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Guaranteed Interview Questions to Prepare and Ace

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“What do you think of garden gnomes?”

This was apparently asked of one Trader Joe’s candidate in an interview . A silly, irrelevant question for a job in grocery stores, you might say. However, questions like these that seem, on the surface, ridiculous, often provide more insight into a candidate’s aptitude for the role than you might initially think.

No one ever knows exactly what questions are going to be asked in an interview. However, there are trends that show up in every list of most common interview questions, which we have divided into five categories. We’ll provide examples for each, as well as an overview of how you should consider approaching them to showcase yourself in the best possible light.

 

Informational Questions

“Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

“Why are you leaving your current job?”

“Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”

These tend to be the questions that open up an interview, giving you an opportunity to provide a brief bit of background information about yourself, as well as an overview of your aspirations, providing the interviewer context about you and where this role fits in with your career plans.

This is not to say, however, that you should approach these questions with any less preparation or panache than others. You should phrase your answers as a pitch of your career; linear, like a story, and this job as the next step that slots perfectly between the past and the future. It wouldn’t hurt, of course, to slip in a few specific achievements that you want the employer to know about, opening up the floor for further questions on those later.

While you should phrase your answers in a way that presents this job as an ideal opportunity, you should also be honest – you don’t want anything you said in a moment of panic to come back to haunt you if you are hired!

 

Company-Specific Questions

“How did you hear about the position?”

“What do you know about the company?”

“What do you think we could do better or differently?”

To separate the wheat from the chaff, employers will frequently ask interviewees to demonstrate their knowledge about the company they are applying to. Stumbling at this hurdle will almost certainly mark the end of your candidacy for the position! If you don’t know much about the company you’re interviewing for, they will question your passion for what they do and your ability to do the most basic of research.

Interviewers want to see that not only are you passionate about their company’s brand, but that you are able to assess their current infrastructure critically and constructively present feedback using your prior knowledge and experience. Small start-ups in particular look for creativity in their employees, and definitely would like to see how you could contribute to company development from the outset.

 

Behavioural Questions 

“Tell me about a challenge or a conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.”

“Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation?”

“Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities. How did you handle that?”

To get an idea of how you handle conflict, your interviewer may ask a similar question to one of these. Often, they will start with ‘give me an example…’ or ‘describe…’. The idea is to get a sense of what your personal strengths are in pressurised situations, as well as how you structure your response to problems.

There is a technique to handling such questions, named the STAR Method. As set out by Al Dea, the founder of CareSchooled and a learning and development coach, STAR is “helpful because it provides a simple framework for helping a candidate tell a meaningful story about a previous work experience,” i.e. giving your response a clear structure and minimising the opportunity to ramble.

S – Set the scene. What details do you need to share to ensure your example is clear?
T – Task. What was your responsibility and/or goal in this situation?
A – Action. What did you do to resolve the issue and complete your aim? What steps did you take?
R – Result. What was the direct result of your actions? What did you accomplish?

You can read more about the STAR Method here.

These questions could also expand to more personal ones, such as the personality types you tend to clash with, as well as your own strengths and weaknesses. Your answers to these questions can provide insight into how you might gel with the existing team, and whether the company culture is necessarily a suitable fit for you.

 

Puzzle Questions

“How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine?”

“How many pennies could you fit in this room?”

“Why are manholes round?”

These are questions of the same breed as “what do you think of garden gnomes?”. Questions that appear completely unrelated to the job at hand, and that there could be a million ways to answer, none of which jump out as being the ‘correct’ one. That’s because the hiring manager is not looking for a correct answer, but one that is reached in a logical, methodical manner.

If you articulate your thought process out loud, the interviewer can see how you are approaching the problem using existing mathematical abilities, as well as common sense and general knowledge.

They also reveal a substantial amount about the personality of a candidate. Your approach to the questions and ability to think on your feet speaks volumes about your character and may be a crucial insight to the employer as to whether you’d be up for the day-to-day challenges that are part of the role.

A calm-headed, logical candidate may handle the tennis ball question by demonstrating awareness of the measurements needed to perform the calculation, such as the volume of a tennis ball and the length, width and height of the limousine. An even more impressive candidate may turn questions back on the interviewer, asking as to whether there are any people inside the limousine at the time and how big the seats are.

However you choose to approach the puzzle at hand, maintain a cool demeanour, showcase your understanding of maths and problem-solving and use rational logic to show you could come up with a rough methodology to reach a correct solution, even if you do not.  

 

Pressuring Questions

“Are you under/overqualified for this job?”

“Why should we hire you over someone else?”

While these questions may appear a little forthright, and definitely intimidating, they actually present a brilliant opportunity to sell yourself to the employer in a brazen way that thus far you may have had to tiptoe around.

Use questions such as these to summarise your core strengths and the value that you would bring to the company, emphasising that you truly are the perfect fit for this job. Be careful not to overly criticise your imaginary rivals, as that’ll present you as petty – rely on your own positives in your pitch to convince the interviewer that you should get the position.

 

BONUS – Ask Questions Back!

It’s no secret that the key to finishing an interview well is to walk in with a few pre-prepared questions to ask the hiring manager when prompted. These should demonstrate your curiosity, prior research and genuine desire to know more about the company and the role. Perhaps more importantly, this interview is an opportunity for you to gauge whether this position in this company would be the right fit for you. Therefore, be sure to maximise this opportunity to answer any questions you still have by the end of your time with the interviewer.

Here are some examples of questions that could provoke interesting, informative answers from the employer:

“What’s your favourite part about working here?”

“What can you tell me about the company’s plans for growth in the future?”

“How would you describe the company culture?”

 

So, there you have it – an overview of the most common questions that could arise in an interview. If the specific question is not listed above, it is guaranteed to fit into one of those five categories. Prepare to handle questions from each of those angles, be aware of what exactly they want to see from each answer, and you’ll knock it out the park.

Posted by Susannah Hunt on 6 June 2019

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Social Media For Business 101

Social Media For Business 101

Now the most diligent of readers will recall a blog we posted a few weeks ago about the LinkedIn, how to get started and its many benefits. In the introduction, we discussed how LinkedIn has been able to stay the course of the ever-changing social media world and has kept its function and purpose focused while other platforms dilute there USP with too many features. Contrary to this, research has shown that different types of content perform better on different platforms, thus showing that social media has yet to become fully indistinguishable. A company must maintain a strong social profile for a number of reasons, such as advertising a product, building a brand, engaging with customers, providing updates, and strengthening reputation. So, with this in mind, we’re going to strip everything down to basics and highlight the key social media channels a company should use, what to post, and why you should use them. Now there are a many different platforms to explore, so we’ll start with the four most obvious, and then revisit this concept on another blog. So, if we’re starting with the most popular social media platforms, it seems only right we begin with… Facebook At the time of writing this, the population of Earth sits around 7.753 billion people. Facebooks active user count sits at around 2.934 billion, meaning around 36.9% of the Earths population are Facebook users. I’ll give you a moment to digest that one The point of this somewhat sinister metric is that you would be hard pressed to find somebody that hasn’t used or even heard of Facebook. The Meta company as a whole havs dominated the internet space for a long time, and with their recent plans to move forward to Web 3, they are showing no signs of slowing down. With this in mind, it would be wise for a company to establish a presence on Facebook. Not only is it easily the biggest platform in terms of active users, thus leading to fruitful marketing opportunities, it also supports a wide range of media formats, with the option of linking other social channels to your Facebook content. How You Should Use Facebook Facebook is a great platform to provide information and updates to your clientele, and with a character limit of 63,206, you have plenty of space to play with, however just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Most people aren’t going to read a massive document of information on social media, so use Facebook to convey information about the company in a max 500-word format. You won’t be penalised for using images or videos either, and with Meta’s Business Manager feature, you can ascertain insights and important analytics about how your posts are performing and engaging with users. Pros Massive active user count Business Analytics Supports multiple media formats High character count Cons Market is becoming saturated Lack of understanding of paid promotion can lead to loss of funds Instagram Continuing with Metas internet Monopoly, Instagram is another fantastic tool for building a brand identity and further engaging with your customers. Given the expansive range of brands, accounts, and content, a ‘slightly less formal’ approach is encouraged.  As a visual platform, Instagram is the place for showcasing your products or services with photos or videos. On the app, you can share a wide range of content such as photos, videos, Stories, reels, live videos, and IGTV for longer-form videos. How You Should Use Instagram Now you’re still trying to build a reputable brand, so hold fire on the Friday Night Cocktail Hour videos (unless your brand is a bar), however, we encourage you to explore your creative flair with your content. Keep your brand colours and design present, by try to get the context of your updates across in visual form. About to launch a new product? Share an exciting reveal photo. Staff day out? Share a few pictures of them having a good time. National saint day or celebration? Find a way for your company to celebrate and mark the event. As a brand, you can create an Instagram business profile, which provides you with rich analytics of your profile and posts and the ability to schedule Instagram posts using third-party tools. You should also take advantage of Instagram’s Story feature to further advertise your posts and to keep your followers engaged with daily content Pro’s Very visual More freedom to post Strengthen branding Use of stories for to keep daily engagement Con’s Less optimised to convey detailed information Danger of being ‘lost in the feed’ depending on post time Bots Twitter For a period of time, Twitter was THE hot social platform to use. What makes Twitter different from most other social media sites is it strongly emphasizes real-time information — things happening and trending right now — and in just 280 characters. Celebrities, business magnates, brands and figures of authority were able to share quick, in the moment information and insights that punctured their separation from the common man and reminded users that these people still go about day to day lives enjoying many of life’s simple pleasures, such as watching Netflix, visiting coffee shops or expressing admiration for a sports team. Despite the sudden impact of TikTok, and ever-growing users on Facebook, Twitter has still managed to enjoy a steady incline in users each year. How Should You Use Twitter? There are a number of ways that a business may utilise Twitter. Many brands use Twitter as an alternate customer service channel. According to advertisers on Twitter, more than 80% of social customer service requests happen on Twitter.  Having a member of your marketing or social team check Twitter on the daily for customer queries will help show your brands care to the customer and dedication to their service. You can also use Twitter to provide quick updates that can build up towards company announcements or events, such as “only a week to go before (***), whose got their tickets?” or “We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on! Here’s a sneak preview.” Pro’s Real time updates Build up hype towards company announcement Easily digestible format Con’s Voted ‘Most Toxic Social Platform.’ (Poll conducted by Forbes Magazine) At least 10% of accounts are spam Information can get lost in the feed. YouTube Never underestimate the value of video content. Having crisp, professional, and high-quality video marketing tools will improve the legitimacy and credibility of your company tenfold.  We all watch engage with video media in our spare time, be it Netflix, YouTube or even TikTok as it allows us to easily absorb stimuli. How Should You Use YouTube? YouTube content can be shared across social media channels via a quick link in a post and provides a nice switch of content from regular photos or text. You should definitely try to get some video content to promote your workplace, be it a marketing package, adverts for vacancies or just interviews with employee’s discussing their time in the company.  Production quality will separate you from the others, so its worth investing in videography if you have any big events or festivities to celebrate. It helps give your company a sense of scale. Pro’s Format easily shared across other platforms Monetisation from original content Con’s Algorithm can cause viewership to drop Consistency is needed to build

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The Benefits Of Contract Work

The Benefits Of Contract Work

The jobhunting period can at times feel quite negative, and many people will be put off contract work as they know they have a date where they will be out of employment after the role expires. Also, jumping between different industries in quick succession can prove a challenge for the Wallflowers in this blogs audience. However, Contract work does have benefits that should not be overlooked both to the short and long-term trajectory of your career. Here are a number of reasons why you should accept contract as well as some added benefits you may not have considered.   Make Connections The nature of contract work dictates that unless you’re offered a permanent position, you will be moving between places of work every 6 - 12 months. The benefit of this, is that you are likely to become acquainted with many business leaders, executives, CEOs, and industry experts along the way. This will prove invaluable as building your contact list of reputable business leaders will provide new connections, long lasting business relationships and an impressive list of references for your next employer to contact. In a world where a person’s experience in the field can be the deciding factor in being chosen for interview, having connections to add to your credibility will only ever benefit your application   Find your job passion It is not uncommon for young professionals to work a variety of roles before settling into a more permanent fulfilling role. This method can provide a multitude of valuable experience, references, and insights into the nature of the industry. Contract work is a good way to dip your toe into the pool of the industry and find out if you are best aligned with the culture and work involved in the industry.   Salary Contracted roles will get you better pay. They offer a higher basic salary in lieu of a benefits package. You can make your experience really work to your advantage. Employers are typically willing to pay you generously, providing you meet their requirements, if you solve their problem or need quickly. Employers tend to really value experience, since they want to bring onboard someone who can jump right in and hit the ground running.   Faster Employment Now this of course does not cover all contract work, and you shouldn’t apply for a contract position assuming you’re going to be accepted by 9:30 and start work at 10:00. However, the creation of a contract role may have resulted in a sudden urgency and vacation that needs to be filled, so the onboarding of contracts does move faster than permanent roles.   More Freedom As you are not bound by the standard contracts of the business, you have more negotiating room when discussing hours, pay and location. You may have been brought into the contract role to assist with a sudden influx of work, therefore If you can assure your employer you will complete the work, you can choose working hours that fit for you, which can provide more time out of work for looking at more roles, building your professional profile and networking.   In Conclusion There are many business professionals who have built there who career around contract work and it’s not too hard to see why. Contract work offers more flexibility, better pay, more variation, and greater chance of networking and building a profile within the industry. Understanding the process and careful planning can ensure you are never out of work for lengthy periods of time, and with the flexibility contract work offers, you can use any free time to plan ahead once your contract expires. If you are keen to build your professional CV, build strong industry connections, gain experience and entertain a higher pay, contract work is definitely worth your time

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How To Prepare For Your Video Interview

How To Prepare For Your Video Interview

A few years ago, its fair to assume that 90% of your job interviews happened in a face-to-face capacity, normally in a small room resembling that of a doctor’s clinic. You would arrive in business fit and spend 30-45 minutes discussing your employment, skills and success with a company’s recruitment team or a manager. COVID put an immediate cease to this practice in 2020, and companies had to quickly adapt to the uncertainty of the pandemic in order to stay afloat. Non-essential businesses were closed unless they could operate from home, and those that had the ability to work from home had to adapt new methods of communication with their employees, using Teams, Zoom, Meet and online Document Sharing. Now that our daily lives, both working and leisure, are returning to a more familiar time, some companies are still choosing to conduct some if not all of their interview process via a video call using the aforementioned programmes.  However, just because these interviews are not held in person, the formality has not changed, and not only should you prepare the same as you would for an in-person interview, but you also now have other things to consider:   Test Your Equipment   Your interviewer will have contacted you via email with a link to the meeting on whichever platform they use, be it Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meet or Zoom. To save any embarrassment at the start of the interview, make sure you test your equipment beforehand. Are you using headphones or the computers speaker for sound, and is that sound clear? Are you using an internal or external microphone, what is the quality, and does it cause any feedback or distortion when you’re speaking? If you are using your computer for both Audio In (Microphone) AND Audio Out (Speakers) feedback is likely to occur, and quality will drop. If this is your only option, be sure to mute your microphone when you aren’t talking. Most applications will present you with a screen to confirm your microphone and speakers in respective dropdown menus before you jump into the call, so make sure you have the right source selected. Grab a friend or family member for a 5-minute call to test your quality before the date and time of the interview.   Background and Lighting   Before you do anything, get rid of that auto generated beach Bahamas teams background, its not professional. If you are without a dedicated workstation in your home, then its time to improvise. Find a nice, neutral, and clean background free from any distractions or activity. The focus of the frame should be on you, and not the object in the background of your webcam shot. Lighting is worth special consideration and again may require some ingenuity if you don’t happen to have any photography studio style ring lights around. If you’re using a laptop, place a few light sources behind the laptop so they illuminate you without lens flare, or sit underneath a bright ceiling light. You want to make sure the video your interviewer sees isn’t dark and dingy, and they can see you’ve made an effort for the occasion to appear well groomed, presentable and neat. Speaking of which…   Appear Well Groomed, Presentable, and Neat   Dress for success, dress to impress. If you want respect, you must look respectable. If you were attending an in-person interview, chances are you would have made an effort to look smart, I should certainly hope so. A video interview still an interview and should be treated as such even if you are ‘attending’ in the comfort of your own home. We aren’t suggesting a suit and tails, nor an evening dress if you are a lady. However, in most cases, smart casual as a minimum should see you over the line. The best way to gauge the desired wardrobe is to think about the context of the job, chances are you already have an idea of the level or formality your employers are expecting. Remember to keep a good posture too.   Judge the Distance   You should be seated in such a way that the camera can see from the top of your head to the middle of your ribcage/upper chest. Don’t sit too far away, you risk your microphone not picking up on what you are saying. Neither do you want to be sat too close to the camera in such a way that your interviewer cannot see you. If you have followed the previous steps advice, you’ll want to make sure your interviewer can see the effort in appearance you have made.   Show Up Early   As the saying goes, its better to be an hour early than 5 minutes late. Now an hour may be slightly excessive for a video interview, however, get seated and be ready to go 10-15 minutes before the call. I personally would recommend 15 minutes, as this will give you 10 minutes to do your final camera and sound checks, practice your responses, and be ready to join the call 5 minutes early. Those 5 minutes will show your employer that you are punctual, scoring you points on your interview before conversation has even begun.   Use Notes Sparingly   Alright let’s not pretend that we don’t know what I’m referring too. One of the many advantages of a video interview over a face-to-face interview is being able to discreetly place reference notes and crib sheets out of the camera’s eye. Now we of course encourage you to know your onions before entering an interview situation, however if you really must refer to notes, do so sparingly. Consistently shifting your gaze away from your interviewer shows you are easily distracted; you appear disinterested in what the interviewer is saying and sooner or later they’re going to clock onto what you’re doing. Use notes like a PowerPoint i.e., bullet point information that will jog your memory rather than writing out sentences that, when reading them, appear to obvious to your interviewer.   In Conclusion   Now you may have noticed that this blog post contains information leading up to the first introduction of your interview rather than discussing how to conduct yourself as the interview progress.’ If you are looking for a more comprehensive guide on how to navigate through a job interview in the best manor possible, I highly recommend you read our blog ‘Mastering Body Language for your Job Interview’ which can be found here (LINK). However, be sure to adhere to the advice and preparation listed in this post, and you can enter the video interview in the best way possible.

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Refining Your CV for Interview Success

Refining Your CV for Interview Success

The CV is the key that opens the doors of opportunity, and like many (if not all keys) they must be a perfect fit in order to turn the lock.  In simpler terms, this badly explained metaphor demonstrates that like keys and locks, you will need a CV tailored to a particular job in order for it to benefit your application. Admittedly a mistake I made when taking my first steps into the working world, was to fill my CV with every award, accolade, and skill I’d obtained in my life in order to appear like the most impressive candidate possible. I had moderate success with this approach, however, as I started to work towards specific roles within the industry, I realised the importance of keeping my CV focused and specific to a particular field.  We here at Sigmar Recruitment receive hundreds of CVs every day and it can be the difference between being invited for an interview or missing out on the shortlist for candidates. Here are some key points to include in your CV.    Presentation The layout of your CV should be neat, easy to read and consistent in format. Keep the same fonts and sizes for all your headings, titles, and text. Try not to stretch text boxes outside of the boundary guidelines in the document editor you are using. Large companies may use an automatic CV scanning system which collects and sorts the information from your CV into key sections, so make sure you keep the headings and content of your CV clear and focused. A little colour goes a long way in breathing a little life into your CV. Blue, dark brown, olive green and beige work particularly well for headings as it will help keep your CV professional whilst drawing attention to key areas of information.    Intro Keep your introduction focused, short and relevant. Potential employers will be sifting through a number of CVs searching for specific information that is applicable to the role, so make sure you include your main profession, key skills, and brief examples of work. You have the rest of your CV to list your varied skillset, so try to focus on specialities and the core of your work. There will be time to dive deeper into your backstory when you make it to the interview stage, but for now, keep your intro short and sweet. Imagine you are writing text for a billboard that advertises your business. You’re going to want to include all the key points that sell you to clients.    X. I have been interested in creating content since I was 9 years old, and it started when I used to edit images and videos on my iPad. I used to create marketing tools for my friends, like memes, YouTube videos and photos and eventually decided to focus on a career in marketing. I am proficient in a number of content creation tools, such as Adobe, Final Cut, Canva and Office and have been able to utilise these skills in a number of assignments for clients in music, clothing, and events management. I work well in a team but am also capable of setting my own goals and completing tasks within a given timeframe.    ✓. Passionate and experienced digital marketer, specialising in both audio and visual content creation using Adobe, MacOS and Office. Competent, adaptable, and focused, I have worked for a number of clients in a wide range of industries, such as clothing, music, events, and professional services.    Work Experience When I first started to apply for more specific industry positions, the first thing I did when tailoring my CV to certain roles was to include only work experience, I felt was relevant. This proved to be my downfall, as in leaving out parts of my professional career, the naked eye would assume I was simply out of work and not doing anything for lengthy periods of time. Try and include all of your previous work experience in your CV and explain any gaps i.e., if you took a year out and went traveling. If your previous jobs were in an industry different to that which you are applying for, list various responsibilities and acquired skills that are transferrable.  In the case of myself, I had worked a number of roles in hospitality and catering before I started to focus more on a career in marketing and content development. Now pouring the perfect flat white isn’t that important when it comes to designing and executing marketing strategies, however, skills such as time management, brand awareness, consistency and building brand awareness are some of the necessary skills needed in marketing and were therefore, noteworthy.   References When selecting candidates for interview, employers will often research the applicants further, so the best way to steer them in a direction that benefits you is to provide contact information for work references. This can be anybody that you have worked with, or for, in a professional capacity, though it’s advisable to provide details for senior management, such as managers, directors or executives (after obtaining permission to do so) rather than listing your friends. This will help remove the illusion of bias.    Hobbies and Interests Make sure to include a short list of the things you like to do outside of work, be it socialising, or holidays or what you like to do in your downtime. Of course, a CV is a formal document and the more professional you come across the better, however, you are not a robot. You are a human being; you are ALLOWED to have interests outside of work. A short list of 4-5 hobbies will help get your personality across to your employer and show that you will bring passion and positivity to your place of work.    Other Experience This is where you are able to list any further experiences that will aid in your application. The President’s Award, travelling or any other notable accomplishments can help you stand out as a person who is looking to enrich their mind or go out of their way to help others. Employers will likely entertain candidates who have a certain zest for life and bring a positive attitude and mindset to the work environment.