Editor - CoolAvenues | March 26,2014 06:08 pm IST
The types of questions you are likely to encounter in this style of interviewing include:
"Do you find it difficult to work with some people?"
Indicate that you get along well with people and work hard to understand other points of view. You can name one or two traits that disturb you, but make sure they're not overly broad, and give preference to those that a manager would also find hard to accept-such as dishonesty, incessant talking, or unreliability.
"What are your weaknesses?"
You can say you don't know of any that would prevent your doing an excellent job in the position you are discussing. If pressed, you can turn this into an opportunity to talk about the kind of workplace you hope to enter. You might say that you prefer not to work in an environment where there's no teamwork or where you don't have a sense of why your work matters. Another good answer along those lines, which turns your "weaknesses" into strengths: "I work better in a team environment, despite the fact that I'm a self-starter and think well independently."
Bad answer: "Well, I often oversleep, and I'm a terrible procrastinator." (You may get a few points for candor, but your interviewer will almost always assume that you're worse than what you say.)
If you're asked to name your strengths as well as weaknesses, follow the same principles:
Good answer: "I think my strengths are in my ability to understand the intent of a project, master the details, and organize and pursue a well-developed project plan. My weakness might be that I can be a little impatient with people who don't keep their commitments, although I'm learning that I get better results by being tactful and persistent in asking questions, rather than making demands." (Shows coherence and a learning attitude; turns a weakness into another strength.)
Pretty good answer: "I'm a good detail person. I do what needs to be done, and I get it done on time. I don't know of anything that would prevent my doing a good job." (Less compelling, but fairly believable.)
Bad answer: "I'm good at numbers, as long as I'm left alone to get the work done. I can't think of any weaknesses." (Turns strength into a weakness! Refuses to think about weaknesses or opportunities to learn.)
"What would your most recent boss say about you?"
Say that you believe he or she would confirm whatever you have claimed as your strengths or your accomplishments.
"Has your work ever been criticized, or have you been told to improve your performance?"
If you say no, be prepared to back it up with a statement such as "I've always received excellent reviews." (And be sure your references will confirm this, or you will lose credibility completely.) If you can't say this confidently, answer honestly—but it's best to choose a situation in which your idea was criticized, not your behavior. All the better if you can explain why the idea made sense to you.
Good answer: "I received some criticism when I introduced the idea of a customer satisfaction survey in the placement agency where I worked last year. It wasn't a popular idea with my boss, who feared the results. But I felt that if we were ever to correct our shortfalls, it would be important to know what mattered most to our customers."
Bad answer: "I received a lot of criticism from my last boss, who was pretty insecure. When I suggested a customer satisfaction survey to deal with our loss of customers, he flew off the handle. Eventually, with the help of top management, he came around to my point of view." (Just a bit arrogant sounding, isn't it?)
"What would you do if you were asked to do something that didn't make sense to you?"
Indicate that you would say something like "Perhaps I'm missing something, but I'm not immediately seeing why that would be the best way to handle the situation. Could you help me understand?" If you can, provide an example of how you faced such as situation and successfully resolved it.
Good answer: "That happened to me when I was working on a cruise ship and the activities director wanted me to shut down the entertainment early to save money. I felt that the several passengers still in the lounge and all the others had paid their fares and deserved their full value. When I realized that I wasn't able to influence her, I took it on myself to find a dignified solution. I explained to the passengers that the band really wanted to rest up for the tremendous party I had planned for the next evening, and I hoped they would plan to be there, because I would see that they got special treatment. I offered, instead, to play a terrific video that none of them had seen. All was accepted in good spirits, and my boss was grateful that I handled the situation well." (Shows resourcefulness in finding a solution that had integrity without undermining management.)
Not-as-good answer: "My boss asked me to get up on the roof to fix a sign that had been knocked about by a windstorm. I have a fear of heights, told him so, and suggested he call the sign company. He did, and they did a better job of fixing the sign than I could have done myself." (Although the suggestion was sound, it would be better to have pointed out the hazards involved and to have suggested that the sign company was better equipped to deal with them.)