Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Three Thoughts

Posted by Sarjukottapuram


Peoples in a village were decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all people gathered and only one boy came with an umbrella…. That’s Confidence…


Trust should be like the feeling of a one year old baby when you throw him in the air; he laughs…..because he knows you will catch him…. That’s Trust…


Every night we go to bed, we have no assurance to get up alive in the next morning but still we have plans for the coming day…. That’s Hope…


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Interview Questions and Best Approaches

Posted by Sarjukottapuram

Tell me about yourself
Express your enthusiasm for the job, reiterate that you think you are the best person for the job and explain why in terms of your skills, professional experience, past accomplishments and strengths. This shows focus and avoids distracting the interviewer with unnecessary details
What are your strengths?
Recite key strengths that are directly relevant to the position and give examples from your professional life to support your claims.
What are your weaknesses?
Choose strength and cleverly position it as a weakness or choose an area you are strong in but would like to see yourself develop further in. For example, I am too diligent in my client servicing activities. I have a self-imposed 24 hour rule and insist on returning all client calls I receive strictly within 24 hours which often means I am calling from overseas or late at night or in the weekends. Alternatively, choose a weakness that is completely irrelevant to the job and show how you have already taken successful measures to overcome it.
What have you done that shows initiative?
Give an example of a project you initiated and saw through to successful completion. The employer wants to know you are a self starter and will be a proactive energetic innovative member of the team rather than someone who simply waits and reacts to projects and processes as they are given them. Show you are proactive not reactive and have imagination, drive, stamina and the confidence and skills to see a project through to completion.
Do you prefer working alone or in a team?
Say you prefer working in a team environment but are equally capable of excelling on your own. Most employers require people who work very well in a team environment but are also capable of achieving success working on their own.
How would your boss describe you?
Give an account of all the positive things your boss has ever said about you. . Ideally you should show you think very highly of your last boss, that you are leaving on very good terms and your boss has many good things to say about you.
Why do you want this job?
The job is exactly what I am looking for in terms of career progression opportunities and I am confident I can excel in this role and really make a meaningful contribution. You need to show enthusiasm for the role and the company as well as an understanding of what is specifically required for the role and a confidence that you have the skills, qualifications and experience it takes to genuinely succeed and excel in the particular role.
Why should we choose you for this job?
Because I have all the skills and qualifications you need and am confident I can make a significant contribution to the company and be a valuable addition to your team. Show that you understand the requirements of the role and have what it takes to succeed. Share with them your understanding of their requirements to show you have done your homework and emphasize your skills in each. Indicate you sincerely believe you are the best person for the job and explain logically and intelligently why, without coming across as arrogant or overly-confident.
What sort of people do you find it difficult to work with?
I am a very open-minded easygoing person and I really enjoy working with different kinds of people. Luckily I’ve always worked with wonderful people but I imagine it might perhaps be difficult to work with people who aren’t team players and who don’t have the same work ethic and high standards at work that I do. Indicates that you have very high standards and expect others to have the same but you realize at the same time that in a workplace there are very many types and you have to get along with and bring out the best in all.
Would you classify your career as a success to date
Yes absolutely I am proud of my many accomplishments but I feel the best is still ahead of me. Indicate pride and satisfaction with major accomplishments, stress how much you enjoy your career and emphasize that you are continuously advancing professionally and believe the best is still ahead of you.
How do you organize major projects?
I determine goals and priorities then brainstorm all potential scenarios and construct an optimal plan of action that includes a time-table with realistic deadlines, a resource allocation plan and a task delegation plan. Shows that you think of all possible outcomes when formulating a plan and set realistic targets and seek to allocate resources effectively. If you have time, give an actual example of a project similar to one you will be working on that you organized and implemented successfully.
What do you think of your existing company?
I have really enjoyed working for this company and am very grateful for the challenges and the learning and career progression opportunities. Indicate you were challenged, learned a lot, were given plenty of responsibility and excelled in the role despite the obstacles and impediments you faced. A loyal employee is an asset to any team and your loyalty and attitude are under scrutiny in this question. Be positive and speak highly of your team, boss, company and personal accomplishments.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
The more directly relevant, recent and impactful the achievement the better. Successes too far back in time cast doubts about your present stamina and competitiveness and mediocre successes indicate lack of ambition and cast doubts on your abilities and skills. You need to show that the best is not behind you but still ahead and you expect to continue to excel in an even greater capacity in the future.
What environment allows you to be especially effective?
I am flexible and have worked in and am able to work in many different environments. . Give examples. Indicate you enjoy the feedback, energy and activity of an open-door office environment while you also appreciate quiet time and have excelled in the past with enthusiasm in less than ideal environments.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully still with your company but with a track record of excellence and success behind me and in a much more senior capacity with added challenges and responsibilities. Shows you have a vision and goals and are ambitious. Also shows that you are committed to the company and aim to align yourself with them for the long run. Remember a company is making a substantial investment in recruiting and training you and they are more likely to make it if you display some sort of long-term commitment.
Describe a time when you were criticized for poor performance?
You choose a minor area you were advised to improve your strengths in and indicate you have taken measures to turn the situation around and already succeeded. Indicate the measures you took to turn the situation around eg courses attended, mentors sought, books read, work habits amended etc.
What aspects of your present job do you like and dislike?
I have been very fortunate and am very grateful for all I have learned and accomplished in my job. There have been different obstacles to overcome at different moments but I can safely say there is nothing I dislike about the job the people or the company. Obviously you wouldn’t be moving if you loved every aspect of the job but you need to be careful not to sound too negative, not to blame others for your poor performance and not to show intolerance for any important aspect of the job.
What motivates you?
I get extreme satisfaction knowing I have completed a project successfully; this gives me the drive and stamina and energy to excel along the way. The employer will delight in seeing that your satisfaction is derived from making a meaningful contribution and seeing the company excel.
How well do you handle criticism?
Constructive criticism is important to learn and grow – I am always open to ideas and suggestions and feedback that can make my performance better. Admit that you are always hungry to learn from others especially your superiors and constructive criticism, professionally given, allows you to improve and develop as a professional.
Describe your ideal boss?
I never thought of my relationship with the boss in terms of like and dislike. I have always been committed to working with my boss cordially and professionally in a manner that best advances the company’s goals. Indicate that you can get along with any boss and your goal is strictly to perform excellently on the job.
Do you have any questions for me?
Yes I actually have a few questions about the role and about next steps. Have a list of questions ready about the role and company and industry that showcase you have done your homework and are anxious to join the team and are already thinking about next steps and specific details related to the role.

  1. Why is this position open?
  2. What level of experience/ skill are you looking for in the person who fills this role?
  3. What kind of training would be available?
  4. What would my initial responsibilities on the job be?
  5. What would a typical day look like in terms of projects, responsibilities, deadlines etc?
  6. Can you tell me something about the team I would be working with?
  7. What objectives would you like the person in this role to accomplish?
  8. Is there a specific career progression path that I would have with your company?
  9. What are some of the more difficult problems I might face in this role?
  10. What resources would the person in this role have - in terms of support, budget etc.
  11. What significant changes do you foresee in the company in the near future?
  12. In what areas do you consider your company to have the greatest strength?
  13. How would my performance be evaluated in this position?

12 key points for attending an interview

Posted by Sarjukottapuram

1. Practice
The importance of practice and preparation cannot be emphasized enough. Generally, a jobhunter is much more versed in the fine art of interviewing if they have been out looking for jobs and interviewing for a while; it is critical however for newcomers to the interviewing scene to know what to expect, how best to behave in an interview setting and how to answer the questions in a manner that reflects on them most positively. Read the current literature on interview trends, prepare answers to the most common interview questions and perhaps rehearse by having a friend or better still, a peer in the industry conduct a realistic mock interview and analyze your conduct and answers. You should know your CV inside out and be able to answer any questions that relate to it without hesitation. Job descriptions for a given role are key wellsprings of information on the skills required - aim to present each and every one of these required skills in a personal skills inventory as you answer the interview questions.
2. Have the company, industry and product line well researched
You are much more likely to impress and convince the employer of your unique suitability for the job if you are intimately familiar with the company, its position in the industry, its product lines and what may be required for a candidate in your role. Once you can see yourself as part of a "big picture" you can better formulate your answers, prepare your skills inventory and formulate your success stories as they directly relate to the company's requirements.
3. Arrive early
Respect the interviewer's time. Aim to arrive 15 minutes early and busy yourself with the company or industry literature while you wait. You can also use the time to go over your CV and answers you have prepared so you feel more relaxed and in control during the interview. If disaster strikes and you are running late, make sure to call the interviewer to inform them.
4. Be aware of the importance of first impressions
As you have heard a myriad times before, you will not get a second chance to make a first impression so make sure your first impression conveys a successful, enthusiastic, well-mannered professional who will be an asset to the team. Smile and shake hands firmly when you meet the interviewer and be aware that over 60% of the cues being communicated to the interviewer are non-verbal cues. Watch your body language, gestures and tone of voice and bear in mind that the manner in which you are conveying information may be as important as what you are saying. Stay calm and focused and demonstrate self-confidence and professionalism in your answers and how you deliver them. Your attire MUST be professional and you must be well-groomed for your interviews, it is far better to err on the conservative side than to arrive dressed in a slovenly manner and communicate a complete disregard and disrespect for industry norms and the company culture.
5. Keep your answers brief and to the point
Answer the questions directed at you in a precise and succinct manner and make sure you do not ramble or get carried away on an irrelevant and inconsequential tangent. The more you get carried away on a given question the more likely you are to slip up and communicate weaknesses or factoids that are best not brought to bear at the interview stage. Demonstrate clarity of mind and thought process by making your answers simple and to the point - this does not however involve killing the conversation flow with yes/no answers. Aim to keep the conversation going on a pleasant professional respectful tone with answers that illustrate your strengths and experience and keep the interviewer excited to learn more.
6. Bring to bear facts and data from your past experiences to support your answers
Make sure to support all your answers with accurate facts and figures to gain credibility with the interviewer and show you have a keen eye for the bottom line. Expound in detail on targets achieved or overachieved and talk about measurable milestones and contributions to the bottom line whether they be in terms of money made, money saved, losses averted or otherwise. Be very specific about your skills and describe past success stories that support them in accurate, quantifiable detail.
7. Know your strengths and make sure you communicate them at least once
The interviewer is looking to hire a winner who has had a record of achieving success in a similar capacity in the past. Be prepared to elaborate on past successes that bear in a direct manner on the present job and show how those experiences are directly relevant to the role, responsibilities and skill set required for the present job. Keep in mind that the employer is looking to minimize his/her risk by hiring a candidate who has excelled in a similar or identical role in the past and can brings these skills to bear on the present job. Even if your past job was very different than the present one, you will be able to come up with success stories that relate directly to the job requirements in that they highlight key skills or character traits whether they be creativity, initiative, problem-solving acumen, sales skills, negotiation skills, communication skills etc.
8. Do not dwell on weaknesses or personal matters
Two areas that have no place during the interview stage are your weaknesses and your personal life. Avoid talking about personal matters and answer any question on weaknesses with either a brief explanation of what area you would like to further develop your skills in or by reiterating a key strength of yours that you perhaps take too far. The first shows you know what key skill you need further work on and are willing to take action on it and the second approach reiterates a key point of strength. You may also mention a weakness that is completely unrelated to the position at hand eg if you are applying for a creative role in and advertising agency you can mention that your accounting or investment management skills are not your strongest point and you are much more comfortable in a creative role. Whatever you do don't open a can of worms and torpedo your chances of securing the job by dwelling on real weaknesses and shortcomings that directly relate to your ability to excel at the job.
9. Ask questions
Have a list of questions prepared beforehand that are designed to impress the employer and show that you are familiar with current company/industry issues. An appropriate line of questioning can make for excellent conversation and will leave the employer with the impression that you have done your due diligence and researched the company and industry thoroughly. Do not ask about salary and vacations at the early interview stages.
10. Talk like an insider
If you have researched the company, industry and product lines thoroughly you will be able to talk like an insider and impress with your insider's insight on relevant issues. Keep the conversation flow fluid and informative by bringing up facts you have learned about the company and its products and competitors and show how you, armed with your unique skill set and experiences, can positively impact the bottom line.
11. Do not discuss salary too early
Asking about salary too early in an interview will make you appear mercenary. A potential employer will look for enthusiasm for the job itself, not just the salary on offer. Most serious companies will have a formal wage structure - so don't be afraid to ask about it at the appropriate time. Prior research into realistic salary expectations will also help avoid embarrassment.
12. Do not overpromise
Don't promise what you are not in a position to deliver. Your over confidence will eventually catch you out, with potentially serious consequences, should you actually get the job. Promote your skills enthusiastically but stick to the facts.