The Best Interview Questions We’ve Ever Published

Hiring is by far the biggest concern we hear from founders. Finding the right people to work at your company is high-stakes. Poor performers can take a catastrophic toll on your success. Most seasoned CEOs say that founders should be spending as much as 50% of their time early on getting the right talent in the door. Yet, the actual hiring process tends to remain more of an art than a science for startups — regardless of all the structure and rubrics they try to impose.

 

This makes the questions you choose to ask during interviews of paramount importance. You only get a narrow sliver of time with each candidate, so you need to maximize your learning per minute. How do you do that?

Over the years here at the Review, we’ve collected and aggregated hundreds of interview questions recommended by top leaders in every field. Our goal in this piece is to present the very best questions we’ve heard for hiring incredible performers — with deep dives into interviewing technical and product candidates in particular. We hope having them all in one place will make your future hiring that much easier.

1. Ask these questions to test for the 7 most important high-performer attributes.

As Co-founder and CEO of KoruKristen Hamilton has long worked to bridge the gap between graduation and employment, and place people in jobs where they’ll excel. Working with candidates who lack real-world experience has had a surprising byproduct — she now has a crystal clear sense of the skills and traits that make people great performers. She’s identified seven characteristics that, taken together, best translate into someone killing it at their job. These traits transcend department or career stage, and they apply to entry-level engineers and marketing executives alike:

  • Grit
  • Rigor
  • Impact
  • Teamwork
  • Ownership
  • Curiosity
  • Polish

To test for each of these qualities during a standard interview, Hamilton has curated very specific questions—

For grit, ask:
Tell us about a time in your career that you wanted something so badly that you were unstoppable in pursuing it. What obstacles did you overcome to get there?

As you listen to the answers to those questions, pay close attention to both the tasks and the duration described. “Try to get a sense of how long that person can stick it out. How long are they going to beat their head against a problem?”

For rigor, ask:
Tell us about a time you used data to make a decision.

Look for details about the complexity of the data and how the thinking happened, rather than focusing on them immediately getting to the right answer.

For impact, ask:
1) Tell us about a time you had a measurable (read: quantitative) impact on a job or an organization. 

2) Tell us about a person or organization that you admire. Why do you think they have made an important impact?

You’re looking for signs that the candidate understands the larger picture, and that they can speak to the importance of making trade-offs and prioritizing appropriately.

For teamwork, ask:
1) When working on a team, what’s hardest for you? 
2) What about a time you worked on a difficult team? What was your role and experience? Do you know where the other people involved were coming from? Tell us about the situation from their perspective.
3) What makes you happiest and most effective when working with others?

You want to use their answers to measure EQ and ability to empathize. Are they able to acknowledge and understand the experiences of those around them?

For ownership, ask:
Tell us about a time you experienced what you perceive to be an injustice.

“Regardless of their answer, empathize with the unfairness,” Hamilton says. “Say, ‘Are you kidding? That’s crazy. What a jerk.’ True owners will immediately respond with something like, ‘Yeah, but I recognized it wasn’t worth my time to complain about it.’ They won’t buy in and double down on venting or complaining.”

For curiosity, ask:
What’s the last thing you really geeked out about?

You’re looking for them to say something they then obsessively taught themselves about. “If someone doesn’t have that quality — if they don’t need to learn every single detail of the topic in front of them — they’re probably not going to reflect that level of engagement in their work, either.”

For polish:
1) See how they handle themselves when you interject or interrupt them in the conversation.

2) Do they send a thank you note shortly after the conversation?

You’re looking for calm confidence when they might otherwise be flustered or thrown off their game. Gratitude following an interview indicates humility and a sense of professional standards that will translate into their work.

For more on how to ask these questions and suss out the 7 traits for success, read the rest of Kristen Hamilton’s interview here.

2. This is the anatomy of the perfect technical interview.

As the former Technology VP for both Amazon and Zynga, Neil Roseman‘s interviewed hundreds of people and believes every phase of the process needs to be meticulously designed to drill deep into skill sets, actual accomplishments, culture fit and leadership potential.

In his opinion, great interview questions focus on specific examples of the candidate’s unique contributions, actions, decisions and impact. Ideally, you want to:

Probe: give me an example…

Dig: who, what, where, why and how on every accomplishment or project

Differentiate: we vs. I, good vs. great, exposure vs. expertise, aprticipant vs. owner/leader, 20 yard line vs. 80 yard line

“I look for past projects and accomplishments that seem to have enough weight and depth that I can apply STAR questions — STAR stands for situation, task, actions and results.” Roseman subscribes heavily to an approach called Behavioral Interviewing, in which STAR questions are a staple. They include:

  • What’s the background of what you were working on?
  • What tasks were you given?
  • What actions did you take?
  • What results did you measure?

When it comes to soft skills and culture fit, Roseman is a big fan of one question — he asks everyone, no matter the position: Do you consider yourself lucky?

“I’m looking for the people who embody the phrase ‘fortune favors the prepared,’” says Roseman. “It’s the willingness to be ready and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. At a startup, this is particularly valuable.”

For more questions and advice on how to structure interviews from Roseman, read on here.

3. Identify ‘Adaptable Leaders’ with this list of questions.

According to Anne Dwane, former CEO of Zinch, CBO of Chegg and now Co-founder of Village Global, the most important quality any startup leader (current or aspiring) can have is adaptability. And the most defining attribute of adaptable leaders is who they surround themselves with. They are often on teams with other flexible, resourceful, innovative people. Whether now or in the future, Dwane recommends a certain hiring framework to help you identify self-motivated individuals who will enrich your team’s aptitude for learning.

“The most powerful way to construct a job description is to clearly communicate that unyielding, consistent learning is a core part of the job,” she says.

After making introductions, Dwane begins with a pointed two-part question: What motivates you and what do you want to do next?

Most candidates deflect the question by repeating their resume. “They try to add to it but it doesn’t demonstrate what I’m looking for which is: active listening, the ability to answer the question, and self-awareness.”

She then asks these questions to identify whether a candidate is an adaptable learner:

  • What have you started?
  • How would you describe yourself in your own words?
  • How would a colleague describe you in three adjectives?
  • What current trends are you seeing in your profession?
  • What new things have you tried recently?

The last two questions are strong indicators that your candidate is self-motivated to explore and embrace new trends, routines, and technology. Take note of this as a critical demonstration of self-learning in your interview. Dwane advises probing more about the new process he or she introduced, why it intrigued them, and the results of implementing it.

As for homework: “I love to give people an opportunity to give a compelling presentation on a topic they care about,” Dwane says. “That’s the game. If they look pained while they are doing it or don’t enjoy the assignment, then you know someone isn’t going to have a gameful approach. You want someone who is going to enjoy talking about the topic and putting the presentation together.”

For more on how to spot, hire and nurture adaptable leaders, read more from Dwane here.

4. These questions are designed to bust bureaucracy before it starts.

As VP of Engineering at Airbnb with an impressive track record behind him, Mike Curtis has seen the dire impact that bureaucracy can have on a company. In his experience, hiring well to begin with is one of the most powerful antidotes to paralyzing bureaucracy. You want to recruit and onboard people you know you can trust, so you that you don’t have to set up a bunch of newfangled process just to ensure productivity and quality.

To hire specifically for this type of trustworthiness, Curtis recommends allocating at least 45 minutes to an interview that is entirely about culture and character. Diversity of backgrounds and opinions is championed at Airbnb, so ‘Culture fit’ is about finding people who share the high-performance work ethic and belief in the company’s mission. If people don’t share your conviction in your company’s success, they aren’t a fit.

At Airbnb, Curtis found that these four moves truly extract the most value out of this type of interview:

Let them shine first. For the first 15 minutes of your culture interview, let a candidate describe a project they’re particularly proud of. The idea here is to get a sense of what excites them — is it technical challenges, for example, or perhaps personal interactions? “Try to suss out what gives this person energy,” Curtis says.

Then make them uncomfortable. The other side of that coin is that you want to learn how candidates react when they’re not excited, too. Ask them about difficult experiences, or moments when they were somehow not in control. Some of Curtis’s go-to questions are:“Describe a time you really disagreed with management on something. What happened?” and “Think of a time you had to cut corners on a project in a way you weren’t proud of to make a deadline. How did you handle it?” This exercise is all about reactions. “Does the candidate start pointing fingers and say, ‘This is why I couldn’t get my job done, this is why this company is so screwed up’? Or do they start talking about how they understood another person’s point of view and collaborated on a solution?”

Calibrate your results. It’s easy to see if someone nailed a coding challenge. It’s a lot harder to get comparable reads on candidates when you’re working with a group of different interviewers. It takes time to get on the same page, but you can help the process along. “We get all our interviewers together in a room and have them review several packets at the same time to help expedite the process of getting to some kind of calibration on what’s important to us,” Curtis says. Essentially, try to make the subjective as objective as you can.

Watch out for signs of coaching. If a candidate seems to have uncanny command of your internal language, take note. The public domain is exploding with tips and tricks from past interviewees and journalists. “Especially as your company starts getting more popular or well-known, there’s going to be a lot of stuff about you out on the Internet. If people start quoting things to you that they obviously read in an article or something that is your own internal language, they were probably coached. They either read something or they talked to somebody who works at the company,” Curtis says. That’s not to say you should reject them immediately, just don’t let yourself be swayed.

For more from Curtis on not only how to hire, but onboard and train new employees to head bureaucracy off at the pass, read more of our interview with him here.

5. Recruiting practices and questions for hiring ‘Originals’.

Bestselling author and Wharton professor Adam Grant has spent years researching and interviewing people he refers to as ‘originals’. In his book of same name, he shows how to identify, foster and nurture nonconformists — and the brilliant benefits they bring to their work and the organizations they join. Here are the questions he suggests asking to recognize and recruit them in a startup setting:

Tell me about the last time that you encountered a rule in an organization that you thought made no sense. What was the rule? What did you do and what was the result? “You’re not excited about candidates who just let it go. But you also don’t want somebody who says, ‘Yeah I saw this rule, marched into my boss’ office, argued and quit over it,” says Grant. “What you’re looking for is somebody who says, ‘I saw this rule that I thought didn’t make sense. I first did some research to figure out how it was created and why it was this way. I spoke to a couple of people who’d been at the organization longer than I had, asking if they knew what it was initially set out to do. If they didn’t know, I reached out to some people who have influence and sought their advice on ways forward to improve the rule and made a few suggestions on how. I got tasked to lead the committee to change the rule. We made a change and here’s the evidence that we had an impact.’ That’s an original who’s learned to be a tempered radical.”

Why shouldn’t I hire you? “In Originals, I talk about founder Rufus Griscom, who pitched his startup Babble to investors by listing three reasons not to invest in his business. Sarah Robb O’Hagan once opened her job application the same way, describing why she shouldn’t be hired. In one breath, she outlined which qualifications she didn’t meet, but also why she was suited to do it anyway,” says Grant. “She challenges the job description and shows that she can bring something different than what a company thinks it needs. Part of why this worked is that, in one fell swoop, she shows extreme awareness: not only of her abilities, but also of the proposed requirements — and why some don’t really matter.”

It’s your first few months on the job. What questions would you first ask and to whom? Presidential candidates are often asked what they plan to accomplish in their first 100 days in office, and hiring managers tend to evaluate candidates for leadership positions similarly. “This idea came from one of my collaborators, Reb Rebele, an applied positive psychology expert who leads many of our hiring projects,” says Grant. “He observed that when new people are coming in, their first few months should be as much about learning as doing. Originals distinguish themselves by asking questions that no one else has thought to ask, and posing them to people who have fresh perspectives to offer. Ask candidates what questions they’d want to ask in their first two months on the job, and who their ideal sources would be. Listen for examples of open-ended questions — rather than just yes/no or testing-my-own-thinking styles of inquiry — as well as a willingness to draw from and challenge many sources of information.”

How would you improve our interview process? “I find this question powerful for a couple of reasons. One, it’s an opportunity to see if they’re willing to speak up. Two, it’s a window into their thinking process. When they encounter something that they don’t like, do they have the instinct not only to raise why it may be broken but also suggest how it can be better?” asks Grant. “It’s a chance to learn about their tendency to share opinions that might be unpopular but beneficial. It gives you a little bit of perspective on their ability and inclination to improve their environment.”

For more on fostering an environment where original talents can truly thrive, read more of our exclusive interview with Adam Grant.

6. Interview questions for hiring the best product managers.

Todd Jackson has led product organizations across some of the best companies in tech, from Google to Facebook to Twitter. Now VP of Product at Dropbox, he’s worked with hundreds of product managers — and hired dozens — over the course of his career. In every product manager interview, he recommends making sure a candidate fits the following criteria:

  • Intellectual ability
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Effectiveness within the company culture
  • Knows that users wants
  • Strategic/ Analytical Thinking
  • Technical background
  • Entrepreneurial spirit

Below, Jackson lists the questions he’s found to be the most valuable when interviewing product management candidates in person, what he believes good answers sound like, and the responses that should give you pause.

QUESTION 1 (Product Sense): Name a product that you think is exceptionally well-designed – ideally a non-electronic product. Tell me what makes it well-designed. (Testing intellectual ability, communication, and whether they know what customers want.)

WEAK ANSWER: Something superficial or cliché. “If they don’t go into a lot of detail and say something fluffy like, ‘My electric toothbrush is so great, it’s won a bunch of design awards,’ that’s a strike against them.”

GOOD ANSWER: First, the candidate will get excited to talk about a product they admire, and it will show. “One of the best answers I heard was about the Micro Kickboard scooter for kids – I remember the candidate getting really excited telling me all the details: ‘I recently noticed how thoughtfully designed my niece’s scooter is. It’s the mini scooter that you see a lot of kids riding lately. It’s got two big polyurethane wheels in front and a third small one in the back, so it goes over cracks and bumps smoothly and prevents faceplants. Also, instead of handlebars that turn, it has a ‘lean-to-steer’ design which is really intuitive for kids, teaching them how to steer by shifting their weight. And it’s also just super easy to assemble and disassemble—basically just two parts that click together.’”

Particularly strong candidates will look at the product from the user’s perspective and talk about the problem it solves. In the above example, “the candidate spoke about how the users of the product (kids) are actually different than the customers of the product (parents) and all the product design and marketing ramifications of that, which I though was quite insightful.” The candidate will have a lot to say and will be very enthusiastic as they speak, especially about the very small details that provide a finished and delightful experience. “That’s how you know the difference between a passionate product person and someone who just wants a job.”

To take it up a notch, you can follow up with the question: “What would you improve about it?” or “If you were the CEO of the company that produced this product, and you wanted to sell 10X as many, what would you do?” Look for educated guesses or reasonable assumptions about the market for the product, who the target buyer is, how the market could expand, the constraints of production, etc. Those are the components that should drive the next best step for the product, it shouldn’t just be a random idea.

Note: It can be easy for PM candidates to prepare for this question. You can make sure they’re thinking on their feet by constraining the space they choose from. For instance, the example must be a physical or non-electronic product or one they have at home.

QUESTION 2 (Technical Skill): In as much detail as possible, tell me what happens when I type yahoo.com into my browser and hit enter. (Testing intellectual ability, communication skills and technical background.)

WEAK ANSWER: Their response might be rudimentary or confused. You could get an answer like, “I see the Yahoo homepage, right?”

GOOD ANSWER: Something like, “Your browser generates an HTTP request. A DNS lookup gets the IP address of the host. The server receives the request, checks for cookies to see if you’re logged in, and eventually generates an HTTP response containing the content you should see. Your browser receives the response, parses the DOM and starts to render the page. CSS, images and Javascript are loaded to modify the page.”

The strongest candidates can answer this question in good detail, taking about five minutes to walk you through the process. This is a good level-setting question for product managers so you can see where they stand technically. They don’t have to hit every single action that happens. Watch out especially for candidates who say they’ve programmed in the last few years but are clueless about this question. That’s definitely a red flag.

If you think that candidates may have prepared for this type of question, you can mix it up by drilling them on specifics at various junctures of their response. Or you can ask them similar questions about the fundamentals of iOS or Android programming if they have a lot of mobile experience.

QUESTION 3 (Leadership): Tell me about a time when you disagreed with engineers and designers on your team. What did you do? (Tests communication, leadership and effectiveness within the company culture)

WEAK ANSWER: There will be allusion to finger-pointing, or mention of blame. The tone of their response will be generally negative, and you might see a dip in self awareness, complemented by a spike in defensiveness. They’ll be more concerned with smoothing over their role in the confrontation than sticking to the facts.

GOOD ANSWER: They’ll demonstrate leadership by diagnosing root causes of the conflict. They’ll show humility. “One candidate told me she couldn’t agree with her engineering and design team on one feature — they all wanted to build it and she didn’t. She said, ‘Okay let’s time-bound it. We’ll do the idea, but if it doesn’t pay off in four weeks, we’re going to change it to this other idea.’ I thought that was a great solution to avoid gridlock.” The candidate knew when to push back and when to disagree and commit.

A candidate who ends their response by saying what they learned from the situation and how they applied these lessons going forward should get serious bonus points.

QUESTION 4: What are all the implications of self-driving cars? (Tests strategic and analytical thinking and entrepreneurial spirit.)

WEAK ANSWER: A response that is boring, cursory, or disorganized. They might throw out some obvious answers, like unemployment for taxi drivers, or self-driving big rigs. But they won’t go deeper into the ripple effects in other industries that will create a whole new wave of businesses. They’ll stay in the inner ring of cause and effect.

GOOD ANSWER: Showing vision and imagination, they’ll paint you a picture of what could happen. Maybe car seats will be arranged in a circle around a coffee table! No one will own cars anymore, which means no one will have garages anymore. “I got an amazing answer to this one the other day: ‘Google will open-source the software for self-driving cars so that any manufacturer can build them, the way they offer Android,’” says Jackson. “I have no idea if that will be true or not, but I thought it was pretty creative.”

Most importantly, the answer should come packaged in some sort of organizational framework. Maybe they’ll say how life will change for drivers, and then the auto industry, and then urban planning. Ideas should be presented within themes, not as a free-association jumble.

QUESTION 5: What aspect of product management do you find the least interesting?

WEAK ANSWER: A PM who complains about doing nitty gritty work (e.g. taking notes, scheduling meetings) and implies that these things are beneath them.

GOOD ANSWER: A great PM understands that they need to lead from the back, and they relish their role as an unsung hero. The candidate doesn’t have to say they love the tough nitty-gritty stuff, but they should get points for acknowledging the grungy parts of PM work and why it’s important to be in service to the team and mission their supporting.

QUESTION 6: Why do you want to work at this company or on this product?

WEAK ANSWER: “X industry/company is getting a lot of buzz. Everyone is talking about it. It’s really hot right now.”

GOOD ANSWER: Clearly passionate about the industry, company or project. Look for specific ideas and plans for what they’d want to do and how they want to make things better. This indicates that they really did their homework and have thought deeply about the company. In particular, keep your eyes peeled for long-term thinking, which indicates commitment to the industry or type of product. For example, is the person talking about what robots or drones will look like in 5 or 10 years? Or do they just talk about how robots and drones are exciting now? Here are some examples:

I’ve always wanted to work in X industry, I’ve done Y and Z in the last couple years to really prepare for this career move.

Company X has a huge competitive advantage because of Y.

I have been using product X for a while, and I really like feature Y. I think feature Z could really improve growth/engagement/monetization and here’s why…

You want people who are excited about the space, not just this one opportunity.

For more on finding, vetting and closing the best product management candidates, read more from Todd Jackson here.

This article originally appeared on First Round Review.

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A Fresh Grad’s Insider Tip On Surviving Your First IT Job

In an increasingly competitive work environment, we’ve all been programmed to be solely focused on success and to perceive failure as a negative thing. But in the age of digital transformation, many companies are flipping the switch. They are starting to realize that failure creates an opportunity for us to think beyond and innovate which is imperative to business success. Rabiah echoed similar sentiments as she shares with us her recent experience as a IT developer and the immense learning opportunities that were granted during her stint.

Why did you join GovTech’s Technology Associate Programme?

I joined this programme because it provides me the flexibility in experiencing different kinds of IT areas and further discover what I’m passionate about. It also gives me greater exposure on what’s really out there in the working world, going beyond what was taught in school, simultaneously gaining new knowledge and hands-on experience.

Tell us about the culture at GovTech and what you like about it.

I really really really love the openness and collaborative culture and people at Hive. Everyone is very passionate and it’s even more wonderful that they are always enthusiastic in sharing and conveying their knowledge with one another. Continuous learning and sharing knowledge is another culture that I love about GovTech. I’ve been here for almost 6 months and the people around me feel more like my friends rather than colleagues, even those who are not within my team so that’s great!

How has TAP benefited you?

Before I officially started working, GovTech had a sharing session on some of the projects that we could work on and gave us the opportunity to decide which we were most interested in to try out as a way to kickstart our career. I think it is a great initiative because entering the working world as a fresh graduate can be a terrifying experience, as you don’t know what to expect, thus the sharing session really helped to ease my worries. Also, the freedom to choose gave me a sense of ownership over what I’m doing right now. Plus, TAP provides us with options to try out new things so it is amazing that I am able to gain various technical hands-on experiences to improve myself professionally and deliver quality work.

Share about the most interesting project you have worked on at GovTech.

I’m currently working on Business Grant Portal (BGP) as the backend development of the application. Working on this project gives me a sense of purpose because I’m helping to streamline the grant application processes so that it’ll be easier for both agencies and businesses to manage and track their grant applications in a more sustainable and efficient way.

Also, I have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience on one of the top BPM softwares called Appian to handle the backend processes. It’s pretty cool how powerful bespoke software is in speeding up the development work as compared to the conventional way of coding everything from scratch, which could take years to finish given that BGP is quite a big project!

Share one key takeaway from the TAP programme

The TAP programme presents an abundance of opportunities. Willingness to learn is one of the essential qualities because it’s what keeps you motivated to experience new challenges and grow as an individual in both personal and professional aspects.

Do not be afraid to make mistakes because you can’t learn anything from being perfect. You should be familiar with this quote if you have watched The Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy – “You try you fail, you try you fail. But the only true failure is when you stop trying”. So fail fast and learn faster!

What is the one advice you would give to those considering applying for the TAP programme?

BE BOLD. If you have the hunger to experience new challenges and innovative creative solutions via IT, join TAP for a fulfilling career. Believe in yourself and unleash your potential with GovTech!

==

Are you looking for a workplace that invest in the growth of its people, and provides a culture of strong collaborative and learning exchange? GovTech could be the workplace for you.  At GovTech, we are on a search for agile tech leaders with a breadth of knowledge and depth of expertise, through our Technology Associate Programme (TAP). This is an exclusive leadership trainee programme for top-notch technology seekers who will be groomed to take on management and technical roles with us.

Jump-start your career in the technology industry; join now by applying to the GovTech Technology Associate Programme. You can find out more about GovTech Technology Associate Programme here.

Working at GovTech: A Fresh Grad’s Perspective

With the increasing prevalence of cyber attacks, more and more companies are looking into hiring professionals to keep their information safe. Cybersecurity is certainly financially lucrative but these professionals are not doing it just for the paycheck. We speak to Keith, who shares with us his recent experience as an Incident Responder- drawing parallels to a firefighter, and the immense value his role brings to the company. In addition, we have Keith’s mentor, Liyana Fauzi, from the Strategic Planning and International Division to share with us how her GovTech journey has helped in her mentorship with Keith.

Why did you join GovTech’s Technology Associate Programme? 

Before I graduated, I was actively looking for a job in the Cyber Security technical field. One distinct reason on why I applied to GovTech’s TAP was the programme’s structure. I personally felt that the programme was well crafted for fresh graduates who wanted to develop a career in the IT industry. The programme encourages rotation, a mentor to guide you and offers several job roles to select from to kick-start your career.

Describe a typical working day at GovTech

I am an Incident Responder in the Cyber Security Operations team. What that basically means is that, my role is comparable to the functionality of a firefighter when a fire breaks out. The firefighter will be alerted of the incident immediately and tasked to contain the fire. They will then need to remediate the issue, provide root cause analysis on how the fire started as well as recommendations on how to prevent such a situation from happening in future. When the firefighters are not reacting to incidents, they will be at the station finding means to increase their skills or sharpen the tools they have.

This is similar to the reactive and proactive role as an Incident Responder. When a cyber-security incident occurs, we will be there to perform both forensic/memory image on the system and bring it back for further analysis.  

My typical workday typically consists of these 3 fundamental roles- malware analyst, data/log analyst and incident response. Malware analysis involves examining malicious scripts/executables and determine what are its capabilities. This could involve reverse-engineering an executable in assembly language. In addition, as a data/log analyst, I am involved in analysing the huge amount of raw data from network, application and database logs. In order to understand how the incident happened over the network, I have to correlate the data from multiple sources and make sense of what the adversary was trying to perform. Lastly, for incident response, I work as an incident Handler for security events.

As a proactive individual, I am always finding ways to reduce the time taken for investigation either by automating the investigation process or by looking for new tools out in the market which could aid in investigation.

However, GovTech is not all about work; till date I was involved in many other exciting events such as being part of the planning committee for Cyber Security Group (CSG). I also had the opportunity to participate in GovTech’s Dinner and Dance performance which gave me the opportunity to make a lot of wonderful friends from the different departments. My team also makes an effort every once in a month to head out and enjoy ourselves with activities like bowling, badminton, dinners and drinks, and many more!

Talk about the technical skills you have been working on at TAP?

Since my time here in GovTech, I have been exposed to various technical skills such as reverse engineering, data analytics and scripting. For reverse engineering, my role as a malware analyst is to understand the capabilities of a malware. This involves looking at assembly codes, understanding different API calls or even looking at malicious scripts/programs. In data analytics, there are countless opportunities to work on big data. I picked up numerous pre-processing techniques and analytical skills such as R, Python, Splunk, Tableau. As for scripting, I am continuously improving on our investigation tools as well as scripting languages such as Python, bash or Powershell.

What do you enjoy the most about working for GovTech?  

As we are the “firefighters” for the Whole-of-Government, the investigation we perform is for the government. By solving incidents, I get a sense of satisfaction as I am ensuring a safer environment for us to work in.

What is the one advice you would give to those considering applying for the TAP programme?

If you’re looking for a quick and challenging environment, GovTech will be the place for you. A personal advice on what I tell my juniors is that as a fresh graduate entering into the IT industry, there are just too many different roles. You will not know if the role suits you unless you try it out. Look for an organization which offers you the opportunity for rotation so you can grow as an individual.

Share one key takeaway from the TAP programme

As part of TAP, we are each paired with a mentor who is more senior in the organisation. My mentor, Liyana has guided me through my times here in GovTech. She ensured that I understood the organisation structure, check in if there were any challenges faced and asking if I needed any help that she can help with. It is really heartwarming to have an awesome mentor.

Liyana, share with us your mentorship experience with Keith.

I was matched with Keith and another mentee through a fun matchmaking/interview session. As Keith and I are from different teams in GovTech, I saw my role as a  mentor in general work matters, and not so much the technicalities of his domain area. This mentorship experience enabled me to reflect upon how it was for me when I first joined the then-IDA as a relatively fresh grad too, and to try to pick out some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way since then; things that I could share with Keith. I have tried to keep the mentorship experience pretty light and to provide an open space for candid discussions. We would typically meet over coffee to talk about how he’s doing at work, what’s happening with the organisation (given that there have been many changes), and to also share my experience in navigating the workplace such as how to manage stakeholders or how my mentees could meet their meet career aspirations.

How has your GovTech journey helped your mentorship with Keith? 

What helped me in my mentorship was mainly (a) things I picked up from other seniors, (b) having gone through certain GovTech programmes and (c) forging friendships with other mentors. For example, one piece of workplace advice that I hold closely is not to be afraid to ask and actively pursue opportunities that one was interested in. This piece of advice was lent to me by another senior and it is something I share with my mentees too, and I think it could be useful for the TAPs who are just starting out at work. Programmes that I had completed in my GovTech journey such as the EDGE Programme and the Sectoral Inter-agency Projects have also provided me with some insight into what the other agencies are doing, how agencies view GovTech’s work and how to manage cross-agency issues. To me, it is important for my mentees to know how their work has impact on other agencies’. In addition, as all mentors had to go through a two-day course, the friendships I developed with other mentors has also been very helpful in this journey as we could exchange ideas about topics to discuss with our own individual mentees.

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Are you an advocate of the innovative use of technology and how it can enhance the lives of fellow Singaporeans? GovTech Technology Associate Programme (TAP) could be a place for you to start. TAP is an exclusive leadership trainee programme carefully crafted to develop and hone your technical knowledge and professional skills.  Upon selection, you’ll participate in 24 months of specialist training and grooming to take on technical roles within GovTech that will accelerate your career development.

Make an impact on the future of technology; join now by applying to the GovTech Technology Associate Programme. You can find out more about GovTech Technology Associate Programme here.

 

Recruiting top talent? ‘Spray and pray’ is NOT the way to go!

Whether you are a multinational, a rapidly growing mid-sized business or a teething startup, recruitment is bound to be one of your perennial business challenges. Digital presence and social media outreach have made it easier for your HR or recruitment agency to garner mass interest in your job requirement. However, that does not necessarily guarantee that you will find your ideal candidate. “Spraying and Praying” may have its benefits, but it doesn’t work in recruitment anymore. Here is why you need a definite recruitment strategy.

Beyond the Number Game
For most recruiters, recruitment is a number game – reach out and interview as many candidates as you can, and you will eventually find the right fit. While these basics still hold some place in recruitment strategy, the nature of candidates has evolved. The sheer number of specializations offered by schools today indicates the amount of graduates available for hiring every year. In Singapore alone, the number of degree holders increased from 26% in 2000 to 51% in 2013. Such growth makes it impossible to manually assess each candidate.

Resume v/s Talent
As the talent pool gets bigger and better and individual assessment is ruled out, recruiters have the option of screening candidates based on their CV’s. However, with a wide variety of CV templates available on the Internet and a number of seemingly qualified candidates, it may not be fair to screen them on the basis of the skills they mention without actually testing them. Additionally, there is bound to be several candidates with similar qualifications and experience. Even with good internal CV screening software and seasoned recruitment instincts, there is always the risk of filtering out good talent.

You are “telling” your role, not setting an experience
The run-of-the-mill recruitment processes – like advertising, shortlisting & interviewing – lack transparency and engagement. You list out your requirements and assess your candidate based on an interview or a case study – a case study that the candidate has probably already prepared for, off the Internet. In many cases, this is an inaccurate and non-objective assessment of your candidate’s skills. Additionally, the blanket assessment practices do not give your candidate a feel of the role they are interviewing for or the brand they will be working with. Whether a candidate is a fit for the role cannot just be theoretical; it needs to be explored and agreed upon.

Roping in Gen Y
According to a report by Manpower Group, up to 1/3 of the global workforce will be made up of millenials by 2020. Naturally, most companies have taken that fact as an indication to evolve, doing what they can to lure in Gen Y candidates. As such, blanket recruitment strategies may no longer work. If you want a sizeable number of Gen Y to join you and stay loyal, make sure to speak their language. Weave more dynamic social and interactive experiences into your hiring strategies.
Nowadays, technology is developing different sectors and making them more competent and resourceful; HR is not far behind. Here are three ways you can use technology to improve your hiring strategy:

#1. Data Analytics

Analytics can be used by companies in several ways. For recruitment in particular, it can help you efficiently filter through the noise and shorten your pool of candidates. This can be done by analyzing existing employee data, their productivity and engagement, and accordingly build an ideal employee persona. The company can then hire employees that replicate or compliment these personas as required. Alternatively, analytics can be used to directly assess your CV pool and shortlist candidates. Models for these analytics can be built in- house by your data analysts or you could use online tools and platforms available in the market.

#2. Social Media Integration

Whether its building the employee brand or outreaching for talent, there is no escaping social media. According to LinkedIn’s 2016 Global Recruiting Trends, emphasis on employer branding stays top priority with 47% of the respondents working on outbound recruitment strategies through social media. Companies should ensure that 1. their recruitment strategy has space for social media integrations and 2. their recruitment partners also use social media efficiently to prospect and engage with potential candidates.

#3. Gamification

Gamification adds an element of fun and engagement to your hiring processes. Given an increasing talent pool with seemingly similar backgrounds, testing candidates’ actual skills should take center stage. Recruitment platforms like HackerTrail tailor company job requirements into creative online challenges for candidates. Gamification, through challenges, help companies duly assess the candidates – all the while making the process exciting for them.
As people and technology evolve over time, so must the inner workings of businesses. Today, technology has made HR functions and recruitment processes more efficient and resourceful. It’s time that you move away from the one-size-fits all recruitment strategy and tailor your assessment processes to reflect your brand and your hiring needs.

Need someplace to ignite your inspiration? Check out our new product at HackerTrail – the Marketplace.

Hiring Trends: 2016 wrap-up with HackerTrail

As we wind up 2016 and chalk-out our strategy for the new year, let’s take a look back at how this year molded the recruitment circuit. Irrespective of the growing candidate pool, the recruitment market continued to stay aggressive with companies competing with each other to attract top talent. The hiring strategies this year were also heavily influenced by employers in their efforts to woo and retain millennials.

Here is a look at the hiring practices that dominated 2016:

Social Media Recruitment 

The initiation of social media in recruitment practices has opened new avenues for companies over the years and 2016 was no different. According to a survey by LinkedIn’s global recruiting trends, 47% of the respondents stated that their outbound recruitment strategies involved social media. Social media outreach is empowering employers to go beyond traditional job posts and establish a continued relationship with prospective candidates. Employers are grasping the concept of being “switched on” on relevant social media platforms to build a strong presence to showcase their company brand and culture to their respective target audience.

Employer Branding

Employer branding continues to play a significant role in recruitment strategy. According to a survey by Jobvite, 59% of the respondents used social media to understand the company culture of organizations they wanted to work with as well as the perks and benefits that came with the role. Companies are putting immense emphasis on their value proposition as employers and working towards the culture they want to foster. This is not just to attract new candidates but ensure that they retain their top talent as well. Here’s how one company found success with video content on employer branding:

Recruitment Technology

The recruitment tech scene this year leaped beyond aggregators and market places. From the introduction of AI in automating recruitment workflows to writing unique machine learning algorithms for efficient candidate screening, technology is redefining the recruitment sphere. Companies are not just using technology to revamp their workflows but also using it to build focused and reliable assessment methods. For employers who engage HackerTrail to recruit, the hiring processes go beyond mere interviews as HackerTrail’s proprietary technology allows to automagically curate candidates, minimize the human bias and maintain the focus on quality. Coding challenges via gamification are put in place to test candidate skills, eliminating the element of chance from the process. This also gives candidates an opportunity to experience the job scope first hand and have fun while they are at it.

“Hackertrail was both an amazing experience and an unconventional interview process that allowed me to connect with my future employers through interesting challenges. It gave me a good preview of what to expect in my future role as a web developer and I thoroughly enjoyed the stretch of my technical capabilities while going through the tasks!”

– Yang LJ

(Top Talent on HackerTrail recruited by a government agency)

Predictive Analytics

Like every business function, human resources are heavily relying on predictive analytics to understand future scenarios and bet on their strategy and other executive decisions. Companies are using predictive analytics to understand their candidates better based on their interviews, submissions, work experiences and other data points. Many companies build models to assess their candidates and determine their potential fit in the company. Companies are also using predictive analytics on existing employee data to scrape for patterns to model their ideal candidate and shortlist accordingly. HackerTrail focuses on two key hiring metrics: speed and quality to empower employers to focus on the right candidates and shorten their time to hire.

This year has been a “candidate’s market” more than ever before with 2016 witnessing the industry restructuring their recruitment approach from “push” to “pull” – a focus on attracting and nurturing a healthy talent pool rather than blanket outreach and active scouting. Recruitment strategies anchoring firmly on technology and analytics are bound to up the notch in the coming year. With emphasis on efficiency and metrics, automation will be the focus in 2017 and the key for companies to fit into the rapidly evolving innovation landscape of recruitment.

We look forward to sharing some exciting news in the early part of the new year so do keep in touch by following us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Till then, here’s us wishing you best wishes for the new year ahead!

New year, new recruitment strategy? Here is one place to start: www.hackertrail.com

Performance Tips for a Rails Stack

Watch Althaf Hameez, Lead Engineer at Grab, do a quick presentation on the performance tips they use at Grab for a rails stack.

He goes on to say that it’s not about using rails; it’s how you design your app.

Watch on as he shares more about the tips they use at Grab:

If you want to be part of this exciting startup and experiment with innovative technologies, then check out the roles that Grab is currently hiring for!

Grab is currently expanding their team and HackerTrail has partnered up with them to source for key developer roles here in Singapore. Crack the challenge at HackerTrail (yes, we have our own as well and you get win cool prizes like the Apple Watch and iPad Mini 4) and get shortlisted by Grab today.

Are you connected with us? Follow HackerTrail on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find out about the up and coming tech jobs in Southeast Asia.

Programmers Beware – UX is not just for designers

Perhaps one of the biggest missed opportunities in Tech in recent history is UX.

Somehow, UX became the domain of Product Designers and User Interface Designers.

While they definitely are the right people to be thinking about web pages, mobile app screens and so on, we’ve missed a huge part of what we engineers work on everyday: SDKs and APIs.

We live in a time where “the API economy” exists and has tangible monetary and strategic value and yet these UXs are seldom considered. Additionally, consider how many functions a programmer interacts with every day and yet how little (read: almost none) time is spent on the UX of these functions.

What is UX?

First let me give you my perspective on UX. UX stands for “User Experience” or to put it another way, “usability”.

UX is not black art; you don’t even need to study it. I believe it can be uncovered through logic, persistence and experience.

I believe a good UX can be discovered using the following “UX Discovery Survey”.

Ask yourself (or your team) these quick 5 questions and you will be well on your way to create better UXs.

  • Who/What is the user? – Yes, users can be other systems and not just people.
  • What do they want to achieve? – Often the answer to this is a list of things, this is fine. However it’s generally possible to apply the 80/20 rule; meaning users will want to do 1 thing 80% of the time and the rest about 20%. We should always over-optimize for the 80%; even if it means making the 20% a lot more complicated or inconvenient.
  • What are they capable of? – What skills do they have? What domain knowledge do they have? What kind of experience? When designing systems for others there is often a huge difference between these factors for the user and the creator. This factor shows up a lot more when the answer to “Who/What is the user” is a human and not a system.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – This is really the driving force behind UX, focus on the user and how to please them. Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – The best interfaces are often ubiquitous or intuitive. The focus here is on modelling the interface to do what the user expects it to do, without prior training or experience with it. If you ever have access to the end user, try asking them these questions:

    “What do you think it should do?”

    “What did you expect to happen when you did X?”

Let me show you what I mean with some examples of Engineering UX:

A REST API called from a Mobile Application

When the app in question starts, it must make a call to the server to login and then use the returned credentials to make another to download the latest news.

What’s wrong with this?

This makes 2 round trips to the server, which results in:

  • 2 potential points of failure.
  • Double the network latency.
  • Additional code complexity of handling the additional points of failure.
  • Additional code complexity of handling the “session” between calls.

Finding a better UX

Let’s run through the “UX Discovery Survey”:

  • Who/What is the user? – The user here is not the programmer using the API but the mobile application.
  • What do they want to achieve? – They want to load the data from the server in the fastest possible manner using the least amount of battery and data as possible.
  • What are they capable of? – It’s app. It’s capable of whatever the app programmer is capable of.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – One call is always going to be easier to code than two. One point of failure is always easier to handle than two.
  • Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – Not applicable here.

Merge the requests together and have the app send either the login credentials or the session as part of the request for news.

While the call to the server is slightly more complicated, this is completely overshadowed by the complexity of coordinating 2 calls and failure points that it removes.

Solution

Yes, this adds some complexity to the server side but the server is significantly easier to test, maintain and update than the mobile app.

A REST API called from a Mobile Application (Redux)

Some time passes from the above example and the app is updated and now it needs to download the weather and the news when it starts. In common REST ideology we consider the news and weather to be separate entities and therefore the request is to add a separate endpoint in order to be RESTful.

What’s wrong with this?

We are back to making 2 round trips to the server. But this time they are concurrent, which results in:

  • 2 potential points of failure (again).
  • Additional code complexity of handling the additional points of failure and partial failures (again).
  • Paying battery and data charges for 2 calls (again).

Finding a better UX

Let’s run through the “UX Discovery Survey”:

Unsurprisingly, the answers will be similar to the previous section.

However, let’s now also consider the user of the app (in addition to the app as the user of the API)

  • Who/What is the user? – This time let’s consider the problem from the app user’s perspective.
  • What do they want to achieve? – The answer to this question becomes the key to understanding how the app should behave. Does the user need both pieces of info in an “all or nothing” way? Would partial info be better than none? Does the user need all of that info when the app starts or could they wait for retries? Bigger more complicated calls are bound to take a little longer. Users these days are fairly used to content that “fills itself in” eventually but they doesn’t mean they like it. Beyond that, not all information is of equal value to the user. If we are making a news app, the weather may be a “nice to have” for most users.
  • What are they capable of? – As before.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – As before, this is the key. Whatever the user most wants/needs wins.
  • Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – Not applicable here.

Solution

Sadly, my answer here is “it depends”. I would look to make as few round trips as possible and sacrifice RESTful correctness for performance or a better UX. The focus should always be on the end user and their needs. Both explicit (seeing the data/using the app) and implicit (costing less battery and data).

There is often a temptation to follow whatever is easiest or quickiest to implement. This is a valid optimization when you need to get to market as fast as possible but it is also a debt, akin to technical debt, that will need to be paid sooner or later.

An RPC API

This time an internal (behind the firewall) service publishes an RPC API that allows a user to download an eBook. However this book should only be accessible to certain users.

As this service is not publically accessible we could ignore the validation and assume that calls to the API are only made in cases where the permission have already been verified.

What’s wrong with this?

  • If the calling system is not aware of whether the user is permitted to perform this action, they will need to load this permission (perhaps from another system) before making the request.
  • If a second system also needs to make this API call, then the logic to validate the user can perform the action would need to be duplicated into this new system.
  • Any attempt to cache this permission in the calling systems would likely be inefficient and prone to duplication.

Finding a better UX

Let’s run through the “UX Discovery Survey”:

  • Who/What is the user? – The other systems / API consumers.
  • What do they want to achieve? – They want to download the book on behalf of their user, if the user is permitted to do so.
  • What are they capable of? – Anything.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – We could take complete ownership of the problem and allow our users to make blind / dumb calls to our API and we take care of everything else.
  • Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – This question needs to asked within the problem space / company you are in. If all of your APIs are trusted then it might be better to follow that style rather than force your users to learn / handle your different way of doing things. Word of caution though: APIs should very often be stateless and require no more knowledge than how to call it; if all of your APIs are trusted then I suggest you raise that issue with your team.

Solution

You could introduce a gateway service between the callers and the destination; however this is likely adding complexity, latency and another service to build, manage and maintain. A generally more effective option is to push the validation logic into the RPC server.

This will:

  • Eliminate any duplication between multiple clients.
  • Likely improve the overall performance as the storage / caching of the permissions can be optimized for this use-case.
  • Improve the UX to the users by allowing them to blindly make the request.

Code APIs

The general problem here is the fact that code inherently makes more sense to the person writing it, when they are writing it, than it does the others and even to the writer in the future. Seldom do we think about other users when we are writing our functions.

Consider the following code:

<span style="color: #000000;"><code>AddBalance(5, false)</code></span>

What does the false indicate?

Finding a better UX

Let’s run through the “UX Discovery Survey”:

  • Who/What is the user? – Your future self. Your current and future team members.
  • What do they want to achieve? – They want to use your code so they don’t have to write their own.
  • What are they capable of? – There are many answers to this question, some nice and some not so nice. Generally, it’s better to assume the skill level is low and so is the domain knowledge.
  • What can I do to make their life easier? – Personally, I am lazy. This laziness forces me to come from a place of “what interface would allow my future self to use this without thinking or learning?”
  • Is there anything similar out there that the user already knows how to use? – Consistency in programming style, naming and many other things is programming will go a long way to a better UX. Often people will make the argument that a certain piece of code is “X style” where X is the current programming language or framework. I used to see this as a weak argument but as the teams I worked in got larger, consistency of style (preferably the team’s agreed and published style) has proven extremely valuable in terms of allowing folks to change teams, share code and tips and most importantly learn from each other.

Solution

What happens to the usability if we replace the boolean parameter with 2 functions?

AddBalanceCreateIfMissing(5) 

AddBalanceFailOnMissing(5)

 

In actual fact the result will often be 3 functions. These 2 above public / exported functions and the original function / common code as private.

Boolean arguments are an easy target but there are many other easy and quick wins, consider this function:

<span style="color: #000000;"><code>var day = toDay("Monday")</code></span>

What happens if we call it like this?

var day = toDay("MONDAY")
 var day = toDay("monday")
 var day = toDay("mon")

These are great examples of “What can I do to make their life easier?”.

A good UX would consider all reasonable ways a user might use or misuse the interface and in many cases support them instead of forcing the user to learn and then remember the exact format required.

TL;DR

  • UX is not just about Visual User Interfaces.
  • APIs and SDKs are also user interfaces.
  • Programmers are also users.
  • Other systems are also users.
  • UX is about designing the interface or interaction from the user’s perspective.
  • It’s about considering the user’s desires, tendencies and capabilities.
  • It’s about making the system feel like “it just works”.

Finally, I would mention that the best UXs are the result of iterative and interactive efforts.

The best way to answer the questions of “What do they want to achieve?”, “What are they capable of?” and “What can I do to make their life easier?” is to give the interface to a real user, watch what they do it with it and how. Then respond by making the interface work they way they thought it would instead of teaching them otherwise.

It is always better (and easier) to change the UX to match the user than the other way around.

 

Article adapted from “Programmers Beware – UX is not just for designers” by Corey Scott

 

Grab is currently expanding their team and HackerTrail has partnered up with them to source for key developer roles here in Singapore. Crack the challenge at HackerTrail (yes, we have our own as well and you get win cool prizes like the Apple Watch and iPad Mini 4) and get shortlisted by Grab today.

Are you connected with us? Follow HackerTrail on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find out about the up and coming tech jobs in Southeast Asia.

It’s A Visual World: 3 Design Tips For Creating Infographics

Infographics can engage both visual and casual learners who want summaries of facts in minutes. Their appeal and ability to compress information without compromising clarity are what make them so effective.

Design influences the way prospects and investors perceive your brand. All too often, some presenters suffer from the impression that content and delivery are enough to leverage their proposals.

They end up falling into the trap of relying on either a bare deck or text-heavy slides. This has led to ineffective slide decks that have tuned audiences out and vilified PowerPoint.

It’s interesting to note that PowerPoint presentations rely on the same graphic design principles applied to infographics, such as color, typography, and white space. A PowerPoint deck can equally benefit from incorporating the balance between information and graphics in its own design.

1. Organise Your Research

Segregate key points from supporting details. Key points should be included in the deck, while supporting details can be left for verbal explanation, or further reading.

Here’s how to distinguish what data to keep, and what to edit out:

Identify your goals. Having a clear objective in mind can help you sift through the bulk of your research quickly. Summarize your presentation to specific one-word parts to determine the core message you want to show. This gives you a better idea of what facts you need to back it up.

Draft an outline. Once you’ve narrowed down your main goal and selected the needed information, arrange them in order of importance. This lets you sort the most important supporting parts from the less relevant ones.

Consider the audience. As with any output intended for other people’s viewing, infographics and presentation decks should take note of what’s relevant to their audience. Prioritize what they deem more important, be it stock reports or step-by-step explanations, to keep them interested and engaged.

Whether it’s infographics or slide decks we’re talking about, your audience won’t pick up anything useful from fillers. The end goal is still to inform your prospective viewers about things that will benefit them most.

2. Minimise Visual Clutter

You should layout your deck like an infographic to avoid visually overwhelming viewers. Here’s how to do that:

Use white space. If you want to highlight the right information, don’t shy away from white space. This helps relax people’s eyes and focus their attention on the more important visuals in your presentation.

Visualize as much as possible. While graphs and charts are good visual representations in your presentation deck, it’s highly encouraged to get more creative with your visuals.

Make it readable. Although you’ll want to make appealing visuals, make sure your data is readable at a glance. Avoid over-embellishments by keeping your visuals simple enough to read. Use the appropriate font size and style for your typography.

It’s the calculated use of visuals that makes infographics so appealing. Apply the same tactical reduction of clutter to your deck as you start designing and formatting its overall layout.

3. Specify Your Data

Presenting hard facts is necessary to supplement your claims. On the other hand, engaging images certainly help to pique people’s interest.

In order to make both work together, infographics and slide decks both need to be clear in their data visualisation.

Make your contents as specific and concise as possible with these tips:

Label the info. One of the easiest ways to distinguish the objects on your deck is to label them. This works if you’re presenting statistics, which can be very technical.

For example, when labelling your diagram, specify if the item is the percent of market share increase, the amount of new lead conversions, or something else.

Explain connections. Dropping information at random can be confusing. Your presentation needs a narrative hierarchy that connects each of your points.

Show how Point A gets to Point B in your visualised data. Is it through a comparison of these points, or a progressive timeline? This gives your deck a smoother flow that complements your pitch.

Differentiate images. Establishing a pattern makes your design look more consistent. Just leave enough room to differentiate between similar objects to avoid any confusion.

Aside from labels, give your images some variety in order to make each point distinct. Data on this year’s sales might be visualized differently from, say, the age range of your customers.

Be careful not to oversimplify your visuals. The mind may be designed to avoid processing exaggerated images, but making your visual presentation clear to the viewer is just as important to get your message across clearly.

Summing It Up

Visuals and content are designed to cooperate with each other so that you can produce substantial output regardless of topic. That’s why you should never compromise on one for the other. After all, beautifully presented data might not work without the appropriate specifications.

Likewise, a bulk of content won’t be given a second thought if it isn’t broken down into engaging images.

Infographic design does indeed help in attracting viewers and sharing information. People creating business decks can learn a thing or two from infographic design to also become visually engaging, and yet substantial as well.

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Do you enjoy designing sleek interface that will serve its users well? Why not apply for the role of UI Developer at Piktochart? Find out more about this job opening in Penang, Malaysia here.

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Article adapted from: https://piktochart.com/blog/infographic-design-tips-presentations/

Do First Impressions Really Count?

Here’s the hard truth: 80% of hiring managers will decide within the first 10 minutes of an interview whether to hire you or not. While every second in that interview room might feel like forever, anxiety might affect your responses to your potential employers. Here’s how you can work on the first impression that you’re putting forward.

Do Your Research

Before the big day, find out as much as you can about the company. A few simple clicks on the organisation’s website will usually reveal the company’s history andother useful facts, like their employee headcount, or who’s in charge of the department you’re hoping to work in.

…And Know Your Interviewer And The Company

With this knowledge, you’ll sound more prepared and stand out as a candidate who is interested in the particular company. Showing interest in the company can also be translated as a “fit” for the company’s culture, boosting your chances of interview success.

Get There On Time

This cannot be stressed enough! Always plan ahead and arrive earlier than the scheduled time. If the interview venue is particularly out of the way, or located in in an area that you’re unfamiliar with, do your research online or go down in person!

Dress to Impress

The saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” still holds true here. We’ve shared tips on what to wear before; find them in our “5 Things To Remember At Your Job Interview” post here.

The First Handshake

It may not seem like much, but 60% of employers say that they will judge a candidate based on their handshake.

Never, ever offer a limp fish/dead fish handshake. Practice until you achieve a firm grip that means business.

Your 30-Second Pitch

Also known as your “elevator pitch”, you should be able to sum up your career history, achievements, and personal qualities within 30 seconds. Who are you? What do you do? Where do you want to go, or what are you looking for? These are the 3 questions that should be answered by the end of your half-minute.

Tips for your pitch include telling stories or anecdotes, eliminating jargon, practicing your pitch on friends and colleagues, and recording yourself on video to spot your own verbal cues and body language. Is your mini-speech interesting enough to captivate your audience? Is it even interesting to yourself? Practice your pitch regularly.

Body Posture

Speaking of body language, this graphic taken from one of our previous blog posts captures the essential body language to-dos during an interview.

Ask The Right Questions

From our post about “Interviewing Your Interviewer”, we mentioned that asking your potential employer questions lays down two things:

“Firstly, when done correctly, the questions you ask confirm your qualifications as a candidate for the position.

Secondly, you are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you. This is your opportunity to find out if this is an organisation where you want to work.”

More on what questions to ask your interviewer here.

Overall, practice, practice, and practice. You’ve got one shot at what could potentially be the best experience in your career, and now that you know how important the first 10 minutes are, you better start preparing for it!

Interviewing Your Interviewer

When candidates walk into an interview, they forget that they’re there to ask questions as well. Asking the right questions at an interview is important for two reasons:

Firstly, when done correctly, the questions you ask confirm your qualifications as a candidate for the position.

Secondly, you are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you. This is your opportunity to find out if this is an organisation where you want to work.

3 Things You Want To Achieve

When you ask the right questions, you want to achieve three things:

• Make sure the interviewer has no reservations about you
• Demonstrate your interest in the employer
• Find out if you feel the employer is the right fit for you

There are an infinite number of questions you could ask during a job interview, but if you stay focused on those three goals, the questions should come easily to you.

I recommend preparing three to five questions for each interview, and actually ask three of them.

The 10 Questions You Might Ask In A Job Interview

1) “What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?”
This is a great open-ended question that will have the interviewer put his or her cards on the table and state exactly what the employer is looking for. If the interviewer mentions something you didn’t cover yet, now is your chance.

2) “What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?”
This question not only shows that you are immediately thinking about how you can help the team, it also encourages the interviewer to envision you working at the position.

3) “What have you enjoyed most about working here?”
This question allows the interviewer to connect with you on a more personal level, sharing his or her feelings. The answer will also give you unique insight into how satisfied people are with their jobs there. If the interviewer is pained to come up with an answer to your question, it’s a big red flag.

4) “What constitutes success at this position and this firm?”
This question shows your interest in being successful there, and the answer will show you both how to get ahead and whether it is a good fit for you.

5) “Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?”
This question is gutsy. Also, you’ll show that you’re confident in your skills and abilities.

6) “Do you offer continuing education and professional training?”
This is a great positioning question, showing that you are interested in expanding your knowledge and ultimately growing with the employer.

7) “Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?”
Notice how the question is phrased; it assumes you will get the job. This question also tells you about the people you will interact with on a daily basis, so listen to the answer closely.

8) “What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?”
This question should be customised for your particular needs. Do your homework on the employer’s site beforehand and mention a new product or service it’s launching to demonstrate your research and interest. The answer to the question will give you a good idea of where the employer is headed.

9) “Who previously held this position?”
This seemingly straightforward question will tell you whether that person was promoted or fired or if he/she quit or retired. That, in turn, will provide a clue to whether: there’s a chance for advancement, employees are unhappy, the place is in turmoil or the employer has workers around your age.

10) “What is the next step in the process?”
This is the essential last question and one you should definitely ask. It shows that you’re interested in moving along in the process and invites the interviewer to tell you how many people are in the running for the position.

With luck, the answer you’ll hear will be: “There is no next step, you’re hired!”

Adapted from: “10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask” by Joe Konop for Forbes.com