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(Preparation is key, says Harvard student Jessica Pointing.Jessica Pointing) 

Jessica Pointing knows how to interview.

The Harvard University junior received internship offers from companies including Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, McKinsey, Bain, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

A computer science and physics major, she has received offer letters for roles in software engineering, data science, product management, consulting, investment banking, trading, and quantitative finance.

How does she do it? She credits being prepared and relaxed with her string of successful interviews.

Pointing published her best interviewing tips on her blog, the Optimize Guide, which features educational and career advice for high school and college students. Business Insider has shared her tips below, with permission.

1. Do your homework

Pointing made sure to hit the books before interviewing.

"I treated the internship interviews as a class — I studied material from books and did practice problems before the test (aka the interview)," she said. "There is usually a go-to book for each industry." These books help prepare job candidates, covering likely interview topics and even featuring practice problems.

For example, for software engineering interviews, she recommends "Cracking the Coding Interview" by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, while people going for consulting gigs should brush up on "Case in Point" by Marc Cosentino.

2. Develop a structure for problem-solving

The stress of interviewing can make it pretty easy to blank when you're speaking to a hiring manager.

That's why Pointing says it's important to adopt a problem-solving mindset.

Here's the structure she used for answering questions in her software engineering interviews:

  • Repeat the question to make sure that you understand it and have all the relevant details.
  • Clarify the function input and output.
  • Check assumptions.
  • Give an approach to solving the problem.
  • Discuss the tradeoffs of the approach.
  • Code the solution.
  • Test the solution with a normal test case.
  • Test the solution with some edge cases.

She also broke down the approach she uses for consulting interviews:

  • Repeat the question to make sure that you understand it and have all the relevant details.
  • Explain the objectives of the case and ask if there are any more objectives.
  • Ask any clarifying questions.
  • Generate ideas and a solution.
  • Organize and structure the answer.
  • For calculations, give insight into what the calculated number means.
  • Summarize the case at the end.

"These structures ensure that I hit almost everything I need to mention for a successful interview," Pointing said. "In consulting, giving insights into a number you just calculated separates a good candidate from a great candidate."

3. Practice and strategize

"It is very important to practice in an interview setting before the interview," Pointing said. "If your college offers mock interviews, take them! Some companies offer mock interviews, too. There are other services out there, such as Refdash, that give you free mock interviews. Do a practice interview at every opportunity."

If at all possible, Pointing recommends scheduling your "dream interview" last. That way, all of your interviews before can serve as practice sessions.

4. Have a backup plan

Interviews can be pretty stressful.

So how can you keep your cool when the stakes are high?

Pointing advises having a backup plan in mind. You should always have an alternative path to pursue if your job or internship opportunity falls through.

"If you are interviewing for the summer and you go into an interview with no plan for the summer, then you will probably be way more stressed," Pointing said. "Instead, if you already have an offer or a vague idea of something you would do in the summer (e.g. travel), then the stakes for the interview aren't as high. The more options you already have, the more relaxed you will be in the interview and the higher your chances are for the job."

So take some pressure off yourself and make sure to sketch out a backup plan.

5. Invest time

The interviewing process isn't just about setting time aside to talk to a bunch of hiring managers. You'll need to devote time to reading, practicing, and perhaps even traveling.

"I traveled across the country more than six times in 12 weeks for my interviews and spent approximately 80 hours in planes," Pointing said. "Make sure you have enough time in your schedule to invest in your internship search process. You should dedicate a few hours each day practicing for interviews. I scheduled time in my calendar for interview practice for every morning (after my regular morning routine)."

6. Create a question bank

Pointing recommends that after each interview, job candidates write down interview questions and solutions, as well as their own strengths and areas they could improve on.

"In one of my software engineering interviews, I missed a particular data structure that would have allowed me to have given a more efficient solution, but I made a note of it, and in another interview later on, I ran into a question where I could use that data structure," she said. "After doing enough cases and problems, you will start to recognize patterns, and you will become more confident and quicker in solving problems."

Author: Áine Cain
Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/harvard-junior-received-internship-offers-202342580.html

Categorized in News & Politics

I wasn’t the only one to check my router on the morning of Friday, Oct. 21. The internet was down, and our digital infrastructure was reportedly under attack. To some, this meant the end; to others, it was just a morning without music in the background. But the outage felt strangely universal, affecting the most intimate parts of our lives—Spotify, Airbnb, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, PayPal, Reddit, the New York Times, and Fox News were all affected. The internet, as parts of the US learned in a few short hours, is everywhere.

The hackers targeted the Domain Name System (DNS), which is essentially the internet’s phone book. While most people were compulsively refreshing their screens, I was imagining the chaos playing out in a sprawling glass structure in Playa Vista, California. This monolith not far from LAX belongs to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the proudly omnipresent organization that basically governs the internet’s framework. I didn’t know they existed until I interviewed for a job with them last fall.

Admittedly, my understanding of everything under the hood was slim when we first met. The position—a technical writer with marketing-communication chops—was unlike anything I’d come across in my ten years as a self-described copy mechanic. But I prepared by finding every answer to every question out there. What was this place? What did they do? What was I signing up for? I recognized the acronym from owning small domains over the years, but not much else. Despite a thorough search and plenty of public chatter, I was no closer to understanding: On one hand, the nonprofit sounded like a mysterious NGO; on the other, a sci-fi federation of planets.

So I dug a little deeper. By 1999 the web was exploding in scale and scope, and the US government needed someone to manage its unwieldy phonebook. The internet needed order, not to mention maintenance and a few basic rules. That’s where ICANN came in, and they paired up with the US government. The decision gave us search functionality as we know it in the form of a safe, stable system of IP addresses. Some praised the formation between a private company and political forces, while others argued the DNS switchboard should remain open and unregulated.

Fast-forward to last month, and ICANN’s contract with the US Department of Commerce finally expired. (But don’t worry, the internet is still running as usual—well, nearly.) It arguably wasn’t the best time to enter the private sector, what with cyber-warfare and accountability on the rise. But the internet remains free and open with a framework that is utterly unprecedented, US-government relationship or not.

My interview experience was pretty banal: a phone conversation to start, a few written items, and finally multiple Skype sessions with personalities in far away places. Prepare for lots of time zones, I was told. (The irony of working for the very technology responsible for flattening time and space wasn’t lost on me.) The discussions were serious and thoroughly welcoming, like a college admission interview. They also carried all the weight of a should you choose to acceptultimatum, driven home by the fact that ICANN meets annually in exotic locales, from Marrakech to Hyderabad.

All in all, I learned a lot about the US’s digital governing body—but I learned even more about what it takes for someone to work at the internet.

Work with devices—but don’t be one

Whether it’s a hot startup or a heritage brand, working in digital is basically part and parcel to any career path today. But think about the people, where and how you see yourself engaging. I now work in the tech industry—for one of the giants. Working at one of those pace-making companies is like being in a self-contained ecosystem in many ways, and it’s a rite of passage to see your first engineer walk into a glass door while looking at their phone. But I was surprised to learn so many at ICANN came from traditional media, such as print and television. Very few of them were serial entrepreneurs, and very few were tech bros. These weren’t digital natives—they remember pre-internet times, and our conversations reflected that experience. So consider your coworkers and how you like to communicate: Are you pinging colleagues? Meeting for coffee? Sitting in silence? It sounds obvious, but choosing the types of people you want to work with can be woefully overlooked when you get caught up with the free almonds and beer.

The internet is made of people

And that’s a huge responsibility. This fact was stressed more than once: As much as our culture is created on and by this thing called the internet, it’s still ultimately a community. ICANN’s official language is English, but its bylaws state at least six translations be made at all times: Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French, and Spanish, plus more online. If nothing else, this was a great reminder that people exist—both on and off the internet. From product development to press relations, the audience for anything in this nebulous landscape will always be a living, breathing community.

The internet never sleeps—and you probably won’t either

It might as well be a casino: no clocks, no time, no real place. Plenty of freelance professions are used to keeping strange hours for clients with timely needs, but for a copy guy, I wasn’t used to such extremes. I’ve since learned to adapt, and I’ve updated my CV to purposefully denote flexibility by including cities and time zones where you can find me. For example, I’m currently based in New York on Eastern Standard Time—that doesn’t mean I can’t take a call in Paris, but you know that it’s not ideal. Time doesn’t exist in certain industries anymore, so prepare to take that meeting when some of us are still sleeping.

Don’t sweat the tech

I was skeptical about handling the massive amounts of data and localization work at ICANN—I worried about it even more than the bureaucracy. But we all worry about learning new skills, whether it’s a content management system or, in my case, distilling copy about wonky scripts and root zones into clear nuggets of text. I consider myself a copy mechanic. Recruiters and HR types seem to like that phrase too—it suggests a willingness to embrace ambiguity and rise to the challenge with only your took kit in tow. Action begets action, and experience is no different.

In the end, the internet wasn’t for me. Or maybe I wasn’t for the internet.

For now, I’m back to managing copy and grabbing whatever interesting jobs it has to offer. But ask anyone in this line of work: Don’t dwell on the rejections. Keep sending those pitches, exploring those opportunities. (That is, until you wake up and can’t check your email one morning.)

Watching the news of internet outage unfold two weeks ago, I couldn’t help but think about ICANN and the people cranking the gears one more day. The nature of 9-to-5 work is changing, clearly: You might not hold the same hours as your colleagues, come with the same background, speak the lingo, or embrace your team’s Slack channel with the same gusto as that guy sending all those GIFs. But we should all remember: However this thing turns out, the internet is proving to be the one great equalizer, everywhere and everything at once.

Author:  Jason Orlovich

Source:  http://qz.com/827186/so-you-want-to-work-for-the-internet-what-i-learned-interviewing-with-the-gatekeepers-of-the-web/

Categorized in Social

The interviewing process is often a daunting endeavor for job seekers. There can be immense pressure to perform well, and that pressure often leads to making mistakes that cost you the job.

Make sure you don’t commit one of these seven deadly sins of interviewing, and you’ll find yourself in right standing with future employers.

 

1. Be Arrogant

 

The line between confidence and arrogance is a tricky one, but it’s important to get it right. Confidence lets interviewers know that you’re capable of handling responsibility and leadership well. Arrogance lets them know that you’re a jerk. And who wants to work with an arrogant jerk?

Interviewing tip: Discuss your strengths in the context of how they can help the company, not in the context of how awesome they make you.

 

2. Ask About Money

 

I have learned over the years that there is a time and a place for discussing benefits and salary. Learning the art of timing can make the difference in getting the job or not. If your first question in the interview is about salary or time off, you can go ahead and assume you didn’t get the job. First and even second interviews should be focused on the ideas and skills you bring to the table and culture fit between you and the organization.

Interviewing tip: As you answer questions, articulate what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you.

 

3. Lust (for power)

 

If there is one change I have noticed in the entrepreneurial community over the last decade, it’s that businesses want team players and creative innovators. The organizational structure of entrepreneurial companies has flattened and continues to do so. Gone are the days of working your way up a corporate ladder. Especially with entrepreneurs, humility and a willingness to do “other duties as necessary” is seen as a golden (and necessary) quality. If you come into an interview asking about job titles, organizational hierarchy, and career development paths, you are digging yourself a grave.

Interviewing tip: Practice your interview ahead of time and have someone do a word count between the words “I” and “we.” Make sure the “we’s” outnumber the “I’s” before interviewing.

 

4. Have A Bad Temper

 

While never ideal, toxic situations happen. That’s understandable. But if you spend the interview slandering your last boss, your last team, and your last work environment, you’re giving the interviewer a red flag that you might be carrying a toxic attitude with you to the new role. Stay positive. Be solution-oriented and avoid a victim mentality. If you come into an interview with an axe to grind or unresolved issues with a previous work experience, the room will quickly be turned off to you and your story.

Interviewing tip: When asked about a difficult boss or work situation (which you likely will be asked), begin and end with what you learned about yourself in the situation. Make the conversation about your desire to improve and never about pointing a finger at others.

The old saying “You only get one chance to make a first impression” is still true. People cannot hire you based on looks, but the truth is, the way you present yourself visually matters. That means the formatting for your resume, dressing appropriately, and being put together. Do you care for yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually? One of our values at Vanderbloemen Search Group is Stewardship of Life, because we want to help our people care for themselves and their family. Are you a well-balanced person? It’s difficult for an entrepreneur to believe you will take care of her company if you’re not taking care of yourself.

Interview tip: Make sure your resume is simple and elegant. Dress ¼ step ahead of the office culture you sense from the place you are interviewing.

 

6. Show Envy

 

Few things are as big of a turn-off as a candidate with a victim mentality. Make sure you don’t come across as envious of the successes, ideas, or skills of others. In an interview, celebrate those who have helped you get to where you are. Praise bosses and coworkers. Give credit to others. Displaying gratitude in front of potential employers will show that you can add value to any team. Who doesn’t want to work with a person who is positive and grateful?

Interview tip: Be sure to tell stories about your team getting a win and lift up someone lower than you in the company as you tell the story.

 

7. Be Lazy

 

Laid back interviews are sometimes better than being overly aggressive. But, if you’re interviewing with an entrepreneur, be ready for a high energy interaction. As someone who has built a company from the ground up, I can say that I’d rather deal with all six of the previous mistakes rather than deal with someone who is lazy. Growing a business is a high octane endeavor, and if you don’t want to work hard, consider something else. Show yourself as a self-driven and self-motivated leader, and you’ll cultivate a sense of confidence and assurance in the room and draw entrepreneurs to you.

 

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/williamvanderbloemen/2016/04/07/the-7-deadly-sins-of-interviewing/3/#438b2ecf3a5b

Categorized in Online Research

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