What Twenty Somethings Hate Being Asked In Job Interviews

I’m learning that I’m in what is a somewhat uncommon role as a young professional. I’m a twenty-something((I just turned 27 in November)) who devotes part of his time to doing job interviews. It’s one of the parts of my job I truly adore. I love getting to analyze answers that people give to various questions. I’ve been told my interviewing style is unorthodox — so much so that a majority of my interviewees have commented that my interviews are strange, thought-provoking, and very enjoyable.

In spite of said unorthodox style, there are still some standard questions I’ll start off by asking in most interviews. They’re typically pretty job specific to the position I’m interviewing for. A major reason I don’t interview in a traditional manner is because of how much I despise specific types of questions in the interview process. You know the questions. They’re the questions that seemingly every interviewer asks that have little to do with the actual job itself, yet are so mundane that job seekers are on auto-pilot when these questions are asked((I do ask a handful of non-job specific questions…but they’re certainly not standard. I may share some of those in a separate post)).

A couple of weeks ago, I took a survey of twenty somethings via Twitter, asking what interview questions they hate being asked. I felt pretty happy that there’s only one question on this list that I’ve ever asked (and have since dropped from my mental list for reasons I’ll explain below). I’ll talk about the three most common responses I received below.

What is your biggest weakness?

Why Interviewers Ask It: This is the lone question from this list that I’ve found myself asking in a handful of interviews. I was taught this question tells you a lot about how good a person is at spinning a negative into a positive. From a very basic level, I can see how this would be possible. After all, no one wants their negative traits to reflect too poorly on them. That said…

Why Twenty Somethings Hate It: …it’s the single most overused question in the interviewing process. Literally every place I’ve ever interviewed at has used some variation of this question. It’s so pervasive that most people who think quickly on their feet already have a completely bullshit answer made up for this question before they even step foot into an interview. I do think there’s a general dislike for talking about our personality/work blemishes, though I do not believe that is only a twenty something problem in the slightest.

What was your favorite thing about your last job?

Why Interviewers Ask It: Ultimately, an interviewer is looking for one of two things here. They’re either looking to see if you have the capability to say something nice about a place you’re leaving, or they’re looking to make sure that you’re not a total cynic. It’s a completely attitude-driven question.

Why Twenty Somethings Hate It: The question is a trap question that has no great answer. The average millennial has seven job changes in their 20s((http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0)), and there are numerous employers that look down on such job-hopping((http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-vuleta/career-change_b_836473.html)). If you can’t say something nice about your last job, an interviewer will likely assume you’re going to have a bad attitude if there are struggles at this job. It’s unfair…interviewees recognize that.

Why do you want to work here?

Why Interviewers Ask It: An interviewer wants to know why specifically you want to work for their company.

Why Twenty Somethings Hate It: Because the primary reason the majority of people want any job is because we like getting paid. This is even more true for twenty somethings, who are often dealing with the burdens of student loan debt while trying to come into the workforce at poor-paying entry-level jobs. There are other ways to ask this question — What interested you about ABC Company? Why did you choose to take this interview instead of other interviews? If we like you as a candidate, what would make you more inclined to accept this job over other offers — that get your point across as an interviewer.

 

What other questions do you hate being asked as an interviewee? Sound off in the comments.

Front page image credit: Ludovic Bertron on Flickr

Common Résumé Tips That Actually Hurt Your Job Search

Note: This post was originally written by me for the blog Twenty Twenty ran by Twenty Something Bloggers. You can view the original post here.

Outside of cat pictures and whimsical home hacks that will drain your bank account at lightspeed, the most widespread phenomenon on the internet today is everyone giving out free résumé advice. If you make a Google search for “résumé advice”, 61.8 million search results come up…and that’s not even counting the advertisements. With such a proliferation in articles telling people how to write their CV, there has also been a rapid growth in bad advice filtering its way around the internet. That poor résumé advice is not just hurting the job prospects of a few people here and there, that same advice is degrading the quality of résumés across the board.

As someone who has served in a hiring manager at multiple jobs, there are certain mistakes I’ve come across that can hurt résumé across the board. At the same time though, some of those widely taught tips can actually harm your chances of getting a job. I’ve decided to share some of the most common résumé tips that can actually make employers less likely to give you an interview, provide you with an alternative recommendation to these common tips, as well as why you should avoid the common guidance.

Résumé Tip: Highlight your accomplishments, not your duties

What You Should Do Instead: Balance describing your duties and accomplishments for each job
Why The Tip Could Hurt Your Job Search: I get the idea of wanting to talk about your accomplishments in your résumé. After all, it’s your chance to share the best things about your professional life in one quick shot. That said, any interviewer worth their salt will ask you about both your duties and your accomplishments from your previous jobs during the interview. Putting both your accomplishments and duties on your résumé allows your interviewer to ask more thorough questions during the interview. This will help both your prospective employer — as well as you — to recognize if you’re a good fit for the job.

Résumé Tip: Keep your résumé to one page in length

What You Should Do Instead: Keep your resume concise, but ditch the one page rule
Why The Tip Could Hurt Your Job Search: I can’t begin to tell you how many times during college I was told that employers won’t even look at your résumé if it’s longer than a page. Not only is that a complete falsehood, it’s a dangerous rule to live by. When you limit yourself to a one page résumé, you’re typically cutting out details and accomplishments that could be reinforcing why you’re a worthy candidate to interview for a position. I’ve found that the most effective CVs tend to be between 1 and 2 pages in length, though that’s not counting any additional documentation (such as a journalism portfolio).

Résumé Tip: Send a unique, personalized cover letter with every résumé

What You Should Do Instead: Send a unique, personalized thank you email after every interview
Why The Tip Could Hurt Your Job Search: I can count on one hand how many cover letters I’ve received and actually taken into an interview with a candidate. Here’s the thing: if I’m bringing your cover letter into the interview room with me, it’s because you’ve said something in your cover letter that is causing me to seriously doubt your capacity to do the job I’m interviewing you for. Despite my loathing of thank you cards in nearly every social situation, the thank you email after an interview is a nice touch to show gratitude for someone taking their time to consider you for a job.

Résumé Tip: Use power/buzz words to enhance your resume

What You Should Do Instead: Write like yourself
Why The Tip Could Hurt Your Job Search: You wouldn’t lie on your résumé, would you? Of course not. Why would you lie by changing your CV to include words and terms to try to make yourself stand out if you don’t use those same words in your daily vocabulary. Yes, putting those words in your resume may get you an interview, however you’ll likely end up with a very frustrated interviewer when they realize that you’ve misrepresented yourself on your résumé. Even if your résumé doesn’t look as well-written without buzz words, you’ll likely leave a better impression on the company you’ve submitted your CV to, making it more likely they’ll call you back if a more appropriate position opens up.