The hiring process has always come down to determining not only if you can do the job, but also how well you fit into the company culture. As the economy recovers and job hunters can afford to be more selective, so can companies. And they’ve now started looking for not only technical skills, but for less definable qualities in each candidate they hire.
It may seem pretty obvious that no one wants to work with someone they don’t “click” with, but what’s surprising is how much stock companies now put in the “you” factor (what makes you different from every other candidate). Depending on the company, everything from what your hobbies are to how you prefer to work are under review.
An increasing number of companies are asking the following questions to determine if you’re the right fit. Will you pass the test?
1. How have you dealt with difficult employees and customers in the past?
Companies value conflict resolution skills, and are looking for technical employees and consultants who can build relationships and coexist with others. If you aren’t careful about your approach to this question and end up badmouthing past customers or coworkers, it reflects poorly on you and will more than likely end up costing you the job.
2. What do you see as drawbacks of working on a team compared to working alone?
Companies value self-starters, but also need workers who understand that sometimes you can get more done collaborating with a team. Focus your answer on the times you’ve successfully navigated both situations. It’s alright to be better at working alone or on a team (no one’s perfect at everything), but you need to demonstrate how you adapt your habits to effectively get the job done no matter what type of project it might be.
3. How do you function when you receive little direction?
Some companies have very few processes in place, and few meetings to discuss expectations and progress. This is especially true in fast-growing companies and in companies where candidates work remotely. Ask yourself if you are better in situations when you receive little direction, and give honest answers to the interviewer. If you aren’t being honest (with both yourself and the hiring manager) you’ll end up in the wrong role and, in that case, no one wins.
4. What do you do outside of work?
This is seemingly unusual question, but your answer can make you stand out among applicants. From what I’ve seen, companies look to hire technical employees who play video games, test new software and read about technology trends in their free time. It shows a passion for technology that can be a driving force behind the right IT candidate. Don’t be shy about telling an interviewer your hobbies. You might just find something in common that makes you that much more memorable.
These types of questions are every bit as important as any technical questions you may be asked. Take the time to honestly ask yourself these questions before an interview, and write down examples of each. There’s a wide variety of company cultures in the Minnesota IT market, and finding a position where you can be yourself will not only allow you to thrive, but also make you more valuable to the company!
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