Ace that Interview

Part 2: The next 15 Interview questions to prepare for

Career Insights by Gary Markell

16578220-sketch-of-job-interview-illustrationWhat questions should I prepare to answer prior to my interview? Here are a variety of questions commonly asked at interviews including the corresponding preparation advice.

16)  What are your future plans and goals?

You need to think this one through and be ready to talk about your career progression objectives, leadership goals, and further educational plans. Be sure to tell how you plan on attaining these goals.

17)  What are your strengths?

Write your strengths list down during your preparation time, and read them to yourself. Pick your best strength, and elaborate citing a concise tangible event where your strength proved to be a benefit to your employer, client, project, etc.

What are some strengths IBM managers look for? http://blog.ibm.jobs/2014/12/15/what-do-you-look-for-when-hiring-ibm/

18)  What are your weaknesses?

We all have weaknesses. You do as well. If you fail to answer this question head-on, you will leave yourself suspect regarding openness, honesty and humility. Stating a weakness is not admitting failure. Most often it is simply an area that you have yet to develop. Always follow up your weakness answer with what you are doing to improve.

19)  Tell me about a conflict you had with a boss.

Talk about a conflict and what you did to work it out. Hiring managers are looking for problem solvers. If you have not had any real conflicts think of a time where you had to sell them on an idea that he/she was at first opposed to.

20)  Tell me about a conflict you had with a subordinate.

Companies want to have employee’s who can manage conflict. It is not the conflict that counts; it is your testimony of how you improved the situation and how you countered the conflict. Talk about the outcome and what you accomplished to bring about the best resolution. If you do not legitimately have a true-life example, affirm what steps you would take if hypothetically you had a conflict with a subordinate.

21)  The Management style Questions

This can be answered from two viewpoints; 1) Your particular management style. 2) What management style you prefer to work under. When answering the first, site how you communicate, how your extend support, how you go about structuring your teams. Also show an example story of how a subordinate responded under your guidance which improved performance, project results, helped them to get promoted, etc. When answering the second, site what style works best for you to be productive.

22)  How much training have you had?

In some cases specific degrees or certifications are required. If you lack the formal training, you can certainly talk about your pertinent experience that relates to the job requirements. Talk about your particular philosophy regarding learning new things, and how you would embrace training.

23)  Tell me about your University GPA?

If you did not have a significant GPA, as many do not, please refrain from making excuses. If this question comes up, simply be honest. When you get pulled over for speeding you never win the argument by saying, “I did not know I was going that fast”. In contrast, you are at least respected by the officer, if you admit, “I know I was going about 10 over right officer? Although past education achievements are valued highly, most of the time employers are also genuinely encouraged by sincere statements of future goals and honest intentions. An average GPA may not always be a deal breaker.

24)  Tell me about your decision-making skills.

Never simply say, “I have very good decision making skills”, or “I have been told that I do”. Instead be ready to site a specific example from a past experience where you had multiple choices and how you resolved to make a good decision and what the resulting outcome was.

25)  If you could be an animal which one would you choose and why?

The only wrong answer here would be, “I never really thought about that.” This question comes up from time to time and is normally used to check to see how quickly you can think on your feet. Consider a way you can tie your strengths and personality with an animal in a positive way.

26)  If you asked your boss what 2 or 3 things they liked best about you, what would they say?

This question comes up often. Be ready to answer. You might even be proactive and go back and take a look at past reviews. Also you can call a past employer and simple ask the question and take notes. The key is to be prepared to answer with real life testimonials.

27)  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This question basically is asked to find out if you have even thought about taking on new responsibilities, and what they might be. Prepare to answer this with the actual next step or steps you would like to see happen, and why you feel you would be effective in that scenario.

28)  Are you interviewing with any other companies? Who are they?

Please do not second guess this question. Hiring authorities just want to know if they have any competition. If so, who it is, and how soon are you going to get an offer from another company? It is okay if you are not currently interviewing. Simply explain why this is the only company which has garnered your attention.

29)  What are the 2 or 3 most important criteria are you looking for in your next position?

This is an important question to think about. This shows why you are truly motivated and if you have clear-cut career goals or if you are just looking for another job. I am always impressed with answers that are well defined, that directly reveal initiative and a focus upon either contributory attributes or learning.

30)  What makes you a good leader? How do you stimulate people to get behind you and to get them to “buy-in”?

There are managers and then there are leaders. There is a difference. There is a wide range of techniques people use. Tell why you can have a motivating effect on people and what steps you take to provide effective leadership while managing your projects. You could also take the time to ask current or past subordinates why they respond to you.

NOTE: How many times have candidates been potentially just right for a position, however the truth of whom they were slipped through the cracks because of the lack of being prepared to present themselves?

Our goal as IBM recruiters is not to coach you on how to answer questions. Our intention is for you to prepare yourself to answer questions candidly in order to best present who you genuinely are. This will directly result in giving us the best opportunity to find a choice candidate and you best opportunity to align yourself with the appropriate position based upon your work history, skills and abilities. Preparation will always increase your odds to get hired. Regardless of the specific outcome, when you prepare for an interview cradled within integrity it is always a win/win scenario.

Thinking about a career with IBM? Which IBM jobs fits for you?  Use the IBM Career Decoder before you apply to explore exciting career opportunities and find your perfect fit at IBM.

For the Part 1 Ace that Interview Article: http://blog.ibm.jobs/2015/05/26/ace-that-interview/

 

Gary L. Markell

IBM Global Business Services

garymarkell@us.ibm.com

Check out our careers page: Work for the world. START@IBM
http://www-03.ibm.com/employment/

Ace that Interview

The 15 most common Interview questions to prepare for

Career Insights by Gary Markell

QuestionsWhat questions should I prepare to answer prior to my interview? Here are a variety of questions commonly asked at interviews and the corresponding preparation advice.

1)  Tell me about yourself.

Your resume has already been reviewed prior to you arriving. Do not go into your whole background as shown on your resume. Start out something like this: “Allow me to expand upon a couple things which I have accomplished in the past that made an impact regarding, (my company, a client, my project, etc)” Keep it concise. State what you did, and how it benefited your company, client or project.

2)  Describe your ideal job.

Be sincere, and talk about the positive aspects of your own career goals that will convey positive information about how you can contribute or make an impact.

3)  What was your greatest achievement?

Do not ramble. I recommend the topic to be job related if possible. You need to have the subject well rehearsed and ready to present. Keep it simple: Answer it in 3 simple steps: 1) What you did. 2) How you did it 3) How it benefited your Client, your Company, your Department, or the Project.

4)  Why should we hire you?

Please do not stumble on this question. You need to be prepared to answer this. Prior to the interview, write out why you have been a good employee in the past including your best accomplishments. If you are new to the workforce, answer based upon personal, and school accomplishments. What drives you to do well? Think about it.

5)  Can you travel without restriction?

If you do not plan to travel, be honest. Do not say what the interviewer wants to hear just so you can get to the next step. That is a lack of integrity and you are just wasting time for everyone. Decide if travel can be part of your job, and then stick to it. Be intentional about the non-travel time to plan quality time with your family/friends.

6)  What do you like/hate about your current job?

It is beneficial to have thought this one through again prior to going into the interview. What motivates you reflects upon how you work in a team, how you perform under pressure, how you set goals, your passion, how you face challenges, and how you can meet expectations.

7)  What would your “First 30, 60, 90 days” look like?

You need to really understand the job, so do your homework. Then think about how you would plan to execute during your first 3 months. This will typically reveal initiative, organizational skills, and how to set priorities. Be sure to include how you would gather information in the first 30, 60, 90 days in order to perform at your peak for the long-term. I recommend writing out a precursor “first 30, 60, 90 days” outline beforehand.

8)  Why do you want this job?

Keep in mind why they are asking this. They usually emphatically want to know if you have serious interest in the company and position or are you half-heartedly looking around and just kicking tires? Tell exactly why you find this opportunity attractive and why you are eager to pursue it. Do your research ahead of time.

9)  What do you know about us?

I have had hiring managers tell me that if a candidate knows very little about our company in the first interview, it is pretty disappointing and they are certainly not impressed. This lack of knowledge also reduces the chance of a second interview. Take the time to research before you go in. There are no excuses these days with all the detailed company information on the internet.

10)  The money/salary Questions

Contrary to widespread suggestions, you should simply be open about your current comp, and have some legitimate idea of a range for expectations. Do not play too cool or posture too hard about the compensation topic. Most companies will carry out background and employment checks at the end of the process anyway.

11)  Why would you consider leaving your current job?

If you have proactive reasons, state those reasons. If you were let go, simple answer, “I was let go”. Most everyone has had this happen to them including the interviewer. Be direct and honest. Don’t try to mask it.

12)  Tell me about your technical expertise.

You need to be ready to give a concise rundown on your technical skills that are pertinent to the role you have applied to. Prepare ahead of time to give brief details of how you have applied these skills in projects.

13)  The Counteroffer Questions

You might be asked, “If we give you an offer to come to work for us, how would you respond to a counteroffer from your current boss?” This is an important subject that can have a dramatic affect on you and your future. See this link for a complete summary regarding the controversial subject of considering counter-offers.

http://blog.ibm.jobs/2014/04/02/destination-disaster-what-really-happens-when-you-decide-to-accept-a-counteroffer/

14)  How did you hear about this position?

Turn this into a positive stimulating answer, and once you share the source, move your answer to tell exactly why you find this position and the company attractive and if so, why you are eager to pursue it.

15)  Do you have any questions for me?

I recommend having some pre-written questions. Take them with you to the interview. You can ask questions about the company, the position, the projects and the career path.

NOTE: How many times have candidates been potentially just right for an opening, however the truth of whom they were slipped through the cracks because of the lack of being prepared to present themselves?

Our goal as IBM recruiters is not to coach you on how to answer questions. Our intention is for you to prepare yourself to answer questions candidly in order to best present who you genuinely are. Preparation will always increase your odds to get hired. Regardless of the specific outcome, when you prepare for an interview cradled within integrity it is always a win/win scenario.

 

Thinking about a career with IBM?

Which IBM jobs fits for you? LINK: http://blog.ibm.jobs/2015/05/06/which-ibm-jobs-fit-you/

IBM Career Decoder: http://careerdecoder.ibm.jobs/

 

Gary L. Markell

IBM Global Business Services

Office: 248-674-7000

garymarkell@us.ibm.com

Check out our careers page: Work for the world. START@IBM
http://www-03.ibm.com/employment/

Fast facts regarding your Body Language

You might be conveying more than you think.

By Gary Markell

nonverbal brainWhat kinds of signals are you conveying with non-verbal communication? Countless books have been written on the subject, but how many people take seriously one of the most important aspects of daily life?

Focusing upon how well you will do regarding interviewing, relating with management, dealing with clients, and functioning in teams, must include careful consideration of your non-verbal communication. These unspoken influential transactions can be conscious but often times will be unconscious and unintentional.

I have heard from hiring authorities in the past after interviewing candidates who have said, “Everything seemed to go well, however there is just something, I can’t put my finger on it, a gut feeling that makes me hold back”. I wonder how much poor body language had to play in those cases of, “gut feeling”, scenarios.

non-verbalWe usually identify communication with speech, however communication is composed of two categories – verbal and nonverbal. In fact most authorities agree that non-verbal has the greatest influence regarding how our communication is translated.

Non-verbal includes: Touch including hand-shaking, eye contact, hand or arm and body movements, facial expression, posture, appearance and how we dress, and tone and pitch. It is important to be alert and even proactive regarding these subliminal persuaders. Regarding this subject, here are some basic areas to focus upon.

  1. Touch including handshaking:

Negative:

Generally never touch unless you are invited to, such as in a handshake or if you have a relationship that merits it. Stay outside a person’s personal space. (12 to 18 inches minimum)

Positive:

An appropriate touch at the right time such as squeezing a shoulder can send a thoughtful affirmation. Regarding handshakes, typically a firm and not a vice-grip handshake is best. Women should also shake firmly and not faintly.

  1. Eye-Contact

Negative:

Darting glances, or looking down: This can translate a feeling of disinterest, indicating poor listening skills or a lack of confidence. Never stare challengingly without blinking. There is a big difference between “eye-contact” and “staring”.

Positive:

Make comfortable eye contact often and consistently when the other person is talking. It indicates that you have interest in what they are saying, and that you value the topic.

  1. Body Movements

Negative:

Fidgety movements: Conveys uncertainty

Folding of the arms: Conveys doubt, objection or disbelief

Tilting the head to one side: Conveys that you do not understand or perplexity

Tapping your fingers or pen: This can convey impatience or disregard

Positive:

Leaning forward slightly: Can often convey interest and enthusiasm

Jointing fingertips upwardly: usually conveys positive deliberation or contemplation

Arms to the side or with hands folded in your lap: This conveys openness, and comfort.

  1. Facial expressions – by far the best indicators of true emotion.

Negative:

Raising eyebrows: This usually indicates dismay, cynicism, and objection.

Squinting/lowering eyebrows: Usually indicates Annoyance, and can also indicate deception.

Frowning/No smiling: Translates dislike, and disapproval.

Eyes looking up or rolling back: Shows contempt, disapproval or disrespect.

Positive:

Smiling: This may be the most powerful expression as it conveys many positive emotions.

Slightly nodding the head: Shows understanding, confirmation, and agreement.

  1. Posture

Negative:

Slouching – This is an outright sign of carelessness, indicating a lack of interest.

Positive:

Shoulders back, sitting upright, with head looking forward. Shows discipline and respect to those you are interacting with.

  1. Appearance and attire

Negative:

In a business or interviewing settings you will send the wrong message if your image shows a lack of personal care. Untrimmed free-flowing facial hair is a standout appearance no-no.

Positive:

It is not necessary to go out and buy the most expensive clothes. Just make sure the clothes you have are clean, with no wrinkles and right for the occasion. Shine your shoes and make sure your socks match. Neat-n-clean sends a message that you care, and want to make a positive impact.

  1. Tone and Pitch

Negative:

Speaking loudly – This can irritate most often and comes across as if you intend to command.

Speaking too soft – This usually conveys a lack of confidence.

Monotone: Easily can come across as a red-flag indicating questionable leadership skills.

Positive:

3P’s – Pitch, Pace and Pause. Use a change of Pitch, Pace and Pauses to enunciate, and draw the listener in. It will naturally be much easier to stimulate the message and will be more comprehendible. Make your volume moderate, easy to hear but not so loud that you are recognizably thunderous.

Gary L. Markell

IBM Global Business Services

garymarkell@us.ibm.com

Check out our careers page: Work for the world. START@IBM
http://www-03.ibm.com/employment/