The top 25 questions you might face in an Interview

1. Tell me about yourself.

Since this is often the opening question in an interview, be extra careful that you don’t run off at the mouth. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject. Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question. Don’t waste your best points on it.

2. What do you know about our organization?

You should be able to discuss products or services, revenues, reputation, image, goals, problems, management style, people, history and philosophy. But don’t act as if you know everything about the place. Let your answer show that you have taken the time to do some research, but don’t overwhelm the interviewer, and make it clear that you wish to learn more.

You might start your answer in this manner: “In my job search, I’ve investigated a number of companies.

Yours is one of the few that interests me, for these reasons…”

Give your answer a positive tone. Don’t say, “Well, everyone tells me that you’re in all sorts of trouble, and that’s why I’m here”, even if that is why you’re there.

3. Why do you want to work for us?

The deadliest answer you can give is “Because I like people.” What else would you like-animals?

Here, and throughout the interview, a good answer comes from having done your homework so that you can speak in terms of the company’s needs. You might say that your research has shown that the company is doing things you would like to be involved with, and that it’s doing them in ways that greatly interest you. For example, if the organization is known for strong management, your answer should mention that fact and show that you would like to be a part of that team. If the company places a great deal of emphasis on research and development, emphasize the fact that you want to create new things and that you know this is a place in which such activity is encouraged. If the organization stresses financial controls, your answer should mention a reverence for numbers.

If you feel that you have to concoct an answer to this question – if, for example, the company stresses research, and you feel that you should mention it even though it really doesn’t interest you- then you probably should not be taking that interview, because you probably shouldn’t be considering a job with that organization.

Your homework should include learning enough about the company to avoid approaching places where you wouldn’t be able -or wouldn’t want- to function. Since most of us are poor liars, it’s difficult to con anyone in an interview. But even if you should succeed at it, your prize is a job you don’t really want.

4. What can you do for us that someone else can’t?

Here you have every right, and perhaps an obligation, to toot your own horn and be a bit egotistical. Talk about your record of getting things done, and mention specifics from your resume or list of career accomplishments. Say that your skills and interests, combined with this history of getting results, make you valuable. Mention your ability to set priorities, identify problems, and use your experience and energy to solve them.

5. What do you find most attractive about this position? What seems least attractive about it?

List three or four attractive factors of the job, and mention a single, minor, unattractive item.

6. Why should we hire you?

Create your answer by thinking in terms of your ability, your experience, and your energy. (See question 4.)

7. What do you look for in a job?

Keep your answer oriented to opportunities at this organization. Talk about your desire to perform and be recognized for your contributions. Make your answer oriented toward opportunity rather than personal security.

8. Please give me your defintion of [the position for which you are being interviewed].

Keep your answer brief and taskoriented. Think in in terms of responsibilities and accountability. Make sure that you really do understand what the position involves before you attempt an answer. If you are not certain. ask the interviewer; he or she may answer the question for you.

9. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?

Be realistic. Say that, while you would expect to meet pressing demands and pull your own weight from the first day, it might take six months to a year before you could expect to know the organization and its needs well enough to make a major contribution.

10. How long would you stay with us?

Say that you are interested in a career with the organization, but admit that you would have to continue to feel challenged to remain with any organization. Think in terms of, “As long as we both feel achievement-oriented.”

11. Your resume suggests that you may be over-qualified or too experienced for this position. What’s Your opinion?

Emphasize your interest in establishing a long-term association with the organization, and say that you assume that if you perform well in his job, new opportunities will open up for you. Mention that a strong company needs a strong staff. Observe that experienced executives are always at a premium. Suggest that since you are so well qualified, the employer will get a fast return on his investment. Say that a growing, energetic company can never have too much talent.

12. What is your management style?

You should know enough about the company’s style to know that your management style will complement it. Possible styles include: task oriented (I’ll enjoy problem-solving identifying what’s wrong, choosing a solution and implementing it”), results-oriented (”Every management decision I make is determined by how it will affect the bottom line”), or even paternalistic (”I’m committed to taking care of my subordinates and pointing them in the right direction”).

A participative style is currently quite popular: an open-door method of managing in which you get things done by motivating people and delegating responsibility.

As you consider this question, think about whether your style will let you work hatppily and effectively within the organization.

13. Are you a good manager? Can you give me some examples? Do you feel that you have top managerial potential?

Keep your answer achievement and ask-oriented. Rely on examples from your career to buttress your argument. Stress your experience and your energy.

14. What do you look for when You hire people?

Think in terms of skills. initiative, and the adaptability to be able to work comfortably and effectively with others. Mention that you like to hire people who appear capable of moving up in the organization.

15. Have you ever had to fire people? What were the reasons, and how did you handle the situation?

Admit that the situation was not easy, but say that it worked out well, both for the company and, you think, for the individual. Show that, like anyone else, you don’t enjoy unpleasant tasks but that you can resolve them efficiently and -in the case of firing someone- humanely.

16. What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a manager or executive?

Mention planning, execution, and cost-control. The most difficult task is to motivate and manage employess to get something planned and completed on time and within the budget.

17. What important trends do you see in our industry?

Be prepared with two or three trends that illustrate how well you understand your industry. You might consider technological challenges or opportunities, economic conditions, or even regulatory demands as you collect your thoughts about the direction in which your business is heading.

18. Why are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) job?

Be brief, to the point, and as honest as you can without hurting yourself. Refer back to the planning phase of your job search. where you considered this topic as you set your reference statements. If you were laid off in an across-the-board cutback, say so; otherwise, indicate that the move was your decision, the result of your action. Do not mention personality conflicts.

The interviewer may spend some time probing you on this issue, particularly if it is clear that you were terminated. The “We agreed to disagree” approach may be useful. Remember hat your references are likely to be checked, so don’t concoct a story for an interview.

19. How do you feel about leaving all your benefits to find a new job?

Mention that you are concerned, naturally, but not panicked. You are willing to accept some risk to find the right job for yourself. Don’t suggest that security might interest you more than getting the job done successfully.

20. In your current (last) position, what features do (did) you like the most? The least?

Be careful and be positive. Describe more features that you liked than disliked. Don’t cite personality problems. If you make your last job sound terrible, an interviewer may wonder why you remained there until now.

21. What do you think of your boss?

Be as positive as you can. A potential boss is likely to wonder if you might talk about him in similar terms at some point in the future.

22. Why aren’t you earning more at your age?

Say that this is one reason that you are conducting this job search. Don’t be defensive.

23. What do you feel this position should pay?

Salary is a delicate topic. We suggest that you defer tying yourself to a precise figure for as long as you can do so politely. You might say, “I understand that the range for this job is between $______ and $______. That seems appropriate for the job as I understand it.” You might answer the question with a question: “Perhaps you can help me on this one. Can you tell me if there is a range for similar jobs in the organization?”

If you are asked the question during an initial screening interview, you might say that you feel you need to know more about the position’s responsibilities before you could give a meaningful answer to that question. Here, too, either by asking the interviewer or search executive (if one is involved), or in research done as part of your homework, you can try to find out whether there is a salary grade attached to the job. If there is, and if you can live with it, say that the range seems right to you.

If the interviewer continues to probe, you might say, “You know that I’m making $______ now. Like everyone else, I’d like to improve on that figure, but my major interest is with the job itself.” Remember that the act of taking a new job does not, in and of itself, make you worth more money.

If a search firm is involved, your contact there may be able to help with the salary question. He or she may even be able to run interference for you. If, for instance, he tells you what the position pays, and you tell him that you are earning that amount now and would Like to do a bit better, he might go back to the employer and propose that you be offered an additional 10%.

If no price range is attached to the job, and the interviewer continues to press the subject, then you will have to restpond with a number. You cannot leave the impression that it does not really matter, that you’ll accept whatever is offered. If you’ve been making $80,000 a year, you can’t say that a $35,000 figure would be fine without sounding as if you’ve given up on yourself. (If you are making a radical career change, however, this kind of disparity may be more reasonable and understandable.)

Don’t sell yourself short, but continue to stress the fact that the job itself is the most important thing in your mind. The interviewer may be trying to determine just how much you want the job. Don’t leave the impression that money is the only thing that is important to you. Link questions of salary to the work itself.

But whenever possible, say as little as you can about salary until you reach the “final” stage of the interview process. At that point, you know that the company is genuinely interested in you and that it is likely to be flexible in salary negotiations.

24. What are your long-range goals?

Refer back to the planning phase of your job search. Don’t answer, “I want the job you’ve advertised.” Relate your goals to the company you are interviewing: ‘in a firm like yours, I would like to…”

25. How successful do you you’ve been so far?

Say that, all-in-all, you’re happy with the way your career has progressed so far. Given the normal ups and downs of life, you feel that you’ve done quite well and have no complaints.

Present a positive and confident picture of yourself, but don’t overstate your case. An answer like, “Everything’s wonderful! I can’t think of a time when things were going better! I’m overjoyed!” is likely to make an interviewer wonder whether you’re trying to fool him . . . or yourself. The most convincing confidence is usually quiet confidence.

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Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs

Our communications coach breaks down the ace presenter’s latest Macworld keynote. The result? A 10-part framework you can use to wow your own audiencemacworld08360.jpgWhen Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs kicked off this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, he once again raised the bar on presentation skills. While most presenters simply convey information, Jobs also inspires. He sells the steak and the sizzle at the same time, as one reader commented a few years ago.I analyzed his latest presentation and extracted the 10 elements that you can combine to dazzle your own audience. Bear in mind that Jobs has been refining his skills for years. Still, how he actually arrives at what appear to be effortless presentations bears expanding on and explaining again.

1. Set the theme.

“There is something in the air today.” With those words, Jobs opened Macworld. By doing so, he set the theme for his presentation

2. Demonstrate enthusiasm.

Jobs shows his passion for computer design. During his presentation he used words like “extraordinary,” “amazing,” and “cool.” When demonstrating a new location feature for the iPhone, Jobs said, “It works pretty doggone well.” Most speakers have room to add some flair to their presentations. Remember, your audience wants to be wowed, not put to sleep. Next time you’re crafting or delivering a presentation, think about injecting your own personality into it. If you think a particular feature of your product is “awesome,” say it. Most speakers get into presentation mode and feel as though they have to strip the talk of any fun. If you are not enthusiastic about your own products or services, how do you expect your audience to be?

macworld08345.jpg3. Provide an outline.

Jobs outlined the presentation by saying, “There are four things I want to talk about today. So let’s get started…” Jobs followed his outline by verbally opening and closing each of the four sections and making clear transitions in between. For example, after revealing several new iPhone features, he said, “The iPhone is not standing still. We keep making it better and better and better. That was the second thing I wanted to talk about today. No. 3 is about iTunes.” Make lists and provide your audience with guideposts along the way.

4. Make numbers meaningful.

When Jobs announced that Apple had sold 4 million iPhones to date, he didn’t simply leave the number out of context. Instead, he put it in perspective by adding, “That’s 20,000 iPhones every day, on average.” Jobs went on to say, “What does that mean to the overall market?” Jobs detailed the breakdown of the U.S smartphone market and Apple’s share of it to demonstrate just how impressive the number actually is. Jobs also pointed out that Apple’s market share equals the share of its top three competitors combined. Numbers don’t mean much unless they are placed in context. Connect the dots for your listeners.

5. Try for an unforgettable moment.

This is the moment in your presentation that everyone will be talking about. Every Steve Jobs presentation builds up to one big scene. In this year’s Macworld keynote, it was the announcement of MacBook Air. To demonstrate just how thin it is, Jobs said it would fit in an envelope.Jobs drew cheers by opening a manila interoffice envelope and holding the laptop for everyone to see. What is the one memorable moment of your presentation? Identify it ahead of time and build up to it.

6. Create visual slides.

While most speakers fill their slides with data, text, and charts, Jobs does the opposite. There is very little text on a Steve Jobs slide. Most of the slides simply show one image. For example, his phrase “The first thing I want to talk to you about today…” was accompanied by a slide with the numeral 1. That’s it. Just the number. When Jobs discussed a specific product like the iPhone, the audience saw a slide with an image of the product. When text was introduced, it was often revealed as short sentences (three or four words) to the right of the image. Sometimes, there were no images at all on the slide but a sentence that Jobs had delivered such as “There is something in the air.” There is a trend in public speaking to paint a picture for audiences by creating more visual graphics. Inspiring presenters are short on bullet points and big on graphics.

7. Give ’em a show.

A Jobs presentation has ebbs and flows, themes and transitions. Since he’s giving his audience a show instead of simply delivering information, Jobs includes video clips, demonstrations, and guests he shares the stage with. In his latest keynote, the audience heard from Jim Gianopulos, CEO and chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, and Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel ((INTC). Enhance your presentations by incorporating multimedia, product demonstrations, or giving others the chance to say a few words.

8. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Despite your best preparation, something might go wrong as it did during the keynote. Jobs was about to show some photographs from a live Web site, and the screen went black while Jobs waited for the image to appear. It never did. Jobs smiled and said, “Well, I guess Flickr isn’t serving up the photos today.” He then recapped the new features he had just introduced. That’s it. It was no big deal. I have seen presenters get flustered over minor glitches. Don’t sweat minor mishaps. Have fun. Few will remember a glitch unless you call attention to it.

9. Sell the benefit.

While most presenters promote product features, Jobs sells benefits. When introducing iTunes movie rentals, Jobs said, “We think there is a better way to deliver movie content to our customers.” Jobs explained the benefit by saying, “We’ve never offered a rental model in music because people want to own their music. You listen to your favorite song thousands of times in your life. But most of us watch movies once, maybe a few times. And renting is a great way to do it. It’s less expensive, doesn’t take up space on our hard drive…” Your listeners are always asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Answer the question. Don’t make them guess. Clearly state the benefit of every service, feature, or product.

10. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Steve Jobs cannot pull off an intricate presentation with video clips, demonstrations, and outside speakers without hours of rehearsal. I have spoken to people within Apple who tell me that Jobs rehearses the entire presentation aloud for many hours. Nothing is taken for granted. You can see he rehearsed the Macworld presentation because his words were often perfectly synchronized with the images and text on the slides. When Jobs was showing examples of the films that are available on the new iTunes movie rental service, one poster of a particular film appeared at the exact moment he began to talk about it. The entire presentation was coordinated. A Steve Jobs presentation looks effortless because it is well-rehearsed.Article from businessweek.com. (BusinessWeek.com, 1/15/08) and hinted at the key product announcement—the ultrathin MacBook Air laptop. Every presentation needs a theme, but you don’t have to deliver it at the start.

Last year, Jobs delivered the theme about 20 minutes into his presentation: “Today Apple reinvents the phone.” Once you identify your theme, make sure you deliver it several times throughout your presentation.

Google processes over 20 petabytes of data per day

Google currently processes over 20 petabytes of data per day through an average of 100,000 MapReduce jobs spread across its massive computing clusters. The average MapReduce job ran across approximately 400 machines in September 2007, crunching approximately 11,000 machine years in a single month. These are just some of the facts about the search giant’s computational processing infrastructure revealed in an ACM paper by Google Fellows Jeffrey Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat.

Twenty petabytes (20,000 terabytes) per day is a tremendous amount of data processing and a key contributor to Google’s continued market dominance. Competing search storage and processing systems at Microsoft (Dyrad) and Yahoo! (Hadoop) are still playing catch-up to Google’s suite of GFS, MapReduce, and BigTable.

Aug. 2004 Mar. 2006 Sep. 2007 Number of jobs (1000s) 29 171 2,217
Avg. completion time (secs) 634 874 395
Machine years used 217 2,002 11,081
map input data (TB) 3,288 52,254 403,152
map output data (TB) 758 6,743 34,774
reduce output data (TB) 193 2,970 14,018
Avg. machines per job 157 268 394
Unique implementations
map 395 1,958 4,083
reduce 269 1,208 2,418

Google processes its data on a standard machine cluster node consisting two 2 GHz Intel Xeon processors with Hyper-Threading enabled, 4 GB of memory, two 160 GB IDE hard drives and a gigabit Ethernet link. This type of machine costs approximately $2400 each through providers such as Penguin Computing or Dell or approximately $900 a month through a managed hosting provider such as Verio (for startup comparisons).

The average MapReduce job runs across a $1 million hardware cluster, not including bandwidth fees, datacenter costs, or staffing.

Summary

The January 2008 MapReduce paper provides new insights into Google’s hardware and software crunching processing tens of petabytes of data per day. Google converted its search indexing systems to the MapReduce system in 2003, and currently processes over 20 terabytes of raw web data. It’s some fascinating large-scale processing data that makes your head spin and appreciate the years of distributed computing fine-tuning applied to today’s large problems.