Interview Questions

Interview Guidelines & Tips
Before we even talk about the common questions asked during the interview, it’s important to note that some institution first ask educational questions relating to the job applied for before there ask general questions. For instance, if you had applied for job relating to Network Administrator and System Administrator, there may ask:-
         1.      What is the difference between a hub and a switch?
         2.      What is a network?
         3.      What is TCP/IP and what does it stand for?
         4.      What is a default gateway?
         5.      What does DHCP stand for?
         6.      What is an IP Address?
         7.      Blah Blah Blah..

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So it’s always good to do some revisions on your area of education.
1. Ten "Common" Interview Questions
There are some common interview questions that you will typically hear throughout various stages of the interview process. We recommend you prepare ahead of time for these questions, which will facilitate your ability to sell yourself in the interview.
  1. Tell me about yourself?
    Your answer should be no more than two to three minutes. Be clear, concise and logical in your delivery. Pick a specific starting point, and if possible illustrate positives and accomplishments.
  2. Why are you leaving your current position?
    This is a tough question. You never want to talk in the negative about any aspect of your previous employer, while not coming across as a sales person. Whatever your answer, be truthful and talk in the positive.
  3. What do you like or dislike most about your current position?
    Be careful with your answer, specifically in regards to things you dislike. The interviewer is probing to see if there are potential obstacles with their open position. Instead, utilize this as an opportunity to talk about the positives of your previous position; learned technical skills, challenges and areas of personal growth. The golden rule is not to talk in the negative about previous or current management, and always present a positive image.
  4. What are your most significant strengths?
    Be prepared with at least three specific strengths. You will want to qualify the strengths with specific examples and quantifiable accomplishments. Discuss strengths that would be applicable, advantageous to the open position and facilitate results in regards to your performance.
  5. What are your most significant weaknesses?
    Provide areas that you have identified and been working on to improve. You can actually turn it into a positive or strength if you can communicate specific improvement. The goal is to turn the fault into a character quality.
  6. What is your most significant career accomplishment?
    This is an important answer. Your past performance and accomplishments are the best indicator of future performance! Prepare an answer that goes into who, what, where and why of the accomplishment and relate the results it had on the organization. Talk about the details and your personal involvement if it was a team accomplishment.
  7. How do you work under pressure and stress?
    It is important to illustrate your ability to perform in pressure and stressful situations. People who are top performers have the ability to work well under pressure. It is recommended that you provide a specific example of an accomplishment in a stressful situation, why it was stressful and the details of how you overcame the adversity.
  8. Why should we hire you for the position?
    Your objective is to summarize the qualities and strengths you bring to the organization, show how your past accomplishments predict your success in the role and most importantly, reveal how you can help them overcome the immediate challenges in the position. You want to let them know that you feel confident about your ability to make a contribution to the team, but not come across as egotistical.
  9. Describe a situation in which you failed.
    It is important to recognize that the best people in business fail. You have to be able to communicate the failure, the potential effect on the organization and most critical, how you overcame the failure and succeeded. The interviewer is trying to gauge your ability to recognize your mistakes and how you react when faced with adversity.
  10. What are your career goals?
    Where do you see yourself in five years? Be honest and realistic with yourself. Think about where you want to be in five years and communicate that answer to the interviewer. Be careful not to tell them what you think they want to hear. This can get you in trouble. Your answer should incorporate that if given the opportunity you want to still be with the organization in a role allowing you to make an even stronger contribution with greater responsibility.
2. Telephone Interview Tips
Objective: There are two main objectives of a telephone interview. First, it is your opportunity to sell the company on "why you want the position" and "what can you do for them" = what do you bring to the table. If you successfully do this, it typically results in a second interview either via the telephone or in person (on-site). Second, it is your opportunity to qualify the position as the "right fit" for your job search criteria. Expand & read more
If you are interested in the position then tell them specifically. It is OK to be politely assertive.
Setting: Set aside an hour in a place where you will be comfortable and can talk confidentially without interruption. If you don't receive the call within 15 minutes of the scheduled time, call the contact or send an e-mail to seek further direction.
Attitude: Your enthusiasm and animation will be important in conveying your interest. Make sure that you are alert and ready. Make sure you are smiling while you are talking. Be honest and try to relax. Remember that the interview is a two way street. Avoid long rambling responses to questions and try not to monopolize the conversation.
Preparation: Obtain some background information on the company. Visit their web site. Prepare several questions about the opportunity and position. Be able to succinctly summarize your "having" attributes such as education and work experience and more importantly your "doing" attributes, which are quantifiable things you have done that have added value to your employer.
Things to Avoid
You can close the door as quickly as you open it on a new opportunity. Below are some pitfalls that could exclude you from further consideration by the company contact.
  • What's in it for me? Avoid any comments or discussion that allows the company contact to perceive you are primarily concerned with what the opportunity provides for you rather than what you can do for them. Don't immediately ask about benefits, relocation package etc. Save that for the personal interview.
  • Avoid the negative. Don't overtly criticize your current/former employer. Be positive, tactful and professional throughout the entire conversation.
  • Avoid yes or no responses. Expound a little bit on direct questions and sell yourself at every opportunity.
  • Salary questions. Let the company initiate the discussion on money. There is a time and place for everything, and your first telephone interview might not be the opportune time to have an in-depth salary discussion.
If you are interested in the position then tell them specifically. It is OK to be politely assertive. Ask them what the next step is. Tell them you are interested in a personal interview. After concluding the interview, immediately send them e-mail thanking them for their time and expressing your desire to move forward in the process.
3. Personal Interview Tips
The Do(s) and Don't(s) of Interviews
  • Dress for success (coat & tie, appropriate) – it is better to overdress and take off the tie than be dressed inappropriately
  • Visit the restroom before the interview or in between interviews if it is an all day process
  • Make good eye contact at all times
  • Be prepared for common interview questions, but do not have canned answers or replies
  • Look for something in common with interviewer by viewing items in their office or from their background (ask your consultant)
  • Take this opportunity to sell yourself—keep focused and do not let any information you hear during the interview affect your intensity or "game face"
  • Use common sense —be aware of the audience and surroundings from the moment you walk in the door until you leave
  • Listen to each question carefully and ask them to repeat the question if you need clarification
  • Demonstrate good body language—intensity, positive, enthusiastic…this communicates a lot about you and is always being evaluated
  • Get business cards or contact information from everyone you meet
  • Write a handwritten thank you note ASAP. Bring the stationary with you – write the notes from the hotel or airport and drop them in the mail there before you leave to return home.
  • Make sure you tell people "I like what I heard and am interested in the next step"
  • When answering questions, be concise and do not ramble on - avoid answering with yes or no
  • Take extra copies of your resume and references with you…always be prepared
  • Take good notes to use for follow-up
  • Be early and take a few minutes to get a feel for the culture and surroundings
  • Checkout during the interview (the goal is to get to the next step)
  • Have any physical distractions (dress, jewelry, perfumes etc.) that would affect the interviewer
  • Oversell yourself to the point it becomes a negative
  • Appear overconfident (sell yourself but also be humble when appropriate)
  • Make up an answer or exaggerate your accomplishments or technical skills (it will cause you problems)
  • Have a cell phone or beeper on during the interview – it is best not to bring them into the interview
  • Talk too much. The interview needs to be a two way dialogue and more of a conversation
  • Chew gum or use any body language that could be a possible distraction
  • Ask about money or benefits unless the interviewer specifically brings it up
  • Drink alcohol if going out to a lunch or dinner with the interviewer (use your good judgment)
  • Talk negative about your current or former job to include bosses, peers, company culture, etc.
4. Turning Negatives into Positives During the Interview
Dependent upon your experience and work history, you may have to overcome some obstacles during an interview. Sometimes you will know what questions will surface which allows the opportunity to prepare in advance for overcoming any issues. Expand & read more
Regardless of the negative, the goal is to overcome the obstacle and get back to selling yourself through positives and accomplishments. Sometimes, the perceived negative can even be turned into a positive. Below is a proven way to address negatives during an interview.
  1. Acknowledge the negative: "I can appreciate the fact you are concerned that I have had four jobs in the last eight years".
  2. Clarify the negative: "I know on the surface it appears that I transition jobs every two years, however, some of the reasons were out of my control (closure/downsizing) and in my other reasons for leaving, a lot of thought went into my decision in regards to what was best for the organization and my career".
  3. Transition to the positive and benefits: Explain what happened on each position, transition any potential negatives into positives, and show there is no pattern to you leaving a job every two years. A way to turn the negative into a positive is if you left because of no growth opportunities, you can give examples of how you have progressed by position, responsibility or skills in previous positions and the resulting contributions to your employer.
Some common negatives or objections you might face during an interview are outlined below. If you know these are parts of your past and will come up during the interview, prepare in advance to utilize the above method to turn the negative into a positive.
  • Frequent job changes
  • Gap in work experience
  • Working out of the industry
  • Inflated salary level in relation to the market
  • Perception that the position is a step back from previous experience or responsibility
  • No degree or applicable certification
  • Unemployed status
  • No job progression or advancement
5. Questions to Ask During an Interview
In almost every interview it is a given that at the end you will be asked, "Do you have any questions"? This is a great opportunity to set you apart in a positive way from other people being considered for the job. It pays to research a company before you arrive for an interview. Expand & read more
Employers say that they are interested in candidates who ask quality questions and make intelligent conversation based on what they know about the organization. They are unimpressed by candidates who know nothing about the company, what the company does, or the position being offered. Below you will find some appropriate questions to ask during an interview. When asking questions make them precise and definitive, and do not ask questions that are vague or take several minutes to answer. You do not want your questions to consume 15 minutes of a 45-minute interview.
  • What do you like most about working for the company? Why?
  • What is the future of XYZ Company from your perspective?
  • Describe the corporate values of XYZ Company?
  • What is the average tenure of people in this department or at XYZ Company?
  • What are the backgrounds of the people I will be working with most closely?
  • What are the immediate challenges of the position that need to be addressed in the first three months?
  • What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
  • How will I be evaluated in XYZ Company and how often?
  • What are the top three current initiatives for the company?
  • What projects is this department currently working on?
  • What are the growth plans for XYZ Company over the next 12 months?
  • What new products or services is XYZ Company considering introducing to the market?
  • What sets XYZ Company apart from the competition?
  • What is the next step in the interview process?
6. How to Dress for an Interview
How many times have you heard, "You only have one chance to make a first impression"? When you interview, you are going to be judged on every possible factor, including what you wear. You want to look sharp and show that you will fit into the culture at your prospective employer. If in doubt, be conservative, even if the prospective employer has a "business casual" dress policy. You can take a jacket or tie off if needed, but can't overcome being underdressed. If you err, it should be on the side of being conservative. Below are some suggestions for appropriate interview attire and how to make a strong first impression. Expand & read more
  • Traditional two button, two-piece and single-breasted conservative suit (navy or charcoal gray).
  • White long sleeved pressed dress shirts (button down, forward point or spread collar).
  • Ties should be silk, conservative and coordinate with the suit. Avoid any ties that could distract the interviewer (i.e. picture ties, loud colors or printed scenery).
  • Leather sole and polished dress shoes (black, cordovan or dark brown).
  • Socks should be high quality and preferably over the calf. Avoid socks that will bunch down around your ankles in an interview.
  • Hair should be cut in a conservative, professional style. If you have long hair, wear it back in a ponytail.
  • If you wear an earring, we recommend you remove it prior to the interview.
  • Avoid wearing too much cologne and a watch with an alarm feature.
  • Have your suit professionally dry cleaned prior to the interview.
  • Traditional two piece and matching traditional business suit (navy or charcoal gray).
  • The length of the skirt should be just below the knee.
  • Tailored and pressed blouses (white or off-white).
  • Shoes should be low-heeled (three inches or less) and polished with closed toes (black, navy or neutral colors).
  • Handbags should be moderate size and only large enough to carry essential items (black, navy or neutral colors).
  • Avoid jewelry or make-up that are distracting.
  • Hair should be neat and professional. If your hair is below shoulder length it should be pulled back.
  • Fingernails should be medium or short in length. Avoid excessively long fingernails and if you wear nail polish, it should be a subtle color (preferably clear).
  • Avoid wearing too much perfume.
  • Wear appropriate hosiery and bring an extra pair for back-up (neutral color).

The goal for men and women is to look professional and classic. Everything should be done in moderation and remember, you are being evaluated on what you wear in an interview, so "Dress for Success".


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