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PayScale’s VIP Blog Roundup: Time Management Lies, Crazy Interview Questions, and What Workers Want More Than Free Food

If you've ever interviewed at a tech company -- or any startup -- you've probably had a hiring manager try to sell you on the value of fun perks like free food, in-office foosball, and other swag and snacks. In reality, though, these extras are worth much less than other considerations. For example, dealing with a bad boss isn't worth all the cereal General Mills will ever produce.

If you’ve ever interviewed at a tech company — or any startup — you’ve probably had a hiring manager try to sell you on the value of fun perks like free food, in-office foosball, and other swag and snacks. In reality, though, these extras are worth much less than other considerations. For example, dealing with a bad boss isn’t worth all the cereal General Mills will ever produce.

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(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

Lindsey Pollak: Employee Perks That Work: Free Food Is Nice, But a Great Career Is Better

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Pollak advises companies who want to recruit and retain millennial talent, but her post is valuable even if you’re the millennial worker yourself, and not the hiring manager or company owner.

Like most people, I’ve had terrific bosses and terrible bosses. One of the former gave me tons of opportunities to stretch myself professionally. One of the latter asked me how much I weighed and then responded, “Oh, good. I weigh less than you.”

In my opinion, the greatest incentive to work hard every day (whether you’re a millennial or a member of any other generation) is a leader who inspires you, values you and helps you grow. Developing great managers leads to happier and more productive employees. So remember to provide great perks to your managers as well. This keeps them happy and gives millennials something to aspire to as they rise up through the ranks.

In other words, great leaders are more important than snazzy fun perks. Which makes sense: the No. 1 reason workers of all ages leave their job is bad managers.

Alison Green of Ask a Manager at Intuit’s The Fast Track: 4 Time Management Beliefs That Are Hurting You

Having trouble getting everything done? Maybe you’re genuinely overworked — most of us have more things to do than we have time to do them in. But, maybe, your thinking about time management is to blame for your relative lack of productivity. Alison Green offers four beliefs that could be standing in your way, including:

“It looks bad if I say no to people.”

What looks bad to people is taking on more commitments than you can handle and then either turning in shoddy work or dropping the ball altogether. That looks far worse than saying from the start, “I’m pretty booked up for the next few weeks and don’t think I’d be able to take this on without reshuffling something else.”

And to be clear, saying no isn’t usually about a flat “no.” Depending on who you’re talking to, it might be, “I can do that but only if we push back X or Y” or “I could do it in two weeks, if you can wait that long” or “I’d love to, but I’m booked solid and can’t see a way to fit that in” or “It’s a great idea, but I’ve got my hands full with X right now.”

Kari at Boredom to Boardroom: The Craziest Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)

Hiring managers love to throw curveballs at candidates, and there’s nothing harder to hit out of the park than a wacky interview question. Kari offers a few of her favorites, with variations from major employers, and gives tips on how to answer them. One example:

The Thought Process Questions

My favorite: “Why is a manhole cover round?”

Other questions:

“Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?” (Xerox)

“If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?” (Apple)

Why they ask: This is a critical thinking test. How do you work your way through a problem and can you think on your feet?

How to handle it: Don’t panic. I was interviewing for a marketing position and was shocked to be asked about manholes. I had to pause for air before answering. Honestly, I had no idea why manhole covers are round. I guessed that the smooth edges cause less damage to the road and passing cars, use less material to create, and are basically the same shape as the man going down it.

Was I right? Of course not. Thankfully, it didn’t matter. The interviewer didn’t care if I knew the real reason or not — I mentioned that they didn’t make manholes, right? — they just wanted to know my thought process. Turns out, the real reason is that any other shape would fall back down through the hole, but a circle — no matter how it’s turned – won’t.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s the best career advice you’ve heard this week? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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