Saturday, September 30, 2006

7 Frequently Asked Questions in an interview

Well all of us know the basics to attend the interview. Like Dress well; Shined shoes; Crisp shirt; No bulky brief cases; Cell phone turned OFF; Arrive 15 minutes before the start of the interview; Have copies of your resume with you; Hair combed; Not too much perfume or cologne; Simple jewelry.

Once you are in the interview room then, you got to look at the interviewer in the eyes, smile, and with a FIRM handshake, tell them how happy you are to be there. Once you start talking to the interviewer, keep your physical gestures minimal. I have tried to bring up a set of 7 ( its my lucky number) very Frequently Asked Questions and sample answers for them.

1. How would you describe yourself? / Tell me about yourself ?

This is the most frequently asked or should I put it as, the first question that any interviewer would ask the candidate. The interviewer prefers to know about you from your perspective. Need not give personal details, until or unless asked for. Start with describing what you want to become? Your previous work experience if any, your academic background to support your job? What are your strengths? What will be your contributions to the company? Etc.,Sample replyMy background to date has been centered on preparing myself to become the very best Recruiting consultant. Let me tell you specifically how I've prepared myself. I am a graduate in MBA (HR) from the prestigious university.... My past experiences have been in Technical Consulting Company and Internal recruiter for a leading blue chip company. Both aspects have prepared me well for this career…

2. What are your strengths?

This seems to be a easy question to be answered, right? Assure that you do not miss out pointing the strengths that will present you to be the best fit for the position applied.So to know what your skills are first assess your skills, and you will identify your strengths. This is an exercise worth doing before any interview. Make a list of your skills, dividing them into three categories:

a. Knowledge based skills: Acquired from education and experience (e.g., computer skills, languages, degrees, training and technical ability).b. Transferable skills: Your portable skills that you take from job to job (e.g., communication and people skills, analytical problem solving and planning skills).c. Personal traits: Your unique qualities (e.g., dependable, flexible, friendly, hard working, expressive, formal, punctual and being a team player).

When you complete this list, choose three to five of those strengths that match what the employer is seeking in the job posting. Make sure you can give specific examples to demonstrate why you say that is your strength if probed further. Sample replyI am technically very strong in Java, XML, etc.I posses good written and oral communication, have participated in various debate competitions and won awardsI have the ability to identify potential problem areas, skill to solve them and produce result.Team member to the core and have the ability to lead the team.

3. What are your weaknesses?

Probably the most dreaded part of the question. Everyone has weaknesses, but who wants to admit them, especially in an interview?. The best way to handle this question is to minimize the trait and emphasize the positive. Select a trait and come up with a solution to overcome your weakness. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate more on professional traits.
Sample reply"I pride myself on being a 'big picture' guy. I have to admit I sometimes miss small details, but I always make sure I have someone who is detail-oriented on my team."

4. How do you handle pressure?

To survive in this competitive world we need to develop the ability to handle pressure. Firstly give your view on stress and then explain a situation where you handled pressure well.
Sample replyStress is very important to me. With stress, I do the best possible job. The appropriate way to deal with stress is to make sure I have the correct balance between good stress and bad stress. I need good stress to stay motivated and productive. Then give an example of a time when you handled stress with ease.

5. What do you expect to be doing in five years?

Wow this is a 90% sure question that I end up answering in almost all the interviews I attend. I remember having given some bizarre answers to this question. Once I told my interviewer that I would like to be in his position in this company in next five years, which brought a smirk on the otherwise dreary interviewer. Always think BIG here, tell him that you have always wanted to climb up the career ladder at good pace and you would be in a senior or Top management level, provided there are opportunities for growth prospect in the company.

Sample responseAlthough it is hard to predict the future, I sincerely believe that I will become a very good Recruitment Manager. I believe that my abilities will allow me to excel to the point that I can emerge as an entrepreneur and may even end up opening my consulting company. My ultimate goal continues to be, and will always be to be the best at whatever level I am working.

6. Evaluate your ability to handle conflict?

Honestly I know, I have not had any conflicts in my career. But then the interviewer will not accept my answer if end up telling the truth. So I have to weave a story to convince him that I do have the ability to handle conflict with ease, if any would arise in future. You need to provide couple of points that can convince the interviewer that you have skills to solve problems and conflicts.Sample responseI am good at handling conflict.

Working in a team, there are times when members of a team have difference of opinion. Being a good listener, I make sure that the member is given opportunity to defend his opinion. My decision-making skill helps me to hanle the conflict and solve the problem. I would always make sure that I fully explained the situation, the policies behind my decision, and why those policies exist. Usually by the end of the conversation, the person could see the other side of the situation.

7. Given the investment our company will make in hiring and training you, can you give us a reason to hire you?

You can always expect this question to be fired, if you attend an interview at some MNC’s. They invest to hire and train you, if selected. So they demand to hear the answer from you as to why should they hire ‘you’?

Sample responseI sincerely believe that I'm the best person for the job. Not only do I have the ability, but also bring an additional quality that makes me the very best person for the job, my attitude for excellence. Not just giving lip service to excellence, but putting every part of myself into achieving it. I think my leadership awards from my college, and my management positions are the result of possessing the qualities you're looking for in an employee for this position.
These are some of the very frequent questions i have confronted in various interviews I attended.

By Bindu Vijayakumar

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