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22 Questions To Ask Hiring Managers (and HR) in a Job Interview

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22 Questions To Ask Hiring Managers (and HR) in a Job Interview


“Do you have any questions for me?” We’ve all been on the receiving end of that question in an interview.

Ask the right ones and you’ll make a strong impression. Otherwise, you risk blending in with the other applicants.

Discover some valuable questions that will make hiring managers’ and HR professionals’ ears perk up. Try them at your next interview and see how the conversation shifts in your favor.

Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager During Job Interviews

top questions to ask interviewer

1. How does this role contribute to larger company goals?

It’s not terribly difficult to find a candidate who can execute in a role. It is, however, terribly difficult to find a candidate who can also understand how it fits into larger goals.

This includes being able to self-manage, prioritize high-value activities, and grow their role in a direction that aligns with the company’s growth.

How It Helps You

This information can be hard to come by if your company isn’t very communicative or transparent, so this is a good chance to get that information to use it to guide your decisions if you land the role.

2. What do the most successful new hires do in their first month here?

This question shows that you’re the type of person who likes to hit the ground running.

It also shows that you recognize patterns of success and want to replicate only the most effective performers.

How It Helps You

Every company has its weird nuances, its own environment, and its own unspoken expectations. This helps you start with a little bit of the insider info so you don’t suffer a case of “if I knew then what I knew now” in six months.

3. What metrics would you use to measure success in this role?

Asking a question like this shows that you’re goal-oriented and aren’t afraid to be held accountable for those goals. You don’t avoid accountability, you welcome it.

How It Helps You

It’s shocking how many people don’t actually know what they want from their employees beyond a vague idea of some work that needs to get done.

Asking this question will force a hiring manager to figure it out – and then can communicate it to you, so you can execute on it.

4. What are some of the challenges or roadblocks I might come up against in this role?

A question like this indicates that you’re already envisioning yourself in the role and thinking through a plan of attack, should you land the gig.

It’s also a sign that you’re well aware that no job comes free of roadblocks. It signals that not only are you not afraid to deal with those challenges, but you’re also prepared for them.

How It Helps You

The response you receive should help you better understand some of the less-than-ideal aspects of the job – bureaucratic processes, internal politics, and so on.

You can use that information to decide if you’re up for the challenge.

5. What is the biggest challenge the team has faced in the past year?

While the interviewer might be trying to paint a pretty perfect picture of what working on the team might look like, asking this question will help you uncover some of the realities the team has been facing recently.

If you end up joining, you’ll inevitably hear about these challenges – and you may have to help solve them, too.

How It Helps You

It really helps to know what challenges you could find yourself or your team up against ahead of time. In some cases, it could affect whether you accept the role.

Learning about these challenges could give you some great insights into the steps the team has taken to overcome these challenges already.

6. Why did you decide to work at this company?

This question gives an interviewer a chance to do two self-serving things: talk about themselves and perform a no-holds-barred sales pitch on the company.

For promising candidates, the sales opportunity is welcomed. And most people love any excuse to talk about themselves.

How It Helps You

This gives you insight into what motivates your future colleague or manager, as well as what the company offers its employees. If those all line up with what you’re looking for in a job, you’ve got yourself a good fit.

7. What keeps you motivated?

If your interviewer has been at the company for a while, understanding why could give you some really interesting insight into the company and its relationship with its employees.

How It Helps You

Depending on the interviewer’s answer, you might learn something about the company’s career training, leadership opportunities, workplace flexibility, internal job opportunities, and more.

You might dig a little deeper by following up with related questions, like, “What do you enjoy most about working here?”

8. Do you host any events with the team outside of work?

Does everyone keep their head down and do their own thing? Or does everyone enjoy each other’s company? This interview question serves as a great way to find out a little bit about the company culture.

Ideally, there’s a good balance of work and life and the company creates opportunities for those to blend.

How It Helps You

Along with learning about company culture, this is a more lighthearted question that might relax a stiffened atmosphere or lead to a conversation about shared interests.

9. What is your company’s customer or client service philosophy?

This is an impressive question because it shows that you can make the connection between how the company thinks about its customers and the end result.

In other words, how the customer is treated on a day-to-day basis, and in turn, how that shows up in the product.

How It Helps You

While you might be able to find a canned response to this question on the company’s website, it’ll be useful – and possibly eye-opening – for you to hear it more candidly from an employee.

10. What are some of the less tangible traits of successful people on this team?

Ever work with people who just get it? That’s who hiring managers are looking for.

This question demonstrates that you understand a job is about more than just going through the motions. Successful people have a specific frame of mind, approach, attitude, work ethic, communication style, and so on – and you want to know what that mix looks like at this company.

How It Helps You

Because these characteristics are often hard to pin down, this question forces a hiring manager to articulate that “it” factor they’re really looking for – even if it wasn’t written in the job description.

11. What behaviors do the most successful members of the team exhibit?

Asking a question like this shows you’re interested in getting a practical example of what success looks like to the manager of the team you’d be joining.

Plus, when you phrase the question in this way, “you leave no room for a hypothetical answer,” says Dave Fernandez, a former recruiting team lead at HubSpot. Instead, you’re pushing the hiring manager to think about their top performer.

How It Helps You

Because this question forces an example, the answer to this question will give you a strong idea of what success actually looks like. That way, you’ll learn what it takes to impress your colleagues and be a star candidate.

12. What behaviors do the people who struggle most on the team exhibit?

Follow up question #9 with this question, and you’ll show the hiring manager that you’re really trying to get a concrete idea of what to do and what not to do as an employee on the specific team you’re applying to join, says Fernandez.

While this question can make a manager uncomfortable, it’s impressive because it shows that you’re not afraid to ask tough questions.

How It Helps You

First, you’ll get an idea of what poor performance looks like, which will help you set expectations for the position.

Second, you’ll learn how the hiring manager handles a tough question like this – which can teach you something about how office politics are handled in general.

13. How do you deliver negative feedback?

If you would be working with the person interviewing you, this is another tough question that can give you some insight into how the team works.

It pushes the hiring manager to think about how they would handle an uneasy situation, while at the same time highlighting your self-awareness.

How It Helps You

Everything gives and receives feedback differently. Does this person tailor their feedback approach depending on whom they’re giving it to? Do they make feedback a two-way street?

Their feedback style – especially when it comes to negative feedback – will help you understand how well you would be able to work with them.

14. Do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications?

This question shows that you’re not afraid of critical feedback – in fact, you welcome it.

Interviewers tend to make note of red flags to discuss with a colleague following the interview, whether it be something on your resume or something you said

. This question gives them the green light to ask about any of the things that are holding them back from being 100% on board with hiring you.

How It Helps You

You get a chance to address concerns face-to-face without being too confrontational. This could be the difference between an offer and a rejection – or maybe even a higher opening offer.

Before you meet the person you’d be working for, you’ll likely meet a member of HR via a phone screening.

Although this initial phone call is a standard first step for most organizations today, it’s also an opportunity for HR to take notes on you as a candidate and relay those notes to the hiring manager.

Make a good impression on HR – it matters more than you think.

Here are some appropriate questions to ask at this initial stage of the recruitment process so you can put your best foot forward.

1. What do you like most about working here?

This question can be a breath of fresh air to HR reps who primarily answer questions about benefits (which are valuable questions).

Asking an HR employee what they like about the company tells them you care about the company’s culture and that you care about the opinion of someone whom you might not work with directly.

In other words, talking to people like people is always a good idea.

2. How has this position changed over time?

It’s easy to forget that someone might have once held the position you’re applying for – or, more importantly, that the role might have evolved since it came on your radar.

Don’t be afraid to ask HR what this job looked like before you were interested in it. This can include what the responsibilities looked like, how many other people currently hold this position at the company, and even where HR thinks it’s going in the future.

Getting HR’s perspective on the history of your potential role can give you unbiased insight into your department, and let HR know that you’re interested in your future at the company – not just your present.

3. What does this team’s role hierarchy look like? How does this position fit into it?

This is another big-picture question that HR should be equipped and eager to answer for you.

You might not want to bluntly ask “who would I report to?” It can show resistance or insecurity before you ever set foot in the role. But, it’s still something you might want to know.

4. How does the company promote diversity and inclusion?

Every company should always be working toward building a diverse and inclusive work environment. If they don’t, that’s something you should know ahead of time.

Asking this question will tell you which initiatives or programs the company is involved in and what active measures they’re taking toward this mission.

5. What are you most excited about in this company’s future?

Want to inject a little positivity into your phone call with HR? Ask them what has them pumped up right now.

What motivates them to get up in the morning? Put yourself in HR’s shoes: Wouldn’t you love to answer this question, especially if you love the company you work for?

Asking the HR rep what they’re most excited about shows them that you, too, thrive on enthusiasm. It also brings the best out in your interviewer – a good headspace for HR to be in as they hand you off to the hiring manager.

6. What is something the company is still working on getting right?

As a flip-side to the question above, also consider asking HR what they think the company’s greatest challenge is right now.

While other candidates might be skittish around a business’s weaknesses, this question shows HR you’re willing to accept the current negatives and join them in righting the ship.

Note the phrasing of this question, too. By asking HR this question precisely this way, you put focus on the positive and show the company that you have natural optimism (a desired trait in future leaders, just so you know).

7. Is there a dress code I should abide by?

Dress code can be a touchy subject in interviews – you don’t want to reveal that you have deal-breakers so early into a hiring process. But, it is an important aspect of the job for many professionals.

If you want to get an idea of the company’s dress code without suggesting it’s a big deal to you, simply ask HR what you’re expected to wear on your first day. It’s a harmless question that gives you the information you need at the same time.

8. Is there anything about my application that makes you doubt my qualifications right now?

Cap off your phone screening with this confidence play. Asking HR what they’re skeptical about with respect to your application can show them you welcome feedback and you can take criticism. It also helps you better prepare for your next interview.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Nov. 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Apply for a job, keep track of important information, and prepare for an  interview with the help of this free job seekers kit.



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Freshness & SEO: An Underrated Concept

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Freshness & SEO: An Underrated Concept


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

During my time in search, there are certain ranking factors that I’ve changed my perspective on. For instance, after coming to Go Fish Digital and working on internal linking initiatives, I started to realize the power of internal links over time. By implementing internal links at scale, we were able to see consistent success.

Freshness is another one of these factors. After working with a news organization and testing the learnings gained from that work on other sites, I started to see the immense power that content refreshes could produce. As a result, I think the entire SEO community has underrated this concept for quite some time. Let’s dig into why.

Reviewing news sites

This all started when we began to work with a large news publisher who was having trouble getting in Google’s Top Stories for highly competitive keywords. They were consistently finding that their content wasn’t able to get inclusion in this feature, and wanted to know why.

Inclusion in “Top stories”

We began to perform a lot of research around news outlets that seemed quite adept at getting included in Top Stories. This immediately turned our attention to CNN, the site that is by far the most skilled in acquiring coveted Top Stories positions.

By diving into their strategies, one consistent trend we noticed was that they would always create a brand new URL the day they wanted to be included in the Top Stories carousel:

As an example, here you can see that they create a unique URL for their rolling coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Since they know that Google will show Top Stories results daily for queries around this, they create brand new URLs every single day:

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-16-22/index.html

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-21-22/index.html

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-23-22/index.html

This flies in the face of traditional SEO advice that indicates web owners need to keep consistent URLs in order to ensure equity isn’t diluted and keywords aren’t cannibalized. But to be eligible for Top Stories, Google needs a “fresh” URL to be indexed in order for the content to qualify.

After we started implementing the strategy of creating unique URLs every day, we saw much more consistent inclusion for this news outlet in Top Stories for their primary keywords.

However, the next question we wanted to address was not just how to get included in this feature, but also how to maintain strong ranking positions once there.

Ranking in “Top stories”

The next element that we looked at was how frequently competitors were updating their stories once in the Top Stories carousel, and were surprised at how frequently top news outlets refresh their content.

We found that competitors were aggressively updating their timestamps. For one query, when reviewing three articles over a four-hour period, we found the average time between updates for major outlets:

  1. USA Today: Every 8 Minutes

  2. New York Times: Every 27 minutes

  3. CNN: Every 28 minutes

For this particular query, USA Today was literally updating their page every 8 minutes and maintaining the #1 ranking position for Top Stories. Clearly, they were putting a lot of effort into the freshness of their content.

But what about the rest of us?

Of course, it’s obvious how this would apply to news sites. There is certainly no other vertical where the concept of “freshness” is going to carry more weight to the algorithm. However, this got us thinking about how valuable this concept would be to the broader web. Are other sites doing this, and would it be possible to see SEO success by updating content more frequently?

Evergreen content

Fortunately, we were able to perform even more research in this area. Our news client also had many non-news specific sections of their site. These sections contain more “evergreen” articles where more traditional SEO norms and rules should apply. One section of their site contains more “reviews” type of content, where they find the best products for a given category.

When reviewing articles for these topics, we also noticed patterns around freshness. In general, high ranking articles in competitive product areas (electronics, bedding, appliances) would aggressively update their timestamps on a monthly (sometimes weekly) cadence.

For example, as of the date of this writing (May 25th, 2022), I can see that all of the top three articles for “best mattress” have been updated within the last 7 days.

Looking at the term “best robot vacuum”, it looks like all of the articles have been updated in the last month (as of May 2022):

Even though these articles are more “evergreen” and not tied to the news cycle, it’s obvious that these sites are placing a high emphasis on freshness with frequent article updates. This indicated to us that there might be more benefits to freshness than just news story results.

Performing a test

We decided to start testing the concept of freshness on our own blog to see what the impact of these updates could be. We had an article on automotive SEO that used to perform quite well for “automotive seo” queries. However, in recent years, this page lost a lot of organic traffic:

The article still contained evergreen information, but it hadn’t been updated since 2016:

It was the perfect candidate for our test. To perform this test, we made only three changes to the article:

  1. Updated the content to ensure it was all current. This changed less than 5% of the text.

  2. Added “2022” to the title tag.

  3. Updated the timestamp.

Immediately, we saw rankings improve for the keyword “automotive seo”. We moved from ranking on the third page to the first page the day after we updated the content:

To verify these results, we tested this concept on another page. For this next article, we only updated the timestamp and title tag with no changes to the on-page content. While we normally wouldn’t recommend doing this, this was the only way we could isolate whether “freshness” was the driving change, and not the content adjustments.

However, after making these two updates, we could clearly see an immediate improvement to the traffic of the second page:

These two experiments combined with other tests we’ve performed are showing us that Google places value on the recency of content. This value extends beyond just articles tied to the news cycle.

Why does Google care?

E-A-T considerations

Thinking about this more holistically, Google utilizing the concept of freshness makes sense from their E-A-T initiatives. The whole concept of E-A-T is that Google wants to rank content that it can trust (written by experts, citing facts) above other search results. Google has a borderline public responsibility to ensure that the content it serves is accurate, so it’s in the search giant’s best interest to surface content that it thinks it can trust.

So how does freshness play into this? Well, if Google thinks content is outdated, how is it supposed to trust that the information is accurate? If the search engine sees that your article hasn’t been updated in five years while competitors have more recent content, that might be a signal that their content is more trustworthy than yours.

For example, for the term “best camera phones”, would you want to read an article last updated two years ago? For that matter, would you even want an article last updated six months ago?

As we can see, Google is only ranking pages that have been updated within the last one or two months. That’s because the technology changes so rapidly in this space that, unless you’re updating your articles every couple of months or so, you’re dramatically behind the curve.

Marketplace threats

The concept of freshness also makes sense from a competitive perspective. One of the biggest weaknesses of an indexation engine is that it’s inherently hard to serve real-time results. To find when content changes, a search engine needs time to recrawl and reindex content. When combined with the demands of crawling the web at scale, this becomes extremely difficult.

On the other hand, social media sites like Twitter don’t have this issue and are made to serve real-time content. The platform isn’t tasked with indexing results, and engagement metrics can help quickly surface content that’s gaining traction. As a result, Twitter does a much better job of surfacing trending content.

Thinking about the web from a platform based perspective, it makes sense that most users would choose Twitter over Google when looking for real-time information. This causes a big threat to Google, as it’s a reason for users to migrate off the ecosystem, thus presenting fewer opportunities to serve ads.

Recently in Top Stories, you now see a lot more “Live Blog Posts”. These articles utilize LiveBlogPosting structured data, which signals to Google that the content is getting updated in real-time. While looking for real-time URLs across the entire web is daunting, using this structured data type can help them better narrow in on content they need to be crawling and indexing more frequently.

Google seems to be aggressively pushing these live blogs in Top Stories as they often see strong visibility in Top Stories results:

This might be a strategic move to encourage publishers to create real-time content. The goal here could be increased adoption of content that’s updated in real-time with the end result of showcasing to users that they can get this type of content on Google, not just Twitter.

Utilizing these concepts moving forward

I think as an industry, sometimes there’s room for us to be more creative when thinking about our on-page optimizations. When looking at how to improve pages that have lost traffic and positions over time, we could take freshness into consideration. When looking at pages that have lost prominence over time, we might want to consider checking if that content is also outdated. Through testing and experimentation, you could see if updating the freshness of your content has noticeable positive impacts on ranking improvements.



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Build-A-Bear using data to make itself into an all-ages brand

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Build-A-Bear using data to make itself into an all-ages brand


Build-A-Bear is remaking itself for the 25th anniversary of its founding this year. This means using its experience and its data to appeal to older customers and create stronger online connections.

“The goal that was stated for us was to diversify our brand, evolve our retail portfolio and build stronger relationships with our consumers,” said Ed Poppe, Build-A-Bear’s vice president, loyalty and performance marketing for Build-A-Bear, in a presentation at The MarTech Conference.

That’s why they launched HeartBox, an e-commerce play which the company says will let it move into “the adult-to-adult gift-giving and gift box market which has been meaningfully expanding over the past few years.” This goes along with its new Bear Cave line of “adult” bears (in this case adult means they have alcohol in hand). The brand has also expanded through partnerships with film, entertainment and streaming TV properties like Harry Potter, Pokémon, The Matrix and the Marvel series WandaVision.

These efforts are designed to give more options to customers who buy online, and increase options for engagement. This has required integrating new teams and new sources of data.

Connecting customer data and teams

“Over half of businesses now say that they expect the majority of their revenue to come from digital channels,” said Loretta Shen, senior director, product marketing, marketing cloud intelligence for Salesforce. “To meet changing consumer behavior, marketers are adopting digital channels like video, social media and digital ads across search and paid media. But it’s not just adopting these channels, but how you use them, and in particular how you use them in tandem.”

Build-A-Bear adapted to customers’ increased digital use by adding new digital experiences while also reorganizing customer data to better understand what customers want.

“We have to understand our guests at Build-A-Bear,” said Bryce Ahrens, Build-A-Bear’s senior analyst, CRM, loyalty and performance marketing. “How do they engage with our email, our websites, our advertising and, of course, how do they engage and experience our in-store environment?”

They keep a large CRM database made up of loyalty program members, website customers, retail customers and sales prospects. Additionally, through access to the CRM, the organization is pulling together different teams: web development, analytics, marketing and also data privacy people.

These teams have to remain connected because data is coming through different systems. Build-A-Bear has a first-party data warehouse, a commerce cloud storefront, an order management system, marketing cloud, an email platform and different analytics solutions, not to mention ad platforms for campaigns.

“We need to be able to bring this information together, prioritize what we look at, and identify strategies to move quickly,” said Ahrens.

Read next: What you need to know to grow your e-commerce business

Count Your Candles

Data and digital experience come together in an ongoing Build-A-Bear effort called “Count Your Candles.”

The promotion is a special offer for customers to order a discounted bear (regularly priced at $14) that costs a dollar amount that matches their age.

The dedicated webpage for this promotion also allows customers and gift-givers to buy gift cards and become loyalty members. Additionally, there are a number of other ways that customers can celebrate birthdays, including in-store birthday parties and special birthday gift boxes that can be ordered and delivered.

These strategies came from marketers looking at the data and seeing what sparked their customers’ interests. In this case, it was birthdays.

“We’re lucky to have a team up here who wants to jump in and help drive our business forward,” said Poppe. “But it also brings us back to where it’s important to aggregate data, identify patterns, see your opportunities, and pick your path forward.”


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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How Local Business Schema Can Boost Your Company’s Visibility Online

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How Local Business Schema Can Boost Your Company's Visibility Online


You’ve started a website for your local business, but with so much competition out there, you may be struggling to make your website more visible online. That lack of visibility could hinder potential customers from finding your company. To improve your visibility in search engine results, local business schema could be the tool you need.

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