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Common interview questions

50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A
August 19, 2006 by bhuvans
Review these typical interview questions and think about how you would
answer them. Read the questions listed; you will also find some
strategy suggestions with it.
(Excerpted from the book The Accelerated Job Search by Wayne D. Ford, Ph.D, published by The Management Advantage, Inc.)
1. Tell me about yourself:
The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a short
statement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not sound
rehearsed. Limit it to work-related items unless instructed otherwise.
Talk about things you have done and jobs you have held that relate to
the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest
back and work up to the present.
2. Why did you leave your last job?
Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major
problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers
or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep
smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an
opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-looking
reasons.
3. What experience do you have in this field?
Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for.
If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.
4. Do you consider yourself successful?
You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A good
explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are
on track to achieve the others.
5. What do co-workers say about you?
Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific
statement or a paraphrase will work. Jill Clark, a co-worker at Smith
Company, always said I was the hardest workers she had ever known. It
is as powerful as Jill having said it at the interview herself.
6. What do you know about this organization?
This question is one reason to do some research on the organization
before the interview. Find out where they have been and where they are
going. What are the current issues and who are the major players?
7. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?
Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide
variety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement.
Have some good ones handy to mention.
8. Are you applying for other jobs?
Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus
on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is
a distraction.
9. Why do you want to work for this organization?
This may take some thought and certainly, should be based on the
research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely
important here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-term
career goals.
10. Do you know anyone who works for us?
Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization. This
can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not
relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought
of.
11. What kind of salary do you need?
A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose if
you answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something like,
That’s a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position?
In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not,
say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide
range.
12. Are you a team player?
You are, of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready.
Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather
than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag,
just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.
13. How long would you expect to work for us if hired?
Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I’d like
it to be a long time. Or As long as we both feel I’m doing a good job.
14. Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that?
This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like you
like to fire people. At the same time, you will do it when it is the
right thing to do. When it comes to the organization versus the
individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the
organization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction in
force.
15. What is your philosophy towards work?
The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation here.
Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. That’s the
type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a
benefit to the organization.
16. If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?
Answer yes if you would. But since you need to work, this is the type
of work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it.
17. Have you ever been asked to leave a position?
If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying
negative things about the people or organization involved.
18. Explain how you would be an asset to this organization
You should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance to
highlight your best points as they relate to the position being
discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.
19. Why should we hire you?
Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not
mention any other candidates to make a comparison.
20. Tell me about a suggestion you have made
Have a good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted
and was then considered successful. One related to the type of work
applied for is a real plus.
21. What irritates you about co-workers?
This is a trap question. Think real hard but fail to come up with
anything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to get
along with folks is great.
22. What is your greatest strength?
Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples:
Your ability to prioritize, Your problem-solving skills, Your ability
to work under pressure, Your ability to focus on projects, Your
professional expertise, Your leadership skills, Your positive attitude
23. Tell me about your dream job.
Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job you
are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say another
job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with
this position if hired. The best is to stay genetic and say something
like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and
can’t wait to get to work.
24. Why do you think you would do well at this job?
Give several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.
25. What are you looking for in a job?
See answer # 23
26. What kind of person would you refuse to work with?
Do not be trivial. It would take disloyalty to the organization,
violence or lawbreaking to get you to object. Minor objections will
label you as a whiner.
27. What is more important to you: the money or the work?
Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is
no better answer.
28. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?
There are numerous good possibilities:
Loyalty, Energy, Positive attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise,
Initiative, Patience, Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver
29. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor
Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of
your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former
boss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive and
develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.
30. What has disappointed you about a job?
Don’t get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include:
Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction Company did
not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.
31. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.
You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an
example that relates to the type of position applied for.
32. Do your skills match this job or another job more closely?
Probably this one. Do not give fuel to the suspicion that you may want
another job more than this one.
33. What motivates you to do your best on the job?
This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are:
Challenge, Achievement, Recognition
34. Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?
This is up to you. Be totally honest.
35. How would you know you were successful on this job?
Several ways are good measures:
You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are a
success.Your boss tell you that you are successful
36. Would you be willing to relocate if required?
You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if
you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to get
the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems
later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself
future grief.
37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead ofyour own?
This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about
the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.
38. Describe your management style.
Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive,
salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions
depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational
style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the
situation, instead of one size fits all.
39. What have you learned from mistakes on the job?
Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make
it small, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. An
example would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project and
thus throwing coordination off.
40. Do you have any blind spots?
Trick question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blind
spots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them do
their own discovery on your bad points. Do not hand it to them.
41. If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?
Be careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have.
42. Do you think you are overqualified for this position?
Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well
qualified for the position.
43. How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?
First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about,
bring that up: Then, point out (if true) that you are a hard working
quick learner.
44. What qualities do you look for in a boss?
Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense of
humor, fair, loyal to subordinates and holder of high standards. All
bosses think they have these traits.
45. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute betweenothers.
Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique
and not the dispute you settled.
46. What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?
Be honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.
47. Describe your work ethic.
Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, determination to
get the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good.
48. What has been your biggest professional disappointment?
Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show
acceptance and no negative feelings.
49. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.
Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization.
50. Do you have any questions for me?
Always have some questions prepared. Questions prepared where you will be an asset to the organization are good. How soon will I be able to be productive? and What type of projects will I be able to assist on? are









The 25 most difficult questions you'll be asked on a job interview
Being prepared is half the battle.
If you are one of those executive types unhappy at your present post and embarking on a New Year's resolution to find a new one, here's a helping hand. The job interview is considered to be the most critical aspect of every expedition that brings you face-to- face with the future boss. One must prepare for it with the same tenacity and quickness as one does for a fencing tournament or a chess match.
This article has been excerpted from "PARTING COMPANY: How to Survive the Loss of a Job and Find Another Successfully" by William J. Morin and James C. Cabrera. Copyright by Drake Beam Morin, inc. Publised by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Morin is chairman and Cabrera is president of New York-based Drake Beam Morin, nation's major outplacement firm, which has opened offices in Philadelphia.
1. Tell me about yourself.
Since this is often the opening question in an interview, be extracareful that you don't run off at the mouth. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject. Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question. Don't waste your best points on it.
2. What do you know about our organization?
You should be able to discuss products or services, revenues, reputation, image, goals, problems, management style, people, history and philosophy. But don't act as if you know everything about the place. Let your answer show that you have taken the time to do some research, but don't overwhelm the interviewer, and make it clear that you wish to learn more.
You might start your answer in this manner: "In my job search, I've investigated a number of companies.
Yours is one of the few that interests me, for these reasons..."
Give your answer a positive tone. Don't say, "Well, everyone tells me that you're in all sorts of trouble, and that's why I'm here", even if that is why you're there.
3. Why do you want to work for us?
The deadliest answer you can give is "Because I like people." What else would you like-animals?
Here, and throughout the interview, a good answer comes from having done your homework so that you can speak in terms of the company's needs. You might say that your research has shown that the company is doing things you would like to be involved with, and that it's doing them in ways that greatly interest you. For example, if the organization is known for strong management, your answer should mention that fact and show that you would like to be a part of that team. If the company places a great deal of emphasis on research and development, emphasize the fact that you want to create new things and that you know this is a place in which such activity is encouraged. If the organization stresses financial controls, your answer should mention a reverence for numbers.
If you feel that you have to concoct an answer to this question - if, for example, the company stresses research, and you feel that you should mention it even though it really doesn't interest you- then you probably should not be taking that interview, because you probably shouldn't be considering a job with that organization.
Your homework should include learning enough about the company to avoid approaching places where you wouldn't be able -or wouldn't want- to function. Since most of us are poor liars, it's difficult to con anyone in an interview. But even if you should succeed at it, your prize is a job you don't really want.
4. What can you do for us that someone else can't?
Here you have every right, and perhaps an obligation, to toot your own horn and be a bit egotistical. Talk about your record of getting things done, and mention specifics from your resume or list of career accomplishments. Say that your skills and interests, combined with this history of getting results, make you valuable. Mention your ability to set priorities, identify problems, and use your experience and energy to solve them.
5. What do you find most attractive about this position? What seems least attractive about it?
List three or four attractive factors of the job, and mention a single, minor, unattractive item.
6. Why should we hire you?
Create your answer by thinking in terms of your ability, your experience, and your energy. (See question 4.)
7. What do you look for in a job?
Keep your answer oriented to opportunities at this organization. Talk about your desire to perform and be recognized for your contributions. Make your answer oriented toward opportunity rather than personal security.
8. Please give me your defintion of [the position for which you are being interviewed].
Keep your answer brief and taskoriented. Think in in terms of responsibilities and accountability. Make sure that you really do understand what the position involves before you attempt an answer. If you are not certain. ask the interviewer; he or she may answer the question for you.
9. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
Be realistic. Say that, while you would expect to meet pressing demands and pull your own weight from the first day, it might take six months to a year before you could expect to know the organization and its needs well enough to make a major contribution.
10. How long would you stay with us?
Say that you are interested in a career with the organization, but admit that you would have to continue to feel challenged to remain with any organization. Think in terms of, "As long as we both feel achievement-oriented."
11. Your resume suggests that you may be over-qualified or too experienced for this position. What's Your opinion?
Emphasize your interest in establishing a long-term association with the organization, and say that you assume that if you perform well in his job, new opportunities will open up for you. Mention that a strong company needs a strong staff. Observe that experienced executives are always at a premium. Suggest that since you are so wellqualified, the employer will get a fast return on his investment. Say that a growing, energetic company can never have too much talent.
12. What is your management style?
You should know enough about the company's style to know that your management style will complement it. Possible styles include: task oriented (I'll enjoy problem-solving identifying what's wrong, choosing a solution and implementing it"), results-oriented ("Every management decision I make is determined by how it will affect the bottom line"), or even paternalistic ("I'm committed to taking care of my subordinates and pointing them in the right direction").
A participative style is currently quite popular: an open-door method of managing in which you get things done by motivating people and delegating responsibility.
As you consider this question, think about whether your style will let you work hatppily and effectively within the organization.
13. Are you a good manager? Can you give me some examples? Do you feel that you have top managerial potential?
Keep your answer achievementand ask-oriented. Rely on examples from your career to buttress your argument. Stress your experience and your energy.
14. What do you look for when You hire people?
Think in terms of skills. initiative, and the adaptability to be able to work comfortably and effectively with others. Mention that you like to hire people who appear capable of moving up in the organization.
15. Have you ever had to fire people? What were the reasons, and how did you handle the situation?
Admit that the situation was not easy, but say that it worked out well, both for the company and, you think, for the individual. Show that, like anyone else, you don't enjoy unpleasant tasks but that you can resolve them efficiently and -in the case of firing someone- humanely.
16. What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a manager or executive?
Mention planning, execution, and cost-control. The most difficult task is to motivate and manage employess to get something planned and completed on time and within the budget.
17. What important trends do you see in our industry?
Be prepared with two or three trends that illustrate how well you understand your industry. You might consider technological challenges or opportunities, economic conditions, or even regulatory demands as you collect your thoughts about the direction in which your business is heading.
18. Why are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) job?
Be brief, to the point, and as honest as you can without hurting yourself. Refer back to the planning phase of your job search. where you considered this topic as you set your reference statements. If you were laid off in an across-the-board cutback, say so; otherwise, indicate that the move was your decision, the result of your action. Do not mention personality conflicts.
The interviewer may spend some time probing you on this issue, particularly if it is clear that you were terminated. The "We agreed to disagree" approach may be useful. Remember hat your references are likely to be checked, so don't concoct a story for an interview.
19. How do you feel about leaving all your benefits to find a new job?
Mention that you are concerned, naturally, but not panicked. You are willing to accept some risk to find the right job for yourself. Don't suggest that security might interest you more than getting the job done successfully.
20. In your current (last) position, what features do (did) you like the most? The least?
Be careful and be positive. Describe more features that you liked than disliked. Don't cite personality problems. If you make your last job sound terrible, an interviewer may wonder why you remained there until now.
21. What do you think of your boss?
Be as positive as you can. A potential boss is likely to wonder if you might talk about him in similar terms at some point in the future.
22. Why aren't you earning more at your age?
Say that this is one reason that you are conducting this job search. Don't be defensive.
23. What do you feel this position should pay?
Salary is a delicate topic. We suggest that you defer tying yourself to a precise figure for as long as you can do so politely. You might say, "I understand that the range for this job is between $______ and $______. That seems appropriate for the job as I understand it." You might answer the question with a question: "Perhaps you can help me on this one. Can you tell me if there is a range for similar jobs in the organization?"
If you are asked the question during an initial screening interview, you might say that you feel you need to know more about the position's responsibilities before you could give a meaningful answer to that question. Here, too, either by asking the interviewer or search executive (if one is involved), or in research done as part of your homework, you can try to find out whether there is a salary grade attached to the job. If there is, and if you can live with it, say that the range seems right to you.
If the interviewer continues to probe, you might say, "You know that I'm making $______ now. Like everyone else, I'd like to improve on that figure, but my major interest is with the job itself." Remember that the act of taking a new job does not, in and of itself, make you worth more money.
If a search firm is involved, your contact there may be able to help with the salary question. He or she may even be able to run interference for you. If, for instance, he tells you what the position pays, and you tell him that you are earning that amount now and would Like to do a bit better, he might go back to the employer and propose that you be offered an additional 10%.
If no price range is attached to the job, and the interviewer continues to press the subject, then you will have to restpond with a number. You cannot leave the impression that it does not really matter, that you'll accept whatever is offered. If you've been making $80,000 a year, you can't say that a $35,000 figure would be fine without sounding as if you've given up on yourself. (If you are making a radical career change, however, this kind of disparity may be more reasonable and understandable.)
Don't sell yourself short, but continue to stress the fact that the job itself is the most important thing in your mind. The interviewer may be trying to determine just how much you want the job. Don't leave the impression that money is the only thing that is important to you. Link questions of salary to the work itself.
But whenever possible, say as little as you can about salary until you reach the "final" stage of the interview process. At that point, you know that the company is genuinely interested in you and that it is likely to be flexible in salary negotiations.
24. What are your long-range goals?
Refer back to the planning phase of your job search. Don't answer, "I want the job you've advertised." Relate your goals to the company you are interviewing: 'in a firm like yours, I would like to..."
25. How successful do you you've been so far?
Say that, all-in-all, you're happy with the way your career has progressed so far. Given the normal ups and downs of life, you feel that you've done quite well and have no complaints.
Present a positive and confident picture of yourself, but don't overstate your case. An answer like, "Everything's wonderful! I can't think of a time when things were going better! I'm overjoyed!" is likely to make an interviewer wonder whether you're trying to fool him . . . or yourself. The most convincing confidence is usually quiet confidence.

The Interview Process
Once you have sent your resume to a company and survived the weeding out process, your resume typically gets passed along to the hiring manager.
Phone Interview
So why do companies conduct phone interviews? Phone interviews give the company a chance to get a feel for your skill-set, interests, desired compensation etc., and see if there is a match between their needs and your strengths. If there is enough common ground, then the phone interviews are almost always followed-up by an in-person interview. Phone interviews are generally conducted in two steps. The first step is with a recruiter in Human Resources. The second step is a technical interview, usually with one of the people you would be working with. Technical phone interviews are usually only conducted for people living outside the geographical region. This is done because the company wants to have some level of confidence in your technical abilities before they decided to spend the money to fly you in for an in-person interview.

• In-Person Interview
If you survived the initial phone interview, the next step is probably an in-person interview. Every company has their own way of conducting these interviews. Some prefer to have "panel-like" interviews, while others prefer one-to-one interviews. Expect to interview with three to four technical people (most likely the people you will end up working with) and maybe a group manager. The entire interviewing process can take anywhere between 2 to 6 hours. If the interview overlaps with lunch hours, the company will usually arrange for lunch. Expect a wide variety of questions that range from common personal questions to very challenging technical questions relevant to the job you are applying for. Remember that the whole point of this exercise is for the interviewers to determine if you have the skills to do the job you are interviewing for, and if you are someone they would like to work with.
















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