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.
Something To Do Today
Google: “interview questions programmer Microsoft”. Then try some that apply to you.
Later: Resume blasting
Certifications – gold and lead
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Reading off of a sheet of questions, each interviewer takes a turn asking set questions. There are technical questions, motivation questions and team related questions. Which are the most important ones? Which are the red herrings?
If you interview with 5 people at a company, you will have to deal with 5 agendas. Each will have a different set of core values and competencies they are looking for. So how do you win?
Be yourself, but avoid dwelling on yourself.
Make sure your interviewers know one or two endearing things that make you different. For instance, I have ten kids and will be going into the mountains with my Boy Scouts this month. That will set Bryan Dilts apart from other candidates and give me a personality. Do you have a computer network in your basement? Were you the top salesman of Girl Scout cookies as a kid? Are you a Steelers fan? Mention one or two things that make you unique. Okay, I’m not sure about mentioning politics and the NFL.
Avoid dwelling on yourself
Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them. (Leo Tolstoy)
A quick mention of your one or two endearing qualities is all that is needed. Then it is time to mention past job performance.
When asked about what you did, mention specific projects. You can say, “I was in charge of the budget,” or you can say, “While I was in charge of the budget we increased productivity 60% while increasing the budget only 20%.” That will catch their attention. As a salesperson you can say, “I sold to companies with over 2000 employees,” or you can get bonus points by saying, “In the last year I opened new accounts at 14 companies, each with over 2000 employees.”
Don’t dwell on yourself. Dwell on the facts. Facts that demonstrate your value to your last company and the company you are interviewing with.
Their red herrings
You really have no hope of knowing which of their questions are red herrings. All you can do is refocus each question they ask on what you have accomplished in the past. Given a choice, most people would rather work with someone who will get things done rather than someone who answers the questions just like they are supposed to.
Ignore their red herrings and show them you are a big fish. They’ll want to reel you in and hire you.
Something to do today
Ask if you can help do interviews at your current company. You may be surprised what you learn about being interviewed by watching others in the hot seat and talking with your boss about them afterwards.
Later: Interview red herring – yours
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