If you’ve been searching for a job for awhile, it’s easy to get discouraged when you can’t get an interview—or worse, when you land interviews, but never hear from the employer again. After countless applications and resume tweaks nothing is coming back positively for you. You wonder if you will ever manage to get a job and you’re starting to lose hope.

The first thing you should do is read our article on the 9 Reason I’m Not Hiring You. Katie talks about her experience as a hiring manager for our parent company, and the biggest mistakes that keep her from hiring applicants.

Then, there are three positive actions you can take right now to improve your chances of finding a job. Take a deep breath, then get started!

Spruce Up Your Resume

You will start to notice a much quicker and more positive response rate from your applications if you give your entire resume an overhaul. You need an excellent resume objective in order to land an interview. You might need to tweak your resume for each individual job you apply for, so that you can showcase and highlight your strengths. This will take time to refine but once you have got the hang of it, you will soon become a pro.

Our Top Resume Articles

We will makeover your resume for just $49!

Raise Your Interview Game

Landing the interview is one of the most difficult parts of obtaining your dream job. Once you have the interview in the bag, you will need to brush up your interview techniques. Don’t rest on your laurels or credentials in order to bag the role, you will need to be articulate and well informed during the interview. Making a good impression in the interview room is easier than it sounds. All you have to do is be yourself, tell the truth and tell stories about how your previous experience will help you in this job. Make sure you can explain exactly why you applied for this job too, otherwise the panel won’t feel invested in you.

Our Top Interview Articles

Strengthen Your Skill Set

In order to reach your career goals you need keep your skills on top form. The more you can talk about first-hand experience in an interview environment the more impressive it will be to your prospective employer. Go above and beyond to meet the criteria of the job description and you will be sure to impress your future bosses.

Our Top Articles about Strengthening Your Skill Set

Bonus Tip: Start a Side Hustle

If you’ve been out of work for awhile, you’re probably running low on funds. One way to make some money and strengthen your resume is to start a side hustle. There’s a million ideas, from teaching English to Chinese students online for VIPKid, to selling your freelance services on Fiverr.

Our Top Articles on Side Hustles and Saving Money

So get your resume together, gain the skills you need, and get some hands on experience. Employers will be jumping at the chance to hire you as long as you aren’t afraid to showcase your skills and talents. It can be a cut throat world, so there is no time to be shy and reserved. Know your worth and always be positive about your abilities.

Enter your email address to download our “What to Say in a Video Resume” Guide

Are you ready to record a video resume and start rocking your job search? If so, you need a script. Our “What to Say in a Video Resume Guide” will help you figure out what to say so you can start getting noticed in your job search right away. Enter your email address below to get your free guide!

* indicates required


Save to Pinterest

3 Things to Do if You Can't find a Job - #career #getajob #resume

 

Dear HR,

I hate going to job interviews. I always freeze when the interviewer asks me a question that I haven’t prepared for, then I feel like a dork for the rest of the interview. What do I do if I don’t know the answer to a question? Is there a way to keep from freezing during a job interview?

Thank you,

Awkward Interviewee

 


What do I do if I don’t know the answer to a question?

Dear Awkward Interviewee,

We’ve all been there; you stay up all night studying interview questions and how you’ll answer them, only to have the person conducting the interview not ask a single question you’ve studied. Instead, they start asking weird, curveball questions no one could have predicted.

Employers think they’re cleverly weeding out people who can’t think on their feet, but instead, they’re freaking out the people who can actually do the job. A lot of interviewees fall into an abyss of awkward self-loathing and completely bomb the interview. There’s a better way to handle it.

Breathe and Smile

First, take a breath and put on your best smile. Keep eye contact with the interviewer. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Do all of this consciously.

The idea is to remain composed and to not let the interviewer know you’re stressed. Remember, this is just a conversation. People ask weird questions in conversations all the time. It’s just another weird question. You can handle it. Keep your cool.

Restate the Question in Your Own Words if You’re Stumped

If you aren’t sure if you understood the question, start by saying something like, “I think you’re asking me…” or “Just to make sure I’m answering your question correctly, I think you’re wanting to hear about…” This method gives the interviewer a chance to clarify the question. It also gives you time to construct your answer.

Repeat the Question as Part of your Answer

Have you ever watched how Miss America candidates answer interview questions on stage? If not, watch thevideo from the 2016 interview segment.

A beauty contestant starts her answer to the question by restating the question as a statement and then leading into her answer. The first contestant is asked “if you could put a woman alongside Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill, who would you choose?” the contestant thanks the interviewer for the question, and then begins her answer with, “the person that I would put on the ten dollar bill is…”

She starts her answer this way for a couple of reasons. First, it shows the interviewer that she was listening and ensures she’s answering the right questions. Second, it gives her a few extra seconds to think about her answer.

You have to have an answer by the end of the statement, though. There’s a trick Miss America knows about that, too: Your actual answer doesn’t matter as much as your poise and confidence do.

Beauty contestants are asked far dumber questions than most job interviewers will dream of asking. Seriously, watch how they handle those dumb questions. Pay attention to which contestants win. Their answers may not be the best, but they always look calm and collected as they answer the question.

Come up with an Answer—any Answer

I was once asked by an interviewer during a panel interview to tell him a story about a boy, a dog, and a ball. Without missing a beat, I told a story about how there was a boy named John who was the most special boy you will ever know because he was from outer space and carried his home planet with him everywhere, even though everyone thought it was just a ball.

In another interview, I was asked to tell a story with my hands. All I could think of was the nursery rhyme, “here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and here’s all the people.” So, I smiled and rocked through it. Believe it or not, I worked for that employer for five years.

The point is, the delivery of your answer is more important than your actual answer. Stop stressing about what you’re going to say and work on saying something.

How to Prepare for Unexpected Interview Questions

Just like you study for “real” questions like “where do you see yourself in five years?” and “why should we hire you?” you can study for unexpected questions, too. In fact, practicing for this kind of question will help you improve your answers to the “real” questions.

Start by asking your friends to help you. Have them come up with the most outlandish interview questions they can think of, and then sit at your dinner table and have them ask you the questions. Practice breathing, smiling, and making eye contact as you answer the questions. Practice until it becomes second nature to you.

We’ve recently found a game that’s helping us and our students prepare for wild interview questions. The game is called Fun Employed. To play, each person is given a set of qualifications, and they have to use their qualifications to convince an employer they’re the right person for the job. Of course, the jobs and the qualifications are both unorthodox, meaning you have to learn to work with what you have, no matter how disconnected that is.

Another way to practice is to take an improv class at your local community college. Improv games and exercises help you learn to think quickly without worrying about what other people think. They’re invaluable practice for interviews and presentations, too.

It’s About Survival

Go into the interview knowing that you can handle whatever they throw at you. No matter what they ask, remain composed. Breathe. Smile. Have an Answer. Be as specific as you can in your answers, even if you think they sound wrong. Sell it with confidence. You’ve got this!

Best of luck,

HR

weird interview questions

Thank You letters are a lost art, but they’re a vital element to the job interview process that shows employers that you’re not only qualified, but a decent human being. If you want the job, write a Thank You note after the interview.

Since most people have been skipping this interview step, you may not know what to write in a Thank You letter. It’s simple, really. Here’s what to do:

Who Should I Thank?

Send a Thank You note to the person with whom you interviewed, and anyone who was especially helpful in the interview process. We always send thank you notes to recruiters if they went the extra mile to set up the interview and make sure we had all the information we needed to be successful at the interview, too.

Should I Send a Thank You Email?

In our modern world, where everyone communicates in text messages, you may think sending an email is the same thing as sending a proper thank you letter. It’s not. However, there are some times that a thank you email is perfectly appropriate.

Send a Thank You Email after a Phone Interview

If you’re interviewing with a big corporation, the first person you talk to at the company is likely an HR representative. Many times, HR representatives call you for a short, preliminary interview to make sure your qualifications indeed fit their needs, and to make sure you can put a sentence together before they send you on to the next interview stage. At the end of this phone interview, you should immediately send the HR representative a thank you email.

Send a Thank You Email after an Interview, but Follow it with a Real Thank You Letter

Immediately after you leave the interview, you should send a thank you email to the interviewer. You want them to know that you’re grateful, and that you know your manners, but this email does not excuse you from sending a for-real thank you note.

Handwritten or Typed?

If you want to stand out from the crowd, send a handwritten thank you note. The point of the note is not only to show your gratitude, but to show that you are a decent human being. To make a human connection, use writing written by a human (that’s you).

You should keep a package of blank Thank You notes and a sheet of snail-mail stamps handy throughout your job search process. Thank You notes are available almost everywhere. We buy ours at the Dollar Tree, where they are 10 for $1. They should not be cute—skip the kittens and flowers. Instead, opt for a simple thank you note that just says “Thank You” on the outside.

How Do I Start my Thank You Letter?

Start your Thank You note with a simple “Dear Mr. XYZ.” Unless the person with whom you interviewed asked you to call him or her by his first name, use the formal “Mr.” or “Ms.” and their last name.

If your interview was with multiple people, send each of them a separate Thank You note. You want to make an individual connection with each of them, and you can start that by showing your gratitude to each of them, individually.

What do I Write in my Thank You Note?

Your Thank You note should be short—three to four sentences are all you need. Start with one sentence that gives an overall thank you statement, then 2-3 sentences that refer back to the interview. Here are a few examples:

Example 1

Thank you for meeting with me yesterday. I enjoyed learning about the fabrication process and Plastics-R-Us, and I appreciate the time you took to show me around the plant. I am fascinated by your work, and would be excited to join your company.

Example 2

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday. It was a pleasure to meet you, and I appreciate your kindness in introducing me to your colleagues and answering my questions about the executive assistant position at Telephones-R-Us. I can see how important your work is to maintaining the communication channels throughout the United States, and I would welcome the opportunity to work with you.

Example 3

Thank you for a wonderful meeting yesterday. I can see you work with inner-city orphans is essential to ensuring the children have the opportunity to go to college. I am grateful for the time you took to teach me about your work and how I might fit into your processes as a grant writer for Orphans2College. It would be a privilege to join your organization, if selected.

Mail Your Thank You Note Quickly

Don’t procrastinate writing and mailing your Thank You note. Address it and put it in the mail no later than the day after your interview.

Should I lie about my salary

Dear HR,

I have been in the same job with the same company for five years. I am ready to take the next step on my career path into a management position. Unfortunately, my current company does not have a position open, nor will it have a management position open for quite awhile.

I’ve started applying to management jobs with other companies, and one question they all seem to ask is, “What is your current salary?” In comparison with management jobs, my current salary is significantly less. I don’t want to ruin my chances of negotiating a salary that honors my experience and skills, so what should I say? Should I lie about my current salary in order to get a higher offer?

Sincerely,

Show Me the Money


One question they all seem to ask is, “What is your current salary?”

Dear Show Me the Money,

It’s admirable that you’ve recognized that you’re ready to make a step forward in your career. Good for you!

With a step up to a management position, you should expect to be paid a fair salary that reflects the duties of the position. Managers have more responsibility and are often expected to work more hours than worker-bee employees. For this reason, salaries are often lucrative. If you are applying for manager positions within your industry, you can expect a decent pay increase when you change jobs.

You ask if you should lie about your current salary, and the answer is no, you should not. If you are hired, and your new employer finds out you lied to them, your work environment will become quite awkward. You may even get fired. Besides, do you want to start a relationship with your new boss based on a lie?

That said, you don’t have to disclose your current salary. You can say it’s confidential. However, this may not help your salary negotiations. If you are being asked about salary in an interview, you can explain the factors you are considering when it comes to your salary requirements. Perhaps your current job only requires you to work 35 hours per week, but the new job requires 40. Maybe you have a longer commute that will cost you extra transportation costs.

You should also consider the new job’s benefits package in your negotiation process. Always ask about benefits before discussing salary. Some employers offer excellent health care coverage with low premiums, while others have bare-bones high deductible plans that will cost you thousands per year. We’ve seen job offers that included transportation reimbursements that save employees hundreds per year. So, salary alone isn’t the only thing you should consider. Gather all of your information before you start negotiating.

Happy Negotiating,

HR

You’ve done the work and landed an interview for a great job. You’ve been reading our blog, and know what you should wear to the interview. There’s just one problem: You’re broke. You need a cheap job interview outfit!

If you haven’t noticed, most of the outfits we put together for this blog cost around $80-100, with no single piece over $50, but if you’ve been out of work for any amount of time, that can seem like an insane amount of money. However, if you can scrape together $30, you can still put together a professional outfit that makes you look like a million dollars.

Where to Find a Cheap Job Interview Outfit

Online sites like Zulilly and even Groupon have inexpensive clothes too, but you can expect to wait two weeks for your clothes to arrive. Most of the time, you’ll have to plan ahead if you want to shop online.

If you need an interview outfit quickly, start by visiting local thrift stores. Not all thrift stores are created equally, so do a little research and find better neighborhoods that have thrift stores with good online reviews. One trick we use is to search for Barnes and Noble, and then look for thrift stores near there. Most of the time, Barnes and Noble is located in a nice part of town, so thrift stores near it should have nice clothing too.

Job Interview Clothing Trip Report: Goodwill

We made a quick stop at the Goodwill in Ocala, Florida today while waiting on Chipotle to finish our online order. The store is filled with clothes! The dress section had a lot of potential outfit pieces, but the best outfit we found was on a mannequin near the dressing room.

Cheap Job Interview Outfit from Goodwill

The employees put together this professional outfit with a skirt suit, undershirt and necklace for around $20.

Over in the shoe section, we found several pairs of black pumps that would easily pair with most any interview outfit, all for less than $7. One pair in the picture has an original price tag of $19.99, but the Goodwill price tag on the bottom of the shoe read $5.99.

Cheap job interview outfit shoes at Goodwill for $7

We found a cute pair of pinstripe dress pants on the end cap of the pants aisle. They were priced at less than $7.

The One Piece of Clothing You Must Buy

When you aren’t sure what to wear to an interview, a blazer is always a good choice. You can pair it with a dress, skirt and blouse, or even slacks and a blouse, and immediately, you look more professional. Likely, you have something in your closet you could wear to the interview if you paired it with a blazer. So, if you can only buy one thing for your interview, it should be a blazer.

The Ocala Goodwill has two large racks full of blazers in all sizes. When looking for blazers, we look for fit first. Avoid the boxy 80’s “Working Girl” blazers with stiff shoulder pads in favor of feminine princess seams and buttons in the right places. These were our favorites because of the flattering cuts and lengths. All were less than $8.

Cheap job interview outfit blazers at Goodwill for 7 dollars

If you find a blazer that fits in most places, but is a little baggy in other places, wear a belt over it.

Rules for Finding a Cheap Job Interview Outfit

The key to finding a job interview outfit quickly at a thrift store is to know what to look for and to remain open minded. Here are a few rules to keep you focused:

  • Try on everything. No exceptions.
  • Focus on the dress section first. You can get more outfit for your dollar by pairing a dress with a blazer.
  • If you can only afford one piece, buy a blazer.
  • Don’t forget to look at accessories. If you have something in your closet that will mostly work, you can add a scarf or necklace for a few dollars to polish the look.

Of course, everything you buy at a thrift store should be washed, dried, and ironed before you wear it to a job interview. No one likes ironing, but it’s an important step in making a good first impression.

What to Wear to a Teacher Job Interview - #whattowear #jobinterview #career #careeradvice #teacher

You’ve landed a teacher job interview at the school of your dreams. Congratulations! Now, what are you going to wear? Remember, the people interviewing you are looking at more than your shiny college degree and your resume. They want to know they can trust you with their students…and their students’ parents.

You have several outfit options that will work for this interview. The goal is dress in a way that shows you’re fun, but also serious. You have to find a balance between professional and approachable. You can’t just wear black and call it a day.

Impress the Principal with a Colorful, Long-Sleeved Dress

Color is important for any outfit for a teacher job interview. One outfit that could work for this interview is a dress in a jewel-tone color like dark green or dark blue. Long sleeves always look more professional than short sleeves, so if you can find a long-sleeved dress, go for it.

In this example, we are pairing a dark green dress with a fun pearl necklace. Nude pumps with a low heel are not only comfortable, but elongate the line of your leg and make you look taller and more elegant.

 

Notice that the neckline on this dress is conservative—it hides cleavage—but the shape of the dress shows off your figure in a flattering, feminine way. The hemline of this dress falls just below the knee. Look for dresses that flow at or just below knee level for the most flattering silhouette.


Be Memorable and Approachable in a Sleeveless Dress and Wrap Sweater

If you have a cute (but sleeveless) dress already in your closet, you can pair it with a wrap or ballet-style sweater for an approachable look.

In this outfit example, we found a navy blue dress with a feminine shape, and paired it with an off-white wrap sweater. Red shoes and dangly pearl earrings complete the look with a pop of color and a classic, polished accessory.

A Skirt and Blazer Raise You to the Top of the Class

If you like wearing separates, find a colorful blazer that fits you well, and pair it with a neutral-colored skirt and a lacy camisole.

If You Hate Dresses, Wear a Slacks and a Blazer

You don’t have to wear a dress to a teacher job interview. If you want to wear slacks, pair them with a blazer and a colorful camisole or blouse. Always wear a shoe with a bit of a heel. Flats make you look “flat” when you wear them with slacks.

  

This example outfit pairs grey slacks with a black, fitted blazer and a red camisole. Black pearls and a low-heeled Mary Jane pump polish off the look.

 

Rules for Teacher Interview Outfits

When you’re picking out your teacher interview outfit, follow these rules:

  • Feature color prominently either with a colorful dress or blazer.
  • Wear classic accessories like pearl necklaces and earrings.
  • Keep your necklines conservative.
  • Hemlines should fall at or just below your knee.
  • Fit is king. Make sure everything you wear fits you well. If it doesn’t, your dry cleaner has a tailor who can make alterations inexpensively (usually for less than $15).

Save to Pinterest

What to Wear to a Teacher Job Interview - #whattowear #jobinterview #career #careeradvice #teacher

The interview scheduler says the interview is going to be “casual.” She says they are looking forward to meeting you, and want to learn more about your work and goals. You’re pumped! Now you ask yourself the hard question: What am I going to wear? Can I wear jeans to a job interview?

Can I Wear Jeans to a “Casual” Interview?

Your first instinct may be that “casual” means you can wear jeans to the interview. You are wrong.

For a “casual” interview, the interviewer expects you to show up dressed professionally, but not in a full suit. For gentlemen, this means dress slacks and a long-sleeved shirt. You don’t need a jacket of any sort, but do wear an undershirt. In fact, always wear the undershirt. Wear a tie, but if you get to the office and no one else has on a tie, it’s ok to take it off in the Men’s room and stash it in your briefcase.

Casual Interview for Guys - Don't Wear Jeans to a Job Interview - #whattowear #mensfashion #career #jobinterview

For ladies, “casual” is a little trickier. You can never go wrong with a wrap dress and low heels or ballet flats. If you show your legs, wear hose or tights unless you have a killer tan. 

Casual Interview Outfit for Ladies - Don't Wear Jeans to a Job Interview #jobinterview #career #careeradvice #fashion

Dress slacks with a pretty blouse also works.  Keep your accessories classy. Stick to pearls or simple metals. Save the big bling for later. 

Very Casual Slacks outfit - Don't Wear Jeans to a Job Interview #career #careeradvice #jobinterview #fashion

Can I Wear Jeans to an Interview at a Café?

You see everything at a café, from Armani suits to PJ bottoms. The world’s population drags themselves in all states of dress to pray at the caffeine altar. However, you have an impression to make, and that impression can’t be “I just rolled out of bed and came to this meeting.”

If meeting at a café for an interview, follow the rules of professional dress unless you know the interviewer personally and have an idea of what he or she may be wearing. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. So, gents wear the tie, and ladies bring on the heels. No jeans allowed.

Can I Wear Jeans to a Last-Minute Interview?

Mr. Grey’s secretary says he absolutely must see you today! Certainly your jeans are fine, since it’s last minute and all? Nope. Don’t even think about it.

Even when an interview is last minute, you must look professional. If you don’t have time to go home, stop by TJ Maxx or Ross and grab a low-cost outfit. For less than $50, you can look appropriate.

Can I Wear Jeans to a Low-Paying Job Interview?

We all take on low-paying jobs to make ends meet while looking for the “dream” job or paying our college tuition. There’s honor in all work. If you show up to a low-paying job interview in jeans, you are showing the interviewer you aren’t taking the job seriously.

For McJobs, follow the rules of casual interview attire. Closed-toed shoes are a must for these interviews. Skip the strappy sandals.

Can I Wear Jeans to an Internship Interview?

Finding a good internship is tough. When you do finally land an interview, you have to show your potential employer that you’re ready to adult. You are ready to follow the conventions of the employed world by looking the part of a paid employee. No, this is the last place you want to wear jeans!

No matter where you are interviewing for an internship, dress professionally.

Is There Ever a Time I Can Wear Jeans to a Job Interview?

Believe it or not, there are two times when it’s appropriate to wear jeans to a job interview. First, if the interviewer specifically tells you to wear jeans. This is common on construction sites and even in the film industry. But, even in these industries, don’t assume jeans are OK. If not specifically told to wear jeans, follow the “casual” rules.

The other time it’s ok to wear jeans to a job interview is it’s a virtual interview. Still wear a dress shirt or blouse and a blazer. You want to look professional, but no one can see your jeans anyway.

And, for the love of all that is sacred, never dream of wearing jeans with holes or rips in front of your employer!

Save to Pinterest

Can I Wear Jeans to a Job Interview? No. You can't. #whattowear #jobinterview #career #careeradvice