How to Answer the 31 Most Common Interview Questions

“Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what a hiring manager would be asking you in your next interview? While we unfortunately can’t read minds, we’ll give you the next best thing: a list of the 31 most commonly asked interview questions (and, of course, some expert advice on how to answer them). While we don’t recommend having a canned response for every question (in fact, please don’t), we do recommend spending some time getting comfortable with what you might be asked, what hiring managers are really looking for in your responses, and what it takes to show that you’re the right man or woman for the job. Consider this your interview study guide.   1. Can you tell me a little about yourself? This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial. Here’s the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead give a pitch—one that’s concise and compelling and that shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Start off with the 2-3 specific accomplishments or experiences that you most want the interviewer to know about, then wrap up talking about how that prior experience has positioned you for this specific role.   2. How did you hear about the position? Another seemingly innocuous question, this is actually a perfect opportunity to stand out and show your passion for and connection to the company. For example, if you found out about the gig through a friend or professional contact, name drop that person, then share why you were so excited about it. If you discovered the company through an event or article, share that. Even if you found the listing through a random job board, share what, specifically, caught your eye about the role. 3. What do you know about the company? Any candidate can read and regurgitate the company’s “About” page. So, when interviewers ask this, they aren’t necessarily trying to gauge whether you understand the mission—they want to know whether you care about it. Start with one line that shows you understand the company’s goals, using a couple key words and phrases from the website, but then go on to make it personal. Say, “I’m personally drawn to this mission because…” or “I really believe in this approach because…” and share a personal example or two. 4. Why do you want this job? Again,...

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7 Interview Questions To Help You Hire Superstars

“Whether you’re a two person startup still operating in your garage or a 500-person corporation, one thing should remain consistent: your focus on hiring superstars. When my co-founder Eddie Machaalani and I started our commerce platform company, we made a pact to personally interview the first 100 people we hired. It was hard, but we stuck to it and spoke to every person who joined our team during that two-year period. Through that process, we created a foundation of amazing talent and set the bar high for new  employees and hiring managers who still adhere to our most important rule about recruitment: never hire someone who is “good enough;” always wait for the best. Waiting to hire the right person for a role is painful, but will save you time, money and your sanity in the long run. They are out there and you will find them. More than anything else, hiring the right people can determine the destiny of your business. Hire superstars and they’ll get behind your vision and make it a reality. Hire the wrong people and you’ll find that as your business grows, you’ll have a culture of average performers who watch the clock and aren’t motivated nearly as much as you are. So, how do you ensure you hire the right people? Ask these seven questions: 1. What do you like about our business? How would you change what you don’t like? This question does two things. First, it gives you insight into how a candidate will verbalize something they don’t like. Will they talk about the problem and then immediately suggest a solution, or will they tell you that your business is perfect when in reality, it probably isn’t? Look for people who talk 5 percent about the problem and 95 percent about the solution. By asking how they’d change what they don’t like, you get a chance to hear how they’d go about solving problems. For example, if they say your customer service stinks but can’t suggest even a basic idea to fix it, what chance do they have of fixing problems when they’re working for you? Will they just give up and move on to something else? Probably. The best employees solve problems fast and on their own. 2. Which book are you currently reading? Passionate people tend to read books or listen to audio books to improve their skills. Whether the books are specific to a skill such as sales and marketing or they’re...

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Why, and How, to Hire for Potential Over Experience

“When volleying between two candidates, what qualifications determine the final cut? Every hiring manager has interviewed Paul and Sam, but not every Paul and Sam has been hired for the same reason. Meet Paul. Paul is a one of the final candidates for a marketing coordinator position at a budding tech startup. He has several years of experience and notable success working as a marketing coordinator for two big name companies. Now meet the other finalist, Sam. Sam has less experience than Paul working on big projects for big name companies in the marketing field, but she has demonstrated passion and leadership qualities both at work and in her personal life. She’s involved in several marketing associations and has her own marketing-related blog. It’s only natural to want to go with Paul because of his extensive experience. However, while Sam has less experience working as a marketing coordinator, her leadership qualities are apparent in her involvement in several marketing associations and projects in and out of the workplace. Paul, on the other hand, has served as a marketing coordinator for several years at more than one company and is applying for yet another entry to mid-level position as a marketing coordinator. Paul may have the experience, but Sam has the potential. For startup roles especially, leadership potential trumps experience. Startups need candidates who want to learn and grow with the company more than they need candidates who may perform well, but have little desire for growth. Because high-potential (HiPo) talent is largely determined by an employee’s aspirations, employers can’t simply develop potential — they have to find it. Here’s how: What to look for. A good majority of resumes focus on verbs and highlight what candidates managed, created, developed, conducted, etc. While these words are informative, they’re not differentiating. What matters more is the quantitative results of those efforts. Candidates who describe — in numbers, preferably — how the work they did benefitted the company are great examples of HiPo talent. In addition to looking for quantitative results, read between the lines and take note of how candidates describe their experiences. There is a lot employers can learn about a candidate’s passion and ambition from the adjectives and adverbs he or she uses to describe the work he or she did. What to ask. A resume can only tell employers so much about a candidate’s potential. Fortunately, the interview provides the perfect...

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Why learning to code can help you land any job

  “Learning to code has lots of benefits. Aside from the obvious (like being able to build websites and web applications), coding skills can make you stand out when it comes to looking for career opportunities. EVEN for positions that don’t involve writing code on the day-to-day. Or at all!   As Skillcrush says: Digital skills are job skills. And that’s the truth!   Before diving into all the job possibilities that having coding skills open up for you, let me give you a quick example of how I used my new coding skills to get non-coding jobs.   Non-coding jobs I landed because I could code   Most of the non-coding opportunities that came up because of my skills relate to writing or marketing.   One example is my work for Josh Owens. Josh is a prominent figure in the Meteor.js community. (Meteor.js is an “open source platform for building web and mobile apps in pure JavaScript”). He hosts the Meteor podcast, teaches online courses about Meteor, and helps startups build Meteor applications. (Not to mention that, once upon a time, he was a Rails Core Contributor!)   I first connected with Josh on Twitter, where many great professional relationships begin. A little Twitter banter and a few emails later, I mentioned my copywriting experience (Read: pre-coding skill). This casual mention led to helping Josh on writing projects like this one.   While none of the work I’ve done for Josh involved actually writing a line of code, knowing about JavaScript, how full-stack frameworks work, and dabbling in Meteor myself made it possible for me to do the job well.   And there are other instances like this one, where knowing how to code helped me land gigs that don’t involve writing actual code. (For instance, my recent position as the Tech Careers Expert for about.com.)   True, most of the work I get relates to writing. But there are a plenty of other fields and positions where knowing how to code can make you stand out. Here are 9 examples you should check out:   Remember: when applying to jobs you don’t have to meet every requirement. In fact, if you do, you are probably over-qualified. Think of job descriptions as an HR managers wish list. It is recommended that you meet about 80% of the requirements.   Still, keep in mind that rules are meant to be broken. And everything is situational. If there’s a...

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Networking at its finest

There’s the timeless saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know,” and sadly it still stands true. Your talents, abilities and expertise will not get you far if no one knows you exist and that’s where networking comes into play. In our world where most of our connections are done through email, text, and social media sites we are losing the art of face to face communication. Some great ways to network are to attend events in the area or in the industry you are in to meet like-minded individuals.   Here are some tips to help you master networking   –          Start off with people you already know. Be resourceful. You probably know a lot more people than you think. Use your social media efforts to keep you connected with people or to reignite that connection. Get in touch with old coworkers, people you went to school with, distant relatives; these people are not complete strangers and can help to be a stepping stone to other people. Use sites like Linkedin and facebook to see who those people are connected with. –          Have a plan, have a purpose!  When you are at an event or if you make plans to meet with someone, you don’t want to waste your time or any one else’s time. As a professional or aspiring professional you want to be confident to inspire confidence in you. You want the individual that you are connecting with to have confidence in you so they will speak of you in the highest regard. The ole’ “fake it till you make it,” can actually help you here. –          Have the “hostess mentality” where you put other’s first and try to make them comfortable. Ask open- ended questions to keep the conversation flowing. Getting others to speak about themselves will make you feel powerful and ultimately at ease. –          Learn the art of “small talk”.  A conversation begins with some back and forth. During that back and forth you are feeling the person out and seeing if there is a connection to build conversation on. Easiest way is to find a commonality, find something you are both interested in and take it from there. Ask questions to get the other person to open up. Share experiences about the commonality. –          Have your elevator pitch ready! If you find yourself at a networking event and someone introduces...

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“Do you have any questions for me?” … Yes I Do!

Sometimes the toughest part of the interview is when your interviewer asks you, “Do you have any questions for me?” It’s a great time to turn the tables and interview the manager and the company. Great candidates will ask questions they want answered because it gives them a chance evaluate whether they want to work for that company.   Here are a few questions to help you interview the interviewer: –          What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60-90 days? This question will give the impression that you want to hit the ground running and you want to make a difference right away. It will also give you a chance to know if their expectations are realistic to you. –          What are common attributes of top performers here? Every organization is different so there are different key qualities to make a top performer. In some organizations the top performers work longer hours, in other organizations creativity is more important or maybe landing new clients in new markets is what gets you noticed. This is a great way to understand and help you decide if you will fit in and if you see yourself being a top performer.   –          What are a few things that really drive results for the company? / Where do you see the company going in the next quarter/year? Find out what it is that the company needs to succeed and also find out where the company is going in the next quarter or the next year. If it is in the direction you want to go then maybe there’s a match. Great employees want the company to succeed because that means they will...

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