The Top 3 Questions You Should Stop Asking in Interviews

Interviews are often an exhausting experience both for the interviewer and the interviewee. Interviewers rarely know what to ask, and frequently end up asking generic, and relatively useless questions. Choosing generic questions makes things easier for hiring managers, but an interview can and should be so much more than that. Here are a few common questions that just need to go, so that you can transform you interview into an experience that helps you align your goals with those of your new hire.


Where do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

This question is a trap. If the interviewee answers that they see themselves working this job diligently they might look complacent to the interviewer. If, on the other hand, they reply that they see themselves in management, or running the place, they might make the interviewer feel threatened. There isn’t a good answer to this question.

Instead, ask: How Will This Job Help You Achieve Your Goals?

This question assumes that the interviewer wants the interviewee to succeed, and that their personal goals matter. It gives the interviewee the freedom to tell the truth, which is often as simple as achieving financial stability, or acquiring new skills. The information you can get here is hugely important, because helping to meet this need can be key to retaining your new hire in the long term.


Why Did You Apply At This Company?

While the economy is recovering, we are not at a point where a job searcher can have their pick of a job at any of a large number of businesses. They applied because they need a job, and because they think they’re qualified. Of course, this question is actually meant to check if the candidate has done their research on the interviewing business.

Interview questions should not be coded in a way that requires people to make an un-intuitive leap to answer the secret hidden question you didn’t bother to ask.

Instead, ask: How Can You Help Our Business Succeed?

This question is always answerable, while also checking to see if the candidate has done their research. The more specific their answer is, the clearer it is that they know what they’re talking about. If they didn’t do their research, they’ll still be able to answer based on their expertise and their limited knowledge of your business without awkwardly breaking down the conversation.


What’s Your Biggest Weakness?

You can get some useful answers from this question, but it’s worded in an awkward manner. It invites interviewees to think of reasons why they shouldn’t be hired. This question is a red flag that indicates that the interviewer could be a poor communicator. Usually the interviewer wants to hear a story of personal and professional growth, so why not just ask for it?

Instead, ask: Please Tell Me About Something That Made You Grow Professionally

Candidates that have made and dealt with major mistakes at work will understand this question and answer it appropriately. Less experienced candidates will still be able to answer it, by answering with something about their education or other background information. They way they answer, as well as the substance, can tell you a lot about your job candidate.

micha boettigerMicha Boettiger is a freelance writer and digital strategist. You can find out more about his work on his website, Writer Worldwide, or by following him on Twitter @writerworldwide.

5 Steps To Understanding Employees Better While Setting Reasonable Expectations

A lot of importance is given by companies to establishing good relationships with customers. Their focus is to attract new customers while retaining old ones. There is nothing wrong with this approach – I believe that a lot of new customers are required to ensure business longevity. I also believe that employee satisfaction is essential to ensure a business succeeds in its entirety.

But how many companies focus on employee satisfaction?

Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of companies relegating zero or minimal importance towards employee satisfaction. They mistakenly assume that giving out salaries on time is enough to keep employees satisfied! They fail to realize that there are a lot of opportunities for employees to become unhappy in the workplace.

The focus of this article is to help you understand employees better. And to use your new-found understanding to set reasonable expectations for each of them.


Step 1: Understand that no employee is the same

Many companies make the grave mistake of underestimating employees. They fail to understand that each employee has unique aspirations that set them apart from others. How do you know what an employee wants? The answer is simple – by having one-on-one conversations.

Have the first round of one-on-one conversations with each employee to understand their career goals and how they find this job.

The Human Resource team should ask each employee the following questions:

i. “Are you satisfied with this job? If not, why?”

ii. “What are your career goals?

iii. “Do you receive enough support from managers and colleagues?”

iv. “What’s the best memory you have working here?”

The answers to these questions will provide you with valuable insights on how to deal with each employee. You will also be able to identify employees who have lost interest working for your company. Work with them to ensure they exit the company honorably.


Step 2: Ensure that the Employee Knows you Care about him/her

The questions asked by you in Step 1 will increase employee expectations. They will expect you to eliminate any discomfort they have at the workplace. So you will have to work hard to match their expectations.

It’s time for the second round of one-on-one conversations with them. This is when you showcase your caring side and willingness to go the extra mile to ensure their needs are taken care of.


Step 3: Set Reasonable Work Expectations

It’s important to provide each employee with clear instructions on what kind of work is expected from him/her each day. These instructions can be shared in a document, allowing the employee to read and understand his role whenever he needs to.

It’s also important to understand the complexity of work that can be undertaken by each employee. To achieve this, you will have to set certain benchmarks that are to be achieved at work. These benchmarks should be neither difficult nor easy to achieve. They should be specific to an employee’s job profile and shouldn’t place any additional burden on him/her.

For example, a writer should be able to write an article of 500 words every day. Similarly, a programmer can be expected to write a certain amount of code every day. Creating benchmarks will help you understand how well the employee is faring. Benchmarks also encourage employees to challenge themselves to achieve more at the workplace.


Step 4: Launch Training Programs to Fill Skill Gaps

Some employees may be less talented than others. And you will notice them performing way below the benchmarks set by you. Conduct regular training programs that can equip them professionally as well as mentally to take on all kinds of challenges at work. It removes any sort of inferiority complex these employees may have, giving them a new dose of self-confidence.


Step 5: Find a Reason to Motivate Employees

Regularly appreciated employees can do wonders for your company. Device employee appreciation tactics such as team competitions or performance rewards to ensure employees feel great working for your company.

The level of appreciation and recognition you provide will determine how long the employee remains loyal to your company. Be generous with positive words and actions to reap immense benefits!

Did you find these steps useful? Deploy them in your working environment to witness the wonders employee satisfaction can do for your company. Share your thoughts on this topic by adding your comments below!


Neerav_PicNeerav Mehta is the Founder and CEO of Red Crackle, a San Francisco Bay Company that provides Drupal solutions for all kinds of technical requirements. Neerav enjoys writing technical and business articles in his free time.

Five Digital Marketing Mistakes That Are Draining Your Profits


In the last decade, millions of people have taken their business online. The field of digital marketing is still new though. Many small business owners are making costly marketing mistakes that are costing them money.

This article focuses on five common digital marketing mistakes that small business owners make. Axing these habits will help you attract more people to your website.

And of course that means more profit.


1) Not Providing Value to Your Email List

There is a famous saying in digital marketing,“the money is in the list.”Email marketing is probably the most underused tool in the small business owner’s toolkit.

Perhaps that is because email marketing is traditionally associated with annoying spam.

But good email marketing is as far from spam as it gets. Effective email marketing is about building a relationship with your customers. What does building a relationship mean in practical terms?

It means providing emails that your customers want to open. Exciting emails; that’s what the best email marketers have in common. You need to provide interesting content alongside your products or affiliate links.

That means different things to people. If you’re an expert in your field, then you can write an interesting article. Or you can become a great curator. That means you collect the best articles, infographics, and videos in your niche, and display them in a convenient list.

If you only sell to your email list (as opposed to providing value), you will lose goodwill. And when you lose goodwill, you lose future revenue.


2) Constructing Blog Posts That Aren’t Written for the Web

Inbound marketing brings customers to your website with engaging and original content. It works; and it’s become quite popular in recent years. Because of its effectiveness, many small business owners use it. But on the internet it takes more than a well-written article to succeed.

First off, you need to write for the web. On the internet, a lot of people skim information or speed read. That’s because they’re chasing down answers. You need to break up your text into small paragraphs. Web surfers devour helpful content written in this format.

It’s also critical to avoid using complex jargon, or too much high-level vocabulary. You should strike a balance here. It’s okay to use a word that your audience might have to look up. But, if they need to look up five words in one paragraph, then you need to use more graspable synonyms.

Adding images to your content is important as well. Study after study shows people like to consume blog posts with images. Many images require minimal effort, but even the simple ones elevate the quality of your post. Images are a convenient way to accelerate your content marketing strategy. Write for the web, and your blog posts will grow in popularity.


3) Not Using a Logo

Think of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Think of Apple and Microsoft. If you visualize those companies in your head, you can project their logo. A logo is a great way to build your brand. It inspires confidence in the customer and it helps them remember what you stand for. If you have a logo you like, make sure it’s featured on your website.

If you don’t have a logo you like, then it’s time to get one. Some people make their own logo. If that’s not an option, consider as an inexpensive way to get a logo. As the name implies, logos start at five dollars. Look for sellers that have high feedback, preferably above 4.8 stars.


4) Not Using Lead Magnets Correctly

Email marketing is the crux of making money online. Adding quality subscribers to your email list means adding money to your pocket. Of course, most people won’t just hand over their emails.

Signing up for an email list is dicey. There are a lot of glorified spammers out there. No one wants to spend a perfectly good evening unsubscribing from dozens of annoying email lists. People want to know your going to give them value. They also want a reward, since signing up for an email list is a risk. A lead magnet assuages both of those concerns.

Now, a lead magnet is something you give people in exchange for their email address. It’s something exclusive that people can’t find for free anywhere. It might be a free e-book, a video tutorial, or an interview with an influential person in your industry.

Many small business owners provide an inferior product as a lead magnet. They don’t want to spend too much effort on something that won’t pay immediate dividends.

However, that kind of thinking is antithetical to acute email marketing. Your profits are tied to your relationship with your list. If they don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you.

That’s why you need a good lead magnet.


5) Not Helping Google Understand Your Images

Search engines can do a lot of things. One thing they can’t do is read images. So how do they find out what an image is about? One way is the title of the image. If the title of your image is a random string of numbers and letters, Google will have no way to read it. When you insert an image into a blog post, you need to make sure it has a descriptive title. “Yellow-flower” is a better title than a random string of characters such as “654123ab”.

Proper labeling of images will help Google accurately index them. This will help the images on your website rank higher in organic search. Alternative text is useful here as well. Use it to add something meaningful not found in the title tag.

But, remember that keyword stuffing alt text is just like keyword stuffing in articles. It will bring a Google penalty to your website. The most effective alt text and titles are written for people, not search engines. They outline images, and they add value for web surfers.



There is a lot more to digital marketing than these five tips. Still, this is a great place to start. A lot of webmasters are still making these mistakes. By avoiding these errors, you will be one step ahead of the competition.

1c2479bZachary Moore is a freelance writer and digital marketer. He writes articles about digital marketing, entrepreneurship, finance and more. He enjoys sharing helpful marketing ideas with entrepreneurs who need support. You can find him at his website and on LinkedIn.

How to Get Startup Employees to Engage Fully

6893267337_512da6998dEntrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges, and the most extreme of those is tackling a large volume of work with only a very limited amount of resources, particularly labor. Startups need people who can work under high pressure for relatively low reward, and getting people to willingly put in the effort your business needs is every entrepreneurs biggest question.

To tackle this problem it’s important to really understand what does and does not motivate your workers. Of course, every individual person is different, but we can generalize based on common startup conflicts.

Understand Why Your Employees are There

Few people willingly take a job with no benefits, limited vacation time, high work load, and low pay over a comfortable job at a more established enterprise. If you’re a startup on a strained budget, your employees are often going to be people who are relatively inexperienced.

Young workers in particular are likely trying to develop the skills and get the experience they need to find more gainful employment. If you want to hold on to your talent, and get them to really apply themselves, you’re going to need to know what they’re looking for in the long term.

Learn How Employees Define Success

Everybody has their own goals, and you can’t motivate an employee if you don’t know what theirs are.

It’s a good idea to ask every employee what their long-term goals are for their work, and to flat out ask how you can help them. A few likely targets might be…

  • Higher Wages
  • Health Insurance
  • Flexible Schedules
  • PTO

If you know how an employee defines success, then you can make sure that your business’ success also translates into theirs.

Tie Their Success To Your Business’

The success of your company isn’t the success of your employees unless you make it. To that end it’s a good idea to develop a plan for how you’re going to translate your business’ growth into tangible benefits for your workers.

This way your workers won’t just be working for your business’ future, they’ll explicitly be working for their own. Set specific goals for production, sales, growth etc… and set down a transparent plan for how their work can directly facilitate their own success.