Dated 05th Jan 2005
What should my answer be to a question like: "Tell me about a time when you had a personality clash with a co-worker or boss."
In asking this question, the interviewers want to know if you have problems getting along with people. They are also trying to find out how tactful you are -- do you say negative things about others, or are you diplomatic in how you describe a situation? This question also serves as an indirect way of asking what you look for in a boss or co-workers, to see if your work style and preferred way of managing or being managed is congruent with the prospective employer's workplace. Your best bet here is to say as little as possible. You basically have three options for answering this question, presented here in order from the safest (but most evasive) to the riskiest (but most direct):
Say that you have been very fortunate in that you have gotten along well with everyone you have ever worked with and that no personality clashes came to mind. In other words, evade the question.
Answer the question in a seemingly direct way, but interpret the wording of the question to your advantage. Define ``personality clash'' (or ``conflict'') as a clash of values or work ethics rather than one of personality. Talk about how a boss wanted you to do something illegal or unethical, or how a co-worker never held up his or her end of the workload and that the problem led to a conflict.
Be more candid, and talk openly (but tactfully) about the lunatic boss or psychotic co-worker you have had to deal with.
A word of caution is in order if you choose the second option, however. Whenever you even venture near candour while discussing a personality conflict, do so very diplomatically. Be brief and matter-of-fact.
How should one go about when asked to describe oneself in three words?
This is often seen as a difficult question for two reasons. It requires that you sing your own praises in a blatant way and it is easy to become overwhelmed when you have to choose just three words to convey who you are.
To deal with the first concern, remember that your asset statements objectify the claims you are making about yourself. When you say that you possess certain positive qualities, you are not just boasting, but are stating a fact.
To tackle the second problem, plan in advance which three words you will use instead of trying to come up with them on the spot - and make sure you choose ones that represent three different aspects of yourself.
At almost all the interviews I attended, towards the end, the interviewers have asked me if I have any questions. I usually don't ask any since we would have talked a lot during the interview. How does my saying `no' affect my chances?
Every interview is an exchange of information. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Before attending an interview, always do a thorough research on the company. This will help you formulate the questions you can ask at the time of the interview.
Do not be afraid to ask questions from the very start of an interview. There are several good reasons for doing this. First of all, nothing is worse than being in a work situation you thought might be perfect for you only to find out later something about the company that makes it all wrong.
Secondly, no matter what kind of job you seek, the skill of asking questions is a good attribute to demonstrate. An interview is an excellent venue for demonstrating this skill. Many job seekers make the hiring decision of the employers easier by demonstrating their skills in the interview. Always ask as many questions as you can to satisfy your information needs for exploring the opportunity fully.
Please extend some tips on how to make my résumé readable.
Use a standard paragraph format; don't use multi-columns, lines, graphics, italics, or bullets. Don't use unusual formats such as small font sizes, graphics, newsletter layouts, etc. Use sans serif family fonts such as Ariel or Helvetica. Don't also use paper that is too dark or print that is too light; use a single font size, 12-14 points is best.; Laser-printed quality is best for hard copy. Begin with your name at the top. Write your contact information in separate lines. Have separate lines for your name, address, city-state-zip code, phone, fax, & email address; write your name at the top of subsequent pages.
Distinguish section headings by using capital letters; use more than one page, if necessary. Don't use headers or footers; use an outline format for your job duties, without using bullets.
I am finding it difficult to decide on an appropriate career. Kindly tell me how a person just out of college should decide on a career that suits her?
Deciding on a career requires time and effort. Do an analysis and assessment of your interests, skills and capabilities to arrive at a probable list of alternatives; then pick one that suits your personality.
There are counsel offices, counsellors and tests to help you make informed career decisions. Career-testing instruments, computerised programmes and career resource centres are the other ways that help you make good career decisions. Talking with advisors and people in a variety of professions also can be extremely helpful.
In a recent interview I was asked: "In what way do you think you can contribute to our company?" What's the appropriate answer for such question?
To answer this question you require a 2-step preparation: assessing your skills and researching the needs of the company. An integral part of skill assessment is looking at your own experience, education and talents to match the job. Consider the job opening, and assess the skills needed?
Make a list of the requisite skills (in priority order) and provide concrete examples of your possession of the skill. For 'proof' of this skill, you could list experiences and examples of how you overcame a difficult situation. These matched skills are your key selling points.
Next would be based on your research. What are the needs that you can meet? In other words, given the specifics of the company, what value can you add? After these two steps, you are in a better position to come up with concrete examples of what you can offer the company.
The FAQ column deals with career concerns addressed to The C&K Management LTD. PO Box 2178, Secunderabad 500003 or emailed to email@example.com
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