Monday, May 22, 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 reply
My 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 reply
I am technically very strong in Java, XML, etc.
I posses good written and oral communication, have participated in various debate competitions and won awards
I 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 reply
Stress 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 response
Although 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 response
I 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 response
I 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. Will come up with another set of 7 FAQ's very soon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Intertview Body language

Handshake: A warm and firm hand shake reflects a strong personality and is what most employers are looking for. Limp, sweaty hands are definitely a no. This is the first body language in the interview that your interviewer will observe.



Hands: Do not exaggerate hand gestures when you are talking. Try answering an interview question in front of a mirror to help you understand how much you move your hands while talking.



Eye Contact: Maintain eye contact but do not stare. If you are uncomfortable with this kind of body language look at the interviewer's nose as it has the same effect. Do not let your eyes wander away from your interviewer.



Posture: Reflects energy, enthusiasm and self control. Stand and sit erect. Slouching does not reflect a positive attitude in interview body language.



Fidget: Simple rule 'do not fidget'. Avoid playing with you hair, clicking pens and the like.

Group Interview

The group interview is more stressful than the panel interview. You will be "interviewed" in a group. All the candidates/job seekers will be in the same room during the interview.

The group interview will show
  • Leadership qualities
  • Hanling stress
  • Communication with possible team mates
  • How the candidate will face the public and customers
  • What level of knowledge candidates have
  • How knowledge is used in a discussion
Show your opinion but let the other candidates speak. Ignore any candidates who are too aggressive or make any personal remarks. Try to avoid getting in one to one conversations.
It is always a good idea to have the final statement in a group interview. Generally this is not the final interview and short listed candidates will have a panel or one to one interview

Panel Interview

This kind of interview is conducted by an interviewing panel (comprising more than one interviewer), which is made up of the senior executive and some members of the team. The interview panel can also consist of top level CEOs although this depends the kind of position you are applying for.


The panel interview is stressful and this is why organisations use it: to see the candidate's reaction to stress. You will be asked questions from all the panel members, sometimes the same question by different panel members. It is difficult to build the kind of connection with the interview panel as you can in a one on one interview.


You can buy time by asking questions. You should always remain calm and composed during a panel interview. Take a breath and even count to five (in your head), if you see the situation getting out of hand.

One to One Interview

The most common interview is the one to one. The One to One Job Interview is a test/conversation and both parties will end the conversation with an opinion. The interviewer: if the candidate is right for the job and the interviewee: if the organisation is right for him.
Here the interviewer is going to conduct an 'investigation' in order to see if you are fit for the job vacancy and whether you are better at the job than the other candidates. The interviewer will ask questions of a technical nature and of a general nature. General questions will analyze your problem solving abilities and your ability to socialize with the rest of the team. Always use previous achievements to back any facts you mention. Even if such achievements were at the school newspaper, employers under stand that school leavers have to start from somewhere.

Interview preparation is very important. Make notes of your achievements and practices how you want to put them to the interviewer. Apart from trying to see if you have the experience and qualifications for this job, interviewers also want to see how you fit in the work environment, the team and how you relate to your immediate supervisor. Therefore, if you have a one to one interview it is very likely that you will have several other one to one interviews. This is a disadvantage over a 'panel interview'. Each time the interviewer is satisfied you, move a rung up in the corporate ladder until you're interviewed by the departmental manager (this depends on the kind of job you are being interviewed for). Treat each one to one interview with great attention.

Do not assume that the next interviewer knows what you told the first one. You will need to mention your preparation and qualities each time.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Telephonic interview tips

Very recently I took up a telephonic interview, at the end of the interview, the interviewer asked me if I had any questions for them. Since it was a long time that I attended an interview, wanted to know their feedback on the interview conducted. The interviewer didn’t take time to answer, and instantly came the reply ‘your answers seemed mugged up and well prepared’. I had to control my laughter, as honestly there was no effort put in to answer these questions. I was baffled and told my interviewer that no such preparation has gone in, to attend the interview. He told with a smile ‘I am sorry but it seemed so’.

So I decided to do some search on this, come up with list of most frequently asked questions and the answers to them. The FAQ’s will be available in my next blog.


To start with here are some tips to attend a telephonic interview. Remember for an applicant, the goal of a telephonic interview is to secure an in-person meeting. For recruiters, it's to narrow their list of prospects.
You can increase the chances of passing this initial screening if you follow the tips below.


Before taking up a Telephonic interview

  • Keep your resume in front of you.
  • Keep all of your employer research materials within easy reach of the phone.
  • Have a notepad handy to take notes.
  • Turn off your stereo, TV, and any other potential distraction.
  • Warm up your voice while waiting for the call. Sing an uplifting song to yourself.
  • Have a glass of water handy, since you will not have a chance to take a break during the call.
  • Speaking of breaks, if your phone interview is at a set time, make sure you answer nature's call first.

Do’s

  • Do take telephonic interview as seriously as a personal interview.
  • If the call is unexpected, ask for a reschedule. It is always OK.
  • You need to have enthusiasm and sound confident while answering the questions.
  • Always put across the details on your experience, skills and your strong points.
  • Answers need to be precise to the questions asked, at the same time do not miss out to list out your strengths.

Don’ts

  • Avoid / Minimize distractions. Always take a telephonic interview in a quiet place.
  • Avoid using mobile as there can be some signal problem and it may be problematic.
  • If using a mobile do not switch on the voice message.

After Telephonic interview

  • fter a phone interview, send a thank-you note by email that recaps your best selling points.
  • You can also follow up to know the result of the interview.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Resume Writing Links

Check these out websites for articles and samples on resume writing

http://www.resume-web.net
http://www.resumelogic.com
www.quintcareers.com/action_verbs.html
http://www.bestsampleresume.com/

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