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How would you honestly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your previous/current company/boss/team?

This question is nothing but a trap. The interviewer is the least interested in the company/boss/team. They are simply checking how you deal with a situation like this. You might be really tempted to unburden your soul- but don?t. Do not stonewall from th

How would you honestly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your previous/current company/boss/team?


This question is nothing but a trap. The interviewer is the least interested in the company/boss/team. They are simply checking how you deal with a situation like this. You might be really tempted to unburden your soul- but don’t. Do not stonewall from the question, but emphasize the good points.

Remember, your loyalty is coming under scrutiny here. If you criticize your current/previous boss/team/company behind their back, the interviewer will immediately know where to place you.

15. What books have you read in the last few months?

Do not make empty claims here- it is so easy to find out. However it doesn’t make sense to appear like a scatter-brain who has never gone beyond Archie’s comics.

Unless your work is in the academic or literary circles, you need not show any in-depth knowledge of literature. However always update your knowledge with a few of the best books in your profession. Make sure that they are contemporary and influential. You can also add a handful of recent books in management. Whatever you choose, they have to reflect well on you. The books have to be of the very best quality. You can also top it all up with one or two recent best selling works of fiction- but make sure that you have read them. With this strategy, you can make a really great impression.

16. Describe a situation when your work didn’t produce the desirable results/ backfired/ got criticized.

This is a subtle and clever way of unearthing your weaknesses. It also examines how you handle such situations. It does not make sense to pretend that you have never faced some such situation- everybody does. At the same time it is positively harmful to admit your faults and failures- a sure way to be left behind.

Start your answer with the highly positive feedback you have consistently got throughout your career. If your performance reviews have always been marked excellent, do not hesitate to mention it. You can then follow it up with saying that no one is perfect and you have always been open to suggestions on how you can do better. Give an example from sometime early in your career that has been a learning experience. Of course avoid experiences of highly damaging nature. Also relate how you have learned things from this experience and put them to use since.

Some interviewers may insist on hearing about something from the recent past. If this happens, narrate something of pretty trivial nature. Also demonstrate that you have learned from this experience and that this area is no longer a concern.

You may also answer this question by talking about how you intend to enhance your knowledge/ skills in an area that is becoming more and more important to your field. It could be a computer software or a new management technique. Again, these have to be of a non-essential nature, but something that can add value to your already impressive skill set.

17. What are your hobbies/ extra-curricular interests?

Take care to present yourself as a well-rounded person, someone who is interesting and active. But at the same time you should not appear to be more interested in these activities than your profession. This will only damage your prospects at the interview.

First of all develop an understanding of the company’s work culture. This will help you to figure out how the company will view your activities. However it is useful to present some unexpected interests. For instance, if you are on the wrong side of say fifty, people would expect you to be low in physical energy and stamina than a younger person. In such a case, it makes a favorable impression to demonstrate some interests that are typical of physical fortitude- say a sport. On the other hand if you are a young person, mention interests that demonstrate a mature/wise outlook- say participation in some environmental conservation group.

However remember that your interviewer is above all interested in your professional aptitude, and level your answers accordingly. Too much of enthusiasm while talking about your extra curricular activities is bound to get them suspect that these interests will take away from your commitment to your job.

18. Situation: The interviewer zeroes in on some serious drawback in your background and he brings it up. This could be that you haven’t done your post-graduation, your previous job was terminated by your employer and you have been out of job since, or some such factor.

This is a very deadly question. But you can tackle this effectively if you learn not to react with too much of defensiveness.

The key to answering this question is to view yourself as a salesperson. You are selling your expertise to a prospective employer/ buyer. This way, you know that the buyer is bound to come up with some objections about the quality of the item/service. The buyer is only expressing their anxiety and the salesperson’s job is to dispel the anxiety.

As the first step, admit to the shortcoming in an open and straightforward manner. When the buyer knows that you are not trying to conceal this, it reduces the anxiety.

Do not sound apologetic about it, or try to make an explanation. You know that there is nothing to worry about it and project this attitude to the prospective employer.

Next, add that a qualification such as this is of course desirable, but its lack has only made you put in more hard work. In fact this has never stopped you from a track record of excellent achievements throughout your career. You might even have outperformed people who have this qualification, and if so, do not hesitate to mention it.

That said, this is still the second best strategy. The best way is to prevent such a question coming up in the first place. This can be done by finding about the company’s needs and then matching your skills to them.

If you can achieve this in the first few moments of the interview, that is get the interviewer speak about their urgent needs and problems and then show them how you can solve these, you can prevent the drawback question from happening.

19. How comfortable are you about reporting to a younger person/ a person from a minority/ a woman?

This is not exactly a right question to ask in the first place- but prejudices are still a reality. Therefore the interviewer might feel that it is safer to get the candidate’s views clarified well in advance.

However this is also a tricky question- sometime you may mean well, but still some careless wording can result in you ending up foot in mouth. Avoid anything that even remotely smacks of a patronizing or insensitive approach. Everyone knows what attitude one should project here, but it is also important to sound sincere. The interviewer might be asking internally “Do you really believe in it- do you really feel this way?”

Avoid automatic responses to this question. Look at it this way- if this firm has promoted someone to this senior position based on ability alone, that shows what the firm believes in- and they are likely proud of it. Probably they will want to work with people who share their sense of fair play.

A good way to answer this would therefore be to show appreciation for the company’s policy of valuing merit. You can say that you have great admiration for their stance and agree with it wholeheartedly.

The age, gender or social background of the person does not make any difference to you. If the person has reached this position, it is obviously because they have earned it and know their job very well. The person and the expertise their position represents both deserve respect and admiration. In fact you are very happy to work in an environment where everyone from the CEO to the receptionist are respected and rewarded for their abilities and efforts- that will ensure a fair chance to you as well.



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