Interview, Interview Tips, Interview Advice

3 Things To Avoid During An Interview

Interview, Interview Tips, Interview Advice

When you go into an interview, it’s important to put your best foot forward. That being said, there are a few things you should try to avoid during this prime opportunity to make a first impression. And no, we don’t mean the more obvious stuff like no cursing or dressing unprofessionally. These mistakes are more subtle, but will still leave a strong impact on Hiring Managers.

Filler Words

We are all familiar with the typical “filler words” you are advised to avoid: um, uh, like, hm, etc. However, there are a few more phrases that candidates habitually use that are a turn-off for Hiring Managers. One filler phrase that we have noticed popping up more frequently is “you know what I mean?”

It’s often hard to self-evaluate and determine whether you use a filler word or phrase. The best way to discover whether you do or not is to record a mock interview and listen to your answers! Once you’re aware of what your go-to words are, it will be much easier to avoid them in a formal setting.

Negative Tone

You want to make a positive first impression, right? Well, using a negative tone throughout your interview will have the exact opposite effect. Avoid speaking about your former employers or jobs unfavorably, even if that’s the reason you’re hunting for a new position. Instead, focus on the positive aspects that you are looking for in your next role!

Casual Language

No matter what stage of the interview process you are in, you should never let your guard down. If you are in the office for an “informal meet-and-greet,” out to lunch with the team, or even negotiating the final details of your offer, it’s essential to remain professional. This extends from how you dress to your language choices, and even to topics of conversation. It’s best to avoid casual language such as “awesome,” “totally,” and “you guys.”

If you have an upcoming interview and need a little refresher, check out some of our top job interview prep advice. We have dozens of tips and tricks to set you up for success!

These Interview Questions Will Reveal The Most About Candidates

When interviewing candidates, not every question is created equal. If you’re referencing an outdated list of interview questions that you found on the internet, you’re doing yourself (and your candidates) a disservice. A focused list of purposeful questions can reveal a lot about a candidate and how they’ll fit into your open position.

Behavioral questions

These questions typically begin with, “tell me about a time…” Your aim is to have the candidate explain past situations and how they handled them. Try to customize the question to accurately represent situations they would encounter if they were to join your team. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
  • Tell us about a time when you did not meet a customer’s expectations. What happened, and how did you attempt to rectify the situation?
  • When you’re working with a large number of customers, it can be difficult to deliver excellent service to them all. How do you go about prioritizing your customers’ needs?
  • Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation?
  • Explain a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities.
  • Tell us about a successful presentation you gave and why you think it was a hit.
  • Describe your proudest professional accomplishment.

Personalized questions

Questions that directly relate to a candidate’s resume and experience will always reveal a lot about them and how they’ll function at your company. Try asking them to expand on statistics listed on their resume. Additionally, choose projects they’ve worked on that are especially pertinent to the role they’re interviewing for and ask them to elaborate.

We encourage you to continue asking personalized interview questions throughout your entire meeting. If something a candidate says sparks your interest, don’t be afraid to follow up and ask for more information.

Application questions

Every company and every team has unique situations that your employees run into. Be sure to ask your candidates real-world application questions that could be a part of their everyday life if they secure this job. Maybe there’s a project that your team is currently brainstorming. Ask the candidate about their ideas or how they would approach that particular situation.

Video Interview? Here Are 5 Ways You Need To Prepare

Video Interview? Here Are 5 Ways You Need To Prepare

Video Interview? Here Are 5 Ways You Need To Prepare

In this day and age, video interviews are becoming more and more standard practice. As the competition for hiring increases, managers are looking to streamline the hiring process however they can. If you get scheduled for a video interview, don’t fret! Follow these 5 preparation tips and you’ll be well on your way to landing that next step in your career.  

Practice, practice, practice 

One of the most difficult things about a video interview is the propensity for technological issues. From slow internet to software slipups, there are so many tech obstacles that can arise. The best way to head these off is by practicing ahead of time. Make sure you download any necessary software and try to run through a trial connection. Hardwire your computer, if possible. The stronger your connection, the better! 

Prepare like it’s an in-person interview 

A video interview is between a phone interview and an in-person interview. Thus, you should be prepared for anything. Your interviewer may ask some more in-depth questions. One advantage of a video interview is that you can have some quick notes up on your screen.  Just be sure to keep them concise, so you’re not spending the entire interview reading! 

Dress for success 

Just because you’re able to do a video interview from the comfort of your own home, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You still need to dress in full professional attire, from head to toe. Stick with neutral colors and plain patterns. Not only will this help you look sharp on screen, but it will also give your confidence a boost! 

Clear the background 

It’s absolutely essential that you have a minimalist background for your video interview. Make sure there’s no clutter and that you are in a professional setting. Interviewers don’t want to see bed pillows behind you! If you can, try to set up in an office or at a kitchen table with tasteful décor. 

Send a thank you note immediately 

This one stands true for all interviews, but is definitely worth repeating! After your video interview, you’ll already be settled at your computer. Take the opportunity to type of a quick thank you note to your interviewer. Don’t forget to include details from your interview that will help set you apart and leave a memorable impression. 

soft skills

In Today’s Job Market, Soft Skills Are Just as Valuable as Hard Skills

soft skills

Before you apply to a new job, you’re most likely thinking about the hard skills you have that make you qualified. In other words, the exact experience you’ve had that pertains to this certain position. But do you also think about your soft skills that make you even more valuable?

A job isn’t just about the schooling, experience, and the things you know how to do. It encompasses a lot more than that. Having good personal skills are what makes you a great employee. So, instead of just focusing on your hard skills while looking for a job, here’s how to also quantify your soft skills as being just as valuable.

Stress your soft skills

When it comes to interviews it’s important to remember both your hard skills and soft ones. They make you the employee you are, and companies want to know about them. If you only focus on one or the other, you’ll lose a tremendous opportunity to show your full value and what you can offer to their team.

Stressing your soft skills in today’s job market will help you get the job. Great talent is hard to find. If you have a solid foundation of the hard skills they need, and great soft skills that they want, they’ll want to grab you in a hurry before someone else does. It all comes down to selling yourself and your skills. All of your skills.

You may not have the experience, but you have the foundation

You may have applied for a position where you don’t have all the experience or the background in every part of the job description they’re looking for. But that doesn’t mean you’re not qualified!

Your soft skills can get you over that hurdle, to where the team you’re interviewing with doesn’t focus on your lack of hard skills but realizes your valuable soft skills. Anyone can learn a new skill, especially if they have skills in that field already. Teaching someone soft skills is almost impossible, and if you leverage that, you never know what might happen in your career!

Today’s job Market allows your soft skills to stand out

Companies are struggling to find great candidates to fill their critical roles because there is a talent shortage. The best candidates are the ones with jobs nowadays. Which means companies are having to reach out to those who already have good jobs to see if they’re willing to transition.

So, when they find a candidate who may not have all the experience they’re wanting but has great soft skills, they will jump! No one is wanting to miss out on a great candidate who will help their company grow for something that can be taught. And if you are an employer that does miss out on great candidates, you could suffer by leaving your critical roles vacant.

In the end, use your soft skills to your advantage. Focus on them and try to improve them just like you do with your hard skills. You’ll be surprised to see the impact not only on your current position but your future roles as well.

And remember, if you’re looking to partner with great recruiters, reach out to Johnson Search Group today!

Value during an Interview

Value – How to Demonstrate Your Value During an Interview

Value during an Interview

The interview is your chance to shine. And to make sure you hit it out of the park, there are a few things you need to focus on. You need confidence, experience, and you must bring value during an interview. However, you can demonstrate your value in different ways. And it can be the one thing you do that leaves the interviewers with a good lasting impression on why they should hire you.

Share Your Experience

Why will you be valuable? If you answer this question without having to be asked, you hit a point that is pertinent to why you’re there in the first place. They are not just looking for someone to fill an empty role. They’re looking for someone to bring value to their team and help them accomplish the things they need to accomplish. If you can show how your experience will get that done for them, your value will shine.

Ask questions

Ask questions about what they’re wanting you to accomplish if you receive this role. Make it about them and their needs and explain how you can accomplish that. Remembering that an interview is a two-way street to see if the job is also a fit for you and your abilities is important. In this job market, you have plenty of opportunities, so make sure you get down to what they are looking for and if you really can accomplish that for them, is important.

The best part about asking questions is you take the interview from a nervous/serious time to a more comfortable, friendly environment. And everyone will enjoy that.

Culture Fit

You can show a tremendous amount of value if you prove that you would fit great with their culture. Nowadays, there are a lot of different working environments. Some that are great and some that are terrible. But depending on your working style you can be just fine in either. It just matters to you if you mesh well. And this is also a very valuable thing to companies. No matter their reputation, they are always trying to bring in good people that will help improve the culture. And if you can show that you’re that person, it will only help you.


Being an independent worker is something that a lot of companies are looking for. They want to know that you don’t need to be micromanaged to get your work done. They want to know that you have enough self-discipline to meet deadlines without needing constant help or oversight. Explain how you like to work and point out your independent tendencies.

If you can demonstrate your value during a job interview, you will definitely make a lasting impression on the interviewers. If you need more help preparing for your upcoming interview, we have tons of resources to help you nail that interview and land the job. Good luck!


Excitement: How to Get Hiring Managers Excited About You


We’ve all been in this situation before. You found the perfect job opening. You apply and quickly get called back for the interview. As you talk to the interviewers, you get more and more excited for the position. But surprisingly, you get passed up after the final round of interviews.

What happened? You were sure you nailed it! Well, you may have been a perfect fit for the job, but if hiring managers aren’t excited about you, you may not make the cut. To ensure you get that dream job, you have to show your excitement! Here are three steps to get hiring managers excited about you.

Do your homework

If you really want to make a good impression with your interviewers, you must do your due diligence. And that doesn’t just mean on the company you’re are interviewing for; you need to also do some research on the interviewers.

Head over to the company’s website and do a little digging. Check out their “About” page to get some insight on their mission statement, vision, and what the company stands for. If they have a blog, you should check that out too to see what’s going on with the company. Maybe there was a recent product launch, or the organization received a prestigious award. All of these will provide great talking points during your interview and help you engage with the hiring managers.

Now to learn a little more about the interviewers, you can simply look them up on LinkedIn. Try and find some commonalities that can help you better relate to them during the interview. Not only with this make you feel more comfortable going into the interview, this will help you come across as more personable and make it easier for them to get excited about you!

Tell them you like what you hear

During the interview, if you like what you hear from the interviewers, you need to tell them! How are they supposed to get excited about you when you don’t show them you’re excited about the opportunity?

Don’t overthink this. If you like what you hear and see, show it in your demeanor! Have a big smile on your face, be more animated when you are speaking and listening throughout the interview. Just demonstrating that you are excited about the job and organization will help get the interviewers excited for you as a candidate. And please don’t be afraid to show your personality in your interview. Hiring managers want to see the real you because they also want to see if you’re a great culture fit.

Write a thoughtful thank you note

If you really want to make a great impression on your hiring manager, you have to write a stellar thank you note. You should send a thank you to every interviewer that met with you. And unfortunately, you can’t just send them the same note; you must make each thank you unique and personalized.

You can mention something interesting they said during the interview or reference a question they answered for you. Either way, personalizing your thank you note shows that you’re ecstatic about the position and will help each interviewer get excited about you. Sending a personal email will go a long way and will remind them what you’ll bring to the table.

If you follow these simple steps, every hiring manager will be just as excited as you are when you walk in the door for an interview!

job interview

Seven Job Interview Deal Breakers

job interview

We have talked extensively on other blogs about how to get the job interview and ensure your resume portrays you in the best professional light. However, we don’t often discuss what not to do during a job interview. If you haven’t interviewed in a while, here’s a refresher on some of the most common blunders when it comes to the job interview and how to make sure they don’t happen to you.

You show up late

You forget to prep for the drive or don’t allocate enough of a window to avoid unpredictable accidents or frustrating road construction. It’s pretty easy to plug the address into your GPS or your smartphone to get a travel time estimate to your interview location. To play it safe, add another 20 minutes to ensure you aren’t late. Showing up late puts a bad taste in the interviewers’ mouths and demonstrates that you weren’t prepared.

You don’t take your overcoat off

This one comes from personal experience. I networked my way to a senior level sales role about eight years ago and the weather was still a bit chilly. I wore my overcoat right into the building because I showed up just a minute before the job interview (I should have read #1 above). The hiring manager was just walking out to find me when I walked in the door. He walked me back to his office and asked me to sit down.

I sat there for 40+ minutes in my overcoat. He finally asked me why I didn’t take it off before I sat down. He found it unprofessional and made it seem that I wasn’t really interested in talking for a while with him. The moral of the story, leave your coat in the car or take it off as you walk in the door to your interview.

You don’t look professional

This one comes up all the time. If you are going to be the face of an organization and on the front lines, you need to look the part. If you are going to be the receptionist, manager, or leader of an organization, you need to know what the professional look is. Come on people, we have Google and social media that tells us everything about an organization today! If you are going to interview with a very conservative organization, you probably should cover up the full sleeves or take the studs and rings out of the face for the interview.

I’m not suggesting you change who you are, but you should dress professionally for the role you’re interviewing for. After your interview, you will have a better understanding of the culture to see if it is a good fit and you’ll have the opportunity to see what others are wearing at the office. If you’re interviewing for a receptionist at a tattoo shop, feel free to have all of your tattoos on display. If you are interviewing for a VP of Operations, the first interview should be a bit more reserved than normal.

You forget to take the chew/gum out

From personal experience in hiring, this is one of the most frustrating things I see that can easily be avoided. If you chew tobacco, get rid of it before you interview. I promise you that you’ll live through the interview without it. If you are nervous and think that gum helps, it doesn’t. It annoys those having to talk with you. Chew gum up until you walk into the building and get rid of it properly, not spit on the ground outside the door. Have a napkin on hand or find the trash can to get rid of it.

You don’t tell them you want the job

So, my oldest daughter was telling me about an experience she recently had. She went into a business to interview for a job. This was a stretch job for her, but they were willing to train. They asked her why she wanted the job and she said she wasn’t sure if it was right for her. Now, if you find out it isn’t the right job for you, this is the right thing to do. But, if you want the job, you must have a compelling reason why they should take the risk on you.

My daughter wanted the job and wanted to get into the career field, but didn’t have something ready or prepared for this question. Instead,  she said what came to mind at first and it clearly was the wrong answer. Also, with the market the way it is, hiring managers want to hire people that really want to work with the company.

You don’t know what the job is

How could you get the interview and neglected to adequately prepare for it? You know and see every meme on social media about “practice, we talking about practice,” “prepare for your future,” “practice makes perfect,” etc. Yet, you thought you are so good that you don’t need to do any research on the role or the company.

This is one of the first things we talk about with our candidates. What do you know about the role or company? If they don’t do any research, the job interview pretty much dies there. You might be one of the best candidates for the job, but if you don’t care about it enough to do at least 30 minutes of research, shame on you.


Your nerves get the best of you and you forget to stop talking

Nerves are something everyone deals with. Even the hiring manager has nerves for the interview. If you don’t do the proper preparation, you very well might forget to stop talking and prevent the other people in the room to talk. Having someone do a mock interview with you and give you honest feedback will help you to not dominate the conversation. In our industry, this is called “throwing up all over the interview.” That is a bad thing and it will surely guarantee you won’t move forward.

Congrats on getting the interview. Don’t blow it! It was so hard to get the interview after 20+ resume submittals into the “online job portal” aka black hole of nothingness. Why would you overlook some basics and do one of these seven things that will keep you from getting the job? Changing a couple things will help you land the position you have been dreaming about!

JSG Spills Our Favorite Interview Questions

Our team talks to thousands of candidates day in and day out. It’s our job to have conversations with and evaluate hundreds of people for each position to get to the one or two candidates that will make an immediate impact into an organization. From this process, each one of our Account Executives has narrowed down a favorite interview question that really helps them get to know who they’re talking to. We’ve asked them to spill the beans and share those favorite interview questions (and some even gave the answers they look for!)


Jeremy Johnson: Can you do the job? Would you do the job? Will you relocate?

Ken Heller: Tell me about your background.

Jill Pittmann: What makes you passionate about mining?

Alex Price: Why did you join the mining industry?

Dana Belstler: Where do you see yourself going?

Jeremy Johnson: Explain your job in layman’s terms.


Lukas Winslow: What position have you carried with you?

Krista Portolesi: Why are you looking for a new opportunity?

Mike Muglia: What does your next opportunity look like?

Tracy Isakson: Doesn’t really have a specific question – asks a series of questions to really understand each candidate on a deeper level.


Michelle Smith: What do you like to do for hobbies?

Dallas Williams: What does relocation look like for you?

Tracey Smith: Why should I submit you?

A Foolproof Post-Interview Thank-You Note Template

A Foolproof Post-Interview Thank-You Note Template

A Foolproof Post-Interview Thank-You Note Template

Did you know that sending a timely and well-written thank-note after your interview is just as important as interviewing well in the first place? In fact, 80% of HR Managers say thank-you notes are helpful when reviewing candidates, but only 24% actually receive them!

It’s also best to send it as soon as possible after your interview. You want to add to your stellar first impression while you’re still on the Hiring Manager’s mind, which is why it’s ideal to have a template locked and loaded. That way, you can simply update it with relevant details from your interview before pressing “send” and sealing the deal.

Hi (Interviewer Name,)

Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today. I am extremely interested in the (Job Title) role, and I loved getting to hear more about (Company) and your team. I’m excited about the opportunity to (How you would add value in this role – be sure to list specific things you talked about during your interview!)

Please let me know if there’s any additional information I can provide. Thank you again for the opportunity, I look forward to hearing from you about next steps!

Pro Tip:

Add something of value that you specifically discussed during your interview. Ex: “I thought a bit more about the JSG blog and I think your audience would really respond well to a series about the best way to answer various interview questions.” This demonstrates that you are already envisioning yourself in the position and considering how you can add value.

The key is to keep it simple and express enthusiasm! It shows thoughtfulness when you reference specific points that were covered during your interview. If you were interviewed by multiple people, send them individually customized thank-you notes. In each one, reference their specific role or something you had in common. A great thank-you note will leave a lasting impression!

what's your greatest strength?

Interview Question: What’s Your Greatest Strength?

what's your greatest strength?

What is your greatest strength? This is probably one of the simplest questions you’ll be asked in an interview. However, many people struggle to answer this question effectively. It can be difficult to talk about ourselves and the interviewer is trying to take you out of your comfort zone.

Here’s what you need to know to effectively answer this question and nail your next interview!

Tie your strength into the job description

Generate a list of all the things you are good at. Even if you don’t think it’s a “real” strength, write it down. Only write down professional strengths. After all, this is an interview and no employer wants to hear that you’re great with animals or you are really good at playing tennis.

Now, review the job description and find where your strengths align with what the employer is looking for. This is the absolute best way to answer this question. Tailoring your answer to the job you are applying for will help illustrate to the interviewer that you are qualified for the position and that you’ve done your homework.

Be able to back your strengths up

The strength you choose to answer in your interview is not nearly as important as your reasoning for selecting that strength. You cannot expect your future employer to believe your answer without concrete evidence!

Begin with directly answering the question, and then shift your answer into a brief story that illustrates your skill. This is your chance to show that you are a great fit for the role and that you align with company’s values.

For example, “I would say my greatest strengths are my communication and writing skills. Having worked as a marketing specialist for over three years, I have tons of experience with writing in different voices to captivate various target audiences. As a marketing manager, I will have the ability to effectively write blogs and generate press releases to effectively communicate with different audiences.”

An answer that followers with a story will help highlight your passion while also showcasing that your experience aligns with the job description.

Be honest

This is the most important part of answering this question. I promise it will not go well if you exaggerate your answer, or worse, even blatantly lie about your strength. If you are not honest about the strength that you provide, it may make or break your interview. They will likely ask you to elaborate on your answer, sparking up a conversation that you’re not equipped to have.

Exaggerating on this answer is never a good thing. Most interviewers will see you spinning in circles as you try to play it off in your interview. It’s best to be your authentic self and provide an honest strength that is tailored to the job. The interviewer is looking past canned answers for who you really are. So, don’t be afraid to answer questions truthfully.

Now that you’ve tackled this question, click here to learn how to answer the dreaded: “What’s your biggest weakness?