questions throughout

the conversation.

When the conversation comes back to you, and you’re asked “what questions can I answer for you?” it’s important that you still have a few questions left to ask. One, it shows that you’re interested and putting a lot of thought into your next role. Two, it shows that you’re not willing to take just any offer. Those are two really important factors when you’re interviewing for new roles.

What kind of questions should you be be asking?

It will differ from role to role and industry to industry, but overall, the questions should be around your work, your work environment, and any outstanding questions you have about the company. The goal is to have enough information to make a thoughtful, well-prepared, and educated decision.

I don’t mean questions about benefits, salary, work hours, or other details about the job –  I mean real questions that help you pull back the curtain on what life really looks like at this company.

Here is a list of questions that I suggest, that can be tailored to your world specifically:

  1. What is your favorite thing about working here?
  2. Why is this role available? Did someone leave or get promoted?
  3. What is the most important attribute for someone in this role?
  4. What is the biggest challenge people in this role face?
  5. What kind of training and development is available at this company?
  6. What are the opportunities for advancement in this role?
  7. What is the average tenure of someone in this role?
  8. How would you describe the culture here?
  9. Who would I be reporting to? What is that person’s role?
  10. What is your hiring process for this role? What is the timeline for you to make a change?

These are just examples and are by no means written in stone! For instance, if you can find out who the hiring manager is online, I suggest you do that, versus ask the question during the interview. It will show that you did your homework.

The biggest thing that I stress here is to be sure you’re having a conversation with the interviewer and that you’re checking the boxes on your end as well. It’s even more critical when you’re weighing multiple offers or opportunities.

Good luck!


Take ALL of your Paid Time Off!

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When people look at changing companies or changing jobs – there are plenty of factors that come into play, right? Does the company fit the values that are important to me? Does the role challenge me and make me better? Will the environment help me grow as a person and a professional? All super important things and buzz words used in job descriptions across the web.

It’s like we’ve stopped talking about the basics – benefits, vacation time, flexible work schedules and 401k. Have we stopped talking about these things because they’re not relevant or because they’re assumed (that might be another blog!)?

If you’re working for a tech company or a rapidly growing company, you might have heard of companies that don’t have PTO policies. Take as much (or as little) time off as you need to, just make sure your job gets done.

While this sounds like a huge perk and one we’d all love to have, depending upon what study you read – between 25-40% of people use all of their vacation time. Companies are throwing in the perk of “unlimited PTO” – knowing that most people won’t take advantage of it. In fact, it’s rumored that people that work for companies with unlimited time off, take even less time off than those of us with 2-4 weeks vacation time.

Why don’t we take the time?!

I’ve worked for companies that have a “use it or lose it” PTO policy – and I promise you I take every minute, hour, and day promised to me. Why? Because it’s part of my benefits package. Because time off is so important to relax and recharge. And because there isn’t a study out there than can convince me that working more is going to help me be a more engaged, successful employee.

When I first started in my career, I was afraid to take time off. I suppose you could say that I had FOMO (fear of missing out). I also didn’t want to be seen as lazy or have anyone question my dedication to my job and my career. I thought showing up was the easiest way I had to show how hard I was willing to work.

I was wrong. The work I did while I was there, the attention to detail I put into my job, and my willingness to always help out – that was what got me noticed. I was noticed and promoted because I showed interest in my job and asked a lot of questions, not because I never took a day off.

With more and more research showing the importance of sleep and down time to really be effective – companies should actually be encouraging their employees to take time off. When you finish a big project or launch a new, large account – taking a day to relax, recharge, and celebrate your success is absolutely acceptable.

On the flip side, if you’re burnt out, frustrated, and feel like you’re not giving your all at work – you could also benefit from taking a day or so off to refocus. Sometimes time and distance can give you perspective on what you need to do to get back into the swing of things.

When you take time off – take time off.

Silence your email notifications. Don’t answer work email or texts. Let your team know that you plan to take the day off and to only contact you in the case of an emergency. Do your best to really disconnect and enjoy the time away from work.

As a salesperson and as a sales leader it can sometimes feel like there is no way to “turn if off.” What if a client calls? What if that prospect I’ve been calling on for two years finally responds to my email? It’s tough to trust that a day or two away from work will NOT make or break your month or your quarter. Spoiler alert – it won’t!

We all have that friend that claims they’re “always working…” and they LOVE their job. I love my job. I love working with my coaching clients. I also love the beach with a fruity cocktail and no email access. It’s 100% necessary for your mental health to take time away.

Time away doesn’t have to be a week on the beach. We all know that #staycation is a thing right now. Grab your girlfriends, take a Friday off work, go to brunch, go shopping, have a fun dinner at a fancy restaurant and crash at a local hotel. The point of time away from work is to recharge, so when you do go back – you’re 100%.

As I’ve mentioned – your PTO is a benefit offered to your by your employer – just like your health benefits, your 401k, and your discounted gym membership. And, they all should all be used to the max!

Enjoy your time off!

Dress to Impress – What is Appropriate Interview Attire?

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As “the office” changes and the workplace becomes more and more casual, it can be tough to decide to what to wear to an interview. Depending upon the industry, there may be hard and fast rules, but for most – there will be a gray area as it relates to the appropriate thing to wear to make a strong first impression.

More and more work environments are become remote. With the rise of places like WeWork and other co-working office spaces, it’s hard to get a handle on the culture and the environment in which you might be working.

As a long-time sales veteran, the rule of thumb was to dress one “step” nicer than who you’d be meeting with. For instance, if you expect your client in slacks and a top, you might throw on a jacket w/ your ensemble. If the person you were meeting with would be in jeans, slacks and a more casual top is a good choice.

However, when interviewing, I still believe in dressing to impress. Regardless of the type of environment you will be working in – putting effort into your clothing choices are important. Nothing says “I’m not that interested…” like jeans and sports coat for a job interview. Even if the entire staff has on jeans and a t-shirt, you want to follow a business casual dress code, at a minimum.

Why though, Ryann? Unless you’re in banking or an attorney – everyone wears jeans these days. Or at the very least, dress pants and a nice top. No one wears a suit to work anymore.

Simple answer – you’re not going to work. You’re going to ask someone if you can work with them. You goal is to show them that you’re a serious candidate and someone capable of handling that job. If it’s me, I want to make sure that I show that person (or those people), that I take their time and consideration seriously.

Whether we like it or not, we live in a society where our outward appearance is the first thing that people judge us on. While we certainly hope it’s not the only benchmark, it’s the first thing we defer to assess someone we’ve just met. It’s human nature to gravitate towards someone that is well-dressed, well-groomed, and appears prepared.

I didn’t make the rules, I just want to be sure that you follow them. First impressions are important. And that means you have to dress the part.

They do say that “dressing for the job you want, not the job you have” is antiqued, outdated, and old fashioned. While I don’t entirely disagree, I always keep it in the back of my head. Even when I interviewed for an entry-level or mid-level role, I wanted to LOOK like the VP or Director of Sales. Ultimately, that’s the job I wanted.

Now that you know that dressing to impress is necessary, let’s talk about what the means. Like I said, we’re talking business casual at minimum. To me, that means slacks or dress pants, a top or blouse, and closed toed shoes. No jacket or suit required with business casual, but professional, well put-together and IRONED is necessary. Yes, break out the iron. Take it somewhere to be pressed. Ask your mom to do it for you. Just DO NOT show up looking like you rolled out of bed. Please.

If the company you will be interviewing with has a business casual dress code (check LinkedIn, their HR website, or Glassdoor for an indication), I would throw on a jacket or blazer, too. It doesn’t have to be full on suit, but it’s a nice touch and adds a level of professionalism.

Let’s go back to the shoes. Closed. Toed. Shoes. For the interview. I don’t care how pretty your toes are or how fabulous your new peep-toe booties are. Closed toed shoes. That you can walk in. 100% required. Interviews are NOT a good place to try out shoes you’ve never worn before. You don’t know if the interview will involve a tour of the office or a long walk from the parking lot to the office – but you don’t want to be distracted by throbbing and aching feet. Flats are in. Take advantage of that.

Another gray area in interviews – sleeveless tops. I love a good sleeveless “shell” that you can throw a blazer, suit jacket, jean jacket, or cardi over. However, I’m not sure I would wear it to an interview. Here’s why…I sweat. A lot. And I run warm. It’s inevitable that I will be warm and want to take off my jacket. Then, I’d have to worry about my bra showing…and sweat stains. I prefer to avoid those situations all together.

Here are a few other things to avoid when getting dressed for an interview:

  • Any top that you can see your bra
  • Maxi skirts
  • Skirts that don’t pass the “finger length” rule
  • Any top that requires a strapless bra
  • Pants with any rips/holes (I don’t care how “in” the look is)
  • Button down shirts that don’t “button down” appropriately (believe me, if this is a problem for you – you KNOW)

I know, I know…I keep telling you what NOT to do. Here’s what you should do. Black pants, professional blouse, blazer, flats. That’s my interview attire of choice. Blends in regardless of the work environment. You appear “dressed up enough” in a business casual environment and not “too stuffy” in a casual environment.

It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you work in banking, law, the government, etc. – wear a suit. Because you’ll be wearing a suit to work everyday. The person or people interview will have on a suit. It’s important…but you already know that.

Most importantly – be comfortable. Be yourself. And smile. Good luck!






How to Navigate an Internal Job Change

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Career Advancement. Everyone wants to work somewhere that will give them the opportunity for career advancement. We all want to work for a company that has a career trajectory that we can follow. We want the opportunity to learn and grow within the same company. Right?!

Let me set the scene: You’ve been at the same company in the same job for about 18 months. You’re good at your job, you like your co-workers, but you just don’t get excited about coming to work everyday anymore. You’ve hit a little bit of a plateau, if you will.

You can go a couple of different ways here. Some people will automatically start scouring the job boards, trolling recruiters on LinkedIn, and thinking about their next (more exciting) role with a new company.

Other people will complain to their work bestie, roll their eyes every time their boss asks for something, and ultimately grow to HATE their job in the next 6-12 months (more later on making sure this does NOT happen to you).

And yet other people will start poking around inside their current company for new and different opportunities. It can start with simply checking out the career page on your office intranet and seeing what departments are hiring. Then, you’re wandering through different parts of the office hoping to get a glimpse of what life would be like if you made a change. You befriend someone in that department that you meet grabbing coffee and start asking questions about what they do and how they like it. Before you know it – you’ve decided you want to apply for a different job in a different department.

This is what they meant by career advancement, right? You found another thing you’d be really good at and an opportunity to add something new to your resume – win/win! Then why do you feel a little bit anxious about telling anyone on your team and in your department about the possibility of you making a change? Why do you feel like you’re letting your manager and colleagues down?

The answer is two-fold, I’m guessing.

1 – You’re worried that your manager is going to be angry and take it personally that you’re looking for something new. And, whether you make a change or not – they’re going to use it against you.

2 – You’re worried that you’re not qualified for that other role or that there is another internal candidate with more experience and seniority that will be chosen over you. And, now that you’ve put it out there, everyone on your team thinks you’ve checked out and are actively looking for a new job.

So much for the excitement around career advancement, right?

Here’s the deal – it’s pretty infrequent that managers assume that their employees are going to work for them forever. It’s also likely that your manager has aspirations for a different role or opportunity within the organization, too. The most important thing for you here, is how you approach the situation with both your manager and the hiring manager in the other department.

In my experience – you should always, always, always tell your manager that you’re interested in an internal job change before you tell anyone else. You want to control the conversation and the opportunity to tell your story as to why this is the right move (and the right time) for you.

I recommend scheduling a quick 15 minute sit down with your manager (yes, this is an IN-PERSON conversation). Jot down a few notes, as you’re likely to be nervous about their response. Your notes should cover the job you’d like to apply for and why you think you’d be great at it. They also need to include (and I would lead with this) – how much you’ve loved working in this department, how much you’ve learned, and how grateful you are to work for a company that encourages internal growth.  

I would also ask your current manager how they think you should approach the hiring manager for the new role. There is likely a Human Resources procedure for this, but it’s possible that your manager has a closer relationship with your potential new manager than you do. They might know some of their preferences, nuances, and their goals. All valuable information to have when chatting them up, right?!

It’s important that you follow internal procedure to the letter. Chat with HR and fill out the appropriate paperwork/application. Be prepared to be asked for an updated copy of your resume. I probably should’ve led with this – but make sure you are eligible for a transfer. Some companies have different policies around how long you need to work in your current role and certain performance metrics you need to meet before you can make an internal change. You want to be sure you meet those as well!

After you’ve chatted with your manager and covered your bases with HR, you can seek out the hiring manager and let them know that you are applying for a role in their department. If possible, schedule a sit down with this person as well. Not for an interview, but as an opportunity to learn more about them, their vision for this role, and if they have any useful advice or ideas as you go through the internal interview process.

Regardless of whether or not you get the role, all job searching/interviewing/etiquette things still apply. Make sure you dress appropriately for the interview and follow up with and thank all people that you met with. If for some reason you get offered the job, but decide not to take it, you want to be gracious with the people who took time to help you. If you are not offered the job – you need to do the same. You never know when the next opportunity might open up or if someone saw something in you that might be useful in another role.

Overall, remember that it’s your career and that life is too short to spend all of your time in a role that you don’t love or doesn’t challenge you. Most companies would almost always prefer their best employees stay in-house versus leaving to work for someone else! After all, they are the ones that touted that career-advancement was a great benefit to working there, right?!


Today’s Job Climate

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I often feel like I’m still young, hip, and in-the-know.

I work in advertising. Digital advertising, no less.

I follow trends, still listen to bad pop music, and love perusing the cover of “Us Weekly” in line at the grocery store….

Then, SnapChat or Instagram make a change and I turn into my mother….”I don’t know how to use this sh*t!”

That’s how I feel about today’s career climate. The second part. The part where I think “man, I am glad I’m not just starting my career today.” I know, it’s different out there. The market is different, the job titles are different, the expectations are different.

What hasn’t changed?

Employers. Big business. Colleges and universities.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of amazing companies out there that have “caught up” and have great benefits, flexible work schedules, unlimited PTO, and *gasp* maternity AND paternity leave.

However, a lot of companies are still offering two weeks paid time off, no flexibility in your work schedule, and are allowing women to use short-term disability for their maternity leave.

In my “day job” I work with a lot of young professionals. I’ve interviewed dozens and dozens of entry and mid-level candidates and attended a handful of job fairs. It’s obvious that the university system hasn’t caught up with preparing professionals for today’s work world either.

Where does that leave you?

A smart, dedicated, ambitious young professional searching for the right career fit? Looking for a job that leaves you fulfilled, challenged, and excited.

That’s a great question, and fortunately, there is still hope for finding the right job for you, for now!

Let’s tackle that first – there’s a vicious rumor that “millennials are job hoppers” and no one sticks around anymore and “if they don’t like it they just leave…” You know you’ve heard all of that and more about today’s up and coming (extremely educated and talented) workforce.

How long do you stay at a job you don’t love? How soon is too soon to jump ship?

It depends on who you ask. As an employer, I like to see between 12-18 months with a single employer (I am okay with multiple positions). Anything less than that can be a red flag. UNLESS, that’s only happened once. I think we’re all entitled to a “mulligan” and sometimes a job just isn’t the right fit. I’ve also seen brilliant people get recruited away from organizations after a short tenure, too.

I was told early on in my career (I graduated college in 2004) that three years was the expectation. When resumes came across with more than one or two jobs with less than three years, there were considered “job-hoppers.”

Truth be told – I think it’s all in how you spin it. I’ve had quite a few jobs for my age. I’ve averaged about 14-18 months at each job in my career. As I’ve progressed in my career, the time gets longer and longer at each job.

Each time I started looking for a new job, I made a deal with myself…I would NOT take a lateral move. I wouldn’t take a job making the same or less money. I wouldn’t take a job with fewer benefits or perks. I wouldn’t take a job that wasn’t for a better company with a better reputation. As long as companies continued to want to pay me more, help me advance my career, and let me a part of their awesome-ness – it was the right time to switch jobs.

I was also great at telling the story. I left this job because of this great opportunity. And then this company recruited me to go work for them. Then, I fell in love with start-ups and got a great opportunity to get in at the ground floor. After that, I wanted to travel and train. And so on.

Today, I love my job. I’ve been there for about a year and a half to date. Do I think I’ll retire here….no. Do I think I’ll stay at long as they’ll have me…for now!

Good news

Every single day a new company, idea, or culture is born. Your dream company may not exist yet. And most new, up and coming, cutting edge companies tend to be pretty forward thinking.

In addition to new companies, companies that have heavy recruiting needs, especially for entry to mid-level employees, are coming around to what today’s job seekers are asking for. Flexibility. Trust. Perks.

We all know that with today’s technology advancements there are more and more opportunities to work remotely. All you need is Wi-Fi and a laptop. This can give you access to jobs and opportunities that weren’t available to you before due to your geographic location.

More good news – it never hurts to ask for what’s important to you. Right now, I work in an office Monday-Friday. I have a ton of flexibility, but at the end of the day, my work is in my office. If and when I ever find myself interviewing companies again (see what I did there….) – I will likely ask for the opportunity to work from home part-time. Worst case, they say no. Best case, they say yes. If a company doesn’t want to hire me because flexibility is important to me, they probably aren’t the right fit anyway.

Change is good

Here’s the long and short of it….today’s career climate has changed. However, companies that want to hire young, brilliant, talented professionals are going to have to change, too. Some of them are realizing that faster than others.

The change in the career climate has also created an amazing opportunity for new skills, new job titles, and the opportunity to flex your creative muscles in finding the career, and the life, that you want.

If you need some help getting clear on what that job is and what that career path might look like – let’s chat.

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