Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I’d be very surprised if you haven’t been asked this one at every interview. It’s probably the most asked question because it sets the stage for the interview and it gets you talking. Be careful not to give the interviewer your life story here. You don’t need to explain everything from birth to present day. Relevant facts about education, your career and your current life situation are fine.
Why are you looking (or why did you leave you last job)?
This should be a straightforward question to answer, but it can trip you up. Presumably you are looking for a new job (or any job) because you want to advance your career and get a position that allows you to grow as a person and an employee. It’s not a good idea to mention money here, it can make you sound mercenary. And if you are in the unfortunate situation of having been downsized, stay positive and be as brief as possible about it. If you were fired, you’ll need a good explanation. But once again, stay positive.
Tell me what you know about this company.
Do your homework before you go to any interview. Whether it’s being the VP of marketing or the mailroom clerk, you should know about the company or business you’re going to work for. Has this company been in the news lately? Who are the people in the company you should know about? Do the background work, it will make you stand out as someone who comes prepared, and is genuinely interested in the company and the job.
Why do you want to work at X Company?
This should be directly related to the last question. Any research you’ve done on the company should have led you to the conclusion that you’d want to work there. After all, you’re at the interview, right? Put some thought into this answer before you have your interview, mention your career goals and highlight forward-thinking goals and career plans.
Tell me something about your relevant experience do you have?
Hopefully if you’re applying for this position you have bags of related experience, and if that’s the case you should mention it all. But if you’re switching careers or trying something a little different, your experience may initially not look like it’s matching up. That’s when you need a little honest creativity to match the experiences required with the ones you have. People skills are people skills after all, you just need to show how customer service skills can apply to internal management positions, and so on.
If your previous co-workers were here, what would they say about you?
Ok, this is not the time for full disclosure. If some people from your past are going to say you’re a boring A-hole, you don’t need to bring that up. Stay positive, always, and maybe have a few specific quotes in mind. “They’d say I was a hard worker” or even better “John Doe has always said I was the most reliable, creative problem-solver he’d ever met.”
Have you done anything to further your experience?
This could include anything from night classes to hobbies and sports. If it’s related, it’s worth mentioning. Obviously anything to do with further education is great, but maybe you’re spending time on a home improvement project to work on skills such as self-sufficiency, time management and motivation.
Where else have you applied?
This is a good way to hint that you’re in demand, without sounding like you’re whoring yourself all over town. So, be honest and mention a few other companies but don’t go into detail. The fact that you’re seriously looking and keeping your options open is what the interviewer is driving at.
How are you when you’re working under pressure?
Once again, there are a few ways to answer this but they should all be positive. You may work well under pressure, you may thrive under pressure, and you may actually PREFER working under pressure. If you say you crumble like aged blue cheese, this is not going to help you get your foot in the door.
What motivates you to do a good job?
The answer to this one is not money, even if it is. You should be motivated by life’s noble pursuits. You want recognition for a job well done. You want to become better at your job. You want to help others or be a leader in your field.
What’s your greatest strength?
This is your chance to shine. You’re being asked to explain why you are a great employee, so don’t hold back and stay do stay positive. You could be someone who thrives under pressure, a great motivator, an amazing problem solver or someone with extraordinary attention to detail. If your greatest strength, however, is to drink anyone under the table or get a top score on Mario Kart, keep it to yourself. The interviewer is looking for work-related strengths.
What’s your biggest weakness?
If you’re completely honest, you may be kicking yourself in the butt. If you say you don’t have one, you’re obviously lying. This is a horrible question and one that politicians have become masters at answering. They say things like “I’m perhaps too committed to my work and don’t spend enough time with my family.” Oh, there’s a fireable offense. I’ve even heard “I think I’m too good at my job, it can often make people jealous.” Please, let’s keep our feet on the ground. If you’re asked this question, give a small, work-related flaw that you’re working hard to improve. Example: “I’ve been told I occasionally focus on details and miss the bigger picture, so I’ve been spending time laying out the complete project every day to see my overall progress.”
Salary. What are you looking for?
Run for cover! This is one tricky game to play in an interview. Even if you know the salary range for the job, if you answer first you’re already showing all your cards. You want as much as possible, the employer wants you for as little as you’re willing to take. Before you apply, take a look at salary.com for a good idea of what someone with your specific experience should be paid. You may want to say, “well, that’s something I’ve thought long and hard about and I think someone with my experience should get between X & Y.” Or, you could be sly and say, “right now, I’m more interested in talking more about what the position can offer my career.” That could at least buy you a little time to scope out the situation. But if you do have a specific figure in mind and you are confident that you can get it, I’d say go for it. I have on many occasions, and every time I got very close to that figure (both below and sometimes above).
How good you are at working in a team?
Unless you have the I.Q. of a houseplant, you’ll always answer YES to this one. It’s the only answer. How can anyone function inside an organization if they are a loner? You may want to mention what part you like to play in a team though; it’s a great chance to explain that you’re a natural leader.
Tell me a any idea you have made that was implemented.
It’s important here to focus on the word “implemented.” There’s nothing wrong with having a thousand great ideas, but if the only place they live is on your notepad what’s the point? Better still, you need a good ending. If your previous company took your advice and ended up going bankrupt, that’s not such a great example either. Be prepared with a story about an idea of yours that was taken from idea to implementation, and considered successful.
What irritated you about people you've worked with?
Of course, you have a list as long as your arm. But you can’t say that, it shows you as being negative and difficult to work with. The best way to answer this one is to think for a while and then say something like “I’ve always got on just fine with my co-workers actually.”
Is there anyone you just could not work with?
No. Well, unless you’re talking about murderers, racists, rapists, thieves or other dastardly characters, you can work with anyone. Otherwise you could be flagged as someone who’s picky and difficult if you say, “I can’t work with anyone who’s a Bronco’s fan. Sorry.”
Tell me about any issues you’ve had with a previous boss.
Ohhhh…. If you fall for this one you shouldn’t be hired anyway. The interviewer is testing you to see if you’ll speak badly about your previous supervisor. Simply answer this question with exteme tact, diplomacy and if necessary, a big fat loss of memory. In short, you've never had any issues.
Would you rather work for money or job satisfaction?
It’s not a very fair question is it? We’d all love to get paid a Trump-like salary doing a job we love but that’s rare indeed. It’s fine to say money is important, but remember that NOTHING is more important to you than the job. Otherwise, you’re just someone looking for a bigger paycheck.
Would you rather be liked or feared?
I have been asked this a lot, in various incarnations. The first time I just drew a blank and said, “I don’t know.” That went over badly, but it was right at the start of my career when I had little to no experience. Since then I’ve realized that my genuine answer is “Neither, I’d rather be respected.” You don’t want to be feared because fear is no way to motivate a team. You may got the job done but at what cost? Similarly, if you’re everyone’s best friend you’ll find it difficult to make tough decisions or hit deadlines. But when you’re respected, you don’t have to be a complete bastard or a lame duck to get the job done.
Are you willing to put the interests of A Company ahead of your own?
Again, another nasty question. If you say yes, you’re a corporate whore who doesn’t care about family. If you say no, you’re disloyal to the company. I’m afraid that you’ll probably have to say yes to this one though, because you’re trying to be the perfect employee at this point, and perfect employees don’t cut out early for Jimmy’s baseball game.
So, explain why I should hire you.
As I’m sure you know, “because I’m great” or “I really need a job” are not good answers here. This is a time to give the employer a laundry list of your greatest talents that just so happen to match the job description. It’s also good to avoid taking potshots at other potential candidates here. Focus on yourself and your talents, not other people’s flaws.
Finally, do you have any questions to ask me?
I’ll finish the way I started, with one of the most common questions asked in interviews. This directly relates to the research you’ve done on the company and also gives you a chance to show how eager and prepared you are. You’ll probably want to ask about benefits if they haven’t been covered already. A good generic one is “how soon could I start, if I were offered the job of course.” You may also ask what you’d be working on. Specifically, in the role you’re applying for and how that affects the rest of the company. Always have questions ready, greeting this one with a blank stare is a rotten way to finish your interview
Close the Interview Properly
As the interview comes to an end, remember these few things:
• Don't let the interview last too long. Most interviews last 30 to 60 minutes. Unless the interviewer asks otherwise, plan on staying no longer than an hour. Watch for hints from interviewers, such as looking at a watch or rustling papers, that indicate that they are ready to end the interview.
• Summarize the key points of the interview. Use your judgment here and keep it short! Review the major issues that came up in the interview with the employer. You can skip this step if time is short.
• If a problem came up, repeat your resolution of it. Whatever you think that particular interviewer may see as a reason not to hire you, bring it up again and present your reasons why you don't see it as a problem. If you are not sure what the interviewer is thinking, be direct and ask, "Is there anything about me that concerns you or might keep you from hiring me?" Whatever comes up, do as well as you can in responding to it.
• Review your strengths for this job. Take this opportunity to present the skills you possess that relate to this particular job one more time. Emphasize your key strengths only and keep your statements brief.
• If you want the job, ask for it. If you want the job, say so and explain why. Employers are more willing to hire someone they know is excited about the job, so let them know if you are. Ask when you can start. This question may not always be appropriate, but if it is, do it.
The Call-Back Close
This interview-closing approach requires some courage, but it does work. Practice it a few times and use it in your early interviews to get more comfortable with it.
1. Thank the interviewer by name. While shaking their hand, say, "Thank you (Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. __________) for your time today."
2. Express interest. Depending on the situation, express your interest in the job, organization, service, or product by saying, "I'm very interested in the ideas we went over today," or "I'm very interested in your organization. It seems to be an exciting place to work." Or, if a job opening exists and you want it, confidently say, "I am definitely interested in this position."
3. Mention your busy schedule. Say "I'm busy for the next few days, but."
4. Arrange a reason and a time to call back. Your objective is to leave a reason for you to get back in touch and to arrange for a specific day and time to do so. For example, say, "I'm sure I'll have questions. When would be the best time for me to get back with you?" Notice that I said "When" rather than "Is it OK to." because asking when does not easily allow a "no" response. Get a specific day and a best time to call.
5. Say good-bye.
Follow Up After the Interview
The interview has ended, you made it home, and now you just sit back and wait, right? Wrong. Effective follow-up actions can make a big difference in getting a job offer over more qualified applicants.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Transact-SQL Optimization Tips
Try to restrict the queries result set by using the WHERE clause.This can results in good performance benefits, because SQL Server will return to client only particular rows, not all rows from the table(s). This can reduce network traffic and boost the overall performance of the query.
Try to restrict the queries result set by returning only the particular columns from the table, not all table's columns.
This can results in good performance benefits, because SQL Server will return to client only particular columns, not all table's columns. This can reduce network traffic and boost the overall performance of the query.
Use views and stored procedures instead of heavy-duty queries.
This can reduce network traffic, because your client will send to server only stored procedure or view name (perhaps with some parameters) instead of large heavy-duty queries text. This can be used to facilitate permission management also, because you can restrict user access to table columns they should not see.
Try to avoid using SQL Server cursors, whenever possible.
SQL Server cursors can result in some performance degradation in comparison with select statements. Try to use correlated subquery or derived tables, if you need to perform row-by-row operations.
If you need to return the total table's row count, you can use alternative way instead of SELECT COUNT(*) statement.
Because SELECT COUNT(*) statement make a full table scan to return the total table's row count, it can take very many time for the large table. There is another way to determine the total row count in a table. You can use sysindexes system table, in this case. There is ROWS column in the sysindexes table. This column contains the total row count for each table in your database. So, you can use the following select statement instead of SELECT COUNT(*): SELECT rows FROM sysindexes WHERE id = OBJECT_ID('table_name') AND indid < 2 So, you can improve the speed of such queries in several times.
Try to use constraints instead of triggers, whenever possible.
Constraints are much more efficient than triggers and can boost performance. So, you should use constraints instead of triggers, whenever possible.
Use table variables instead of temporary tables.
Table variables require less locking and logging resources than temporary tables, so table variables should be used whenever possible. The table variables are available in SQL Server 2000 only.
Try to avoid the HAVING clause, whenever possible.
The HAVING clause is used to restrict the result set returned by the GROUP BY clause. When you use GROUP BY with the HAVING clause, the GROUP BY clause divides the rows into sets of grouped rows and aggregates their values, and then the HAVING clause eliminates undesired aggregated groups. In many cases, you can write your select statement so, that it will contain only WHERE and GROUP BY clauses without HAVING clause. This can improve the performance of your query.
Try to avoid using the DISTINCT clause, whenever possible.
Because using the DISTINCT clause will result in some performance degradation, you should use this clause only when it is necessary.
Include SET NOCOUNT ON statement into your stored procedures to stop the message indicating the number of rows affected by a T-SQL statement.
This can reduce network traffic, because your client will not receive the message indicating the number of rows affected by a T-SQL statement.
Use the select statements with TOP keyword or the SET ROWCOUNT statement, if you need to return only the first n rows.
This can improve performance of your queries, because the smaller result set will be returned. This can also reduce the traffic between the server and the clients.
Use the FAST number_rows table hint if you need to quickly return 'number_rows' rows.
You can quickly get the n rows and can work with them, when the query continues execution and produces its full result set.
Try to use UNION ALL statement instead of UNION, whenever possible.
The UNION ALL statement is much faster than UNION, because UNION ALL statement does not look for duplicate rows, and UNION statement does look for duplicate rows, whether or not they exist.
Do not use optimizer hints in your queries.
Because SQL Server query optimizer is very clever, it is very unlikely that you can optimize your query by using optimizer hints, more often, this will hurt performance.