VIEWS: 19 PAGES: 9 POSTED ON: 2/2/2010
1. Tell me about yourself. Keep your answer short and focused on your professional life. This is not the time to bring up relationships, childhood experiences, family etc. A brief history of education, career and special interests is what is called for here. End it with why you are interested in this particular job. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed 2. Why are you applying for this particular job? Show interest and demonstrate that you have researched the job and know what you are getting into. Bring up evidence from past work/ studies that supports your interest in this role and any skills you have acquired in preparation for the role. You can say something like 'I would like to work for a leader in innovative network and telecommunications solutions and my college degree in computational mathematics has given me a solid background for this role. Mention the value-added you can bring to the job. 3. Do you consider yourself successful? You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A good explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are on track to achieve the others. 4. What do you know about our company? Indicate what you have learnt from your research activities - from their annual reports, newspapers, word of mouth, other employees etc. Use this to flatter them and show that you have done your homework. 5. Do you know anyone who works for us? Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization. This can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought of. 6. What makes you qualified for this particular job? Again, explain that you are very interested in the job and demonstrate what it is about your past experiences, education and qualifications that makes you ideal for the job. Show enthusiasm and support your answers with evidence wherever you can (e.g. my summer internship at Citibank gave me broad exposure to the area of equity analysis and I think I can apply many of the tools I learnt there in this job). Elaborate on all the past experiences and skill sets that make you suitable for the job. In cases where your past experience is not directly relevant, you can still find elements of it that can be useful. Play up team skills, computer skills, leadership roles, specific courses and independent research activities that can be useful to the job at hand to show your initiative even where you don't have directly relevant job experience. 7. What can you do for us that someone else can't? Demonstrate key strengths, skills and personal characteristics. 8. Why should we hire you? Because you have all the experience/ traits/ credentials demonstrated in addition to being qualified, you are enthusiastic, intelligent, hardworking, flexible and willing to learn. Also mention any key relationships you may have that may assist you in the job. Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not mention any other candidates to make a comparison. 9. What do you look for in a job? Be honest. Also mention keywords such as challenging, steep learning curve, good work culture, demanding, rewarding, opportunities for advancement and growth, team environment, opportunity to build and maintain client relationships etc. 10. Why are you looking to make a career change? Mention your interests and make sure you bring up all skills/ experience however insignificant that can support your move in this new direction. It is quite common in this day and age to make a career switch. You need however to show that you have very carefully thought about the change, have a strong interest in the new career and can use some of your previous skills/ education/ relationships to make that move. 11. Why did you leave your last job? Do NOT use this as an opportunity to badmouth past employers or peers or talk about a failure of any sort. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason. Any of these answers are acceptable: you were looking for a new challenge, your learning curve had flattened out in the previous job and you were looking for a new learning opportunity, the company or department were restructuring, you were ready to start something new after achieving your career goals at the previous company, your are looking for a chance to do something special or other forward-looking reasons etc. 12. Why do you want to work for us (as opposed to the competitor companies)? Demonstrate that you know something about the company, that you believe they are leaders/ innovators in what they do, or you think their work culture is exactly what you are looking for, or you like their product(s) or you have friends who work there and have always been attracted to the company etc. Flatter the company and show you know something about it. Sincerity is extremely important here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-term career goals. 13. What kind of salary do you need? A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose if you answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something like, That’s a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position? In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not, say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide range. 14. How long will it take you to start making a meaningful contribution? Show that you are enthusiastic and willing to learn and will put in all the hours and effort necessary to learn the ropes and start making an immediate contribution. Indicate that your past experiences/ skills/ credentials will enable you to make an immediate contribution at some level while you quickly learn all new aspects of the job. An Interviewer wants someone who is willing and able to learn and will make a return on his investment sooner rather than later. 15. Are you a team player? You are, of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself is good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag; just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point. However make it a point to mention that you are very capable of working independently (give examples). 16. How long would you expect to work for us if hired? Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I’d like it to be a long time or as long as we both feel I’m doing a good job. 17. Have you ever been asked to leave a position? If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying negative things about the people or organization involved. 18. Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that? This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like you like to fire people. At the same time, you will do it when it is the right thing to do. When it comes to the organization versus the individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the organization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction in force. 19. What are your strengths? In addition, keywords such as good team player, work very well under pressure, very creative, very strong quantitative or computer skills, and very strong client relationship skills may be appropriate depending on your chosen field. Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples: Your ability to prioritize, Your problem- solving skills, Your ability to work under pressure, Your ability to focus on projects, Your professional expertise, Your leadership skills, Your positive attitude etc., 20. What are your weaknesses? Do NOT mention key weaknesses here. This is not the place to say you are bad at meeting deadlines or you never mastered high school mathematics etc. Turn this question around to your benefit. For example, you are 'overambitious' or 'extremely attentive to detail' or 'like to take on too many projects'. Make it sound positive. 21. What are your career goals? Show you have thought forward and are committed to your career. 22. Tell me about your dream job. Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job you are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say another job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with this position if hired. The best is to stay genetic and say something like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and can’t wait to get to work. 23. What is your philosophy towards work? The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation here. Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. That’s the type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a benefit to the organization. 24. What kind of person would you refuse to work with? Do not be trivial. It would take disloyalty to the organization, violence or lawbreaking to get you to object. Minor objections will label you as a whiner. 25. What is more important to you: the money or the work? Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is no better answer. 26. How would you describe yourself? Any of these are good examples of attributes employers are looking for: intelligent, smart / hardworking, quick to learn, enthusiastic, honest, efficient, productive, ambitious, successful and compassionate (in the medical fields). 27. How would your colleagues describe you? Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific statement or a paraphrase will work. Mahesh, a co-worker at Kasturi & Company, always said I was the hardest workers he had ever known. It is as powerful as Mahesh having said it at the interview himself. Do not bring up anything negative here. 28. How would your boss describe you? There are numerous good possibilities. They will check references anyways so bring up the most positive attribute you can think of about yourself e.g. smart / hardworking, honest Loyalty, Energy, Positive attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise, Initiative, Patience, Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver etc. and leave it to your Boss to say anything to the contrary. 29. Tell me about any problem you have had with a supervisor Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former boss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor. 29. What did you most like/ dislike about your past job? Don’t get trivial or negative. Do not use this to badmouth past jobs/ employers. Keep it light and in your favour. Safe areas are few but can include - Not enough challenge, I outgrew the job, there wasn't a clear career progression, I wasn't learning anything new, I was laid off in a reduction, Company did not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility etc. Ideally, you will have loved your last job and would like to achieve the same kind of success and job satisfaction in a more challenging area as you have now 'outgrown' that job and are ready for 'new challenges'. 30. Describe a situation in your past where you showed initiative? Have a good one ready. You could describe any new methods you came up with to do your job or to save money for the company or to turn around a bad situation. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted and was then considered successful. It can be something as simple as changing a filing system, or establishing a relationship with a vendor that saved your department a lot of money. If you are in sales, you may want to talk about how you brought in that big account. Creatives may talk about how they came up with that cut throat image or design that brought in the business. One related to the type of work applied for is a real plus. 31. What were your main responsibilities in your last job? Have these ready and list them all. Dwell on the ones that are most relevant to the new job. This answer should be smooth and practiced. 32. What do you consider your greatest accomplishments? Many of us have one or two milestones in our career that we are very proud of e.g. that early promotion, that 'huge' deal we brought in, the design we came up with, the costs we saved, the revenues we increased, the people we trained, a new invention or process we came up with etc. Examples of accomplishments may be: 'Reduced costs by X%; or renamed and repositioned a product at the end of its lifecycle, or organized and led a team to do XYZ, or achieved sales increase of X% etc. If you are a fresh college graduate, talk about extracurricular activities, leadership roles and grades. 33. What have you learned from mistakes on the job? Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make it small, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. An example would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project and thus throwing coordination off. 34. Do you have any blind spots? Trick question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blind spots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them do their own discovery on your weak points. Do not hand it to them. 35. If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for? Be careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have. 36. Describe your management style (if relevant) Difficult to answer. Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive, salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the situation, instead of one size fits all. 37. How do you work under pressure? Well. Give evidence. 38. Do you think you are overqualified for this position? Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well qualified for the position. 39. How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience? First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about, bring that up; then, point out (if true) that you are a hard working quick learner. 40. What qualities do you look for in a boss? Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense of humor, fair, loyal to subordinates and holder of high standards. All bosses think they have these traits. 41. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute between others. Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique and not the dispute you settled. 42. How would you know you were successful on this job? Several ways are good measures. You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are a success. Your boss tells you that you are successful. 43. Would you be willing to relocate if required? You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to get the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself future grief. 44. What other jobs have you applied for? Don't mention jobs in different career directions (e.g. advertising and investment banking). Do however bring up any other offers or Interviews from competing firms. Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is a distraction. 45. How did you do in college? Keep it positive. It's okay to say you were very busy making the most of college and were very involved in sports, activities, social life etc. Employers want human beings not robots. Mention the areas you did very well in even if it was just one or two courses you excelled in. They will check for themselves. 46. What kind of hours would you like to work? Employers want to see flexibility. Be totally honest. Indicate you are willing to put in whatever hours are necessary to finish the job. Do however mention any constraints you have e.g. you would like to be home to pick your kids up from school at 3:30. Most employers are willing to work around your constraints if you show flexibility on your side as well. 47. If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Answer yes if you would. But since you need to work, this is the type of work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it. 48. Describe your work ethic? Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, determination to get the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good. 49. What has been your biggest professional disappointment? Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show acceptance and no negative feelings. 50. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job. Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization. 51. Do you have any questions for me? Always have some questions prepared. YES you do. Questions engage the Interviewer and show your interest. Ask questions that show you know something about the company or the job, that you are planning ahead, that you are anxious and willing to learn the ropes and that you are committed to the position.
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