Congratulations! You graduated from college (or grad school)!
If you’re like many of your peers, you’re probably looking for your first full-time job.
I know the feeling. It can be stressful.
Maybe you’re not sure what industry you want to enter, or what you even want to do. Or where you want to live.
Perhaps you’ve got your sights set on your dream job at your dream company, but competition for spots is tight and your chance of landing a position is not terribly high.
Wherever you are in your job search, you’ll need to be prepared to answer several questions that recruiters will ask you during the process.
Some of these will be explicit questions for which you’ll need to prepare answers.
Other questions the recruiter may not ask you point blank, but will ask nonetheless as part of her due diligence review of your background and your fit for the role you’re applying for.
They’re the sort of questions she’ll ask about you as she scans your resume, examines your LinkedIn profile, and reviews other parts of your application like college transcripts and letters of recommendation.
Regardless of whether you need to answer these questions in the course of an interview or through the way you position yourself in your application, the likelihood that you’ll be asked most or all of these runs pretty high.
From my experience recruiting and hiring over the years, here are some of the questions you’ll likely be asked:
What skills do you have so you can have impact from Day One?
The first thing recruiters will look for is whether you’ve got the specific skills and experience their company needs now. Skills that will enable you to have impact from almost the first day you start.
It’s such a fundamental part of any recruiting process, it would seem obvious and not even worth mentioning. And yet, I’ve seen candidates who have applied for roles that they clearly were not qualified for. This is a waste of the recruiter’s time and yours. Don’t even try.
Of course, if you do have the right skills for the job, then make sure you put them front and center in your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and in the “story” you use to introduce yourself during the interview process. And be sure your message is consistent across all of these “touch points”.
Will you hustle to get the job done?
Call it being “proactive” or being a “self-starter”. I like to call it “hustling”. Hustling means you don’t just wait around for instructions and orders from your manager to get things done. Companies value people who take the initiative to get things done now, not later. People who don’t let a “no” or “maybe” or “maybe later” serve as an excuse for not moving a project forward.
Are you a problem-solver?
This doesn’t mean you must solve mathematical equations or crunch numbers on a spreadsheet (though those may of course be important skills for the particular job you’re applying for). What this means is, when faced with a problem, can you ask questions that help you diagnose the problem? Can you break down the problem into smaller pieces? And then can you offer solutions for the smaller parts of the problem, and in doing so, solve the bigger one?
Learning how to proactively problem-solve is a skill that requires practice over time, so you’re not going to be expected to be a master problem-solver right out of the gate. But you do need to show evidence that you can solve problems, and that you have the potential to develop that skill over time.
Have you done your homework on the company, the department, the role — and even the person interviewing you?
In other words, have you done your due diligence of the company you’re applying to? I’ve been surprised by how many candidates have not taken the time to even check our company’s website or show evidence they spent time trying to learn more about who we are and what we do.
Companies today leave very large digital imprints on their websites and social media channels. So unless it’s a very small or very private firm, there’s no excuse for not having enough information about the company you’re applying to.
If you can’t demonstrate enough commitment to learn about the company you’re applying to, it’s hard for a recruiter to believe you’ll have the commitment needed to do the job.
Why do you want to work at our company?
This is one question that I’ve seen many candidates stumble upon. You’ll need to articulate a response that demonstrates why you are genuinely attracted to the company, why you believe in their mission, and how you can add value. I’ve heard some fairly lame reasons over the years that I won’t bother to share here, but suffice to say, this is a really important question, and you’ll need to have a really good answer to it.
Are you willing to learn new things?
One of the most valuable skills you bring to any company — and the one truly renewable skill that will ensure you’re refreshing your own skill-set and staying “marketable” — is the ability to learn new things.
This is not going to be a “yes” or “no” question from the recruiter. You’ll have to “show” and not just “tell” to prove your point on this one.
Will other people enjoy working with you?
Many companies use language like “team player” to describe what they are really looking for: are you someone that your colleagues will enjoy working with? No, the recruiter won’t ask you this question in so many words. But she will definitely want to know.
Do you have integrity?
This is a hard one to assess from just a series of interviews and an application, but it’s what every recruiter will want to know about you. And ask they will (if only indirectly): are you a person who means what you say, and does what you promise? Can you be trusted?
This is an exciting time. You’ve got so many options and so many decisions to make. Take some time to anticipate the questions that will almost certainly come your way.
And think carefully about the answers you give.
Did I miss anything here? Are there any other questions that recruiters like to ask job candidates? Please share your thoughts in the comments!