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Interview questions made easy

There are only three real job interview questions:
1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you love the job?
3. Can we tolerate working with you?
     That’s it. Just learn to answer these, and you’re good.
     In a recent Forbes article, George Bradt shows that all other interview questions are just a derivative of one of these three key questions.
     Another way to look at the three questions is to think about it this way:
1. Do you have the right strengths?
2. Are you motivated for this job?
3. Will you fit in here?
     Learn how to answer these three questions (either set), and you will do well in any interview.  Make sure your resume and cover letter addresses these three questions, and you’ll be invited to more interviews.  Good luck!

Should You Write A Resume?

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that said more firms are bypassing the requirement of a resume for new applicants.

Some outtakes from the article:  
     A résumé doesn’t provide much depth about a candidate, says Christina Cacioppo, an associate at Union Square Ventures who blogs about the hiring process on the company’s website and was herself hired after she compiled a profile comprising her personal blog, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, and links to social-media sites Delicious and Dopplr, which showed places where she had traveled.
     “We are most interested in what people are like, what they are like to work with, how they think,” she says.
     John Fischer, founder and owner of StickerGiant.com, a Hygiene, Colo., company that makes bumper and marketing stickers, says a résumé isn’t the best way to determine whether a potential employee will be a good social fit for the company. Instead, his firm uses an online survey to help screen applicants.
     At most companies, résumés are still the first step of the recruiting process, even at supposedly nontraditional places like Google Inc., which hired about 7,000 people in 2011, after receiving some two million résumés. Google has an army of “hundreds” of recruiters who actually read every one, says Todd Carlisle, the technology firm’s director of staffing. But Dr. Carlisle says he reads résumés in an unusual way: from the bottom up.
     Candidates’ early work experience, hobbies, extracurricular activities or nonprofit involvement—such as painting houses to pay for college or touring with a punk rock band through Europe—often provide insight into how well an applicant would fit into the company culture, Dr. Carlisle says.
     Plus, “It’s the first sample of work we have of yours,” he says.
That’s OK, but resumes are still important
Call me traditional, but writing a great resume is still a smart idea. The writing process will refine the job candidate’s thinking and his/her presentation of the material:  focus on the highlights and accomplishments, keep it concise, use action verbs, etc. To see more of my thoughts on resumes, see this article.

Ten Tips to Succeed in a Job Interview

After recently sitting through a lot of job interviews, I noticed areas where many candidates could have been stronger. Here’s my top ten list:

1. Answer the questions with specifics and examples. Avoid answering questions with theoretical answers. Tell a real-life story. When asked “What makes a good group project?” Your answer should include an example of when you were on a successful group and how you contributed to it. You can talk about team dynamics, communication, and planning on the theoretical level, but don’t forget to include the practical examples; that’s where you will look like the hero.

2. Focus your answer on the question. Make sure that what you say answers the question (sounds logical doesn’t it?). Never begin to answer the question and then have to ask, “What was the question again?”  A good trick is to start your answer with a paraphrase of the question.  Example–  Q: “Where do you see the future of interactive advertising going?”  A: “The future of interactive advertising is headed toward…”

3. Look at every questions as an opportunity to sell yourself. Nobody else is going to promote you. You’re at the interview to sell yourself; it’s why you are there in the first place. If you’re invited to the dance, bring your dancing shoes.

4. Focus on your brand. What do you need to communicate to the interviewer on the brand level?  I’m talking about your brand here. Answer the question and look for a way to reinforce your brand. Think about how Sarah Palin works “maverick” into every sentence. Take that idea but don’t go that far… less maverickiness.

5. Consider every question as an opportunity to ask a question. Make the interview a conversation. If you ask questions, you’ll learn more. Interviewers like to hear themselves talk; it’s basic human nature. Give them that opportunity. It’ll make the interview easier for you. Often times they tell you what they want you to say. If you’re nervous, listening is easier than talking.

6. Before answering a question, take a breath. You can gather your thoughts in that short moment. Make it look like you’re thinking through the question. This breath helps to calm your nerves and compose yourself.

7. Show your personality. Don’t just be a question answerer; those people are boring. People don’t often like to hire boring coworkers. Often times the interviewer wants to see if she can imagine working with you for eight hours every day.

8. Practice, practice, practice. It’s hard to talk to a total stranger about yourself. The more you do it, the better you’ll be. Go to interviews for jobs you don’t really want. It will give you the edge when you interview for a good job. Go to networking events and make a point to introduce yourself to strangers. Most people will end up asking you, “So, what do you do?” Treat it like a job interview. Successful interviewing takes practice. If you practice, you WILL get better. If you get better, you’ll have an easier time meeting your career goals.

9. Don’t blend in. This is a tricky one. If there are several people interviewing for the same position, you’ll want to make sure you stand out. That’s the only way you’ll get the job. However, be sure not to stand out like a sore thumb.

10. Show them that you want the job. This is so obvious that it’s often overlooked. The employer is interested enough to invest in an interview. Be sure to show them that you share in their level of interest… and go a step further.

BONUS TIP: Interview the employer. Go in with the confidence that you want to learn as much about the employer as the employer wants to learn about you. Your interview will be a conversation. Your confidence will be higher. And you’ll appear to have more value in the marketplace (more value = more demand).

Looking for a job is THE hardest job. It’s a marathon rather than a race. Stay focused, stay clam, stay positive, and stay fresh. Usually it’s the basic stuff that separates the good candidates from the not-so-good candidates. Good luck!