Thursday, December 12, 2019

Job Hunting: Interviews Questions of Non-Technical Nature

Recently I went through a job interview process that I was doing great with. The first part I managed to nail it right on the head and move to the second interview phase. The reason I did well on the first interview phase is because it was technical questions and I'm a technical minded person. The second interview I absolutely bombed out because these were the non-technical questions and I am not so good with those. The good news is, I realize my mistakes there and now I'm going to put down what I learned in hopes to do better and possibly help others.

The first question, and one I generally dislike is the obligatory "tell me about yourself." I'm always a blunt person and the truth is, I'm just looking for the next best opportunity and do what I do or what is asked of me. Plain and simple. The problem is, they want an introduction about who you are and what benefits you could offer the employer. A big mistake you can make is to talk too much about yourself with no explanation of what you are offering or the mistake I made, which was to let the interviewer take lead and give an explanation when asked. The reason the second one screwed me over was simply because when the person interviewing saw my resume, he felt I had no relevant experience for that specific type of job and I had no opportunity to say otherwise without rudely  interrupting him. So let me give an example of how I would answer that without being under pressure and having the ability to edit and refine my response because I can do that with a written variation.

"Well, I do a broad range of IT related stuff both at work and personally. I am constantly learning new things whenever I can so I can quickly and adapt to many different jobs by either learning the skills necessary very quickly or I may possibly have pursued the topic or something similar and have some knowledge of what is needed or how to find out more information. I think my wide variety of knowledge puts me in a good position to benefit on jobs that require teamwork with my versatility and at the same time it makes working by myself easier as there are not many situations I come across I don't already have some familiarity to. I also have a strong drive to advance myself and would love to work for a place that offers the opportunities to do so and provide me with new challenges."

The key points to include are selling yourself, showing work ethic, ability to do teamwork and work individually, and of course the company itself. Continuing on, most jobs now seem to have some desire to be all psycho-analytical to make sure you're an actual decent person. I worked in retail a long time and can easily make people find me to be very likeable when I can revolve a conversation around them. When it's flipped... well, I'm really a jerk in person. I don't think I'm that good of a person. That makes these questions a little difficult for me because I often times feel like I'm stretching things too much. The other problem is I always think I have a perfect example but get caught in these "you had to be there to understand" type of situations. Doing these on the spot makes it very challenging, so I'm going to try to remember the questions I was asked and answer them properly here in hopes of giving myself more direction in future encounters. I highly encourage anyone when preparing for an interview to consider these types of questions and maybe write down some talking points that actually work for the situation. This will keep you from cornering yourself.

So one of the questions was to tell him about a time there was conflict between employees and how I resolved it.

"Luckily I have never come across any major conflicts, but I have seen many small conflicts, and regardless of the size of the conflict they can still cause problems. I think a good example would be one that I was involved in as one of three people. I was working in the morning and had a manager come in and tell me about something that was recently changed for how we set up the displays. I followed the managers instructions and everything was fine until the next person came in. I took a lunch break and when I got back she said I had set up the display wrong and that she had fixed it. I told her what the manager told me and she responded by saying while I was on lunch she was told differently. It was a little strange so after some discussion back and forth, I decided the only way we could figure this out was to go straight to the source. We called the manager back, had a quick discussion and found that what he told me was what he wanted us to do and that it was an accident that he told her otherwise. I think most conflicts arise from communication failures. That is why I think for a lot of conflicts in work, simply advising to ask the necessary people is beneficial to remember."

That was after staring at the screen for 15 minutes going through situation after situation. I also tried to set up the expectations that this won't be ground-breaking but still useful. Another question I was asked about was have I ever had conflict with a stakeholder (or manager, etc.) and how did I resolve it.

"I don't believe I've had any real major conflicts with stakeholders. I will lend them whatever advice I can and advise them to the best of my ability, however since it's their stake, whatever they say goes. Throughout my work experience there have been plenty of times where I have questioned a stakeholder's reasons, but I accept that does not mean I am right. I think the best we can do is advise, perform, or step aside."

I find that question particularly hard because I've always simply let things roll off my shoulders that it's not really something that would likely happen. Granted, I'll make jokes about it later. That's about all the ones I remember from that one specific interview. There are still some other more common questions I have down pretty good, but let's run through some.

What goals do you have or where do you see yourself going or where do you want to be?

"I want opportunities to grow and advance. I feel a need to arise to new challenges whenever possible. If I can, I want to just keep climbing and growing. The best part would be to do that with one place, just continually climb the ladder."

What is your greatest strength? For me, this always goes a bit technical.

"Figuring things out. Be it troubleshooting or learning something new, I can do it well. When a problem occurs, I easily can think outside of the box and put something together."

What is your greatest weakness? The trick here is to pull a reversal without anyone really noticing.

"I can over-problem solve. I often times can get too into fixing something where I end up going well outside of the scope I was originally there for. It's a little bit obsessive of me, but I have a hard time saying a problem is solved if there more I can still potentially do."

There are probably more questions I may add in the future, but these work for now.

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