Category Archives: Interviews

Job Interview: Why Only 3 Questions Really Matter

Even for the most fearless amongst us, job interviews can be nerve wracking. In order to give us the best chance of success we tend to prepare for many of the difficult questions we anticipate, questions like:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?

Of course, you can never predict how an interview will go and what questions you will get. You might get an interviewer who fires one tough question at you after the other, or one that turns the interview into a more comfortable, natural two-way conversation. Preparing, therefore is difficult. In most cases we practice the answers to a long list of possible questions. The problem is that this can leave you over-prepared and as a consequence your pre-conceived answers can come across a bit robotic.

From my experience, there are really only 3 questions you have to prepare for and you can link most of the interview questions back to these three. Preparing for these three questions also means you can answer most questions more naturally, simply by referring mentally back to your preparations for these three questions.

Basically, any interviewer wants to establish 3 key things:

  1. Have you got the skills, expertise and experience to perform the job?
  2. Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?
  3. Will you fit into the team, culture and company?

However, during the job interview, the interviewer might use many different questions and angles to get to the answers. If the interviewer doesn’t get what he or she wants from one question, they might ask them in different ways. Or they might probe from different angles to test for consistency in your answers.

Here is what’s behind these 3 questions:

1. Have you got the skills, expertise and experience to perform the job?

Think about the key skills you might need for the job you have applied for and assess your own level of expertise and experience in that context. It makes sense to identify the more specific or technical skills that your potential employer might expect as well as some more generic skills such as being a good communicator, having good IT skills, being a team player, etc. Once you have prepared for this question it will help you answer many different interview questions without getting sidetracked into talking about things that are not relevant. Remember that you want to demonstrate that you are aware of the key skills, expertise and experience required to do the job and that you have what it takes to perform it. Always go back to the key skills, expertise and experience when answering scary (and sometimes silly) questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What are your greatest strengths / weaknesses?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
  • Why do you think you are right for this job?
  • What do you think the main challenges will be?
  • Etc.

2. Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?

Any potential employer wants to know that you are interested in the company and excited about the prospect of working there. You therefore want to demonstrate that you have researched the company, understand its strategy, current performance, structure, market position and products and that you can’t wait to join them. For most, you will have done your homework before you even applied for the job, but if you haven’t then check out the ‘about us’ section on their website and search for the latest strategy documents, annual reports, key statistics as well as the company history. Show that you know them and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and company. Here you might also want to think about your ambitions and how they fit into the company you have applied for. You can then use the insights for answering questions such as:

  • What do you know about our company?
  • What do you think our company is aiming to achieve?
  • What do you know about our products and services?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • Why do you think this job is right for you?
  • What motivates you?
  • Etc.

3. Will you fit into the team, culture and company?

This final key question is about your personality and your style and how you as a person fit into the team and culture of the company. Companies have different cultures, which translate into different ways of behaving and working. It is important to make sure you fit in and don’t feel like a fish out of water. In fact, it is important for the company as well as for you. Again, hopefully you will have done some research prior to applying for the job. Sometimes, it can be tricky to find detailed knowledge about the company culture, in which case you simply talk about your assumptions and why you feel you fit in. One relatively new website that offers a glance inside companies is Glassdoor. The site is still in its infancy but provides a growing amount of data and information about what it is like to work for different companies. You want to map the culture of the company or the team you are planning to join and compare this to your personality traits, style and behaviors. Again, once you have done this you can use it to answer questions such as:

  • How would you describe your work style?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What makes you fit into our company?
  • What makes you a good team member?
  • If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
  • Etc.

Of course, any interview is a two-way process. In the same way the interviewer wants to find out that you are right for the company, you need to assess whether the company is right for you. Each of the questions can be turned around so that you can assess:

  1. By joining this company, will I make best use of my skills and expertise and will they help me to grow them further?
  2. Is the company excited about having me work for them and will they give me the necessary support?
  3. Is the company culture the right fit for me so that I can flourish and be myself?

If you ask relevant questions from your point of view then this will make the interview more balanced and create a more natural conversation.


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What does the dreaded ‘you’re overqualified’ really mean?

Career Moves 


You thought the interview went well.  Then you got a call from a human resources staffer.  “You’re overqualified” was the message.  Just what does overqualified mean?  After all, you weren’t overqualified before the interview.  An employer wouldn’t waste time interviewing people who were overqualified.

If you hear those dreaded words, it means you flunked the interview.  You talked your way out of a job not into one.  How?  Probably by talking too much about your total work experience rather than focusing on those experiences that apply directly to the position for which you’re interviewing.

In an effort to impress, you may have told the interviewer about tasks on your last job that aren’t part of the new position.  That waves a red flag that you may become bored, and you’re not a good fit.  Oops.  That isn’t what a prospective employer wants to hear.

How can you avoid foot-in-mouth disease?  By remembering that the key to a winning interview is the same as that of a successful sales call.  Sales are made because the product satisfies a customer’s needs.  The bells and whistles don’t matter.

A savvy salesperson finds out what their prospect needs before starting his/her presentation.  Uncover the customer’s hot buttons by asking questions and taking cues from the target’s answers.

How can you find out what an interviewer needs?  Start by asking questions instead of answering them.  As soon as you can, get the interviewer to go over the job description to pinpoint what the job entails and how it relates to other areas of the firm.  Ask questions like:  “What are the key job functions?”, “What are the top priorities?”, “What are your ninety-day, six-month and one-year expectations for the person who fills the job?”, “What traits are needed to be successful in the job?” and “Who are the key people and departments the job holder will interact with?”

These probe the interviewer in a positive, non-threatening manner and show your interest in the job, the department and the firm.  Their answers will show you how to tailor a discussion of your experience to the job’s qualifications and the interviewer’s needs.  You’ll also have a good idea of what types of questions other interviewers are apt to ask.

In addition to talking too much about experience that is meaningless to interviewers, there is another subject that often ends up tagging a job hunter as overqualified.  That subject is compensation.  All too frequently, overqualified really means: “We can’t pay you what you were making.”

Usually, job hunters that strike out on the compensation issue name their price before finding out what the company is willing to pay.

How do you work around the issue?  Three ways: 1. Do some research on the going price for the position.  There are all sorts of local, state and federal salary surveys available at the library and online; offers free and premium services. Contact professional associations for salary information, too.  Unless a firm’s salary structure is completely out of whack with the reality of the labor market, your survey results should put you in the ballpark.

Armed with this knowledge, you can respond to a question about compensation one of three ways:  1. “Some recent surveys from (insert sources) indicate pay for similar positions ranges from $X to $Y.  That’s workable for me.”

2. Taking a page from Successful Selling 101, a salesperson will ask about a customer’s budget before quoting a price.  Job hunters can apply that same technique by asking about the pay range for the position.  Just don’t be the first to bring up the compensation issue.

3. Respond with a non-specific answer like:  “Compensation isn’t what drives me.  I’m looking for a job that challenges me to do my best every day.  I’m sure your firm would fairly compensate me for the work I would do.”

Article found at

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Evaluate a Job Candidate’s Social Skills

When it comes to recruiting strategies, hiring decisions often focus largely on candidates’ technical skills and expertise, with relatively little attention given to soft skills. This can result in hiring employees who have the cognitive firepower to succeed but lack the social skills required to effectively use what they know. These employees tend to either rapidly leave due to interpersonal conflict and frustration, stall out in lower-level positions due to their inability to handle the social demands of leadership or bulldoze through the organization, leaving a trail of poor morale and increased turnover.
Hiring the right candidate based on technical knowledge without looking at social skills is like designing a race car with a powerful engine and substandard steering and braking systems. Your car is likely to go somewhere fast, but not necessarily in the direction you want; it may even hurt a lot of innocent bystanders along the way. Fortunately, there are relatively easy and inexpensive ways to decrease the risk of hiring the cognitively skilled but socially inept.
Social skills reflect a person’s ability to work with others in a way that accomplishes near-term business objectives while strengthening longer-term working relationships. The concept of social skills has been around a long time, although it is periodically repackaged under titles such as “emotional intelligence,” “tacit knowledge” and “interpersonal savvy.” Social skills depend primarily on four fundamental characteristics:

  • Self-awareness: Monitoring how our actions affect the behavior of those around us.
  • Sensitivity to others: Showing concern toward the needs and feelings of others.
  • Social intelligence: Understanding methods for influencing others’ behaviors and perceptions.
  • Self-control: Being able to control our actions and emotions, particularly when under stress

Click HERE for complete article.

By: Steven Hunt, PhD, Monster Contributing Writer


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21 Reasons Why You Didn’t Get the Job

By Vicki Salemi | U.S.News & World Report LP,


You aced it. Or at least you thought you did a stellar job during the job interview, but now that a month has come and gone, you’re not so sure. You thought you would get at least a phone call a few days or even a week later regarding next steps, but now? Not so much. Insert crickets.

And now you have to face the music: You didn’t get a shot at a final interview, let alone that coveted job offer. What went down? Let’s look at various scenarios:

1. You talked too much/too little.

2. You appeared nervous and lacked confidence.

3. Your soft skills weren’t so sharp.

4. Your technical skills weren’t up to par…

5. Or they were too on point and you were deemed overqualified.

6. The hiring manager felt threatened by your sparkling skills and spot-on experience.

7. You were too vague and didn’t illustrate examples when asked behavioral-based questions.

8. Not a cultural fit with the team and organization.

9. Too much of a fit – maybe you appeared overconfident.

10. Your salary requirements were too high.

11. Your references bailed on you and provided not-so-pleasant insight.

12. Your thank-you note had errors.

13. You were too aggressive when following up.

14. You were late to the interview.

15. Or maybe not very polite to the receptionist.

16. It wasn’t about you – it was about them, since they went with an internal candidate.

17. They closed the requisition, downgraded it or upgraded it into something else. Or hiring has been frozen.

18. The hiring manager is out of town so all decisions are on hold regardless.

19. You didn’t look the part – maybe you dressed a bit informal and the interviewers’ read it as you’re not taking the position seriously.

20. You threw your current/former employer under the bus.

21. It was simply not meant to be.

Essentially, there could be a plethora of reasons why you didn’t get selected to move to the next round and get the job.

Quickly replay the interview in your mind; tweak accordingly next time. Trust the process, the reasons and not having all of the answers. Don’t try to analyze too much, since it’s easy to become stagnant in your own head instead of pounding the pavement. At this point, you can conduct a succinct self-awareness check to see if you can alter anything for the next interview.

Yes, it’s deflating when you don’t get a job you’re yearning for, but every interview is an opportunity to learn and improve your approach. Maybe your experience was a stretch and didn’t quite translate into the new role you’re pursuing. As in not-so-relevant. Quickly scan the interview in your mind and tweak accordingly for the next one. For this example, next time you can connect the dots better with your skill set and strengths.

It’s not you, it’s them. In another instance, let’s say you were polite, arrived on time, felt comfortable and confident with your answers and the dialogue and demonstrated required skills and experience for the position. Trust that you did your best and it wasn’t meant to be.

Sure, you may be tempted to wonder what could have happened. The job requisition could have been filled internally, they could have selected another candidate who was a rehire or it could have been put on hold, to name a few. Countless scenarios occur behind the scenes; it’s challenging for a job seeker to surmise. Here’s the good news – you don’t have to surmise by spending too much time and energy thinking about it. It’s not always about you and the process isn’t very transparent.

Ever upward. You may be tempted to ask the recruiter for specific feedback, but chances are they won’t provide it. For starters, it could put the company at risk since they probably don’t provide feedback to every single candidate and because they should treat all candidates equally. Plus, it opens a can of worms – they need to focus on candidates they’re going to hire, not the ones they’re turning down.

And in the spirit of that mind set, you should also focus forward. Decide what you’re going to improve, such as providing a range for a salary requirement instead of a specific number, and pour your attention into prospective employers. Propel forward with your search and gain momentum with each and every interview, self-assess and then forge ahead. Ever upward!


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Janitor Hiring Event 8/7/13




Must be able to pass background check and drug test; 5 years janitorial and carpet shampooing experience.  Valid driver’s license.  Stripping and waxing floors a must.  Cell phone required.  Office:  901-775-7778


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., 38111

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11 Common Interview Questions That Are Actually Illegal

By Vivian Giang | Business Insider,

During job interviews, employers will try to gather as much information about you as possible, mostly through perfectly legal questioning, but sometimes through simple yet very illegal questions.

It’s up to the interviewee to recognize these questions for what they are.

Any questions that reveal your age, race, national origin, gender, religion, marital status and sexual orientation are off-limits.

“State and federal laws make discrimination based on certain protected categories, such as national origin, citizenship, age, marital status, disabilities, arrest and conviction record, military discharge status, race, gender, or pregnancy status, illegal.

Any question that asks a candidate to reveal information about such topics without the question having a job related basis will violate the various state and federal discrimination laws,” Lori Adelson, a labor and employment attorney and partner with law firm Arnstein & Lehr, tells Business Insider.

“However, if the employer states questions so that they directly relate to specific occupational qualifications, then the questions may be legitimate. Clearly, the intent behind the question needs to be examined.”

If you are asked any inappropriate questions, Adelson advises not to lie, but, instead, politely decline to answer.

“Could they not give you a job because of that? Sure. But if they do, they would be doing exactly what they’re not supposed to do.”

We compiled the following illegal interview questions that are often mistaken as appropriate from Adelson and Joan K. Ustin & Associates, a consultant firm specializing in human resources and organization development.

1. Have you ever been arrested?

An employer can’t actually legally ask you about your arrest record, but they can ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime.

Depending on the state, a conviction record shouldn’t automatically disqualify you for employment unless it substantially relates to your job. For example, if you’ve been convicted of statutory rape and you’re applying for a teaching position, you will probably not get the job.

2. Are you married?

Although the interviewer may ask you this question to see how much time you’d be able to commit to your job, it’s illegal because it reveals your marital status and can also reveal your sexual orientation.

3. What religious holidays do you practice?

Employers may want to ask you this to see if your lifestyle interferes with work schedules, but this question reveals your religion and that’s illegal.
They can ask you if you’re available to work on Sundays.

4. Do you have children?

It is unlawful to deny someone employment if they have children or if they are planning on having children in the future.

If the employer wants to find out how committed you will be to your job, they should ask questions about your work. For example, “What hours can you work?” or “Do you have responsibilities other than work that will interfere with specific job requirements such as traveling?”

5. What country are you from?

If you have an accent, this may seem like an innocent question, but keep in mind that it’s illegal because it involves your national origin.

Employers can’t legally inquire about your nationality, but they can ask if you’re authorized to work in a certain country.

6. Is English your first language?

It’s not the employers lawful right to know if a language is your first language or not.

In order to find out language proficiency, employers can ask you what other languages you read, speak, or write fluently.

7. Do you have any outstanding debt?

Employers have to have permission before asking about your credit history. Similar to a criminal background history, they can’t disqualify you from employment unless it directly affects your ability to perform the position you’re interviewing for.

Furthermore, they can’t ask you how well you balance your personal finances or inquire about you owning property.

8. Do you socially drink?

Employers cannot ask about your drinking habits because it violates the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

For example, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, treatment of alcoholism is protected under this act and you don’t have to disclose any disability information before landing an official job offer.

9. When was the last time you used illegal drugs? 
It’s illegal for employers to ask you about past drug addiction, but they can ask you if you’re currently using illegal drugs.

A person who is currently using drugs is not protected under ADA.

For example, an employer may ask you: Do you currently use illegal drugs? What illegal drugs have you used in the last six months?

10. How long have you been working?

This question allows employers to guess your age which is unlawful. Similarly, they can’t ask you what year you graduated from high school or college or even your birthday.

However, they can ask you how long you’ve been working in a certain industry.

11. What type of discharge did you receive in the military?

This is not appropriate for the interviewer to ask you, but they can ask what type of education, training, or work experience you’ve received while in the military.

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6 Things Hiring Managers Think But Don’t Say

1. Will she always be late like this? Even if you’re normally punctual, showing up late to an interview can cause the hiring manager to wonder if this is a regular occurrence. She may reason that if you were serious about this job you would have taken measures to circumvent the traffic/getting lost/not knowing what to wear excuse you used upon coming in the door.

2. Is this how he’ll dress at work? Come to an interview in less than professional dress, and you might get a raised eyebrow from the person interviewing you. They say “dress for the job you want,” so if you come in wearing flip-flops or a mini-skirt, the hiring manager might assume you’re not professional enough for the job.

3. Did he lie on his résumé? If you stumble when asked questions you should be able to answer, the employer may think you fibbed on your résumé. You might chalk it up to nervousness, but she may not see it that way. That’s why practicing how you’ll respond to certain questions, like those about your past work duties and accomplishments, can help you speak confidently in an interview.

4. Will he jump ship? If you have a short stint at a company (for less than a year), a hiring manager may wonder about your ability to commit to a job long-term. And it is, of course, her goal to find the right person for the job and avoid a difficult and costly replacement.

5. Is he this sloppy in his work? If your résumé is riddled with grammatical errors, you probably won’t even get a call for an interview. Even if your day-to-day job doesn’t involve a lot of writing, a hiring manager wants to know that you pay attention to your work and can catch mistakes without correction from a superior.

6. His personality isn’t a good fit. Your skills and experience plays a large role in a hiring manager’s decision of whether you’re the ideal candidate or not, but your personality and “culture fit” are equally important. This may be difficult to master, since you never know what she’s looking for in terms of what will mesh well with the existing team.

By Lindsay Olson | U.S.News & World Report LP – Mon, Jun 3, 2013 11:52 AM EDT

Click  HERE to read entire article.

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The Follow Up Letter – Yes, it’s Important

Seal the job with an ace follow-up letter 

By DAVE JOHNSON / MONEYWATCH/ May 13, 2013, 8:18 AM

(MoneyWatch) Job searches are emotionally draining, and making it all the way through the interview process can be arduous. But unless the hiring manager offers you the position on the spot at the end of the interview — rare, but certainly not unheard of — you’re still not done. Put your best foot forward and improve the odds of getting a job offer by sending an awesome follow-up letter the next day.

Click here to continue reading article on CBS MoneyWatch

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Back2Work Career Conference & Job Fair 3/14/13

B2W2012header back2work2012rotate1

Back 2 Work 2013 Career Conference features career workshops and a Job Fair for job seekers in the Memphis area. If you are currently unemployed and seeking employment, this event is for you!

Career Fair 

March 14, 2013 - 9 am – 2 pm

New Direction Christian Church, 6120 Winchester Road.

Participation is FREE to companies and job seekers.



Visit and interview with hiring companies during the Career Fair from 9 am – 2 pm. Bring plenty of resumes and dress professionally.

For more information, contact
Glenda Warren at 901-333-6812

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Unexpected Job Offer

Jhaqueil Reagan of Indianapolis, Indiana, was walking down the street on his way to interview for a minimum wage job. He happened to cross paths with Art Bouvier, who was laying rock salt on the ground outside his restaurant, Papa Roux, after an ice storm had hit the area earlier in the morning.

Bouvier said the 18-year-old approached him and asked how far it was to 10th and Sherman. Bouvier said the distance was at least six or seven miles, so he told Reagan that he would be better off taking a bus instead of walking, especially considering the freezing temperature. Reagan said “thank you” and kept on his way to the job interview.

Please click on the below link to watch or read complete story.


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WIN-TIPS – Job Search Tips

Always remember to carefully read and follow instructions. Mistakes made because you didn’t follow simple instructions can eliminate you from being considered for a job you are highly qualified to do with a very desirable company.

Avoid these interview mistakes

It’s been said time and time again: you can never redo a first impression. From the moment the interviewer sets eyes on you, game on! Try these quick, simple tips to tip the scale in your favor.

1) Shake it! It sounds simple but your handshake can really set you apart. A confident, strong handshake will take you further than a wimpy, weak one. I once worked in a small office where a potential candidate would come and meet with every employee. We would then meet to discuss the candidate, and one of the first things that was always mentioned was if the candidate had a terrible handshake. Don’t make this simple mistake.

2) Take your mom’s advice and stop slouching! Parents were actually on to something when they demanded you to sit up at the table. Bad posture can make it look like you are bored and can be a red flag to the hiring manager. Simply sitting up will make you look more engaged and interested in the position. By slouching, you could be showing them that this job isn’t that important to you.

3) Look me in the eye! Avoiding an interviewer’s eyes will not only make him or her a little uncomfortable, it my also show them that you could lack people skills needed for the position. Maintaining comfortable eye contact while they are speaking will also show you are interested in what they have to say.

4) Practice really does make perfect! You didn’t start driving the day you received your driver’s license, you spent time perfecting your mad skills. You were given help and advice from friends and family. Take the same approach when preparing for an interview. Have someone you trust give you a mock interview and listen carefully to the critique. You may have a bad habit you didn’t even realize! I did this with a friend and was told I kept twisting my hair, which I had no idea I was doing. Something as small as playing with your hair can distract the interviewer from learning the type of person you really are.

These tips sound obvious, but these are pointers we hear from our employers almost every day. Just remember you can really set yourself apart from your competition by coming across as professional with this advice.

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25 of the Most Outrageous Interview Questions

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 restaurant?” – 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, 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, sales representative candidate.

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


Please click on below link for entire article.

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… the 20 questions you need to ask in a job interview

1. What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? Does your group feel like the recession is over and things are getting better, or are things still pretty bleak? What’s the plan to handle either scenario?

2. If I get the job, how do I earn a “gold star” on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

3. What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style?

4. About which competitor are you most worried?

5. How does sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance work around here? (I.e., groups other than the one you’re interviewing for.)

6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?

7. What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?

8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

9. What are your group’s best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company?

10. What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry these days?

11. What’s the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

12. These are tough economic times, and every position is precious when it comes to the budget. Why did you decide to hire somebody for this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?

13. What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / “attaboy!”-based? Why is that your reward system? What do you guys hope to get out of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and the negatives of your reward system? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

14. What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an “open book” shop, or do you play it closer to the vest? How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

15. If we are going to have a very successful the year after next in 2014, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 12 months to make it successful? How does this position help achieve those goals?

16. How does the company / my future boss do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I’m doing the best I can for the company?

17. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

18. What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the “perfect” candidate look like? How do you assess my experience in comparison? What gaps do you see?

19. In my career, I’ve primarily enjoyed working with big / small / growing / independent / private / public / family-run companies. If that’s the case, how successful will I be at your firm?

20. Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other? Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I’m considering whether or not I’d be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?


These 20 questions are taken from the following newsletter.–it-s-about-you—-the-20-questions-you-need-to-ask-in-a-job-interview


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Four Big Lies Employers Tell Job Applicants

By now, we should all know that it’s dangerous to lie on a resume. But you know what? In the job search conversation between employers and candidates, a bit of fibbing sometimes happens on the employer side, too.

Often, there’s no ill will intended. While there are a few bad apples in the bunch (as with the rest of humanity), most recruiters and HR folks are motivated by the desire to put the right people into the jobs they have to fill. The trouble is that overwork and overly large candidate pools can thwart good intentions — so those little white lies meant to spare a job seeker’s feelings end up not doing the candidate any favors.
We asked some recruiting experts to name the biggest lies recruiters tell, so you can spot the untruths and be ready to deal with them.
1. “We’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.”
Recruiters meet a lot of people. And most of them have huge candidate databases. Often when they speak this untruth, they mean it: They are keeping your resume on file. Just know that they’re doing so in a gigantic filing cabinet, and that out of sight often means out of mind.

How to Handle: Don’t assume that “no” means “never.” Once you’ve started a conversation with a recruiter, don’t let the conversation end just because you’re not offered one job. Stay in touch via professional networking sites, and stay abreast of goings-on at the company so you can be aware of opportunities before they’re posted.
Just remember that there’s a fine line between “staying in touch” and “stalking.” So contact the recruiter only when you have a genuine reason to do so. And as with all professional contacts, don’t just look for favors to ask — also look for ways to be of service.

2. “Salary depends on experience.”
Usually, the company has a ballpark figure in mind. If a recruiter asks for your salary requirements or expectations, he’s trying to see whether you’re in that ballpark.
How to Handle: In general, it’s better to wait until a job offer is on the table before moving onto salary negotiations — but recruiters sometimes use salary requirements as a way to thin out the candidate pool.
In this case, your best defense is having done thorough research. Make sure you know what’s competitive for the position, the industry and the region, combined with what’s appropriate for someone with your background. That way, you can answer the question in terms of what your research has uncovered (not in terms of what your specific needs are), and then you can add something like, “But of course a conversation about salary makes more sense when we’re discussing a job offer.” Don’t lowball your number, but perhaps let the recruiter know that you’ll weigh nonsalary compensation (vacation days and other perks, for example) with the actual salary offer.

3. “You’ll hear from us either way.”
The truth is that you might never hear — or you might not hear when you expect to. The reasons vary, but a lack of communication after an interview can indicate indecisiveness on the part of the hiring team.
How to Handle: Tackle this lie pre-emptively. Always leave a job interview knowing when you can expect to hear from the hirers. That way, you won’t torture yourself wondering whether it’s too soon to call them back. If they say they’ll get back to you by next Friday and they don’t, send a friendly email to check in. You can even use this check-in email as a chance to continue selling yourself as a candidate. If you’ve had any further thoughts about issues raised in the interview, now is a great time to touch on them again. If they need more time, give it to them — but be firm and friendly about following up.
As for a company that never follows up with you after an interview — even to say “no thank you” — that could be a sign that something is wrong at the company. Smart employers know that treating candidates as well as customers is the right way to do business.

4. “We aren’t finished interviewing yet.”
Sometimes this is true. Sometimes this means you’re the company’s “Plan B” candidate. But this statement makes it sound as if the company has at least settled on a solid group of contenders, and that’s not always the case. Sometimes recruiters use this line as a stalling tactic when they’re still looking for someone more perfect than anyone in their current candidate pool.
How to Handle: Look at this statement as an opportunity to prove yourself. If your post-interview wait time is being extended because the hiring team is “reviewing other candidates,” ask questions like, “Do you have any specific questions or concerns about my ability to handle any aspect of the job? I’d love to address them and demonstrate that I’m the perfect candidate.”
Every interaction with a recruiter or hiring manager is an opportunity to persuade them that you’re the right person for the job. If you’re getting mixed messages, asking direct questions and staying focused will help you understand what’s really going on.

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I’m Overqualified

You were laid off from your executive job by a company that’s now six feet under. You’ve sent out 800 resumes, done one interview, received zero offers. You find yourself looking lower and lower on the totem pole and occasionally eyeing openings for line managers at the competitor that killed your former employer. If you must apply for a position for which you’re clearly overqualified, how do you actually land the job?

Withhold Your Resume
Here’s what not to do: Fire off a volley of resumes to human resources departments. “Sending a resume is simply a way to oblivion,” says Jeffrey Fox, author of Don’t Send a Resume. HR departments must quickly eliminate nearly all of the hundreds of resumes submitted for a single opening. At the first whiff of your extra qualifications, most screeners will stamp “no” on your application. “Resumes are read to be rejected,” Fox says.  What’s the workaround for overqualified candidates? Go directly to the hiring manager to pitch your ability to excel in the open position. You can either call or write, but hold back your resume in the first round of communication with the employer.
Sell to the Employer’s Need
Once you’ve found out as much as you can about the company and the position, you’ve got to imagine how your qualifications mesh perfectly with the job requirements. “If you’re overqualified, you need to articulate how a handful of your skills will help that specific employer,” says Nick Corcodilos, author of Ask the Headhunter. At least at first, say nothing about higher-level skills that don’t pertain to the position at hand.
Use Emphasis to Shape Employer Perceptions

 Sooner or later, you’ll probably have to send a resume. More than you ever have before, you’ll need to customize your one-page presentation of yourself. To de-emphasize those over-the-top elements of your professional background, “you can make some information more sparse, but you’ve got to be careful about misrepresenting yourself,” says Corcodilos.
How do you tread this fine line? One solution is to create a functional resume where relevant skills are pumped up in detail toward the top of the resume, while overly impressive titles are demoted to the bottom and given little ink. Strategic emphasis is integral to persuasion; omission of recent, important rungs in your career ladder is unethical deception.
Make a Virtue of Your Extra Qualifications
In the interview, if your prospective employer says that your extraordinary qualifications cast doubt on your candidacy, recast your past as an asset to your future at the company. Emphasize that “you’re getting somebody with the potential to move up,” says Frances Haynes, coauthor with Daniel Porot of 101 Toughest Interview Questions.
Draw Out Objections; Don’t Volunteer Them
Employers typically have the following objections to candidates with extra qualifications: You’ll get bored quickly; you won’t be satisfied with the salary; you’ll jump to another company as soon as you get a better offer. “Employers are pretty reticent to hire overqualified people, because they believe when the economy picks up, they’ll lose those people,” says Haynes.
If you raise these issues early in the application process, you risk short-circuiting your candidacy. Instead, see what’s on the minds of your interviewers by asking open-ended questions such as these: “What else do you need to hear to be convinced that I’m the best fit for the job? Do you have any questions about my candidacy that I haven’t yet had the chance to answer?” Just make sure you’ve already ferreted out all the tough questions that your work history could possibly raise — and practiced answering them.
The Ultimate Issue
Finally, be prepared to answer one question that the interviewer may be too embarrassed to ask: Won’t it be humiliating for you to take a job that many people would consider beneath you? You can address this issue indirectly through the positive attitude you convey in everything you say about the available position and your fitness for it. “You have to be perceived as the kind of person who believes there is honor in every job,” says Haynes.

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