8 Interview Clichés to Avoid

The point of an interview is to show off to the hiring manager how wonderful and unique of a candidate you are.  So why would you waste precious time and words answering questions with clichés?  Unfortunately, when put in a nerve-racking situation, people often freeze up or stumble over their words, and these standard lines are the first things that come to mind.  Here are a few clichés to look out for, and some alternate ways to respond:

1. I’m a Team Player

The ultimate cliché, this one pops up in resumes, cover letters, and interviews.  But what does it really mean?  If you’re a “team player” and really want to get this point across, don’t say this line.  Explain what it is that makes you so great to work with.  Focus on your excellent ability to communicate or your willingness to both lead and follow directions.  Talk about a few instances where you have picked up the slack for someone else without having to be asked.

2. I’m the Perfect Fit

Ultimately this is up to the hiring manager.  Instead of wasting your breath telling them this and expecting them to believe you when they know nothing about you, barrage them with examples of why you’re a great fit.  Then they’ll come closer to making this conclusion on their own.

3. I’m a Hard Worker

Aren’t we all?  Again, saying this really means nothing to the interviewer until you provide concrete examples.  Tell them about all those times when you stayed late, turned work in before its due date, anticipated what needed to get done next, etc.  Make the interviewer really believe that you are a hard worker, because just saying so is not enough.

4. I’m Willing to Do Anything

Often this is the road many people have to take, especially when starting out in entry-level positions.  And while it’s great to have that sort of mentality, you don’t want to sound too desperate in a job interview.  And worse than sounding desperate, you don’t want to imply that the job itself is something you’re “willing to put up with” until you advance on to something better.  Mention specific parts of the job that excite you, and instead of focusing on your willingness to do anything, focus on your desire to do these specific things.

5. I’m a Fast Learner

When you say this, Hiring Managers hear, “I don’t know how to do this“. Saying this makes you sound like you are inexperienced, and that you may be underestimating the level of understanding it takes to do the job.

6. I’m Good with People

That’s exactly what the interviewer is trying to determine in the interview. It’s not just about determining if you have the skills and qualifications to do the job. The interviewer is trying to determine your general demeanor and personal skills, so let them see you in action, don’t simply state it.

7. I’m a very Loyal Person

People who say this are usually overcompensating for holding many jobs in the past, but not staying at any particular job for very long. Candidates who say this are typically concerned that the interviewer will think they’ll get bored and leave soon after taking the position. Instead of saying this, stress how you see this potential employer as a long term career path.

8. I really need this job

Some people think it’s a good idea to talk about their personal life in an interview, and how important it is for their family that they get this job. Even if this is true, do not say it. It only makes you look desperate. The less it seems you need the job, the more valuable you seem to the employer, because other employers want you too.

Clichés hurt you not just because they make you sound less credible, but also because they take away the chance to go into depth and provide specific examples of why you’d be a great hire.  Don’t do yourself an injustice by speaking vaguely with a hiring manager – the specifics will get you much farther.

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The Best Way to Answer “YES” to “Have You Ever Been Fired?”

Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
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For some, the question “Have you ever been fired?” can inspire a pit in the stomach when the answer to that question is “Yes”.  You may be among an unfortunate bunch who had a horrific experience at a company (or with a certain coworker or boss), ending in a not so ideal ending.  And whether your termination was your fault or not, it can continue to haunt you in your search for future prospects.  So what is the best way to field this tough issue?

Be Honest

First things first:  don’t lie.  It may be tempting to dismiss the topic altogether, hoping that the company you’re interviewing with never finds out – but what happens if they do?  If they find out during the interview process, you’re certain not to get the job.  And if they find out a few years down the line, no matter how great an employee you are, they may still decide to let you go.  A second termination is not what you want on your record, so do yourself a favor and be upfront and honest from the get go.  It’s much safer, and you’ll stress about if far less in the long run.

Provide Some Context

Explain the circumstances surrounding the incident.  If it was a conflict of interest, let the interviewer know.  If it happened 15 years ago, tell them that you now have a lot of distance from the incident and that your stellar work performance since then speaks for itself.  If it occurred in the more recent past, explain that you have learned quite a bit from the incident, but don’t spend your time making excuses.  Lay down the facts, and focus on what you’ve done since and will do in the future to demonstrate that you are a valuable employee who understands what it takes to be an asset to a company.

Don’t Give Away Too Much

While it’s important to be forthcoming in your response to this question, you also don’t want to spend too much time addressing the matter.  Keep the focus of the interview on what makes you the ideal person to hire, and spend as little time as you can conveying what the interviewer needs to know about that particular incident.  People who feel the need to defend themselves tend to over-explain, and this can portray lack of confidence and lead you down the wrong road.  Certainly stray away from speaking ill of your former boss or company, remaining as objective and succinct as possible.

No one likes getting fired and everyone wants to find a new job.  Don’t let one obstacle in your past set the tone for the rest of your career.  Concentrate on what you need to do to land your next job and on the reasons you’re a perfect fit for it, and the rest will follow.

Have a wonderful day,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News October 11: How to Answer “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

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While many people leave their previous positions simply in search of another opportunity or for logistical reasons, such as moving or needing to cut back on hours, others leave for slightly more complicated reasons, such as an abrasive boss or an unfulfilled promise.  Whatever your reason, there are certain ways to talk about this aspect of your job history so that your experience helps, not hurts you.

Don’t Badmouth Your Employer

This seems obvious, but sometimes people are tempted to put down their previous employer in order to justify a move that seems less logical otherwise.  Some individuals feel that dealing with a bad employer is a character building experience, one that sets them up to succeed more in their next position.  While this may be true, the best candidate in an interviewer’s eyes is someone who can maintain their grace and composure in a less than perfect situation.  When you digress in your interview and start bringing up the bad blood that existed between you and your former boss, you might come across as irrational or vindictive, two qualities that raise red flags for a hiring manager.  Try to speak more diplomatically, focusing on how the company culture may not have been an ideal fit.  You might bring up how you had a different outlook than your boss, but this is still a bit risky – you don’t want to come off as obstreperous.  When you can, try to stick to more neutral points, such as the fact that you achieved all you could at your old job and now you are ready to move on to something new.

Don’t Talk About the Negative Aspects of Your Last Job

Try not to focus on how things weren’t going well at your last job.  Again, you don’t want the hiring manager to associate any negativity with you – it’s important to keep the tone of the interview as positive as possible.  It’s even advisable not to talk about how you weren’t feeling challenged enough, even though this implies that you are ready to tackle tougher projects.  That’s because you don’t want to convey that you won’t stick around when you get bored; there will be times when an employer will need you to complete a project that you may not be excited about.  Overall, try not to come across as someone who won’t be reliable if the job is less than perfect from time to time – you want to seem as flexible as possible.

Don’t Dwell on the Question

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t spend an inordinate amount of time discussing why you left your old job, but rather, should focus on why you want to enter this new one.  The less time you devote to the matter, the less the hiring manager will think about it, and the smaller the odds that your answer will raise any eyebrows.  Simply explain how you are ready to start an exciting, new chapter in your life and that you’re very happy for the opportunity to consider a position like the one they are offering.

When it comes down to it, the main reason hiring managers ask why you left your last position is to figure out if there is anything that they should be wary of in your past.  If you don’t give them any reason to question your integrity or work ethic, but instead focus on how excited you are about the job at hand, this tricky question should have little bearing on your chances of getting the job!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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New Year’s Guide to the Job Search – 5 Steps to Landing a New Job

land-new-job


A New Year marks the beginning of a new and improved you. It also marks the beginning of a new job search season, meaning it’s time to leave your old job-seeking ways behind and embrace the new, more organized, more prepared you – someone who lands a new job with ease.

So here at Doostang we composed a check-off list of vital job application steps for all job seekers to consider. Make sure you have these 5 steps down and you’ll be fulfilling that “New Job in the New Year” resolution in no time.

1. It All Starts with the Resume

The first step to securing an interview (and hopefully a job) is having a superb resume. Begin by proofreading your resume for any grammatical and spelling errors, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s more important is that the skills and experiences you’re listing are relevant to the specific job you’re applying for, so that the hiring manager can be convinced that you’re capable of doing the job he or she is hiring for. That means every resume you send out needs to be tailored to the position you’re trying to get.

You may think your resume is top notch, but getting a second (and third, and fourth) opinion never hurts, so get some input from your friends as well. And if you want to be absolutely sure in the quality of your resume, get feedback from an expert and get a professional resume critique.

If you need more in-depth guidance on resume-writing, you can find our collection of resume tips and advice here.

2. Always Include a Cover Letter

Every resume you send out should be accompanied by a cover letter. And just as you would personalize a resume, a cover letter should also be custom-tailored to the job you’re applying for. This is your chance to expand on your resume and prove to the person reading that you have the skills necessary to do the job they’re hiring for.

Keep the length under one page and take the time to proofread, as spelling errors can quickly disqualify you from the race. And make sure you’re not making any of these deadly cover letter errors.

3. Pick Up the Phone

Phone interviews are commonly used as the preliminary step to weed out unqualified candidates, so chances are your first actual conversation with the company will be over the phone. This step should not be taken lightly, so do your research ahead of time and be as prepared as you would be for an actual in-person interview.

Use the fact that the interviewer can’t see you to your advantage and have your materials in front of you – your resume, company info, questions for the interviewer, and whatever else will aid you in that initial conversation.

Always answer with a professional greeting. “This is John Smith speaking” will impress your potential employers much more than a puzzled “Hello?” The same goes for your answering machine, so while you’re in the process of applying to jobs, replace that quirky voice-mail you recorded back in high school with a professional-sounding message.

Another tip – stand up while you’re speaking on the phone. Your voice will project louder, making you sound more energetic and positive.

4. Questions Questions Questions

Although there’s no way to know for sure what you will be asked in any given interview, there are ways to make sure you’re as ready as you can be. Be prepared to go over your resume and explain every point in detail – that’s almost a given in any interview.

Examples speak volumes, so have some stories ready that highlight your achievements. When you’re asked a seemingly random question about how you handle challenges or your work style, use a relevant back-up story as a supporting point – your interviewer will be impressed.

Keep in mind – what the hiring manager is really trying to find out is (1) do you understand what the job entails? and (2) can you actually do the job? Prove to them that both of these are true and you’ll can be sure you left a positive impression.

And make sure you have a set of questions ready to ask as well. Remember you’re interviewing the company too, so use the chance to see if the job is a good fit for you.

5. Giving Thanks (And a Reason to Hire You)

The Thank You Note is the final step to securing that job. It’s not just your chance to be polite and thank the interviewers for their time (please do) but also your chance to remind everyone you’ve interviewed with why you’re perfect for the role and seal the positive impression you’ve made on them.

As with everything else, make sure to personalize your note and reference some of the things you and the interviewer talked about so that he or she can easily remember who you are.

For a more thorough look into what you should include in your Thank You Note, you can read all the details here.


So once you’re ready to apply to that fantastic job on Doostang, go down this list and make sure you have every step down. When you’ve mastered all the steps in the process, you should have no trouble fulfilling the career portion of your New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year!
The Doostang Team
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10 New Year’s Resolutions to Help You Land a New Job

land-a-jobWith this year coming to an end, it’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions. And if you’re looking for a new job in the new year, here at Doostang we composed a list of job search resolutions all job seekers should take to heart.

1. I Will Apply to More Jobs

This is logical – the more job applications you submit, the greater the chances that someone will actually review your resume, invite you for an interview, and offer you the spot. Creating simple rules for yourself, such as “I will apply to at least 3 jobs a day” or “I will average 15 job applications a week” is the first step, so start spending more time on Doostang.

2. I Will Focus on the Jobs that Matter

Don’t just amp up the quantity of job applications, do it strategically. Don’t apply for positions you’re blatantly underqualified for, and – this goes without saying – don’t apply for positions you’re not interested in, just to fill your daily quota. The less time you waste applying to jobs that are out of your league, the more time you will have to focus on the opportunities that really matter.

3. I Will Perfect My Resume

You may think you’ve perfected your resume already, but is it really at its full potential? Doubtful. Remember that your review is bound to be biased and try to look at your resume from the perspective of someone who’s never met you. Can a stranger get a good reading of what you can bring to the table? Can they tell what you actually did at your last job? Are all the jobs and responsibilities you have listed relevant?

4. I Will Have Someone Else Review My Resume

A fresh, outside perspective can shed light on things you may have missed in your review, so ask a friend to go over your resume with you. Or better yet, get a professional resume critique and you can be sure nothing gets overlooked.

5. I Will Personalize Every Application

Make sure you personalize your materials to the job you’re applying for. No need to make massive changes to your resume every time, but it is important that the experiences and skills you’re listing are highly relevant. Make a separate list of all of your accomplishments and responsibilities. For every job you’re applying for, go down the list and pick the most relevant ones – those are what needs to go on your resume, the rest you can leave out.

6. I Will Write a Cover Letter for Every Job

Always include a cover letter with every resume you send out. It will give you a better chance to elaborate on your experiences and skills as they relate to the position you’re applying for. And as with resumes, make sure each cover letter is targetted to the job you’re applying for.

7. I Will Come Prepared to Every Interview

Do the research before every interview and get as much detail about the company and the position you’re applying for as possible. Try to figure out ahead of time what kind of person the employer wants to hire for the spot, then show the interviewer that you possess the desired skills.

8. I Will Have Better Answers for the Interviewer

Odds are your interviewer will ask you to elaborate on your employment history. Prepare this summary ahead of time and make sure it supports and enhances everything you’ve listed on your resume. When answering questions, give concrete examples that prove your point. Take some time to think of stories that illustrate some of your strengths: an example of you skillfully handling conflict, a story that shows that you’re a dedicated worker, and so on. Write these down and study them before your interviews, so that when you are, in fact, asked if you’re a team player, you can not only answer affirmatively but have a supporting story ready as well.

9. I Will Prepare Questions for the Interviewer

Don’t forget to have a list of insightful questions ready for your interviewer. Ask things that show that you’ve done your research and are eager to know more. Perhaps the most important question to ask is what problem the employer is trying to solve by hiring someone for this spot. Once you find out what the challenges are, show the interviewer how you’re the right person for the task. And remember, this is also your chance to get more details about the position and see if it’s a good fit for you.

10. I Will Always Write a Thank You Note

This is a vital but sadly, often overlooked step in the application process. A Thank You note is your final chance to make your mark on the interviewer, so don’t take this step lightly. Try to send it within 24 hours of your interview and reference some of the things you’ve discussed during the interview so that the interviewer can easily recall who you are. And of course, use the Thank You note to remind the interviewer why you’re right for the job and what you can bring to the company.


And there you have it job seekers, if you take these 10 Doostang resolutions seriously and make them your own, job search in the new year should be a breeze. Good luck!

Wishing you much career success in the new year,
The Doostang Team!

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How To Leverage the Holiday Season and Get Hired – 5 Reasons Holidays Are Job-Search Prime Time.

holiday-job-searchIf you’re about to put your job search on pause until after the holidays, here at Doostang we ask you to reconsider. Did you know that the holiday season might actually be the best time to apply to jobs, and has the potential to do wonders for your career search?

Here are the 5 reasons why the holidays are a great time for job seekers to get ahead, and some tips on how you can use this time to your advantage:

1) Spots Going to Waste

We’ve all heard those rumors about companies taking a break from hiring in December and resuming only well after the holidays. In reality, many employers are frantically trying to fill remaining openings before the New Year because of the fairly common “use it or lose it” policy for leftover spots. With a rapidly approaching deadline, hiring managers are more likely to hire (and hire fast!) the first person that seems to fit the job description. So make sure they have your resume!

For many companies, budgeting happens in the fall and as managers rethink priorities and positions, new openings might get created to fit the company’s growing needs for the upcoming year. The anticipated starting date for these jobs would fall on the beginning of the year. Do the math and it makes sense that the people getting hired for those spots send in their resumes and interview sometime during the holiday season.

2) Waning Competition

Many job seekers wholeheartedly believe that all their job-searching efforts during the holidays will be futile, and take a month-long break from sending in their applications. Not to mention, everyone is so distracted by the typical holiday frenzy that even the job seekers who have not completely backed off this season are much less active.

Use that to your advantage! Less competition means your odds of landing a job have just skyrocketed.

3) Networking Galore

The holidays provide an easy excuse to reconnect with your network and touch base with all your valuable business contacts. Catching up with old acquaintances could alert you of new insider hiring opportunities, while extending well wishes to your past employers might improve the quality of the references they provide.

Keep in mind that people are generally less busy with work (and in a more giving spirit) during the holidays, so they’d be more likely to assist you with your job search. Now is the time to get input on your resume, schedule those informational interviews, or ask for new introductions.

Furthermore, the abundance of holiday activities makes for easy new networking opportunities. From holiday parties to volunteering opportunities, the season is full of chances to meet new people who may prove to be invaluable in your job search.

4) Spark Up Conversation

With the end of the year, many employers are redefining the company goals and initiatives. Now more than ever, the hiring manager will have a clear idea of what the company’s long-term and short-term plans are, meaning it’s the best time for you to see the direction the company is headed in.

At an interview, make sure to inquire about these things. Ask leading questions about the company’s priorities for the upcoming year. Not only will you get a better sense of the company and whether or not it’s a good fit for you, you’ll have an extra chance to sell yourself. Tell your interviewer about the skills you possess that will help the company solve the challenges that will arise.

5) Self Improvement

With the extra free time you have during the holidays, do all those things you’ve been putting off that could make a difference in your job search. Rewrite your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, print out some business cards.

If you know you’re going to be receiving gifts and don’t know what to ask for, channel your job search into your wish list. Ask for things that can help you succeed, such as items to complete your interview look or resume prep books. If you’re short on ideas, here are some great gift ideas for job seekers to get you started.

Armed with that knowledge you can now take advantage of this holiday season and get the most out of your job search. If you pump up the volume while everyone else is laying low the employers are bound to notice.

So start applying to those top jobs on Doostang and take full advantage of everything this season has to offer.

Wishing you a happy job-search season,
The Doostang Team

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