Simple interview questions part 3


Part 3

Question 17        What are your outside interests?
TRAPS:  You want to be a well-rounded, not a
drone.  But your potential employer would
be even more turned off if he suspects that your heavy extracurricular load
will interfere with your commitment to your work duties.
BEST ANSWERS:  Try to gauge how this company’s culture would
look upon your favorite outside activities and be guided accordingly.
You can also use this question to shatter any stereotypes
that could limit your chances.  If you’re
over 50, for example, describe your activities that demonstrate physical
stamina.  If you’re young, mention an
activity that connotes wisdom and institutional trust, such as serving on the
board of a popular charity.
But above all, remember that your employer is hiring your
for what you can do for him, not your
family, yourself or outside organizations, no matter how admirable those
activities may be.
Question 18        The “Fatal Flaw” question
TRAPS:  If an interviewer has read your resume
carefully, he may try to zero in on a “fatal flaw” of your candidacy, perhaps
that you don’t have a college degree…you’ve been out of the job market for some
time…you never earned your CPA, etc.
A fatal flaw question can be deadly, but usually only if you
respond by being overly defensive.
BEST ANSWERS:  As every master salesperson knows, you will
encounter objections (whether stated or merely thought) in every sale.  They’re part and
parcel of the buyer’s anxiety.  The key
is not to exacerbate the buyer’s
anxiety but diminish it.  Here’s how…
Whenever you come up against a fatal flaw question:
1.                  
Be completely honest, open and straightforward
about admitting the shortcoming. 
(Showing you have nothing to hide diminishes the buyer’s anxiety.)
2.                  
Do not
apologize or try to explain it away.  You
know that this supposed flaw is nothing to be concerned about, and this is the
attitude you want your interviewer to adopt as well.
3.                  
Add that as desirable as such a qualification
might be, its lack has made you work all the harder throughout your career and
has not prevented you from compiling an outstanding tack record of
achievements.  You might even give
examples of how, through a relentless commitment to excellence, you have
consistently outperformed those who do have this qualification.
Of course, the ultimate way to handle “fatal flaw” questions
is to prevent them from arising in
the first place.  You will do that by
following the master strategy described in Question 1, i.e., uncovering the
employers needs and them matching your qualifications to those needs.
Once you’ve gotten the employer to start talking about his
most urgently-felt wants and goals for the position, and then help him see in
step-by-step fashion how perfectly your background and achievements match up
with those needs, you’re going to have one very enthusiastic interviewer on
your hands, one who is no longer looking for “fatal flaws”.
Question 19        How do you feel about reporting to a younger person (minority, woman,
etc)?
TRAPS:  It’s a shame that some interviewers feel the
need to ask this question, but many understand the reality that prejudices
still exist among some job candidates, and it’s better to try to flush them out
beforehand.
The trap here is that in today’s politically sensitized
environment, even a well-intentioned
answer can result in planting your foot neatly in your mouth.  Avoid anything which smacks of a patronizing
or an insensitive attitude, such as “I think they make terrific bosses” or
“Hey, some of my best friends are…”
Of course, since almost anyone with an IQ above room
temperature will at least try to steadfastly affirm the right answer here, your
interviewer will be judging your sincerity
most of all.  “Do you really feel that way?” is what he or she will be
wondering.
So you must make your answer believable and not just
automatic.  If the firm is wise enough to
have promoted peopled on the basis of ability alone, they’re likely quite proud
of it, and prefer to hire others who will wholeheartedly share their strong
sense of fair play.
BEST ANSWER:  You greatly admire a company that hires and
promotes on merit alone and you couldn’t agree more with that philosophy.  The age (gender, race, etc.) of the person
you report to would certainly make no
difference to you.
Whoever has that position has obviously earned it and knows
their job well.  Both the person and the
position are fully deserving of respect. 
You believe that all people in a company, from the receptionist to the
Chairman, work best when their abilities, efforts and feelings are respected
and rewarded fairly, and that includes you. 
That’s the best type of work environment you can hope to find.
Question 20        On confidential matters…
TRAPS:  When an interviewer presses you to reveal
confidential information about a present or former employer, you may feel it’s
a no-win situation.  If you cooperate,
you could be judged untrustworthy.  If
you don’t, you may irritate the interviewer and seem obstinate, uncooperative
or overly suspicious.
BEST ANSWER:  Your interviewer may press you for this
information for two reasons.
First, many companies use interviews to research the
competition.  It’s a perfect set-up.  Here in their own lair, is an insider from
the enemy camp who can reveal prized information on the competition’s plans,
research, financial condition, etc.
Second, the company may be testing your integrity to see if
you can be cajoled or bullied into revealing confidential data.
What to do?  The
answer here is easy.  Never reveal anything truly confidential
about a present or former employer.  By
all means, explain your reticence diplomatically.  For example, “I certainly want to be as open
as I can about that.  But I also wish to
respect the rights of those who have trusted me with their most sensitive
information, just as you would hope to be able to trust any of your key people
when talking with a competitor…”
And certainly you can allude to your finest achievements in
specific ways that don’t reveal the combination to the company safe.
But be guided by the golden rule.  If you were the owner of your present
company, would you feel it ethically wrong for the information to be given to
your competitors?  If so, steadfastly
refuse to reveal it.
Remember that this question pits your desire to be
cooperative against your integrity. 
Faced with any such choice, always
choose integrity.
  It is a far more
valuable commodity than whatever information the company may pry from you.  Moreover, once you surrender the information,
your stock goes down.  They will surely
lose respect for you.
One President we know always presses candidates unmercifully
for confidential information. If he doesn’t get it, he grows visibly annoyed,
relentlessly inquisitive,  It’s all an act.  He couldn’t care less about the information.
This is his way of testing the candidate’s moral fiber.  Only those who hold fast are hired.
Question 21        Would you lie for the company?
TRAPS:  This another question that pits two values
against one another, in this case loyalty against integrity.
BEST ANSWER:  Try to avoid choosing between two values,
giving a positive statement which covers all bases instead.
Example:  “I would never do anything to hurt the
company..”
If aggressively pressed to choose between two competing
values, always choose personal integrity.  It is the most prized of all values.
Question 22        Looking back, what would you do differently in your life?
TRAPS:  This question is usually asked to uncover any
life-influencing mistakes, regrets, disappointments or problems that may
continue to affect your personality and performance.
You do not want to give the interviewer anything negative to
remember you by, such as some great personal or career disappointment, even
long ago, that you wish could have been avoided.
Nor do you wish to give any answer which may hint that your
whole heart and soul will not be in your work.
BEST ANSWER:  Indicate that you are a happy, fulfilled,
optimistic person and that, in general, you wouldn’t change a thing.
Example:  “It’s been a good life, rich in learning and
experience, and the best it yet to come. 
Every experience in life is a lesson it its own way.  I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Question 23        Could you have done better in your last job?
TRAPS:  This is no time for true confessions of major
or even minor problems.
BEST ANSWER:  Again never
be negative.
Example:  “I suppose with the benefit of hindsight you
can always find things to do better, of course, but off the top of my head, I
can’t think of anything of major consequence.”
(If more explanation
seems necessary)

Describer a situation that didn’t suffer because of you but from external
conditions beyond your control.
For example, describe the disappointment you felt with a
test campaign, new product launch, merger, etc., which looked promising at
first, but led to underwhelming results. 
“I wish we could have known at the start what we later found out (about
the economy turning, the marketplace changing, etc.), but since we couldn’t, we
just had to go for it.  And we did learn
from it…”
Question 24        Can you work under pressure?
TRAPS:  An easy question, but you want to make your
answer believable.
BEST ANSWER:  Absolutely…(then prove it with a vivid
example or two of a goal or project accomplished under severe pressure.)

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Simple interview questions part 3

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