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How to Answer Tough Interview Questions

Have an interview for an exciting new job lined up? Worried you’ll mess up? Let’s go over the basics.

Most-Asked-Job-Interview-Questions-and-How-to-Answer-Them

Credit to the guys at Sample Questionnaire for the original article.


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Three interview questions you need to be ready to answer!

Here are the three questions that Forbes says all other interview questions boil down to.

Employers are no longer relying on standard interview questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” To ace your interview, you need to be ready to answer a whole variety of new questions, including some rather odd ones, like “How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State building?.”

But an insightful article on Forbes says all those questions really boil down to three:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you love the job?
  • Can we tolerate working with you?

Here’s why they’re so important.

Can you do the job?

In a time where jobs are becoming increasing complex and specialized, employers need to make sure you can do the job. That means not only making sure you have the right technical skills and experience for the job today, but the ability to learn and adapt, to think critically, to embrace new technology and approaches, to work in multidisciplinary teams, to communicate effectively with others, to take the job to the next level, to move to another area in the organization, etc. Because the job they are hiring you to do today will likely change fairly radically over the course of your employment with them.

The interviewer might not ask you all this directly, but you can be sure they’re looking for clues in your answers.

So make sure you share examples of how you continually adapt and learn on the job, stay ahead of technology trends, work with others, manage risks, think critically and make decisions. Give them a broader view of what you can bring to the organization and the value you can provide.

Will you love the job?

So much research recently has focused on employee disengagement and its cost to organizations. So employers aren’t just looking to hire people with the right skills and experience for the job and “fill the seat”. They’re concerned about finding the right candidate, who’ll be fully engaged in the role and be a high performer.

Here again, it’s hard for an interviewer to directly ask you about your engagement level. And clearly, if you’re looking for a new job, you’re likely not fully engaged in your present role. But many of the questions they ask give you the opportunity to express your passions for your work.

So make sure, as you answer questions about your work experience, you share with the interviewer the aspects of work that you love. What are the things at work that “turn you on” and make time disappear? Do you love solving problems? Are you passionate about satisfying customers? Do you thrive on the details or guiding the big picture? Do you need to work on teams? Are you jazzed by beating the competition?

What are the things you need in a role to be fully engaged? And what are the things that disengage you? Be honest about both; it’s in everyone’s best interests for you to work in a job that you love.

Can we tolerate working with you?

Cultural fit has also become a key consideration in hiring. So much work these days is done collaboratively that you need to be able to get along with your coworkers and work effectively with them.

But more than that, as organizations recognize that their employees are their only true source of lasting competitive advantage, organizational culture and competencies are becoming more critical. More than products/services or technology, this is what differentiates an organization from the competition.

So interviewers are likely to ask you questions that help them understand whether you share their core values and competencies. Afterall, if you’re a good fit, you’re likely to be more engaged and to perform better.

To help them determine this, start by getting as much understanding of the organization’s culture, values and core competencies as you can. There are lots of areas on their website that will give you clues to these. Look at their company history, careers page, mission and values. Look at the words they use to describe themselves, their products/services, market and customers. And decide for yourself whether the organization will be a good fit for you, and you for it.

Most companies will be looking for things like: customer focus, commitment to quality, innovation, integrity, speed, care for the environment, responsiveness… But each will live that in a different way.

If you think there’s a good fit, let them know. As you answer questions in the interview, tell them about your shared values and competencies. Give examples of how you’ve exhibited those on the job and outside of work. Let them know that you’re more than just the skills and experience you bring to the table and that you share a commitment to the same things.

 

Check out the original article over at Tech Republic. Credit to the original author, Sean Conrad.


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25 Of The Most Outrageous Interview Questions

Have you heard the one about the penguin in the sombrero? Here are 25 of the most outrageous interview questions!

“If you could get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why ?”

Florida ? C’mon, you’ve always had a thing against Florida since that whole hanging chad business. California ? Alaska ? One of the Dakotas ? Do we really need two Dakotas ?

This is just one of the 25 weird questions that job site Glassdoor.com found in its annual survey of oddball interview questions. The question was asked by a Forrester Research interviewer for a position as a research associate.

Most people walk into a job interview expecting, “Tell me a little bit about yourself,” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses,” but the truth is, these crazy questions get asked at all types of companies, from Bank of America to Amazon.com.

“What do you think about when you are alone in your car ? “

That question was asked during an interview for an associate analyst position at Gallup.

How would you answer it ? I suppose “a string of profanity and karaoke” would be an unacceptable answer.

“I would say, ‘On the way to work I’m thinking about the 20 things on my to-do list when I get into the office,'” said Amanda Lachapelle, director of HR and talent acquisition for Glassdoor. “That demonstrates that you’re on and ready to go when you get there.”

“What song best describes your work ethic ?”

That question was asked at Dell for a consumer sales job.

“‘Under Pressure’ by Queen!” Lachapelle said.

“‘I’m a Rolling Stone,’ because I take it as it comes!” one man said.

“‘She Works Hard for the Money!'” a woman responded.

Watch a video of employees randomly asked some of these oddball questions by Glassdoor.

Have you ever stolen a pen from work ?”

That question was asked during an interview for a software architect position at Jiffy Software.

“Yes, but not on purpose!” the candidate answered.

We’re not connecting any dots here, but just sayin’ … that candidate did not get the job.

Lachapelle’s answer ?

“Glassdoor gives us free pens!”

Most difficult questions, such as, “How many balls would it take to fill this room ?” are designed to test your creativity, critical thinking, and how you handle pressure.

But some are designed just to see if you’re a good cultural fit for the organization.

Here’s by far the best one on the list this year:

“A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here ?”

That question was asked by a recruiter for a position as office engineer at Clark Construction Group.

If you’re really thrown off by an oddball question, stop for a moment. Take a breath … and think of something! A clever response is to use something like that to sell yourself.

“My penguin is going to come in the door and say, ‘You should hire Amanda – she’s organized and she has her stuff together. You want her to lead your team,'” Lachapelle said.

Uh, yeah, but what about the sombrero ?

“He had a margarita before he came in!” she said.

“It’s how you think. Your social fit,” Lachapelle explained. “Are you fun ?”

Incidentally, the candidate for that job answered, “Where’s the sun screen ?” … and got the job.

If you’re stumped, whatever you do, don’t say, “I don’t know.”

Employers are trying to test your creativity, critical thinking, and your ability to handle pressure and all you’ve got is, “I don’t know ?”

“Part of it is kind of creating good conversation,” Lachapelle said. “Saying ‘I don’t know’ stalls the conversation a bit,” she said.

I’d say. That’s a conversational dead end!

Seriously, do you really want an interviewer to conclude that, after knowing each other just five minutes, you have nothing else to say to one another ? God forbid you run into one another in the kitchen while heating up a Lean Cuisine – those will be the longest five minutes of your life!

On the “don’t” list, Lachapelle suggests, never speak negatively about a past employer or former co-worker.

And never, under any circumstances, miss an opportunity to sell yourself. Even if a penguin walks into the room!

 

Here’s the full list of Glassdoor’s 25 outrageous interview questions for 2013:

1. “If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why ?” – Asked at Forrester Research, research associate candidate.

2. “How many cows are in Canada ?” – Asked at Google, for a local data quality evaluator position.

3. “How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State building ?” – Asked at JetBlue, for a job as a pricing/revenue management analyst.

4. “A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here ?” – Asked at Clark Construction Group, office engineer candidate.

5. “What songs best describes your work ethic ?” – Asked  at Dell, consumer sales candidate.

6. “Jeff Bezos walks into your office and says you can have a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea. What is it ?” – Asked at Amazon, product development candidate.

7. “What do you think about when you are alone in your car ?” – Asked at Gallup, for an associate analyst position.

8. “How would you rate your memory ?” – Asked at Marriott, front desk associate candidate.

9. “Name three previous Nobel Prize winners.” – Asked at Benefits CONNECT, office manager candidate.

10. “Can you say: ‘Peter Pepper Picked a Pickled Pepper’ and cross-sell a washing machine at the same time ?” – Asked at MasterCard, call center candidate.

11. “If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us ?” – Asked at Trader Joe’s, crew candidate.

12. “How would people communicate in a perfect world ?” – Asked at Novell, software engineer candidate.

13. “How do you make a tuna sandwich ?” – Asked at Astron Consulting, office manager candidate.

14. “My wife and I are going on vacation, where would you recommend ?” – Asked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, advisory associate candidate.

15. “You are a head chef at a restaurant and your team has been selected to be on ‘Iron Chef.’ How do you prepare your team for the competition and how do you leverage the competition for your restauran t?” – Asked at Accenture, business analyst candidate.

16. “Estimate how many windows are in New York.” – Asked at Bain & Co., associate consultant candidate.

17. “What’s your favorite song ? Perform it for us now.” – Asked at LivingSocial, Adventures City manager candidate.

18. “Calculate the angle of two clock pointers when time is 11:50.” – Asked at Bank of America, software developer candidate.

19. “Have you ever stolen a pen from work?” – Asked at Jiffy Software, software architect candidate.

20. “Pick two celebrities to be your parents.” – Asked at Urban Outfitters, sales associate candidate.

21. “What kitchen utensil would you be ?” – Asked at Bandwidth.com, marketer candidate.

22. “If you had turned your cellphone to silent mode, and it rang really loudly despite it being on silent, what would you tell me ?” – Asked at Kimberly-Clark, biomedical engineer candidate.

23. “On a scale from one to 10, rate me as an interviewer.” – Asked at Kraft Foods, general laborer candidate.

24. “If you could be anyone else, who would it be ?” – Asked at Salesforce.com, sales representative candidate.

25. “How would you direct someone else on how to cook an omelet ?” – Asked at Petco, analyst candidate.

 

Credit to the ponyblog over at CNBC for the original content.


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Master the changing face of job interviewing

The new trend in hiring in 2013? Challenge-based and video interviews. Read how you can master these new challenges.

Just when you got the hang of the in-person or phone interview, things are changing. According to HireArt, a company that helps employers make hires, the new trend in hiring in 2013 is utilizing challenge-based and video interviews.

“Businesses and recruiters are using video interviews and work samples as a way to effectively vet job candidates before bringing them in for an actual interview so employers can “try before they buy” and ensure they’re finding the right candidate for the job.”

For example, if a business is hiring an engineer, they may present a coding challenge to candidates; if they’re hiring a social media manager they may ask candidates to create compelling tweets.

Here are some tips from HireArt to ensure that candidates are prepared for both the challenge-based and video interviews that are becoming more common in today’s competitive job market.

1. Act like you want to be there.

Being energetic over a video interview can go a long way in making you stand out against other candidates that seem bored or uncomfortable. Even though it might be more difficult to seem enthusiastic about a job when you are just talking to the camera, you should try to come across as excited and passionate about why you want to be there.

2. Watch your presentation.

You don’t look as good on camera as you look in person (it’s true!). So, don’t let basic components of your interview, such as attire and lighting, negatively affect how you come across. Dress as you would dress were the interview taking place in the office. Record the view in a bright place that allows the interviewer to clearly see you. And make sure the quality of your audio allows the interviewer to really understand what you are saying. Although these things are not related to your skills, they could count against you when other candidates have them and you don’t.

3. Don’t be sloppy.

Typos and lack of attention to detail in your online applications often immediately disqualify you. Take the time to be careful!

4. Know your own pitch.

Most video interviews require you to record a two minute pitch about yourself. Really think about what you want to get across, what experiences you would like to highlight, what sets you apart from other candidates, and how you want to say this in a succinct way.

5. Make sure you know the company, its competitors and the industry inside and out.

If you are invited to an interview, even if it is an online interview, companies expect you to understand the position and know the company well. Use this information to craft your pitch and at every other chance you get. Articulate specifically why you want to work at the company – what specifically drew you to this position.

 

Find the full, original article written by Toni Bowers, over at TechRepublic.


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The Most Difficult Interview Questions You’re Likely To Be Asked On Wall Street

Wall Street is rude, it’s crude and it will eat you alive. Interviewing for a job on Wall Street is no different.

By: Cindy Perman. CNBC.com Staff Writer

It’s not a meet-and-greet tell-me-about this job or that experience. It’s more like a punch in the face. They’ll ask you hard questions, maybe inappropriate questions — all to see if you’re going to be able to run with the big dogs — or if you need to get your behind back on the porch.

‘They’re looking for how you handle pressure. How you think on your feet. Are you the brightest of the bright ? Are you a natural leader ?’ said Jeanne Branthover, head of global financial services at Boyden Global Executive Search.

Wall Street Oasis, a job-search site for financial careers, recently pinged readers for the hardest questions they were ever asked on an interview for Wall Street. The answers included such zingers as:

‘You’re going to be working 110 hours a week here. Can you even handle that ?’

‘Why don’t you have any offers yet ? What’s wrong with you ?’

‘What single word would you use to describe yourself so I don’t walk out of here and forget you ?’ (Good answer: Unforgettable!)

‘What line on your resume is the most bull**** ?’

‘Do you view this as your dream career ?’ If you answer yes, ‘If in two years, you receive an offer for more money on the buyside, will you turn it down because this is your dream career ?’

In an interview for a Goldman Sachs analyst position, the interviewer asked: ‘If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out ?’

‘What’s your outlook for cucumber prices over the course of 2012 ?’

In an interview where there were two interviewers, the one who was supposed to be the silent No. 2 asked just one question: ‘Are you trying to f*** us over ?’ The kid froze, the interviewer wrote in a comment on WallStreetOasis.com. The No. 1 interviewer jumped in: ‘Why didn’t you just say no ?!’

‘If I told you that the only way you were going to get this job is if you let me sleep with your girlfriend, would you accept ?’

When it comes to analytical questions like ‘What’s your outlook for cucumber prices ?’ or ‘How many tennis balls could you fit in this room ?’, it’s not about the answer.

‘It doesn’t mean you have the right answer — they’re trying to see how your thought process works’, Branthover said.

The kiss-of-death answer to any of these questions is ‘I don’t know’.

‘You answer ‘I don’t know’ and that will get you out the door!’, Branthover said.

Some of the other questions she said her clients have been asked include:

If you could choose, what brand would you like to be and why ?

How many balls would it take to fill Central Park ?

Have you ever cheated on your partner ?

Did you ever tell a secret you promised to keep ?

What is the biggest lie you’ve told — to whom and why ?

Tell me, how would you go about killing a crocodile ?

Questions for Wall Street jobs have always been tougher than those for most jobs, Branthover said, but they’ve gotten even tougher since the financial crisis.

‘They want to know if you can really be a leader in tough times’, Branthover said. A lot of these leaders hadn’t been tested on that before the financial crisis. They survived and now they want to know — can you ?

So, they may ask you questions like ‘What was one of the toughest decisions you had to make ?’ or ‘What was the hardest environment you’ve ever worked in ?’. Then, they’ll want to know what you did to solve the problem, get through the tough situation — and what you might do differently today.

Plus, with all the layoffs on Wall Street, there are fewer people to do all the work, meaning they really want the best of the best, the brightest of the bright.

When it comes to the inappropriate questions like sleeping with your girlfriend and cheating on your partner — the kind that would get the red light flashing in human resources at most companies — it’s about seeing if you can handle how brutal Wall Street can be.

‘They’re trying to divide the men from the boys and the girls from the women’, Branthover said. ‘If you have soft skin, you’re not cut out for investment banking’.

They’re going to poke you with a stick and see how you react.

‘They want to see that you’re not rattled by rudeness; that you stay on your feet and don’t look shocked’, Branthover said.

You don’t have to answer ‘Yes, you can sleep with my girlfriend’ — you just have to not look shocked and have a quick comeback.

A good answer one person posted on Wall Street Oasis was: I’ve been with my girlfriend a long time and plan to marry her. If you so much as kiss her neck, I’d (bleeping]) knock you out. That being said, I have a beautiful sister I’d be happy to hook you up with …

And that, my friend, is a lesson in how deals get done on Wall Street!

 

You can find the original article at CNBC, or it was also re-produced over at Here is the City.


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Interview techniques that get results, from HP

Do you think first impressions are accurate, or are you often surprised by how people turn out to be?

If you’re interviewing someone for a job, for example, or an agency to work on a project, how can you judge them on the basis of a short interview? The fact is, until you’ve spent time with someone, it’s difficult to find out what they are “really like”.

Luckily, communication skills can help. And, of course, they can be used in all social situations.

1. First impressions aren’t always right
Quite often we judge people within the first few minutes of meeting them.  But don’t be too influenced by first impressions. What people look like, what they’re wearing, their accents and their haircuts can tell you a lot – but they certainly don’t tell the whole story.

Interview situation: To get below the surface of someone in a short time, it’s essential to approach them with an open mind. Make a list of the character stereotypes you’re influenced by – such as, “people who wear glasses are clever” or “fat people are easy-going and happy” – and then think about how rational these preconceptions really are. If you form a negative first impression just because of the way they look or speak, you might miss the fact that they are experienced and professional and would do a great job in your team.

2. Relax and smile
Most of us are a bit shy when we meet new people. So if someone has a sweaty handshake, sits right on the edge of their chair and seems ill at ease, it probably just means they don’t feel comfortable in the social situation. To put them at their ease, show you’re interested in them; talk calmly and smile. Once they are relaxed, and start to trust you, they will open up and reveal more of their true nature.

Interview situation: Non-threatening body language signals help other people relax and reveal more about themselves, their personal goals and their intentions. Be aware of yourself and the impression you give: relax your face and shoulders, speak calmly, and draw them out gradually, starting with easy questions and small talk. Remember: if they seem uncomfortable, it is partly because of you.

3. Consider body language
Broadly speaking, you can see whether someone is a relaxed or a nervous type from the way they hold their body and from their facial gestures. For example, we exhibit interest and openness by directly facing the person we’re talking to, tilting our faces towards them, maintaining steady eye contact, smiling, and keeping our hands, arms and legs uncrossed. However, don’t read too much into this unless you know a person well enough to be familiar with their normal patterns. Body language is strongly based on culture: what’s normal in one culture or social group may be unacceptable in another. This is not a real science.

Interview situation: In an interview, when you have so little time, anything that can help build up an impression of a person is useful. For example, notice a few details about how they use their bodies, hands, faces and especially their eyes – do they have a confident, firm handshake or a flabby one? Is their body facing you, or turned away? Do they look at you confidently when they speak or avoid your eyes? However, remember that although we’re good at recognising facial expressions, it’s hard to tell whether these expressions are genuine or not. The best way to learn how to “read” people is to spend time in different social settings – or, as David Funder of the University of California at Riverside says: “A good judge of personality isn’t just someone who is smarter – it’s someone who gets out and spends time with people.”[1]

4. Ask follow-up questions
Asking questions is a sign of interest in another person, though in some cultures it’s more acceptable to ask direct or personal questions than in others. However, generally speaking, if you’re talking to someone and they don’t ask you a single question, then the normal conclusion to draw is that they aren’t really interested in you. To avoid giving this impression, make sure you ask questions – and then listen to the answers!

Interview situation: A good interviewer asks lots of follow-up questions and asks for explanations. So don’t be afraid to probe the applicant and press them for details: your second and third questions, the ones that get below the surface, will elicit the most revealing and honest answers. Avoid those that only need a yes/no answer. For example, you can say, “That sounds interesting. Why did you decide to do that?” or, “How did you approach that? Can you give me some examples?” or, “What happened then?” This gives the job candidate the chance to open up (and if they don’t, that will also tell you something about them).

With these basic communication skills, we can learn a great deal about other people, even if the time we can spend with them is limited. Learning to listen and to ask the right questions builds trust and encourages people to reveal their true personalities and intentions. And that way, we shouldn’t be in for too many shocks at a later date.

[1] Psychology Today, 1 May 2004

 

Credit the original author, HP. You can read the original post here.