Most Unique Interview Questions

How many gum balls are in the US?

If I was given $1,000, what kind of career/educationally expanding course would I use it for?

I’ve been given a number of difficult or thought provoking questions, but these two have stuck with me.  In the first case, the interviewer wasn’t looking for a real answer. He was looking to see how I would react to such a question and then what my thought process would be to get to an answer.  The role needed someone who could make some quick assumptions, that could be fact checked later, but the thought process was the key.  How would you get to a hypothetical answer?

The second one I had to complement the recruiter on as I’ve never heard that one either.  I’m not sure what the goal of the answer was but my assumption would be that they are looking for someone who is always looking to know and learn more.  So if you don’t have any future goals then you may not be the right fit. What course have you been pining after?

Good luck!

Skype Interviews

There’s a first for everything and I recently got to experience my first Skype interview.  I assumed that it would be the same as an in person interview but decided to do some sleuthing on google for tips.  I’ll let you do that on your own but here are my own tips for you when it comes to these new age types of interviews.

Dress the part.  I wore a suit because you never know if you might need to get up while on camera.

Pick a good spot. I did the call in our home office with a book shelf in the background.  Try to keep things plain so people don’t get distracted looking at photos or traffic behind you.  I also made sure to close the door because our cat has a tendency to jump up on the table, and that would lead to a disaster.

Get a decent Skype name.  If I would have known I’d one day be using Skype for interviews I may have just used my name, but at least I didn’t choose something inappropriate.

Sit up. Enough said.  Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you should slouch or recline.

Smile, you’re on camera. Just like any other face to face interview, keep in mind that the other person can see what you’re doing.  Don’t look down at your phone or god forbid pick your nose.  The person on the other side of your laptop or ipad can see everything you’re doing.

Good luck! Be yourself!

P.S. I couldn’t just leave you hanging, so here are some additional tips I found:

Bloomberg Business – When Virtual Job Interviews Go Horribly Wrong
Skype – Skype Interview Tips
Forbes – 7 Tips to Nail a Skype Interview

What Have I Been Up To?

During my last month or so of interviewing both on the phone and in person I’ve been asked many questions.  There are some that have stumped me and I’ve had to quickly recover or just start talking and hope that it leads somewhere, and there were other that I thought I’d file away in my head as very interesting questions to share with others.  One such question came recently.

I explained to the interviewer about my earlier gap in employment…the one that got me to start this blog…and talked about finishing my MBA during that time and getting other certifications throughout my unemployed state and while I was at my next job.  He very candidly asked me a follow up, what have I been doing while I’ve been unemployed now?  Very good question, sir!

I have not found a course to get certified in but I have been bringing this here blog, as well as my LinkedIn blog, back to life!  I’ve been so glad to have the time to read, not only fun summer reads but also, marketing related articles.  I believe that marketing yourself is very important when it comes to a job search.  I’m working on getting my name out there and I’m working on my personal brand, and improving my SEO rankings 🙂

So as I used to say at the end of every post…what did you do today? Have you focused on your personal brand as part of your job search?

How to Land a Job

I wrote down these tips while watching the Today show during their segment on job searches.  They had someone from Google come in and talk about what he’s seen.  As a side note…Google receives over 2M resumes per year!

Resumes & formatting:

1. Keep it simple – 10 point font & black & white, no colors: unless you’re an artist and the industry calls for flair

2. Be specific about your accomplishments – put some math & numbers in your resume: managed x$’s during x amount of time & ROI of…


1. Practice your answers – you can typically anticipate 90% of answers.

2. Know your flaws – be honest & talk about what you’ve done to improve on them.

Instant turnoffs:

1. Sharing confidential information.

2. Lying

Have you done the above?

Fashion & the Interview

I’ve shared my ideas and photos of what to wear to an interview, and have also written about the kind of nail polish  (look at the related post below), or accessory, to wear to an interview.  Here’s a rather lengthy list of do’s and dont’s.

I like that the article ends with some general tips for how to present yourself as a “go getter.”


1. Not having anything with you to take notes with. Not having copies of your resume.
2. Talking or texting on your way into the interview area — or worse yet, taking a call during the interview.
3. Wearing a hat or sunglasses in the building for your meeting.

What are your thoughts?


Get Ready for Your Interview

I recently saw a great synopsis of some tips for a great interview.

1. Research the company

Make sure you know as much as possible about the company before you go into any interview. Start with the company’s website and read their mission statement, goals, and values and think about how those apply to the position you’re applying for.

2. Research the job

Once you’ve got the interview, make absolutely sure you know everything you can about the position and what the job is all about.

3. Prepare answers that highlight your skills and experience

This question can have many forms, but being able to demonstrate with your answers and anecdotes that you understand the key skills, expertise and experience required for the job and that you possess them will go a very long way to a winning interview.

4. Prepare answers that show your enthusiasm and interest

Often, when recruiters are faced with choosing between equally qualified candidates, the candidate who exhibited the most enthusiasm and interest in the job will win out.

5. Prepare answers that show how you will fit in with the company culture

Because you did your research in step 1, you will understand something about the company culture and be able to demonstrate how you will fit in.

6. Plan your journey so you arrive stress free and on time

The stress of unexpected traffic, getting lost, and other delays can derail an otherwise promising interview, so take steps to ensure that you don’t have to stress.

Make sure to click above to read the full story!

Have a great, safe, and happy 4th of July!!!

15 Second Elevator Pitch

I recently read an article about the 3 P’s of delivering a great speech.  Those P’s are:


In a nutshell, the author writes, “Have a Point, be Prepared and deliver with Passion.”  I think that these are great tips for…great speeches.  But could it also apply to your 15 second elevator pitch when asked “why are YOU the perfect candidate?”  Now to those that have not heard of the “elevator pitch” it’s essentially meant to mean that if you were stuck in an elevator with someone important and wanted them to take notice in you, what would you say during those crucial 15 seconds?

Give it a try with the 3 P’s in mind.  Here is what my pitch might sound like. “Hi, my name is Linda Calabria.  I have been in the marketing field for close to 10 years and in that time have worked in B2B and B2C companies doing everything from branding to product marketing.” 

Was I prepared to do this right now?  No.  Do I feel like I got…some…of my point across sure.  WHat about the passion?  That definitely didn’t carry through as I was too busy staring at the stopwatch seconds tick by.

Now set your watches, and see what your 15 second pitch will sound like! On your marks, get set, GO!

As always, here are some additional recources on elevator pitches:

The Perfect Elevator Pitch to Land a Job –>”If you’re looking for a job, one of the first tasks on your to-do list should be crafting an ideal “elevator pitch. It’s the 30-second speech that summarizes who you are, what you do and why you’d be a perfect candidate.” 30 seconds is probably more feasible than 15…

Perfect Your 15 Second ‘Elevator” Pitch –>”Can you sell your company, your product, your service or your proposed project in no more than 30 seconds? If it takes you five minutes to explain what you’re about, you risk losing your audience and muddying the message.” I like where this goes later in the article talking about crafting a Twitter friendly headline about yourself or your company.

All About the Job Search

This morning I want to point your eyes towards several articles that would help during various stages of your job search, everything from interview questions to reference checks.  Let’s get started!

Marc Cenedella from The Ladders writes a Monday Newsletter and from time to time does an update to some of the best questions to ask during an interview.  Here are the five that I thought were most interesting:

1. What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?
2. What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry these days?
3. These are tough economic times, and every position is precious when it comes to the budget. Why did you decide to hire somebody for this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?
4. If we are going to have a very successful year in 2015, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 13 months to make it successful? How does this position help achieve those goals? (This question helps show your ability to look beyond today’s duties to the future more than a year away.)
5. What is your (or my future boss’) hiring philosophy? Is it “hire the attitude / teach the skills” or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise first and foremost?

Have you ever wondered about the best way to prep your references for a phone screen?  Do they even get called?  And if so, is it more of a courtesy to find out if you are or are not a looney?  Are references eventually going to go away kind of like the cover letter has in some instances?  What I mean is, you obviously wouldn’t list someone you didn’t trust as a reference, hence, is there really any point from a recruiters point of view to contact people you have identified as being in your corner?  If so, and until the times change, here are the questions your references may get asked:

1. Employment verification
2. Workplace performance
3. Personality and well-roundedness
4. Who the references are matters

Finally, how do you get that job you are so desperately wanting?  Well, Cathy Goodwin offers her advice on the secret job search ingredients that may get you in the door!

1. Look and Act Like You Belong
2. Get Comfortable Being a Pro
3. Avoid Desperation – Create Your Plan B

Now get out there and get ’em!

What did you do today?

Interview Questions that Lead to Hiring the Right Person

What leads to hiring mistakes? Often, it’s interviewing mistakes. Here’s a better tool for assessing your candidates’ skills.  But before you jump into reading the article let me give you a quick synopsis.  Essentially, Claudio urges hiring managers to take a more behavioral approach to the interview process instead of asking candidates to tell their story, i.e. regurgitate their resume.  He outlines the types of people you might be looking for, everything from strategic thinkers to change agents, and then shows the types fo questions that would be wise to ask folks who claim to possess these skills/personalities.

Here are a few questions I thought were most interesting:

Change agent–> Describe a time when you received org. resistance to an idea or project that you were responsible for implementing.  How did you handle it? What resulted from it? Would you handle any differently now?

Results Oriented–>Have you been involved in a business or product launch? What were the specific steps you took to contribute to the success of the launch?

Will you be asking these kinds of questions?  If you’ve been doing it all along, what kinds of results have you seen from them?

Are Skills the Best Thing to Focus on with Potential Candidates?

I am going to piggy back on last week’s posting by talking more about Lou Adler’s webinar on the Most Important Question to Ask During an Interview.  If you haven’t read the article on LinkedIn, you should.

In his webinar he elaborated on his article but also focused on the entire interview process, from creating a job description to hiring a new candidate.  He explained that most of the time, hiring managers and recruiters focus on the wrong things when looking at potential candidates, they first of all don’t fully understand what the functions of the job are and hence focus on what is it that the candidate has in terms of their strengths and skills rather than what can they do overall. 

Job descriptions are more often than not written in a manner that explains exactly the skills that are needed, rather than what the job entails.  This is why more often than not, not only do hiring managers disregard potentially great candidates but great candidates disregard the job because they see that 10 years of experience is needed and they might only have 5.  But perhaps that candidate has done more in those 5 years than someone else in 10.

Essentially, the primary focus should be the candidate’s performance profile, rather than how they fit into the job description with specific skills, academics, competencies, etc.  Now, this can’t always work as there are certain things you need to have done in your career to get certain jobs. You can’t just graduate and expect to be a manager.  So take this with a grain of salt and apply the concepts in the best way that they work for you. 

But keep in mind, ability and motivation to do the work are the keys to the hiring process!  Thank you to Lou Adler for a fantastic webinar and don’t forget to buy his book!

What did you do today?

P.S. Check out Lou’s website for recruiters!

P.P.S. Are you looking for a new show to watch?  Tune in to The Job on CBS on Friday’s at 9pm eastern time.