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How to answer 5 tough interview questions

We all have interview questions we secretly pray a prospective employer won't ask us. Whether you find them vague and confusing, or you think they are uncomfortable topics, or you simply aren't sure how to approach answering them, for some reason these questions always trip you up and jeopardize your chances of getting hired.

But with proper preparation, a little practice and the right approach, you can master even the most daunting questions from across the table.

Here are some of the questions job seekers most dread, and tips on how to handle them.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself

This question is asked in nearly every first-round interview, yet many job seekers still struggle with it. Given the question's open-ended and broad-scope phrasing, plus the fact that it's often the very first "official" interview question, its not surprising interviewees stress over finding the "right" answer. The key is preparation and brevity.

"Don't waste time talking through your entire resume down to every detail, as they already have that information in their hand. Avoid personal and irrelevant information as well," says Jennifer Lee Magas, vice president, Magas Media Consultants. "Instead, provide your elevator speech – a concise 30-second overview of who you are, what you have done—jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, sports, leadership roles—and how this can help a future employer."

2. Why should we hire you?

This common question often trips up candidates because it's blunt and to the point. Once again, this question requires a bit of preparation—in particular, a clear understanding of the job description, requirements and expectations.

"People don't do well with this one because they don't review the job qualifications ahead of time. The interviewer wants to know what you will do specifically for this position, not general statements about yourself," Magas says. "Organize your thoughts using the PAR acronym, or Problem, Action, Results. Quickly illustrate your worth by outlining a problem you dealt with at work, what specific action you took to solve that problem, and how your solution ultimately benefited the organization in terms of saved money or time."

3. Why are you leaving your current company?

Past actions are a good indicator of future ones, so discussing your current employer during a job interview can be tricky. The best way to approach this is to not dwell on the negatives.

"Absolutely 100 percent stay positive when asked why you are leaving your current company. It should be about opportunity [and] growth," says Ricardo Estevez, director of Career Services at The Art Institute of Washington. "Make sure the job you're applying for is moving forward. If you are changing careers, you can express how passionate you are about the new field into which you are transitioning."

"You should never bash a previous supervisor, or employer in general," agrees David Bakke, career expert at Money Crashers. "You could say something like your old boss was a stickler for details, but that it ultimately made you a better employee."

4. What are your salary expectations?

Discussing money is something of a taboo in our culture, so it's understandable that so many job seekers struggle when the question of salary comes up in the interview. It also happens to be one of the most crucial—raises, bonuses and even future job offers are usually based on your salary.

"Usually you know what your value on the market is, or at least a range. You also know how much you need to live comfortably and pay your bills," says Heather Neisen, HR manager at TechnologyAdvice. "Ultimately, this question is best answered with 'Here's what I'm aiming for in my search and why—I now have my master's, I now have the experience, etc.' Just like every part of the interview, you and the employer are looking for a fit. Don't waste their time or your time. State what your salary range is and if they can't be flexible, you have the ability to end the process."

5. How many ridges are there around the edge of a quarter?

Or, if you were shrunk down to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out? What about, how many traffic lights are in Manhattan?

Sometimes interview questions are just plain weird. If you're faced with a question that seems both unrelated to the job and more like a brainteaser or riddle than an interview question, don't panic. In many cases the interviewer is less interested in what your answer is than in how you answer.

"Companies like Google are famous for asking very unusual interview questions, so don't be surprised if it starts happening more and more with smaller firms as well," says Tim Backes, career adviser, resume expert and hiring manager at Resume Genius. "They are looking for someone who will give an answer and not just stumble over their words and repeat the question a dozen times as well as someone who shows both a clear train of thought, no matter if it's based solely in logic or it's creative. They also want to see confidence, but not arrogance. No matter what you do, remember to keep your composure and answer any unusual question to the best of your ability."

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How To Get The Most Out of Your Job Ad

So, you’re hoping to create some buzz around the job ad you’ve just published on your careers page? Today’s recruiting environment is competitive and complex. Recruiting the best candidates starts with making the right first impression—and using a combination of tactics will help you get the most out of your job ad. For the best […]

The post How To Get The Most Out of Your Job Ad appeared first on TalentCulture.

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How to turn your Twitter into a valuable industry resource

If you already have a Twitter account, no doubt you already know the great value of this social media platform. But did you know that you can turn your twitter into a valuable resource for your industry? It’s true; you can, and there are plenty of reasons why you should want to do this. Creating an industry resource with your Twitter builds your reputation and helps you gain influence. Here are the steps to follow to make this happen.

1. Make a list of influencers 

Carefully construct Twitter lists of the people you’d like to emulate. These can be leaders in your industry or field, people unanimously respected in the industry, or new up-and-comers who are rapidly gaining popularity in your field. Also, you can look at other influencer’s lists, such as Robert Scoble, to find ideas of people who should be on yours. You can even subscribe to public lists of other people on Twitter.

2. Start curating 

Great industry leaders such as Maxwell Systems collect or ‘curate’ resources that will be useful for their followers. Maxwell has become well-known in the construction technology sector for being so good at finding great resources to share with their followers. So how do you find this great stuff to share? You can start by sharing the best snippets of content from the blogs that you’re already reading. In addition, you can frequently find good material from your Twitter lists.

It’s also a good idea to keep a close eye on news headlines. Watch for any breaking stories with relevance to your field or industry, and share them on your Twitter. Subscribe to newsletters that you find informative and like pages on Facebook that post interesting content. Be a student of your industry or field and make a conscious effort to always be learning.

Read books and magazine or journal articles written by experts in the field, and listen to podcasts by experts. Attend webinars and conferences, and always have a pen and paper ready to take notes. You never know when you’ll come across some inspiration for great content.

While you’re curating this content, there are two important things to consider. First, always give credit where credit’s due. If you’re using content created by someone else, be sure to acknowledge them for it. Also, try not to just pass along this information. If you’re really serious about using your Twitter to become a valuable industry resource, you should make your own contributions to the wealth of material that’s already out there.

This means that you should expound upon the material that you’re curating. Why is it so good? What makes it valuable? What are some important points that the original creator might have failed to mention? Think about and explain these things to your audience.

Another important tip to keep in mind: you should be using a tool to schedule your tweets. Buffer and HootSuite are two good ones worth checking out.

3. Build a following 

Once you’ve found great influencers and have started to accrue some great content, the next step is to build your own following. One of the brilliant minds behind Tweet Smarter, Dave Larson, says that the answer to building a following on Twitter is finding a ‘Super Advocate.’ And you find this, Larson explains, by becoming a ‘super advocate’ for someone else.

This means that you do everything you can to support that person, from retweeting their tweets to commenting on their tweets and giving shout outs that praise them on your own Twitter. Why is this strategy so effective? It all goes back to the golden rule: do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. Endorsing someone else on Twitter makes it much more likely that you will be endorsed on Twitter. Remember, what goes around comes around. It pays to be nice.

Becoming an industry resource on Twitter is an essential part of establishing yourself as a leader in your industry. With the right influencers, a curation of great content and a good following, there’s no limit to what you can do!

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and social media marketer who loves picking apart social campaigns to see how they tick. To see more of her work, follow @adrienneerin on Twitter or visit her blog.

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