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Anil Mahajane, the famed Resumewriter [Resume writer also known as CVSurgeon in India & elsewhere] wrote following article on Resume Shining. Leading Resume writer, CV writer, Resume developer writes your resume

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"Tell me about yourself."

This is the most dreaded, classic, open-ended & frequently asked question. -says Anil Mahajane, the leading resume writer in the country. It’s your chance to be better than other hopefuls. This is a known question but almost majority of us are just not serious about it. We avoid thinking about the best answer. It reminds me of an old story where a pigeon finding a cat in front of it simply closes its eyes to assume & believe that the cat is just not there only to be devoured. Just get out of this mindset.

And, though I have been a headhunter for so many years, I am suddenly getting calls from journalists & correspondents all over the world to re-confirm (?) that India is shining so much that even UK & US techies have a bright future in India (in contrast to the days of ’91, when India was thought to be teeming with millions of hungry men & beggars, snakes and cows).

You must write down the answers & do even rehearsals... Prepare yourself thoroughly on this question & you will find that this very question can be used to walk over your competitors. Spontaneity does not work. Keep it mostly work and career related & present it in a way the interviewer finds you useful for the company. The closer your skills and traits are to the job description & the company culture, the better chance you have of landing the job. You should leave the interviewer with a clear picture of what you have to offer. Sometimes culture also becomes important.

I had worked in a Lala company for over 10 years, & went to a British MNC for an interview in 1991. I cleared most of the interview stages where job skills & responsibilities were discussed. The Executive Director of the MNC short-listed me as GM-Exports for finalisation with the CMD. CMD never asked me about my job skills & knowledge. He simply asked me- "Well Anil, Tell me what do you do in the evening?"

I told him I worked in the office till late night as I wanted to convey to him that, by the sheer habit of working day in & day out, I would be greatly useful to the company. He was surprised. MNC was a 5 days 9 to 5 working company & had a culture of lawn Tennis, Club & happiness in those days’ of protection raj. I was declared a total misfit by the CMD despite having scored the highest points in Job skills. It was a blunder on my part to emphasize the culture I had inherited, as I was viewed as some vulture sneaking into the precious culture of the MNC. You must study the interviewing company culture & try to associate with this culture & not try to bring in a cultural upheaval or revolution.

The discussion in this issue delves into understanding and anticipating each phase of the interviewing cycle as also how to analyze employer’s needs and positioning yourself as a top candidate. Many job seekers are not adept at verbally marketing themselves or their skills at the highest level during interviews and I understand from several phone-calls, our past discussions on various psychographic factors like "Nokia / The Beware Factor", "Common Ground / Relating Concept / The Comfort Factor" & "Handle Tool Factor" were dynamite in paving way for many of you to ace each interview! All these & other factors we have discussed in earlier issue go towards creating a Feel Good factor in the interviewer & we will discuss specifically the ways to reply to the questions generally asked in the interview.

Apart from the question no. 1 above, there are several more frequently asked questions. These should be replied to in a way that creates a feel good factor. It will help to make your interview "shining". Golden rules include Preparing an outline of the duties and responsibilities of the job you will be interviewed for. It also includes using the two second rule when on a job interview. After a question is asked of you, wait 1-2 seconds before responding. This will ensure the employer finished asking their interview question before you answer.

One common mistake candidates make during an interview is talking too much.It’s important as a golden rule to listen to the question asked and then answer that question.

You may need to improve your interviewing skills & learn Interview Guru Mantras, but more importantly, you may be shooting yourself in the foot with your resume and cover letters. They may be just strong enough to land you interviews but weak enough to cause problems during the interview. If your resume brings out your weaknesses during an interview, it can damage your image beyond repair, and most job seekers do not have the confidence or verbal marketing skills to bring their interview and image back on track! Remember the resume is what guides an interviewer in asking you questions and if it brings up negatives or markets you weakly then your resume may indeed be causing you many problems. This resume matters including development have been discussed in much details in earlier issues.

"Why do you want to leave your current job? (Why did you leave your last job?)"

"I’ve worked with M/S Present Co. for three years. During that time I’ve achieved all of the goals I set myself and I’ve enjoyed every minute. Now, however, my aspirations extend beyond those of M/S Present Co. I would like to tackle a new challenge in a different environment." Be very careful with this. Avoid criticizing other employers and making statements like, "I need a higher salary." Instead, you may make generic statements such as, "It’s a career move" or " I am looking for greater challenges". While this is a straightforward question, you should make sure to accentuate the positive in your answer. Do not tell the interviewer that you’re bored with your current job!

"What are your strengths?"

Point out your positive attributes related to the job. Including any skills that you’ve had in the past that would relate to the job and will add value to your new potential employer.

"What are your weaknesses?"

Everybody has weaknesses, but don’t spend too much time on this one and keep it work related. Along with a minor weakness or two, try to point out a couple of weaknesses that the interviewer might see as strengths, such as sometimes being a little too meticulous about the quality of your work. (Avoid saying "I work too hard." It’s a predictable, common answer.) For every weakness, offer a strength that compensates for it.

"How do you describe yourself?"

Answer with positive, work-oriented adjectives, such as conscientious, hard-working, honest and courteous, plus a brief description or example of why each fits you well.

"What do you know about our company?"

The interviewer wants to know how hungry you are for this job. If you haven’t even prepared for the interview, by doing the most basic research, then the chances of you getting the job are actually zero. You can be sure that other candidates will have done their research. Check out the firm’s website (if they have one). You should also contact the placement firm or try to get information from other sources. Saying it in a positive way helps "I know that HCL has been in existence for twenty years. It was founded by Mr. Shiv Nader in his garage & penthouse in Defence Colony & he has built it into a leading IT firm in the country with aspirations to make it a Global one. It’s renowned as an ambitious and highly progressive company and I believe it has a very bright future. I also like the fact that HCL isn’t a company that rests on its laurels." The answer is just great.

"What do you know about our products?"

The interviewer is trying to discover whether you have done the necessary groundwork to lay the foundation for a successful interview or you have been lazy and taken the easy route. This could be a strong indication of your work ethic and future behavior. The interviewer is also trying to assess how genuine your desire to work for this firm is. After all, why would you want to work for a company whose products are unknown to you. You shouldn’t go into too much detail about each and every product here. Demonstrate your knowledge of the firm’s major product(s) and how you perceive they fit into the firm’s future strategy. You can also use this question to express your strong desire to work for the firm by illustrating a desire to be involved in the development of these and future products. You can learn about the firm’s products by searching on the Internet.

"Why do you want to work for our company?"

Simply Avoid the predictables, such as, "Because your company is a great company." Instead say why you think it’s a great company.

"Why should I hire you?"

Point out your positive attributes related to the job, and the good job you’ve done in the past. Include any compliments you’ve received from management.

"What past accomplishments gave you satisfaction?"

Briefly describe one to three work projects that made you proud or earned you pats on the back, promotions, raises, etc. Focus more on achievement than reward.

"What makes you want to work hard?"

Everybody has weaknesses, but don’t spend too much time on this one and keep it work related. Along with a minor weakness or two, try to point out a couple of weaknesses that the interviewer might see as strengths, such as sometimes being a little too meticulous about the quality of your work. (Avoid saying "I work too hard." It’s a predictable, common answer.) For every weakness, offer a strength that compensates for it.

"What makes you want to work hard?"

Naturally, material rewards such as perks, salary and benefits come into play. But again, focus more on achievement and the satisfaction you derive from it.

"What type of work environment do you like best?"

Tailor your answer to the job. For example, if in doing your job you’re required to lock the lab doors and work alone, then indicate that you enjoy being a team player when needed, but also enjoy working independently. If you’re required to attend regular project planning and status meetings, then indicate that you’re a strong team player and like being part of a team.

"If offered to you, how long do you plan to stay in this role?"

"I approach every new job with a long-term view. I would like to think that I can make a positive contribution to your company for the foreseeable future." Recruiting, hiring and training a new employee is an expensive process and represents a major investment by an employer. The interviewer wants to ensure that your goals are compatible with the firm’s investment.

"Ours is a much bigger company than you’ve ever worked at. How do you feel about that?"

"I’m very excited. I’ve worked at three small or medium sized companies during my career and while there have been different challenges at each, I’ve always been successful. I’m looking for a new challenge in a large organization where I can apply my talents. This position in your company certainly matches what I’m looking for." The interviewer wants to know whether you feel overwhelmed by the position you’re applying for or indeed whether you’ve given the challenges arising from working in a large organization any thought. A sensible reply would show that you believe you have the experience to tackle the position and also that you’re excited by the challenge ahead.

"This is a much smaller company than you’ve ever worked at. How do you feel about that?"

"It’s great. I’ve learnt a lot working in a large organization and I’m looking forward to applying my knowledge and experience in a smaller arena. I’m under no illusions that the task ahead will be every bit as challenging as my previous role, if not more so, but it’s a challenge that I’d relish." The interviewer is trying to assess your approach to a move to a smaller organization. Candidates that convey a belief that they’re in for an easier ride or display a laissez-faire attitude will lose credibility rapidly.

I suggest readers to pass me some more typical questions asked in the interviews. We can discuss them threadbare & try to arrive at more positive answers that can make the interview shining.


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