Interview Questions from JobHuntChat

March 2nd, 2010

Question 3 of #jobhuntchat tonight was “What are the questions that I should ask at an interview?” and it generated a lot of great responses. Enough so that several people called for a list of the questions. One of the harder things to do with these Twitter chats is to try and aggregate the jumble of tweets into a cohesive list. I’ve tried my best below to make some sort of sense of Q3 for both my sake ( I’m interviewing and wanted to remember the questions ) and hopefully for those of you that are also interviewing for jobs. I would welcome feedback on the format and presentation.

I’ve grouped the responses by general categories instead of by time as is normal with Twitter. Hopefully it makes it a little easier. I’ve also tried to keep the responses in the exact format that they were in, including links to the Tweet authors. To save space I didn’t include retweets. If I missed one of your responses to Q3, I’m sorry. Feel free to send me ( @Frostlad ) your response and I’ll add it below.

General advice about interview questions

MaryfKrueger Q3: Don’t just ask a ? to be asking, make sure it is something you really want to know more about #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

sjhalestorm Q3: It’s vague, but ask questions that demonstrate your value, intelligence & knowledge of potential employer. #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

sadoty @jobhuntchat I like to ask what I can do for them. It’s cheesy, but it gets a good response a lot of the time. #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

JPedde RT @CornOnTheJob: Q3: What are the questions that I should ask at an interview?<-oo good questions! What’s office culture like? #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

KellyLux Q3. First, ask how much time you have for questions. That will help you determine if you can ask all, or just most important. #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

sjhalestorm @JobHuntChat, Q3: Never limit yourself to scripted questions – listen & scope out opportunities #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Keppie_Careers Criteria for questions for candidates in interview: always ask a question that is not answered online! #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

tbranchsolution Q3: The questions you ask during the interview s/b tailored to role of interviewer – recruiter or decision maker. Prepare. #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Keppie_Careers Another good point for questions – ask something that indicates research you have done re: organization. Highly valued! #jobhuntchat -9:35 PM Mar 1st, 2010

jazmine_estacio Q3 I always ask if there would be an opportunity to work on other tasks/projects not listed in the description. #jobhuntchat -9:35 PM Mar 1st, 2010

sadoty @jobhuntchat Get past the initial job description and get into something deeper. Then u REALLY find out about the job. #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Keppie_Careers Don’t ask too much that reflects on how you will enjoy job. Keep focused on target -point out how you are a fit via questions. #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Questions to ask about the job’s industry

JPedde Q3: What industry books would you suggest reading? #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

TerrenceWing Q3 I recently read about… What challenges is it causing with the team I will potentially be assigned to? #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

sbrownehr Q3 – Another ? to ask “What’s your company’s view on (list your field)?” Have them describe what they think about what you do. #jobhuntchat -9:35 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Questions about the company’s culture / future plans / performance

eotoole Q3: I always ask what the interviewer likes best about working at the company. Usually great insight into the culture #jobhuntchat -9:31 PM Mar 1st, 2010

sbrownehr Q3 – the best question to ask interviews is “Why do you work here?” – gets to the culture of the place and past the sales pitch #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

ResumeStrategy Q3: Where do you see the company going in the next five years, and how will this position help you get there? #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

stephmajercik Q3 Great ?! I’ve been told to ask about 5-year plan #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

emrosario Q3 Should def ask about company culture. How can you fit into company #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

ResumeStrategy What has been some of the department’s biggest successes in the last couple of years? What’s your biggest challenge now? #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

CornOnTheJob Q3: Always ask about culture…. ask if you could be given a tour of the office before the interview is over #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

jessicamalnik Q3: “What direction do u see the company going in the next couple of yrs? ” Follow up with how can I help get to this point? #jobhuntchat -9:35 PM Mar 1st, 2010

frankzupan what do coworkers do for fun? #jobhuntchat -9:35 PM Mar 1st, 2010

JPedde Q3: what kind of outside development is available? (conferences, events, trainings, etc) #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

sbrownehr Q3 – A question I like to hear from candidates “How does your company define success?” #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

TerrenceWing Q3 You recently upgraded your… What resources have u used 2 train emps 2 take advantage of this great tool? #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

emrosario Q3 How does the company support and promote personal and professional growth, what kind of ppl excel here? #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

ResumeStrategy Q3 COMPETITOR is dong SOMETHING. How is that impacting your business strategy? #jobhuntchat -9:37 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Questions about the Job – Day to Day / Evaluations / Expectations

KellyLux Q3 Ask about details of the day to day job. How much will I be doing this vs. that? #jobhuntchat -9:31 PM Mar 1st, 2010

KellyLux Q3. Ask questions about what expectations will be for the first 3-6 months. #jobhuntchat -9:31 PM Mar 1st, 2010

ashleyshute Q3: Is this a new or existing position? Why did the previous person leave (if that is something they can answer)? #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

HoyaCarey Q3: What about your job are the aspects that keep you up at night? #jobhuntchat (just joining the convo!!) -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Dan819 What is the best and worst thing about your job? #jobhuntchat -9:32 PM Mar 1st, 2010

JPedde Q3: What did the previous employee do that you’d like to see improved? #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

ResumeStrategy Is this a newly created position, and if not, why is it vacant right now? #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

caseylooney Q3: I ask what the job duties are on a day to day basis, how much time is expected to be allotted to a specific job duty #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

lockard7 Q3: Company Strategy, Learning curve in position, needs of department, needs that can be answered by you being hired!! #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

JPedde Q3: What is the usual career path for this position? #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

KellyLux Q3 How would you describe the culture of the company? What is your favorite thing about working here? #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

BrittJamesPR Q3 Ask about the day to day for the position and see if you could possibly talk to someone that holds the current position #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Data_Diva Q3 What training will be provided and for how long is invaluable. Helps determine if you’re thrown in or guided somewhat #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

MJMCOACH Q3 What hours should I be here? this is simple question that most job seekers assume 9-5, also indicates culture #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

WriterChanelle @JobHuntChat I like to ask if the interviewer has any concerns about my ability based on my responses #jobhuntchat -9:35 PM Mar 1st, 2010

ResumeStrategy Q3 What is the most urgent challenge that you want me to tackle when I start this job? #jobhuntchat -9:35 PM Mar 1st, 2010

CornOnTheJob Q3: Which vendors/clients would I be working with if any? Which positions internally will I have close contact with #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

drew_sanchez How will my work be evaluated in 3 months? 6 months? etc… Shows long term commitment and dedication to the company #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

ResumeStrategy Q3 What do you think the most important success factor is going to be for this position? #jobhuntchat -9:36 PM Mar 1st, 2010

CornOnTheJob Q3: What is expected of me in the first 30/60/90 days? #jobhuntchat -9:37 PM Mar 1st, 2010

abbylocke Q3: ask how ur performance will be evaluated at the end of year #jobhuntchat -9:37 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Questions that were asked but I couldn’t find answers in chat

ashleyshute Q3: For recruiters…how do you want prospective employees to answer the “greatest weakness” question? #jobhuntchat -9:33 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Lisa_Nicole1585 What if an employer lies to you about job duties, environment, expectations, etc? You accept the job & then… #jobhuntchat -9:34 PM Mar 1st, 2010

A joke question

martymjm @JobHuntChat Q3 How much vacation do i get? JUST KIDDING #jobhuntchat -9:31 PM Mar 1st, 2010

Crawfish Boil and Corn Biscuits

February 13th, 2010

This is hopefully the first of many cooking posts. I will always try to post the original recipe ( and source ) and then adding in what changes that I made. I must apologize to start because I learned to cook with amounts of a couple apples, some salt, a little bit of pepper, etc. I will do my best to approximate amounts.

Last night I made crawfish boil and crab biscuits for my friends and was very pleased with how they turned out. Below are the two recipes that I started with followed by any changes that I tried out.

Corn biscuits recipe from Cooks.com – Very good. My favorite line in the recipe is the dead giveaway that this is a southern recipe. “Roll in butter and bake.”  Last night was my first time making this recipe so I made the biscuits exactly as the recipe said and I don’t know if I’d make any changes next time. Take note that they are not a fluffy biscuit, but instead are very solid.

Original Crawfish Boil recipe from one of my favorite recipe sites, Recipe Source. The recipe is given with 50 lbs of crawfish and 6 Boxes of salt as a reference so the hardest part is scaling the recipe down to a good size. I cooked for 6 people and used the following ingredients with differences from the recipe in bold.

2 T salt
2 pouches crab boil
2 T Cajun seasoning – instead of straight cayenne pepper
2 small – medium white onions
10 – 12 potatoes ( approx 3 or 4 lbs )
1 lb italian sausage – It is hard to find smoked sausage at the grocery store.
1/2 lb Cappocollo ham – I found this to be a great addition.  A little more expensive, but a good addition.
1/3 lb mushrooms cut in half – These really soak up the flavor of the boil.
1 can corn
4 lbs crawfish – Frozen works fine if you don’t have access to fresh crawfish.

And there you have it, if you decide to try this recipe out let me know how it goes. I would love to hear feedback on ways to improve the recipe.

February Goals / I’m not hiding anymore

February 3rd, 2010

This is posted as part of the monthly goal meetup over at Brazen Careerist. I promise that I will get to some sort of monthly or even weekly goals for February before I am done but first let me give a little background. If you really just want the February goals feel free to skip to the bottom.

One of the hardest things for me is figuring out how much information about me to share. I’m a both a very private person and a very outspoken person and have trouble balancing those two. While starting this blog I have been reluctant to formally link my name and reputation to the blog with the exception of my twitter account and Brazen profile. Well, thanks to the folks over at Brazen Careerist, when you Google “Luke+Berg” you get my Brazen profile within a couple of the top. ( Yesterday it was top but moved down to three today oddly enough ) I’m not complaining at all about this as it will drag me kicking and screaming into being held accountable for my blog and I think it will be good for me. I also thought of a conversation that I had over coffee with JR Moreau in which the first thing he asked me was where do I want to go now that I am unemployed. To be completely honest I didn’t have a clear coherent answer and that sort of bothered me. So, without further ado, let me clearly state what I am trying to accomplish big picture, where I envision this blog to be going, and how what I hope to do during February to work towards those goals.

My 1 year goals

1. First and very much foremost, I want to make a living as a computer programmer. This sounds odd for someone who worked as a Performance Test Engineer for three years to say, but at the end of my tenure at my job I had essentially transitioned to a system administrator. Those job duties are just not where my passion lies and I am making it my priority to get back to what I love to do instead of doing something that I hated for a paycheck.

2. I want to get my weight down to 175 lbs from the 200 lbs that I weigh now. I broke my collarbone 2 years ago, tore my most recent ACL about one year ago, and got into a car accident and got a concussion and pretty bad whiplash about that time too. All of that and just the way I reacted to hating my job added up to me not being as active during recovery and I have gained 25 pounds between two years ago and now. I’m not making excuses, just acknowledging the different factors. I want to get back into the shape I was so that I can get back to a high level of soccer, climbing, biking, and maybe eventually back to the outdoors again.

3. I either need to decide to live in Madison for at least one more year ( sign a lease starting August ) and take a road trip to see new parts of the country, or decide on some new place to live and get to explore a new part of the country that way. I’ve lived in MN or WI for my whole life, and while I’ve done a fair amount of traveling throughout my years, I’ve been starting to get the itch to really experience a new part of the country. I’d be happy with either an extended road trip / vacation or with moving somewhere new. I also really just want to stop having the knowledge that I have a somewhat big decision about where I’m going to live looming over me.
4. Read 22 books by the end of the year. The rest of the goals are way too serious, I need something fun in here. I’m listing 22 because one month is gone and I want 2 books / month.

How Sights I Saw fits my goals
1. I plan to post different examples of my programming on this site, likely in different part but with a link from the blog, and I will make this site a centerpiece of my resume.
2. This connects with number 1. I have a lot of respect for what I saw over at Andrew Shell’s weight loss page where he has his weight logged and displayed over time. I also thought this would be a decent first project for learning PHP and mySQL which are the two things I’m looking at learning right now. So expect to see something similar show up, but with my own tweaks. Afterall, I do things with my own twist but I have to give credit where due.
3. I am not sure how this blog will fit in with me trying to decide where to live, but from what I’ve seen so far I’m sure that the people I meet and get to know over the next few months through the blogosphere will have some impact on my decision.

Alright, finally February goals
These numbers are not connected to 1, 2, 3 as above. Just trying to avoid confusion.
1. Go swimming 5 days out of each week. Also, improve from 4 or 6 lengths of the pool to 12 – 15 lengths. Yes, I know I’m horrible at swimming, but I feel better each time I go and am enjoying myself so far.
2. Climb a V2 boulder problem. I used to climb V3′s and was able to work V4′s so I’m setting a goal of V2 for the month. Hopefully it is attainable.
3. Get down to 195 pounds. Also, write my PHP, MySQL weight tracking system so I have a way to show the progress.
4. Finish the two books that I have checked out from the library. This is cheating a little because they are both due this month so I have to finish them if I don’t want overdue charges.

Alright, see you all next month. If I’m really ambitious I’ll update the post with my progress.

Gen-Yers are as loyal as they get!

January 26th, 2010

Several folks this morning linked to the itsallwrong post about Gen-Yers, their tendency to job-hop and their disloyalty and while I don’t disagree wholly with the post there is one part that got me going. I wholeheartedly disagree that Gen-Yers are disloyal, I think that job-hopping is also not inherently being disloyal. I purposely chose the title to have two meanings. I think that Gen-Yers are actually very loyal, but they also are only willing to return loyalty to the degree that they receive.

I did some quick searching around on Brazen Careerist and found some similar thoughts about Gen-Y loyalty. I’d be remiss not to acknowledge them as well. Whether it is Teresa Cantwell talking about how loyalty can change when management or company vision, Beth Harris talking about how young workers don’t return loyalty, or Ryan Healy talking about some of the ways that Gen-Yers and companies will show loyalty to each other in the future, the underlying theme is the same. I will show loyalty to a company if a company shows loyalty to me! It has to go both ways and Gen-Y is just a group of people that are willing to stand up for that.

Personally, I am a very loyal person, loyal to a fault. I stayed with my last job up until I was physically starting to get sick because I did not want to put my teammates that I had worked with for multiple years in the position of having to cover my work as well. I don’t think I’m any sort of exception either.

So why does Gen-Y get this rap? One thought that comes to mind is management. I was taught that strong loyalty is something that is earned by management or the company, not something that is automatically deserved. Pay particular note to the strong qualifier there. A small bit of loyalty has to be given for a company going out and taking a chance on hiring someone. Let’s face it, the hiring process requires a bit of a gamble and a company deserves some credit for that.

Once an employee gets past orientation and starts working for real then there has to be some give and take. When I was a manager at a bar / restaurant I learned that one way to win loyalty was to be willing to do the crappy jobs and offload some off of my employees. I would take the worst job of cleaning the bathrooms at the of each night when I was head bouncer or manager instead of making the new guy or girl do it as would be natural. This won thanks from my employees and when I asked them to do something they were much more apt to be glad to because they knew that I would do it. When was the last time you saw a manager take the worst part of a job off of an entry level staffer? Those that you have seen do that are people whose employees appreciate them right?

It sounds a little odd but I honestly took what Conan O’brien had to say on his last show to heart about not becoming cynical. I am not trying to be cynical here, I’m trying to be realistic. If companies out there realize  that what we will give loyalty as we get then they will get a much better response out of Gen-Y. I don’t think it is something that we will give in on either, it is part of who we are. Look at points 3 and 4 from Ryan’s post if you want a few ideas on how to win loyalty. And going forward can we finally stop calling Gen-Y disloyal?!

I’ll get there eventually

January 19th, 2010

So I definitely haven’t kept up with posting about my experiences with Windows 7. I wish I had but I also got started on a new project and in all honesty I’ve found that I’m using my desktop, Windows Vista, computer much more than my Windows 7 computer. I’m not sure how much of a hit on W7 that is but it isn’t good from my perspective.
Let me mention a couple of quick things and put the whole Windows 7 experience to rest. That doesn’t mean I’ll completely stop posting about it, but I just am not going to make a point about it.
1. I like the open office XML option in Windows 7. I use my laptop primarily for editing and distributing my resume since I can edit it in a rich text format and save it to docx all without actually buying Office.
2. I’m not happy that several games that worked on Vista don’t work on Windows 7. From what I can tell it looks like DirectX 11 was released with 7 but it is not compatible with DirectX 10. Condsidering that MS marketed 7 by saying that stuff that worked on Vista will work on 7 and work better, this was a big oversight. One of the biggest markets for Windows is the gaming community and they are going to take another step backwards.
3. I’m absolutely livid at the XP mode. You have to have a VT enabled processor in order to use VT mode but it that stipulation isn’t listed in the marketing material that I could see. XP mode was one of the main reasons why I bought the professional version but by sheer bad luck my laptop happens to not have a VT enabled chip. To add one other thing to this, VT was not designed to be a necessity as much as to make it faster to run virtualization. MS should have made a non-VT version that just ran slower.
That’s the end of that rant. I’m starting to get rolling a little bit more with checking Brazen, Twitter, etc so hopefully I’ll also be posting more here.

7 Weeks of Windows 7 – The Beginning

December 2nd, 2009

I’m going out to buy Windows 7 tomorrow and I really don’t know what I expect to happen. This will be a series of posts focusing on my experience with different aspects of Windows 7 and how they compare to things in Vista. I’ll be covering both the good and the bad.

Let me give you a little background first to understand why I want to write about my experience with Windows 7. I HATE Vista. It just has so many quirks that I don’t feel were programmed with the right level of quality. I’ll probably elaborate more on particulars in future posts as I see how Windows 7 deals with certain situations.

So why do I want to write about my experience with Windows 7 again? The basic reason is that almost all of the reviews for Vista were good to begin with ( as with Windows 7 ), but after using it for a while people started to hate the OS. Recently we’ve heard about the “Black screen of Death” but beyond that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of follow-up on Windows 7. There are a couple of sites, one is a poll asking early adopters and one is a blog post just asking for feedback, but overall there isn’t much out there following up on what working with Windows 7 feels like a little while after starting to use it. I’m excited to record and track what my feelings about Windows 7 are over several weeks.

So, tomorrow is the start of the journey. I’m backing up everything on my laptop tonight and will upgrade it tomorrow. I’m planning to keep my desktop on Vista throughout the 7 weeks to provide a frame of reference.

Hello world!

September 5th, 2009

And now it begins…

I’ve been inching and inching closer to starting my own website over the last few months. For those of you who know me, you know that I tend to have lots of ideas but I also tend to get a little tangled up in trying to do them all at once. Scope creep in other words is one of the hardest things for me but I decided to just start something and start with baby steps.

Sorry, this is no profound blog with a specific topic to cover. Instead, this is just me. Do I know what I want to talk about yet, no. I expect to touch on lots of different topics because I tend to be interested in lots of different things. My guess is that no one will be interested in the full breadth of topics so in reality this might technically become several different blogs within one. We’ll see.

I hope you enjoy the steps forward as much as I do while I learn what I’m doing.