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because there are two sides to every story

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Questions YOU should be asking!


Forget for a moment the questions you will be asked during the interview process. What could make or break that impression you are trying to uphold during the process could fall upon deaf ears – unless the interviewer is hearing something substantial from you.

Here are some suggestions to pose to the following – as you are in the interviewing phase:

To a Headhunter or 3rd party recruiter (such as myself):

  • How did you find me?
  • Are you working directly with your client’s hiring manager or HR staff?
  • How long have you been working with this client/company?
  • What success have you had in matching their needs with those you’ve recommended?
  • Do you have a written job description to share with me?
  • Have you or will you present my Resume as it is, or are you going to modify it?

To the Human Resources department (again, such as myself on occasion):

  • How do you describe the culture here and/or work environment?
  • Is there a structured career path or employee development program at this company?
  • What do you consider the company’s strengths at this time, and weaknesses? (this could be in the marketplace, or struggling to keep staff, or growth)
To the Hiring Manager:
  • What specific skills do you desire from your next hire that would make your job easier?
  • How often are performances reviews conducted and are they typically on schedule?
  • What types of challenges would I first encounter if hired into this role? (this could be backlog of work, unwelcoming culture in department, lack of resources)
  • When there is a conflict between team members, what do you do?
  • What would you say your department is most noted for within the company?
  • What are some of the accomplishments your department has most recently achieved?
So it goes without saying, that turning the tables on the hot seat could be an interesting experience for the interview. Nonetheless, it will show that you also, are considered about the fit within the company, the growth or learning potential, and so much more. You want to make an educated decision, just as they are.

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What would Amazon do?


Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, selling everything from books to shampoo, and lots of people want to work there. At the world’s largest online retailer, it’ll take more than just cookie-cutter answers to stand out. 

The full article and list of 29 questions is from Inc.com and linked here for your review.

Of Amazon’s 29 questions – I would like to point out a few of those that I believe would apply to any organization and most positions.

How would you answer the questions below? What do you think the employer is trying to gauge with this line of questioning?

  1. What is the worst mistake you ever made?
  2. If your direct manager was instructing you to do something you disagreed with, how would you handle it?
  3.  Describe what Human Resources means to you.
  4.  Do you know our CEO? How do you pronounce his/her name?
  5.  Are you willing to work on your feet for 10 hours, 4 days a week?
  6.  Do you think you’ll reach a point where you storm out of work and never return? Or have you?
  7.  Would you tell on a employee for stealing?
  8. Tell the story of the last time you had to apologize to someone.
  9. What would you do if you saw someone being unsafe at work
  10.  What is the most difficult situation you have ever faced in your life? How did you handle it?
  11. Give me an example of a time when you were 75% of the way through a project, and you had to pivot strategy–how were you able to make that into a success story?
  12.  What would you do if you found out that your closest friend at work was stealing?
What the employer is trying to gauge is the character of a candidate with many of these questions. As well, what research has been done to learn about the company prior to the interview. And, about one’s work ethic, determination and accountability. And your integrity.
The reason I am sharing these questions is that they are not uncommon. Be prepared to have to respond to some of these in your job search endeavors. Be prepared to think on your feet, be honest, and consider how to concisely respond to questions that may elicit a long answer. Too long of an answer could find one’s foot in mouth, so to speak.
Practice responses out loud – to yourself or rehearsing with a friend. Maybe a buddy system of mock-interviewing, so that you can be best prepared.

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Career Fairs


I had been invited to participate in an area college’s career fair; one that was taking place in an exciting environment, with plenty of exhibit space and many resources for attendees. I was not on a typical panel as I had presumed, but instead provided a large roundtable where attendees could come by individually or as a small group – to ask relevant questions before or after they visited the many employer booths.

Some of the questions anticipated were provided on a list by the college for those of us on the Q&A panel in order to prompt conversation. Those questions included:

  1. How important is networking during a career fair?
  2. If a candidate doesn’t receive a response after applying, what should they consider doing next?
  3. What makes a candidate stand out in this job market and/or in a career fair.
My first candidate was accompanied by a job coach and a sign language interpreter. He was completely deaf and barely able to speak words. Fortunately, not only had I studied sign language many years ago, I also had worked in environments with the disabled – which provided training and job skills, and job coaching. Although it had been a long time ago but once I was in the field of human resources, I had actually created a position for a young woman who was blind, deaf and mute. And it was a mutual benefit for my employer to hire her. I was able to communicate, through the interpreter, this story which put this candidate at ease. I was also able to provide some realistic work scenarios that I hope he follows through on.
My closing adviser to this young man, was to make eye contact and smile. Granted – he had to focus on the interpreter for the obvious reasons – in both directions. Yet, there was plenty of opportunity for him to smile and make even a little eye contact – which he had done, but with shyness. But this same closing advise applies to everyone – hearing impaired or not, you can smile and you can connect. He seemed like a very pleasant guy and already had various job skills, transportation and ready and willing to work. I wished him the best.
In general, I support career fairs – when organized by the employer themselves with anticipated major hiring; when organized by a college in support of their local community; and when orchestrated by a 3rd party (such as Sundance Group) it should be one that is connected to the community — and not so much by those who pop in/out of town simply as an exhibit/promotion company. I’ve personally organized many job fairs over the years, most on behalf of my employers. Some with more than 9,000 people in attendance. When I launched Sundance Group, I had to introduce myself to the community I was now working in – and coordinated 3 job fairs in the area – to bring together local employers and local quality candidates. They were quite successful in their own right, without any funding other than the employer sponsored exhibits. Hmmm, wondering if it’s time to do that once again!
In closing today – I want to pose a question to our followers that I overheard during one of the mock interview sessions from yesterday’s event. And, regardless of what your answer might be – I wondered what you might think of the question, and what the interviewer might have been trying to learn by asking it. Please reply and let us know.
“What is something you know you should throw away, but just can’t?”


After the fact…Hiring managers take note

Last night’s meeting at Rasmussen and discussion brought attention and focus to perceived age discrimination. Simply put – a bad, inexperienced, inappropriate, unprofessional interview – often could be just that. Regardless of feeling one’s age or being made to feel insignificant – one has to realize that an organization who puts people in charge of hiring that behave in that manner, is not likely a company you want to be a part of. Take it as your own red flag to stay far away. When things are so considerably insensitive or improper – be sure that is the message you share with others about your interview experiences.

Companies need to assure that those who are candidate-facing are representing their organizations in a legal, appropriate and professional manner  – whether or not the person being interviewed will be hired. Bad news travels fast and those offended by these incidents should move forward and beyond this experience. Don’t let it define how you approach future interviews or the anticipation that others will be result in the same offensive tone.

Other roundtable discussions including trying to find a job when technology experience is outdated, and finding a completely new career path after early retirement.