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HR Interview Questions Answers

Question 1 : What would you do if a fellow executive on your own corporate level wasn’t pulling his/her weight…and this was hurting your department?

Answer 1 : Try to gauge the political style of the firm and be guided accordingly. In general, fall back on universal principles of effective human relations – which in the end, embody the way you would like to be treated in a similar circumstance. Example: “Good human relations would call for me to go directly to the person and explain the situation, to try to enlist his help in a constructive, positive solution. If I sensed resistance, I would be as persuasive as I know how to explain the benefits we can all gain from working together, and the problems we, the company and our customers will experience if we don’t.” And what would you do if he still did not change his ways? ANSWER: “One thing I wouldn’t do is let the problem slide, because it would only get worse and overlooking it would set a bad precedent. I would try again and again and again, in whatever way I could, to solve the problem, involving wider and wider circles of people, both above and below the offending executive and including my own boss if necessary, so that everyone involved can see the rewards for teamwork and the drawbacks of non-cooperation.” “I might add that I’ve never yet come across a situation that couldn’t be resolved by harnessing others in a determined, constructive effort.” You’ve been with your firm a long time. Won’t it be hard switching to a new company ? To overcome this objection, you must point to the many ways you have grown and adapted to changing conditions at your present firm. It has not been a static situation. Highlight the different responsibilities you’ve held, the wide array of new situations you’ve faced and conquered. As a result, you’ve learned to adapt quickly to whatever is thrown at you, and you thrive on the stimulation of new challenges. To further assure the interviewer, describe the similarities between the new position and your prior one. Explain that you should be quite comfortable working there, since their needs and your skills make a perfect match.

Question 2 : Why are you leaving (or did you leave) this position ?

Answer 2 : (If you have a job presently tell the hr) If you’re not yet 100% committed to leaving your present post, don’t be afraid to say so. Since you have a job, you are in a stronger position than someone who does not. But don’t be coy either. State honestly what you’d be hoping to find in a new spot. Of course, as stated often before, you answer will all the stronger if you have already uncovered what this position is all about and you match your desires to it. (If you do not presently have a job tell the hr.) Never lie about having been fired. It’s unethical – and too easily checked. But do try to deflect the reason from you personally. If your firing was the result of a takeover, merger, division wide layoff, etc., so much the better. But you should also do something totally unnatural that will demonstrate consummate professionalism. Even if it hurts , describe your own firing – candidly, succinctly and without a trace of bitterness – from the company’s point-of-view, indicating that you could understand why it happened and you might have made the same decision yourself. Your stature will rise immensely and, most important of all, you will show you are healed from the wounds inflicted by the firing. You will enhance your image as first-class management material and stand head and shoulders above the legions of firing victims who, at the slightest provocation, zip open their shirts to expose their battle scars and decry the unfairness of it all. For all prior positions: Make sure you’ve prepared a brief reason for leaving. Best reasons: more money, opportunity, responsibility or growth. he "Silent Treatment" Like a primitive tribal mask, the Silent Treatment loses all it power to frighten you once you refuse to be intimidated. If your interviewer pulls it, keep quiet yourself for a while and then ask, with sincere politeness and not a trace of sarcasm, “Is there anything else I can fill in on that point?” That’s all there is to it. Whatever you do, don’t let the Silent Treatment intimidate you into talking a blue streak, because you could easily talk yourself out of the position.

Question 3 : Can you work under pressure ?

Answer 3 : Absolutely…(then prove it with a vivid example or two of a goal or project accomplished under severe pressure.)

Question 4 : Have you consider starting your own business?

Answer 4 : Again it’s best to: Gauge this company’s corporate culture before answering and… Be honest (which doesn’t mean you have to vividly share your fantasy of the franchise or bed-and-breakfast you someday plan to open). In general, if the corporate culture is that of a large, formal, military-style structure, minimize any indication that you’d love to have your own business. You might say, “Oh, I may have given it a thought once or twice, but my whole career has been in larger organizations. That’s where I have excelled and where I want to be.” If the corporate culture is closer to the free-wheeling, everybody’s-a-deal-maker variety, then emphasize that in a firm like this, you can virtually get the best of all worlds, the excitement of seeing your own ideas and plans take shape…combined with the resources and stability of a well-established organization. Sounds like the perfect environment to you. In any case, no matter what the corporate culture, be sure to indicate that any desires about running your own show are part of your past, not your present or future. The last thing you want to project is an image of either a dreamer who failed and is now settling for the corporate cocoon…or the restless maverick who will fly out the door with key accounts, contacts and trade secrets under his arms just as soon as his bankroll has gotten rebuilt. Always remember: Match what you want with what the position offers. The more information you’ve uncovered about the position, the more believable you can make your case.

Question 5 : Could you have done better in your last job ?

Answer 5 : 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 consequence.” (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 6 : Aren’t you overqualified for this position?

Answer 6 : As with any objection, don’t view this as a sign of imminent defeat. It’s an invitation to teach the interviewer a new way to think about this situation, seeing advantages instead of drawbacks. Example: “I recognize the job market for what it is – a marketplace. Like any marketplace, it’s subject to the laws of supply and demand. So ‘overqualified’ can be a relative term, depending on how tight the job market is. And right now, it’s very tight. I understand and accept that.” “I also believe that there could be very positive benefits for both of us in this match.” “Because of my unusually strong experience in ________________ , I could start to contribute right away, perhaps much faster than someone who’d have to be brought along more slowly.” “There’s also the value of all the training and years of experience that other companies have invested tens of thousands of dollars to give me. You’d be getting all the value of that without having to pay an extra dime for it. With someone who has yet to acquire that experience, he’d have to gain it on your nickel.” “I could also help you in many things they don’t teach at the Harvard Business School. For example…(how to hire, train, motivate, etc.) When it comes to knowing how to work well with people and getting the most out of them, there’s just no substitute for what you learn over many years of front-line experience. You company would gain all this, too.” “From my side, there are strong benefits, as well. Right now, I am unemployed. I want to work, very much, and the position you have here is exactly what I love to do and am best at. I’ll be happy doing this work and that’s what matters most to me, a lot more that money or title.” “Most important, I’m looking to make a long term commitment in my career now. I’ve had enough of job-hunting and want a permanent spot at this point in my career. I also know that if I perform this job with excellence, other opportunities cannot help but open up for me right here. In time, I’ll find many other ways to help this company and in so doing, help myself. I really am looking to make a long-term commitment.” NOTE: The main concern behind the “overqualified” question is that you will leave your new employer as soon as something better comes your way. Anything you can say to demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to the employer and reassure him that you’re looking to stay for the long-term will help you overcome this objection.

Question 7 : Tell me about something you did – or failed to do – that you now feel a little ashamed of ?

Answer 7 : As with faults and weaknesses, never confess a regret. But don’t seem as if you’re stonewalling either. Best strategy: Say you harbor no regrets, then add a principle or habit you practice regularly for healthy human relations. Example: Pause for reflection, as if the question never occurred to you. Then say to hr, “You know, I really can’t think of anything.” (Pause again, then add): “I would add that as a general management principle, I’ve found that the best way to avoid regrets is to avoid causing them in the first place. I practice one habit that helps me a great deal in this regard. At the end of each day, I mentally review the day’s events and conversations to take a second look at the people and developments I’m involved with and do a double check of what they’re likely to be feeling. Sometimes I’ll see things that do need more follow-up, whether a pat on the back, or maybe a five minute chat in someone’s office to make sure we’re clear on things…whatever.” “I also like to make each person feel like a member of an elite team, like the Boston Celtics or LA Lakers in their prime. I’ve found that if you let each team member know you expect excellence in their performance…if you work hard to set an example yourself…and if you let people know you appreciate and respect their feelings, you wind up with a highly motivated group, a team that’s having fun at work because they’re striving for excellence rather than brooding over slights or regrets.”

Question 8 : What was the toughest decision you ever had to make?

Answer 8 : 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. Tell me about the most boring job you’ve ever had. 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 9 : Tell me about a situation when your work was criticized ?

Answer 9 : 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 10 : Why should I hire you?

Answer 10 : By now you can see how critical it is to apply the overall strategy of uncovering the employer’s needs before you answer questions. If you know the employer’s greatest needs and desires, this question will give you a big leg up over other candidates because you will give him better reasons for hiring you than anyone else is likely to…reasons tied directly to his needs. Whether your interviewer asks you this question explicitly or not, this is the most important question of your interview because he must answer this question favorably in is own mind before you will be hired. So help him out! Walk through each of the position’s requirements as you understand them, and follow each with a reason why you meet that requirement so well. Example: “As I understand your needs, you are first and foremost looking for someone who can manage the sales and marketing of your book publishing division. As you’ve said you need someone with a strong background in trade book sales. This is where I’ve spent almost all of my career, so I’ve chalked up 18 years of experience exactly in this area. I believe that I know the right contacts, methods, principles, and successful management techniques as well as any person can in our industry.” “You also need someone who can expand your book distribution channels. In my prior post, my innovative promotional ideas doubled, then tripled, the number of outlets selling our books. I’m confident I can do the same for you.” “You need someone to give a new shot in the arm to your mail order sales, someone who knows how to sell in space and direct mail media. Here, too, I believe I have exactly the experience you need. In the last five years, I’ve increased our mail order book sales from $600,000 to $2,800,000, and now we’re the country’s second leading marketer of scientific and medical books by mail.” Etc., etc., etc., Every one of these selling “couplets” (his need matched by your qualifications) is a touchdown that runs up your score. IT is your best opportunity to outsell your competition.

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