Interview Questions

What are your outside interests ?

HR round interview questions and answers

(Continued from previous question...)

What are your outside interests ?

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.

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:

Be completely honest, open and straightforward about admitting the shortcoming. (Showing you have nothing to hide diminishes the buyer’s anxiety.)

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.

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 flaws”.

How do you feel about reporting to a younger person (minority, woman, etc)?

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.

On confidential matters…
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 you.

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. What would you say to your boss if he’s crazy about an idea, but you think it stinks?

Remember the rule stated earlier: In any conflict between values, always choose integrity.

Example: I believe that when evaluating anything, it’s important to emphasize the positive. What do I like about this idea?”
“Then, if you have reservations, I certainly want to point them out, as specifically, objectively and factually as I can.”
“After all, the most important thing I owe my boss is honesty. If he can’t count on me for that, then everything else I may do or say could be questionable in his eyes.”
“But I also want to express my thoughts in a constructive way. So my goal in this case would be to see if my boss and I could make his idea even stronger and more appealing, so that it effectively overcomes any initial reservation I or others may have about it.”
“Of course, if he overrules me and says, ‘no, let’s do it my way,’ then I owe him my full and enthusiastic support to make it work as best it can.”
How could you have improved your career progress ?
You’re generally quite happy with your career progress. Maybe, if you had known something earlier in life (impossible to know at the time, such as the booming growth in a branch in your industry…or the corporate downsizing that would phase out your last job), you might have moved in a certain direction sooner. But all things considered, you take responsibility for where you are, how you’ve gotten there, where you are going…and you harbor no regrets.
What would you do if a fellow executive on your own corporate level wasn’t pulling his/her
department? 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.”

(Continued on next question...)

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