Reviewing the most popular interview questions

So you’ve got an interview scheduled? How do you prepare?

One thing you should definitely do is review this list of the 50 most common interview questions and start working through answers.

What are your strengths?

What are your weaknesses?

Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

Why do you want to leave your current company?

It’s a long list and none of them will surprise you. Also, you’re bound to get some off-the-wall questions as well so there’s no way to have a ready answer for everything. But working on this list will give you time to think through subjects you’d like to bring up in an interview, and many of these prepared answers will help you come up with things to say in response to the unexpected questions.

College presidents rake in the big bucks

Is the college game rigged against you? No, we’re not talking about fixing college football games. We’re talking about the problem of college costs and runaway student debt. With that in mind, this article about salaries and expenses for college presidents will probably get your blood boiling.

E. Gordon Gee makes millions as president of Ohio State University, but a Dayton Daily News investigation found the university spends almost as much for Gee to travel the globe, throw parties, wine and dine donors, woo prospective faculty, hang out with students and staff and maintain a 9,600-square-foot mansion on 1.3 acres.

Since returning to Columbus as the university’s president in October 2007, the 68-year-old Gee has pulled in $8.6 million in salary and compensation, making him the highest paid CEO of a public university in the country.

But his expenses — hidden among hard-to-get records that the university took nearly a year to release — tally nearly as much: $7.7 million.

Gee’s spending is kept out of the public eye because it can be tallied only by examining multiple reports, including the quarterly discretionary expense reports delivered to the trustees and not easily obtainable by others. The Daily News first requested records documenting Gee’s work day, housing, American Express statements, travel expenses, discretionary spending reports and other data in September 2011. The university did not fully respond to the request until August 2012.

Those records show Gee stays in luxury hotels, dines at country clubs and swank restaurants, throws lavish parties, flies on private jets and hands out thousands of gifts — all at public expense.

The Daily News investigation found the university spent more than $895,000 for gatherings at the Pizzuti House, the president’s mansion, between April 2008 and June 2011.

Yes, Gee raises a ton of money, bet when if ever will tuition-paying students see any of the benefits beyond new construction on campus? Things have to change.

Best companies to work for according to ‘Fortune’

Messages at work? No wonder Google is #1 on Fortune’s list of the 100 best companies to work for.

Rank: 1
Previous rank: 1
2011 revenue ($ millions): $37,905

What makes it so great?
The Internet juggernaut takes the Best Companies crown for the fourth time, and not just for the 100,000 hours of free massages it doled out in 2012. New this year are three wellness centers and a seven-acre sports complex, which includes a roller hockey rink; courts for basketball, bocce, and shuffle ball; and horseshoe pits.

Check out the rest of the list.

Should these benefits like messages be taxed? I don’t think so.

Considering job swaps


Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are all sorts of new management ideas and trends these days, but the idea of the job swap is very interesting, and possibly very useful.

One morning in May Nadim Hossain drove to work, sat in a weekly sales forecast meeting, met with the marketing team, and gave feedback on ad messaging. Only it wasn’t his office, his job, or even his company.

À la the TV show Wife Swap, Hossain, then vice president of marketing at San Francisco-based PowerReviews, was in the midst of an executive job swap. He traded roles for the day with Jon Miller, VP of marketing and co-founder of San Mateo, Calif., software firm Marketo, hoping to gain some insight into his own role by experiencing someone else’s.

It worked. Since PowerReviews — now owned by Bazaarvoice — is a Marketo customer, Miller came away better understanding the issues facing chief marketing officers. Hossain, for his part, returned to PowerReviews with pages of notes on ways to motivate his sales team, woo big brands, and identify leads. “A fresh environment is always a good way to generate new ideas,” Hossain says.

Check it out and then consider this for members of your team.

5 Details for an Unforgettable Business Card


Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Business cards are a great way to leave a lasting professional impression long after an introduction. When it comes to quality business cards, it’s all about the details. Small details turn can a forgettable business card into a memorable one, giving you the edge over your competition.

The Cut

Poorly cut business cards show potential clients that you have subpar standards. They’re highly unprofessional can provide a negative reflection on the way you carry out your business. If it looks like your toddler took a pair of scissors to your business cards, you might consider demanding a refund. The same is true if your cards have frayed edges or worn sides. A professional, clean cut is non-negotiable.

The Personal Information

Business cards convey important contact information for potential clients and should always be kept up-to-date. It’s imperative to order new business cards as soon as the information on your current ones is no longer accurate. Never try to recycle old cards with penned in corrections, as that implies your company is cheap, unprofessional, and does not pay attention to detail. If any updates are made to your business, your business cards must be updated simultaneously.

The Business Logo

Your business likely has a brilliantly designed logo, but unless that logo conveys a major household brand your customers will not remember your business name. A logo can help to recall the memory of potential business associates even if your company name does not, so always remember to include your business name with your logo if it is not in the logo itself.

Colors

Mustard yellow could be your favorite color, but putting it on a business card will cause some of your potential customers to ditch the card immediately. This doesn’t mean that your card has to lack color completely. The trick is to make it subtle and keep the contrast high. Colors should be tasteful and easy on the eyes. It’s easy to be put off by poorly colored cards, which will cost your business money in the long run. You don’t want anything to keep your customers from reading the important information displayed on your business cards.

Font

Font plays a big part in whether or not your clients can read your business card. Make sure you consider your client’s interests ahead of your own, as some fonts can be very difficult to read. Even the more formal fonts of calligraphy can pose a problem to some customers. Keep it simple to reach your target customers.

Business cards are continuous advertising. They are also a reflection of your business choices and your attention to detail. The goal of your business cards is to make them an unforgettable piece of your business and a memorable staple attached to your name.

Protecting your professional reputation

Are you someone who is respected in business? Do you meet deadlines? Do you avoid making excuses when things go wrong?

Your professional reputation is critical, and it goes far beyond your core competency for your job. It’s often about the little things, like being prepared for meeting and being responsive.

This article provides a very handy list of the little things you should pay attention to.

Evaluating online degrees

We’ve addressed issues surrounding for-profit college scams in the past. There’s also the issue of rising college costs in general, and also the opportunities for self-education for free.

Here’s an excellent article that gives great advice on how to evaluate online courses and degrees. It’s important to use objective resources and guides.

You don’t mention whether you’ve already tried Googling, say, “online degree programs,” but, if so, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with advertising from for-profit schools. The University of Phoenix alone spends over $200 million a year on television and Internet pitches, according to an estimate from Madison Avenue trade paper Ad Age. Nothing wrong with advertising, of course, but in some respects it does make the process of choosing the right online school more difficult.

Here’s why: more than 7,000 U.S. colleges and universities now offer long-distance degree programs — and about 85% of those are traditional brick-and-mortar schools that have expanded into cyberspace over the past few years. Yet traditional colleges don’t have the marketing budgets that the huge for-profit schools have. So unless you actively seek out brick-and-mortar schools’ online offerings, you may never know they exist.

“Prospective students should be wary of Internet ‘guides’ to online education that get paid to promote for-profit schools,” says Vicky Phillips. “It’s called pay-per-lead advertising, and it means the ‘guide’ gets X dollars for each person it steers to a for-profit university.” Traditional colleges don’t have such deep pockets, so thousands of them are unlikely to turn up in such directories at all.

“Not only that, but the for-profit schools have tens of thousands of students, while the online bachelor’s-in-business program at a traditional university can only accept, say, 30 at a time,” she adds. “So even if traditional colleges could afford to pay for online leads, it wouldn’t make sense for them to do so. They’re operating on an entirely different scale.”

Phillips has been researching and comparing online degree programs for 20 years, which is about as long as they’ve existed. She runs a consumer-information web site called GetEducated.com that you might want to check out. The site includes a comparison tool that lets you evaluate and rank schools using 12 different filters. These include type of specialization in your major (business with a minor in finance, for instance); non-profit versus for-profit; secular versus religious (many Christian colleges now offer long-distance learning); and whether the school’s programs are 100% online or “hybrids,” meaning you’ll have to show up in person several times per semester.

There are tons of great options for online education, both free and those that require payments. You just have to do your research and find the solution that’s best for you. Just be careful of any program where you will end up with loads of college debt.

The equal pay debate

With the election over, it will be interesting to see how the equal pay debate that produced the infamous “binders full of women” phrase from Mitt Romney will evolve. There are all sorts of opinions on this issue regarding how to make things fair, but many argue that women have to take control of their own situations and learn how to advocate for their own salaries. Meanwhile, government has to enforce equal pay laws on the books.

More construction jobs added

Warren Buffett famously declared that the slumping US economy would have trouble rebounding until housing stabilized and we started seeing new construction jobs. Well, there’s been plenty of good news on the housing front, and now we’re seeing good news on construction jobs in the latest jobs report.

After five years of hemorrhaging jobs, the construction industry has become one of the bright spots of the labor market — a hopeful sign that one of the most damaged sectors of the economy may finally be starting to heal.

Overall, the government’s monthly jobs report, released Friday, showed continued modest growth in December. The economy added 155,000 jobs, on par with the monthly average for both 2012 and 2011. The unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent.

But a closer look reveals that nearly one-fifth of the jobs created were in construction, marking only the third time since the recession ended in June 2009 that the industry has added 30,000 workers or more. The surge capped one of the largest three-month gains the sector has seen since the recession began in December 2007.

The return of construction jobs is an especially critical component of the economic recovery. That’s partly because of the sheer number of jobs lost — more than 2 million since 2007 — but also because of fears that many of those workers’ skills may not translate to other industries, rendering them permanently unemployable.

This should help to turbocharge the overall job market. If you’ve given up looking for work, not is the time to get back at it.

Movement for $10,000 college degree

The value of a college education has been a hot topic, along with the issue of the college loan crisis. With that backdrop, we’re starting to see some momentum behind the movement for what’s being called the $10,000 college degree.

With the cost of going to college already more than $30,000 a year at many California campuses, is it possible to earn a bachelor’s degree for just $10,000 – total?

Assemblyman Dan Logue hopes so.

Borrowing an idea being promoted by Republican governors in Texas and Florida, the Republican Assemblyman from Linda has introduced a bill that would create a pilot program in California for what he’s billing as a $10,000 bachelor’s degree. The degree would be available to students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math disciplines.

Assembly Bill 51 calls for closer coordination between high schools, community colleges and California State University campuses and targets three regions for the pilot: Chico, Long Beach and Turlock. Participating students would earn some college credit in high school through Advanced Placement classes and greater access to community college courses. The bill calls for participating community college students to go to school full-time. CSU campuses, moreover, would be required to freeze tuition for those in the program.

Tuition at CSU right now is $5,472 a year. Books and campus fees cost another roughly $2,000 annually. A statement from Logue said his proposed $10,000 degree would include textbooks. It does not cover living expenses such as room and board.

You’ll note that it’s governors in Texas and Florida, both Republicans, who have started this movement, and it is being embraced by prominent conservatives. I would suspect that Democrats would happily go along, so this could be a significant bi-partisan movement.

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