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Best Interview Questions for Job Applicants

On the surface, interviewing a candidate for an open position sounds easy, but the nuance of interviewing goes well beyond skills and abilities. By asking the right questions, you can gauge maturity level, culture fit and self-awareness to assess the quality of the candidate and how someone will mesh with your team. Here are a few interview questions to ask candidates:

Tell me your biggest success story related to [skill].

Why ask this question? This prompt is good to use early in the conversation. It offers the candidate an opportunity to share his or her best skill sets (technical skills), along with transferable skills (soft skills) and understand what is perceived to be his or her strength. It also gives the interviewer an opportunity to see how closely aligned the candidate is with the duties of the position.

Tell me something about yourself that others may be surprised to know about you.

Why ask this question?
This question is an opportunity to learn something interesting and real about a candidate that might not come up in a standard interview.

If there were something in your past that you could go back and do differently, what would that be?

Why ask this question?
This question is another way to understand life lessons a person has learned, and how these lessons may be of benefit when managing others or working in teams.

Tell me about a time you had trouble working with a colleague. What was the challenge, how did you address the situation, and what did you learn from the experience?

Why ask this question?
It’s helpful to understand how a candidate moves through challenges, resolves problems and how the experience and knowledge learned can be applied to possible future situations. While skills don’t stand alone, culling proper skills is critical to ensuring a candidate can do the job.



Trusted Professions

When it comes to honesty in the workplace, some professions have a better reputation than others and that begs the question: What professions do Americans trust the most and the least today?  This infographic uses the findings of a recent Gallup poll to list the top occupations for honesty and ethical standards in America today.


Strange But True

Q. The human voice can be commanding or soothing, reverential or shrill.  How have drug companies in particular capitalized on this powerful marketing tool?

A. According to STAT, a website that details news of the medical world, including the fast-moving business of making medicine, “drug ads almost always have two narrators—a steady, confident one which tells about the afflictions the drug treats, and a calm, soothing one which prattles off an extraordinarily long list of potential side effects,” says Dan Lewis on his “Now I Know” website.  Since manufacturers are legally required to disclose these side effects, they use two different tones of voice “to make subtle inferences which, they hope, only register on a subconscious level.”  The message: Don’t worry about the side effects.  This product is worth your purchase.

Source: Bill Sones and Rich Sones, Ph.D.


Handwriting & Personality Traits

What does your handwriting reveal about your personality? Graphology is the science behind study of handwriting, especially when regarded as an expression of the writer’s character, personality and abilities. Today, it’s used for a variety of purposes—from criminal investigations to understanding your health. Some employers even use handwriting analysis to screen potential employees for compatibility. According to master graphologist Kathi McKnight, experts can find more than 5,000 personality traits just by analyzing handwriting, though she readily admits that the information from an analysis is a general overview.

Try writing this sentence: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Then take a look at what your handwriting says about you.

Size of Letters and Words. Large letters suggest you want to feel understood and you’re people-oriented. Small letters suggest you have strong focus and that you’re introverted.

Slant. If there’s no slant, you’re ruled by logic, not emotion. You’re very solid and pragmatic. If you’re handwriting slants to the right, you’re heart-centered, friendly, sentimental and impulsive. If it slants to the left, you prefer to work with things over people. You’re introspective and reserved. You’re more “me-oriented.”

Heavy Pressure.
You have strong emotions, feel things intensely and can be quick to react.

Light Pressure.
You move easily from place to place and don’t wear yourself out emotionally.

Connection of Letters.
If your letters are not connected, chances are you’re logical, methodical and make decisions carefully. If you’re letters are connected, chances are you’re intelligent and intuitive.



The average U.S. life insurance policyholder is 74 percent underinsured. Are you among the underinsured? Advisors Andrew McNeil and Rosario Avila of Arrow Benefits Group launched BenefitsTV in early January to provide this type of useful and easy-to-consume information to viewers about employee benefits and other insurance-related topics.

McNeil, a principal at Arrow Benefits Group, is the first to admit that insurance and employee benefits are generally not the most exciting topic. “The goal was to provide short snippets of information, and not to be self-serving. We’re trying to provide value, and not looking to just sell insurance,” he says. But the company is working to bring value to the insurance benefits employees carry through their employers to maximize benefits.

“We wanted to educate the end user and hit certain points,” adds Avila, a benefits consultant. For example, the needs of a 23-year-old who is no longer covered under a parent’s health care insurance plan, she says, are different than someone at mid life. Through BenefitsTV, viewers are provided with information about health insurance, the importance of preventive care, life insurance and more. What’s more, BenefitsTV can be tailored to fit a specific company’s benefits package, and messages are also available in Spanish. Follow BenefitsTV on YouTube (BenefitsTV) and Instagram (@BenefitsTV).

For more information, contact Andrew at, or Rosario at

In the meantime, how do you calculate life insurance? According to McNeil, a good rule of thumb is to carry a policy that’s seven to 10 times greater than your annual salary.



In this Issue

Rebuilding: Sonoma County Housing Sites

Take a spin through Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood and you’ll see what recovery and resiliency look like. Efforts to rebuild thousands of lost homes have ramped up to full speed i...

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Rohnert Park Renaissance

For decades, the city of Rohnert Park has longed for a downtown. Rotary president, Pat Miller remembers moving to Rohnert Park with her boyfriend, now husband, in 1978, and finding disappointment....

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