How You Handle Tough Interview Questions

The most imperative part of any interview is the answers to the questions posed. In order to prepare well one should be aware of the questions being asked. The questions can be industry/vertical specific pertaining to the profession the candidature is currently in. However given below are certain generic questions to facilitate some planning with respect to the overall preparedness!

The overall objective of interview is, come out with flying colors and this can be achieved with having a level of assertiveness into the answers, demonstration of true professionalism with appropriate enthusiasm and have a game plan for what you want to convey.

So here we begin, some typical warm up questions are ‘Tell me something about yourself’ this question allows the candidate to give a sales pitch and certainly candidates should include the answer of the next question ‘Why should I hire you’ within itself thus eliminating the need of asking the next one.

One of the favourite question is ‘How would you measure a successful term/duration/project’ the answer should not be as straight forward as ‘delivered with good results’ here the intent of quality of the end deliverable is what the employers are looking at, quality with respect to time, fit for purpose and overall benefits. Another answer to the same ‘learned some thing new’ shows the learning prowess but on the flip side shows that it was unexpected result from the candidates already conceived outcome. Here the answer should not be focused about you but the emphasis should be on what was accomplished for the company.

Another leading question after this is ‘Why did you work on this problem/situation’ the answer ‘because my manager told me to do so’, shows that the candidate needs to be told exactly what to do where as ‘it looked interesting’ creates an impression like he/she can’t prioritize or don’t get much variety in the work. The real art here is to define the problem not as a challenge but a benchmark to the level of excellence and hence took it up for raising the bar.

This one is sure definite to come in all interviews ‘What do you want to work on’ and the answers like ‘I don’t know’ is suicidal, where in ‘Anything you want me to work on’ shows the candidate don’t know what he/she want to do, taking it beyond with an answer like’ I’m flexible’ still carries the pall of gloom as don’t know what to do. The employers may be looking for an answer to this question rather ‘What do you want to accomplish here’. The best possible answer is a straight forward one stating what you are interested in doing.

Some bit questions like ‘when you feel under pressure‘, ‘what situation/decisions you find most difficult to face/make’ bring out the decision making capability of the candidate and the maturity about handling water tight, pressure cooker pressures.

One of the question is ‘How soon you are going to quit us‘ this is to judge the edgy capability of a candidate, if question like this is asked make sure that you had already clicked till now and the employers are finding you too smart to be kept within, so one of the appropriate answer can be ‘Till I remain an asset to the organization’ with this you turn the table back as the onus of keeping you in is theirs. No body want to keep overheads.

Another one to handle is ‘Where do you see yourself 3/5 years from now‘, if the answer is ‘That’s such a long time from now’ then it creates perceived notion about the short attention span about the candidate, where as ‘Certainly would like to be in leadership position’ can create doubts abut team working capability as Leadership is earned and not gifted. So the real art lies in creating the optimum mix where you say what ever you want to and still cannot be apparent as alleged to be.

Ok so now tell us ‘What is a salary you are expecting‘, this is a real tricky one, the answers may vary depending upon the need and market condition, but again the candidate is never sure of what’s too low and too high, one of the possible ways of handling such question is to again throw the ball back in their court by saying ‘Within which I can maintain the standard of your organisation’.

The interview can be over a breakfast/lunch/dinner meetings and generally the candidatures bite the leisure bait then. It’s extremely vital to bear in mind that the interview is on, so act excited and follow the host/hostess lead. Gather information as how you will fit into the group where as its advised to stay away from hot button issues with respect to religion, politics and idol stuff.

Pre-closure to the interview is when the employers turn the table and ask ‘Do you have any questions‘ it’s a difficult one to handle as if you say that ‘I can’t think of any right now’ may be taken as you came unprepared for the interview where as ‘No you have covered everything already so well’ may lead to make them think as if you were not paying attention or even you asking a question like ‘Tell me some more about your company/group‘ make be taken as its essential for him/her to ask questions and he/she is buying time until can think of one. Questions which may ask with respect to position as a candidate in the interview, Can you please explain the position and the type of candidate you would like to hire answer to this can actually help you understand, that have you crossed the river and if not then till what extent you went in to it. What do you expect from new employee in first quarter, answer to this will definitely provide you some overview of your immediate objectives once you join in! How performance reviews are undertaken and what other avenues exists for an employee to grow here, this will allow the employers to talk about training, professional/educational opportunities and some overview of the performance monitoring process/system out there. Another good question to ask is about what are the major changes (external as well as internal) which are going to affect the company, as this will give a basic understanding of the outer & inner world of the organization.

Candidates should be well prepared to handle some off-the wall kind of questions like, If you were an animal, what would you be, If you are in 8 hour long flight, who would you want to sit next to and what would you talk about, If you are a part of fruit kingdom, what you would be, If you are a part of a salad, what part are you, these all are framed to judge the psychology and mentality and to draw out the overall personality.

Closure to the interview is also notable and should end with a thank you from the side of candidature, conveying excitement and just restating what he/she can contribute.

What the employers today are looking out for is a track record of accomplishments, (just to prove that you have it in as you have done it before, past is dead but still it gives an impression to the potential of the future and every body is hiring for tomorrow) competence to drive results through efforts, excellent communication skills, signs of leadership, drive to carry on the initiatives, reflection of binding team synergy and delivered quality deliverables. All this coupled with high level of maturity, creativity and good level of enthusiasm.

– Sanjay Bakshi