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If you came on board with us, what changes would you make in the system?

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This seemingly innocent question has many landmines hidden in it. You might be very close to being hired, but a wrong approach this one question can sabotage everything.

If you came on board with us, what changes would you make in the system?

     

This seemingly innocent question has many landmines hidden in it. You might be very close to being hired, but a wrong approach this one question can sabotage everything. You may be very bright, but no one can really understand what needs to be done unless they settle in the position and understand the strengths and weaknesses from within. So beware of jumping at this question if you don’t want to come across as someone who shoots from the hips.

Also keep in mind that you are still an outsider to this organization you are interviewer- and nobody likes an outsider who behaves like a know-it-all. You may have established excellent comfort levels with the interviewer, but still he or she won’t like it if your answer suggests that everything that has been going around so far in this organization is stupid.

Your answer should therefore reflect that you would like to take a good look at everything before you make suggestions.

E.g. “Well I don’t think I could really pin point anything unless I got to know things first. Should you take me on, as I hope, I would like to take a good look at things and also understand why they are being done that way. I would also need to have in-depth meetings with all of you to understand things here- like what you feel is done the right way and what could do with some improvement…”

“What I understand from our discussion so far is, you are concerned with the areas of …(name those areas)” Then check if you have got the facts right, and if you are on the right track, proceed with your experience in working with similar concerns and how it might be useful here.

32. You don’t have as much experience as we need in …. (Some particular area of work). I’m a little concerned about this…

This is a crucial question that could make or mar your prospects. This most likely means that the interviewer has overall liked your background, but is concerned about some crucial area where you don’t seem to have sufficient experience. You need to assure him about this aspect.

This question is somewhat like the question number 18, where the interviewer focuses on some serious drawback in your background. However in this case you are not totally missing some qualifications. It is just that you don’t have sufficient experience in some particular area.

The tactic to tackle this question should start before you go to the interview. Analyze your background from the company’s point of view and try to see what they might view as your weak points. This will help you to prepare the best answer that defends your candidacy.

Next, bring out your skill match strategy as in question 1, that is to match the employer’s greatest needs with your own greatest strengths. Here are more specific guidelines on how to go about tackling this objection.

  1. First of all, agree with the interviewer on the importance of the area they mentioned.
  2. Show how your strength may be greater than what shows on the resume because…
  3. Now state how this strength combines with other strong points in your background to form a useful combination to the company.

This way you are able to reassure the interviewer about your suitability for the position, by shifting his focus from one isolated area of concern to the unique package of your skills and strengths.

33. How comfortable are you about working in the night shifts and weekends?

Well, most of us have a family or near and dear ones- most of us want a life outside the office. But you sound this out and you are sure to lose the game. How can you get the job and a comfortable schedule?

Those who are workaholics have no problem answering this question- they can in all honesty say that this is just their cup of tea. They can go on to add that their family understands this and that they are happy with it.

However this description does not fit most people. If you are one among the majority, you should first try to find out how these schedules go for those who are already with the company. You can ask the interviewer “What are the standards for those you have recognized as your best?”

If these norms still sound uncomfortable, you can ask “Do you have any exceptional people who figure among the best, but usually stick to day schedules so that they can also spend time with their family?”

Most companies do have a few such people, and this question gives you the chance to associate yourself with such top performers who also have a personal life.

Depending on the answer the interviewer gives state honestly how you would fit with their schedules. If you are not comfortable with the extra hours, state it, but make sure to frame your answer in a positive manner.

“I enjoy my work and believe have excelled in it. You can see that in the results, especially the areas of (speak about two or three of your qualifications and achievements that are of greatest value to the interviewer.). I have developed my entire career based on hard but smart work. I believe you will find me one of the most productive people here”

I have a family and we like to spend time together after work and on holidays and weekends. This has helped me to stay balanced and happy and in turn made me more productive at work. Ideally I would like to manage any extra work from home in the evenings or on weekends. What I can offer you is my strong credentials that speak for exceptional productivity. On the other hand I will get to be there at the same place with my family and I believe this should bring a win-win situation”

34. Are you prepared to travel for work or relocate?

Like the previous question, a flat ‘no’ can only have one consequence. However you may not really want to relocate or travel and what should you do here?

First of all, find where the company wants you to relocate, or how much travel the work involves. If this is within your comfort zone, say so. If not, there might be two ways to handle it.

The first way is to keep your reservations to yourself and go ahead with “no issues”. This takes the interview on, and you get to know the offer. Then you can evaluate the offer and decide if it is worth the trouble with relocation or travel. Further, by the time the offer is made from the company, you may have other offers at hand. This way you can choose the best offer.

The second approach is to show some reservation but also say that you are open to relocation or travel for the right opportunity.

The approach you take depends on how keen you are about the job at the time. If you really need some offer, take the first route. This enables you to explore perhaps several offers at the same time. If you are relatively comfortable in your current job and are looking for an enticing offer, you can take the second approach.

35. How comfortable are you with firing people? Have you fired many people in your career?

This question has an indirect motive behind the obvious one. The interviewer is not just evaluating how tough you can get. If you have fired many people, it also probably means that your judgment in hiring was not sound. A person who has fired many people could also be a tyrant.

Obviously, boasting about how many people you have fired is not the right approach here. If you have actually fired many people and have to tell so, be prepared to explain why it was beyond your control and not a consequence of your poor hiring practices.

Your answer should reflect a rational and sensible approach in hiring and firing.

E.g. “As a rule my approach has been to hire the best people for the job, give them thorough training and keep them motivated. As a manager I believe in getting people excited and proud about what they are doing, keeping my team together and working with them towards the goals. I believe that doing these things would eliminate the need for firing people to a large extent”

“Thus firing has been a last resort for me. But such situations do arise and when it has to be done, it is better to do it as fast and clean as possible. One bad team member can wreak havoc to the morale of an entire team. When everything else fails, I have found it is better for everyone to get rid of such harmful elements”
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Posted on: March 25, 2008

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