Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Personal Interview FAQs

Tell me something about your self.
Go prepared for this question, as this is the most frequently asked question in the interview. Answer it covering your work experience, educational qualifications and a little information about your family background. Try to focus on key areas of your work while talking about your professional experience. This is an open ended question and can help you in taking the interview in which ever direction you want it to go. You should know where to put a full stop to provoke the desired question from the interviewer.
It should be something like:

Hello, My name is John Wales. I’m from New York and born and brought up in the city. My father is a businessman and my mother is a teacher. I have two siblings, an elder brother and an elder sister, both single. I like reading and extremely fond of fiction.

Why does this role interest you? Or why have you applied for this job?
Keep the focus of the answer to this question on your skills, experience and personal qualities. Link the job requirement to your skills rather than talking about the challenges, career and progression.

Why does this role interest you? Or why have you applied for this job?
Try and convince the interviewer that you are there for an interview not because you were called, but because you are supposed to be there and deserve it. Confidence and poise is all that it takes to persuade the interviewer. It should be something like:

This role was something I always wanted to do. I am confident that I will not just be able to achieve the responsibilities that will be given to me, but also learn from them. It will only make me and my company succeed.

Why do you want to leave your present job or why did you leave your last job?
The reasons for switching the job could be numerous. The best answer to offer for this question is to say, “for better prospects”. Now they can ask you another question, what do you mean by better prospects? To this you can say, better prospects in terms of experience, and exposure.

If you have been made redundant, put your words across very carefully. Your wrong words can give an impression that only you were the one whose position was made redundant, which hardly might be the case. May be you can say something like, “Over last 8 months a lot of restructuring was going on in the company and 40 positions became surplus. One of them was mine but I have learnt a lot during my tenure at XYZ company and I am sure I can add a lot of value to a position like the we are discussing about”.
Avoid answers like “I wanted a change”, “I started disliking my job”, “I got bored” etc. Answer should be something like “I felt I was becoming stagnant there and needed to grow”, “I felt as though I can do much more than I was”.

What is your greatest strength?
Interpret this question as, what is your greatest relevant strength? Or Why should we hire you? Tell them a strength that they want to buy. For this you will need to properly understand the job profile and keep your answer ready. For example, if the job needs you to have convincing answers ready for the any type customer’s questions, you can sell “your presence of mind” or if you are required to change you sector or industry you can offer “your adaptability” as an answer. It is important to keep ready at least 2 examples of the mentioned strength.
Avoid answering this question by bragging about yourself. Try and mention strengths related to work. Avoid native answers like “My hard work is my greatest strength”, or “my weakness becomes my strength”. Ideal answers could be “I can adapt to any situation and work atmosphere”, “I’m very flexible”.

What is your greatest weakness?
Interpret this question as, why shouldn’t we hire you? There 3 ways to tackle this question. Judge the situation and use one of them.

First way: Use your sense of humour. If the interview is proceeding in the light way and you have built up a good rapport with the interviewer, you can get out of it by saying “Icecream”. Accompany it with a right body language.

Second Way: If you have to answer this question seriously, give a weakness which doesn’t relate to the job under discussion. For example, you can say, I have been using a camera since childhood but I still don’t know how to mend it. If it is spoiled, I will need to take it to an expert.

Third way: Understand the requirement of the role under discussion and say that others accuse you of having that weakness but you think that it is important for your work. For example, if the job needs a detailed study and leaving a single step might need you to re-run the whole process say that “My colleagues accuse me of having a too much eye for detail but I have experienced that to do this work you need to go into details rather than cutting corners. I have worked with people following a shorter route and doing the whole exercise again, which I would not prefer to do.”

The interviewer seeks an extremely honest answer to this question. Avoid answers like “My strength is my weakness” or “I have no weakness”. Answers may vary depending on the person. Answers like “I take time to mix with people”, “I tend to argue” etc could be some weakness. Try and mention a weakness which will have an impact on the interviewer.

What is your greatest achievement?
The underlying agenda is to know what personal qualities were required to achieve it. Don’t go back too far to answer this question as this might give an impression that you have not achieved anything since then. Find a relevant answer in the recent past for this question. If you are a fresher and have been a topper of your college or university, you can say that during the interview.
Mention about achievements that happened at work. Something related to the past projects and applications you worked on for which you were rewarded. Mention about an achievement that boosted you at work. An achievement that made you confident something related to a module you worked on or got your company some revenue.

You have stayed for a long time with your last company-Why?
Staying with the same company for too long may be considered as the candidate being un-ambitious. While answering this question you can say, “Yes, I preferred to stay with them all this while because I was regularly adding value to my experience there and I was growing as a professional”.
People in my office were friendly and the work atmosphere was comfortable. My manager was extremely cooperative and understood my personal problems. I think that’s what made me stay there for a long time.

You have switched many jobs-why?
Too much job hopping gives an impression that the candidate is unstable and unreliable but you can put this query to ease by saying that you switched jobs to broaden your experience.
The moment I felt I could not give my 100 % to my work or there were some problems with my work, I felt it was time to leave. If I can’t be dedicated or give my 100 %, it is not fair to the company as they put in their resources

Are you speaking to some other companies? Or how is your job search going on?
This question gives you an opportunity to let the interviewer know that other companies are also interested in hiring you and gives you leverage while negotiating the salary. You can say, Yes, I am in the final round of discussion with two other companies. Approach the interviewer as a “Problem Solver” and not as a “Job Beggar”.

Which companies are you talking to?
You can maintain your integrity by refusing to disclose the names. You can simply say, they haven’t notified these openings so I believe they would not like their names to be revealed. At times, taking the competitor’s names might increase your chances of being hires. Analyze the situation and answer accordingly.

Are you ready to relocate?
You can say, for a right position and right company relocation should not be a problem. Do not close the discussion at the earlier stage by saying “No”.

You do not have all the experience we are seeking for this position.
To answer this question, you again need to analyze the requirements of the role properly and match them to your candidature. If you meet most of the requirements, you can say that you have most of the qualities needed for this role and for the remaining you are always open to learning them. You can follow this up with an example from your last job where you learnt and did things that you didn’t know earlier. Stay confident while answering this question.

An interviewer will rarely ask this question as they usually scan your profiles before they call for an interview. If they ask this question, they only want to judge how well can you adapt to negativity. Your answer can be:

“I realize I may not have all the experience. However, we all start from scratch. And its not about how much I know, its about how much can I learn here. I have a passion to learn and I’m sure I can do it”.

What major problems did you face in your last role?
The agenda of this question is to understand if

• You caused the problem
• Could it have been avoided?
• Your attitude to solve it.

It is safer to mention a problem which was caused by an external party rather than the problems within internal parties. May be you can take an example of the problem caused by a customer, vendor. Discuss what you did to solve the problem. If you took some leadership role also in the whole process, talk about it.

Try not to give a very negative answer. Avoid talking ill about your previous company. Answers like “There were no major problems as such. I wanted a change and a hike” would be acceptable.

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