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Cracking the Tech Career: Insider Advice on Landing a Job at Google, Microsoft, Apple, or any Top Tech Company by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

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9Define Yourself

Of all interview questions, these are perhaps the most despised by candidates. Some people think they're trick questions. Some think they're just demanding crafted answers rather than honest ones. And some are just sick of how overdone and cheesy the questions are.

All this may or may not be true, but an interview is probably not the right time to take up this battle. Roll with it—unless you're willing to sacrifice the job for this.

Prepare for these questions by knowing what you'll say in advance. Think about what are the bright spots and blemishes of your background. Know what you want and why.

If you get nailed with a question you weren't expecting, just speak honestly. These questions, even the annoying, overdone ones (“What is your biggest weakness?”), are usually best answered with genuineness.

Your interviewer is not expecting perfection. In fact, many of these questions are aimed at trying to understand exactly how you're not perfect. The worst thing you can do is to pretend that you are.

The Pitch

Many of your interviews will begin with an open-ended question like “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your resume.”

This question is so common that there's no reason not to be entirely prepared for it.

Your response should typically take about two minutes. The following structure usually works well.

Part 1: Introduction

Start off with a one- or two-sentence introduction about yourself. Keep it short; you'll go into more detail later.

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