HR Interview Questions and Tips
Okay, so you have managed to hold your nerves in control and brave the questions of the HR. You
are now at the end of your interview session. What next? The answer is, there are a few more
steps to go. For instance, the HR person may ask you if you have anything to ask of him/her. How
do you respond to that? It is quite likely that you are stressed out and nothing comes to your mind.
This article deals with this situation and gives you a few intelligent questions that you may ask.
First of all let us try to understand why the HR person puts you in such a situation. Is he/she
simply being nice to you or is there more to it? One possible reason is that the company wants to
project an image of transparency. The company wants you to know that it encourages two-way
communication between the top management and the subordinates, an atmosphere where
everyone can ask relevant questions and expect to get answers. In other words, the company
respects the employee’s need to know about matters that affect him, no matter where he is in the
Next, and more important, this situation checks your presence of mind and ability to form
intelligent questions. So far you have been simply answering questions asked of you. How do you
behave when you are in a position to ask questions? What kind of questions do you ask? It also
shows how serious you are about the company and the job.
Let us get on to some questions now.
Some Useful Questions
Before you set out to ask questions, keep the above reasons in mind. It would be good to sincerely
thank the HR person for such an opportunity. You can start with something like “I have really
enjoyed this opportunity to meet you and your team at .. (the company name). Yes, there are a
few things I would like to know, thank you for asking” However it is not wise to ask the HR a volley
of questions and turn it into a counter interview. Consider the questions below and choose one or
two from them that you find the most useful to you.
• What do you personally find the most enjoyable part of working for this company?
• May I ask why or how you joined this organization? / What brought you here?
• I would like to know about the work atmosphere here…
• Would you be able to tell me about this company’s vision/philosophy?
• How would you evaluate this organization’s strengths and weaknesses?
• I would like to know a little about my day-to-day responsibilities.
• Is this an immediate requirement? How soon would you be taking people on board for this
• I would like to know how my skills compare with the other people who have applied for this
• I am really interested in this opportunity and I feel I have the required skills for this
position. What would I have to do next?
• Now that our interview is coming to close, is there anything you would like to know about
my ability towards this job?
• Would you be able to tell me a little about what the company expects from its employees?
What are the most important assets and skills for this company?
• Does the company follow a structured path in promoting the employees? How does it go?
• If the company finds me good at the job, how would it advance me? What would be the
next step in my career growth?
• If I performed well in the current position, what are the additional likely opportunities for
me within this company?
• Are there any special areas in this company that the top leaders emerge from?/ Are there
special areas like say sales or engineering that have more prospects for growth within this
company, or do the leaders come from a cross section of different areas?
• The company has decided to recruit for this position from outside. How does the company
choose between recruiting from within or outside?
• How far does this particular position contribute to the bottom line?
• What advice would you give to someone selected for this position?
• What are the current challenges of this position/department within the company?
• Before I leave, can I have a formal/written description of the position? This would help me
to review the activities and evaluate what is expected of me.
• Is this job likely to lead to other positions in the company? What is the usual route?
• Would you be able to tell me a little about the people I will be working with?
• Before I take your leave, let me check my understanding of the position. The designation is
…., the responsibilities are …., it is in the ….. department, and I would be reporting to …….
Please correct me if I have got it wrong anywhere.
• How does this company promote equal opportunity and diversity?
• Would you be able to tell me who the company regards as its stars? What have been their
most important contributions?
• How do the subordinates address their seniors in this company?
• Could you tell me about the management style of this company?
• If you selected me for this position, what assignment would I be starting on?
>Does this company have a formal mission statement? Am I allowed to see it?
• What are the most important parameters along which this company evaluates an
Some Usefull Question Answers
1. Tell me about yourself?
I am down-to-earth, sweet, smart, creative, industrious, and thorough.
2. How has your experience prepared you for your career?
Aside from the discipline and engineering foundation learning that I have gained from my courses,
I think the design projects, reports, and presentations have prepared me most for my career.
Through internships, I have gained self-esteem, confidence, and problem-solving skills. I also
refined my technical writing and learned to prepare professional documents for clients.
By working on multiple projects for different student organizations while keeping up my grades,
I've built time management and efficiency skills. Additionally, I've developed leadership,
communication, and teamwork abilities.
In general, life has taught me determination and the importance of maintaining my ethical
3. Describe the ideal job.
Ideally, I would like to work in a fun, warm environment with individuals working independently
towards team goals or individual goals. I am not concerned about minor elements, such as dress
codes, cubicles, and the level of formality. Most important to me is an atmosphere that fosters
attention to quality, honesty, and integrity.
4. What type of supervisor have you found to be the best?
I have been fortunate enough to work under wonderful supervisors who have provided limited
supervision, while answering thoughtful questions and guiding learning. In my experience, the best
supervisors give positive feedback and tactful criticism.
5. What do you plan to be doing in five years' time?
Taking the PE exam and serving in supervisory/leadership roles both at work and in
6. What contributions could you make in this organization that would help you to stand
out from other applicants?
In previous internships, my industriousness and ability to teach myself have been valuable assets
to the company. My self-teaching abilities will minimize overhead costs, and my industriousness at
targeting needs without prompting will set me apart from others. Additionally, one thing that has
always set me apart from my scientific/engineering peers are my broad interests and strong writing
abilities. I am not your typical quot;left-brainedquot; engineer, and with my broad talents, I am likely to
provide diverse viewpoints.
7. What sort of criteria are you using to decide the organization you will work for?
Most importantly, I am looking for a company that values quality, ethics, and teamwork. I would
like to work for a company that hires overachievers.
8. What made you choose your major?
My academic interests are broad, so I sought civil engineering to achieve a great balance of
mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, and writing.
9. Have your university and major met your expectations?
The College of Engineering at MSU has exceeded my expectations by providing group activities,
career resources, individual attention, and professors with genuine interest in teaching.
My major has met my expectations by about 90%. I would have enjoyed more choices in
environmental courses, and would have preferred more calculus-based learning.
10. What made you choose this college?
I chose this college for the following reasons: my budget limited me to in-state schools, I was
seeking an area with dog-friendly apartments, the MSU web site impressed me, I saw active
student groups, and the people were very friendly
As fresher what are your goals
It reflects poorly on you not to have any goals or have only generalities. Remember that those
people who are in a position to hire you have reached there most probably because of their goal
setting habits. They would want to hire people who are like them. Thus being non specific about
your career/ personal goals could act as a big turn off.
You should therefore have a well laid out plan for every area of your life- career, personal growth,
family, health and community. If your interviewer appears to be spiritually oriented, you can also
refer to your spiritual goals. This helps to project yourself as a well rounded person. Every goal
should be talked about in terms of milestones and time periods set to achieve them. However you
need to be concise and be careful not to speak for more than two minutes at a length.
52. What are the things you look for when you have to hire people?
This is an easy question if you are prepared for it. Present your own ideas developed from
experience and centered around your profession. But there are three universal parameters you
need to keep in mind. These are
1. Is this person qualified for the work?
2. Has he/she got enough motivation for the work?
3. Is this person the kind of team player suitable for this job?
53. Try selling me this pen (this clock/ this card holder/ this mobile phone or any object
around the interviewer)
There is a school of thought among some business people that good salesmanship (being
persuasive) is essential for any position. Such people might ask you for a demonstration in this
form. Be prepared by practicing.
You have, in preparing for this interview, already learned the most important element of successful
marketing. It is to find what people want and tell them how to get it. If your interviewer asks for a
demonstration on something, apply this principle.
E.g. “As a good salesman I should know everything about the product that I am selling. I should
also learn about my prospect. I would therefore gather all possible information about this item”
“Then before selling this to you, I would also need to research about what you might need in such
a product. I can do this only by asking a few questions. Shall I ask now?”
Then ask a few questions in a slightly casual manner like “If you didn’t have this product already,
why would you have gone for it? Apart from that? Is there any other reason you would want this
product?” and so on.
Ask specific questions that point to the features of the product in question. Once you have all the
information, present the product and cite all its qualities and benefits. Match it as closely as
possible to the needs and wants of the interviewer.
Then ask what would they consider as the right price for such a product (cite all the benefits
again), and agree with whatever price (apart from zero) that the interviewer says and make the
If the interviewer shows resistance and says that he doesn’t want the item at all, do not try to fight
it. Take it away and thank him for telling you right away that he doesn’t want it. Indicate you know
that the trick to successful marketing is to meet the needs of the prospect and it is a waste of
everyone’s time to try to sell something the customer doesn’t want. Then you can say that
nevertheless you have other products on offer as well and ask whether there is anything (taking
other items around the interviewer as products you have on offer) he would like. If the interviewer
points something out, repeat the process as above with the first product. If the interviewer knows
something about marketing, we bet you will come out with flying colors if you follow these
54. What are your salary expectations- how much do you want to be paid? (The
interviewer might also ask how much you are earning at the moment)
Needless to say, this is a crucial question. You need to handle it very carefully- one step in the
wrong direction and you end up either losing your chance or being offered less than what you
might have got. Follow these guidelines when you are negotiating salary.
1. Avoid bringing up salary on your own-let the interviewer do it first. Successful salespeople
sell their product to the customer before talking about the price. When the interviewer
shows interest in you, you are in a better position to negotiate.
2. If the interviewer brings up the question too early in the interview, try to stall answering it
at that point. E.g. “Money is of course important, but not the first concern for me. I am
more interested in the overall growth opportunity. I would therefore first see if I am the
right person for this position. Would that be alright with you?”
3. Being well informed is the key to winning any negotiation. Once you are done with selling
yourself and the time comes for discussing salary, try to get the interviewer mention how
much he/she is willing to pay. When the interviewer asks about your expectations, you can
counter it with “This company must be having some norms of emoluments for this position.
Would you be able to tell me what that is?” You can also say “I am sure you must be having
fair standards that meet people’s ability and experience. What does this position pay?”
4. Go with an idea of what you will accept as a fair deal. Make sure that your expectations are
reasonable, by researching the job market and any information available from within the
company. Most people in executive positions aim a 20-25% raise when they change jobs.
5. Do not lie about your salary. However you can include the fringe benefits which could show
a 25-50% higher amount than your cash-only payment.
55. Situation: The interviewer asks you some question regarding your private life, like
your marital status, religion, occupation of spouse etc that they have no business asking.
Unless any of these have any direct bearing on your performance, the interviewer has no right to
ask such questions. However some interviewer not used to interviewing too many people, might
raise such questions at the second or third interview.
You have every right to refuse to answer. However this might embarrass or alienate the
interviewer. Therefore it is always wiser to look for ways of handling this diplomatically. For
instance, if the interviewer asks about your age (and imagine you are fifty or above), you can ask
smilingly if the company is worried about your age affecting your performance. You can then go on
to reassure the interviewer that you are well equipped to meet all the requirements of the job and
that your age and experience will only be advantageous to the employer.
Remember that most such questions hide behind them concerns about your performance.
Therefore base your strategy on reassuring the interviewer. Once you bag the job and do it
brilliantly, such concerns will vanish and you will gain respect and appreciation within the company.
In addition to doing research and practicing your answers to common interview questions, you
should be aware of general interview etiquette. Remember the following points when preparing for
Review your resume, and make sure that you can explain everything on it. Arrive at the
interview ten minutes early to give yourself an opportunity to collect your thoughts and relax. Be
aware that many employers will have their receptionists record the time you came in. If you rush in
at the last minute, an employer may have serious concerns about your ability to arrive on time for
a normal day at work.
Get a good night's sleep before your interview. You will think more effectively in the interview if
you are rested. Also, yawning will not impress anyone. Eat something before the interview. If you
are worried about your stomach growling, you will not be able to concentrate on the questions.
Dress appropriately for the position that you are applying to. Try to dress like the people who work
there would dress if they were representing their organization at some function. If you are unsure
about what to wear, always err on the side of being too dressed up.
Make sure that you are clean, neat, and well-groomed. Interviewers do notice your appearance,
and first impressions are critical in an interview situation.
Take a copy of your resume, transcript, references and perhaps a portfolio or work samples with
you. Also take a pen and paper, as you may wan to record some important information.
Let's say you are going for an interview tomorrow. You have prepared yourself well for the
occasion - anticipating the questions and getting ready the answers - but have you given a thought
to what you will wear?
If you have not peeked into your wardrobe yet, it's time to take a real hard look now. Your
application's fate depends not just on how well you answer the interview questions, but also on
how well you project yourself physically. The first impression your interviewer makes about you is
based on the way you look, and you know what they say about first impressions. According to Joe
Hodowanes, J.M. Wanes and Associates career strategy advisor, quot;The way a person dresses is the
single biggest non-verbal communication you make about yourself.quot; The right dressing is a
measure of the seriousness that you place on the position, as a person normally spends time on
his looks if he considers an event important enough.
quot;Although proper dressing by itself will not get you the job, a poor dress sense may exclude you
from further consideration,quot; warns Gerry Ditching, managing partner of Filgifts.com. Besides, given
two equally good applicants, the compan y may choose to hire the person who is dressed more
professionally. Here are some tips to give you a headstart.
Long-sleeved shirt and dark slacks. White is still the safest and the best color for shirts. The colour
is also appropriate for our tropical weather. Also acceptable: pale shades such as beige, blue, and
Tuck in the shirt and do not roll up the sleeves. Never wear a short-sleeved shirt to an interview or
any business purpose. Wearing a short-sleeved shirt will destroy your executive image.
Ties Optional. But if you do wear one, choose a conservative pattern. Solids, small polka dots,
diagonal stripes, small repeating shapes, subtle plaids and paisleys are all acceptable.
Belts Belts should match your shoes. Those with smaller buckles with squared lines look more
Socks Black socks are the best, followed by blue or gray, depending on your attire. Never wear
white socks! Check your sock length, too--no skin should show when you sit down or cross your
legs. Shoes. Black or burgundy leather shoes with laces on them, because tassel loafers are very
casual. Other suitable colors are brown, cordovan and navy.
Hair. Keep neat, short and preferably parted on the side. And shave off all those facial hair.
Jewellery. Wear no or little jewellery. The watch and wedding ring are the only acceptable pieces
of jewellery to go with the male attire. Thin gold or leather-strapped watches look professional but
not digital watches. Also, avoid political or religious insignias, necklaces or bracelets. Definitely
Accessories. As much as possible, use leather briefcases or folders to hold copies of your resume.
Use narrow briefcases and avoid plastic folders and plastic ball pens as they are out of place.
Women Three-piece business suits, blouse and skirt or slacks, and cardigan twin-sets. Sleeveless
shirts should be rejected. Short-sleeved blouses are okay when they are tailor-cut or have features
such as a sports collar or double breast design to create a business-like look. Skirts can either be
long provided it does not create a Cinderella or barn-dance look or short where it falls no shorter
than two inches from the knee. Nothing too revealing, please!
Panty-hose or stockings. A must for professional grooming, but nothing with overly fussy
patterns. Bring an extra pair, just in case the ones you are wearing run.
Shoes. Closed shoes or pumps with at least 1½-inch heels suggest a more professional look. Dark
colors are best.
Hair. Hair longer than shoulder length should be worn up or pulled back. Don't let it fall in front of
your face and don't keep trying to fix it during the interview. Avoid large hair ornaments and
Make-up. Be subtle; natural is the key word. Light shades of lip coloring and nail polish are
Jewellery. Be conservative. Studs of gold, silver or pearls are best. Do away with gaudy fashion
jewelers, and those that clank and make noise when one moves.
Accessories. Folders and bags should blend well with the total professional look. Women should
match their purse with their shoe colour.
Interviews are like anything else in life, they take practice to perfect. The job market is highly
competitive so you should always maintain a high standard of professionalism. This is guaranteed
to impress your potential employer, as it will show focus and maturity. What is Professionalism?
Professionalism is: Presentation, Punctuality and Preparation.
Presentation: Presentation is not just the clothes you wear, but your general presentation during
the interview. Dress for success, formal attire is the best option. Look the part and you will be
more likely to get it. Body language such as eye contact and how you greet your interviewer are
important. Shaking hands is a sign of confidence and respect so is making regular eye contact.
Always be polite not just during the interview but to any one you may have contact with in the
office or work environment.
Punctuality: Being on time is essential to a successful interview. Give yourself plenty of time to
get to your destination, map out a route if you are unsure in any way. Being early gives you time
to relax and prepare for your interview. If you are going to be late or unable to attend for any
unforeseeable reason call ahead and let them know. This will show them that you are serious and
that you take your commitments seriously.
Preparation: Get to know the company you are hoping to work for. A little background
information can go a long way. You should research the company well before applying to it. You
must be prepared to discuss the industry, the company's relative size within that industry and
show that you know who the major players and competitors are
Frequently Asked Questions
All interview questions are designed to find out your ability to fit-in and contribute to the specific
workgroup. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions to help you prepare for your
Tell us about yourself?
Tell them in detail how your experience would relate to the position you are being interviewed for.
Be as detailed as possible about your family background, educational background and previous job
Why are you interested in this position?
Tell your employer why you chose to apply for this position. Explain why you are a perfect match
for the position and how you will do full justice to the same. Use relevant examples from your
family background, educational background and previous job experience.
What do you know about this company?
You should research the company well before applying to it. You must be prepared to discuss the
industry, the company's relative size within that industry and show that you know who the major
players and competitors are
What salary are you drawing?
The question is not difficult to answer – just be honest and give the figure. In all probability, your
next employer may base your salary on this amount. However, the problem arises when you feel
you are being underpaid in your current organization. You may feel tempted to lie, but do not
give in, as checks can be easily made and you may be disqualified. In case you are getting
additional perks, incentives or commissions, do not forget to mention them, as they are important
while negotiating salary.
Successful Interview Tips
An Employer looks for intelligence (intellectual and emotional), communication skills,
leadership qualities, ethics, competence, energy, imagination etc., from the candidate.
Why Do Candidates Fail In An Interview
* Poor grooming
* Discourteous and ungraceful body language
* Poor manners
* Poor diction
* Vague responses
* Unappealing resume
* Monetary benefits-centric approach
* Lack of punctuality
* Poor waiting hall behaviour
Some Behavioural quot;Unfavourablequot; Aspects
* Lack of personal or career goals
* Lack of enthusiasm and confidence
* Not owning up responsibility for mistakes
* Self-justification, aggressiveness
* Lack ofemotional maturity
* Negative and cynical attitude
* Over-reacting to questions
* Lacking sense of humour
* Complaining about various things and previous employers
Preparing for an interview - Look for
* Company's main products and services and likely new products and services
* Its key markets, its position in market and between major competitors
* Its financial position / profit / turnover
* Its history, reputation and achievements
* Arrange all the papers required in a folder : Resume / CV, call letters, degree certificates,
mark lists, NSS, NCC, sports / games certificates, experience certificates, references.
The Previous Day
* Confirm the venue of the interview, distance, and mode of transport
* Locate the venue earlier
* Relax, have good sleep, visualise and pray
The Interview Day
* Reach the venue at least 45 minutes ahead of the interview
* Get familiar with the amblience
* Dont carry too much baggage
* Report to the authority concerned
Waiting Hall Behaviour
* Maintain Decorum
* Mingle with others politely
* Avoid smoking, chewing, flirting, gossiping, defamatory comments
* Greet others present
* Switch off the mobile
* Relax and visualise
While Entering The Interview Hall
* Enter confidently, not arrogantly
* Shut the door gently
* Smile and greet the interviewers
* Shake hands only if they offer their hand
During The Eye Interview
* Maintain eye contact
* Be attentive, listen carefully, and lean forward
* Don't lean on the table, and don't slouch
* Don't toss your files across
* Hand over your file-right side facing them
* Don't laugh or giggle but smile gently
* Be polite. use the words quot;Pleasequot; and quot;thank youquot;
* Don't argue but can orally acknowledge
End Of The Interview
* When informed, collect your belongings
* Thank everyone
* For a few steps from your seat, don't show your back
* Don't rush.But move out with dignity
* Shur the door gently when you leave
* Send the thanking letter to the company the same day
* Specify in the letter the point that was discussed
* Thank the Placement Agency, if any
* Thank your network source, if any
In Case Of Stress Interviews
* Don't be upset
* Let them not see that you are upset
* Accept their point of view
* Don't argue but be specific in responses with justification
Job Search Tips
* Don't put all your eggs in one basket
* Try many methods of job search
* Start early for interviews
* Learn how others have been successful in their job search
* Learn how to think beyond your specialisation areas.
* Plunge into ACTION.
Common Interview Questions
Review these typical interview questions and think about how you would answer them. Read the
questions listed; you will also find some strategy suggestions with it.
(Excerpted from the book The Accelerated Job Search by Wayne D. Ford, Ph.D, published by The
Management Advantage, Inc.)
• 1. Tell me about yourself: The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have
a short statement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed. Limit it to
work-related items unless instructed otherwise. Talk about things you have done and jobs you
have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest back and
work up to the present.
• 2. Why did you leave your last job? Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never
refer to a major problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers or the
organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a
positive reason such as an opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-looking
• 3. What experience do you have in this field? Speak about specifics that relate to the
position you are applying for. If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.
• 4. 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.
• 5. What do co-workers say about you? Be prepared with a quote or two from co-
workers. Either a specific statement or a paraphrase will work. Jill Clark, a co-worker at Smith
Company, always said I was the hardest workers she had ever known. It is as powerful as Jill
having said it at the interview herself.
• 6. What do you know about this organization? This question is one reason to do some
research on the organization before the interview. Find out where they have been and where they
are going. What are the current issues and who are the major players?
• 7. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year? Try to include
improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide variety of activities can be mentioned as
positive self-improvement. Have some good ones handy to mention.
• 8. Are you applying for other jobs? 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.
• 9. Why do you want to work for this organization? This may take some thought and
certainly, should be based on the research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is
extremely important here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-term career goals.
• 10. 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.
• 11. 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
• 12. 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 are
good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key
• 13. 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
• 14. 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.
• 15. 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.
• 16. 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
• 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. Explain how you would be an asset to this organization You should be anxious for
this question. It gives you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the position
being discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.
• 19. Why should we hire you? Point out how your assets meet what the organization
needs. Do not mention any other candidates to make a comparison.
• 20. Tell me about a suggestion you have made Have a good one ready. Be sure and
use a suggestion that was accepted and was then considered successful. One related to the type of
work applied for is a real plus.
• 21. What irritates you about co-workers? This is a trap question. Think real hard but
fail to come up with anything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to get along with
folks is great.
• 22. What is your greatest strength? 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
• 23. 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.
• 24. Why do you think you would do well at this job? Give several reasons and include
skills, experience and interest.
• 25. What are you looking for in a job? See answer # 23
• 26. 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.
• 27. 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.
• 28. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is? There are
numerous good possibilities: Loyalty, Energy, Positive attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise,
Initiative, Patience, Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver
• 29. Tell me about a problem you 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.
• 30. What has disappointed you about a job? Don’t get trivial or negative. Safe areas
are few but can include: Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction Company did
not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.
• 31. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure. You may say that you thrive
under certain types of pressure. Give an example that relates to the type of position applied for.
• 32. Do your skills match this job or another job more closely? Probably this one. Do
not give fuel to the suspicion that you may want another job more than this one.
• 33. What motivates you to do your best on the job? This is a personal trait that only
you can say, but good examples are: Challenge, Achievement, Recognition
• 34. Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends? This is up to you. Be totally
• 35. 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 tell you that you are successful
• 36. 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.
• 37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead ofyour own? This
is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about the deep ethical and philosophical
implications. Just say yes.
• 38. Describe your management style. 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.
• 39. 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
• 40. 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 bad points. Do not hand it to them.
• 41. 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.
• 42. Do you think you are overqualified for this position? Regardless of your
qualifications, state that you are very well qualified for the position.
• 43. 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.
• 44. 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.
• 45. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute betweenothers. Pick a
specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique and not the dispute you settled.
• 46. What position do you prefer on a team working on a project? Be honest. If you
are comfortable in different roles, point that out.
• 47. 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.
• 48. 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.
• 49. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job. Talk about having fun by
accomplishing something for the organization.
50. Do you have any questions for me? Always have some questions prepared. Questions
prepared where you will be an asset to the organization are good. How soon will I be able to be
productive? and What type of projects will I be able to assist on? are examples
Competitor presses to reveal information
This looks like a no-win situation- traps both ways. You tell them all, and they judge you as
untrustworthy. You refuse to reveal the information they are seeking, the interviewer might be
displeased with you. They might think that you are stubborn or suspicious.
To tackle this situation, consider the interviewer’s motives. There could be two reasons. The first is
to really get information about competition. Some companies really make use of interviews for this
purpose- to get information about the competitor’s plans, R&D moves and financial status. They
have a great opportunity, as they have got an insider from the enemy camp in their den.
Another reason could be that the company is testing your integrity- if someone could cajole or
pressurize you to reveal confidential information.
There is only one right way to handle this. Do not ever divulge anything that is not supposed to be
revealed about your current or previous employer. However go about this in a diplomatic way.
Explain that you would like to share as much information as possible. However you do not want to
violate the trust the previous/current employer has placed on you, just as the interviewer would
expect their own employees to behave while talking with their competitors.
Whenever your own achievements have something to do with such confidential information from
the previous employer, go about it only in such a way that does not compromise the company’s
security. In other words, put yourself in the place of your previous/current employer. If you were
this person, would you have felt compromised if somebody shared this piece of information with a
competitor? If your answer is yes, refrain from divulging the information.
In other words, this is a test between your willingness to co-operate and your integrity. Integrity
has to be your choice in such a situation- there is nothing as valuable as that. Also remember that
the interviewer invariably loses respect for you once you have shared the information.
21. Would you be prepared to lie for the company?
This is yet another tricky question. The interviewer is trying to get you choose between loyalty and
integrity. Avoid making any such choice and form your answer in such a way that it covers all the
basic principles. Say something like you will never take any step that would hurt the company. In
case the interviewer presses you to make a yes/no answer, stick to integrity.
22. When you look back, what are the things you think you should have done differently
in your life?
The interviewer here is looking for traces of negativity, like mistakes that have had a major impact
on your life, regrets, disappointments or other problems that may still have an effect on your
personality and performance.
Do not bring up any such issues at the interview- it will only lead to negative marks. It might
suggest that your heart may not be fully with your work. Your answer should reflect that you are a
happy, fulfilled person and that you have a cheerful and optimistic outlook.
E.g. “I have so far had a good life, with plenty of opportunities and experiences to learn and grow.
I also believe that the best is yet to come. I can’t think of anything I would like to change”
23. Do you think you could have done better in your last job?
Remember that this is not a time for a confession session. Avoid anything that smacks negativity.
E.g. “When one looks back, one always finds better ways things could have been done, but there is
nothing of major consequence that comes to my mind”
If the interviewer expects more explanation, narrate a situation where things went slightly off track
not due to you, but external conditions that anyone would accept were beyond your control. It
could be a campaign, a product launch, a merger or acquisition that looked promising, but didn’t
quite come up to expectations. You could sum it up with “I wish we knew this earlier, but since we
couldn’t have known it, we had to do it this way. However we did learn from this experience.”
24. How confident are you of working under pressure?
The answer is obvious, but you have to make it convincing. Support your answer with one or two
good examples of targets achieved under severe pressure. The more vivid your account, the better.
25. Tell me what makes you angry.
Your answer should project enough of a cool head combined with assertiveness. The answer should
match both your personality and the work culture of the company you are interviewing. The
research you have done about the company comes in handy here again, as it can help you to
decide the words you choose for your answer.
Case 1: You generally come across as a reserved person or the company’s style is coolly
“I am somewhat cool headed and positive by nature. This has helped to keep my department
running smoothly and get co-operation from people. I make it a point to communicate clearly what
is expected. I also believe in getting people committed to these goals and then following up with
them regularly to monitor the progress”
“When something goes off track, I would like to know about it at the earliest point. I will also want
to know the reason why the work is not getting done, after a clear discussion has already taken
place. I will get impatient if I find that there isn’t sufficient reason for this and also take early
action to eliminate the error. However I believe such instances rarely happen if regularly get good
people, motivate them towards excellence and also follow up regularly”
Case 2: If you are a feisty/ sanguine person or the position requires a tough talking boss.
“Well it is very simple. It is when people… (find what are the most objectionable/ problematic
traits/ deeds for the position and use them to describe what gets you angry. It could be an
unsystematic approach, lack of initiative, rudeness towards people etc.)”
Seven Commandments for Success in Campus Interviews :
Campus Interview … Hmm… is what one looks forward to with enthusiasm, fear and excitement
towards the beginning of the final year .
For some it's a make or break, atleast that's the way it's looked at and for some it's a matter of
pride. The constant thought in one's mind is - what shall make this click! What is it that the
interviewer is looking in me!
Here's what we look for when we visit the various campuses. This by no means is an exhaustive list
but is a good indication of the expectations and the mean s to meet these. Freshersworld.com
present you the 7-Commandments.
1. Know Thyself
Not everyone is good in each and every field. Each one of us has our fortes and weaknesses too.
But that's not a stumbling block! What we look for are people who know their area of specialization
and are an expert in it. Therefore, it pays to be a master in some fields if not the jack of all.
The most common mistakes many make is to profess knowing a field of which they know little
about. Remember that huge and bulky resumes are as tough to read as they are to make. So,
identify your skill set, and keep your resumes simple and straight. Know your limits and polish on
2. Testing What You Know and NOT What You Don't.
Many interviewers may ask the student the subjects that she/he wishes to be interviewed upon.
Eureka !! Here's a golden opportunity. Answer this wisely! Never end up choosing a difficult subject
that you know only little about, rather choose the one you are most confident of.
3. Rack Your Brain - Analyze
The interview is not just limited to testing your knowledge base, but we are also interested in
knowing your ability to apply it. Often questions that need to be solved then and there are asked.
Now keep in mind - the right answer is not the only thing being looked at. The focus area is also
the way in which you attack the problem i.e. approach to problem solving is equally important.
So, remember to put your thinking caps on!
4. Ask for Help!
Murphy chooses to strike at the appropriate time! In spite of the fact that you may know
something very well, it might just slip your mind. After all, heavy preparation does takes its toll.
Who better to ask for help than the poser of the question (of course, don't try this too often!)!
Remember the interviewer is not there to grill the confidence out of you, but to bring forth the best
in. Just in case you are stuck, ask for a hint. Things might just click. Also, stay alert for clues.
5. What are your biggest accomplishments
You may like to begin your reply with: quot;Although I feel my biggest achievements are still ahead of
me, I am proud of my involvement with……I made my contribution as part of that team and learnt
a lot in the processquot;.
It will be a good idea to close your answer with also specifying what attributes and circumstances
made you succeed.
6. Be Calm, have Clear Verbal and Sound Non-Verbal Communication
Calmness shows emotional maturity. True, being calm in a job interview is a difficult proposition,
but then that is where it is required! Calmness does not imply being unenthusiastic or apathetic
during the interview, but knowing that you are nervous and not letting it come in the way. A clear
verbal communication implies clarity of the thought process.
One should also watch out for the impressions made in non-verbal communication. Body language
and facial expressions can assist you in establishing a good rapport with the interviewer. Pauses,
silences and gestures may all indicate what you mean, understand, or would like to emphasize.
7. Two-Way Exchange Process
The interview process is a two-way exchange of information. Make sure you also understand about
the company, its activities, job requirements. The company is in need for good candidates and you
need a good company to launch your career.
Interview is an opportunity to present yourself and your skills to your best advantage. Make sure
you make the most out of it. And YOU are the best one to do it!!
Freshersworld.com wish you all the best of luck in your Job Interview !
General Tips To Overcome An Interview Exclusively for
So what if you are not a mountaineer. Or a keen hiker. You still cannot treat your interview like a
careless morning trot along a jogger's path. Your jaw-jaw at the interview table is nothing less
than a cautious climb up a mountain trail--which begins around your early childhood and meanders
through the years at the academia before reaching a new summit in your career. And as you
retrace your steps down memory lane make sure that you post flags at important landmarks of
your life and career, so that you can pop them before the interview panel scoops them out of you.
You don't want to be at the receiving end, do you?
Face the panel, but don't fall of the chair in a headlong rush-and-skid attempt to tell your story.
Take one step at a time. Here are a few preparation tips from the Team of Freshersworld.com that
books on interviews sometimes overlook. Remember, as a fresher you do not have anything to
loose but to gain.
TYPICAL QUESTIONS THAT AN INTERVIEWER WOULD ASK
1.Tell me about yourself
The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a short statement prepared in your
mind. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed. Limit it to work/Study-related items unless
instructed otherwise. Talk about things you have done well at your college and how you wanted to
perform in the first job.
2. Why Should We Employ You?
For this question, your answer should list out strengths that you feel are relevant to the job. Given
below are some answers which could help you with your answers. However, structure them to suit
I have good co-ordination skills
Good analytical skills
I can persuade people to see my point of view, and get the work done
My greatest asset is my ability to motivate people
Even during emergencies, I do not loose my cool
I have good entrepreneurial skills
I have consistently met my deadlines and targets
Can say “no” to people when required to do so!
I am very co-operative with my sub-ordinates, and would like to see them grow
I am a good team player
I am very flexible, and have the ability to work hard under difficult work conditions
I have the experience and knowledge relevant to this job (Here, give appropriate details and
3. Do You Have Offers From Other Companies ?
This is of course a difficult question to answer. Obviously, you must have applied to other
companies if you are looking for a job or would have some offers from other companies already.
Therefore, do not lie that you have not. However, you are on thin ice here! The interviewer could
be checking your honesty. On the other hand, he/she may also be trying to find out how focused
you are - are you applying randomly, or is there a well-planned strategy?
Whatever your answer, it should match your career goals.
4. What Salary Are You Expecting?
Try not to get into salary details early in the interview. If pressed, you could say that it all depends
on the job, and would like to talk about it after a job offer. Say this in a convincing tone. In case
you are asked this question in your latter interviews, give a direct answer. Do not sound apologetic
while quoting the figure you have in mind.
SALARY EXPECTATIONS :
1. How much do you expect?
If you have done your homework, you would know how much other people in similar jobs are paid.
Quote the range upfront.
2. How much do you think you are worth?
Work out how much you should be paid, given the market value of the job and your skills. If you
can bring some extra skills to the table, do not hesitate to ask for more than the market value.
3. What kind of a culture are you comfortable with?
It is better to be frank about your preferences. Your interviewer will get a clear idea about your
4. Which is more important to you-salary, perks or growth opportunities?
This one will reveal the real you. So be sure what you are going to say. Above all, be true to
yourself. If you think this is a negotiation move, then say clearly that you will never sell yourself
5. What do you know about our company?
Do not give your opinions about the company. Stick to reported facts that you have gathered from
newspapers and so on. Talk about the product portfolio, size, income, and market perceptions of
the company. Also it is better to refer details about each company before going for the interview
from Freshersworld.com or PlacementWeek.com
6. Why should we choose you over someone else?
Talk clearly about problems that you have solved in your College/Project Team and highlight the
6. Your qualifications are excellent, but you may be overqualified for the position we have to offer?
Point out that more experience can never be a drawback. If you are multi-skilled, then highlight
the fact that a company on the fast-track needs multi-skilled people. It needs people within
different departments to work together. Also emphasise that the company's future growth will be
an exponential function of your experience.
QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK :
Interviewers usually round off by giving you an opportunity to ask questions. Treat it like a
You could ask questions like.
a) Tell me about your company.
b) Now that I have outlined my career goals, do you think you can offer me the opportunities I
c) What kind of training and learning can I expect in your company?
d) Describe the work culture and the management style of your company?
e) What is the long-term vision of your company?
As a fresher, current position and status can impact the way you are interviewed. Fresh Out of
The basis on which you will be judged is your academic background, family background, and
If looking for your first job, ensure that your previous experience, even if it is part-time, is noticed.
Mention projects or responsibilities you may have undertaken. This will indicate your area of
You should be willing to put in regular hours, in line with the company's policies. The interviewer
needs to know whether you can be punctual and put in full-time work.
In case you have applied for the post of management trainee, you should display an ability to
adapt, and indicate all-round interests. Moreover, you should have good interpersonal skills.
You should be enthusiastic to learn, and show commitment towards the organization, as the
company will be spending a lot on your training.
Bring with you :
a) Copies of your resumes
b) References and letters of recommendations.
First Impressions :
There is a common saying that minds are made up within the first 5 minutes of an interview. So
keep in mind these important first impression indicators. Walk in the door as if you already work
there, carry yourself as though you feel perfectly comfortable with the situation. Arrive on time or a
little early. In the waiting area, politely tell the receptionist who you are meeting and in a friendly
way, ask where you should sit. Take slow, deep breaths to help you remain calm and focused.
When introduced to the interviewer, have a firm, but not painful, handshake. Smile. Have good
posture when sitting or standing. Introduce yourself in a relaxed, confident manner. Have a well-
groomed, professional appearance. Project a feeling of confidence. Bring extra copies of your
resume, some thing to write on and something to write with.
Freshersworld.com wish you all the best of luck in your Job Interview !
Go for a mock exercise before the real talk at the job table
Hone your interview etiquette................ Churn the right mix of deportment, attitude and dressing
skills for a great job talk !
Never make the big mistake of treating an interview lightly. It's not an impromptu thing where you
depend on your improvisation skills. An interview requires careful thought and planning before you
take it. Keeping in mind some basic attitudes and presentation techniques will help you sail
through it with panache.
So if you thought that going for an interview just meant pulling your best suit out of the wardrobe
and updating your resume, please think again. You are forgetting the other essentials: body
language, basic etiquette and attitude.
Remember that you are actually selling an entire package and the packaging, in this case, is as
relevant as the product inside. Ultimately you are presenting yourself as a valuable professional to
a new job environment. And you can't do that without minding the basic interview etiquette to get
you ahead of the rest of the pack.
An interview is the sum total of many parts. It's not just what you say but how you say it that
matters equally. So it's good to brush up on more than just your training skills when you do go in
for an interview.
How you dress for an interview is perhaps as relevant as the way you lay out your resume. Says
Nina Kochar of Upgrade Management Services, an organization which coaches' executives in the
basic rules of corporate etiquette: quot;A person who is sloppy in appearance shows a sloppy
personality, so you have to be decently dressed.quot; Of course, decently dressed does not necessarily
mean being dressed to the gills. In most cases, this would mean you would wear long sleeved
shirts and a pair of formal trousers. In fact, Nina Kochar does not recommend suits, especially for
younger people. quot;A lot of young people do not have the money to invest in suits, consequently,
they wear ill-fitting or borrowed suits and that looks even worse. A tie, shirt and pant should do
the trick for most junior level positions.quot;
Most HR experts would also tell you to mind the accessories like ties, belts and shoes. To be sure,
badly matched shoes and ties can have a jarring effect on an interviewer. Similarly, please avoid
heavy Jewellery or personal accessories as they would look incongruous on you.
ENTRANCE AND INTRODUCTION
Even though most of us are primed for the basic grilling that we would face during the interview,
we seldom pay attention to the way we enter an interview room or how we introduce ourselves.
Says Subhashish Mitra, deputy manager, Essar Cellphones: quot;A lot of people do not think it
important to knock properly while entering the interview room. They assume that as an interview
is taking place, the panel will be expecting them. To my mind this is a very major faux pas which
In fact, the best way to enter an interview is to knock, ask for permission to enter and then wait
for a while before you actually sit down. Few interviewees know this but the interview panel needs
a little quiet time to discuss the previous candidate before they get around to the next one. So
your silence till you actually get seated would be very valuable. Try and keep a bag with you for all
your papers and certificates; make sure this bag is an unobtrusive as possible.
ATTITUDE AND RESPONSE
This is a grey area for most interview candidates. While dressing up and resume writing are skills
you can Go for a mock exercise before the real talk at the job table handle with a little practice,
cultivating the right attitude as an interviewee requires a lot of patience and reading between the
lines. The usual complaint of most interviewers is that few interviewees are able to stri perhaps the
best thing you can do for getting your answer right. Most interviewers like to give a lead to the
candidate in the way they ask the question, so it's entirely up to you to note facial expressions and
the tone of the words.
Do you show your certificates immediately to the interview panel?
Not till you are asked actually. You might already have sent in your resume, so you shouldn't try
and offload all your achievements and skills onto the panel till a turn in the interview leads to such
Try and take cues form the tonal variations, facial expressions and thrust of questions from the
interview panel. That in itself will give you a clue as to where this interview is heading.
TEN THINGS THAT AN INTERVIEWER LOOKS IN YOU!
1. Family Background
6. General Ability
7. Interpersonal Skills
10. Pleasant Looks
How one wished that an interview were a simple meeting of minds and hearts. Just one casual
meeting where an employee's future gets sealed. Unfortunately, it's not something as pre-ordained
as you would like it to be; it's a pre-meditated exercise which fetches you dividends only if your
homework is done right.
Interview is an opportunity for both the employer and the applicant to gather information. The
employer wants to know if you, the applicant, have the skills, knowledge, self-confidence, and
motivation necessary for the job. At this point you can be confident that the employer saw
something of interest in your resume. He or she also wants to determine whether or not you will fit
in with the organization's current employees and philosophy. Similarly, you will want to evaluate
the position and the organization, and determine if they will fit into your career plans. The
interview is a two-way exchange of information. It is an opportunity for both parties to market
themselves. The employer is selling the organization to you, and you are marketing your skills,
knowledge, and personality to the employer.
Research is a critical part of preparing for an interview. If you haven't done your homework, it is
going to be obvious. Spend time researching and thinking about yourself, the occupation, the
organization, and questions you might ask at the end of the interview.
Step 1: Know Yourself
The first step in preparing for an interview is to do a thorough self-assessment so that you will
know what you have to offer an employer. It is very important to develop a complete inventory of
skills, experience, and personal attributes that you can use to market yourself to employers at any
time during the interview process. In developing this inventory, it is easiest to start with
experience. Once you have a detailed list of activities that you have done (past jobs, extra-
curricular involvements, volunteer work, school projects, etc.), it is fairly easy to identify your
Simply go through the list, and for each item ask yourself quot;What could I have learned by doing
this?quot; quot;What skills did I develop?quot; quot;What issues/circumstances have I learned to deal with?quot; Keep
in mind that skills fall into two categories - technical and generic. Technical skills are the skills
required to do a specific job. For a laboratory assistant, technical skills might include knowledge of
sterilization procedures, slide preparation, and scientific report writing. For an outreach worker,
technical skills might include counseling skills, case management skills, or program design and
evaluation skills. Generic skills are those which are transferable to many work settings. Following is
a list of the ten most marketable skills. You will notice that they are all generic.
• Analytical/Problem Solving
• Oral/Written Communication
• Time Management
• Team Player
Often when people think of skills, they tend to think of those they have developed in the
workplace. However, skills are developed in a variety of settings. If you have ever researched and
written a paper for a course, you probably have written communication skills. Team sports or
group projects are a good way to develop the skills required of a team player and leader. Don't
overlook any abilities you may have When doing the research on yourself, identifying your
experience and skills is important, but it is not all that you need to know. Consider the answers to
other questions such as:
• How have I demonstrated the skills required in this position?
• What are my strong points and weak points?
• What are my short term and long term goals?
• What can I offer this particular employer?
• What kind of environment do I like? (i.e. How do I like to be supervised? Do I like a fast
• What do I like doing?
• Apart from my skills and experience, what can I bring to this job?
Step 2: Know the Occupation
The second step in preparing for an interview is to research the occupation. This is necessary
because in order to present a convincing argument that you have the experience and skills
required for that occupation, you must first know what those requirements and duties are. With
this information uncovered, you can then match the skills you have (using the complete
skills/experience inventory you have just prepared) with the skills you know people in that
occupational field need. The resulting quot;shortlistquot; will be the one that you need to emphasize during
It is also in your best interest to identify the approximate starting salary for that position, or those
similar. There are several ways to find out about an occupation:
• Acquire a copy of the job description from the employer (Human
• Resources/Personnel) or check with Student Employment Services. If you are responding to
an advertisement, this may also supply some details.
The Career Resource Centre has general information files on a variety of occupations. Make sure
you have read through the appropriate file and are updated on the occupation. If you belong to a
professional association related to the occupation, use its resources. These associations often
publish informative newsletters and sponsor seminars. It is also a good way to meet people
working in the field. Conduct information interviews with people working in the field. Read articles
about people in the occupation, and articles written by people in the occupation. Sources include
newspapers, magazines and the internet. Find out what the future trends are in the area. Is
technology changing the job?
Step 3: Know the Organization
The more you know about an organization, the better prepared you will be to discuss how you can
meet its needs. Some of the characteristics that you should know about an organization are:
• Where is it located?
• How big is it?
• What are its products and who does it serve?
• How is the organization structured?
• What is its history?
• Have there been any recent changes, new developments?
There are a number of ways in which you can access this information. Most medium- to large-sized
organizations publish information about themselves. You can access this a number of ways:
• On campus at the Student Employment Services (company literature and business
directories) or at the Drake Centre Library
• The Winnipeg Centennial Library has a business microfiche with information on over 5000
Canadian companies and business directories
• Many companies have internet home pages which you can locate by searching by industry
and company name
• Finally, you can visit or phone the organization and request some information on their
products, services or areas of research
If the organization is fairly small, or fairly new, there may not be much information published. In
this case, it will be necessary to do an information interview. Contact someone within the
organization, introduce yourself, explain that you are considering moving into the field, and ask if
it would be possible to meet with him/her to inquire about the company/organization and about
what exactly the position would involve.
Step 4: Prepare Questions
Having completed your background research, you are now ready to prepare questions to ask the
interviewer(s). Try to think of questions for which the answer was not readily available in company
literature. Intelligent well thought-out questions will demonstrate your genuine interest in the
position. Be careful how many questions you ask, however, as too many can imply you feel the
interview was not successfully run. Pick your questions with care - this is your chance to gather
information, so ask about what you really want to know. Avoid sounding critical by mentioning
negative information you may have discovered. This is one of the most effective ways to compare
different employers, so for issues of particular importance to you (for example, whether they
support staff upgrading), you should ask the same questions of each employer. Some sample
• What are the most significant factors affecting your business today? How have changes in
technology most affected your business today?
• How has your business/industry been affected by the recession?
• How has your company grown or changed in the last couple of years?
• What future direction do you see the company taking?
• Where is the greatest demand for your services or product?
• Where is most of the pressure from increased business felt in this company?
• Which department feels it the most?
• How do you differ from your competitors?
• How much responsibility will I be given in this position?
• What do you like about working with this organization?
• Can you tell me more about the training program?
• Have any new product lines been introduced recently?
• How much travel is normally expected?
• What criteria will be used to evaluate my performance?
• Will I work independently or as part of a team?
• How did you advance to your position?
• What are the career paths available in this organization?
• When can I expect to hear from you regarding this position?
It is very important to ask the last question because employers want to hire individuals who are
interested in the position - and asking this question definitely helps to demonstrate interest on
your part. Exercise judgment when asking questions to an employer. When being interviewed by a
large company that has a high profile, one would not ask the question quot;What is the history of your
company and how was your company started?quot; You can find the answer to this question in the
company's annual report or articles in magazines/newspapers. However, small- and medium-sized
companies do not always produce publicly available annual reports and it may be difficult to access
information on the company and its role in the industry. This question is appropriate if you have
exercised all other ways to find out the answer.
How many hours a day/a week do you work
Avoid being too specific on this answer. If you give a low figure, the company will view it as
inadequate. If you commit to too many hours, you will feel guilty for not being able to keep up.
If you are really a workaholic and you feel that this company wants such people, go ahead and say
that you are a workaholic who work late nights and weekends. If this is not the case, simply say
that you have always worked hard and given long hours to the work whenever necessary. It has
not been able to keep track of how many hours you have spent on work because work has been a
matter of love rather than duty. Thus you have always been thinking of work even when you are
away from the workplace.
47. What do you think is the most difficult side of this job (that you are seeking)?
Be very careful about the way you answer this question. If you haven’t framed it the right way, any
difficult area you might mention comes across as your weak spot.
First of all, you should give a positive twist to the word ‘difficult’. What you see are not difficulties,
but challenges. Then go for an area that is commonly recognized as the most challenging part of
your profession. Also show how you have excelled in this area. Specify the strategies you have
developed to surmount the challenges and the outstanding results you have achieved in this area.
E.g. “I believe every customer care manager finds it difficult to motivate the team members when
they have to work odd shifts. However that is very essential for the success of a customer care
team. This is one area I feel I have given excellent results in”
“When I find that my team has to work extra odd shifts due to some reason or other, I immediately
take a few steps so that this does not affect their enthusiasm for work (specify the measures you
take and also show an instance or two where it has given remarkable results)
48. The interviewer narrates a hypothetical situation that is difficult and asks you how
you would tackle this.
This is a ‘what if’ scenario where it is impossible to have all the facts before you. Do not try to offer
a readymade solution to this problem from such a short description. It reflects poorly on your
decision making process.
Instead of offering a ready made solution, describe the thought process you would follow to
analyze and solve the problem. You should show a rational and systematic approach and also the
kind of help you would take. Then go on to talk about a few possible solutions and how the best
course of action would depend on the specifics. It should also be evident that you would follow up
on the results of the course you took and take corrective action if necessary.
This is the key to all such ‘what if’ questions. Instead of offering any ready made solutions, go with
the rational process you would follow.
49. Tell us about the most challenging situation you have faced in your career.
Be ready with a recent and relevant instance. Avoid talking about experiences that took place very
early in your career. Ideally, your example should demonstrate a quality/skill that is important for
the job in question. It should also show a quality that is universally in demand, such as initiative,
courage, creativity, leadership etc.
50. Would you consider starting your own business?
Say ‘yes’ and show enthusiasm, and it would that your mind is not fully with the work you are
doing. It has all kinds of negative connotations. For instance, you can come across as somebody
who has had to settle for this second choice of a corporate life because your own business ideas
If the company that you are interviewing is small, they will worry that you would go off on your
own soon. Thus they will be reluctant to trust you with key responsibilities.
If on the other hand a categorical ‘no’ as answer suggests that you are too security minded and
without any fire.
Try to figure out this company’s culture before you answer this question. Then give an honest
answer that fits as close as possible to the company’s own value system. However refrain from
being too specific about your plans and dreams.
If the organization you are interviewing is a large formal set up, you should show a low interest in
starting your own business.
E.g. “Yes I have thought about it once or twice. But I have always been with large organizations
throughout career and been very successful with that kind of work. I guess such a set up suits me
best so I would like to continue with it.”
In on the other hand the company has a more informal structure where every one has a say, you
can say that such a firm gives you the avenues for implementing your ideas along with the stability
of a well established organization. This brings the best of both worlds to you.
In either case, your interest in starting something of your own should come across as a thing of
the past. Otherwise you will project the image of someone who has failed to achieve his dreams, or
a person who might quit any moment. But also take care to present your position in a credible
manner. For this you should match your description of what you want with the position the
They will ask at least one of the following interview questions
What attracted you to xxx?
Why are you leaving your current job?
Why do you want to work for xxx?
What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses?
How do you see yourself in xx years time?
How do you like to work?
What can you bring to xxx?
Why should we employ you?
What do you do outside work?
Your First Opportunity: Getting the Interview
If you want the job, chances are so do about a million other eager people, so your
application has to stand out from the crowd. The majority of CVs are usually dull and
boring, and people create them as historical documents, rather than as marketing tools.
Remember your CV has about seven seconds (yes 7) to make a visual impression. You can
dramatically boost your chances of getting an interview by making your CV look and 'sound'
Use good paper
Design a personal logo
Fiddle with the layout to make it easy on the eye
Edit it ruthlessly (everyone always puts in too much detail)
Highlight the bits that relate to the job you're going for
They don't need to know you went to St Mary's School when you were 12!
Put quot;Who you are nowquot; at the beginning of your CV
Leave education and qualifications for the end.
If you don't have what you think are the right educational qualifications, don't worry. Just
leave them off. If you include enough interesting and intriguing material about who you are
now, what you didn't do is far less important.
Put a short paragraph at the beginning that says something about your personal qualities
and your business skills. A short statement about what you're seeking can also go down a
As we know, a job for life is very rare nowadays, that eclectic, unusual and even
inconsistent CVs are OK as long as they're presented well.
Depending upon the specific job you're going after, you can be as creative as you like.
We've seen CVs presented as graphs, as poems, as drawings, as a route map, as a podcast;
you name it, we've probably seen it.
Whichever route you choose, make sure your CV is pitched correctly for the audience who
will be receiving it.
(Click here for the next available Public Interview Skills Course)
You might also think about rewriting your CV for specific jobs.
Robin: quot;When I was a working actor I had separate CV's for television work, stage work and
commercials work. It was just a matter of rearranging the order of things to give
prominence to the work that would be of most interest to each prospective employer, and it
You can do the same; highlighting certain areas of your CV to showcase the skills that will
matter for the specific jobs you're going for.
You are what you seem! So what do we mean by that?
When we ourselves recruit for new members of staff we are absolutely appalled by the
sloppy, unprofessional CVs we receive: misspellings, poor layout, bad grammar. Needless to
say, our rubbish bins get filled quickly during our recruitment drives.
So a word of advice: proofread. No. Forget that. Get someone else to proofread your CV.
Make your 7 seconds matter.
(Click here for the next available Public Interview Skills Course)
You hear all sorts of rules about job interviews:
People decide about you in the first 10 seconds
You have to make a good first impression
Always ask insightful questions
Learn as much as you can about the company
They'll probably ask questions designed to trip you up
Have some quick answers to interview questions at the ready
Not bad, as far as rules go: some of them make perfect sense. But getting the job you want
isn't about following rules or giving the right interview answer.
It's about presenting yourself in the most authentic way that takes care of you and the
interviewers at the same time.
So many people chuck their interview chances away: they don't take enough care and
interview preparation time so that the whole process is enjoyable, stimulating and
informative for both parties.
(Click here for the next available Public Interview Skills Course)
So the CV worked. You've got the Interview; now what?
For the same reason it's not a good idea to lie!
You can be judicious with the truth yes, but lies have a tendency to return and bite you in
the bum! Even if they don't actually know that you've lied they will sense something is not
right. When you are under pressure it's virtually impossible not to give out the signals that
tell your interviewer that something is wrong.
Even if you think your current job stinks, present the good points as though you were
looking at the job from the outside in. Most jobs appear much better from the outside than
they do from the inside (only you know the real truth); so pump up the goodies and soft-
pedal the baddies!
However, we do know that being put on the spot can feel very uncomfortable, and it's easy
to fall into a defensive posture. If you're not sure of the answer or feel boxed into a corner
it's all right to buy time - including saying quot;I need some time to think about that.quot;
No matter how nervous you are you do need to look after the people interviewing you. They
will be looking for signs that you know how to communicate and relate to people. If you get
stuck or tongue-tied ask one or two of the more surprising questions you have prepared.
Have a stockpile of anecdotes of past triumphs (and even a few disasters, as long as they're
funny or the humorous side is apparent). This is not just a list of what you can do, but some
personal examples that help paint the whole picture.
For instance, you could say quot;I successfully launched a new product for my company.quot;
Nothing wrong with that; it just doesn't tell anyone very much about you.
Or you could say, quot;Let me tell you about the new product launch I ran earlier this year with
my colleagues. We had a very tight deadline, the venue was booked, the product was
ready, but it was bringing all the elements together that helped make it a success. I'll
explain my part in all this....quot; And off you go.
You're telling a story, not reciting facts. People like stories (as long as they are not long-
winded and either too boastful or too self-deprecating) because they help show who you are
as a person.
(Click here for the next available Public Interview Skills Course
Your first responsibility as the interviewee is to show yourself as a person
Let's be very clear here. They have information about you. If you've been clever at
presenting your CV and application they will have expectations as to what sort of person
Now they want to meet you.
Why? Because they want to know if they will like you, if you're someone they could spend
working time with, if you're a good fit with the other people in the company.
Robin: quot;In the world of theatre, where I have spent a considerable time people don't just
interview. They audition; they perform and are judged on their performance and you would
think that the performance was the most important part of an audition.
quot;Nevertheless over and over again casting decisions are made on the basis of 'Can I work
with this person?' 'Do I like them well enough to spend time (quite a lot of time) with
them?' And surprisingly, often it is not the best actor for the part who gets it.quot;
Presenting yourself isn't an 'act', nor is it a 'performance', but they do want to see how you
perform. Confusing, isn't it?
Don't worry, there's more advice coming right up.
(Click here for the next available Public Interview Skills Course)
Your greatest weaknesses
What would you rate as your greatest weaknesses
This is a tricky question. Be mindful of what you say. If you admit to a genuine weakness, you will
be respected for your honesty, but your resume will end up in the dustbin after the interview!
One method is to present a strength as a weakness. You could say something like “I am a little too
aggressive when it comes to achieving targets. I have often found that everyone working with me
might not be on the same wavelength.” However this is a very commonly used tactic and a
seasoned interviewer can see through this.
Another method is to tell the employer that you do not really see any drawback in your background
that might affect the job at hand. If you plan to adopt this line, you will again need to do the
questions session of the question 1 when you start the interview. Once you know what is required
of the job, you can tackle the current question in this way: “Well, no one is perfect, but from what
I have learned from you about this job, I should make an excellent candidate. I believe my
background shows all the required qualifications for this job, and I also have a track record of
excellence in everything I took on. Therefore I can honestly say that there is nothing in my
background that should cause you concern…”
On the other hand if you don’t know well enough about the position, you can recount what you like
doing best and what you don’t like. Make sure to present this in such a way that what you like
matches with what is important for this job, and what you don’t like is not essential. For instance,
let us say that you are applying for the position of a customer care executive. You can say that “I
really enjoy interacting with people and putting them at ease. It gives me great satisfaction when I
can solve the problems and requirements people bring to me… However I must say that I am not a
very aggressive person, although I know I can quietly assert myself when needed...” This sounds
like the ideal personality for a customer care executive and you will have scored a few good points
with the interviewer.
4. Is there something you did- or didn’t do- that you are now somewhat ashamed of? Tell
us about one such instance.
Well, this is a personal question, and the interviewer really has no right to ask you this. However
you cannot blurt out something like “That is none of your business” and not have disastrous
results. Moreover the interviewer might be asking this for a different reason. They are probably
checking if you have any serious imbalances in your personal life. It is also possible that they are
assessing how you respond to stress.
This question can be tricky for unprepared candidates. Any candid confessions about your personal
life can have just one outcome and the obvious one!
As with weaknesses, do not admit to guilt or shame from your personal life. However you have to
present an answer that does not appear like stonewalling. For this, you can start with saying that
you do not have any regrets, and then follow it up with a small explanation of the principles/
practices that help healthy relationships.
Take a moment’s pause before you answer this question. (This gives the impression that you are
searching your memory for some such instance.). Now say that you cannot think of anything of the
kind”. Give a pause again and then proceed to state your principles.
” Let me add that I have followed the principle of prevention is better than cure in such matters. At
the end of every day and every major event, I pause to reflect and take stock of what happened. I
also try to understand what the other people involved with me might be feeling. If I feel that there
is something that needs a follow up, I put it to practice immediately. This might be a small chit
chat, a few nice words or a pat on the back- whatever it is, I always work to clear up things and
“Moreover at workplace, I strive to make every member of my team feel important. It is also
important for people to know that they are working with an excellent set of people. When people
know that you expect nothing short of excellence from them, when you are yourself a model of
excellence, and when you are a leader who appreciates and respects each team member’s feelings,
you can create a highly motivated team. The team has fun at work as they are working towards
5. Why did you leave/ are you leaving your current position?
Be careful not to sound negative while answering this question. Badmouthing your previous/current
industry, company, seniors or colleagues is absolutely not done. It will reflect poorly on you more
than anyone else.
You may feel that expressions like “personality clash”, “difficulty in getting along” and so on are
subtle ways of putting your reasons across, but they sound very suspicious to the interviewer.
These are expressions that bring your character and temperament under the question mark.
If you already have a job, you are in a strong position. You are probably looking for better
opportunities- you might be looking at more growth potential, a better compensation package or
some such prospect. State this honestly and in a positive way. If you have found out what the
current job really requires and can match your expectations to these requirements, you will have
given the best answer.
Now let us examine the situation if you are without a job at the moment. It is possible that you
were fired from your previous position. Hiding this is unethical, and remember that the interviewer
can always find out.
However it makes sense to present the firing as something unrelated to you as an individual. You
might have been fired because you became redundant due to a takeover, a merger or a
downsizing. These are acceptable reasons.
But what matters above all is the way you present this. Explain the event clearly and briefly
without a trace of bitterness. You should be able to present things from the point of view of the
company and indicate that you could understand it and accept it as a rational decision. This shows
that your wounds are healed and that you are a true professional.
It is possible that you have switched jobs several times. For every job change, be ready with a
brief reason like better emoluments, responsibility or growth potential.
6. Situation: The interviewer keeps silent after you answer a question. This is also called
‘the silent treatment’.
This is not a very common situation. Be prepared for it nevertheless. Unless you are prepared,
chances are that you will undo all the good that has been done so far in the interview. The
interviewer is obviously trying to see how you respond to stress.
It usually goes like this. You answer a question and then the interviewer just stares at you in
silence and does not proceed to the next question. You wait and grow more and more uneasy with
each passing second of silence. It feels as if the interviewer doesn’t believe what you said. It might
also feel that you have violated some fundamental principle of interview etiquette. It can be all the
more frightening if the silence comes after you have answered some very difficult question like a
question about your weaknesses.
An unprepared person interprets the silence in the ways described above and rushes in to fill in the
void. He or she feels that the interviewer is silently inviting him or her to provide a clarification on
the previous answer that has caused some problem. But he or she doesn’t really understand what
the mistake was. In the confusion and embarrassment that follows, he or she goes on and on with
information, some of which might be irrelevant and even damaging.
First of all, refuse to be intimidated by the silent treatment. The interviewer is just trying to assess
your response to stress- be clear on that count. If this situation arises in your interview, just keep
calm and quiet for a while. If the silence continues, after a while ask politely “Is there anything I
should add to this?” Take care to avoid any sarcastic tone in your question. Avoid rushing in to fill
the silence at all costs
7. Why should we hire you?
This is a very obvious question, but presented as bluntly as that, it can sound very uncomfortable
to many candidates. If you stammer or hesitate, be sure that you have blown the interview.
We have already seen how important it is to find out the greatest requirements of the job before
you venture to answer the interview questions. If you know the most crucial needs and wants of
the job, you can give a very relevant answer to this question and thus place yourself in an
The interviewer may choose to ask this question directly like this or not. But remember that this
question is the very essence of the interview. The interviewer must find a convincing answer to this
question for him to hire you. Therefore be prepared to help him find the most positive answer. Go
through each of the most important wants and needs of the job and show how you are the perfect
fit to each of them.
E.g. “From what I have learned of your needs, you are looking for someone who can take charge of
your educational book publishing division. This appears to be your first priority. This is an area
where I have considerable experience. I have worked in different areas of educational book
publishing for ten years. I believe that I have acquired many valuable things during my experience,
including the right principles, methods, as well as some contacts.”
“An important part where you need to work is R&D and content development. I have managed a
team of highly qualified researchers and content developers during my earlier stint and this can be
an added advantage.”
“I also understand that you have plans of venturing into E-learning in the near future. I have
already headed one such project for ---- (mention company name) where I was responsible for
setting up their e-learning portal. My own area of expertise is content, but as a manager, I had to
co-ordinate a team of web designers, content developers as well as the end users to achieve
optimum efficiency of the web site. It was truly path-breaking work and the insights and
techniques I learned can be of great use to your upcoming project.”
The more you can bring up such matching pairs of their need- your skill, the more the points you
score. This is one single question that can make or mar your interview.