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12 Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

By | Career Advice, Featured, Interview, Job Search, Uncategorized

What are the interview questions that intimidate you the most? Questions like “Why should we hire you?”; “What can you offer our company?”; “Tell us more about yourself.”; or all? 

You might be perfect for the job, yet the overwhelming task of answering these interview questions in a few coherent sentences leaves you in tears or screams. How about we eliminate this hassle forever?

Unlike any other “how to answer” guide, this won’t force-feed you model answers but model practices on how to approach and think of the perfect answers for these interview questions.

Question 1: Tell me about yourself

The most perplexing of all the interview questions! Well, where do I begin? Summing up your entire professional career in a few lines seems like a reasonable, not at all anxiety inducing, question to begin with.

What they actually mean: What experience, skills, or knowledge do you have that are relevant to the job I am trying to fill?

How to answer:

  • Start out with your most recent position and accomplishments and work your way down the lane. 
  • Pick an accomplishment or key strength and tailor it to fit the job. I might be a copywriter but my strongest suit is research and pinpointing insights, so I always choose to focus on that and how this specific skill set is crucial to the company.
  • Make sure to narrow it down to 2 or 3 experiences that showcase that strength/accomplishment. 
  • Wrap up with how your previous experience positioned you to be the perfect candidate for the job.

Question 2: Why should we hire you?

Most interview questions are sales pitch questions, but this one specifically is the ultimate sales pitch. Here you should make it all about them; talk about their needs and how you will benefit them. 

 What they actually mean: What makes you a better hire than all the other applicants?

How to answer:

  • Do your homework! Research the company before the interview, figure out their needs, and tailor your answer to focus on the skills you have that meet their needs. 
  • List your relevant skills and abilities. 
  • Connect these skills with the job’s requirements: 
    • The requirements you meet
    • The requirements you exceed
    • The requirements you don’t meet (this is a chance to show credibility and ability to admit to shortcomings and mistakes)
  • Talk about specific things you can help them achieve. 

To prove your skills further, use recommendation letters, testimonials, or any other documents that will help establish your point.

Question 3: Why do you want to work for our company?

After the why we should want you comes the why do you want us. This is the employer’s not so subtle way to see how much you are actually interested in this specific company and not just this specific job.

What they actually mean: What interests you about this company?

How to answer:

  • Mention work-related reasons why their company interests you.
  • Talk about your career goals and how they fit into the company.
  • Tell them what drew you to their company. Align yourself with the company’s mission, vision, and values or tell them about any positive experiences using their service or product.

Question 4: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Well, such interview questions should be abolished by now, but we have it on good authority that it’s often asked in interviews. So here’s how to tackle this mediocrity!

What they actually mean: Will you ditch us in a year?

How to answer:

  • Highlight the skills you would want to develop along those five years and a general idea of how you are going to do that. 
  • Show them that you plan on moving up the ladder and not staying at the position you are applying for longer than necessary.
  • The key here is to be pragmatic and methodical. Keep it professional, realistic, and applicable with a general or even a step-by-step plan of how you are going to get there.

Question 5: What is your greatest weakness?

This one is very self-deprecating. How can you pitch your weakness in a way that still makes you perfect for the job? 

What they actually mean: How will your weaknesses affect your job performance?

How to answer:

  • Pick a real weakness you have, nothing that is generic or would sound rehearsed, none of that “my only flaw is that I am a perfectionist” nonsense. 
  • Discuss what obstacles this weakness created for you or your workflow.
  • Then end with the measures you took/are taking to overcome it.

Try to pick something skill based and not personality based.

When mentioning your weaknesses, try the CAR story formula (Challenges, Actions, Results)

Question 6: What is your greatest strength?

Maybe not as hard to answer as the weakness question, but it will still leave you flustered: how to walk the very thin line between confidence and arrogance when talking about your strengths!

What they actually mean: How will your natural strengths help us?

How to answer:

  • Always pick one or two specific strengths to talk about; don’t just randomly list strengths. 
  • Provide examples to prove how your strengths helped your performance in previous jobs.

Often at interviews, you feel like you weren’t asked about this one specific thing you wanted to talk about. Use this question to direct the conversation towards any experience or accomplishment you want to emphasize.

Question 7: Why do you want to leave (or why did you leave) your current (last) job?

This one is sensitive. Needless to say, you can’t bad-mouth your current or previous employers but you should have a concrete reason for leaving.

What they actually mean: What went wrong with your last employer?

How to answer:

  • If you were fired: admit to the fact that you were terminated and address why it happened and how you will make sure it won’t happen again.
  • If you resigned: talk about how this job change was deliberate. Focus on what you are hoping to gain by moving forward and never talk disparagingly about your previous employer.
  • Some examples of why you left your job are as follows:
    • Desire to learn
    • Desire to take on more responsibility
    • Desire to take on less responsibility
    • Desire to relocate
    • Desire for a career change
    • Desire to gain a new skill or grow a current skill
    • Company reorganization has led to change in job content
    • Desire for a shorter commute to work
    • Desire to improve work-life balance

Question 8: What are your salary expectations?

Let’s talk money! This question might be the very first step to any salary negotiations with your employer. Answer with too high a salary and you might scare them off; give them too low a salary and you would be underpaid. 

What they actually mean: Can we afford you?

How to answer:

  • Do a thorough research about the total compensation this employer provides. 
  • Total compensation includes the insurance, bonuses, company transportation, vacation days, among others. All of these might seem like added benefits to you but they are added expenses for the employers.
  • Research your salary range in the market through websites such as Glassdoor, PayScale, Salary.com, and SalaryExpert.com.
  • When you name a number for the employer, base it on all that research combined.

Question 9: What do you think we could do better or differently?

This is a common question for startups to ask. Companies need to know that you can add something, not only do your job but also contribute to helping this company grow by thinking forward as a part of it.

What they actually mean: Can you think critically and strategically to bring something new to the table?

How to answer:

  • Before the interview, you must use their product or service. Also, be sure to check their website, social media pages, and ads.
  • Bring your insights and ideas. What new features would you be most excited to build? How would you engage new users (or reengage existing ones)? How could the company increase conversions? How can customer service be improved?

These people have been working at this company for years, so they have probably exhausted any and all options to improve their product. To show that you understand and respect that, try ending your answer with a question like “Did you guys consider that approach as you were working on this? I’d love to know more about your process.”

Question 10: How do you deal with stress and pressure?

Any job is guaranteed to have rough patches where pressure is an all-time high for everyone involved. Employers need to know that you can battle through these times. Here, personal skills and self-management tactics are key to your survival.

What they actually mean: Will you break down or fold when the going gets tough?

How to answer:

  • Pick one of the stables of stress and pressure in the workplace, something that surely happens like tight deadlines, communication problems with manager or peers, and so forth.
  • Demonstrate how you have a different action plan for these stressful times.
  • Delve into the world of energy and time management and pick a tactic that works for you. Sleep cycle adjustment, meditation or breathing exercises, and so on show the employer that you know how to make life changes to adjust to the stress while still maintaining being healthy.

Question 11: Why is there a gap in your resume?

Everything happens for a reason. Your employment gap is grounds for speculation: what would make someone stop working all of a sudden? What could be so important that you would prioritize it over a job? 

What they actually mean: Were you just being lazy and that’s why you took the gap?

How to answer:

  • Explain why you’ve got gaps in your resume.
  • Share the value you picked up along this gap; show them that it wasn’t fruitless to your own development as a person.
  • Keep your explanation short. Have a finish line so you don’t trail off into embarrassed silence.

If your gaps are longer or more frequent, consider providing a brief note in your resume with a reason for the gap in employment. Just list it like any other job. Put your previous positions with the dates you held them. And for your gap, you’d have dates there too and a one-line explanation (“I took a hiatus from work in order to care for an elderly family member in need”).

Question 12: Do you have any questions for me?

This is how every interview is wrapped up. It’s better to not just say “No questions, thanks!” You should seize this opportunity to leave an impression. 

What they actually mean: Are you going to miss the chance to learn firsthand about the employer, the company, and its environment?

How to answer:

  • To avoid being stuck at a job you hate, make sure to learn more about the company, the team, and the job.

Avoid asking about the salary, company perks, benefits, or vacations. Save these questions after they have formally offered you the job. Questions like these make it seem like you are more interested in what the company can offer you, rather than contributing to the work this company does.

Key takeaways

  • Always research the employers.
  • Quantify your achievements in terms of numbers, percentages, or dollars.
  • Use storytelling to show how you used your skills in past jobs.
  • Always wrap up your answers with how your actions helped your previous employer or how you are perfect for the current position.

Feel like you need even more preparation for the interview, let alone the interview questions part? Book a one-on-one session with one of our career experts and nail your next interview like a pro.

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Stressed Out? Adopt these 4 Hacks for the Ultimate Weekend Experience

By | Featured, Work-Life Balance

Suddenly that phone of yours starts buzzing; you ignore it with a tight-lipped, worried smile. It vibrates again and beads of sweat pour over your forehead. Your family, or maybe your friends, start looking at you all accusatory. You and them know what this is about; you just can’t bring yourself to admit it. 

Finally, you hesitantly pluck up  your courage to open the dozens work emails you received in the last minute or so, Knowing that now you are branded a workaholic, whose very existence has become a black hole sucking all the fun out of the hangout, AGAIN! 

Vacation Guilt: Busy is not a badge of honor

Deep down inside, you want to unplug from work and enjoy your weekend, but we are a generation that was raised to look up to people like Steve Jobs who sacrificed their whole life in the name of achieving their “dreams.” But you don’t want to end up like this guy. 

So the dream narrative prevails, with a pang of intrinsic guilt against time off and vacations.

The vacation guilt phenomenon is about the raging war that takes hold of you once a few off-days are on the horizon. Theoretically, you know you should disconnect and the benefits of some work/life balance are not lost on you. However, practically, the burden of the “vacation guilt” is holding you back. This “vacation guilt is the nagging urge to cancel or delay a vacation due to a self-imposed work-related guilt.”

With vacation guilt, one of three scenarios happens:

  •  You procrastinate on the workweek and your guilt drives you to overcompensate for that on the weekend.
  • You’re a member of Workaholics Anonymous. You just feel compelled to work because of this internal pressure and persistent thoughts about how a few days off might derail your career.
  • You start perceiving your work as more than a social contribution; it’s now vital to your financial status as well as your mental health. You treat your job as if it is your identity, and your work is now tied to your sense of self-worth and your significance in the world.
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The vacation mindset: Hacking your rest state

Just because the vacation guilt exists doesn’t mean that there is no way out of it. As the title suggests, this article is mainly focused on weekends; yet I keep using the word “vacation.” It’s basically because I want to enlist this vacation mindset. Your weekend should be a restorative experience just like your longer vacations. 

In a study published by HBR, the team wanted to test out if being more aware of how you approach your weekends and your mindset towards them in general would actually affect the enjoyment levels of the employees. 

They gathered a pool of employees and divided them into two groups telling one group to treat/approach their weekends as a vacation and the other group were simply told to treat their weekends like they normally would. This seemingly minor change affected the results noticeably. The participants who were asked to treat their weekends like a vacation were significantly happier than the ones who didn’t. 

Digging deeper into this, the researchers realized that it wasn’t the scope of chores made the difference between the two groups; rather, it was the very fact of thinking like a “vacationer.” Having this mindset made the participants more mindful and attentive to their weekend activities and the fact that it’s a weekend.

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So how exactly to do that? This study asks you to bring your awareness to the concept of time-off, pushing things to the weekend is not an option anymore when you are prompted to actually take that time off and disconnect.

Hacks on how to disconnect during the weekend

1- Make the right plan for the weekend

You have to set an appointment to go off the grid as surely as to go on it.

Mike Huckabee

You might think that making plans for weekends is an absurd idea, since weekends should be free and spontaneous. But planning for the weekend ahead is not about hindering your freedom or spontaneity; it’s just about putting things into perspective. 

This doesn’t need to be a rigid or strict  schedule. Think of it more as a sort of reference.

How to do it?

“Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another,” says the French Poet Anatole France. Your plan here is not about schedules and restricting yourself to one thing or another; it’s simply adopting another form of labor. Be it exercise or a creative hobby, just deciding to make your weekend about a different kind of effort and flexing a muscle that your work doesn’t usually let you flex.

For maximum effectiveness, try this:

There is no right or wrong way to plan; make it as loose or as tight as you want to. But just like vacations, weekends need some sort of guidance. Feeling productive during the weekend will help you charge your energy for the next week. The key is not to try to impose excessive control over yourself since the weekend is all about relaxation and fun.

    • Listen to your body: Wake up and see how the day feels to you? Do you feel like consuming or creating? Do you feel like physical exercise or human bonding time? Put a theme for your day and go with your gut, but stay away from Netflix!
    • Schedule what you want to do, not just what you have to do: A good way to determine this  is to see your tasks under the 3 major categories: Career, Relationships, Self-development (includes exercise, hobbies, … etc)

For example, if you feel like consuming more today, you can consume more by reading an article on self-development, or watching a documentary that has some insightful information about your career, or listening to a friend talk about the last book they read. All of this is what your body wanted to do but you simply sought it out in different forms to keep it balanced.

2- Plan 3 to 5 anchor events on the weekend

An anchor event is something you look forward to doing, and you anticipate with pleasure

Laura Vanderkam

You have 60 hours between 6 PM Thursday till 6 AM Sunday. If you decide to sleep a full day (24 hours), you will still have  36 hours left. You need to plan for 3 to 5 anchor events to take place during that time.

First, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way: 

  • Weekends are not about unplugging from life; they are only about unplugging from work. 
  • Rest is not about doing nothing; it’s about recharging your mental, emotional and physical energy. 

How to do it?

To make full use of the 36 hours left for your anchor events, use a template called “List of 100 Dreams.” This is an unedited list of anything one might want to do, have, or spend more time on in life. Consider it a list of everyday fun activities, more along the lines of a bucket list of activities within a 2 hour radius from your house.

For maximum effectiveness, try this:

  • Your anchor is there to make you excited for the weekend. Make sure you choose an anchor that always drives anticipation, excitement, and pleasure.
  • Link each of these 100 activities to the major weekend anchor spots:
  • Thursday evening/night 
  • Friday morning/noon 
  • Friday evening/night 
  • Saturday morning/noon 
  • Saturday evening

Create rituals. Pick a special weekend activity that always drives you joy and make a habit out of it. Comforting collective rituals boost happiness and over time become traditions.

3- Tackling the three challenges of the weekend: Chores, children, and office work

Housework can kill you if done right.

Erma Bombeck

I am not totally delusional to just leave you with all these happy-go-lucky tips without addressing the hurdling blocks that you will surely be meeting. Hurdling blocks are tricky and unpredictable, so this will be a general guideline for whenever things are running smoothly. But when a special event or a heavy workload arises, try to adapt to keep the “vacation” mindset alive.

How to do it?

So if you choose to believe the quote on top, your housework can kill you if you do it right, let’s try to  “do it smart.”

  • Chores:  break down your chores to small time slots and try to finish  them throughout your weekdays. Never sacrifice prime weekend anchor events to chores. 
  • Children: Narrow  down your choices to the  activities you can all enjoy. Try and schedule your activities along with theirs. Make this a collectively pleasant experience so that it won’t feel like a chore.
  • Office work: Keep it tight. See if you want to compress professional work into a small time-frame on weekends such as Saturday mid-morning or noon. Other than that try to stay totally away from work.

For maximum effectiveness, try this:

Chores: breakdown dull chores into 15-minute chunks;  try to do them a little bit of this and a little bit of that on your weekdays. Then schedule only 2 or 3 hours on your weekend to do the bulk of it.

Children: Try and get a small workout whenever you take your kids to theirs. Or try reading your books when you have to spend an hour outside their gymnastics class. When you are with your family, try to do a mini digital detox where you all detach from all electronic devices. Make it fun and turn it into a game. 

Office work: If you absolutely have to work on the weekend, I recommend unplugging your laptop from its charger. I personally tried this and it made all the difference in the world. Take your laptop to a place in your house that you rarely use or sit in. This will give you about 2 to 3 hours of battery power and a fresh environment that would strategically add a feeling of newness that will slightly offset the dull work routine. Limit your work to those 3 hours of battery power and try a new place each time.

4- Do Nothing

Setting aside regular periods of “doing nothing” maybe “the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health

Manfred Ket De Vries

An article published by nature.com explores the brain research done on the importance of downtime and doing nothing. From the reviewed research we can conclude that 

  •  In a resting “do nothing” state, the brain is not doing nothing. It is completing the unconscious tasks of integrating and processing conscious experiences.
  • Resting state helps you process experiences, consolidate memories, reinforce learning, and regulate attention and emotions, and keeps you productive and effective in areas of work and judgments.

How to do it?

Reflection, meditation and alone time are all essential to your recharging journey. Remember that all of this is to rejuvenate your emotional, mental and physical health. This is not about outcomes, this is about your intrinsic balance and wellbeing. To get started you need to understand that:

  • There are various types of meditation: transcendental meditation, mindful meditation, breath awareness meditation, Zen meditation, among others. Explore them all to find what better suits you, your body and your needs. 
  • Reflection is the ability to think back, observe yourself in action and think from it. So the time you spend doing nothing is not time wasted; it’s a practice to keep the balance between action and reflection.

For maximum effectiveness, try this:

  • Try these 3 steps to improve your self-reflection:
    1. Reflect on your experience
    • What happened? (action)
    • What you thought or felt at the time? (reaction)
    1. Reflect on your learning. Analyze your experience and measure it up to the values and principles you choose to follow
      • What does this experience say to me?
      • What can I learn?

    Apply. Apply what you learned and put it to practice.
    • What options do I see for the next time I encounter this situation?
    • What specifically do I intend to do based on my reflection?

Let’s put it this way: a work-free weekend is the equivalent of a healthy meal; you know you should do it. All studies show how much benefits you can reap from it but you decide to cheat; after all, junk food is a weakness. 

One last Actionable hack:

  • Make sure to conquer the Saturday blues by always ending your weekend on a good note. This will help start your week off on a good note.

 

Ready to start the weekend? Which tip are you excited to try right away?

Recruiting Women in Technology

By | Featured, Hiring

Only 25% of the technology industry is made up of women. Reports of women in technology include stories of gender bias, unequal pay, and limited opportunities. Studies show a direct correlation between more women in leadership and 41% higher returns on equity as well as 56% better-operating results. Despite these studies, the tech industry remains behind when it comes to finding, hiring, and retaining women.

Companies should be interested in diversifying their work pools and benefiting from the talents and results that women can bring to the workforce.

Here are some tips to help you recruit and retain women for your open tech positions.

‘Normalize’ technology as a career path for women

The first part of solving the gender-diversity problem is to “normalize” technology as a career path for women. Part of the way cultures can normalize this is to start encouraging young women who are curious about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.

Many companies who are actively trying to diversify their workplace offer STEM scholarships and internships to women.

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Provide equal pay for equal work

While it should be standard, it needs to be re-emphasized: Employers should always pay men and women equally for the same types of roles. Take a look at your payroll. What is most standard for the role you are hiring? Use this information to implement equal pay in your workplace. Payscale.com reports that women software developers, on average, make 4% less pay than their male counterparts. The study also shows that, in the workforce, men make up 89% of employed software developers.

By providing equal pay for women, you can better your chances of recruiting more qualified women in tech.

Offer flexibility

The modern workplace is becoming more digital. This means people can now work from any place where there is a WiFi connection—even while lounging on the sea!

Flexibility is one of the most important things for today’s worker. Men and women alike are looking for more flexible work options to balance their roles at home and in the office. Furthermore, offering flexible work hours and remote work options can spark female employees’ interest in a job and increase their desire to stay long-term.

If your office embraces flexibility, you should emphasize that in your job posts and recruiting information.

Change your job description

Recruiting and retaining women in tech is a challenge. Any company that wants to hire more women must check its job listings. If you are noticing women aren’t applying, it probably means that job ads need to be changed. For example, if your job post features images of candidates, you should make sure that in some of those prominent images you feature women.

Unitive and Textio software companies have built text checkers on job posts that screen for words likely to prevent a candidate from applying for a role. In their findings, they saw that terms like “aggressive”, “assertive”, and “competitive” actually deterred women from applying for tech openings. Moreover, using terms like “adaptable”, “dependable”, and “resilient” increased women’s applications. 

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Finally, it’s important to note that hiring more women shouldn’t be just for PR’s sake. Studies show the Fortune 500 companies that had at least three women board directors for at least five years outperformed those with zero women board of directors. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Women Rule!

Looking for the best candidates for your tech job opening? Visit WUZZUF and start hiring now.

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