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Ladders 2018 Interviews Guide: Bonus interview tips and questions

Hey folks,

Thanks for visiting this information page for Ladders 2018 Interviews Guide, the second in our Ladders Guides Series after our best-selling Ladders 2018 Resume Guide.

Now available on Amazon, Ladders 2018 Interviews Guide provides 49 common interview questions and answers, best practices and expert advice on questions to ask in an interview, how to answer behavioral interview questions, and interview tips for fast-rising and mid-career professionals.

I’ll add to this guide with additional interview questions and answers to improve it as your companion to Ladders 2018 Interviews Guide.

Your 15-minute company website review guide

  • Read 3 of the latest articles at Google News when doing a search for the company’s name.
  • If a public company, read the Morningstar, Bloomberg, or Google Finance entry on the company.
  • Read the company’s Wikipedia entry.
  • There’s the old joke that a company’s org chart is reflected in their website navigation, and I’ve found this to be surprisingly (and alarmingly) true.  It will be helpful for you to read through the four to six top-level navigation items on the company site, usually including “About Us”, “Products/ Services”, “Our (Executive) Team”, “Clients / Customers”, and “News / Press”.  It also makes sense to view the ‘careers’ tab of the company to see what other roles they’re hiring and if that indicates anything meaningful to you.
  • Do they have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram links on their homepage?  Most companies do. If so, follow each one and take brief notes on what you see in the first four photos, posts, or tweets.  If not, then that in itself is a good topic to raise with your interviewer (“I see you’ve chosen not have a social media presence — how did you reach the conclusion that that was right for the company?”)

Additional behavioral interview questions

Growth potential, personal improvement

  • Describe for me a time when you were drafted to handle your manager’s duties?  How did you handle those duties?
  • What’s been your toughest management challenge in the past year?  What would you do differently? How would you train someone you hired to handle a similar challenge?
  • Does the old saying “Ask for forgiveness, not permission” describe your approach? Or do you prefer the opposite?
  • What have you learned from your biggest mistakes?
  • Where do you want to develop, and what’s your approach to improving?
  • What’s the toughest feedback for you to accept?

Personal behaviors

  • Do you prefer fast-paced or traditional?
  • How well do you listen?  How have you practiced getting better at this?
  • What will peers say have been times that you’ve gone “above and beyond” what was expected of you?
  • Do you prefer to have a lot of balls in the air, or push through a few deeper, larger projects?
  • What has been your past boss’ assessment of how organized you are?  Do you agree or disagree? How about administrative assistants in your office — what would they say were your strengths and weaknesses in organization?
  • What do you procrastinate about?
  • Do you work best alone, with teamwork, presenting to large audiences?

Personal improvement

  • Describe the most stressful situation you’ve ever faced at work.  How did you recover?
  • Describe a time you had a disagreement with your boss.  How did you approach it, what was the outcome?
  • How do you use feedback to get better?  What’s enough feedback? What’s not enough?
  • What motivates you? What do you find motivating about being in your current role? In this industry / role?
  • What best practices have you copied or applied? Which have you declined to adopt?
  • Tell me about your reading habits in the past year. What are you reading, why?

Work behaviors

  • What’s the biggest decision you had to make on your work this year?  What was your process for making that decision? What would you do differently in retrospect?
  • How many hours per week do you work? What’s your passion and pace about work?  How do you achieve work-life balance?
  • How do you make decisions? Fast or slow? Alone or in consensus? Analytical or intuitive?  How has that changed over the past five years?
  • How much supervision do you want or need?
  • Describe a time you received negative feedback from your boss, team, or subordinate.  What was your process for handling it? Was it right? Have you improved in that area?
  • Tell me how you’ve liked to get up to speed in the past when joining new teams.
  • Mid-manager skills et: Tell me about a time your [sense of urgency, negotiation skills, assertiveness, public speaking, persuasive skills, meeting management, team member conflict resolution] was successful and unsuccessful.
  • Describe a time when you were assertive?  How did it work out? How about a time it did not work out well?

Character, integrity

  • Describe a time you shared information that was supposed to remain confidential.  How did you correct the matter and address?
  • When is it right to hold your ground, or be stubborn?  What’s the most unpopular stand you’ve taken and advocated at work in your most recent roles?
  • When have you had to bend or compromise integrity in order to achieve a business objective?
  • What’s the most unethical behavior you’ve seen in your prior roles? What did you do?
  • Describe a time you overcame skepticism to one of your suggestions.
  • What’s your approach to communication bad news?  Tell me about a time you were not going to make the quarterly results – what steps did you take for communicating?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to break a confidence with a peer, co-worker, boss, or client.

Character, grit

  • Describe for me the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your recent role?  How did you overcome it?
  • How do you manage the pressure of… achieving quota, making the quarter, achieving marketing goals, shipping on deadline, etc.?  How do you manage stress, generally?
  • What’s your sense of humor?  
  • Tell me about a situation in which others were wrong and you were right.
  • How do you manage your moods — how high are the highs, how low are the lows?
  • Tell me about your biggest mistake in the past two years? What did you learn from the experience?
  • What makes you “lose your cool” with team members? Missed numbers, deadlines, disagreements?

Growth potential, leadership

  • Who’s our biggest competitor now?  Who do you think will be our biggest competitor in three years’ time?  Why?
  • Which companies or teams would you most like to emulate on your own team? Why?  What are the trade-offs involved? How would you implement?
  • What laws, regulations, taxes or governmental policies should someone in this role be aware of?
  • Is networking / attending conferences / going to association events important for success in this role?  How have you built and maintained your professional network?
  • Tell me about a time you had to teach someone at your company about a complicated part of your role that they didn’t’ understand.
  • When have you stood up to a boss?
  • What was your positive impact on the culture in your last role?
  • What culture do you like to have on your teams?  Which teams you’ve been have exceeded / fallen short of your expectations?

Growth potential in the role

  • What are the most important metrics we should be measuring in this role? What would you predict our current numbers are in those areas?  How have you improved similar metrics in the past?
  • Tell me about a time when a previously productive channel, strategy, method or system failed and became non-performing.
  • What are the most common mistakes people make in this role?
  • Describe a time your relationship was terminated with a large, important… client, customer, vendor, partner, supplier, affiliate, contractor.  How did you manage the process? What did you learn from the experience?
  • How did you monitor external feedback — client, customers, vendors, suppliers?
  • How did you monitor internal feedback — employees, partners, contractors?
  • For your current role, is it more important to be a subject matter expert, or a good people manager?

Modern technology

  • Which common software are you unfamiliar with? Why?
  • When should design or creative considerations overrule data?
  • What are your strong suits when it comes to computer software?  What computer skills have you been unable to acquire despite desire/ effort?
  • How have you introduced new technologies to your teams in the past?  Tell me about a time you reviewed, selected, and implemented a technology.

Interpersonal

  • Tell me about times you’ve had to provide negative feedback to a team member.
  • Tell me about a time you had to manage conflict with a peer?  How did you manage? Do you actively seek conflict, approach it indirectly, or let things mange themselves?
  • What causes conflicts on your team?  
  • Describe situations when you have had to generate conflict.  Describe situations when you have worked to resolve conflicts? Tell me about a time when there was not enough conflict at work.  What would you have done differently? How did you in fact handle?
  • How do you build relationships with clients / vendors / suppliers?  By the way, do you prefer in-person, chat, email, or phone communications? Why?
  • Describe how you like to communicate with your team, your peers, your boss.  What specifically is your timeframe, method, preferences?
  • What’s your track record for building long-term relationships with clients, customers, and co-workers? How do you determine what clients, customers or co-workers need from you and your team?  What’s your process for managing those needs? How do you get feedback?
  • Describe the angriest a client, customer or co-worker has been with you in the past few years.
  • When you’ve been assigned to a project with new folks, what’s your approach to working with new people?  How do you approach the conversation, how much or how little structure do you prefer, how do you manage follow up, how do ensure success of those conversations?

Performance expectations

  • What is the cadence to your current role?  How do you structure your days /weeks / months/ quarters/ years?  Describe your typical daily tasks. How do you prioritize? How have you improved this year?  Why is that effective for you?
  • Describe your preferred method of… sourcing candidates for jobs / generating sales leads / generating new marketing leads / finding new vendors /networking for new partners, etc.?
  • Tell me about a time a project you submitted was turned down out of hand by the client / your boss / another team.  How did you handle the feedback and bounce back?
  • For your most recent role, describe the decision-making process of… the customer, job candidates, marketing prospects, investors, suppliers, vendors, etc.  Why do they decide to work with your firm? When do they decide not to?
  • Tell me when you’ve missed a significant deadline.  What were the mitigating circumstances? What were the consequences?
  • What were the routine maintenance tasks for your most recent teams.  How did manage them with your team — assigning, communication, monitoring them?
  • Tell me about a time you had an extraordinarily high time pressure project or deadline.  How did you manage it? Did you meet it?

15-minute web research on a company

  • Read 3 of the latest articles at Google News when doing a search for the company’s name.
  • If public, read the Morningstar or Google Finance entry on the company.
  • Read the company’s Wikipedia entry.
  • There’s the old joke that a company’s org chart is reflected in their website navigation, and I’ve found this to be surprisingly (alarmingly) true.  It will be helpful for you to read through the four to six top-level navigation items on the company site, usually including “About Us”, “Products/ Services”, “Our (Executive) Team”, “Clients / Customers”, and “News / Press”.  It also makes sense to view the ‘careers’ tab of the company to see what other roles they’re hiring and if that indicates anything meaningful to you.
  • Do they have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram links on their homepage?  Most companies do. If so, follow each one and describe to yourself what you see in the first four photos, posts, or tweets.  If not, then that in itself is a good topic to raise with your interviewer (“I see you’ve chosen not have a social media presence — how did you reach the conclusion that that was right for the company?”)

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Marc Cenedella

Marc Cenedella is the Founder, Executive Chairman and CEO of Ladders, Inc., the comprehensive career resource dedicated to helping professionals ‘Manage, Market and Move-up’ in their careers. Over the last decade, Ladders has transformed the way job candidates and recruiters connect online. Follow Marc on Twitter at @Cenedella.