Hello,

Here are the 50 questions which will help you select the right candidate for the post.

Tarak, this one might also help you in your hiring, as you said that you need help to select the right candidate.

Go through them:

*1. Tell me about yourself

*2. Why did you leave your last job?

*3. What experience do you have in this field?

*4. Do you consider yourself successful?

*5. What do co-workers say about you?

*6. What do you know about this organization?

*7. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?

*8. Are you applying for other jobs?

*9. Why do you want to work for this organization?

*10. Do you know anyone who works for us?

*11. What kind of salary do you need?

*12. Are you a team player?

*13. How long would you expect to work for us if hired?

*14. Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that?

*15. What is your philosophy towards work?

*16. If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?

*17. Have you ever been asked to leave a position?

*18. Explain how you would be an asset to this organization

*19. Why should we hire you?

*20. Tell me about a suggestion you have made

*21. What irritates you about co-workers?

*22. What is your greatest strength?

*23. Tell me about your dream job.

*24. Why do you think you would do well at this job?

*25. What are you looking for in a job?

*26. What kind of person would you refuse to work with?

*27. What is more important to you: the money or the work?

*28. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?

*29. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor

*30. What has disappointed you about a job?

*31. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.

*32. Do your skills match this job or another job more closely?

*33. What motivates you to do your best on the job?

*34. Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?

*35. How would you know you were successful on this job?

*36. Would you be willing to relocate if required?

*37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead of your own?

*38. Describe your management

*39. What have you learned from mistakes on the job?

*40. Do you have any blind spots?

*41. If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?

*42. Do you think you are overqualified for this position?

*43. How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?

*44. What qualities do you look for in a boss?

*45. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute between others.

*46. What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?

*47. Describe your work ethic.

*48. What has been your biggest professional disappointment?

*49. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.

*50. Do you have any questions for me?

Rgds,

Deepa Ladawa
29th May 2007 From India , Bangalore

Hi Deepa, Do you have questions that can be specifically asked to a General Manager who should run a warehouse licensing board? Please help. I like the questions. Koku.
8th July 2008 From Norway ,
Hi,
Here is the attachment which might be of some use while appearing in interview.

General Guidelines in Answering Interview Questions......................................... ...........


Question 1
Tell me about yourself.

TRAPS


: Beware, about 80% of all interviews begin with this “innocent” question. Many

candidates, unprepared for the question, skewer themselves by rambling, recapping

their life story, delving into ancient work history or personal matters.

BEST ANSWER:


Start with the present and tell why you are well qualified for the

position. Remember that the key to all successful interviewing is to match your

qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words


you must sell what the

buyer is buying. This is the single most important strategy in job hunting.

So, before you answer this or


any question it's imperative that you try to uncover your

interviewer's greatest need, want, problem or goal.

To do so, make you take these two steps:

1. Do all the homework you can before the interview to uncover


this person's wants

and needs (not the generalized needs of the industry or company)

2. As early as you can in the interview, ask for a more complete description of what

the position entails. You might say: “I have a number of accomplishments I'd like

to tell you about, but I want to make the best use of our time together and talk

directly to your needs. To help me do, that, could you tell me more about the

most important priorities of this position? All I know is what I (heard from the

recruiter, read in the classified ad, etc.)”

Then,


ALWAYS follow-up with a second and possibly, third question, to draw out his

needs even more. Surprisingly, it's usually this


second or third question that unearths

what the interviewer is


most looking for.

You might ask simply, "And in addition to that?..." or, "Is there anything else you see as

essential to success in this position?:

This process will not feel easy or natural at first, because it is easier simply to answer

questions, but only if you uncover the employer's wants and needs will your answers

make the most sense. Practice asking these key questions before giving your answers,

the process will feel more natural


and you will be light years ahead of the other job

candidates you're competing with


.

After uncovering what the employer is looking for, describe why the needs of this job

bear striking parallels to tasks you've succeeded at before. Be sure to illustrate with

specific examples of your responsibilities and especially your achievements, all of which

are geared to present yourself as a perfect match for the needs he has just described.

64 Toughest Questions Page 6

Question 2


What are your greatest strengths?

TRAPS:


This question seems like a softball lob, but be prepared. You don't want to

come across as egotistical or arrogant. Neither is this a time to be humble.

BEST ANSWER:


You know that your key strategy is to first uncover your interviewer's

greatest wants and needs before you answer questions. And from Question 1, you know

how to do this.

Prior to any interview, you should have a list mentally prepared of your greatest

strengths. You should also have, a specific example or two, which illustrates each

strength, an example chosen from your most recent and most impressive achievements.

You should, have this list of your greatest strengths and corresponding examples from

your achievements so well committed to memory that you can recite them cold after

being shaken awake at 2:30AM.

Then, once you uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs, you can choose

those achievements from your list that best match up.

As a general guideline, the 10 most desirable traits that all employers love to see in their

employees are:

1. A proven track record as an achiever...


especially if your achievements match

up with the employer's greatest wants and needs.

2. Intelligence...management "savvy".

3. Honesty...integrity...a decent human being.

4. Good fit with corporate culture...someone to feel comfortable with...a team

player who meshes well with interviewer's team.

5. Likeability...positive attitude...sense of humor.

6. Good communication skills.

7. Dedication...willingness to walk the extra mile to achieve excellence.

8. Definiteness of purpose...clear goals.

9. Enthusiasm...high level of motivation.

10. Confident...healthy...a leader.

Question 3


What are your greatest weaknesses?

TRAPS


: Beware - this is an eliminator question, designed to shorten the candidate list.

Any admission of a weakness or fault will earn you an “A” for honesty, but an “F” for the

interview.

PASSABLE ANSWER:


Disguise a strength as a weakness.

Example:


“I sometimes push my people too hard. I like to work with a sense of urgency

and everyone is not always on the same wavelength.”

Drawback:


This strategy is better than admitting a flaw, but it's so widely used, it is

transparent to any experienced interviewer.

64 Toughest Questions Page 7

BEST ANSWER


: (and another reason it's so important to get a thorough description of

your interviewer's needs


before you answer questions): Assure the interviewer that you

can think of nothing that would stand in the way of your performing in this position with

excellence. Then, quickly review you strongest qualifications.

Example:


“Nobody's perfect, but based on what you've told me about this position, I

believe I' d make an outstanding match. I know that when I hire people, I look for two

things most of all. Do they have the


qualifications to do the job well, and the motivation

to do it well? Everything in my background shows I have both the qualifications and a

strong desire to achieve excellence in whatever I take on. So I can say in all honesty that

I see nothing that would cause you even a small concern about my ability or my strong

desire to perform this job with excellence.”

Alternate strategy


(if you don't yet know enough about the position to talk about such a

perfect fit):

Instead of confessing a weakness, describe what you


like most and like least, making

sure that what you like most matches up with the most important qualification for

success in the position, and what you like least is not essential.

Example:


Let's say you're applying for a teaching position. “If given a choice, I like to

spend as much time as possible in front of my prospects selling, as opposed to shuffling

paperwork back at the office. Of course, I long ago learned the importance of filing

paperwork properly, and I do it conscientiously. But what I really love to do is sell (if your

interviewer were a sales manager, this should be music to his ears.)

Question 4


Tell me about something you did – or failed to do – that

you now feel a little ashamed of.

TRAPS:


There are some questions your interviewer has no business asking, and this is

one. But while you may feel like answering, “


none of your business,” naturally you can’t.

Some interviewers ask this question on the chance you admit to something, but if not, at

least they’ll see how you think on your feet.

Some unprepared candidates, flustered by this question, unburden themselves of guilt

from their personal life or career, perhaps expressing regrets regarding a parent,

spouse, child, etc. All such answers can be disastrous.

BEST ANSWER:


As with faults and weaknesses, never confess a regret. But don’t

seem as if you’re stonewalling either.

Best strategy:


Say you harbor no regrets, then add a principle or habit you practice

regularly for healthy human relations.

Example:


Pause for reflection, as if the question never occurred to you. Then say, “You

know, I really can’t think of anything.” (Pause again, then add): “I would add that as a

general management principle, I’ve found that the best way to avoid regrets is to avoid

causing them in the first place. I practice one habit that helps me a great deal in this

regard. At the end of each day, I mentally review the day’s events and conversations to

take a second look at the people and developments I’m involved with and do a

64 Toughest Questions Page 8

doublecheck of what they’re likely to be feeling. Sometimes I’ll see things that do need

more follow-up, whether a pat on the back, or maybe a five minute chat in someone’s

office to make sure we’re clear on things…whatever.”

“I also like to make each person feel like a member of an elite team, like the Boston

Celtics or LA Lakers in their prime. I’ve found that if you let each team member know

you expect excellence in their performance…if you work hard to set an example

yourself…and if you let people know you appreciate and respect their feelings, you wind

up with a highly motivated group, a team that’s having fun at work because they’re

striving for excellence rather than brooding over slights or regrets.”

Question 5


Why are you leaving (or did you leave) this position?

TRAPS:


Never badmouth your previous industry, company, board, boss, staff,

employees or customers. This rule is inviolable:


never be negative. Any mud you hurl

will only soil your suit.

Especially avoid words like “personality clash”, “didn’t get along”, or others which cast a

shadow on your competence, integrity, or temperament.

BEST ANSWER:

(If you have a job presently)

If you’re not yet 100% committed to leaving your present post, don’t be afraid to say so.

Since you have a job, you are in a stronger position than someone who does not. But

don’t be coy either. State honestly what you’d be hoping to find in a new spot. Of

course, as stated often before, you answer will all the stronger if you have already

uncovered what this position is all about and you match your desires to it.

(If you do not presently have a job.)

Never lie about having been fired. It’s unethical – and too easily checked. But do try to

deflect the reason from you personally. If your firing was the result of a takeover,

merger, division wide layoff, etc., so much the better.

But you should also do something totally unnatural that will demonstrate consummate

professionalism. Even


if it hurts , describe your own firing – candidly, succinctly and

without a trace of bitterness – from the


company’s point-of-view, indicating that you

could understand why it happened and you might have made the same decision

yourself.

Your stature will rise immensely and, most important of all, you will show you are healed

from the wounds inflicted by the firing. You will enhance your image as first-class

management material and stand head and shoulders above the legions of firing victims

who, at the slightest provocation, zip open their shirts to expose their battle scars and

decry the unfairness of it all.

For all prior positions:

Make sure you’ve prepared a brief reason for leaving.


Best reasons: more money,

opportunity, responsibility or growth.

64 Toughest Questions Page 9

Question 6


The “Silent Treatment”

TRAPS:


Beware – if you are unprepared for this question, you will probably not handle

it right and possibly blow the interview. Thank goodness most interviewers don’t employ

it. It’s normally used by those determined to see how you respond under stress. Here’s

how it works:

You answer an interviewer’s question and then, instead of asking another, he just stares

at you in a deafening silence.

You wait, growing a bit uneasy, and there he sits, silent as Mt. Rushmore, as if he

doesn’t believe what you’ve just said, or perhaps making you feel that you’ve unwittingly

violated some cardinal rule of interview etiquette.

When you get this silent treatment after answering a particularly difficult question , such

as “tell me about your weaknesses”, its intimidating effect can be most disquieting, even

to polished job hunters.

Most unprepared candidates rush in to fill the void of silence, viewing prolonged,

uncomfortable silences as an invitation to clear up the previous answer which has

obviously caused some problem. And that’s what they do – ramble on, sputtering more

and more information, sometimes irrelevant and often damaging, because they are

suddenly playing the role of someone who’s goofed and is now trying to recoup. But

since the candidate doesn’t know where or how he goofed, he just keeps talking,

showing how flustered and confused he is by the interviewer’s unmovable silence.

BEST ANSWER:


Like a primitive tribal mask, the Silent Treatment loses all it power to

frighten you once you refuse to be intimidated. If your interviewer pulls it, keep quiet

yourself for a while and then ask, with sincere politeness and not a trace of sarcasm,


“Is

there anything else I can fill in on that point?”


That’s all there is to it.

Whatever you do, don’t let the Silent Treatment intimidate you into talking a blue streak,

because you could easily talk yourself out of the position.

Question 7


Why should I hire you?

TRAPS:


Believe it or not, this is a killer question because so many candidates are

unprepared for it. If you stammer or adlib you’ve blown it.

BEST ANSWER:


By now you can see how critical it is to apply the overall strategy of

uncovering the employer’s needs


before you answer questions. If you know the

employer’s greatest needs and desires, this question will give you a big leg up over other

candidates because you will give him better reasons for hiring you than anyone else is

likely to…reasons tied directly to his needs.

Whether your interviewer asks you this question


explicitly or not, this is the most

important question of your interview because he


must answer this question favorably in

is own mind before you will be hired.


So help him out! Walk through each of the

64 Toughest Questions Page 10

position’s requirements as you understand them, and follow each with a reason why you

meet that requirement so well.

Example:


“As I understand your needs, you are first and foremost looking for someone

who can manage the sales and marketing of your book publishing division. As you’ve

said you need someone with a strong background in trade book sales. This is where

I’ve spent almost all of my career, so I’ve chalked up 18 years of experience exactly in

this area. I believe that I know the right contacts, methods, principles, and successful

management techniques as well as any person can in our industry.”

“You also need someone who can expand your book distribution channels. In my prior

post, my innovative promotional ideas doubled, then tripled, the number of outlets selling

our books. I’m confident I can do the same for you.”

“You need someone to give a new shot in the arm to your mail order sales, someone

who knows how to sell in space and direct mail media. Here, too, I believe I have

exactly the experience you need. In the last five years, I’ve increased our mail order

book sales from $600,000 to $2,800,000, and now we’re the country’s second leading

marketer of scientific and medical books by mail.”


Etc., etc., etc.,

Every one of these selling “couplets” (his need matched by your qualifications) is a

touchdown that runs up your score. IT is your best opportunity to outsell your competition.


Wish you all the best for future endeavour.
Rakesh Tanwar_ICICI Prudential Life Insurance_Human Resources_Delhi...
Mob: 9899859723

18th February 2009 From India , Mumbai
Question 8
Aren’t you overqualified for this position?

TRAPS:
The employer may be concerned that you’ll grow dissatisfied and leave.

BEST ANSWER:
As with any objection, don’t view this as a sign of imminent defeat.
It’s an invitation to teach the interviewer a new way to think about this situation, seeing
advantages instead of drawbacks.

Example:
“I recognize the job market for what it is – a marketplace. Like any
marketplace, it’s subject to the laws of supply and demand. So ‘overqualified’ can be a
relative term, depending on how tight the job market is. And right now, it’s very tight. I
understand and accept that.”
“I also believe that there could be very positive benefits for both of us in this match.”
“Because of my unusually strong experience in ________________ , I could start to
contribute right away, perhaps much faster than someone who’d have to be brought
along more slowly.”
“There’s also the value of all the training and years of experience that other companies
have invested tens of thousands of dollars to give me. You’d be getting all the value of
that without having to pay an extra dime for it. With someone who has yet to acquire
that experience, he’d have to gain it on your nickel.
64 Toughest Questions Page 11
“I could also help you in many things they don’t teach at the Harvard Business School.
For example…(how to hire, train, motivate, etc.) When it comes to knowing how to work
well with people and getting the most out of them, there’s just no substitute for what you
learn over many years of front-line experience. You company would gain all this, too.”
“From my side, there are strong benefits, as well. Right now, I am unemployed. I want
to work, very much, and the position you have here is exactly what I love to do and am
best at. I’ll be happy doing this work and that’s what matters most to me, a lot more that
money or title.”
“Most important, I’m looking to make a long term commitment in my career now. I’ve had
enough of job-hunting and want a permanent spot at this point in my career. I also know
that if I perform this job with excellence, other opportunities cannot help but open up for
me right here. In time, I’ll find many other ways to help this company and in so doing,
help myself. I really am looking to make a long-term commitment.”
NOTE: The main concern behind the “overqualified” question is that you will leave your
new employer as soon as something better comes your way. Anything you can say to
demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to the employer and reassure him that
you’re looking to stay for the long-term will help you overcome this objection.

Question 9
Where do you see yourself five years from now?

TRAPS:
One reason interviewers ask this question is to see if you’re settling for this
position, using it merely as a stopover until something better comes along. Or they
could be trying to gauge your level of ambition.
If you’re too specific, i.e., naming the promotions you someday hope to win, you’ll sound
presumptuous. If you’re too vague, you’ll seem rudderless.

BEST ANSWER:
Reassure your interviewer that you’re looking to make a long-term
commitment…that this position entails exactly what you’re looking to do and what you do
extremely well. As for your future, you believe that if you perform each job at hand with
excellence, future opportunities will take care of themselves.

Example:
“I am definitely interested in making a long-term commitment to my next
position. Judging by what you’ve told me about this position, it’s exactly what I’m looking
for and what I am very well qualified to do. In terms of my future career path, I’m
confident that if I do my work with excellence, opportunities will inevitable open up for
me. It’s always been that way in my career, and I’m confident I’ll have similar
opportunities here.”
64 Toughest Questions Page 12

Question 10
Describe your ideal company, location and job.

TRAPS:
This is often asked by an experienced interviewer who thinks you may be
overqualified, but knows better than to show his hand by posing his objection directly.
So he’ll use this question instead, which often gets a candidate to reveal that, indeed, he
or she is looking for something other than the position at hand.

BEST ANSWER:
The only right answer is to describe what this company is offering,
being sure to make your answer believable with specific reasons, stated with sincerity,
why each quality represented by this opportunity is attractive to you.
Remember that if you’re coming from a company that’s the leader in its field or from a
glamorous or much admired company, industry, city or position, your interviewer and his
company may well have an “Avis” complex. That is, they may feel a bit defensive about
being “second best” to the place you’re coming from, worried that you may consider
them bush league.
This anxiety could well be there even though you’ve done nothing to inspire it. You must
go out of your way to assuage such anxiety, even if it’s not expressed, by putting their

virtues high on the list of exactly what you’re looking for, providing credible reason for
wanting these qualities.
If you do not express genuine enthusiasm for the firm, its culture, location, industry, etc.,
you may fail to answer this “Avis” complex objection and, as a result, leave the
interviewer suspecting that a hot shot like you, coming from a Fortune 500 company in
New York, just wouldn’t be happy at an unknown manufacturer based in Topeka,
Kansas.
Question 11
Why do you want to work at our company?

TRAPS:
This question tests whether you’ve done any homework about the firm. If you
haven’t, you lose. If you have, you win big.

BEST ANSWER:
This question is your opportunity to hit the ball out of the park, thanks
to the in-depth research you should do before any interview.
Best sources for researching your target company: annual reports, the corporate
newsletter, contacts you know at the company or its suppliers, advertisements, articles
about the company in the trade press.

Question 12
What are your career options right now?

TRAPS:
The interviewer is trying to find out, “How desperate are you?”

BEST ANSWER:
Prepare for this question by thinking of how you can position yourself
as a desired commodity. If you are still working, describe the possibilities at your
present firm and why, though you’re greatly appreciated there, you’re looking for
something more (challenge, money, responsibility, etc.). Also mention that you’re
seriously exploring opportunities with one or two other firms.
64 Toughest Questions Page 13
If you’re not working, you can talk about other employment possibilities you’re actually
exploring. But do this with a light touch, speaking only in general terms. You don’t want
to seem manipulative or coy.

Question 13
Why have you been out of work so long?

TRAPS:
A tough question if you’ve been on the beach a long time. You don’t want to
seem like damaged goods.

BEST ANSWER:
You want to emphasize factors which have prolonged your job search
by your own choice.

Example:
“After my job was terminated, I made a conscious decision not to jump on the
first opportunities to come along. In my life, I’ve found out that you can always turn a
negative into a positive IF you try hard enough. This is what I determined to do. I
decided to take whatever time I needed to think through what I do best, what I most want
to do, where I’d like to do it…and then identify those companies that could offer such an
opportunity.”
“Also, in all honesty, you have to factor in the recession (consolidation, stabilization, etc.)
in the (banking, financial services, manufacturing, advertising, etc.) industry.”
“So between my being selective and the companies in our industry downsizing, the
process has taken time. But in the end, I’m convinced that when I do find the right
match, all that careful evaluation from both sides of the desk will have been well
worthwhile for both the company that hires me and myself.

Question 14
Tell me honestly about the strong points and weak
points of your boss (company, management team,
etc.)…

TRAPS:
Skillfull interviewers sometimes make it almost irresistible to open up and air a
little dirty laundry from your previous position. DON’T

BEST ANSWER:
Remember the rule: Never be negative. Stress only the good points,
no matter how charmingly you’re invited to be critical.
Your interviewer doesn’t care a whit about your previous boss. He wants to find out how
loyal and positive you are, and whether you’ll criticize him behind his back if pressed to
do so by someone in this own company. This question is your opportunity to
demonstrate your loyalty to those you work with.
64 Toughest Questions Page 14

Question 15
What good books have you read lately?

TRAPS:
As in all matters of your interview, never fake familiarity you don’t have. Yet
you don’t want to seem like a dullard who hasn’t read a book since Tom Sawyer.

BEST ANSWER:
Unless you’re up for a position in academia or as book critic for The
New York Times
, you’re not expected to be a literary lion. But it wouldn’t hurt to have
read a handful of the most recent and influential books in your profession and on
management.
Consider it part of the work of your job search to read up on a few of these leading
books. But make sure they are quality books that reflect favorably upon you, nothing
that could even remotely be considered superficial. Finally, add a recently published
bestselling work of fiction by a world-class author and you’ll pass this question with flying
colors.

Question 16
Tell me about a situation when your work was
criticized.

TRAPS:
This is a tough question because it’s a more clever and subtle way to get you
to admit to a weakness. You can’t dodge it by pretending you’ve never been criticized.
Everybody has been. Yet it can be quite damaging to start admitting potential faults and
failures that you’d just as soon leave buried.
This question is also intended to probe how well you accept criticism and direction.

BEST ANSWERS:
Begin by emphasizing the extremely positive feedback you’ve gotten
throughout your career and (if it’s true) that your performance reviews have been
uniformly excellent.
Of course, no one is perfect and you always welcome suggestions on how to improve
your performance. Then, give an example of a not-too-damaging learning experience
from early in your career and relate the ways this lesson has since helped you. This
demonstrates that you learned from the experience and the lesson is now one of the
strongest breastplates in your suit of armor.
If you are pressed for a criticism from a recent position, choose something fairly trivial
that in no way is essential to your successful performance. Add that you’ve learned from
this, too, and over the past several years/months, it’s no longer an area of concern
because you now make it a regular practice to…etc.
Another way to answer this question would be to describe your intention to broaden your
master of an area of growing importance in your field. For example, this might be a
computer program you’ve been meaning to sit down and learn… a new management
technique you’ve read about…or perhaps attending a seminar on some cutting-edge
branch of your profession.
Again, the key is to focus on something not essential to your brilliant performance but
which adds yet another dimension to your already impressive knowledge base.
64 Toughest Questions Page 15

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.
64 Toughest Questions Page 16
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.
64 Toughest Questions Page 17
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.

18th February 2009 From India , Mumbai
Question 8
Aren’t you overqualified for this position?

TRAPS:


The employer may be concerned that you’ll grow dissatisfied and leave.

BEST ANSWER:


As with any objection, don’t view this as a sign of imminent defeat.

It’s an invitation to teach the interviewer a new way to think about this situation, seeing

advantages instead of drawbacks.

Example:


“I recognize the job market for what it is – a marketplace. Like any

marketplace, it’s subject to the laws of supply and demand. So ‘overqualified’ can be a

relative term, depending on how tight the job market is. And right now, it’s very tight. I

understand and accept that.”

“I also believe that there could be very positive benefits for both of us in this match.”

“Because of my unusually strong experience in ________________ , I could start to

contribute right away, perhaps much faster than someone who’d have to be brought

along more slowly.”

“There’s also the value of all the training and years of experience that other companies

have invested tens of thousands of dollars to give me. You’d be getting all the value of

that without having to pay an extra dime for it. With someone who has yet to acquire

that experience, he’d have to gain it on your nickel.

64 Toughest Questions Page 11

“I could also help you in many things they don’t teach at the Harvard Business School.

For example…(how to hire, train, motivate, etc.) When it comes to knowing how to work

well with people and getting the most out of them, there’s just no substitute for what you

learn over many years of front-line experience. You company would gain all this, too.”

“From my side, there are strong benefits, as well. Right now, I am unemployed. I want

to work, very much, and the position you have here is exactly what I love to do and am

best at. I’ll be happy doing this work and that’s what matters most to me, a lot more that

money or title.”

“Most important, I’m looking to make a long term commitment in my career now. I’ve had

enough of job-hunting and want a permanent spot at this point in my career. I also know

that if I perform this job with excellence, other opportunities cannot help but open up for

me right here. In time, I’ll find many other ways to help this company and in so doing,

help myself. I really am looking to make a long-term commitment.”

NOTE: The main concern behind the “overqualified” question is that you will leave your

new employer as soon as something better comes your way. Anything you can say to

demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to the employer and reassure him that

you’re looking to stay for the long-term will help you overcome this objection.

Question 9


Where do you see yourself five years from now?

TRAPS:


One reason interviewers ask this question is to see if you’re settling for this

position, using it merely as a stopover until something better comes along. Or they

could be trying to gauge your level of ambition.

If you’re too specific, i.e., naming the promotions you someday hope to win, you’ll sound

presumptuous. If you’re too vague, you’ll seem rudderless.

BEST ANSWER:


Reassure your interviewer that you’re looking to make a long-term

commitment…that this position entails exactly what you’re looking to do and what you do

extremely well. As for your future, you believe that if you perform each job at hand with

excellence, future opportunities will take care of themselves.

Example:


“I am definitely interested in making a long-term commitment to my next

position. Judging by what you’ve told me about this position, it’s exactly what I’m looking

for and what I am very well qualified to do. In terms of my future career path, I’m

confident that if I do my work with excellence, opportunities will inevitable open up for

me. It’s always been that way in my career, and I’m confident I’ll have similar

opportunities here.”

64 Toughest Questions Page 12

Question 10


Describe your ideal company, location and job.

TRAPS:


This is often asked by an experienced interviewer who thinks you may be

overqualified, but knows better than to show his hand by posing his objection directly.

So he’ll use this question instead, which often gets a candidate to reveal that, indeed, he

or she is looking for something other than the position at hand.

BEST ANSWER:


The only right answer is to describe what this company is offering,

being sure to make your answer believable with specific reasons, stated with sincerity,

why each quality represented by this opportunity is attractive to you.

Remember that if you’re coming from a company that’s the leader in its field or from a

glamorous or much admired company, industry, city or position, your interviewer and his

company may well have an “Avis” complex. That is, they may feel a bit defensive about

being “second best” to the place you’re coming from, worried that you may consider

them bush league.

This anxiety could well be there even though you’ve done nothing to inspire it. You must

go out of your way to assuage such anxiety, even if it’s not expressed, by putting their

virtues high on the list of exactly what you’re looking for, providing credible reason for

wanting these qualities.

If you do not express genuine enthusiasm for the firm, its culture, location, industry, etc.,

you may fail to answer this “Avis” complex objection and, as a result, leave the

interviewer suspecting that a hot shot like you, coming from a Fortune 500 company in

New York, just wouldn’t be happy at an unknown manufacturer based in Topeka,

Kansas.

Question 11


Why do you want to work at our company?

TRAPS:


This question tests whether you’ve done any homework about the firm. If you

haven’t, you lose. If you have, you win big.

BEST ANSWER:


This question is your opportunity to hit the ball out of the park, thanks

to the in-depth research you should do before any interview.

Best sources for researching your target company: annual reports, the corporate

newsletter, contacts you know at the company or its suppliers, advertisements, articles

about the company in the trade press.

Question 12


What are your career options right now?

TRAPS:


The interviewer is trying to find out, “How desperate are you?”

BEST ANSWER:


Prepare for this question by thinking of how you can position yourself

as a desired commodity. If you are still working, describe the possibilities at your

present firm and why, though you’re greatly appreciated there, you’re looking for

something more (challenge, money, responsibility, etc.). Also mention that you’re

seriously exploring opportunities with one or two other firms.

64 Toughest Questions Page 13

If you’re not working, you can talk about other employment possibilities you’re actually

exploring. But do this with a light touch, speaking only in general terms. You don’t want

to seem manipulative or coy.

Question 13


Why have you been out of work so long?

TRAPS:


A tough question if you’ve been on the beach a long time. You don’t want to

seem like damaged goods.

BEST ANSWER:


You want to emphasize factors which have prolonged your job search

by your own choice.

Example:


“After my job was terminated, I made a conscious decision not to jump on the

first opportunities to come along. In my life, I’ve found out that you can always turn a

negative into a positive IF you try hard enough. This is what I determined to do. I

decided to take whatever time I needed to think through what I do best, what I most want

to do, where I’d like to do it…and then identify those companies that could offer such an

opportunity.”

“Also, in all honesty, you have to factor in the recession (consolidation, stabilization, etc.)

in the (banking, financial services, manufacturing, advertising, etc.) industry.”

“So between my being selective and the companies in our industry downsizing, the

process has taken time. But in the end, I’m convinced that when I do find the right

match, all that careful evaluation from both sides of the desk will have been well

worthwhile for both the company that hires me and myself.

Question 14


Tell me honestly about the strong points and weak

points of your boss (company, management team,

etc.)…

TRAPS:


Skillfull interviewers sometimes make it almost irresistible to open up and air a

little dirty laundry from your previous position. DON’T

BEST ANSWER:


Remember the rule: Never be negative. Stress only the good points,

no matter how charmingly you’re invited to be critical.

Your interviewer doesn’t care a whit about your previous boss. He wants to find out how

loyal and positive you are, and whether you’ll criticize him behind his back if pressed to

do so by someone in this own company. This question is your opportunity to

demonstrate your loyalty to those you work with.

64 Toughest Questions Page 14

Question 15


What good books have you read lately?

TRAPS:


As in all matters of your interview, never fake familiarity you don’t have. Yet

you don’t want to seem like a dullard who hasn’t read a book since Tom Sawyer.

BEST ANSWER:


Unless you’re up for a position in academia or as book critic for The

New York Times, you’re not expected to be a literary lion. But it wouldn’t hurt to have

read a handful of the most recent and influential books in your profession and on

management.

Consider it part of the work of your job search to read up on a few of these leading

books. But make sure they are quality books that reflect favorably upon you, nothing

that could even remotely be considered superficial. Finally, add a recently published

bestselling work of fiction by a world-class author and you’ll pass this question with flying

colors.

Question 16


Tell me about a situation when your work was

criticized.

TRAPS:


This is a tough question because it’s a more clever and subtle way to get you

to admit to a weakness. You can’t dodge it by pretending you’ve never been criticized.

Everybody has been. Yet it can be quite damaging to start admitting potential faults and

failures that you’d just as soon leave buried.

This question is also intended to probe how well you accept criticism and direction.

BEST ANSWERS:


Begin by emphasizing the extremely positive feedback you’ve gotten

throughout your career and (if it’s true) that your performance reviews have been

uniformly excellent.

Of course, no one is perfect and you always welcome suggestions on how to improve

your performance. Then, give an example of a not-too-damaging learning experience

from early in your career and relate the ways this lesson has since helped you. This

demonstrates that you learned from the experience and the lesson is now one of the

strongest breastplates in your suit of armor.

If you are pressed for a criticism from a recent position, choose something fairly trivial

that in no way is essential to your successful performance. Add that you’ve learned from

this, too, and over the past several years/months, it’s no longer an area of concern

because you now make it a regular practice to…etc.

Another way to answer this question would be to describe your intention to broaden your

master of an area of growing importance in your field. For example, this might be a

computer program you’ve been meaning to sit down and learn… a new management

technique you’ve read about…or perhaps attending a seminar on some cutting-edge

branch of your profession.

Again, the key is to focus on something not essential to your brilliant performance but

which adds yet another dimension to your already impressive knowledge base.

64 Toughest Questions Page 15

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.

64 Toughest Questions Page 16

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”.


18th February 2009 From India , Mumbai
 

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