Category: Interview Prep


A Google Insider Shares His Interview Advice

I often publish posts on Medium, a platform designed to bring readers interesting takes on important topics. Whatever your interests, you can always find fresh thinking and unique perspectives on Medium. One of my most viral posts on Medium was the one entitled “Get Interview Advice From an Insider at Google.”

The reason this post was so popular was because many Medium readers are techies with hopes and dreams of working in Silicon Valley at places like Google and Facebook. Interviews at such companies are very unique and they often ask questions you wouldn’t hear in interviews with other companies or industries.

But even if you’re not interviewing with Google, the interview question in this post could potentially be asked in your next interview. So pay attention to the advice from this Google insider!

Can you teach me something complex in five minutes?

How would you answer the interview question, “Can you teach me something complex in five minutes?”

The following response was originally published on Quora by Google insider and Google’s hiring manager, David Seidman. He’s graciously allowed me to publish his advice here under a new headline and format.

This is a great interview question and the answer can’t be faked.

Before you even send out applications, you should know your strongest skill, the thing you would compete on if you only had one. It might be your college thesis topic, your favorite project at work, or the job you held the longest.

To answer the question, think of something that is surprising about your field, something that most people in the field know but most people outside it don’t.

For example, in security, most people don’t realize how common and successful nation-state hacking is.

You should be able to state this in 1–2 sentences.

The reasons to use something surprising are that you will teach the interviewer something in the first two sentences and you will interest and engage them for the remainder of your answer.

Then, describe why people believe the incorrect thing.

What underlying facts do they believe to be true that are false?

How did they come to believe the false things?

What is the truth and how do we know it?

Did experts always know this truth or is it a recent discovery?

As you proceed, check occasionally to make sure your interviewer is familiar with any technical terms you use.

If you still have time, you can talk about the implications.

Are people afraid of the wrong things or not afraid when they should be?

What should be done and by whom?

How is this relevant to the company you’re interviewing with?

In the best case, your interviewer will want to hire you so they can learn more from you and so that you can fix the problem you just described for their company!

When I first saw this question, I wondered to myself how I would’ve answered this question if I’d been asked it in one of my previous job interviews.

The example I first thought of was one from my past experience working with songwriters and recording artists in the music industry: the process of how a song shoots up the charts and becomes a hit.

It’s something most people in the music industry understand, but people outside the industry don’t.

And a lot of it is very surprising to the outsiders. And very interesting.

Then I read David’s advice above and was glad to see I was somewhat on the right track.

I chose to post his response here on my blog because, as a career coach, I thought it was spot-on!

The biggest challenge with my example however is it would probably be difficult for me to make the song charting process relevant to a traditional company in another industry.

But this would just give me the opportunity to show my creativity and my ability to connect the dots between things that, at first glance, seem irrelevant.

What are your thoughts on this question?

How would you answer it?

What skill do you possess you’d try to highlight in your answer?

If you’re drawing a blank on the skill you would use in your own answer, you’re not the only one. Many of my clients come to me needing help in determining their transferable skills. They also come to me needing help on how to answer difficult interview questions. This is something I love to work on with my clients.

Is this something you also need help with? If so, take a moment to fill out the paNASH intake form to get started.

Finally, I would love to hear yours and others’ thoughts on this topic, so please respond in the comment box below!

Related posts

Google insider

Here Are the Top 10 Most Popular paNASH Blog Posts of 2019

Can you believe we’ve reached not only the end of another year but also the end of another decade? I’ve been writing much of the past decade, and for the past four years I’ve been writing blog posts on topics related to pursuing your passions and finding new work and career paths that you can be more passionate about.

I’m so grateful to all you readers and listeners who loyally follow the paNASH blog from week to week. I love hearing your stories of how a particular blog post helped you succeed in your job search or your career. Your support and feedback means so much to me!

As a thank you, here’s a collection of the top 10 most popular paNASH blog posts of 2019.

Top 10 Most Popular paNASH Blog Posts of 2019

  1. How to Write Networking Emails That Will Get Responses
  2. What Is the Best Way to Describe Yourself In a Job Interview?
  3. Stop! Watch Out for These 10 Red Flags In Your New Job
  4. How to Know If Your Burnout Is Killing You?
  5. Is There Such a Thing As the Perfect Job? No (and Yes)!
  6. Why You Need to Stop Overthinking Networking
  7. How to Avoid Common Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Career
  8. 5 Things You Should Never Say In a Job Interview
  9. How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out
  10. How to Be Patient When You’re In Between Jobs

Please share

Please share any of the above blog posts or other paNASH posts on your social media platforms and with your friends so they can also benefit from them.

Stay tuned

Stay tuned for a new year and a new decade of posts to help you create a career you can be passionate about! If there are any topics you’d like to see covered in the upcoming year, please share your requests in the comment box. Thank you!

top 10

4 Reasons Why the Holidays are a Good Time to Job Search

The holidays are often a time for a mental break from all the hard work we’ve put into our jobs throughout the past year. But if your only job right now is looking for a job, you can’t afford to mentally check out.

Believe it or not, the holidays are actually one of the best times to conduct a job search. Here’s why:

1. Time to reflect during the holidays

The close of the year is a good time to reflect back on what you’ve accomplished the previous twelve months.

Focusing on what you’ve accomplished will boost your confidence in your abilities. It will also provide you with ideas of things to add to your resume.

2. Networking opportunities during the holidays

Holiday parties and events are great places to reconnect with people in your network and to meet new people. But be very careful not to make people feel like they’re being networked! Instead, focus on developing and maintaining your professional relationships. (See my blog post entitled “How to Be Realistic About Networking“.)

Remember to also go easy on the eggnog when attending holiday events. You don’t want to tarnish your job search by developing a negative reputation people will remember long after you’ve recycled your Christmas tree.

3. Holiday deals on interview attire

Day-after-Christmas sales are a great time to find a quality interview suit at an affordable price. It’s also a good time to try on suits since you’re likely to be at your heaviest weight then. You can always tailor down if necessary (because you can’t tailor up!). Most department stores provide free alterations with purchase.

When friends and family ask you what you’d like for Christmas, tell them you’d like department store gift cards or cash so you can pay for you new interview attire.

4. Prepare for an interview in the new year

The new year is when many job opportunities come open. This means you need to be prepared for interviews as early as the first week in January. Preparing for job interviews takes time since you have to conduct research on the industry, the companies you’re interested in, and yourself.

You’ll need to research industry trends and issues, company culture and mission, and how your skills and past experience line up with the skills in the job ad. Use any available down time you have during the holidays to do your research.

You’ll also want to use this time to prepare your answers to behavioral interview questions and other commonly asked questions. I recommend the online tutorial Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety to help you get ready for the interviews you’ll have in the new year.

Conclusion

The holidays can be stressful. But being unprepared for an interview can be even more stressful, especially if you’ve used the holidays as an excuse to slack off during your job search.

As with anything, make sure you find balance. Schedule a certain amount of time for your job search (at least 20 hours per week). Then, prioritize your remaining time for what’s most important: family and thanksgiving.

Related posts:

holidays

Did You Get Ghosted After Your Interview? What to Do Now (re-post)

This is a re-post of a previous blog of mine on the topic of interview ghosting. The post has gone viral on Medium, and I was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal about the same topic this past summer. Since tomorrow is Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to share it again, especially since so many job candidates experience this phenomenon!

Have you ever been ghosted? You know what I’m talking about, when someone unexpectedly ceases all communication with you with no explanation. It’s almost like they dropped off the face of the earth.

This phenomenon typically happens in personal relationships such as romantic liaisons or fledgling friendships.

But it now also exists in working relationships, including the job search. While it’s extremely unprofessional, it does happen.

Job interview ghosting

Most of the time it happens following an interview process. A candidate spends time going through a cumbersome online application process, researching the company, preparing for the interview, traveling to the interview, and sweating through the interview.

The candidate is told at the end of the interview they’ll hear something soon. Then they hear nothing but crickets.

They follow up first with a thank you letter like every good candidate should after an interview.

Still nothing but crickets.

The next week they email to find out if a decision has been made.

Still more crickets.

Another week later they call, only for that call to go unanswered.

This has probably happened to you at one point in your career or another.

It’s happened to me before too, both after a job interview and with a couple of potential clients.

There’s no way to know the reason for the ghosting. All you can do is follow up one more time and then move on.

Console yourself by realizing you probably dodged a bullet since you likely wouldn’t want to work for someone who treats people this way.

What to do next time: a preemptive strike against ghosting

In your next interview, there are some things you can do to try to protect yourself from ghosting, or at least reduce the chances of being ghosted.

This begins in the very first interview. When it’s your turn to ask questions, one of your questions should be about the timeline for the hiring process.

You want to be as specific as possible in your question in order to receive a specific answer. For instance, instead of asking “When do you plan to conduct second-round interviews?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for scheduling second-round interviews?”

“Is that deadline firm?” and

“Are you going to let those who didn’t make it to the second round know they won’t be moving forward?”

In the final round of interviews, instead of asking “When do you plan to make a hiring decision?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for making an offer?”

“How firm is that deadline?” and

“Are you  going to notify each person being interviewed of the final decision as a courtesy or just the person receiving the offer?”

These questions are for your own sanity so you can know what to expect and so you’re not sitting around wondering why you haven’t heard anything back.

Click here to find out what other questions you should ask in an interview.

Know when to move on

Keep in mind however that sometimes companies tend to underestimate how long the interview process might take them. Or, deadlines might get pushed back due to other priorities in the company.

Continue to follow up 1–2 weeks after their original deadline.

If after that you still haven’t heard anything, assume they either hired someone else or put a freeze on the hiring process. 

Then move on.

And try not to take it personally so you can maintain your confidence. You have to keep your confidence in tact as best you can for your next interview.

Other things you can do

There are several other things you can do to reduce your chances of being ghosted.

First, avoid doing the things that irritate hiring managers and recruiters. For instance, don’t be late for your interview and don’t be dishonest in your answers or give canned answers.

More importantly, don’t interview for a job you don’t intend to take just to get interview practice. This is unethical and word could easily get around in your industry about you doing such a thing.

Also, indicate at the end of the interview you want the job. So many people fail to say they want the job. Those who do increase their chances of getting the call with the offer.

Next, send a thank you letter to each person you interviewed with, reiterating your interest and what you have to offer the company.

Finally, even if you’ve been ghosted by a company, don’t do the same thing to another company. Just because unemployment is at an all-time low and you may have your pick of offers, this doesn’t give you an excuse to ghost recruiters or hiring managers.

Conclusion

While you can’t completely prevent a company from ghosting you after your interview, using some of the strategies above can help reduce your chances of it happening.

Related posts:

ghosting

5 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview

I get a lot of questions from clients asking what they should say in a job interview when responding to common interview questions. But rarely does someone ask me what they should never say in a job interview. However, this knowledge is just as important (if not more!) than the knowledge of what to say.

I can remember when I was doing my first job search, I really just wanted to answer the question “What is your greatest weakness?” with, “Chocolate.” Of course I knew better! But some people still say things which seem obvious not to say. And then there are those not-so-obvious things.

I could spend quite a bit of time discussing all the things you should never say in a job interview. But for this post, I’m going to focus on the top five things most candidates mistakenly say but should never utter.

Top 5 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview

1. Don’t share anything too personal

When answering “Tell us about yourself,” never tell the interviewer your personal history starting from kindergarten! They don’t care where you went to middle school, what your favorite color is, or what your dog’s name is.

Instead, talk about your professional self, including your strengths and experience, your interest in the job, and how you can make a contribution to the company. Show them you can be a problem-solver for them!

This is not to say you can’t use a personal challenge you’ve faced in your life that shows your problem-solving skills or your ability to adapt or be resilient. Sometimes those kind of personal stories can tell the interviewer a lot about your character.

I once hired an intern based on a story she shared about what it’s been like for her to grow up with a sibling with Down Syndrome. She shared this personal story in a professional way and related it back to her ability to perform the job at hand.

Therefore, if you do decide to share a personal challenge, I advise you to follow the same approach. Don’t get too bogged down into the details of your personal situation. Instead, show how you’ve grown from it and how this growth has made you a better person for the job.

2. Avoid generalities

Always avoid speaking in generalities. You want to provide specific examples of how you’ve previously demonstrated your strengths.

I’ve said this time and time again on this blog, but I cannot stress enough the importance of doing this! Your specific examples are what differentiate you from the other candidates.

*To learn how to do this, check out my post The Secret to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions.

3. Never show you’ve not done your research

When asked “What do you know about us?” don’t just talk about what you found on the company’s web site.

Dig deeper by studying the company’s past press releases, annual reports (if they’re a public company), and social media posts to show the knowledge you’ve gained from your research.

4. Don’t be the first one to mention salary

NEVER bring up salary until they do, and even then, don’t try to negotiate until there’s an offer on the table.

If you are being pressured for an amount you’re seeking, always give a range, never a single dollar amount. The range you give should never start with your lowest amount you’re willing to take. Start slightly higher than the starting number in your range because you can always negotiate down, but you can’t negotiate up.

5. Never say yes right away

Finally, don’t say yes to the first offer.

Know that you can typically negotiate salary and most employers expect you to! If you don’t, you could end up leaving a significant amount of money (and benefits!) on the table.

More tips

Get more tips on how to prepare for job interviews and how to negotiate salary in the following ways:

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never say