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  • Ryan Buxbaum

Interview Pro Tip #2

Practice the most popular questions.

Every once in a while an interviewer will ask an unusual question like, “why are manhole covers round?”  but generally speaking they will handed a list of questions that are pre-approved by HR, or have quickly googled the most common interview questions.  Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions and relevant answers in no particular order:

Tell me about yourself.  In sales they call this the elevator pitch. A good way to think of this is to imagine sharing your life story in 30 seconds.  There is no time for mundane details like what your high school mascot was but only covers the highlights.  Examples you could use could be: where you grew up, why you love the work you do, things you do in your free time. What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?  Lead with your strengths and how they apply to this position.  Have two weaknesses prepared.  It gives the impression that you can be introspective and evaluate your shortcomings.  Try to avoid nonsense answers like: I try too hard, work too hard, or care too much. These are not weaknesses and interviewers find them to be amateur canned answers. You are not fooling anybody. Why would you want to leave your current job? This is an opportunity to discuss your thirst for advancement and the ability to constantly do more.  Don’t complain or rip apart your current employer. This will ultimately make you look bad and untrustworthy; after all you chose to work there. How do you handle stress or pressure? Talk about coping skills you have learned to deal with pressure but orient your answers toward successful work habits.  For example, you may talk about making to-do lists or planning your days in advance to accomplish all of the task you have scheduled. Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it. They are looking for a clear example here, We recommend the STAR method.  Situation. Describe the situation thoroughly and with detail.  Task.  Describe the task that you were responsible for.  Action.  The Action you took at the time. Result.  Explain how this situation worked out in your favor. What are your future goals? In this section you want to list some short term goals as well as a couple long term goals that are important to you.  Think about having one of the goals being about personal development like a certification or class you are taking and a long term goal might be to buy a new house  or a new car.  We like to caution candidates against listing vacations you’d like to go on.  It will make you are looking forward to time off before you are even hired.   What is your greatest accomplishment?  Think of something altruistic (such as charity work you have done) or something relative to your education (degrees or certifications  you’ve earned)  or previous position you have excelled at (Company awards or recognition) in the past. Keep it related to your career and avoid very personal details such becoming a parent.  What are your hobbies? Be candid here but make sure you have some hobbies to talk about.  Usually this will make you seem more human and you may share hobbies with your interivewer. What was the last book you read? You’ve probably heard this before, CEOs on average read two books a month where on average most people tend to read less than one book per year.  Its not to say that reading more will make you a CEO but it does go a long way toward your professional developement and paints you as a person who loves to learn. We used to have this question on our candidate application and there was a time where almost everyones answer was 50 Shades of Gray. What motivates you? Again relate this question to work.  Do you like being micro managed or do you like to have your objectives set for you and managers who support you at running at those objectives?  Are you motivated by being written up for things you’ve done wrong or rewarded for your successes, ( the old carrot and stick).  What makes you a good leader/manager? Talk about managing teams or employees in the past and what kind of manager you were.  Were you Authoritative, Persuasive, Concervative, Participative, Collaborative, or Delegative.  If your Authoritive, Ok, why do you chose that style and give examples when that style was successful for you. Come prepared and it will pay off. Email me and I will tell you why manhole covers are round. Now let's get to work! 

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