By Selipha Kihagi

When preparing for an upcoming interview for a job, it is only natural that you will go to browse various job interview tips. You will also go the extent of asking the people around you for tips that would help you ace the interview. From sending emails, using social media you will ask for job interview tips in your area of study and yes you will find a pool of ideas and advice.

But is the advice you are getting enough to take you through your first interview or a pack of hostile interviewers? Below are some tips you will find useful in any job interview, regardless the position or company.

Job Interview Tips You Need To Know

1. The first 5 minutes and the last 5 are the most crucial
You may have already been told about how important it is that you impress recruiters or employers during a job interview. Seeking to impress is a broad factor that could become your worst nightmare if stressed too much. Recruiters and employers already know if they are going to hire you or keep you as a maybe in only the first 5 minutes.

What you say, how you behave, your appearance and general attitude will be judged here. The same applies for the last 5 minutes. You need to leave a lasting impression so the recruiter does not forget you once the next candidate comes in. Focus on impressing at these two times, then let your preparation work for you in between.

2. Employers hate direct one sentence answers
This does not mean you have the green light to talk and blab your way through the interview; there is also too much talking. The trick here is to give answers as if you are telling your life story. Employers and recruiters can already see how experienced you are, they want to hear about those real accomplishments you made in your last job or projects you participated in while in school.

Make sure the interviewer is moved by what you say. It’s the easiest way to be remembered by employers. This way even if you don’t get hired, they will reach out to you when they hear of another job.

3. If you believe you are the best, you will ace that interview
This goes beyond having confidence. It is knowing that the company or employer will benefit a lot from hiring you that will count. Think about it, it is always easier to convince someone to try out a certain joint or pizza place, why? Because you believe they are the best in the business.

The same notion applies when going for job interviews, think of yourself as a pizza joint (or whatever your best food is) that you truly believe in then sell yourself to the recruiter. If you do this, employers will have no choice but to consider you.

4. Your qualifications will not matter when you are not a people person
Every single job demands that you have interpersonal skills or good communication skills. So, from how you handle the lady or gentleman sitting at the front desk, or the guards at the gate or building you are going to interview, you must be in your best behavior.

Do not become the person who is rude to someone in the lift only to find that they are the ones interviewing you.

You have just gone through the stress of a first interview and luckily you have aced it. The hiring manger now wants to bring you in for a second one. Congratulations on that step!

“Just because you got through to the second interview doesn’t really guarantee you the job” says Muthoni Ndegwa, a Client Services Manager at Corporate Staffing Services Limited, a leading recruitment firm that offers career advisory services that includes interview coaching and CV writing. A second interview is no different from the first. You need to handle it, just as you did the first one to guarantee you placement in the company.

So What are the Mistakes People Make in Second Interviews?

1. Refusing to prepare

Naturally, most people assume that you don’t need to research the company since you have already made it to this stage. Probably many have not. After all, what else is left to do? All you have to do is continue being a delight, which isn’t a bad thing. However, don’t make the mistake of just going for an interview without having prepared adequately. Most of the time, you find that in a second interview, you are likely to meet new interviewers, hence the more better reason you should prepare well.

Instead, prior to the interview conduct a background check on the company on their website and social media pages. You never know what you may have missed that may just come up during the interview. The new knowledge will make the interview process flow smoothly as it makes conversing easier.

2. You Think it’s Time to Make Bold Requests

Just because they gave you a chance to come for a second interview doesn’t mean, you get too comfortable and start making unrealistic demands. These include crazy ideas like wanting to have a one on one meeting with a company executive or being given a sneak peak view into company information that is only reserved for employees.

Some even go to the extent of arriving three hours before the interview, since they want to ‘hang around’ with the employees to learn the company culture. Keep calm! You have not been hired. Just because they called you in for the second interview doesn’t mean, they think you are the best candidate. Be humble. However, don’t strain much. If you need anything, like to use the restroom just ask. Just avoid asking for things you know very well you don’t need.

3. Getting Too Casual in Your Conversations

At this point of the interview process, it’s natural to feel like you know some of the interviewers you interacted with the first time on a personal level. It’s therefore easy to let down your guard and start sharing information that is too personal. The truth is that no matter how relaxed you feel; keep the conversation as professional as possible.

What you need to keep in mind is that, this is still an interview like any other. It’s not a casual meeting you would have with friends to discuss what’s trending on social media. However if you have something personal that you think is relevant to the interview, there is no harm in sharing.

Making it to the second interview stage, should be a great accomplishment that you should be proud of. However, while at it, don’t walk into the room like the jobs is already yours. This is still an interview, to determine if you are the best fit but that doesn’t mean being too uptight. Instead carry yourself in a professional way that might just be the reason you are given that offer letter at the end.

“So, tell me about yourself.”

What seems like such a simple question can really make you sweat, especially in an interview. What, exactly, should you share—not just to build rapport, but to show that you’re the perfect fit for the job?

Fear not, job seekers: There’s a super-simple formula that will help you answer this question with ease.

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”

So, the first question you’re probably going to get in an interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” Now, this is not an invitation to recite your entire life story or even to go bullet by bullet through your resume. Instead, it’s probably your first and best chance to pitch the hiring manager on why you’re the right one for the job.

A formula I really like to use is called the Present-Past-Future formula. So, first you start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—a little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are really excited for this particular opportunity.

Let me give you an example:

If someone asked, “tell me about yourself,” you could say:

“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”

Remember throughout your answer to focus on the experiences and skills that are going to be most relevant for the hiring manager when they’re thinking about this particular position and this company. And ultimately, don’t be afraid to relax a little bit, tell stories and anecdotes—the hiring manager already has your resume, so they also want to know a little more about you.

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When I first moved to New York, I was a cover letter machine. I wrote to every sir or madam with a job opening. I expressed my interest in positions for which I had none. I waxed rhapsodic about companies I’d never heard of. My response rate? A whopping zero percent.

Around the 10th unanswered application, the negative chatter started to kick in—and it sounded suspiciously like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

Go home, Lisa, said the small, icy voice in my head. You’re just not cut out for this. Also, you have no sense of style. At my lowest point, while surfing job boards at Starbucks, I actually locked myself in the bathroom and cried.

Here’s the good thing about rock bottom: Nothing is off-limits. I gave myself permission to try any and all tactics in the cover letter playbook, from throwing in a Beyoncé GIF to pretending the hiring manager and I were good friends. Finally, 103 cover letters later, I landed on one that worked.

Within an hour, I had an interview request waiting in my inbox—and then another, and another. Soon, my response rate skyrocketed from 0 to 55%, and I was scheduling interviews with Vogue, InStyle, and Rolling Stone into my calendar. In other words, this letter—fueled by an old copywriting framework called problem-agitate-solve—is powerful stuff.

Here’s how this three-part formula (a.k.a., my secret sauce) works:

1. Identify the Problem

55% of hiring managers don’t read cover letters. Why should they, when we write like modern-day Oliver Twists, begging them to please, sir, give us the job?

News flash: The hiring manager isn’t here to make your dreams come true. They’re in it for themselves. OK, that’s harsh, but the truth is that they’re looking for an awesome candidate to come in and do a kick-ass job that’ll help them run their department (or company) more efficiently and successfully. That’s why, when a friend tipped me off to an opening at the fashion magazine I’d read religiously since middle school, I resisted the urge to gush—and opened with this one-liner instead:

“As a veteran of and Vs. Magazine, I’ve seen how crazy fashion month can get.”

This sentence, though just 16 words long, tells the hiring manager two things: I understand the problem you’re trying to solve, and I’ve been there. The trick? Zeroing in on the right problem—because it’s almost never spelled out for you in the job description.

When you’re writing your own cover letter, start with the list of responsibilities and ask yourself, Why? Why is this task important to this company? Keep digging until you can’t go any further. The true need is usually the one at the end of a chain of whys.

2. Agitate the Problem

Now that you’ve identified the problem, here comes the fun part.

Because no hiring manager has ever said, “I just love paying employees thousands of dollars every year!” your challenge now is to remind him or her how painful the problem is, and by default, how valuable a solution could be. Don’t be afraid to twist the knife a bit, like I did in my second paragraph:

If you’re looking for someone who can not only keep up, but also deliver that SEO-friendly, 75-page street style slideshow five minutes ago…

Notice I didn’t say, “If you’re looking for someone who can turn around projects quickly…” I was specific, and I made sure to use an example I knew would resonate with a stressed-out web editor.

And if you’re new to the industry or the role? Just ask. This is exactly what informational interviews are for. Find someone on the team you’re applying to, let your interviewer do most of the talking, and pay close attention to how he or she discusses the company’s challenges.

In conversation, we instinctively trust people who mirror our body language. On your application, you won’t get the chance—but you can do the next best thing: Pick up on your interviewer’s subtle cues and phrases and then mirror their speaking language in your cover letter.

3. Offer the Solution

By this point, you’ve got the hiring manager squirming at the table. Now, deliver the solution. Hint: It’s you.

Think about what makes you incredibly qualified to solve the problem. In my case, I knew I wanted the hiring manager to think of me and say, “Lisa? Oh, she’s the one who knows our backend systems and seems like a real go-getter.”

Here’s how I made it happen:

“Since TeamSite and I are old friends, I’ll be able to hit the ground running—and whether it’s churning out a dozen blog posts per day or refreshing the homepage with breaking fashion month news, I’ve done it all. Most importantly, you’ll never hear me say, “That’s not my job!”

4. Close With Confidence

After all that work, you aren’t going to dash off a breathless “Hope to hear from you soon!” right? Instead, seal the deal with a sentence that displays confidence, competence, and a genuine interest in the company:

“I’d love to learn more about your production needs and how I can help!”

Boom. That’s it.

Like its contrarian sibling, the pain letter, this cover letter takes some guts to send. I get it—the first time I fired it off, I was so terrified my boyfriend had to hit the enter button for me.

Look at it this way, though: Everyone else will compete on how many buzzwords they can stuff in a sentence. They’ll swear up and down how passionate they are and how hard they work. But you? With this cover letter formula, you’ve already proved it.

You, my friend, play a different game.

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By Lillian Wamaitha,
How can I get a job without experience? Thousands of fresh graduates find themselves sooner than later asking this age-old question. If all jobs require experience, how can you get that first job when your only experience is your degree or diploma?

Soon you will find yourself in the situation where your dream job just got posted, and you’re super excited. There’s just one problem, you literally have zero relevant work experience. Considering that you are a fresh graduate with no internships under your belt, what can you actually put on your CV that makes you look as qualified as possible?

Worry not. There are a few different things you can include, as well as a couple of formatting tricks, that will help you present yourself in the best light possible.

1. Indicate your relevant skills

Naturally we are used to beginning a CV with relevant work experience or education, whichever formatting suits you best. This becomes a problem when the relevant work experience isn’t your strong suit. It is therefore advisable that when composing a compelling CV, don’t waste your time compiling things that may just end up confusing the hiring manager. Instead start your CV by outlining those skills you think are relevant and transferable to the job, for instance research skills. We all have skills that make us special otherwise you wouldn’t be applying for that job. These are the reasons why you think you are suited for the role you are applying for. And why the hiring manager should consider your CV among the thousands s/he has on the desk.

2. Tackling the Experience Part

For entry-level candidates, the experience section is probably the biggest challenge one comes across when putting together a CV. One thing you need to keep in mind is that you don’t want to have an experience section that is empty or filled with experience that is not relevant to the job you are applying for. The trick as most experts would advice is to again focus on your skills. From there you can then group your experience under these skills. Say for instance, you said you have time management skills. You can outline things like how you managed detailed project plan to coordinate activities among team members for final group presentations. Since you may not have a lot of experience, it is important to include coursework, class projects, volunteer work or extracurricular activities that are related to your target job. While these may not be paid experiences, they are still valid experiences that you can list in your CV.

3. Put together an enthusiastic cover letter

Most will agree that this isn’t technically part of your CV, but I am a firm believer of always coupling a CV with a strong cover letter. This is especially important if you have no relevant experience or a winding career path. find a way to connect your passions and life experiences with the company, then explain how that will translate into you hitting the ground running once you’re hired. You’ll find that link is exactly the kind of experience employers are looking for from fresh graduates.

Making it into a new career is hard work. The trick to overcoming this is to really iron out those details like relevant skills and related side projects. Add on a riveting cover letter and, with a combination of networking and some luck, you’ll be sure to grab a hiring manager’s interest soon.

I’ve read a lot of cover letters throughout my career. When I was a fellowship program manager, I reviewed them in consideration for more than 60 open positions each year. So I saw it all—the good, the bad, and the standout examples that I can still remember.

As a result, I’ve become the go-to friend when people need feedback on their job applications. Based on my own experience putting people in the “yes” (and “no”) pile, I’m able to give these cover letters a quick scan and immediately identify what’ll turn a hiring manager off.

While I can’t give you insight into every person’s head who’ll be reading your materials, I can share with you the feedback that I give my own loved ones.

1. The Basics

First things first, I skim the document for anything that could be disqualifying. That includes typos, a “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” salutation, or a vibe so non-specific that it reeks of find-replace. I know it seems harsh, but when a hiring manager sees any one of these things, she reads it as, “I didn’t take my time with this, and I don’t really care about working here.” So, she’s likely to pass.

Another thing I look for in this initial read through is tone. Even if you’re applying to your dream company, you don’t want to come off like you think someone entertaining your candidacy is the same as him offering you water at the end of a lengthy hike. You don’t need to thank the hiring manager so incredibly much for reading your application—that’s his job. If you align considering your application with the biggest favor ever, you’ll make the other person think it’s because you’re desperate.

So, skip effusive thanks and demonstrate genuine interest by writing a cover letter that connects the dots between your experience and the requirements of the position. Telling the reader what you’ve accomplished and how it directly translates to meeting the company’s needs is always a better use of space than gushing.

2. The Opening Sentence

If your first line reads: “I am writing to apply for [job] at [company],” I will delete it and suggest a swap every time. (Yes, every single time.) When a hiring manager sees that, she won’t think, “How thoughtful of the applicant to remind me what I’m reading!” Her reaction will be much closer to, “boring,” “meh,” or even “next!”

Compare it to one of these statements:

  • “I’ve wanted to work in education ever since my third grade teacher, Mrs. Dorchester, helped me discover a love of reading.”
  • “My approach to management is simple: I strive to be the kind of leader I’d want to work for.”
  • “In my three years at [prior company], I increased our average quarterly sales by [percentage].”

See how these examples make you want to keep reading? That’s half the battle right there. Additionally, it makes you memorable, which’ll help when you’re competing against a sea of applicants.

To try it out for yourself, pick a jumping off point. It could be something about you or an aspect of the job description that you’re really drawn to. Then, open a blank document and just free write (translation: write whatever comes to mind) for 10 minutes. Some of the sentences you come up with will sound embarrassing or lame: That’s fine—no one has to see those! Look for the sentence that’s most engaging and see how it reads as the opening line for your cover letter.

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Like the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is sure to come up in an interview.

And, even if it doesn’t, if you want the job you should get this sentiment across regardless. So, really, there’s no way around figuring out how to string together a coherent thought about why this being in this position makes sense for you (and for the company).

Luckily, there’s actually a pretty simple way to go about answering this question effectively without having to go through every big moment or transition in your life and career that’s brought you to this interview. Here’s a smart framework for how you should structure your answer.

Step 1: Express Enthusiasm for the Company

First things first, this is an excellent opportunity for you to show off what you know about the company. You can talk all day about how excited you are about joining the team, but nothing will trump actually knowing a thing or two about the place you’re interviewing with. So, to prepare, spend some time honing in on what you know about the company and select a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re a good fit.

Say you’re interviewing for a small quantitative asset management company. The start of your answer might sound something like this:

The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the position posted was definitely that it was at EFG Advisers. I know that you build a lot of your tools in-house, the team is small, and you run a variety of long- and short-term strategies in the U.S. equities markets using a quantitative approach.

Especially with smaller companies, it’s always impressive when a candidate knows a thing or two about what goes on at the company. And the best thing about this is you rarely have to go beyond reviewing the company website or having a quick conversation with a current or past employee to learn enough to sound like you’ve been following the company for a while.

Step 2: Align Your Skills and Experiences With the Role

Next, you want to sell why, exactly, you’re right for the role. There are two ways you can do this: You can either focus more on your experiences (what you’ve done before that brings you to this point) or your skills (especially helpful if you’re pivoting positions or industries).

Try to pinpoint what the main part of the role entails, plus a couple of the “desired skills” in the job description, and make sure you speak to that. Follow up your introduction to how excited you are about the company with why you’re a good fit:

But the part that really spoke to me about this position was the chance to combine both the programming skills I gained from being a senior software engineer and my knack for quantitative analysis in a position that actively lets me engage with my growing interest in investing and portfolio management.

Keep it short—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you got your skills or relevant stories throughout the interview—and just focus on highlighting a couple key relevant abilities or experiences for the position.

Step 3: Connect to Your Career Trajectory

Finally, you want to show that the position makes sense for where you’re going in your career. Ideally, you won’t give the impression that you’re just using the position as a stepping stone. Show that you’ll be around for the long haul, and your interviewer will feel more comfortable investing in you:

I’ve been interested in switching to finance for a while now and have been actively managing my own personal portfolio for a few years. Joining a quant shop makes sense to me because I think it’s one of the few places where I’ll still be able to use my technical skills and spend my day thinking about finance. I’m really excited to learn more and see how I’ll be able to contribute the firm.

Of course, you don’t have to state specifically that you see yourself in the position for a long time. Just show that you’ve given some thought to how the job makes sense for you now and that it continues to make sense for the foreseeable future.

String these three components together, and you have a response that will impress on three fronts: your knowledge and enthusiasm for the company, your relevant skills, and your general fit with the position. Plus, this framework has the added benefit of not stopping the flow of the conversation the way going through your entire life story would.

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This may seem like a softball, get to know you question—but really it’s your chance to make an unbelievable first impression.

So don’t just spout of random anecdotes about your life or—worse—recite your resume (they already know that information!). We know it’s hard to brag about yourself, but you need to use this question to make it crystal clear why you’re awesome and why you’re the perfect person for this job.


Interviewer: Have a seat. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Jimmy: Well, you know, I always say I make a very big first impression. You’d probably be surprised to know that my first word was [beep].

Interviewer: You may be tempted to tell your whole life story, but don’t. Interviewers really don’t want to hear it. Let’s try that again.

Jimmy: [Sigh] This question’s always so hard…

Interviewer: We know. Talking about yourself is a little hard, but it’s kind of the point of an interview. So let’s try that again, but this time, with a little more confidence.

Jimmy: My name is Alex Green and you can reach me at [email protected] From 2009…

Interviewer: Yikes. Don’t just recite your resume, either. Your response to this question should be like a mini elevator pitch. Here, try the present, past, future structure. This is one sentence highlighting what you’re doing today, one sentence highlighting a relevant past experience, and a third sentence highlighting exactly why you’re excited for this job.

Jimmy: Well, I currently work as a content marketer where I help promote brands by creating blog posts, ebooks, and videos. In the past, I’ve worked with all sorts of marketing channels, from social media to emails. I’m really, really excited about this opportunity, where I’ll get to combine all of those experiences to help a startup like yours grow.

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These are a couple of tips needed by interviewees to survive the rigorous interview sessions organised by employers.

Job hunt is a very stressful aspect of one’s life; it takes motivation and being positive to get the right and dream job. Interviews usually bring tense to job seekers. The more confident you feel, the more chances of gaining the interviewer attention.

Be poised and hold your head high with these useful interview tips:

1.) Body Postures

Usually the mind controls all our actions and movement, but it is possible to use the body to trick the mind into feeling a certain way. Slouching or slumping and crossing your arms are all examples of closed off postures, and when we feel small, we tend to exhibit these poses. If you spend a little time opening yourself up and exhibiting the postures of the confident, you can build a sense of assurance just by your actions. Spend several minutes practicing “power poses,” or opening yourself up, spreading your arms, walking tall, and looking the part.

2.) Be audible while speaking and put a smile

If you are not audible enough while speaking, Practice deep breathing, this will relax your diaphragm and your vocal cords, which will result in a voice with more resonance and a somewhat lower tone and more breath to give power to your speech.

I recommend adding a few singing lessons, the instructor can teach you how to use the cavities in your head to create even more resonance. Once the interview starts, it’s extremely difficult to correct our speaking problems because we may be too nervous or we just plain don’t notice them. Practice speaking your answers out loud so you can hear your voice and correct any nervous intonations, pitch problems, or pacing issues before you go to your interview.

Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies. And smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you. Smile often before your interview to get in the habit of doing so, and you’ll feel more comfortable offering a genuine smile while you’re greeted and when you’re being interviewed.

3.) Prepare, Practice and Rehearse answers loudly

Before going for any interview invitation, you must be fully prepared. Being prepared for interview gives a feeling of confidence. You should be well-equipped, rehearse potential interview answers with a friend. “Look at the skills, experience, knowledge and personal qualities you have and think of examples showing how you developed these.

4.) Win over your anxiety and fear

For some job seekers, nerves can be disabling. Something happens when they walk through the door of the interviewer’s office. Cold sweat trickles down the back of their knees. Their minds draw a blank when asked basic questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?” or, “Why would you like to work for this company above all others?”

These candidates feel like they’re back at school in front of a crowded assembly, unable to make those words pass their lips. The easiest way to combat fear is by not using excuses. Instead, you need to look for positive approaches to accomplish your goal. Don’t let fear, nerves and stage fright keep you from the job interview you want. “Sometimes nerves take over and you don’t show who you are.”

5.) Dress appropriately

Before you say a single word to the interviewer, you have already made an impression based on how you’re dressed. Every company has a different dress code; how you dress at the job may have very little to do with how you dress for an interview. Dress in a manner that is professionally appropriate to the position for which you are applying. In almost all cases, this means wearing a suit. A dark-colored suit with light colored shirt is your best option.


When you’re searching for a job, it can be easy to get so focused on getting hired that you overlook the red flags that can reveal a job or a company isn’t the right fit for you. That’s a dangerous mindset to have, because it can mean that you end up in a job that makes you dread going to work each day.

Here are seven job search red flags that people often ignore, to their detriment.

The person who would be your boss is rude. Your boss will have an enormous impact on your day-to-day quality of life at work, as well as on things like what projects you get, how visible they are, what kind of recognition you receive, future raises, what professional development you have access to and more. That means that your boss’s character and way of operating is hugely important, and it’s crucial that you use the interview process to assess what kind of manager you’d be working for. If your prospective boss is rude or disrespectful, assume that won’t let up once you’re hired (if anything, it’s likely to get worse). Watch out for the following types of disrespect in particular:

  • Seeming put out when you ask questions about the job or the workplace culture
  • Acting as if you should be grateful you’re being considered
  • Disparaging your skills or past work
  • Asking you to do unreasonable things, such as interviewing with only a few hours notice, without any acknowledgement or apology

You feel uneasy about your ability to do the job well. When you’re anxious to get a job, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that your goal isn’t just to get hired, but rather to get hired for a job that you’ll do well in. Otherwise, you can end up struggling and miserable at work, or even getting fired, which can make getting your next job much more difficult. Even if these worst-case scenarios don’t happen, being in a job that isn’t a great fit means that you’re unlikely to have the kind of accomplishments that will help you reach the next level in your career. If you have real concerns about your ability to excel at the job you’re interviewing for – not normal nerves, but genuine doubts that you can do what the employer is looking for – it’s probably better to withdraw from consideration and focus on jobs that play to your strengths.

No one has been able to tell you quite what the job will entail. If the employer can’t clearly explain exactly what you’d be doing if hired, that’s a danger sign. It can mean that the job is likely to change drastically after you’ve already been hired, possibly to something that you don’t want to spend your days doing or aren’t good at. It can mean that they’ll realize they don’t need the position at all, even if you’ve already quit a previous job and started working for them. And if they’re unable to explain what doing the job successfully would look like or how they’ll decide if you’re doing it well, it can mean that you’ll be left to flounder with no clear direction and be held to vague standards that never quite get articulated.

The interviewer doesn’t interview you. An interviewer who doesn’t ask many questions about your work experience is an interviewer who isn’t equipped to make a smart hiring decision. If you’re offered a job by a company that knows little about you and hasn’t made much effort to learn more, you’re taking a risk that once you’re on the job, it will turn out that the role or company isn’t right for you.

Online reviews of the company are overwhelmingly awful. Sites like, where people can leave reviews of their employers, aren’t always 100 percent reliable. People’s reviews are subjective, and a disgruntled employee might paint a very different picture than the reality. However, if a company has a significant number of reviews and they’re overwhelmingly negative, that’s worth paying attention to.

You have a terrible gut feeling. If you feel uneasy every time you think about the job or the manager, listen to your gut. Those alarm bells are often based on things that you’re picking up subconsciously, and it’s far better to walk away now than get stuck in a job that will make you miserable.

You’re pressured to accept the offer on the spot. Good employers will give you time to think over a job offer. They want you to have time to make sure that the job and offer are right to you, because they want to make good hires and not have people itching to leave after a few months. Employers who pressure you to accept on the spot or before the day is over are pushing you to do something that isn’t in your best interest. Be very wary.

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If you’re thinking about taking a new step in your career, your resume’s probably high on your mind. When’s the last time you updated it? How will you transfer the skills from your current job or industry to a new one? How will you set yourself apart from other candidates? How long and horrible will this revision process actually be?

Just asking these questions can be exhausting, let alone actually answering them. And, if you’re not fresh off the job search, the thought of thinking everything through and creating an interview-worthy resume can be exhausted.

Fear not! We’ve come up with the 20 basic rules that will get you that much closer to success.

1. Keep it to One Page

This is a biggie! If a hiring manager’s spending six seconds looking at your resume, he or she might not even get to the second page! Unless you’re applying to be an executive or a partner somewhere, one page will be sufficient and is a widely accepted “best practice.” To cut it down, remember the purpose of it—it’s not to showcase everything you’ve ever done, but rather to show that you have the background, skills, and experience for the job at hand.

2. Avoid Spelling or Grammar Errors

Another biggie. There are some recruiters who will discount your resume the second they see a spelling or grammar error. Although it can be painful, make sure you don’t just read over your resume several times, but also that you have a friend take a peek, too.

3. Watch Your Tenses

This is another common error that can really hurt you in the eyes of hiring managers. As a general rule, if something on your resume is in the past, use the past tense (managed, delivered, organized) and if you are still actively in the role, use the present tense (manage, deliver, organize).

4. Avoid the First Person Pronouns

As a general practice, don’t use words like “I” or “me” or “my.” So, instead of saying “I hit and exceeded company sales quotas 100% of the time” say “Hit and exceeded sales quotas 100% of the time.”

5. Send Your Resume as a PDF

Saving your resume as a PDF (rather than a Word dand yocument) freezes it as an image so that you can be sure hiring managers see the same formatting as you. If you send it any other way, there’s a chance that the styling, format, font, and so on, could look different on their computer than yours.

6. Label Your Resume File Correctly

Too many people save this important document with random or generic file names like sgks123.pdf or resume.pdf. Remember that recruiters can see the name of the file that you send them and also remember that they get tons of resumes every day. Make it super clear whose resume they should click on by saving it under a logical name like FirstName_LastName_Resume.pdf.

7. Format in a Logical Structure

Even more important than naming the file in a logical manner is laying out your resume in a logical manner. How you lay it out really depends on where you are in your career path and what you’re looking to do next. While chronological the default, it’s not always the best way to make your case. Muse writer Lily Zhang lays out the other options that might work better for you.

8. Make Sure It’s Easy to Read

You might be tempted to just shrink the text to get your resume to fit on a page. (Which is funny, because remember all those times in school when you made it 12.5 to make it longer? Life!) While you can adjust the size to some degree, never go below 10-point font.

9. Keep it Organized and Visually Appealing

Remember how hiring managers usually spend just six seconds looking at your resume? Help them maximize that time by making your resume super clear and easy-to-read. You want each section bolded (maybe capitalized) and each job title bolded. Make your life easier by using a template.

10. Keep it Consistent

Just like you want your verb tenses to be consistent throughout, it’s also important that the formatting is, too. If one title’s bold, the other titles should be bold. If one bullet point has a period at the end, the other bullet points should have that as well.

11. Include Context

When you list out your experience, be sure to include context. What city, state (or country) did this job take place in. Did you travel and operate in multiple cities? What dates did you have that experience? Was it for five months or five years? Context matters!

12. Quantify as Much as Possible

Anyone can say that he or she excelled at his or her last job. So, you need to prove to the hiring manager that you truly did. Numbers, percentages, and supporting facts go a long way in showing that you have a track record of success. For example, rather than saying “successfully hit sales quotas” as a bullet point in your resume you should say “successfully hit sales quotas 100% of the time and exceeded goals by 25% in the last 5 months.” You can even do this if your position doesn’t involve using numbers.

13. Name Drop (and Title Drop) Like You’ve Never Done Before

This is your chance to brag. If you got a promotion or a raise because of your performance, you should mention it. If you worked with the CEO of the company or were a point of contact for a large, corporate customer, mention their names! This goes a long way in showing that you can run with important people. It shows that you’re confident. It shows that you’re capable. (Of course, make sure you’re presenting the facts accurately and not exaggerating.)

14. Don’t Include References

Don’t use any of your precious space to include the names and contact info for your references (or to write things like “references available upon request”). This document’s for recruiters to decide if they want to talk to you, not your references. If they get to the point in the application process where they want to speak to these people, they will reach out to you and ask for those names. Until then, no need to mention.

15. Use Your Judgement When it Comes to Creativity

Some industries are more creative than others. If you’re working in digital media or design or elementary school education, it might make sense for your resume to be creative and colored. If you’re applying for a job in finance, operations, or most corporate jobs, you probably want to keep it black and white and structured. Be thoughtful when it comes to your creativity (or lack thereof).

16. Don’t List Everything You’ve Ever Done

There should be a purpose for every word. When you’re writing and editing, ask yourself this question, “Will this sentence help me get the job I want?” If not, you should consider editing that sentence or removing it.

17. Think About the Person Reading Your Resume

It’s important to remember that there’s a real person reading this. And it’s also important to remember that it’s her job to find awesome candidates to interview and present to her boss or team. It’s also not her job to do you any favors. So you should think about her when you’re writing your resume. How can you make her job easier? How can you write your resume in such a way that she gets excited when she sees it, thinks you’re perfect for the job, and is willing to put herself out there by presenting you to her team.

18. Think About What Makes You Different

It’s important that you be yourself during the application process (obviously putting your best foot forward). This includes what you write on your application materials. Don’t hesitate to show who you really are, your likes and interests, your personality, what makes you unique, and so on. While this definitely requires some judgment calls (for example, expressing personality when applying for a traditional role in a traditional industry might not be the best move) it could ultimately be the thing that sets you apart and gets you hired.

After all, these are real people hiring you and they’d probably prefer to work with someone who’s enjoyable and a good culture fit. And if your personality isn’t a fit for the job, you probably wouldn’t have been happy there any way so it works out for everyone.

19. Think About the Specific Job You’re Applying To

One of my favorite tricks to help communicate that you are the perfect person for a job is to read the job description and list out key phrases. Then, when you’re writing or editing your resume, find ways to incorporate those words and phrases from the desired job description into your resume. This can be super useful when a machine or human recruiter skims it.

20. Think of This as a Storytelling Document

Many of the tips that I’ve mentioned all point to the general idea that your resume should clearly and concisely tell the story of “you”—helping hiring managers understand why you’re the right person for the job. This is, in fact, the entire purpose. Ultimately, when you re-read and edit it, make sure that it tells the story of your background, the skills you gained along the way, the experiences that you’ve had, and makes it crystal clear why you’ve ended up where you are today and why the role that they are hiring for is the perfect next step for you.

Yes, this is a lot. The good news is that you’re not alone in the process. The job search is hard, so make sure you’re reaching out to friends and family for support (or, even just for distractions). And, if you think you might want a more professional second set of eyes on your materials, Muse Coach Connect can set you up with an expert who offers resume writing services. Just remember, that when you’re feeling overwhelmed—and 20 rules can do that to you—that following these guidelines gives you a huge head start among all the other applicants.

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We’ve all been there: It’s the end of the interview, and after nearly an hour of pouring your heart (and work experience) out to a potential employer, the hiring manager asks if you have any last questions before wrapping up.

It’s meant to be a formality, of course—a way to end the conversation without kicking you out right then and there. But it’s also an opportunity, intentional or not, to make one final impression and give your interviewer something to remember you by.

As Marshall Darr points out in this short piece on Medium, this final remark is actually a moment to “add value to the conversation” before you both head your separate ways. It’s especially noteworthy when you do manage to pull that off, since so many other candidates, having already asked many questions throughout the session, mindlessly shrug off this little last thing at the end.

But if you play your cards right, he says, it can turn a completely lost cause into a foot in the door. According to Darr, you should wrap things up nicely with this question:

“Actually yeah, I was wondering what your best moment so far at [Company Name] was?”

This simple ask, cleverly masked as innocent curiosity, can give you many important insights—on your interviewer’s values, the company, and how well you might fit in with a position there. Think about it: There’s no higher note to end on than with your interviewer’s fondest memory of the company, a feeling that can now be subconsciously associated with your prospects as a future employee.

And aside from being an emotional plus for you, it’ll also give you an idea of what your future co-workers might value, and the kind of culture that company cultivates for its team members. If your interviewer struggles to come up with a meaningful memory, that’s a helpful red flag for you to keep in mind if you end up with an offer.

So, the next time you’re hard-pressed for something to say in those awkward few moments before the door closes with you on the other side, give this question a shot. Odds are, it can only help.

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