Human Resource / Behavioural Interview Questions

1.Tell me about yourself.

Keep your answer short and focused on your professional life and professional goals and aspirations. This is not an invitation to dwell on personal relationships, childhood experiences, family etc. A brief history of education, career and special interests is what is called for here capped with why you are interested in and uniquely qualified for this particular career and job and how you expect to make a firm and solid contribution. Use this to show career focus, commitment to success and strong personal and professional values that are aligned with the company's.

2. Why are you applying for this particular job?

Show interest and demonstrate that you have researched the job and know what you are getting into. Bring up evidence from past work/ studies that supports your interest in this role and any skills you have acquired in preparation for the role. You can say something like 'I would like to work for a leader in innovative network and telecommunications solutions and my college degree in computational mathematics has given me a solid background for this role. Mention the value-added you can bring to the job.

3. What do you know about our company?

Indicate what you have learnt from your research activities - from their annual reports, newspapers, word of mouth, other employees etc. Use this to show that you have done your homework, know what to expect and are genuinely interested in working with them.

4. What makes you qualified for this particular job?

Again, explain that you are very interested in the job and demonstrate what it is about your past experiences, education and qualifications that makes you ideal for the job. Show enthusiasm and support your answers with evidence wherever you can (eg. my summer internship at Citibank gave me broad exposure to the area of equity analysis and I think I can apply many of the tools I learnt there in this job). Elaborate on all the past experiences and skill sets that make you uniquely suitable for the job.

In cases where your past experience is not directly relevant, you can still find elements of it that can be useful. Play up teamskills, technical skills, leadership roles, specific courses and independent research activities that can be useful to the job at hand to show your initiative even where you don't have directly relevant job experience.

5. What can you do for us that someone else can't?

Demonstrate key strengths, skills and personal characteristics. Also show that you have thought about the contribution you would like to make and already envision yourself making that contribution. Be specific in terms of where you see yourself fitting in and what you see yourself contributing - the more you can show you have genuinely thought about meeting a particular need or solving a particular problem the company has as is related to the job you are applying for the more likely you are to impress. Show you are a person who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to meet the company's targets and can find innovative solutions to old problems.

6. Why should we hire you?

Because you have all the experience/ traits/ skills/credentials needed for the role and in addition to being qualified, you are enthusiastic, intelligent, hardworking, flexible, committed, willing to learn and have a track record of personal and professional success. Show how you will be an asset to their team and contribute to meeting the company's goals and targets. Also mention any key relationships you may have that may assist you in the job.

7. What do you look for in a job?

Be honest. Also mention keywords such as challenging, steep learning curve, good work culture, demanding, rewarding, opportunities for advancement and growth, team environment, opportunity to build and maintain client relationships etc.

8. Why are you looking to make a career change?

Mention your interests and make sure you bring up all skills/ experience however insignificant that can support your move in this new direction. It is quite common in this day and age to make a career switch. You need however to show that you have very carefully thought about the change, have a strong interest in the new career and can use some of your previous skills/ education/ relationships to make that move.

9. Why did you leave your last job?

Do NOT use this as an opportunity to badmouth past employers or peers or talk about a failure of any sort. Any of these answers are acceptable: you were looking for a new challenge, your learning curve had flattened out in the previous job and you were looking for a new learning opportunity, the company or department were restructuring, you were ready to start something new after achieving your career goals at the previous company etc. Ideally you need to show you are in a position where you are happy with past successes and ready to achieve even more pronounced successes and take larger strides forward in your career.

10. Why do you want to work for us (as opposed to the competitor companies)?

Demonstrate that you know something about the company, that you believe they are leaders/ innovators in what they do, or you think their work culture is exactly what you are looking for, or you like their product(s) or you have friends who work there and have always been attracted to the company etc. Indicate that this is a company where you feel you can make a meaningful and significant contribution and mention why you believe so. Flatter the company and show you have done your research about it and see yourself as a valuable longterm member of their team.

11. How long will it take you to start making a meaningful contribution?

Show that you are enthusiastic and willing to learn and will put in all the hours and effort necessary to learn the ropes and start making an immediate contribution. Indicate that your past experiences/ skills/ credentials will enable you to make an immediate contribution at some level while you quickly learn the new aspects of the job. The employer ideally wants someone who is willing and able to learn, has a valuable existing skillset, a strong work ethic and will deliver a return on the employer's investment sooner rather than later.

12. What are your strengths?

What in your opinion has contributed to your success to date and will be a valuable attribute in this job? Ideally chose strengths that have the most bearing on the role you are applying for whether it be technical skills, leadership skills, quantitative skills, interpersonal skills, ability to consistently achieve targets, teamplayer skills, ability to work very well under pressure, creativity, client relationship skills, research skills etc. While you probably have many strengths, rather than delivering a long laundry list, chose those strengths that may be the most relevant to your chosen field and that indicate focus and professional maturity.

13. What are your weaknesses?

It is probably unwise to chose this as an invitation to elaborate on key weaknesses and fundamental character flaws. This is not the place to say you are bad at meeting deadlines or consistently fail to meet all your targets or would rather be in a different career altogether. Turn this question around to your benefit. For example, you may be 'overambitious' or 'extremely attentive to detail' or 'like to take on too many projects'. Chose a positive trait that accurately reflects you and keep the answer positive. Another way to handle this question is to chose a weakness that has absolutely no bearing to the position you are now applying for and consequently does not raise any warning flags eg if you are applying to a financial analyst position you can comment on how your graphic design skills could use some tweaking and comment that you are aware this is completely irrelevant to your chosen career path. Finally you can bring up a past weakness that is not at all severe or alarming and will not raise warning flags and comment on actual concrete measures you took to successfully overcome this weakness eg. courses attended, books read, mentors sought, experience gained etc. This shows that you are a proactive professional who is not saitisfied with mediocrity and is willing to take the time to learn and build skills and develop.

14. What are your career goals?

Show you have thought forward and are committed to your career. Indicate where you would like to be in 2 years, 5 years and 10 years time. Indicate you hope to continuously add on new responsibilties, make a larger impact on the company's profitability and success and develop personally and professionally.

15. How would you describe yourself?

Ideally you are just the kind of person who will succeed in this role and your research has highlighted all the key traits you have that the employer is looking for which you can use this opportunity to recite. Every role will have its different set of unique requirements however very generally speaking employers are looking for employees who are hard-working, persistent, proactive, committed, career-oriented, ambitious, diligent, pleasant to work with, professional, fair, dedicated, fast-learning, creative, good at problem-solving and able to learn from their mistakes. Be honest in describing your key professional strengths and how you think they will positively impact your performance in the new role.

16. How would your colleagues describe you?

Employers are looking for someone who is pleasant to work with, co-operative, a good team player and possesses all the soft and hard skills required to excel in the job. Do not bring up anything negative here.

17. How would your boss describe you?

Be candid but do not dwell on weaknesses. They will check references anyways so bring up the most positive attribute you can remember from your last formal or informal performance



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