Behavioral Questions to Use in Your Next Interview

Traditional and behavioral interviews are very similar to one another, with the only difference being the type of questions that are asked. But behavioral interviews can provide keen insight into the skill set and workplace behavior of your potential candidate. This set of questions is more complex, encouraging the interviewee to provide immediate, unrehearsed answers. If you ask the right questions, you can get a more complete picture of your candidate’s previous success on the job and how they could replicate those efforts at your company.

1. Tell me about a tough problem you’ve faced recently.

This question will not only illuminate the candidate’s previous work experience, but will also give you an idea of the way they think and solve problems. Interviewees may describe interpersonal dilemmas, issues with their work, or even struggles with professional skills like meeting deadlines or leading meetings. It’s a bad sign if they aren’t able to think of an answer — everyone faces problems in the workplace, regardless of the nature of the issue.

Questions that will give you similar insight include:

Describe a time you made a risky decision.

Tell me about how you’ve worked well under pressure.

2. Describe a conflict you’ve experienced with a co-worker or customer.

Behavioral interviews are as much about learning a candidate’s social skills as they are their technical skills. This question will delve into their ability to manage interpersonal conflicts. It’s a good sign if the candidate admits responsibility for the conflict or describes actively trying to resolve the issue. On the other hand, it’s a bad sign if they put all of the blame (and responsibility for resolution) on the other party. After they answer, you will have a good sense of their ability to accept responsibility and their interpersonal skills in the workplace.

Similar questions include:

Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?

Describe a time you handled a difficult situation with a supervisor.

3. Describe a time you dealt with a workplace policy or guideline you didn’t agree with.

With this question, you’ll learn how your candidate navigates the complicated world of workplace diplomacy, as well as the strength of their problem solving and interpersonal skills. Look for interviewees who were able to work creatively with restrictions or were (respectfully) open with their supervisor about this conflict. Take it as a warning sign if they chose to break policy at the cost of their job performance because they felt they were right. Even if this displays initiative, it shows a lack of respect for authority and can be a bad sign of future behavior.

These questions will provide similar background:

What do you do when you disagree with your boss?

Give an example of a time you disagreed with your supervisor’s opinion.

These (and similar) questions can provide vital behavioral information on your potential candidates. They will give you a solid idea of the interviewee’s work history and ways in which that history might inform their future with your company.

Brand Yourself as a Best Place to Work in 2015

More and more employers are beginning to see the impact of workplace happiness on the efficacy of its employees. Higher morale results in increased productivity, lower absenteeism, company loyalty, and a myriad of emotional and mental benefits for staff members. Prioritizing the well-being of your employees can earn you a reputation as a desirable place to work, attracting new, talented candidates and retaining your existing workforce. Below are four strategies that will brand your company as a best place to work in the coming year.

1. Treat your employees like adults.         

Treating your employees like grownups can manifest itself in a variety of ways. On one hand, you can give them the flexibility to determine how they work best, whether that’s their office hours or their desk configuration. Always assume that they are responsible enough to manage their individual workloads without constant supervision. You should also try to strike a work-life balance, allowing your employees to focus on their families or their health when necessary.

2. Think outside the box with benefits.

You should always provide your employees with a comprehensive benefits package, but there are other nontraditional benefits that you can offer to improve employee morale, satisfaction, and even their health. If you have the space, offer access to a gym or fitness center, and encourage employees to use these facilities whenever they need to re-energize. Provide healthy food, whether it’s from an on-site café or well-stocked vending machines. Consider offering rare, highly sought after benefits like paid parental leave for new parents.

3. Support education and professional development.

Employers can accomplish this in a variety of ways. You can host on-site professional development seminars, reimburse education expenses, or provide training programs for employees looking to further their skills. You should also use support mentoring programs to nurture underrepresented demographics, such as women and minorities. These methods will help provide employees with a sense of forward momentum and a constant challenge that improves their well-being and satisfaction within a company.

4. Give back.

Many people prefer to work for organizations that give back to the community or demonstrate environmental awareness. Your company can provide volunteer opportunities for employees, organize fundraisers for good causes, or find creative ways to reduce your carbon footprint. This will instill pride in your employees, while bringing about social and environmental benefits.

Implementing some of these tips may require more work, but you can improve your company’s work environment in dozens of small ways. Let in more sunlight, fill the office with potted plants for higher air quality, or provide ergonomic office equipment. Develop the right strategy for your business and make it a goal to improve employee satisfaction and well-being in the coming year.

Know Your Worth How to Prepare Yourself for Salary Negotiations

 

Whether you’ve been with a company for years or are just accepting a new position, negotiating salary is a tricky prospect. But with a little preparation and the right mindset, you can make the experience far less nerve-wracking — and far more lucrative. Below are a few tips to prepare you to negotiate your salary.

Do your research.

Before starting negotiations, you should know the average salary range for the position. This will give you a solid starting point and show that you have the industry knowledge to back up your income requirement. Always take into account your experience, education, and skill level. If you’re fresh out of college with no experience in the workforce, you’ll likely be on the lower end of that salary range. If you’ve held a similar position for several years or are requesting a raise in your existing job, try to aim for the higher end.

Adjust your mindset.

Many people go into salary negotiations under the mistaken impression that they’re being greedy by requesting a higher salary. While it’s true that you should always be friendly and respectful during these discussions, you should also be assertive. Hiring managers expect you to negotiate, so know your worth and ask for it. You should never be so tied to the outcome of your negotiations that you’re unwilling to take risks. Go into the interview with the knowledge that negotiating your salary is a mutually beneficial partnership with the hiring manager. You aren’t asking for something you don’t deserve.

Practice your tactics.

Always have a strategy in place before you start negotiating. Many recommend that you never give the first number. If the hiring manager pressures you to name a number, try to deflect whenever possible. You can say things like, “What do you think the position is worth?” or refer to your research into the average salary range. Try to get the interviewer to give the first number (it may even be higher than what you were inclined to offer). If they are unwilling to budge on salary, you have other tools at your disposal. You can ask for more vacation days, a flexible bonus structure, relocation fees, or other benefits to compensate for an initially lower salary.

Regardless of the amount, you shouldn’t accept the first offer, especially if it’s lower than what you need or deserve. If necessary, ask for time to think over the offer. If the number is well below your market value, don't be afraid to turn it down. But chances are, if you do your research and determine what your skills and experience are worth, you can come out of the negotiations with a comfortable salary and a strong relationship with your employer.

Bitcoin Technology Extends beyond Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin, best known for being a form of digital currency with no fees and the ability to remain anonymous in transactions, has been gaining steady ground as an accepted online payment. But now, this virtual currency may be evolving into much more than a payment method.

These developments are not a direct result of Bitcoin itself so much as the technology behind it. Bitcoin’s unique underlying code makes it possible to handle a broad range of financial tasks that are now served by middlemen like banks, exchanges, and ecommerce providers — all for a fee, of course. But by using Bitcoin’s technology to drive financial transactions, fees for both buyers and sellers in the $1.22 trillion global ecommerce market could be significantly reduced.

That’s what a new crop of entrepreneurs, backed by major investors, are banking on.

The Internet of Money

BitAngels is an innovative angel investor group with a focus on backing projects that involve Bitcoin technology. In a recent interview, BitAngels co-founder David Johnston said, “People are just starting to realize that Bitcoin isn’t a currency and a payment system, it’s the Internet of Money.” He added that the investor group is currently considering more than 30 “Internet of Money” projects for backing.

Even financial firms are now recognizing that the underlying technology of Bitcoin is extremely flexible and viable for financial purposes. Two of the most crucial functions this technology satisfies are authentication and payment verification — functions that are typically carried out by a third party. But with Bitcoin, the process is both contained and completely secure.

Blockchains: The building blocks of Bitcoin

Blockchains are the primary reason that Bitcoin shows such promise in multiple types of transactions. The building blocks of the virtual currency system are designed to validate each transaction — and they can be adapted for any type of exchange, whether or not they’re attached to a currency. Blockchains make secure, accurate authentication and verification possible.

According to investor group Andreessen Horowitz, which is now looking to fund startups based on this technology, “If you have online trust like the blockchain provides, you can reinvent field after field after field.” The group is considering funding for “a whole sequence of companies: digital title, digital media assets, digital stocks and bonds, digital crowdfunding, digital insurance” — all built around blockchain.

Theft-proof, zero-fee buyers and sellers

Some entrepreneurs and startups are already diving in to the potential of Bitcoin technology-powered business. A decentralized bank and exchange called BitShares X, developed by Invictus, is set to debut in the second quarter of 2015. This exchange lets users save, trade, borrow, and lend all types of financial securities without using a bank or brokerage as an intermediary, with transactions handled on the users’ own computers and publicly verified (just as Bitcoin transactions are) — which eliminates the possibility of theft or fraud.

CEO of Invictus Dan Larimer said of the project, “With a traditional exchange, you send your dollars, and they record an IOU for so many dollars. The exchange can default on their IOUs to you — Mt. Gox [a Bitcoin exchange that was shut down after more than $450 million in Bitcoin went missing and was presumed stolen] is an example. In our case, no one can steal the balance from your account.”

In addition to extreme security, the use of Bitcoin technology makes it possible to eliminate fees, which are typically levied to pay for banking services, accounting systems, and account holder verification. The BitShares X system eliminates most of these fees.

Potential beyond the financial category

The underlying technology of Bitcoin has potential for a wide variety of uses and service types. As a conceptual example, combining Bitcoin technology with wireless network-connected vehicles could create a self-organizing industry around courier services. Theoretically, anyone with a vehicle could become an independent courier, picking up and delivering packages on their commutes or while running errands — and use Bitcoin-powered systems to collect sender fees and get paid.

A company called MaidSafe has used the technology behind Bitcoin to develop an alternative to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other cloud providers. The service allows users to share storage, processing power, or both with other users, rather than draw from a server network. MaidSafe is currently partnering with around 20 companies to develop web applications for the service.

As another example, San Francisco-based programmer Dave Cohen is working to revolutionize voting by developing a way to let users cast votes — and have the votes tallied almost instantly — through Bitcoin-based verification. Convenience and counting have long been issues for voting systems, and the security issues have so far prevented electronic voting from being adopted widely.

Bitcoin’s future may be the Internet of Money, and the technology that powers this virtual currency could transform the ecommerce landscape.

The Unlikely Career Choice Hacking the Silicon Valley Elite

The majority of IT professionals work to build or improve technologies, making them safer, faster, and more advanced. And then there are some who put their best efforts into exploiting those technologies — finding holes in them and attempting to tear them down.

They’re not malicious cyber-criminals. The descriptions are similar, but the motivations are entirely separate. So-called “white hat” hackers put their coding skills to work searching for chinks in the armor of software programs and platforms, which in turn helps the tech companies who design them improve the performance and safety of their products.

And sometimes, white-hat hackers get paid for exploiting the best of the best.

Google wants you to hack their products

For several years, software giant Google has been offering cash bounties to hackers and researchers who could find exploitable bugs in their offerings. One of the best-known of these rewards is the Pwnium competition, held for the fourth time annually in March 2014. The one-day hacking contest has served as a challenge for good-guy hackers to find a way into the company’s Chrome browser — all in the interests of making the Chrome experience safer for users.

Last year’s Pwnium 4 contest offered the highest rewards yet, with a total of $2.71828 million (the equivalent of the mathematical constant e) up for grabs. Google broke down the prize into six-figure rewards for each successful instance of:

  • Browser or system-level compromise in guest mode or as a logged-in user ($110,000 bounty)
  • Compromise with device persistence: guest to guest with interim reboot ($150,000 bounty)

For the 2014 event, thousands were awarded on-site, but there was only one confirmed big winner: $150,000 was awarded to a hacker known as Geohot. But the crucial takeaway from the competition was that Google Chrome is one of the safest browsers out there, hands down.

Ongoing rewards for exploiting Google offerings

Currently, no plans have been announced for Google to host Pwnium 5. However, the company maintains an ongoing Vulnerability Reward Program that pays hackers various bounties according to which product they manage to hack, and at what level.

Included in the eligible products for the reward program are the Chrome browser, any Google-owned web service including the search engine itself, YouTube and Blogger, the Google Play Store, and all Google-developed apps and extensions regardless of platform.

Applying technical skills in order to break technology might seem like an unusual career choice, but these friendly hackers help companies like Google make software, programs, and platforms safer and more functional for everyone by finding vulnerabilities before they can be exploited with malicious intent.

Improve Talent Acquisition to Find the Top 10 Percent of Candidates

For many organizations today, finding top talent is a top priority. The IT talent gap makes it challenging to find appropriate candidates, let alone great ones — but the good news is, there are steps you can take to bring in a higher caliber of IT talent, and hire and retain candidates who are in the top 10 percent.

Your talent acquisition strategy is the key to attracting the best candidates to your organization. Here’s how you can improve your recruiting methods to get top talent interested in your open positions, and excited about working for your organization.

Build your employer brand

One of the most crucial elements of talent acquisition is also one that’s the most often overlooked. In order to attract the best IT talent, you need to make sure that your company is viewed as a great place to work — and that means building your brand as an employer.

Your employer brand is your work-life promise to your employees. This includes salary and benefits, working conditions, and especially your company culture. When it comes to talent acquisition, it’s important to have a strong understanding of your employer brand, as well as the type of person who flourish under your brand — employees who share similar values and objectives to your organization.

When you know your employer brand, you can use it in your recruitment process to attract the right kind of talent and hire the best candidates.

Keep your candidate profile real and marketable

Many organizations struggle with finding top talent not because candidates aren’t available, but because they’re looking for “purple squirrels” — rare, nearly mythical candidates who have exactly the right skills, education, and experience for a given position. The problem is that in general, purple squirrels don’t exist, and those that do are typically already employed and happy with their jobs.

You’ll have far more success with your talent acquisition strategy if you abandon the idea of purple squirrels, and instead look for high-quality candidates who can do the job and are a good fit with your company culture. Create a candidate profile that includes a realistic set of skills and competencies, and include your desired characteristics beyond technical skills to ensure a cultural fit, such as:

  • Key personality traits
  • Behavioral characteristics
  • Soft skills (communication, values, work ethic)

Write a candidate-centric job description

A great job description is not a list of the skills and qualifications you’re looking for in a candidate. This type of dry, unappealing description focuses on what your organization needs — but if you want to improve your talent acquisition process, your job descriptions must focus on what the candidate needs.

Think of the job description as a sales tool, and what you’re selling is the opportunity to work for your organization. The elements of an enticing job description are:

  • An appealing headline with a clear job title
  • 3 to 4 critical skills and/or experience requirements
  • Details about the position and the role of the candidate
  • Key information about your employer brand
  • Selling points that reveal why candidates should be interested (competitive salary, benefits, great company culture)

An extensive list of required skills, education, and experience will turn off even the most highly qualified candidates, because if they’re missing a few, they’ll feel it’s not worth their time to apply. You should also keep your job descriptions relatively short and to the point — overly wordy job descriptions typically go unread, especially by top candidates.

Make talent acquisition a priority

Attracting and hiring great talent is a time- and labor-intensive process. If you want to successfully acquire top IT talent, it’s essential to make recruiting a priority for your organization. Effective recruiting campaigns require strategic planning, responsiveness, and timely participation on the part of the employer in responding to and evaluating candidates.

Working with an experienced talent consultant like The Armada Group can help you relieve the stress of finding top talent. Armada’s goal in talent acquisition is to work closely to determine the unique staffing needs of your organization, and screen out 90 percent of potential candidates in order to present you with the top 10 percent to choose from. Learn more about our talent consultant services today.