All posts by Richard N. Peterson

The Hardest Interview Question to Answer

There is nothing worse than being in an interview and getting questions you cannot answer.

Avoid the nightmare and be prepared in the interview. Identify what the questions may be and arm yourself with answers already prepared.
Review these tough interview questions and some recommended responses in order to avoid an interview disaster:

The Worst Question: “Tell me about yourself.”

This is always the opening question and it’s the ideal time for you to blow your own horn — not to tell your life history. Your answers should be a quick rundown of your qualifications and experience. Talk about your education, work history, recent career experience and future goals.

A Typical Answer: “I graduated from Yale and since then, I have been working in agency public relations where I have generated PR hits for our clients. While I liked working on the agency side, I’m looking to start doing PR for corporate companies like yours.”

My Absolute Favorite Response:  “Where Would You Like Me to Start?”

You now “Own” the Interview.

Congratulations, kiddo.

How to Correctly Resign from a Job

Two Weeks’ Notice
How to Give Notice that You’re Leaving Your Job

You’re ready to move on to bigger and better things. One last hurdle: quitting your job.

Give notice both verbally and in writing.

Approach your boss in person, but they will still need a resignation letter for their files. Be brief. You don’t have to give details if you don’t wish.

Don’t bad-mouth the company.

You will need these individuals as references later on. Even if you don’t plan to list them on future resumes (say, you were there a very brief time), burning your bridges is a bad idea. You could find yourself face-to-face with a former colleague in an interview two years later, and she might remember the “So long, suckers!” speech you gave at your farewell party, complete with inappropriate gestures. Best to keep all parties happy.

Perform well your last two weeks.

Again, you’ll need references, and word-of-mouth travels quickly in most industries. If complete your tasks, tie up loose ends, and make it easy for your replacement to pick up where you left off, you’ll leave a good impression that will follow you to future jobs.

Be tactful in your exit interview.

Some companies require an interview with HR before you leave. This is the best time to air grievances, if you have any. Petty details, like Linda’s constant sniffle, should be kept to yourself. But if you experience discrimination, bullying, or harassment, now is the time to get this in writing as your cited reason for leaving. This will protect future employees who may be subjected to the same behavior, and alert HR to serious problems in the company. It will also cover your bases in extreme cases if you intend to file a lawsuit.

Be constructive.

If, after nicely giving notice, you feel some improvements may help your replacement, now is the time to say so. But remember to couch the comments as suggestions. Saying, “And by the way, the procedure for credit reversals is asinine,” won’t win you any favors. Try: “It might help to streamline this procedure for productivity.”

Last but not least, be kind during your last few weeks. Take the time to thank anyone who has personally helped further your career. Bring cookies. Compliment people whose performances you admire. You’ll leave on a good note, and that’s best all around.