Interview tips

Most of us prepare hard for the crucial bunch of questions that we feel can make or break a good interview. However, there are some very simple queries that the interviewer often throws at the candidate as a warm-up exercise; and tackling them wisely can often turn the tide in your favour. Here is what you need to know to walk along the fine line:

Q Tell me something about yourself.
This question is normally asked at the very beginning when both, the interviewer and interviewee are getting comfortable with each other. This is a fairly opened-ended question and you must help the interviewer understand your broad profile. The best way out is to speak of the key roles and responsibilities of your previous jobs in combination with an overview of your education. If you aren’t extremely articulate, stating facts will also help. Remember, there is no right answer to this question. A word of caution: Do not get carried away and speak volumes about your personal interests and hobbies. A line or two should suffice.

Q What are your strengths and weaknesses?
The interviewer wants to learn about your strengths that would be complementary to the job on offer and weaknesses that are avoidable. Do not shield yourself with fancy oneword replies. Statements such as ‘I am a go-getter’, ‘I am confident’ don’t say anything about you. Give instances where you showcased your strengths. Weaknesses camouflaged diplomatically also seem escapist. Instead, share skills and knowledge areas that you are working upon and are keen to develop. This gives the interviewer a sense of confidence about you.

Q What you know about our organisation?
The question is asked to check the seriousness of the candidate and to test the kind of homework done before the interview. Make sure you paraphrase something you have read or heard about the organisation. Read up the newspapers, or the industry’s periodicals to know where the company stands. An acquaintance in the company can be used to shell out key information.

Q Which are some of your clients?
This is a tricky question. Giving clients name is not a good idea and it is best avoided by talking about the client’s background with generalised terms such as ‘MNC’ or specifying different industries. A client’s name is confidential and needs to be treated carefully. If pressed further, state clearly that you will be unable to share specific names.

Q Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
This question is asked to know the candidates’ long-term aim which can motivate him/ her to stay in the organisation. A candidate may want to share where s/he sees himself/herself after one to three years and then in three to five years. It helps to break your goals in short-term and long-term phases. If you aren’t clear of the long-term goal, specify the short-term one.

Q Why did you leave your previous job?
This can be a trick question, but it is best to be honest and upfront when answering this one. The interviewer wants to know what motivates you and needs to assess your reason for discontent so as to ensure that you don’t face a similar problem in the new organisation.

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