Friday, October 14, 2011

Standard Questions during Job Interview/Preparing for an Interview

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Standard Questions during Job Interview/Preparing for an Interview

Credits to AKOSIVINTOT..
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. What did you most enjoy about your last job?
3. How would your colleagues or supervisor describe you?
4. What can you offer us that other people cannot?
5. What about this job attracts you? What is unattractive?
6. How long do you see yourself with us?
7. How would you describe an ideal working environment?

Standard interview questions might not seem difficult, but your answer to each should be polished and sharp. Craft responses and practice them before your interview so that they roll off your tongue when you face the interviewer. Effective responses answer questions honestly, positively, and briefly, highlighting important qualities and accomplishments that are relevant to the position at hand. Give examples to illustrate and corroborate your statements when possible. Your responses should work together, making connections between what you have previously done, the available position, and your goals.

Tell me about yourself.
Ineffective: I am a hard-worker who is good with numbers. After I worked as a financial analyst for a few years, I decided to go to law school. I just finished and now am looking for a new challenge.

Effective: I began developing skills relevant to financial planning when I worked as a financial analyst for three years. In that role, I succeeded in multiplying the wealth of my clients by carefully analyzing the market for trends. The return on the portfolios I managed was generally 2% more than most of the portfolios managed by my company. My initiative, planning, and analytic skills were rewarded by two promotions. As the manager of a team, I successfully led them to develop a more efficient and profitable strategy for dealing with new accounts. My subsequent training in the law, including tax law and estate law, gives me an informed view of what types of investments and charitable gifts would be most advantageous for your clients.

What did you most enjoy about your last job?
Ineffective: I liked lots of things-the people, the challenge, the rewards. Sometimes we had to work long hours, but it always seemed to pay off.

Effective: Of the many things that I enjoyed, I would say that the strategic aspects of my job most energized me. I liked setting concrete performance goals for myself and finding ways to meet them. I similarly enjoyed analyzing markets for trends and identifying when would be the most beneficial time to enter or withdraw from certain funds. When I was a manager, my team and I developed a new approach to accounts that became a standard for the company. Strategizing gave my work a sense of tangible direction and accomplishment.

How would your colleagues or supervisor describe you?
Ineffective: I guess they would say that I am a hard worker who is successful.

Effective: My supervisor and colleagues have described me as a dependable worker. My supervisor has appreciated that I prioritize tasks and manage my responsibilities so that she can rely on me. My bosses tell me I have a sixth sense for markets and I learn new information and procedures quickly. These skills account for my two promotions in three years. My boss was also impressed by how I was able to lead my team.

What can you offer us that other people cannot?
Ineffective: I have a unique combination of skills. I also really want the job.

Effective: I have a track-record of multiplying wealth through investments and developing strategies with teams. Since I have a JD, I also know what legal parameters and loopholes affect families and individuals planning their finances. My CFA training not only shows that I will succeed in the CFP courses, but also gives me a broader view of why financial plans work as they do. Since I am organized and self-motivated, I will add value to the company without requiring much tending and supervision.

What about this job attracts you? What is unattractive?
Ineffective: I like that it is in the field I am targeting. I don't like the commute that it will require.

Effective: As I evaluate my skills and goals, this job maximizes on both. I will be able to merge my knowledge of law and markets while strategizing for the sound financial future of clients. Since this is a small company, I imagine that there will be opportunity for increased responsibilities and challenges. I share the values of the company. I am not eager to do much data processing, but the position is very attractive.

How long do you see yourself with us?
Ineffective: I don't want to make any hasty commitments, and I like to keep my options open. Maybe I will be here for one year, maybe for five. It depends.

Effective: I see myself here as long as we both think that I am contributing to the vitality of the company while still being grown through challenges.

How would you describe an ideal working environment?
Ineffective: A laptop and cell phone on a beach sound ideal to me. Short of that, I would like an environment in which I am able to work as I please, without much supervision.

Effective: It is important to me that my company has clear objectives and strives for success. Similarly, I like having colleagues whom I admire for their skills and perspectives. When communication is clear between colleagues, our energy becomes synergy. In addition, I find that I flourish when given discretion after having gained the trust of my supervisor.

Below is some dificult questions during Interview
1. What are your weaknesses?
2. Why did you leave your last job?
3. How do you deal with criticism?
4. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
5. How do you deal with authority?
6. What do you think of your previous manager?
7. What is the riskiest thing you have ever done?

Be confident and speak with a clear and convincing voice. Don't panic and squirm uncomfortably. As you prepare responses before the interview, consider what information the questions seek: are there ways in which you would be a liability to the company? If the company invests in you, what kinds of things would it need to overcome? Are you the kind of person who can deal with things when they get rough, or are you pure gloss?

In answering sensitive questions, make sure that your answers are honest, but reassuring. Use tact and choose your words carefully so that you show respect for other people in your responses. You should usually use understatement in your reply to sensitive questions. When people hear something bad, they tend to focus on it in a way that is out of proportion to its significance in everyday life. If you say that you are not always organized, the interviewer could imagine your desk with papers strewn everywhere and deadlines missed. But in reality your conception of disorganization might look a lot like the interviewer's conception of organization. In addition, most of the interviewer's questions could be answered honestly in a variety of ways. You want to choose the version of the truth that is most appealing and sensitive--the version that helps support your main message.

What are your weaknesses?
Overemphasized: I am not a good manager.

Avoidant: I always get my work done on time. When other people drop the ball, sometimes I get frustrated with them.

Effective: I prioritize continual growth and improvement. An area on which I would like to focus is managing others who have different expectations from me. What needs to be done in order to complete responsibilities is intuitive for me, so I am learning how to give better direction to others who are not self-motivated.

Why did you leave your last job?
Vague and negative: Law always interested me, and I was looking for a new challenge. I thought it would be a good time to go to law school. Besides, I had gotten frustrated with the lack of support I felt at work.

Dangerous: In the end, my manager and I could not get along. He was driving me crazy and I needed to leave.

Effective: As I succeeded in financial analysis, I became increasingly interested in broader issues of managing money. I wanted to understand how legal regulations and individuals' goals affect decisions about how to manage money. When I gained entrance to my top choice in law school, I seized the opportunity to infuse my financial training with legal knowledge.

How do you deal with criticism?
Disrespectful: When I remember the source, I usually realize that the other person is in no position to criticize me.

Unbelievable: Criticism does not bother me at all.

Effective: Criticism is vital to my continued growth, and I welcome constructive criticism that helps a team operate better together or produce better results. It is important to me to understand where my critic is coming from so that I know how to apply the feedback.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Dismissive: Living in a boat off the coast of Bermuda.

Exploitative: I hope to have gained enough skills here to start my own company.

Scattered: In ten years, I imagine that I will want a change of scene. One of my long-term interests has been ecological protection, and I can see myself working as a spokesman for a lobbyist organization. First, though, I need to make some money and I want to contribute to your company.

Effective: In ten years, I endeavor to have refined my strategic and client relations skills. I intend to be a leading expert in estate planning. After having proven myself as a senior manager, I hope to help shape the strategic direction of estate planning services. I could do this in any number of official roles. The important thing is that I will continue contributing my abilities in a challenging and rewarding environment.

How do you deal with authority?
Concerning: I think it is important to question authority from time to time.

Frightening: In my last job, there was a time when my boss made a financial decision that I knew would be abysmal. I went directly to his superior to explain the problem. His superior agreed that I was right, and my boss had to alter his plan.

Effective: Respect is very important to me. As an employee, I try to respect my boss not only by following her guidance, but also by seeking her guidance. When a trusting relationship is formed, I have often found that my bosses have appreciated concerns or options that I raised to them. They know that I support them, and I know that they respect me.

What do you think of your previous manager?
Evasive: She did her job fine. She was a pretty nice person.

Disrespectful: She knew her stuff, but she did not give my colleagues or me any real guidance. It is like we were fending for ourselves. She rarely stood up for us either. I do not really think she should be a manager.

Effective: My previous manager had excellent technical skills and was very agreeable as a colleague. I would have liked more support from her at times, but her hands-off style meant that I had to become resourceful in problem solving and negotiating with colleagues.

What is the riskiest thing you have ever done?
Too much information: My wife and I conceived our first child in front of the police department.

Dangerous judgment: I play chicken with trains.

Effective: The greatest calculated risk that I have taken was to launch my own internet company. My idea was solid, but I knew the market was volatile. Even though the venture ended, my investment of time and money paid off in terms of the skills, perspectives, and contacts that I made through the process. I feel like I matured-rather than aged-ten years during that time.

Below is some tips for Interview

. Be punctual
. Introduce yourself in a courteous manner and remember to smile,smlile smile!
. Read company materials while you wait.
. give a firm handshake.
. Use body language to show interest.
. Smile, nod, give nonverbal feedback to the interviewer.
. Ask about the next step in the process.
. Thank the interviewer.
. Write a thank-you letter to anyone you have spoken to.

Preparing for an Interview

When you receive that call:

So you just got a call from a company requesting you for an interview, what do you say then? Well here are a few tips you can use to help you. Firstly you can ask for the name of the person who called you. Then find out the time and date and place. Next you can ask who your interviewer will be and will it be a single one to one interview or will there be a group of people interviewing you. Next you can also find out more about the interviewing process.

In case you can't remember what position you applied for (you've just graduated and sent out like 50 applications), you can always ask more about the position you are going to be interviewing for. Sometimes the interview may not be for the position you are applying for. For example you might expect a different type of working environment when applying for a job called "Management Trainee" which in reality could be almost anything. It is good to find out beforehand so that you can properly prepare.

So here is a list of questions you should ask:
- Time and date of interview
- Location, if unsure ask for a map
- Name of interviewer
- Group or single individual
- More details about position you are interviewing for
- How is the interview process like? IQ Test?
- How many rounds of interviews required?
- If you are currently working and you would need time to obtain leave, tell the person that you may require a re-schedule.

What to bring:

1) Copies of your resume
Bring a few, because sometimes there might be more than one person interviewing you and you could distribute a copy of your resume to them right before the interview session. I have personally seen three interviewers sharing a copy of my resume and then trying to pass it around to another interviewer.

2) Copies of your degree, certificates, transcripts, reports, thesis
Bring copies of your degree, certificates and academic transcripts. I would advice that you make a few copies of them and staple them together. Then it would be easy to give it to HR rather than you trying to sort it out in front of them.

Another option is to bring a copy of your thesis or report from your university days. Most employers may not be bothered with it but you never know. The best I have seen was someone who binded her report nicely with hard leather covers and had gold coloured letterings printed on it. It looked really professional.

If you are in the media and art line then a portfolio of your work would be more suitable. Maybe even video presentations.

3) Original documents
Do not forget to bring all original documents to allow the HR recruiter to verify the authenticity of your copies. Keep them in a clear folder for easy viewing. Try not to jumble them up together and put them in the same order as the copies you passed to HR. It shows a little bit of organizational skills you might have and a exhibit a little professionalism.

4) Pen and notebook
You would need a pen to fill out the application forms and also a notebook to take simple details or do simple calculations if you were asked IQ questions. Bring a couple of pens in case one runs out of ink.

5) Bag
With all the items mentioned above, you definitely need a bag to carry your stuff around especially if you do not have your own means of transportation. Believe it, its not easy juggling 3 folders while being cramped up in the LRT at 7.30am in the morning. Bring along a smart looking bag, nothing too fancy and nothing too rugged and out of place. It depends on the environment of the company you are applying to.

What to wear:

For any interview, an ironed out shirt and tie together with slacks and formal work shoes should do. If you are very particular, make sure that your belt matches with your shoe colours. Refrain from wearing bright colour socks. Oversized clothes are not preferred especially pants. It's good to bring a comb to the interview because you never know when a strong gust of wind might just mess up your hair on the way to the interview. Also try not to wear a jacket or coat as it may be too formal here in Malaysia. If you are attending one overseas, then it might be necessary.

Here are some tips I've taken from another thread:

For Men:
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 other pastels. 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 professional.

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 no pierced body parts, and cover up your tattoos!

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.

Since I am a guy I would need some feedback in regards to women's clothes worn during interview. I know for sure that smart looking work attire such as a business suit is well suited especially pants and a jacket. You should refrain from wearing those super short mini-skirts. You never know if the interviewer might be a guy or a girl

Ladies, remember not too much make-up. You are not auditioning for a play at the local kabuki theater.

For 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 1-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 trendy hairstyles.

Make-up. Be subtle; natural is the key word. Light shades of lip coloring and nail polish are recommended."

Jewellery. Be conservative. Studs of gold, silver or pearls are best. Do away with gaudy fashion jewellery, 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.

For Both Men and Women

Don't wear too much perfume or cologne or it might end up distracting the interviewers. Also don't put on hand cream that is very oily before shaking their hands as well. Make sure that you wash your hands before attending the interview. Imagine that you are the interviewer, you shake the interviewee's hands and your hands get oily. The only thing I will be doing throughout the interview would be thinking that I should wash my hands or not touch anything such as my tie or shirt or blouse or dress.

What to prepare:

Read up about the company before attending the interview. Find out as much as you can about it, its current financial situation, locations around the world, work culture, company aims and objectives, the company vision, values and more. A good way is to ask people who are currently working in them or another alternative is to use Google. Most companies might have a company website which provides all of that which is good. Try learning and remembering about the company's history, it helps to impress your interviewer that you took the time to learn about the company. Sometimes you can check the company's latest press release and bring it up as a conversation piece with the interviewer.

Usually if you are applying for a technical position, then prepare yourself by reading up some of your past lecture notes and try to recall what you have learned in university. Of course that would be almost impossible to remember everything so just study the ones that are related to the job you are applying for. For example if you are applying for a position that is related to marketing, then reading up on your marketing notes would be the first priority.

Even if you are applying for a position that is not related to your field of study, there are plenty of libraries out there as well as the internet to learn as much as you can. It's better to be prepared than not to be at all. A good example would be engineering students who are applying for a management trainee position at a bank. You definitely didn't learn any banking skills during lecture so do your research!

Most interviews would require you to give them a brief explanation about your past experiences in extra curricular activities and this is a great opportunity for you to shine with your previous involvement. Some of the very standard questions would be, "Explain a situation where you were in a tight spot" or "Explain a situation where you showed leadership skills". The answers to these questions should always be ready in your mind and by giving out a detailed account of your experiences, it would greatly help you to show your leadership skills as well as give a good impression to the interview as you had prepared for this interview.

A good way to answer these types of questions is to first slowly map out the entire situation first and then identifying key incidences such as when you stood up and led the team in certain situations or when you took charge of part of the project or even contributed ideas of change.

Some interviewers would just ask the question and then let you answer them but I had experienced some who kept asking in detail about the situation. For example, I mentioned that I called a certain someone to discuss about the project. The interviewer then asked me, "How was the guy's reaction when you called him?", "Did you think that he had confidence in your judgment?" and "How long did the conversation last?". It was that detailed. So don't try and bullshit your way through it.

Be honest and always tell the truth, interviewers will know when you are trying to bullshit your way into the job. It is ok if your situation is not as spectacular as how you would imagined it would be, sometimes it just about how you present yourself or how well you can communicate it to your interviewer is what that counts.

Lastly, find out simple things like who is your interviewer, what position does he/she holds, how many interviewers will there be, how many stages would you have to go through in order to obtain the position and ask. Do not be afraid to ask.

What to do while waiting:

Arriving around 15minutes earlier should be enough time for you to settle down and relax a little. Some HR recruiters will then ask you to fill out some application forms or even provide you with some questionnaires or tests. Another time the interviewer might be late because he/she could be caught up with some important work.

How you spend your time right now is crucial before the interview. The first thing you can do right now is to calm your mind and relax. A calm mind allows you for quick thinking and answering. Another thing is to be as observant as you can. Look around to see if there are any company posters or posters that try to encourage people. These posters, believe it or not, can help give you that extra edge in the interview.

For example, I sit in the HR waiting room waiting for my interviewer to arrive. I see posters such as "Company Motto: To strive for excellence" or "There is no I in Team" or even the company vision or tag-lines such as "Excellence, Performance, Efficiency" and more. Instead of just looking at them, I can use them in my interview. I could tell my interviewer that I work hard and strive to excel in anything I undertake. Also I could say that team work is extremely important and that it brings out high performance and efficiency.

Another thing you can do is try to evaluate the working environment and observe as much as you can. Another example is that I noticed one company was using VoIP phones and I started a conversation with the interviewer about that after the interview session and we had a few good laughs and thoughts regarding the technology and all.

While waiting for the interviewer to arrive or if you are waiting in the hall or at the reception, take this time to go to the toilet to relieve yourself as well as check your outward appearance. You can also practice your smile while checking your teeth to see if there are any unwanted stains or food leftovers lingering about those gaps. Take a breath check as well, it is good to have some gum or mint candy handy especially before interviews.

This is also a good time for you to turn off your mobile phone.

What to do during the interview:

During the interview, you should always remember to shake your interviewer's hand when entering and always have a smile on your face. Creating a pleasant outlook of you is important. If there is more than one interviewer, take the time to shake hands with each of them and introduce yourself to them. Always give a firm handshake as it shows that you are confident and secure. A weak handshake can be misconstrued as someone who lacks confidence in themselves or indecisive. Then again, don't break their hands while shaking it.

Do not sit down until the interviewers tell you so or ask them politely whether if you could take a seat. Most probably the interviewers will ask you to have a seat upon entering the room.

Always keep eye contact, sit up straight and be attentive. Eye contact is very important and for those of you who cannot talk to a person and look them straight in the eye, you better start practicing. Make eye contacts not stares.

It is also important to switch between the interviewers (>1 interviewers) so that none will feel offended. When making eye contact, try to focus on one eye, switching between eyes of that same person gives a nervous impression. If you are the type that is afraid to look someone in the eyes, you can always look at the areas near the eyes, such as the nose. Practice with friends before the interview.

On the hand shaking part, gives firm and powerful grip. However on some occasions, initiating a hand shake with a future employer might be bad by giving an aggressive impression.

Quote: If you look away when speaking to someone, you're viewed as lacking confidence or interest.

When answering questions, answer in a clear and easily understandable manner. Try not to beat around the bush, get to the point straight. For example, you can take about 2-3 minutes describing a certain scenario, once explaining the key points you can always ask, "would you like to hear more?" or "Did I give you enough detail?". Good interview sessions are all about giving and taking. It's never easy to just constantly talk about yourself all the time while the interviewer is busy doing something else. Asking questions will draw the interviewer out to speak a little which is good.

Its good to ask questions, ask about the company, ask about the interviewer and how his view of the company is, ask about the job position, ask about the work environment, just ask. It shows that you are very curious about the company and that you have the initiative to ask questions. Most employers would prefer employees that ask a lot of questions and not the type that just sit down quietly being dumb.

When taking the time to think about an answer, try not to just keep quiet and still. Instead portray an appearance that shows you are thinking and trying to remember. Observe how your interviewer carries himself/herself and try to pick up a few good points from it.

Think of the interview as if it were your first date. Sometimes it is human nature to defend ourselves and during interviews, when bombarded with "killer" questions, we might come up and be all defensive about ourselves which could cost you the job itself. On your first date, you would never want to offend your date would you? Instead you are trying to sell yourself, about how good you can be in a relationship. This works the same for an interview.

Remember, be natural. When you perform unnaturally, it gives the interviewer a feeling that you're nervous and not confident.

In the case where you have more than one interviewer, make sure you direct your comments to all of them. You never know who's the one who actually makes the hiring decision. So treat them all as equally important even though they may be the one sitting quietly but observing you. There are instances where technical people will always ask the questions while HR might just sit quietly behind observing you.

Do not be a know-it-all during the interview. Learn when to quit bragging or talking too much. Take time to listen to the interview/s as well. If your skills are really good, what you share (those with true and proper substance) will be able to help you do the job in impressing the interviewer.

What to do: post interview:
After some comments by people and my friend who works in the HR line, it is good to leave a thank you message either by email or maybe a simple message to your interviewer. Its the same as a smile, a simple gesture could really make someone's day and wouldn't you want your interviewer to be happy when evaluating your application?

Mistakes Made During the Interview:
1. This happened during my interview with a semiconductor company based outside of KL. They asked if I applied to other companies based in KL and they asked if I were offered a job in KL would I take it. Being my first interview and being naive and honest, I said yes. Thanks to that I didn't get the job.

2. Some interviews are in a few stages, 2-3 interviews. I didn't really give a good answer during my first interview but although I managed to get a second one, I answered the 2nd interviewer differently to the same generic question (Why this particular company?). I didn't get the job and I have a big feeling its due to the fact that my answers were not consistent.

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