Tag Archives: interview questions

The salary question is illegal in MA

MA just passed a law making it illegal to ask your current or past salary before they have made you a job offer!

Here is the article.

I have to admit, I did not see that one coming.

Should you answer, “Where else are you interviewing?”

Spy asking Spying or helping?

Are they going to use the information to hurt you or to help you?

Who is asking you, “Where else are you interviewing?” That should change your answer.

During a police interrogation you answer questions differently than you do when you are talking to your spouse.  For example, “Where have you been?” can be more dangerous coming from one of those two sources.

There are two correct responses to the question, “Where else are you interviewing?”  If you are talking to a hiring manager or HR person, tell them.  Let them know what is going on. Give them details if they ask. It will most likely increase your desirability if they know others are talking to you.

If you are talking to a recruiter at an agency, you need to decide if you trust the recruiter.  Ask the recruiter, “Why do you want to know?”  After the recruiter acts defensive or offended, ask your real question, “Do you ever submit resumes to jobs you find out about from candidates?”

The recruiter should answer, “I will only submit a resume to a job you mention if I am already working on it, or if you tell me you are out of contention there.  I will never reduce your chances of getting a job by submitting competition unless I was already working on the job.”

Do you trust the recruiter?  If so, give him the details of your interviews. He can help you much better in your job search if he knows everything. All the recruiting trainers and over half the recruiters will play fair with you. They will not ruin your chances where you are already interviewing. If you have serious doubts about the recruiter, tell them you are interviewing, but not precisely where.

Basically, if someone will hurt you with the information, protect yourself.  If the information works to your advantage, tell them.

Something To Do Today

Evaluate every recruiter you work with.   Which ones do you trust?  Which ones are questionable?  Why? Trust your instincts.

I am going on vacation the week of the 4th of July.  I’ll be at a family reunion in Gila, NM and totally unavailable.

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Later:                          Why don’t they give you an answer, Yes or No?

The company’s reputation

Will you do anything we ask? – the interview question

waist deep in water

Will you really do “whatever it takes” ??

“Will you do whatever it takes to get the job done?” is a common interview question.

In “The Firm” a new lawyer finds the perfect job: great pay, wonderful benefits and  a really high flying lifestyle.  Then he finds out he is a part of the mafia and can’t get out unless he is the guest of honor at his own funeral.

Let’s get realistic.  Even in high flying corporate scandals no one is murdered.  If you feel you have to blow the whistle you can go to newspaper reporters and the police.  You will be safe physically.  Your only real worries are social and financial.  The company’s risk is to its very existence.  It can be destroyed just by bad press.  Also, legal action can take away any profit the company has had for years.

There is no reason to suspect that your employer wants you to do something illegal.  It is much more likely he wants you to work late.

Go ahead and be enthusiastic when they ask the question, “Will you do whatever it takes?”  The proper answer is to give examples of how you have gone the extra mile in previous jobs.  Tell when you worked late to finish projects or help a teammate.  Carrying a pager is a great example of doing “whatever it takes.”  Mention the inconvenient business trips.  The support you had from your family when you had to work late or travel is a valuable story.

I hate to go back to it, but, don’t mention when you did something borderline illegal.  Don’t assume they want you to do something immoral.  If they ask you to do something that is wrong, ask them to clarify.  Ask for examples.  If you are sure they are asking you to do something illegal, immoral, or fattening, refuse the second interview or the job offer. You can even bring it up with the CEO or the SEC.

Some people have been burned by a previous bad employer.  You may have been hired by a place with dubious morals. You are out now, or in the process of getting out.  Assume the best of the companies you are visiting.  Give examples of how hard you are willing to work to succeed. Focus on what you can do for the company.

Something To Do Today

Assume the best.  Ask for examples.

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything. (J. W. von Goethe)

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Tomorrow:     Where else are you interviewing?

Later:              Why don’t they give you an answer, Yes or No?

The company’s reputation

The pause that destroys a job interview

shocked woman

It is not when YOU pause that destroys you.

Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.  (Muhammed Ali)

An interviewer said, “Tell me what your biggest weakness is.” The candidate gave one example.  There was a pause. The interviewer looked puzzled. Uncomfortable, the candidate gave another weakness.  The surprised interviewer sat for 10 seconds after that admission trying to gather his thoughts.  The candidate gave another weakness.  In all, the candidate gave six weaknesses.  The interview was over a few minutes later.  The candidate was not hired.

When you finish answering a question and the interviewer looks at you without saying anything, what do you do?  Do you start talking again?  No! Stop! Shut up!  You need to learn to outwait your interviewer.  If he wants more, let him ask. If he raises an eyebrow as if to say, “Is that all?”, then you should look puzzled or confident and wait for him to talk.

Most interviewers do not consciously use silence as a weapon.  They will be happier if you let the silence stretch.  They are gathering their thoughts.  Don’t interrupt them.  Let them have the time they need to feel comfortable.

Interviewers who purposely use silence will be impressed if you have the guts to let a silent break stretch to 30 seconds while looking them in the eye, occasionally glancing down to their hands.  To them it is a sign of self worth and assurance.

A big turn-off for many managers is someone who just can’t stop talking.  Make use of the old saying, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Something To Do Today

Practice talking and then being quiet.  Watch how the person you are addressing gets nervous. Just for today, don’t let them off the hook.  Be the strong silent type today.

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Tomorrow:     What are your weaknesses?

Later:              What do we have to pay you?

Why are you leaving your job?

Will you do anything we ask?

Where else are you interviewing?

Should you tell them where else?

Why don’t they give you an answer, Yes or No?

How to deal with interview traps

bear trap

Questions that are really interview traps can kill your chances

Thumb screws and the iron maiden are no longer considered proper interview tools. Nasty traps are rarely set for candidates.  The most common snare is a reasonable question or a pause that becomes the killing moment in an interview.  We’ll talk about pauses another day.

Reasonable questions that are dangerous include:

  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What do we have to pay you to get you to work here?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Are you willing to do anything necessary to get the job done?
  • Where else are you interviewing?

When you get a dangerous question you should answer it accurately.  That doesn’t mean you need to go into a lot of detail.  Over the next few day we’ll touch on each one of these questions.  For now, remember to be brief.

Any one of these questions can bring out old job wounds.  Job wounds are things that happened at a previous job that you are afraid will happen again.  Get over them. This is a new company.  Don’t yell, whine or complain about the past.  If you have to mention something that is ugly, state the fact in one short sentence and stop.  Don’t explain.  Don’t fill in the details. Let your interviewer assume what he wants. You will find that their imagination is often more generous to you if you are extremely brief and only mention facts.

The secret to avoiding interview traps is to prepare an answer in advance.  Use that answer and avoid going into areas that are painful for you. Brevity is a key.

If all the world’s a stage, I want to operate the trap door. (Beatty)

Something To Do Today

Write down a one sentence answer to each of the questions above.  Next week compare those answers to the guidelines for each question.

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Next:     Pregnant pauses

Later:              What are your weaknesses?

What do we have to pay you?

Why are you leaving your job?

Will you do anything we ask?

Where else are you interviewing?

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2 critical interview questions you should always ask the hirer

The interviewer’s first worry (out of 7)

You may be talking yourself out of a job. Your resume and your interview may combine to scare the interviewer.  He may think he will lose control of his situation if he even makes you a job  offer.

The hiring manager for any job usually already feels out of control. Someone quit, or there is more work to do than his team can handle. He is losing control of his own time because he is being forced to review resumes and set up interview times.  He is feeling out of control.

Then you make it worse.  He looks at your resume and asks himself, “Why does this candidate want to come work for me? What does he have in common with other people who quit? Will he even accept the job if we offer it?

Will he even accept the job if we offer it?

That is the first huge question you have to remove from the hirer’s mind. There are two types of questions you can ask to help soothe the hirer.  Ask the first one in the middle of the interview. Ask the second one at the very end. The second question is critical.

  1. What do you like most about working here?

Your purpose is to convince the hirer that they have connected with you about what makes the company great.  Give them a chance to say what they like the most.  While they are talking about it, lean forward and listen intently.  If the hirer feels you like his explanation, he will feel a lot more comfortable that you will accept the job.

  1. Can I have the job?

At the end of the interview you have to be bold.  You have to ask for the job.  There are several ways you can put it.

  • This sounds like a great opportunity. I like the people, and the job sounds great.  Is there anything you have seen in me that would keep you from hiring me?
  • This is the exact job, company, and coworkers I have been looking for. Can we set up the next step in the hiring process right now?
  • I really appreciate the chance to talk to you. What a great job and company! I want to work with you. How soon can I start working here?
  • This has been great. Can I have the job?

You will notice that the last example above is the condensed version.  It is the shortest and most direct way to ask for the job.  However you say it, say it at the end of every interview.  Never forget it.

The will practically never make you the job offer, or set up the next step right then.  The point is to let them know you really really really want the job.

Remove all doubt that you will accept the job if a decent offer is made.  Do it by letting them know you are interested. If you ask some variation of question 1 and question 2, you will dramatically increase your chances of being seriously considered and hired.

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More on these topics is coming later:

You have to help them regain control before you are hired

In order to soothe your potential boss, you have to give them as much control as possible.  If you can prove a few basic things, they will hire you immediately.  You need to prove:

  1. You will take that job and keep it.
  2. You can do that job
  3. You won’t take too much training
  4. You will take the initiative to do things within their system
  5. You learn quickly
  6. You get along with all kinds of coworkers – good and bad
  7. You will quickly take other burdens off the boss’s back and give them back control.

How do you prove it?

We’ll talk about that over the next few days.

What to ask in the interview – the 4 best questions

Contributor, hard working, excited and interested will get you a job. Greedy, lazy, bored and distracted will get you shown the door out.

Excellent questions are a way to show the difference between you and the other candidates.  You need to ask questions that show you will take some of the burden off of the hiring manager.  You must show your great attitude with your questions.

“What do you see as the greatest contribution I can make to my team here?” is a winner.

“What problems will I be helping to solve in this job?” works.

“What burden can I take off of your back in my first 3 months?” will be a relief.

“How will my performance be evaluated in one year’s time when I take this job?” is a great question.

Let them know you will be trying to meet their expectations.  Open up a conversation on what is really expected of you.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  (Twain)

Do you get the idea?  You need to ask questions that show the ways you can contribute and start taking away some of your new boss’s headaches.

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Something To Do Today

Before your next job interview or pay review, make a list of questions that show your desire, interest and motivation.

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Next:              How early do I get there?

Later:              Good manners

How to blow an interview using any of 5 questions

Yes, the wrong questions can destroy your chance to be hired.

True story with our candidate: He was interviewing for a $100,000/year job.  The interview had lasted an hour.  The hiring manager loved the candidate.  There was no one else interviewing.  The hirer had made up his mind that this guy was going to work for him.  The manager asked, “Do you have any questions?”  The candidate said, “Yes, how much time off do I get and when can I start taking vacation time?”  Five minutes later the candidate was out of the office.  He had no clue why the interview was terminated so abruptly. He was not hired.

Attitude is everything in an interview.  A hiring manager is looking for someone who will work hard.  He wants a team builder who will inspire others.  He wants someone who will take some of his burden away.

Don”t ever ask the “What”s in it for me?” questions in your first interview.  The correct time to ask is when they bring it up first, or when they make you a job offer.

Here”s a list of some of those questions you should NOT ask until later:

  • How much time off and vacation do I get?
  • What is your sick leave policy?
  • Can I come in late or leave early sometimes?
  • Do I have to work late?
  • What will my pay be?

None of the above questions is asking anything evil.  You need the answers to all of them.  You”ll get all the answers before you accept the job.  Just wait a bit.

The correct questions to ask are about the company’s direction, your role, potential job growth, your teammates, etc.  Ask questions that show you want to work hard. Your questions should show you want to help.

Attitude really is everything in an interview.  What you are most interested in asking about will show your interviewer what your real attitude is.

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Something To Do Today

Write down some questions that show how much you want to succeed. It”s good practice.

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Coming up:   The money question

Later:              My last job stunk

Fired!

You have to ask two questions in every interview

Ask, and it shall be given unto you. (Bible)

 I talk to hiring managers after interviews to see how my candidates have done.  I also ask about the competition.  One of the common complaints I hear about many candidates is, “I’m not sure he really wanted the job.”

When I ask my candidates about it they always say, “I didn’t want to appear too anxious.  They might not pay me what I deserve.”  At least they won’t have to worry about being underpaid!  They will never be offered a job.

Your interviewers are evaluating you for more than just your ability to do the job.  They are keenly interested in your attitude.  They want to know how willingly you will work with the team.  Are you going to be excited to go to work, or will you be looking for a new job the day after you start?

A key place to plant the right impression is as the interview ends.  The last thing you want them to remember is that you want the job.  Here’s what you say:

I’m impressed by this company and this opportunity.  I’d love to have the chance to work with you.  Is there anything you’ve seen today that would keep me from being able to join your team?

When they say, “No, you’re fine.”  You ask the one most critical question.

 Can we set up an appointment for the next step in the hiring process right now?

Usually they will say, “We’ll call you later.”

That is fine.  Now they know you really want the job.  They’ll know you try to make things happen.  Your desire to move things forward will be undeniable.

Isn’t that the last impression you want them to have of you?

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Something To Do Today

Practice your closing lines before every interview.

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Later:  Best ways to blow an interview

The money question

Fired!

How to find the technical interview questions you will be asked

Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer. (Charles C. Colton)

Passing technical interviews used to be the bane of my company’s existence.  I would send very qualified individuals for programming jobs.  They would come back from their technical interview bleak and hopeless.  They had failed.  They knew it.

Then I bought 3 copies of the book, Ace The Technical Interview.  I lent the book out before the interview.  All of a sudden I had more people getting jobs.

Get an unfair advantage

You don’t need to buy that book.  I have something better.  You can get great questions for review.  You may also be able to get the exact questions you will be asked.

Go to your favorite internet search engine and look up “interview questions forklift”. You will find a list of typical technical questions for forklift operators.  Now replace “forklift” with the technical part of your job you get questions about.  An accountant can put in “audit”.  A programmer can insert “Java” or “J2EE”.

Even if you aren’t technical

Are you in Sales?  Check out “interview questions sales”. Try this technique out in your field.

The final query

Make sure you check out the name of the company you are interviewing with.  Some people have made a habit of collecting interview questions from various companies.  They have put them on the web.  You may be surprised when your interviewer asks you the exact questions you have prepared for.  You’ll love it.

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Something To Do Today

Google: “interview questions programmer Microsoft”. Then try some that apply to you.

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Later:             Resume blasting

Certifications – gold and lead

Recruiter motivation