The interview from hell

No matter how bad you think your interview went, it can’t be as bad as this one.

Hopefully a little humor will help you ease any stress you feel about the interview process.

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.

How to get a job at Google

The interview process at Google has become legendary, and many people are curious about what it takes to get a job there. William Poundstone explains the secret to getting through the interview process there. Here’s an example of one question:

What is the single hardest question they ask you when interviewing at Google?

“What number comes next in this sequence: 10, 9, 60, 90, 70, 66…?”

This question is hard because you either see the “trick” or you don’t. Nothing you learned in school is likely to help. Try spelling out the numbers—you’ll see that they are in order of the number of letters in the word. “Sixty-six” has eight letters, so the next number must have nine. One possible answer is “ninety-six.”

Poundstone goes on to explain what Google is looking for in interview answers and the type of people, extremely bright extroverts, that Google wants. Your thought process is just as important as your answer. Read the whole article and see if you might fit in.

Working on projects during job interview process

With a very competitive job market, prospective employers are getting much more demanding in their interviews. Basically, they don’t want to just talk to you. They want to see what you can do. So job applicants end up doing work for free as they work through projects developed by the prospective employer to test actual skills.

In today’s competitive job market, employers are increasingly asking candidates to show — not just tell — what they can do. Top candidates are asked to solve problems on the spot, give feedback on products, and research new markets. “Companies ask for whatever they want, and people do it,” says Cynthia Shapiro, an L.A.-based career strategist. One of Shapiro’s clients created 10 greeting cards in 24 hours to win a graphic design job, while another client did market research and made a formal presentation to top executives — only to hear that the company was no longer filling the position.

These case study-style interviews, also known as situational, scenario, or behavioral interviews, have been common among i-banking and consulting firms but are now permeating all sectors. Career experts say the techniques are relevant to even the upper echelons of executives — those used to being wooed with box seats. SHL, the world’s largest employment assessment provider, saw a 65% jump last year in employers using such techniques to vet candidates.

This is new in many industries, even if it’s been commonplace in the tech world for years. Software jobs in particular involve hacking sessions as part of the interview process. That said, it’s a new trend that you have to be prepared for.

Facebook and job interviews

Most people are aware now that the stuff you post on Facebook and other social media outlets will likely be researched by prospective employers. This interview with Dr. Lawrence Burgee, Department Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Information Systems, Brown School of Business and Leadership, Stevenson University, illustrates the point. He tells a story of one interview where an applicant was asked if a person could be their friend for an hour to look over their Facebook page while others were interviewing him.

Handling tough questions at a job interview

If you’re preparing for a job interview, it’s impossible to anticipate all the questions, so on some level it’s more important to be relaxed and be comfortable about discussing your career goals, the potential job and your previous experience. That said, it’s important to prepare. Part of that involves doing research on the company and the prospective job, but you also need to be prepared for the tough interview questions that pop up often in interviews.

Forbes has an article about how to answer the 10 toughest interview questions. They don’t go very in-depth into the answers, but the advice is solid and it’s a good list.

Extreme hiring – psychological scrutiny and rigorous simulations

It’s getting tough out there. Employers are realizing that the old ways of screening out job candidates, particularly candidates for executive positions, are insufficient in today’s competitive world. Employers are employing much more thorough tactics, such as psychological scrutiny and rigorous simulations. Some are calling it “extreme hiring.”

It’s Andrew Noon’s first day on the job, and already he has had to discipline a worker, thwart a departmental turf war, cajole two recalcitrant employees, convince an irate customer not to cancel a contract and present his strategic plan for the next three years to the company’s chief executive, complete with flip charts. But the boss, the employees and the customers are actors. The company is fictitious. The office space is an assessment center outside Pittsburgh. At least three trained observers are listening to Noon’s every voice mail, reading his every e-mail and watching his every move. The whole exercise is a simulation designed to determine his readiness for the executive suite at Mutual of Omaha.

To prepare, Noon, 35, spent the weeks leading up to his assessment poring over reams of fictitious financials and memorizing fake org charts, employee bios, product descriptions, company histories and global sales breakdowns. He also took three personality tests, each consisting of 200 to 300 questions designed to uncover his levels of sociability, creativity and ambition and to identify any “derailers”–talent-management-speak for the dark side.

Psychological scrutiny and rigorous simulations are fast becoming a requisite part of the interview process. Gone are the days when a clutch golf swing or well-schmoozed dinner might score you a spot in the C-suite. The downturn has shed a decidedly unflattering light on subjective hiring practices. Even the standard application-interview-résumé-and-reference-check formula has come under fire for being too soft and unreliable.

In many ways this makes sense, but it would make even more sense if the results are compared to feedback given by that candidates former co-workers and superiors.

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