HR Interview-5…Continued

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Question 20 On confidential matters…
TRAPS: When an interviewer presses you to reveal confidential information about a
present or former employer, you may feel it’s a no-win situation. If you cooperate, you
could be judged untrustworthy. If you don’t, you may irritate the interviewer and seem
obstinate, uncooperative or overly suspicious.
BEST ANSWER: Your interviewer may press you for this information for two reasons.
First, many companies use interviews to research the competition. It’s a perfect set-up.
Here in their own lair, is an insider from the enemy camp who can reveal prized
information on the competition’s plans, research, financial condition, etc.Second, the company may be testing your integrity to see if you can be cajoled or bullied
into revealing confidential data.
What to do? The answer here is easy. Never reveal anything truly confidential about a
present or former employer. By all means, explain your reticence diplomatically. For
example, “I certainly want to be as open as I can about that. But I also wish to respect
the rights of those who have trusted me with their most sensitive information, just as you
would hope to be able to trust any of your key people when talking with a competitor…”
And certainly you can allude to your finest achievements in specific ways that don’t
reveal the combination to the company safe.
But be guided by the golden rule. If you were the owner of your present company, would
you feel it ethically wrong for the information to be given to your competitors? If so,
steadfastly refuse to reveal it.
Remember that this question pits your desire to be cooperative against your integrity.
Faced with any such choice, always choose integrity. It is a far more valuable
commodity than whatever information the company may pry from you. Moreover, once
you surrender the information, your stock goes down. They will surely lose respect for
One President we know always presses candidates unmercifully for confidential
information. If he doesn’t get it, he grows visibly annoyed, relentlessly inquisitive, It’s all
an act. He couldn’t care less about the information. This is his way of testing the
candidate’s moral fiber. Only those who hold fast are hired.

Question 21 Would you lie for the company?
TRAPS: This another question that pits two values against one another, in this case
loyalty against integrity.
BEST ANSWER: Try to avoid choosing between two values, giving a positive statement
which covers all bases instead.
Example: “I would never do anything to hurt the company..”
If aggressively pressed to choose between two competing values, always choose
personal integrity. It is the most prized of all values.

Question 22 Looking back, what would you do differently in your
TRAPS: This question is usually asked to uncover any life-influencing mistakes, regrets,
disappointments or problems that may continue to affect your personality and
performance.You do not want to give the interviewer anything negative to remember you by, such as
some great personal or career disappointment, even long ago, that you wish could have
been avoided.
Nor do you wish to give any answer which may hint that your whole heart and soul will
not be in your work.
BEST ANSWER: Indicate that you are a happy, fulfilled, optimistic person and that, in
general, you wouldn’t change a thing.
Example: “It’s been a good life, rich in learning and experience, and the best it yet to
come. Every experience in life is a lesson it its own way. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Question 23 Could you have done better in your last job?
TRAPS: This is no time for true confessions of major or even minor problems.
BEST ANSWER: Again never be negative.
Example: “I suppose with the benefit of hindsight you can always find things to do
better, of course, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything of major
(If more explanation seems necessary)
Describer a situation that didn’t suffer because of you but from external conditions
beyond your control.
For example, describe the disappointment you felt with a test campaign, new product
launch, merger, etc., which looked promising at first, but led to underwhelming results. “I
wish we could have known at the start what we later found out (about the economy
turning, the marketplace changing, etc.), but since we couldn’t, we just had to go for it.
And we did learn from it…”

Question 24 Can you work under pressure?
TRAPS: An easy question, but you want to make your answer believable.
BEST ANSWER: Absolutely…(then prove it with a vivid example or two of a goal or
project accomplished under severe pressure.)

Question 25 What makes you angry?
TRAPS: You don’t want to come across either as a hothead or a wimp.
BEST ANSWER: Give an answer that’s suited to both your personality and the
management style of the firm. Here, the homework you’ve done about the company and
its style can help in your choice of words.

Examples: If you are a reserved person and/or the corporate culture is coolly
“I’m an even-tempered and positive person by nature, and I believe this helps me a great
deal in keeping my department running smoothly, harmoniously and with a genuine
esprit de corps. I believe in communicating clearly what’s expected, getting people’s
commitment to those goals, and then following up continuously to check progress.”
“If anyone or anything is going off track, I want to know about it early. If, after that kind
of open communication and follow up, someone isn’t getting the job done, I’ll want to
know why. If there’s no good reason, then I’ll get impatient and angry…and take
appropriate steps from there. But if you hire good people, motivate them to strive for
excellence and then follow up constantly, it almost never gets to that state.”
If you are feisty by nature and/or the position calls for a tough straw boss.
“You know what makes me angry? People who (the fill in the blanks with the most
objectionable traits for this type of position)…people who don’t pull their own weight, who
are negative, people who lie…etc.”

Question 26 Why aren’t you earning more money at this stage of
your career?
TRAPS: You don’t want to give the impression that money is not important to you, yet
you want to explain why your salary may be a little below industry standards.
BEST ANSWER: You like to make money, but other factors are even more important.
Example: “Making money is very important to me, and one reason I’m here is because
I’m looking to make more. Throughout my career, what’s been even more important to
me is doing work I really like to do at the kind of company I like and respect.
(Then be prepared to be specific about what your ideal position and company would be
like, matching them as closely as possible to the opportunity at hand.

Question 27 Who has inspired you in your life and why?
TRAPS: The two traps here are unpreparedness and irrelevance. If you grope for an
answer, it seems you’ve never been inspired. If you ramble about your high school
basketball coach, you’ve wasted an opportunity to present qualities of great value to the
BEST ANSWER: Have a few heroes in mind, from your mental “Board of Directors” –
Leaders in your industry, from history or anyone else who has been your mentor.
Be prepared to give examples of how their words, actions or teachings have helped
inspire your achievements. As always, prepare an answer which highlights qualities that
would be highly valuable in the position you are seeking.

Question 28 What was the toughest decision you ever had to
TRAPS: Giving an unprepared or irrelevant answer.
BEST ANSWER: Be prepared with a good example, explaining why the decision was
difficult…the process you followed in reaching it…the courageous or effective way you
carried it out…and the beneficial results.

Question 29 Tell me about the most boring job you’ve ever had.
TRAPS: You give a very memorable description of a very boring job. Result? You
become associated with this boring job in the interviewer’s mind.
BEST ANSWER: You have never allowed yourself to grow bored with a job and you
can’t understand it when others let themselves fall into that rut.
Example: “Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, but that I’ve never found myself bored with any
job I have ever held. I’ve always enjoyed hard work. As with actors who feel there are
no small parts, I also believe that in every company or department there are exciting
challenges and intriguing problems crying out for energetic and enthusiastic solutions. If
you’re bored, it’s probably because you’re not challenging yourself to tackle those
problems right under your nose.”

Question 30 Have you been absent from work more than a few
days in any previous position?
TRAPS: If you’ve had a problem, you can’t lie. You could easily be found out. Yet
admitting an attendance problem could raise many flags.
BEST ANSWER: If you have had no problem, emphasize your excellent and consistent
attendance record throughout your career.
Also describe how important you believe such consistent attendance is for a key
executive…why it’s up to you to set an example of dedication…and why there’s just no
substitute for being there with your people to keep the operation running smoothly,
answer questions and handle problems and crises as they arise.
If you do have a past attendance problem, you want to minimize it, making it clear that it
was an exceptional circumstance and that it’s cause has been corrected.
To do this, give the same answer as above but preface it with something like, “Other that
being out last year (or whenever) because of (your reason, which is now in the past), I
have never had a problem and have enjoyed an excellent attendance record throughout
my career. Furthermore, I believe, consistent attendance is important because…” (Pick
up the rest of the answer as outlined above.).

Question 31 What changes would you make if you came on board?
TRAPS: Watch out! This question can derail your candidacy faster than a bomb on the
tracks – and just as you are about to be hired.
Reason: No matter how bright you are, you cannot know the right actions to take in a
position before you settle in and get to know the operation’s strengths, weaknesses key
people, financial condition, methods of operation, etc. If you lunge at this temptingly
baited question, you will probably be seen as someone who shoots from the hip.
Moreover, no matter how comfortable you may feel with your interviewer, you are still an
outsider. No one, including your interviewer, likes to think that a know-it-all outsider is
going to come in, turn the place upside down and with sweeping, grand gestures,
promptly demonstrate what jerks everybody’s been for years.
BEST ANSWER: You, of course, will want to take a good hard look at everything the
company is doing before making any recommendations.
Example: “Well, I wouldn’t be a very good doctor if I gave my diagnosis before the
examination. Should you hire me, as I hope you will, I’d want to take a good hard look at
everything you’re doing and understand why it’s being done that way. I’d like to have indepth
meetings with you and the other key people to get a deeper grasp of what you feel
you’re doing right and what could be improved.
“From what you’ve told me so far, the areas of greatest concern to you are…” (name
them. Then do two things. First, ask if these are in fact his major concerns. If so then
reaffirm how your experience in meeting similar needs elsewhere might prove very


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