10 tricky interview questions answered
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Anumeha Chaturvedi & Sreeradha D Basu, ET Bureau :NEW
DELHI | KOLKATA: Cracking an interview and winning the instant nod of
various stakeholders is no mean feat. Companies and HR directors always have
a trick up their sleeve to make interview sessions grueling, and no amount
of prior preparation seems to be good enough at times.
In a bid to further the cause of new hires and potential job seekers, we reached
out to HR heads of various companies to compile a list of questions that can
catch one off guard and queries that are new add-ons to the HR directors' lists.
Read on and be surprised:
1.Based on what you know about us, what could we be doing more efficiently?
RAMESH SHANKAR, EVP and cluster HR head, South Asia at Siemens says
he would play it safe while answering it. One could say it's not possible to say
much as an outsider and what he knows is public knowledge. Another way would be
to talk about new ideas that the company could look at and how the candidate can
help implement them.
2.Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10.
A majority of candidates tend to go with a safe answer,
rating themselves typically between 6 and 8. Some, who are in frontline sales
etc, rate themselves higher at 9-10 . Their explanation is they have been at the
top of their team and have consistently been overachieving. "To them, we ask a
follow-up question: In order for you to go to the next level, what are the areas
you need to develop?" says Madhavi Lall, regional head-HR , India & South Asia,
3.Did you think of leaving your current position earlier? If so, what has made
you stay till now?
An impressive answer here would be: "I'm not actively looking out but, am open
to exploratory conversations on opportunities which can help me grow my career."
There are many who are quite direct as well, saying that they don't get along
with their line manager/boss.
4.How would you evaluate your present company?
Managers say that candidates should not complain about the their current
company. "Focus on your strengths and weaknesses," says Shankar. You could talk
about why it is not working out for you, and why you are looking to move on.
5.What can you do to take your boss's job?
Managers rarely get a good answer to this one. One that would score with them
would be something like "to get a job at the next level (consciously avoiding
using the phrase 'boss' job' ), I'd consistently outshine in my current role
while continuing to build my skillsets." "Responses which we usually get are "I
don't want to do my boss's job" while there are people who say: "I think I'm
better" . To the latter we ask the followup question: Then, why haven't they
taken you for the next level yet?" says Lall.
6.If God was outside the interview room, what are the three wishes you would ask
Prashant Deo Singh Head, HR & general affairs, Panasonic
India, asked this question to a few candidates . "There
are some people who come up with selfish responses that only concern them;
others have larger goals like doing something for others. We try to evaluate the
responses to gauge a candidate's philosophy in life and to see if it matches
with that of the company," he says.
7.The Interviewer could just pick up an object, for instance a pen, and ask, how
would you market it?
It shows how fast the person can think on his feet. The question is essentially
targeted at a sales or marketing professional . Deo Singh says the really good
candidates immediately start a selling spiel when faced with this question.
8.What is the wildest thing that you have done in life?
This question is asked to test the determination, passion and commitment of a
person, according to Ashutosh Telang, executive vicepresident & head, HR at
Marico. Responses may vary: I had a fear of heights but I overcame it by
bungeejumping . Or someone who has a love for travelling might say that he/she
took a break for three months and backpacked through the country. "Of course,
you can also get some ridiculous responses where the person is clearly fibbing,"
9.What is your most embarrassing moment? How did you deal with it?
HR managers feel this question helps in understanding a candidate's ability to
deal with delicate situations. For instance , this might showcase a candidate's
ability to convert a potential crisis into an opportunity, they feel. The answer
could be based on a personal or a professional moment but the emphasis should be
on what they learnt and how they converted it into an opportunity.
For instance, an anecdote like how a candidate might have been reprimanded for
not wearing the correct uniform while at school and how that taught him the
importance of discipline in life.
10.Have you ever been approached to do something unethical at work and what did
That's the trickiest question. Should you be honest? Shankar feels the candidate
should have the courage to be honest. "It is okay to admit to making a mistake
if the reasons given are substantial, rather than faking it. The interviewer
would be quick to catch the lie otherwise," he says.
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