HR Interview-4…Continued

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Question 15 What good books have you read lately?
TRAPS: As in all matters of your interview, never fake familiarity you don’t have. Yet
you don’t want to seem like a dullard who hasn’t read a book since Tom Sawyer.
BEST ANSWER: Unless you’re up for a position in academia or as book critic for The
New York Times, you’re not expected to be a literary lion. But it wouldn’t hurt to have
read a handful of the most recent and influential books in your profession and on
Consider it part of the work of your job search to read up on a few of these leading
books. But make sure they are quality books that reflect favorably upon you, nothing
that could even remotely be considered superficial. Finally, add a recently published
bestselling work of fiction by a world-class author and you’ll pass this question with flying

Question 16 Tell me about a situation when your work was
TRAPS: This is a tough question because it’s a more clever and subtle way to get you
to admit to a weakness. You can’t dodge it by pretending you’ve never been criticized.
Everybody has been. Yet it can be quite damaging to start admitting potential faults and
failures that you’d just as soon leave buried.
This question is also intended to probe how well you accept criticism and direction.
BEST ANSWERS: Begin by emphasizing the extremely positive feedback you’ve gotten
throughout your career and (if it’s true) that your performance reviews have been
uniformly excellent.
Of course, no one is perfect and you always welcome suggestions on how to improve
your performance. Then, give an example of a not-too-damaging learning experience
from early in your career and relate the ways this lesson has since helped you. This
demonstrates that you learned from the experience and the lesson is now one of the
strongest breastplates in your suit of armor.
If you are pressed for a criticism from a recent position, choose something fairly trivial
that in no way is essential to your successful performance. Add that you’ve learned from
this, too, and over the past several years/months, it’s no longer an area of concern
because you now make it a regular practice to…etc.
Another way to answer this question would be to describe your intention to broaden your
master of an area of growing importance in your field. For example, this might be a
computer program you’ve been meaning to sit down and learn… a new management
technique you’ve read about…or perhaps attending a seminar on some cutting-edge
branch of your profession.
Again, the key is to focus on something not essential to your brilliant performance but
which adds yet another dimension to your already impressive knowledge base.

Question 17 What are your outside interests?
TRAPS: You want to be a well-rounded, not a drone. But your potential employer
would be even more turned off if he suspects that your heavy extracurricular load will
interfere with your commitment to your work duties.
BEST ANSWERS: Try to gauge how this company’s culture would look upon your
favorite outside activities and be guided accordingly.
You can also use this question to shatter any stereotypes that could limit your chances.
If you’re over 50, for example, describe your activities that demonstrate physical
stamina. If you’re young, mention an activity that connotes wisdom and institutional
trust, such as serving on the board of a popular charity.
But above all, remember that your employer is hiring your for what you can do for him,
not your family, yourself or outside organizations, no matter how admirable those
activities may be.

Question 18 The “Fatal Flaw” question
TRAPS: If an interviewer has read your resume carefully, he may try to zero in on a
“fatal flaw” of your candidacy, perhaps that you don’t have a college degree…you’ve
been out of the job market for some time…you never earned your CPA, etc.
A fatal flaw question can be deadly, but usually only if you respond by being overly
BEST ANSWERS: As every master salesperson knows, you will encounter objections
(whether stated or merely thought) in every sale. They’re part and parcel of the buyer’s
anxiety. The key is not to exacerbate the buyer’s anxiety but diminish it. Here’s how…
Whenever you come up against a fatal flaw question:
1. Be completely honest, open and straightforward about admitting the
shortcoming. (Showing you have nothing to hide diminishes the buyer’s
2. Do not apologize or try to explain it away. You know that this supposed flaw
is nothing to be concerned about, and this is the attitude you want your
interviewer to adopt as well.
3. Add that as desirable as such a qualification might be, its lack has made you
work all the harder throughout your career and has not prevented you from
compiling an outstanding tack record of achievements. You might even give
examples of how, through a relentless commitment to excellence, you have
consistently outperformed those who do have this qualification.
Of course, the ultimate way to handle “fatal flaw” questions is to prevent them from
arising in the first place. You will do that by following the master strategy described in
Question 1, i.e., uncovering the employers needs and them matching your qualifications
to those needs.Once you’ve gotten the employer to start talking about his most urgently-felt wants and
goals for the position, and then help him see in step-by-step fashion how perfectly your
background and achievements match up with those needs, you’re going to have one
very enthusiastic interviewer on your hands, one who is no longer looking for “fatal

Question 19 How do you feel about reporting to a younger person
(minority, woman, etc)?
TRAPS: It’s a shame that some interviewers feel the need to ask this question, but
many understand the reality that prejudices still exist among some job candidates, and
it’s better to try to flush them out beforehand.
The trap here is that in today’s politically sensitized environment, even a well-intentioned
answer can result in planting your foot neatly in your mouth. Avoid anything which
smacks of a patronizing or an insensitive attitude, such as “I think they make terrific
bosses” or “Hey, some of my best friends are…”
Of course, since almost anyone with an IQ above room temperature will at least try to
steadfastly affirm the right answer here, your interviewer will be judging your sincerity
most of all. “Do you really feel that way?” is what he or she will be wondering.
So you must make your answer believable and not just automatic. If the firm is wise
enough to have promoted peopled on the basis of ability alone, they’re likely quite proud
of it, and prefer to hire others who will wholeheartedly share their strong sense of fair
BEST ANSWER: You greatly admire a company that hires and promotes on merit alone
and you couldn’t agree more with that philosophy. The age (gender, race, etc.) of the
person you report to would certainly make no difference to you.
Whoever has that position has obviously earned it and knows their job well. Both the
person and the position are fully deserving of respect. You believe that all people in a
company, from the receptionist to the Chairman, work best when their abilities, efforts
and feelings are respected and rewarded fairly, and that includes you. That’s the best
type of work environment you can hope to find.


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