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6 In Demand Job Skills to Advance Your Career Prospects

by depository 14/08/2017 0 comments

There is almost no such thing as a job for life anymore, what with the job’s market being so fast changing and technology making a lot of jobs, if not obsolete, less in demand, which can make choosing the right kind of training for a career tough. However, there are still a handful of in demand job skills, which if you have them will enhance your career prospects. Here are some of them:

Management Skills

No matter how many technological advances there are in the next decade, we can’t envisage one that will make managers obsolete. Wherever there are teams of people working towards a common goal, there needs to be someone in charge. So, if you work on being able to lead a diverse team of individuals to work hard, achieve their best and be as productive as possible, your skills will always be in demand.

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Excel Abilities

Although there has been an influx of new software tools to track finances, store data and monitor progress, so many businesses still use Microsoft excel, primarily because it is so easily customizable for any scenario. That’s why, if you boost your excel skills – something you can find out about at http://www.seveninstitute.co.uk/courses/training-courses-excel/ – you will boost your employment prospects in offices across the land. This is particularly true because fewer people are being certified in excel in a lot of places for some reason.

Language Skills

As more companies go global, having members of staff who can speak more than one language is highly desirable. Luckily, there are lots of free sources to help one learn new languages, such as https://www.duolingo.com/. However, if you want to really boost your career prospects, taking a degree course or similar in a foreign language until you’re fluent would be even better.

Conflict Resolution Skills

Businesses are more and more concerned with creating happy, harmonious workplaces, as it has been shown time and time again that happy workplaces are more productive workplaces. So, if you can take a course in conflict resolution or demonstrate your ability to calm people down and foster cohesion in other ways, you are onto a winner.

Programming Abilities

Technology and selling goods and services online is vital to most businesses in the 21st Century, and this is unlikely to change in the long-term. That’s why spending money going to school to get a degree in programming is never going to be a bad mood on your part and should see you in secure employment for the rest of your life, providing you keep up to date with the latest advancements in the industry.

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Excellent Communication Skills

In business, if you are unable to communicate your wants and needs to your employees or describe your products and services accurately to your customers and clients, then you really aren’t going to get very far. Communications skills might be considered soft skills by many, but the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and effectively is something that will take you far. Just you wait and see!

By Margaret Buj

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Behavioral Interview Questions: Handling Conflict

by depository 21/06/2017 0 comments

Part of our ongoing series to help you answer common behavioral interview questions.

Hiring managers love to ask behavioral questions — and one of their favorite subjects is conflict. Here are a few examples of conflict-related behavioral questions:

• Tell me about a team project when you had to work with someone difficult.
• Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work.
• Give an example of a time you had to respond to an unhappy manager/customer/colleague.
• Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a rule or approach.

There are many other variations on this theme and it is a very common interview topic. From the interviewer’s perspective, the idea is to find out about the candidate’s conflict management ability and general interpersonal skills.

Recently, I was conducting an interview skills workshop for managers at a large corporation. The subject of “conflict” behavioral questions came up (this big multinational company uses primarily behavioral questions when interviewing candidates).

One manager shared a memorable answer to “How would you handle a conflict at work?” A recent candidate responded: “I’d invite that person to meet me in the parking lot after work and sort it out man-to-man.”

Guess what? He didn’t get the job.

Before we tell you how to answer the question like a champ, here’s a little refresher on answering behavioral interview questions in general.

Behavioral Interviewing Refresher

Most job interviews include behavioral questions (those questions that typically start with “Tell me about a time…” or “Give me an example of…” or similar).

With behavioral questions, interviewers seek examples of how you’ve handled specific situations in the past. The idea is that past job performance will say a lot about how you would handle yourself if hired for the job at hand.

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Learn more about behavioral interview questions and some general advice on preparing for and answering them.

Why Interviewers Ask About Conflict

Most jobs require you to get along with different types of people. Some of your coworkers, managers, and/or clients will turn out to be idiots, slackers, and/or weirdos. Disagreements are bound to arise.

To succeed at work, you must be able to deal with conflict professionally. This is particularly true in certain jobs (project management, customer service, law) and in certain company cultures.

Your interviewer wants to get a sense of how you will respond to conflict. Anyone can seem nice and pleasant in a job interview, but what will happen if you’re hired and Gladys in Compliance starts getting in your face?

Conflict questions are common because everybody wants to hire a good “team player.” (It is probably the most common behavioral question subject) Interviewers often ask about your team experiences and they like to ask specifically about one that involved a conflict or “difficult person.”

How to Answer Behavioral Questions About Conflict

This type of question can catch you off-guard. After all, you’ve probably been focusing on how to talk about all of the positive and wonderful bullet points on your resume.

Nobody likes to talk about conflict at work. Most work conflicts are boring. Plus, you’d probably prefer to pretend that you are an absolute delight to work with and that nobody has ever had an unkind word to say about you.

A behavioral question about conflict forces you to talk about a less-than-delightful situation. It can be difficult to come up with a good example on the fly — and even more difficult to describe in concisely in a way that presents you in a favorable light.

This is why it’s important to prepare an example in advance using the S.T.A.R format.

The goal is not to script out an answer word-for-word. The STAR format allows you to structure the general shape of your response by jotting down bullets for each of the key aspects of the story.

Sample Answer — “Tell Me About a Time You Had a Conflict on a Team Project.”

Here’s an overview of how to use the STAR format specifically to present a conflict experience:

S/T (Situation/Task)

— Briefly describe the context for the conflict that arose. Provide just enough background information for context.

Example Situation/Task Bullets

• I was managing the creation of our new corporate brochure and we were on a very tight deadline because we had to have brochures printed in time for a big upcoming trade show.

• I was in charge of delivering on time and I had to manage team members from Marketing, Sales, Graphic Design, and Product Management.

• The designer that was assigned to the project was very talented, but unfortunately missed a deadline that I assigned. When I approached him about it, he blew up at me.

Why We Like Them

These bullets provide good context — it was an important and complex project with a tight deadline. The designer not only missed a deadline, but threw a fit when called on it. This is a real conflict that could have led to disaster if handled poorly.

Tip: Don’t get too caught up in unnecessary details. The interviewer doesn’t need to know about the color scheme of the brochure, the history of the trade show, or the designer’s weird wardrobe choices.

A (Approach)

— Talk about the key actions that you took. In the case of a conflict story, the focus should be on how resolved the disagreement in a professional and productive way.

Example Approach Bullets

• I was taken aback by his response, but I remained calm. I acknowledged that the deadlines were tight and explained again the reasoning and the importance of having the brochure ready for the trade show.

• He relaxed a little when he saw that I wasn’t attacking him. He told me about all of his other competing projects and how overwhelmed he was. I asked him if there was any way that I could help him come up with a solution.

• Eventually, we agreed that it would help if his manager had a better understanding of how important and time-consuming this project was. We decided we would speak with her together.

• She ended up assigning some of his other projects to another designer, which took some of the pressure off of him.

Why We Like Them

This candidate walks through the actions taken and why. He shows that he stayed calm under pressure, tackled the issue head-on, and was able to persuade others (the designer and his manager) to his point of view.

Tip: Again, stick to the actions that are most relevant and that show your conflict-management prowess.

R (Results)

— Every good interview story includes a happy ending. End your response with a description of the positive outcome(s) of your action. These results can be quantifiable (increased sales 20%, saved the company $25K) or anecdotal (The client was thrilled and sent my manager an email, my manager loved my approach and gave me a promotion).

Example Results Bullets

• As a result, the designer was able to focus on the brochure and meet the deadlines.

• He apologized for his blow-up and thanked me for my help.

• We successfully completed the brochure in time for the trade show and received numerous compliments from both our own sales reps and potential customers.

• Our trade show presence led to $300,000 in new sales leads and I believe the new brochure played a key role in that.

Why We Like Them

This is a nice, concise happy ending. The candidate describes the resolution of the conflict, the positive effect on the relationship with the designer, and the business outcome.

Behavioral Questions

More Tips for Handling  About Work Conflicts

1. Pick a Good Example:

• Choose an example that shows you taking an active approach to resolving an important conflict.

• Be specific. Don’t give a general answer like, “I deal with conflicts all the time and have learned to stay calm and that communication is key.” It’s boring and it doesn’t answer the question.

• Don’t choose a minor disagreement (“He didn’t want Italian for lunch”) or a conflict that was resolved by someone else or just went away without direct action. The idea here is to show off your interpersonal skills and problem-solving ability.

• Avoid examples that could make you look bad. For example, don’t share a time when your mistake or miscommunication CAUSED a conflict.

2. Get Specific About Your Actions

• The most memorable and compelling stories include enough detail to paint a picture. Show why this conflict was important and that you handled it capably.

• However, you must make an effort to keep the story concise. It’s very easy to go off on tangents (especially if you haven’t prepared in advance). Keep it focused.

• Stick to bullet points. Don’t try to memorize a script.

3. Practice

Take the time to practice telling your story. This is especially important when telling a story about a conflict.

Conflicts often lead to arguments, problems, and damaged/broken professional relationships. You want to feel confident discussing the sensitive details in a way that gets your points across.

Written by

Pamela Skillings

Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As an interview coach, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association.

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12 Tips To Make Your Resume Stand Out

by depository 21/06/2017 0 comments

We all know the job market is tough.

Additionally, with more and more people graduating with a Master’s Degree, the market for new graduates is becoming increasingly competitive.

Hence it is more and more important to make sure the recruiters see the differentiating elements of your profile, this can be accomplished by a well-crafted resume, but sadly this is where most people bungle up.

Rather than making sure that each element of the resume is optimized, to make things quick, people copy elements from a similar but conventional resume for reference and copy paste most of the stuff.

Then they apply to all the major job sites and wait.

It’s no surprise that you won’t be getting a lot of responses.

A lot of young professionals need to understand that there is no such thing as an all-purpose resume. The resume needs to be well crafted and personalized as per the job you are applying for.

Your resume is usually the first impression that your potential employer will have of you and therefore, your resume should be at its best when they come across it.

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And since a typical recruiter spends only a few seconds skimming through each resume, it becomes imperative to have your resume grab his attention in those crucial few seconds.

So how can one do that?

Check out the infographic below to understand in a snap shot the things you can do to make your profile more impactful.

Additionally to help you create a resume that’ll catch the eye of the recruiter, we have compiled a list of useful tips that’ll help you enhance your resume in 2017.

Read it below!

1) Keep It Simple

A typical recruiter has to go through countless resumes each day and hardly spends a few second on each one (research shows that the average is 6). That’s why, it’s extremely important that your resume should follow a simple format.

You want the resume to be clean, to the point and easily scannable, in short, you want to make the job of the reader easy.

Having a simple format which is easily skimmable will go a long way towards increasing one’s chances of getting shortlisted. That also means, making sure your resume fits in one page.

(Note: It’s perfectly acceptable for people with 10+ experience to have a 2-page resume.)

2) What Should Be the Font Type and Size?

Arial is pretty much the go-to option when you want to write your resume. It looks clean and legible even when the font size is reduced.

A word of caution here, don’t try to mix and match fonts.

When it comes to font size, the header should be sized between 20 and 22. The sub-headings should be between 12 and 14, while the main body can be between 10 and 12.

3) Relevant Contact Details

Mention relevant contact details at the top of your resume. The Phone number should be added along with the country code and also add an appropriate email address.

Refrain from including email address like [email protected] in your resume.

Instead make a professional email address that can be an alteration of your name. Something like [email protected] would work fine.

Adding a link to your LinkedIn profile in resume is great, as long as your LinkedIn profile is up to date and helps the recruiter to learn more about you.

4) Mention Only Relevant Work Experience

You don’t necessarily need to list every job you’ve had on your resume.

Adding only recent and relevant work experience, and describing each one with 3-5 bullet points, ensures that the recruiter doesn’t waste time going through irrelevant details.

Also, write down your experience in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top.

Recently graduated students can simply include relevant internships in your resume. If you don’t have anything to add, there’s no need to worry. Just mention the skills they are looking out for, the ones you possess, in the skills section.

5) Always Quantify Your Bullet Points

Check out these 2 statements:

Statement 1: Helped new trainees with learning company procedures/

Statement 2: Conducted training program for new trainees, which decreased average ramp up time by 12%. The Program has run in three offices for past two years. 

Even though both statements essentially mean the same thing, statement 2 does a better job helping the recruiter understand how you have added value to the previous company.

Plus, it’s easier to skim through the points that contain facts and figures as opposed to just plain text.

6) Why Action Words Are Important

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) process resumes submitted by applicants. When you submit your resume through an ATS, it stores your resume and an entry in the database. The recruiters then search for keywords for the particular job opening. If your resume contains the keywords the employer wants, then the ATS will rank you higher in the search results. The keyword searches by recruiters also include the skills and experiences specific to the particular job opening.

Action words are keywords that the recruiter is looking for while browsing through resumes. Make sure your resume contains those words.

Implementing words like ‘Created, Developed, Evaluated, Audited, etc..’ in your resume paints a better picture to the recruiter plus will help you rank higher on the ATS rankings.

For example:

Without Action word: Help company sell more products and gain revenue

With Action word: Increased profit margins by creating effective sales plans and implementing strategies to solidify client retention.

7) Include Educational Achievements

If you have any achievements from your university days, be sure to include them under the education section.

Highlight achievements such as academic honors, club positions, etc. which might be relevant to your future employer. If you got a scholarship or maybe done an online certification, be sure to mention that as well.

And remember to list your educational qualifications after your work experience. Employers are more interested in the work that you have done than where you went to college.

8) Add Only Relevant Skills

A lot of people think that adding a huge list of skills in their job resume will help them stand out. The result, in fact, is the opposite.

The recruiter is looking for only a specific set of skills to get the job done. And it’s usually mentioned in the job description. So, adding anything other than the expected skills, would be a waste of space.

9) Interests, Volunteering, Awards

Again, it’s a bad idea to include all possible hobbies in the interest’s section.

You should tailor your interests section according to the job description. So, if your job profile requires you to have good analytical skills, mentioning that you play chess would be a better option than knitting or painting.

Also, if you have volunteered for a cause before, feel free to include that as well. As for any awards (Workplace or otherwise) received, mention them by adding a bullet point in their respective section.

10) No Grammatical Errors

Grammatical errors are a big no-no!

A recruiter won’t waste his precious few seconds on your resume if he finds any errors which could be easily avoided. Avoid any silly mistakes that might cost you your dream job.

Some kinds of resume grammar mistakes are word choices, spelling errors, and punctuation errors. To make sure it doesn’t happen, have your resume proofread from another person.

11) Active Voice Vs Passive Voice

Using Passive voice in a sentence takes the focus away from you. It’s counter-productive since the resume should always be about you and your achievements.

For e.g.

Passive voice: Selected as interim supervisor for 12–15 employees. (i.e., Somebody else did the selecting)

Active Voice: Managed 12–15 employees as summer interim supervisor. (i.e., The candidate did the managing)

Even though both sentences mean the same thing, the active voice statement makes the candidate look good.

Hence, always use Active voice.

12) Save It As a PDF

Send your file in PDF format unless asked otherwise. It considerably reduces any formatting errors that might occur on the recruiter’s side.

Also, name your file intelligently. ‘Jack Hamilton Resume’ is easily distinguishable from other countless ‘Resume’ that the recruiter might receive and might just give you a slight edge over others.

Conclusion

While most of these tips can be followed by anyone, some tips might change for people who are more experienced.

But the underlying fact remains that having a good resume is sure to create that good first impression that turns the odds in your favor.

Following these above-mentioned 12 tips to create the perfect resume will substantially increase your chances and get you closer to your dream job.

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Salary: How to Ask For A Raise (And Get It)

by depository 30/05/2017 0 comments

When you accepted your job, you may have been happy with—or at least satisfied by—the salary that came with it. But over time, you might find that your growing expenses begin to climb higher than the average annual 2.9 percent salary increase. Is it time to ask for a raise?

If you’re happy with your role, get along well with your co-workers, and feel that you’re on the right career path, the prospect of launching a new job search for the sole purpose of a bigger paycheck probably doesn’t seem all that enticing.

Fortunately, there are other ways to increase your chances when asking for a raise.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise.

Many great employees are underpaid because they don’t ask for what they’re worth (or don’t make a compelling enough case to persuade their boss). It doesn’t hurt to ask for a raise if you ask in the right way. That means being strategic about how often and how much you ask for and being persuasive in how you present your proposal.

The key is to present data that shows why you deserve that pay raise. There is plenty of information available online about market salary rates by industry, position, level of experience, location, etc. Present your request as a business proposal with credible information about why you’re worth more.

If you don’t get what you want, at least you’ll know you tried. You can also get valuable input on what it would take for you to earn more and what the timeline might look like. This will give you a more realistic sense of whether it’s worth staying and where to focus your energies if you do.

You can make a stronger case for a raise if you’ve recently taken on new responsibilities, earned new certifications, or otherwise demonstrated your worth to the company. Read on for more on how to show your value and position yourself better for a bigger paycheck.

2. Build some street cred.

Whether you’re in financial planning, IT, software, or insurance, there are almost certainly opportunities to earn more certifications and qualifications within your industry. For example, if you’ve been working for a few years as a Certified Paralegal, consider taking the exam to become a Professional Paralegal. The more skills and accreditations you can list on your resume, the more of an asset you become to your company—and that can translate into dollars and cents when review time rolls around.

If there is no obvious next certification that would take you to the next career level, consider talking to a manager or mentor about the types of skills and training that would make you more marketable in the future. Learning a new software or taking a few classes can make your resume much more attractive to your current employers and other hiring managers as well.

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3. Request feedback.

It can be a scary prospect to seek out feedback from higher-ups, but their input can prove instrumental in strengthening your performance. If you have regular check-ins with your supervisor, set aside a couple minutes to ask what you’re doing well and in which areas you stand to improve. Keep a list of the positive comments you receive, as they may come in handy when making the case for future pay increases or promotions. These comments will also help you stay on top of what’s most important to your boss and how you can best add value (and have a better shot at an increase).

You should also listen carefully to the constructive feedback and think about changes you can make to show that you’ve taken it seriously. Demonstrating performance improvements and general coachability can also help you make a case for a bigger salary someday.

4. Get out of your rut.

When you start a new job or get a fresh promotion, it’s easy to be motivated and energized to perform at your best. But as the weeks and months pass by and you get a better idea of what’s expected of you, it’s tempting to slide into your comfort zone and become somewhat complacent. We’ve all done it and it’s particularly tempting if you feel stuck in a role with no exciting future to work toward.

If this sounds like you, you may be holding yourself back. Do what you can to show some renewed enthusiasm for your work. Look for opportunities to exceed your manager’s expectations and draw attention to your rejuvenated work ethic. You can do this by trying one of the other strategies on this list like asking for feedback, requesting new responsibilities, or working on a new certification or skill.

5. Think outside the review cycle.

Most employees assume that there’s only one time to ask for a raise: During annual reviews. In reality, this may not be the best time to negotiate for a higher salary. In most cases, the company or department has been given a budget for annual increases that is spread across all eligible employees—which means you’ll be hard-pressed to get more than what’s been pre-allocated.

Instead, if you believe your experience and qualifications merit more than what you’re earning, consider requesting an increase outside of the review cycle. Because you won’t be competing with other employees for your slice of the pie, you’ll likely have a better chance of getting a significant boost. Plus, you might still get your regular annual merit increase when review time comes.

6. Ask for more on your plate.

If you feel that your role isn’t leveraging all that you have to offer—or if you simply feel less than challenged (a.k.a bored) in your current day-to-day role, consider asking your boss for more responsibility.

Do some brainstorming beforehand about specific duties you’d like to take on, such as training new employees, absorbing the tasks of a departing employee, or helping with functions that would lighten the managerial workload.

Not only will this show your boss that you’re motivated and not afraid to take initiative, it will also make you more valuable to the company, which could influence future raise decisions.

7. Ask for non-paycheck perks.

If budget cuts are forcing your company to cut back on salary increases, consider requesting other, non-monetary benefits, such as an extra week of vacation, a parking pass, an employee discount, or the flexibility to work from home. Although these types of perks won’t immediately show up in your bank account, they may trickle down to save you money in other areas.

Sometimes a non-financial benefit can be worth more to your quality of life than a small salary increase. For example, skipping the daily commute to work from home can mean saving money, time, and lots of aggravation.

8. Become a moonlighter.

 

If you can’t get what you need at your day job (in terms of money and/or challenge), you may be able to utilize your time and talents after hours to earn extra income. For example, a full-time newspaper reporter might write web articles on the weekends, a corporate marketer might do some consulting work on the side, or a web designer might take on freelancing assignments in her off hours.

Naturally, you’ll want to be discreet and avoid jeopardizing your main revenue stream. However, a good side gig can have many benefits – in addition to earning extra cash, moonlighting can help you improve your resume and add some more variety to your life.

9. Consider an internal transfer.

If you’ve tried other strategies without any luck, check your company’s internal job board to explore other open positions that may offer higher salaries. If you’re a good performer, most companies would much rather keep you with the firm in a different role than lose you to a competitor.

In addition to keeping an eye on internal job listings, make more of an effort to network with colleagues in other departments and learn more about what roles could be good next steps for you. Expanding your network is well worth the time even if you don’t end up transferring.

Don’t be too obvious in your desire to leave your current role. Your manager could make a transfer difficult if he/she would prefer you to say where you are. However, if you wait until you have a plan and solid interest from the other hiring manager, it’s usually easier to make a move.

10. Make a plan and stay focused.

It’s easy to get distracted from long-term career goals by the day-to-day workload. If you really want to make more money, make a detailed plan and set some deadlines for yourself. Choose one or more strategies to pursue and plan out the steps in the process.

Put aside time in your calendar to research that certification course, have a networking lunch with that VP, email your boss to set up a meeting. Estimate a time frame for how long you’ll try a particular strategy before re-evaluating.

It’s amazing how much better it feels to have a plan in place. A plan allows you to take some control over your financial future and stop feeling totally at the mercy of your employer.

Have you tried any of these strategies to boost your bottom line? Can you think of any other ways to increase your salary without jumping ship?

Written by

Melissa Rudy

A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into the online content field in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.

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How to Answer Top Java Job Interview Questions

by depository 12/05/2017 0 comments

Hiring experts agree that Java is one of the most in-demand tech skills. But how do you get one of those hot jobs? First you have to artfully ace those pesky Java interview questions.

We asked John Zukowski, an experienced Java pro who has also interviewed and hired many developers, to provide his expert advice on how to prepare for the most common Java interview questions.

Interviewing for a Java-related job can be difficult. You might be going for a typical software development job, but the range of questions you can face makes the SATs seem easy.

With this article, you will be better prepared to know the types of questions that you might run across, and more importantly, how to answer the questions, no matter what they are.

With each release of the Java platform, the API set grows, thus, the range of potential Java interview questions grows regularly. List Java on your resume, and you can get asked a question on anything from the first to the last release. Add in the Enterprise and Micro Edition, and the API-related questions grow even further.

Whether you’re fresh out of school or someone who has been programming for a while, we’ll prep you here for that next interview, as just knowing the API isn’t all there is to the Java interview.

The Java Job Interview

The best way to prepare for your interview starts with having a realistic resume. If you put on your resume that you’ve used JDBC or Security, you better be prepared for someone to ask you a question about those technologies.

The more specific a technology, like Hibernate, the higher the likelihood of getting asked a question about it, if it is a technology the company is interested in your specific experience. Don’t put technologies on your resume that you think might help with automated keyword searches, but your exposure to the technologies is so sparse or non-existent that you can’t answer a basic technical question about the technology.

You will be expected to know computer science fundamentals. How much of that depends on your level. These computer science questions may actually be easier for the more beginning developer, as someone straight out of college might have just had a course on algorithms perhaps. Think data structures and performance-related here.

The Interview Coding Test — How to Work the White Board

The more experienced you are, the more you will be expected to know how to code AND how to read code. Expect to have to go to a white board and solve a problem. Get comfortable doing it.

When coding the solution to a problem on a white board in a job interview, talk through your solution. It may seem obvious, but don’t just code the whole solution silently and ask if the questioner has any questions when you are done.

Don’t just code a brute force solution. More than likely, that isn’t what the questioner is looking for. Also, once completed, the interviewer could just move on to the next question. If not, you’ll be taking up valuable time correcting to the right solution after, and more importantly, you might do it wrong.

When responding to coding problems, there are a few guidelines to follow. Some may seem obvious, but all are worth reminding.

  1. Listen carefully to the questions. If you’re unsure of a question, ask for clarification, don’t just answer what you think the interviewer might be looking for.
  2. Don’t make assumptions. If asked to code something like a binary search, don’t just assume an array of numbers.
  3. Listen for hints. If your interviewer gives you a hint, don’t miss it, but more importantly don’t ignore it. They’re trying to push you in the right direction to an answer.

Questions About Computer Science Fundamentals

The most common set of questions you’ll face test your knowledge of computer science. Why do you pick one data structure over another? How do you code a particular algorithm?

It might seem simple, but could you code binary search in the Java programming language?

Here is the implementation of the algorithm from the java.util.Arrays class for an int array source:

    private static int binarySearch0(int[] a, int fromIndex, int toIndex, int key) {
        int low = fromIndex;
        int high = toIndex - 1;

        while (low <= high) {
            int mid = (low + high) >>> 1;
            int midVal = a[mid];

            if (midVal < key)
                low = mid + 1;
            else if (midVal > key)
                high = mid - 1;
            else
                return mid; // key found
        }
        return -(low + 1);  // key not found.
    }

First, could you code this off the top of your head? Second, do any lines look different than your knowledge of the algorithm? What does the “>>> 1” do? That’s basically a divide by two operation.

I would say doing “/ 2” would suffice there. The return value of “-(low +1)” gives the caller the insert position where to insert the new key, if they wanted to do that task.

Ask your interviewer, -1 might suffice to say something isn’t there. The “-(low + 1)” bit could be a great follow-on question from the interviewer after you get the coded algorithm properly.

Don’t assume after you have a successful solution you are done with that problem.

Introductory Java Interview Questions

As your skill level increases, the questions you receive get more complicated. That doesn’t excuse you from knowing the introductory questions, too, if you are more experienced.

The obvious set of questions you’ll be asked test your knowledge of the Java API. The range of questions you will be asked here is enormous. Fresh out of school, you might be asked about the different keywords in Java. Been around the block a few times, then write a regular expression that describes the format of an email address.

I was once asked the latter question and I didn’t even mention regular expressions on my resume.

Here are a couple sample questions and answers of what to expect at this level.

Sample Introductory Java Question 1

Describe what all the different parts of the main() method declaration mean.

How to Answer

The first thing you should do here is write the main() method declaration on the whiteboard:

public static void main(String[] args)

Next, describe what each of public, static, void, main, String[], and args does.

It is probably sufficient to just verbalize what each means. But if you want to write each word down as you verbalize, it helps to get the point across.

a) public means that the method is visible everywhere

b) static means you don’t need an instance of the class to call the method

c) void means the method doesn’t return anything

d) main is just the predefined method name for how to start a Java program

e) String[] means the method accepts an array of strings as arguments to the method

f) args is the name of the parameter to the method. Any name will do here. There is no hard and fast requirement that the parameter be called args.

Sample Introductory Java Question 2

Given a line of text, verify that the beginning and ending parenthesis match up.

How to Answer

This is a little more complicated than the first, but still a coding problem a junior person should be able to code.

The easiest way to do this is to push each beginning paran onto a stack, then when you get to a closing paran, pop an item off the stack. If the parens match (‘(‘ and ‘)’ or ‘{‘ and ‘}’) continue.

If not, there is a mismatch. If the pop is ever empty or the stack isn’t empty at the end, there is a mismatch. Here is one solution that relies on the java.util.Stack class.

import java.util.Stack;
public class Match {

  public static boolean doParensMatch(String str) {
    Stack stack = new Stack<>();
    char c;
    for (int i=0; i < str.length(); i++) {
      c = str.charAt(i);

      if (c == '(' || c == '{') {
        stack.push(c);
      } else if (c == '}') {
        if (stack.empty()) {
          return false;
        } else if (stack.peek() == '{') {
          stack.pop();
        }
      } else if (c == ')') {
        if (stack.empty()) {
          return false;
        } else if (stack.peek() == '(') {
          stack.pop();
        } else {
          return false;
        }
      }
    }
    return stack.empty();
  }

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    System.out.println(doParensMatch(""));
    System.out.println(doParensMatch("()"));
    System.out.println(doParensMatch("{}"));
    System.out.println(doParensMatch("{()}"));
    System.out.println(doParensMatch("{123}"));
    System.out.println(doParensMatch("{)")); // failure
    System.out.println(doParensMatch("{((((((((()")); // failure
  }
}

Three things worth pointing out here:

1. Recursion isn’t the answer to everything.

2. The main() method declaration here demonstrates lots of test cases. Don’t just code a solution. Walk through the solution with at least one if not more test cases.

3. The Stack<Character> stack = new Stack<>(); line requires special mention.

First, the <Character> bit demonstrates at least some knowledge of generics. Secondly, the <> declaration shows you’ve kept up with the language updates and know you don’t have to do <Character> again. Little things like that are things that interviewers are looking for.

You won’t automatically fail with a line like Stack stack = new Stack() and casting when you get a character off the stack, but the more up to date you are with your code, the better you’ll look.

Advanced Java Interview Questions

As you get more experienced, you can expect more advanced types of coding problems. Not only will you be expected to code the solution, but you’ll be expected to explain your answer more eloquently.

Even more important with advanced Java programming questions is talking your way through the possible solution before coding.

Returning to that email regex expression mentioned earlier, here’s a simple solution that isn’t fully RFC822 compliant but would probably suffice for the purposes of an interview.

Pattern regexPattern =
    Pattern.compile("^[A-Z0-9._%+-][email protected][A-Z0-9.-]+\\.[A-Z]{2,6}$", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE);
Matcher matcher = regexPattern.matcher(emailStr);
boolean found = matcher.find();

Can you come up with something comparable? If given that solution, could you explain what the different elements of the pattern do? What do the ^, $, +, and {2,6} indicate? (start of line/string, end of line/string, at least once, and at least 2 but not more than 6 times, respectively).

Given the recent addition of new top level domains, that 6 is now too short. Good thing to point out if given that code as a possible solution.

The CASE_INSENSITIVE isn’t an absolute requirement, but does simplify the solution a little. Also, if asked to write the pattern, the compile(), matcher(), and find() calls aren’t required either, but help to demonstrate your knowledge of the API to actually use the regular expression.

On the more advanced side, you should expect pattern-related questions. These would range from describe the Singleton design pattern and how you would use it, to where in Java is the Singleton design pattern used, to code the Singleton design pattern, and finally what issues serialization can bring up with the Singleton design pattern. Observer, Factory, Decorator patterns are some others to be aware of that are found in Java.

The best way to prepare for the more advanced interview questions for a particular company is to actually use Google to lookup what other people are reporting they were asked. This works great for larger companies.

For instance, with a company like Google itself, you might run across a resource they provide: https://sites.google.com/site/coachingsessions1/interview-resources.

When asked more advanced questions, the solution doesn’t stop when the question is answered. You need to expect follow-up questions, like why did you do the operation in a particular way, what is the performance of your solution, and how can you improve it.

For some reason, many of the more advanced questions are game related. Don’t be surprised if you have to code the implementation of some game, or a part thereof.

Some questions I’ve been asked include finding words on a Boggle board, reporting which if any player won from a Tic-Tac-Toe board, and dealing several card game related questions.

More Java Interview Tips/Advice

 

As with any job interview, the technical questions are only part of the fun. You will also be asked fit and resume questions to determine if you’re a good match for the company and dig deeper into your job experience.

Do your best to learn something about the company and position beforehand. They shouldn’t be the only people asking questions in the interview. It may seem obvious, but make sure you’ll be a good fit with them, too. Are you more of a blue jeans and t-shirt person?

While that might be more casual than most environments, you won’t do well with a company wearing suits and ties every day. Do you prefer to sit in your cube coding with your headphones on? You won’t do well with a company that requires lots of interacting with customers. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Be prepared to ask at least some questions of the interviewer. Try not to rely on the obvious questions like how long they’ve been at the company and don’t go with a presumptuous question like, “When can I start?”

It’s okay to ask the same question of all interviewers if you think you’ll get a different answer from each. A better question here might be “What is a typical workday like?” A bad question here is “How does your company/team do testing?”

The former is good to see how each person does their job. There should be some similarities in the answers, but don’t expect them to be 100% the same. The latter is still a good question, but not one to ask to each interviewer. At most two, to see if they report the same thing.

A final thing to mention that might seem obvious, but is rarely if ever brought up during the interview: If an interviewer asks you to do the same coding problem that you addressed with an earlier interviewer, tell them.

While you might feel great that you already know the answer and can do it right (or better) the second time around, the interviewers do talk to each other and will mark you down if you don’t let them know about the duplicity of questions. They should know better but it sometimes happens. You don’t want to be rejected because you didn’t open your mouth about it.

Jobsonly.co.uk

Another useful video for acing the technical interview in general

By Pamela Skillings

Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As an interview coach, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association.

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Why Should We Hire You? How To Answer This Interview Question

by depository 05/05/2017 0 comments

Today, we teach you how to close the deal in any job interview.

After all, the whole interview process is about answering this question: Why should we hire you instead of one of the many other well-qualified applicants?

Every interview question is an attempt to gather information to inform this hiring decision.  Many interviewers will also specifically ask you to make your case with one of these questions:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why are you the best candidate for the job?
  • Why are you the right fit for the position?
  • What would you bring to the position?

To close the deal on a job offer, you MUST be prepared with a concise summary of the top reasons to choose you. Even if your interviewer doesn’t ask one of these question in so many words, you should have an answer prepared and be looking for ways to communicate your top reasons throughout the interview process.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

The interviewer’s job is to hire the best person for the position. Most of the candidates that make it to the interview stage are qualified for the job. The winning candidate must be more than qualified, especially in a very competitive job market.

Every hire is a risk for the company. Your interviewer will also be taking a personal career risk in recommending a particular candidate to hire. If the candidate performs well, Mr. Interviewer looks brilliant and gets a pat on the back (and maybe a bigger annual bonus).

If the candidate turns out to be a dud (doesn’t perform well, doesn’t get along with the team, leaves the job prematurely, etc.), the interviewer looks like a dummy and his professional reputation suffers.

With this question, your interviewer is asking you to sell him on you and your status as the best person for the position. Make his job easier by convincing him that:

  • You can do the work and deliver exceptional results
  • You will fit in beautifully and be a great addition to the team
  • You possess a combination of skills and experience that make you stand out from the crowd
  • Hiring you will make him look smart and make his life easier

How to Answer: Why Should We Hire You?
This is your chance to wow them with your highlight reel. Your answer should summarize the top three or four best reasons to hire you. It’s better to have three or four strong reasons with memorable descriptions and/or examples than to rattle off a laundry list of twelve strengths without context.

This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengths and/or describe your most memorable selling points, tailored to align with the top requirements in the job description. Your 3-4 bullet points could include a combination of the following:

  • Industry experience
  • Experience in performing certain tasks or duties
  • Technical skills
  • Soft skills
  • Key accomplishments
  • Awards/accolades
  • Education/training

Accomplishments and success stories are always good bets, especially if you can describe how a key accomplishment (a successful marketing campaign, for example) demonstrates a desired competency (creativity, results-orientation).

One approach is to mention any unique combination of skills(s) and experience that you possess. For example, many candidates may have strong programming skills, but what if you combine those with team leadership experience that others don’t have? Sounds like a great recipe for a senior programmer. Explain why in your answer.

Most job seekers should be able to develop a standard answer to this question that can be customized a bit for each opportunity. Here’s how:

Step 1: Brainstorm

To get started, review the job description (or a representative job description if you don’t have an interview lined up right now) and your resume and ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the most important qualifications for this position from the company’s perspective?
  • In which of these areas do I really shine?
  • What are my most impressive accomplishments?
  • What makes me different from the typical candidate?

Brainstorm and jot down everything that comes to mind.

Step 2: Structure Your Sales Pitch

Next, choose the 3-4  bullet points that make the strongest argument for you. Use those bullet points to structure your sales pitch. Don’t write a script to memorize — simply capture the bullet points that you want to convey. Each bullet will describe the selling point with a brief explanation and/or example for context.

Keep it concise — you still want to keep your answer in the 1-2 minute range so you won’t be able to rattle off every skill and accomplishment on your resume. You have to really think about what sets you apart from the competition.

Step 3: Practice

Once you feel pretty good about the points you want to make, it’s time to practice. Again, it’s not a good idea to memorize a script — you can end up sounding like a robot or feel more nervous because of pressure to remember specific wording.

The better approach is to capture your bullet points, study them, and then practice until you feel comfortable talking about them off the cuff.  Your answer should come out a little bit different each time, but it should always cover the points that you want to make.

Remember: It’s also very important to come across as confident and enthusiastic when you deliver your pitch. Make them believe in you — your abilities and your commitment.

If you project confidence (even if you have to fake it a little), you’re more likely to make a strong impression. As for enthusiasm, keep in mind that true passion for the work required is a pretty compelling selling point. Yes, experience and qualifications are important, but the right attitude can definitely give you an edge over those with similar professional backgrounds.

After many years of experience in recruiting and hiring, I’d rather hire someone who has a little less experience, but who is driven and motivated to learn and succeed.

Examples Answers

“Well, I have all of the skills and experience that you’re looking for and I’m confident that I would be a superstar in this project management role.

It’s not just my background leading successful projects for top companies —  or my people skills, which have helped me develop great relationships with developers, vendors, and senior managers alike. But I’m also passionate about this industry and I’m driven to deliver high-quality work.”

Why We Like It:

She has a lot of confidence and is able to concisely sum up how she meets the position’s top requirements (project management experience, relationship and team skills). This answer is a little bit general and could perhaps be further strengthened with examples (describing a successful project, naming one of those top companies, offering evidence of those great relationships).

However, assuming that the candidate has already discussed some specifics of her past roles, this answer does a good job of reiterating and emphasizing. She doesn’t make the interviewer put all of the pieces together on his own.

She does it for him and naturally does it with a very positive spin. We also really like the last line: What’s not to love about passion, drive, and high-quality work?

Example Answer 2: Programmer

“Honestly, I almost feel like the job description was written with me in mind. I have the 6 years of programming experience you’re looking for, a track record of successful projects, and proven expertise in agile development processes.

At the same time, I have developed my communication skills from working directly with senior managers, which means I am well prepared to work on high-profile, cross-department projects. I have the experience to start contributing from day one and I am truly excited about the prospect of getting started.”

Why We Like It:

This is another good approach to summing up key qualifications and demonstrating a great fit with the position requirements. In particular, this candidate is likely to win points with “the experience to start contributing from day one.” He won’t need much training or hand-holding and that’s attractive to any employer.

Example Answer 3: New College Grad

“I have the experience and the attitude to excel in this production assistant position. I have almost two years of television production experience — including two summers interning at The Ellen Show, where I was exposed to all aspects of TV production and worked so hard the first summer that they invited me back for a second summer and gave me more responsibilities.

During my senior year at UC San Diego, I have been working part-time for a production company, where I have served in an assistant role but also recently had the chance to help edit several episodes. I have a reputation for getting things done — and with a smile on my face.

That’s because I love working in the television industry and am excited to learn and get experience in every way possible.”

Why We Like It:

This candidate has some nice internship and part-time experience, but she’s a new college grad and doesn’t have any full-time positions to talk about.

This answer highlights the experience that she does have (and the fact that she performed well — she was invited back to her internship and was given an opportunity to edit at her part-time job).

She also expresses her enthusiasm for the job and her strong work ethic. These qualities are important for an entry-level hire, who will likely be doing quite a bit of grunt work at first.

Common Mistakes

Ask any salesperson. It’s tough to close a deal in a buyer’s market. Many candidates sabotage themselves with avoidable mistakes.

Lack of preparation — Don’t try to wing it. You should take the time to prepare your 3-4 bullet points and look for opportunities to customize for any new opportunity. Then, you must PRACTICE delivering your sales pitch until it feels comfortable.

Modesty — This is not the time to be modest or self-deprecating.  You must be ready, willing, and able to talk about what makes you a great hire. This will require some practice if you are naturally a bit modest.

You don’t have to be super-confident like the candidate in the video example above. You can use your own style. If you’re not comfortable making value statements about yourself (i.e. “I am the perfect candidate.”), you can stick to fact (“I have ten years of experience, got promoted, broke the sales record, won the award, delivered on time and on budget, received kudos from my manager/client, etc.”) 

Another way to “sell” yourself with facts is to quote other people’s opinions. Quote your manger, “My manager told me that he’s never seen anyone with more advanced Excel skills.” You can also reference your general reputation: “I have a reputation for always closing the deal” or “I have a history of always completing my projects ahead of schedule.”

Being too general — Do your best to add some personality to your answer. Don’t simply rattle off the bullet points listed in the job description. Really think about what makes you unique and express it in your own voice.

Talking too much — Remember the law of answering interview questions: You should limit each answer to 1-2 minutes in length (not counting any follow-up questions or requests for additional detail).

If you try to walk through your entire resume when answering this question, the interviewer is likely to tune out.

Focus on your most compelling selling points. Keep in mind that you’ll be more believable if you focus on a few strengths and don’t try to claim that you are a master of every business skill imaginable.

Jobboss.co.uk

What If They Don’t Ask Me?

This is a very effective interview question, but not every hiring manager realizes that. What if you prepare a beautiful pitch and they never ask you why you’re the best candidate?

You may have to look for an opportunity to share your thoughts on the subject. At minimum, the process of preparing the answer will help to inform your response to other questions including:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What are your strengths?

Also, remember that a good salesperson always finds a way to deliver his pitch. One approach is to wait for an opening at the end of the interview — maybe after you have asked your questions and the interviewer asks if there is anything else on your mind. You could lead in with a transition like: “I just want to say that I’m very interested in the position and I think I would be a great asset in the role because…”

By Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As an interview coach, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association.

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