1. Tell us something about yourself?
This is a common question and very critical from the perspective of a job seeker. This is because the candidate gets a chance to talk about himself at length. Do not make the mistake of introducing yourself, as in; by mentioning your name, talking about your qualifications, extra curricular activities, etc. The interviewer wants to know details about you, which are not mentioned in the résumé. If you are a fresher, you can start with the value systems inculcated in you by your parents; then come to your strengths. Also tell them why you are the best candidate for the job, by stating your qualification and also the skill sets that you have, which is required to do that job well.
Share with them your career plans. Go through the website of the organization and get all relevant details. You need to convince the members on the interview panel that you are genuinely keen to make your career with them. Before you make a decision to attend the interview, make sure that you are keen to work with that organization. Do not look at short term gains by way of salaries or attend the interview just for the sake of experience. The world is a small place. Assuming that you get selected and do not take up the offer, it will go against you.
You may get an opening with that very organization, few years down the line or the person who interviewed you, may turn out to be your boss in another organization and this is precisely where your previous record will go against you. If you have firmly taken a decision to make your career with that organization, your focus should purely be on getting work experience and not on salaries. Also appreciate the fact, that all reputed organizations pay you on par with industry standards. When you start your career, what you learn is more important than what you earn.
2. What are your likes and dislikes?
Likes can be with reference to virtually anything, as in, clothes, places, transport, dressing, people or relationships. The same applies to dislikes. Likes can also include your hobbies.
3. What are your strengths and weakness?
Most candidates do not know about themselves which is shocking. Let us take the example of sales as a function. You need some mandatory qualities to be a successful sales executive and also grow on the job. These are integrity, excellent oral communication and listening skills, excellent knowledge of the product, ability to size up the customer and understand his need, give the right solution or product feature by explaining the benefit, patience, high energy levels, discipline, the ability to believe in oneself when the chips are down and lastly believing that your product is the best in the market.
You need to do a very honest SWOT analysis of yourself. You can also talk to your family members, circle of close friends, etc and ask them to give their honest feedback on your good qualities and also the areas where you need to improve. The commonsense lies in working on your strength and thereby raise your level. Coming to weakness, keep in mind that all professionals have weaknesses. However you cannot mention a weakness which is a requisite for a job. To give an example, if we take sales, one of the most critical qualities of a salesman, is his ability to speak fluently. Obviously a candidate cannot mention that he is weak in oral communication.
4. What is your ambition?
Do not make general statements like, ‘I want to be a good manager’ or ‘I want to be a CEO in five years’ These answers are very superficial and it clearly shows that you do not know what you want in life.
5. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Analyze the industry which you are going to join. Talk to experienced professionals having industry experience and understand the growth pattern and the future of that industry. Understand how much time it takes to get promoted from one position to the next one. After this, assess whether you have the skills required to reach that level. You need to be brutally honest with yourself. Also make it a point to talk with employees of the organization, where you have been called for an interview. They are the best people to give you all details related to the culture and human resource policies of that organization.
6. Do you have a role model?
A role model is a person whom you admire for certain qualities. Role models need not be celebrities. Even your parents, relatives or friends can be your role models. If you have a role model, list all qualities that you admire in that person. Likewise, it is not necessary to have a role model. You can mention that each human being is unique and gifted with certain qualities.
7. Which is your most memorable moment?
We do have lot of memorable moments. Pick up one of these and tell them why it is so special for you. It can be from your childhood days, during schooling or college or at the work place, if you have work experience.
8. What were the differences you noticed between your school and college life?
You can talk about two broad areas over here. The first point is your mental growth in terms of your thinking process and maturity. The second is the awareness and responsibility that comes when you are on the verge of completing your degree. Obviously at that point of time, you begin to realize your domestic responsibilities and also get more serious about your career and life in general.
9. Can you work comfortably in a team?
All organizations focus on teamwork. Working in a team requires lot of adjustments which are not easy to bring about. Here we are talking about change management. If you have no work experience, you can mention activities at the college level, where you had to work in teams. Share with them your experience. When you are part of a team, different ideas come up, because each person thinks differently. There is also the possibility of disagreements happening between team members. But ultimately, you need to come to a decision, because you are working for the organization. At the same time, you also need to make sure that there is no feeling of bitterness amongst team members, because some members of the group might feel that they have been left out and their ideas have not been considered, which can seriously affect the bonding within the team. If you have work experience, you can mention one or two instances, where you were part of the team and share your experience with the interview panel.
10. Do you have plans for further studies?
This is a tricky question. If you reply in the affirmative, there could be an issue of discomfort because the organization may feel that your work and study cannot complement each other, even if you are doing a correspondence course. You can be diplomatic and say, that as of now, you are not thinking about further studies. You may consider it, after gaining some work experience. This will help you to take a wise decision with regards to which program you want to do.
11. What is success for you?
You need to follow your heart. Success need not be related to your career. To cite an example, for one person, success could mean being dedicated and honest to his job and organization. Likewise, for another person success could be gaining control or overcoming his anger.
12. Do you believe in marriage or live in relationship?
There is no right or wrong answer. This question also tests your emotional stability and how practical you are. Do not go on to give a talk about the culture and tradition of India. When any individual comes across these situations in his personal life, he will obviously not think about customs or traditions. He will take a practical decision under the prevailing circumstances. Your reply needs to be honest and realistic.
13. Do you feel the need for formal education to be successful in life?
You need to think this over and give your answer. The moot point here is to assess the end result of going through the entire educational process. We learn lot of subjects which have no practical application in our career. Likewise qualities like integrity, loyalty, discipline and commitment are inculcated by parents, which are only reinforced at the school level. All said and done, educational results by itself, brand an individual as intelligent, good, average or poor. This is precisely what you need to objectively analyze and then decide your answer. Moreover even companies shortlist candidates purely based on academic performance.
14. Why should we hire you?
Talk about your strengths and link it with your job. Just to cite an example, if you are intending to make your career in sales, you need to have certain mandatory qualities like excellent oral and listening skills, integrity, discipline, high energy levels, presence of mind, and excellent knowledge of the product. Last, but not the least, you need to have an unshakeable faith that your product is the best in the market.
15. What can you do for the organization?
As an employee you are expected to be an asset for the organization. This means that you have to put in 100% in whatever job you do. Apart from this, it goes without saying that you need to be a person with high integrity, loyalty, excellent knowledge, ability to work with a team, goal oriented and having an encouraging and supportive nature.
16. What do you expect from us?
Talk frankly about your expectation in terms of salary, perks, career progression plan and the future plans of the organization. Try to get details of the salary paid by that organization to employees at various levels. Get a comprehensive understanding of all the human resource interventions.
17. Why do you want to join our organization?
Joining an organization is just like marriage. Obviously you will not get married blindly. Only after both the partners meet each other and are convinced they can lead their entire life together, they decide to get married. Similarly you are expected to gather all information about the company. Visit the company website and gather details, regarding the date of commencement of business, name of the directors, which business the company is into, where the head office is located, how many branches does the company have in India and abroad, the profitability over the last 3 years, employee strength, employee career plans and the future growth plans of the organization.
18. What salary are you expecting from us?
Find out the average salary in that industry paid by leading organizations depending on the position you are applying for. In case you are a fresher, be careful while mentioning the salary package. All established organizations have a fixed salary package drawn up for each level. Be diplomatic while negotiating on the salary package and tell them that you are flexible. Put the ball in their court. In case you have at least 5 years of experience backing you up, you are in a very powerful position to demand whatever salary you want.
19. How soon can you join us?
If you need time, tell them frankly. In case you need to relocate, you would obviously need to be free from all your domestic commitments. Lot of candidates in their anxiety; commit an early date, without practically thinking whether it would be possible for them to join. Later on, if you postpone your date, it gives a bad impression about yourself, even before you have joined. It sends a strong negative signal that you do not know how to plan your schedule and more importantly assert yourself.
20. Are you willing to relocate to any part of India?
This is a personal question and you need to be very practical. If your domestic situation demands your presence at your house, obviously you cannot relocate. If you can relocate, say for example, only within Kerala, be frank and tell the organization about it.
21. Do you mind working in shifts?
Employees have a wrong notion that working in shifts leads to health problems. Working in shifts is nothing new and has been there for over 50 years. Working in shifts does not create any health problems, because the human body has an inbuilt mechanism to adjust itself to any situation.
22. How long will you work for us?
Obviously every professional will aspire for a change at some point of time. If the organization you are joining has an excellent reputation and a good work ethic, there is absolutely no need to change your job, assuming that you perform consistently. On the other side, when an organization recruits and trains a person, they invest lot of money in that person. They naturally expect people to be with them and make a significant contribution towards the growth of the organization.
23. Have you taken part in any extracurricular activities?
There is a huge difference between hobbies and extracurricular activities. Hobbies are activities which you do in your spare time. Extracurricular activities are events at the school or college level where you have a certificate to back it up. It can be a sporting event, dramatics, drawing or singing competition, NCC or NSS and so on.
24. Do you hold a valid passport?
Lot of companies send their employees abroad for training. If you have a valid passport, mention the passport number and the expiration date of the passport on your resume. If you do not have a passport, tell the organization that you will get it organized as soon as possible, in case it is required.
25. What is the difference between honesty and integrity?
Integrity, as I look at it, means being truthful at any given point of time, even when you are not being observed. Let us assume that you are the CEO of an organization. Your organization has narrowed down on a major supplier and the proposal has come to your table for the final negotiation. You can easily make money on this deal by promising a huge order. A person of integrity will never compromise or give way to any kind of temptation. Honesty means being fair and truthful in all your dealings on the professional and personal front.
26. What is the difference between character and reputation?
Character is what you really are from inside, your true self, whereas reputation is what people think about you. Reputation is not a true picture of a person because appearances can be deceptive. A dishonest person can easily put on a mask and come across as a gem of a person. Ultimately, it is your character which will decide the course of your entire career and life.
27. What is the difference between hearing and listening?
Hearing is done with the ears. Listening is done with the mind and the heart.
28. What are your hobbies?
Hobby is any activity which we do in our spare time. You need to make very sure that you know everything about your hobby. Let us take two examples. If your hobby is coin collection, you should know that the hobby of coin collection is known as numismatics. If your hobby is listening to music, you need to be very precise, as to which kind of music you listen to, as in, melodious, classical, etc. There will be lot of questions on your hobbies. In the second example, they may ask you to name your favorite singer. You can also be asked to name the last movie for which the singer has rendered his voice or mention the name of his latest album, if he has come out with many albums. Never make the mistake of lying. Once you get caught, you will cut a sorry figure.