Job Interview Questions I’d Gotten

Interviews are the deal-breakers on whether you will get a job or not. Having an extensive (and suitable) experience encapsulated in a well-written resume earns you a ticket to the interview, but, the real work happens inside the interview room.

There are a number of typical interview questions that are related to the job and/or the company you are applying to, as well as related to who you are as an individual. For example, questions about your strengths and weaknesses, and also future career/study plans. Nevertheless, more often than not, interviewers can get really creative, innovative, and out-of-the-box in throwing interview questions (some of them were done to test our logic, some were to test our mentality).

What are the weirdest interview questions you have ever heard of? Here are a number of interview questions that I had once gotten and still remember.

In a consulting company:

How many packs of Indomie are sold in a year in Indonesia?

My private bus company has been losing profitability in the past 1 year. How should I respond to this situation?

In a technology company:

How would you sell UHT milk? What will your marketing and sales strategy look like? You have 5 minutes to work on the strategy.

The society has replaced “mineral water” with the word “AQUA” (from the brand) as its household name. Do you think it is a bad or a good thing? Why?

In a consumer goods company:

We have a product that is so commercially successful that one month after it was launched, we had zero stock, both in the factory and in the market. If you were its marketing manager, what would you do?

Why do you think we appointed her as our brand ambassador?

In a start-up:

How do you plan to launch our new product?

Next week, I will share the some tips (and tricks) on doing a job interview. In the mean time, I think it would be useful for you to check this Quora thread on the most common interview questions — and how to answer them.

Tell me: What is the weirdest interview question you have ever heard?

Favourite Ice Creams from 4 Continents

Who does not love ice cream? Wherever I go, I always try to make a stop at as many ice cream joints as possible.  Here are a list of my favourite ice cream joints in 4 continents: America, Australia, Europe, and – of course – Asia!

Here are my choices of favourite ice creams from 4 continents!

Big Dipper

I spent a summer in Missoula of the “big sky country” Montana, United States, in 2010. Big Dipper is its most famous ice cream place. Not only it has an outlet near our place (we stayed in the dorm of the University of Montana), Big Dipper also has a number of ice cream trucks going around the city whenever something is happening (such as the outdoor cinema). Recommended flavours: white mint Oreo, huckleberry, and Mexican chocolate. Price: single cup/cone is $3.15.

Big Dipper Ice Cream
631 S. Higgins, Missoula MT 59801
(also available in Helena and Billings, MT, U.S.A.)

Fennochio

Fennochio is an ice cream place owned by an Italian family in Nice, France. It was established in 1966 at Place Rosetti, the center of Nice’s Old Town, where it still sits at the moment. Fennochio offers 59 ice creams and 35 sorbets in total. Recommended flavours: nocciolato, speculoos, pina colada.

Fennochio
2 place Rossetti and 6 rue de la Poissonerie — both in Nice’s Old Town.

Jock’s

Jock’s prides itself as “Melbourne’s best ice cream” and I would say, I believe it’s right! Established in 2001, Jock’s has always been a great sight of Albert Park area. The interior looks vintage, so does the flavours (they have something called Obamarama!). A must-go if you ever visit this majestic city. Recommended flavours: hokey pokey and chocolate, mandarin orange. Price: single cup/cone is $4.

Jock’s
83 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park

Anita – La Mamma del Gelato

A friend of mine recommended Anita and I tried the one at Bondi, just a few steps away from the beach. It offers ice cream, sorbet, vegan ice cream, and yogurt. Recommended flavours: watermelon and mint (you must not miss it), and something from the ice cream side (it’s difficult to pick one).

Anita – La Mamma del Gelato
28 Broadway, Chippendale, NSW

Gusto

I never get bored of traveling to Bali and there are certain places that I always go to whenever I fly there. One of the places would be Gusto Gelato, a modest, small ice cream place strategically located in Seminyak, but quite far from the hustle of the most crowded areas. At its affordable price, I can try two flavours at once, and it tastes just as good as the gelato I find in Rome, Italy. Recommended flavours: lemongrass, mascarpone. Prices: single cup/cone with two flavours for IDR 22,000 (around $1.7).

Gusto Gelateria
Jalan Mertanadi 46B, Seminyak, Bali

Ragusa

Established in 1932, Ragusa is one of the oldest ice cream places (that are still standing tall at this day and age) established in my hometown, Jakarta. Its ice cream is made of milk instead of heavy cream, which makes it distinctive. It’s always nice to spend an afternoon here, sitting in its old building, listening to street buskers, eating satay before/after the ice cream. Always a perfect date. Recommended flavours: spaghetti ice cream. Prices: single cup is IDR 15,000 (around $1), spaghetti ice cream is IDR 35,000 (around $3).

Ragusa Es Italia
Jalan Veteran I no. 10, Jakarta

Amame

Amame Ice Cream Therapy at my wedding
Amame Ice Cream Therapy at our wedding.

Favourite ice creams from 4 continents.

Okay, this one’s a bit cheating but I dearly love a certain flavour from the ice cream business I established with my best friends. Our ice cream, Amame Ice Cream Therapy, has this flavour made of marie biscuits and cream. We call it Big Warm Hugs (as the flavour feels like one!). We do not have an ice cream shop but we can cater your events, from birthdays to weddings. Fill in the comment box if you would like to try! Recommended flavours: Big Warm Hugs (marie biscuits & cream) and Joyous Relaxant (dark chocolate & mint). Prices: single cup is IDR 22,000.

Photos via Desination Missoula, Examiner, Fennochio, Little Bali Love,  Mel Hot or Not, and Electreats. Photo of Amame Ice Cream Therapy via its Instagram.

What I Do and Do Not Put in My Resume

After I shared some tips on how to get a dream job last week, I received some notes from you regarding how to structure and “write” a CV or resume.

There are heaps of resources available online about “how to write a CV or resume”. But, sometimes, we just cannot shake that feeling off our heads: how we think our CV does not look “special enough”, so boring, does not get us jobs, etc.

What I Put and Do Not Put in My Resume

To start off the week (and welcome the Monday!), I would like to share how I have been writing my resume all these years:

What I Do Not Put in My Resume:

  • Date of birth, gender, photo, religion, weight (???), height (???) — The only “personal data” I put are my name, address, email address and/or website, and phone number. I do not put all of the aforementioned elements because at this day and age, I do not think it is necessary anymore. When we put these on our CV/resume, it might distract the reviewer from what we actually do/excel at/can achieve. However, sometimes the recruiter asks for it. In this case, we do not have any option other than including it.
  • Hobby, or too many skills — I never put my hobby in my CV/resume, especially if I do not have any significant activity related to it. I also do not put “Skills: Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, WordPress CMS, etc…”.
  • Irrelevant “achievements” — Okay, so, I won a colouring competition when I was in elementary school. It was a big achievement for me, and I received a ‘big’ prize for winning (for a 7 year-old, that is!). Nonetheless, it is not relevant with any job or school I was applying to. Hence, I left it out. And many more irrelevant things.
  • Outdated education experience — I do not put my kindergarten, elementary, junior high, and senior high school names.

What I Put in My Resume:

  • Job description! — Sometimes we spend so much time writing this long list of educational degrees obtained, job titles, volunteering activities, etc. etc. etc., we forget to let people know what it is all about. When you say you have been a “business analyst”, what did you exactly do? I always write 2 to 3 sentences about my responsibility, daily tasks, and achievements in the job.
  • “School” description — I also always put a 2 to 3 sentences description about what I had achieved in school (both academically and non-academically) and how the school ranks between others (especially because back in the day, my university has not been as popular as other, bigger private or public universities). I also included the title of my undergraduate thesis, particularly because it is crucial in regards to my career interest/aspiration.

What I Do with My Resume:

  • Constantly update it — 3 years after graduation now, I still update my resume at least quarterly (if not monthly). Not because I have new achievements or new jobs, but simply because overtime, as we grow older, some things might not be relevant anymore.
  • Have a few versions — I have a “primary”, generally-written resume, which includes everything that I would like to be included in the CV. However, I have some different versions on top of it, and usually alter them prior to applying for an opportunity. For example, I have the “corporate job” resume – mainly highlighting my experience in different corporations, the “entrepreneurship” resume – mainly highlighting my work in Sinergi Muda and IndonesianYouth (and schools/fellowships related to it), and the “creative writing” resume – mainly highlighting my writing ‘hobby’. Because maybe, a manufacturing company is not really interested with the fact that I released a romance fiction; but a publisher is not really interested with my work in selling softwares either.
  • Keep it short and simple — My resume is 2 pages. I sometimes use bold, italic, underline, and different colours to highlight some stuff. But that’s it.

Do you have any tips regarding how to write a resume? What do you do with it — that is usually not done by others? Share in the comments box!

Get Your Dream Job

Since I moved to Melbourne in February, I have been intensively applying for jobs. Finding a job is not easy, let alone in a new city, or in my case: a new country! Adit has been juggling both graduate school and a part-time job for over a year now. So, sometimes it frustrates me how I find it very difficult to get a job, but he kept reminding me how it is okay not to have one (yet) and that usually things like these take time.Tips on how to land your dream job as a fresh graduate.

This period reminds me of a time in 2013 when I recently graduated from the university and was looking for a job. Here are some experiences that I could remember, might be useful for fresh graduates (or those who are going to be one soon):

Apply Early

Although some of us would like to have a gap year upon graduation, most of us yearn to directly have a full-time job upon graduation. If this is the case, my advice would be to apply early, even before you complete your thesis. I applied to Unilever in March while I was still doing my research. The interview took place in August and I started the job in September, two months before my graduation ceremony. Job search is an absolutely long process, so you might want to get ahead especially if there is a specific company we are rooting for.

get your dream job

Understand the Selection Process

Every company has different hiring mechanisms. However, usually, those who come from the same industry probably have similar characteristics. For example, I applied to the management trainee programme in around three or four companies from the FMCG industry. The selection process is pretty much like this:

Online application (or “CV/resume screening”)

This will be the company’s first (and can be only) opportunity for it to know whether you are suitable for the job or not. Consider this as the chance to “win” the ticket to do an interview.

Tests

Some companies ask you to do some tests to understand your logical and analytical thinking capability. In my case, I had to do IQ, Maths, and English tests on the online application. Most important tip for this one: get enough sleep before you do these tests! The tests are not that difficult, but usually require a constantly high level of concentration. I did online tests a few times, but there was also one time when I had to do it on paper in a campus hiring activity.

Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

The company wants to see how you behave in a group. Can you lead the group to reach a conclusion? Are you too passive to be able to work in their company? In my experience, those who are too passive and quiet during the discussion usually do not get the job, but those who try so hard to “stand out” and talk all the time do not get the job either. Try your best to be balanced.

Individual presentation

If you have succeeded in the group discussion, the company probably will give you a chance to shine on your own. The individual presentation, that can come in the form of a pitch or a case study to be worked upon individually, is your chance to showcase your strengths. If you applied to be a marketer, can you sell the product? et cetera.

Interview

Interview is the most common (and almost, always compulsory) element in a company’s selection and hiring process. Typically, you will get to be interviewed at least with someone from the Human Resource Department and your user (someone who will manage/supervise you in the office). Nevertheless, in other cases, especially for graduate programmes or management trainee programmes, the top management such as CEO or VP might be present to get to know you better.

Medical check-up

Rumour has it — if you have reached this far, it means you are already accepted! Be honest with your health issues, as this usually does not affect your acceptance status unless you are applying for a job that might get affected with your health issues.

Companies in other industries might have fewer or even more process. If you want to become a flight attendant, for example, the process is longer as there is physical tests that you have to take. On the other hand, smaller companies might only ask for your CV and directly invite you to attend an interview with the HR and the user.

Get the Job Offer

If you pass all the tests, including the medical check-up, the company will give you a job offer that outlines your job title, job description, and remuneration (salary and benefits). Review this document carefully and dare to ask questions if there is something that you do not understand. Things to thoroughly learn about (even though sometimes it sounds boring): career steps, job status (Permanent? Contract? Outsourced?), medical benefits, annual leave, and other things you want to know. Remember: the job will always be more than what is stated on the paper, yet, the benefits should also be more than the number on your payroll.

What is your experience in looking for and applying for jobs?

The Spectrum of Love

I am no expert on love.

Well, nobody is, but most of us probably have had enough heartbreaks, what ifs, and could bes to try to have an understanding of it. What is love, exactly? Is it the enduring friendship that began with two intoxicated beings having a one-night stand followed by a morning cuddle that is too comfortable to be let go? Is it the overly attaching relationship dating back from, what, 8 to 11 years ago? — the kind where your first ‘love’ made his or her way to meet you in the altar? Is it the short-lived romance filled with great conversations and night outs that involve some pizza e birra here and there?

The experience of love comes distinctively across different sets of people. Like permutation, where with just a few variables, one can make hundreds of possible combinations out of it. It probably is an unbelievably wide spectrum full of varieties that looks like a line made of dots. Our version could be on any of those dots. Every single person would definitely have his or her idea of love, and no one’s version is better or worse than the other.

Love can both be a tall glass of gin and tonic shared on a laidback food joint on a seaside, and the fingers, slowly running through one’s hair, every night before bedtime until both of them/us fall asleep.

Is there only one “true love” or “the right one”?

Does love have to come in a complete package with possession?

Can you “love” someone without actually having him or her?

Can there be a better kind of love?

All of us have different cases. We might choose the fiery, full of intoxicated nights followed by passionate kisses kind; or perhaps, the altruistic, arranged, straightforward companionship kind.

My mother used to tell me, that my grandmother, the iron lady that she was, used to get irritated a lot by my late grandfather. Back in those days in the 1980s, whenever she gets angry, he would carry her on his arms, all the way through their bedroom. She would still be mad, but he did not care. He just wanted to respond to her anger with a smile. Now that is definitely love too. Perhaps, on one of the furthest ends of the spectrum.

Here’s one of my favourite writings about the concept of love, and especially “soulmates”, written by Salman Aristo more than 10 years ago.

5 Favourite Travel Products

Traveling has played a big role in my life since I was 17. Since then, I have been traveling a lot to different cities and sometimes different countries due to my work. Packing light has never been my virtue, but I do not usually travel heavily either.

Here are my favourite travel products that I always bring wherever and whenever I go:

5 things I always bring wherever and whenever I travel.

Passport holder

I swear by MUJI’s products, especially their travel range. In Indonesia, MUJI is not that affordable (at least according to my standards), so I bought only two items that I know I will use the most. I love their travel documents organiser (a.k.a. passport holder!) and hanging travel case.

A knitted tube scarf

Easy to wear, can double up as either my “blanket” or my “pillow” in the airplane.

Slip on sneakers

Actually, any pair of sneakers will do, because I think it’s way more comfortable to have long walks through the big halls of airport lounges in sneakers rather than in boots or ballerina flats. I like slip ons better as they are easy to put on and take off.

Kindle

I used to bring a couple of books for long haul flights, but since Adit got me a Kindle reader as a birthday gift, I cannot travel without it. For me, it is way more comfortable to read on a Kindle than a tablet as it does not hurt my eyes and the battery lasts way longer — even for weeks!

A Kipling Seoul laptop backpack

I first got myself a Kipling when I was 13 years old. I got a small backpack and I had been using it on a daily basis ever since. Turns out, it lasted for more than 10 years! So, when I was 23, I finally got myself a new one. I admire Kipling because of its durable and light material. It also has distinctive prints. I choose a Seoul backpack as I can fit many things into it, including my laptop. Most of the time, I only need this bag to bring all of my carry-on items. It also fits into under the seat in front of me while in the airplane.

What are your favourite travel products?

A Matter of Significance

I came across two astonishing quotes today.

The first one was said by Jennifer Clement in a special event organised by PEN Melbourne:

Mercy is not a two-way street.

The second one was said by Mitchell Garabadian in the movie Spotlight:

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.

I began my day by writing. Well, at least, I tried to. Have you ever experienced coming across difficulties to fall asleep because you have too many thoughts that need digestion? I get them every night. These thoughts and ideas on what and how I should write keep coming to the surface of my mind every time I am about to sleep. I will then try my best to doze off and wake up enthusiastically, just to get my chance to write after I finish every morning’s errands.

It seemed ideal. It sounded perfect. Didn’t it?

But my story has always been the same: I open my laptop in the morning, stare to my half-baked (or more accurately, perhaps, just one-fifth-baked) manuscripts, not knowing how to proceed.

I browsed through the Writing Projects folder in my laptop this morning just to realise one thing. Back in 2008, I had more than a couple of finished, unpolished (I guess it would be fairer to say “awfully written”) manuscripts. Most of them were romantic flicks, but I even had a science fiction work. These days, I might have better written manuscripts, thanks to everything I had learned from new writers friends I made or resources that are available both online and offline for writers. Yet, all of these manuscripts are sadly unfinished. What is even worse: I am having second, third, fourth thoughts of putting them out.

I am afraid that they are too cheesy, that they would not be significant pieces of work.

Hence, I left a little bit later in the afternoon to The Wheeler Centre and attend a special conversation with Jennifer Clement. She currently heads PEN International, a worldwide association of writers that “fights for freedom of expression”. The organisation found its name abbreviating Poets, Essayists, Novelists, but now it has expanded its reach to also Playwrights and Editors. Clement is the first woman who ever heads this organisation.

She is an American-Mexican author. In the session, she talked about her 10-years-long research about the women and girls affected by the drug cartel crisis in Mexico, as well as the journalistic pieces she had published about them. Furthermore, she talked about and read excerpts from one of her most successful novels, Prayers for the Stolen, which tells the (inspired by true) story of Mexican girls who got kidnapped (or “stolen”) by the country’s notorious drug cartels. The quote I posted above was from that novel.

She also said this, profoundly, about writing novels: “Nobody would remember which  journalistic pieces changed the status quo about child labour, for example. But everyone would remember Oliver Twist from the era. Les Miserables changed what people thought of poor people, like what Jane Austen did to social class, status, and hierarchy. That is the power of a novel. It can change the world.”

Today’s game of ‘writing school’ (and slap on the face) was continued by a trip down to the cinema a few blocks from our apartment. We finally watched Spotlight in the cinema, and realised again how much a story can change the world.

Yet, here I am, in front of my laptop — still pondering over a story of who’s cheating who, pasting a fragment of song lyrics here and there complimented by heaps of references to popular culture.

Plenty of questions popped into my head.

Can my writings make an impact? Like what Clement is doing with her journalism and fiction pieces, as well as her work with PEN? Or, like what the Spotlight team is doing by investigative journalism?

I’m not sure. Probably not. The only thing that I am sure is how I possibly will lose some hours of sleep again tonight.

I realised that a book can reach out and embrace you like an arm and make you walk away from everything you thought you understood. – Jennifer Clement