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Six questions to ask yourself before a job interview
Sunder Ramachandran
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December 19, 2006

An interview is an opportunity to put your best foot forward before a prospective employer. In my earlier features, I gave you some sample answers to possible interview questions.

Unfortunately, most candidates do not indulge in any introspection before going for an interview. While it's important to prepare for common questions from the interviewer, here are the top six questions you need to ask yourself before showing up for any interview.

1. What are your skill sets and how do they apply to the job?

Almost 80 per cent of the candidates cannot identify and/ or describe desirable skills.

A typical question is, "What are your three greatest strengths?" Be ready with answers that include an example or brief experience to illuminate your point. Use specific examples to highlight your accomplishments.

Explicit numbers, results and outcomes give a better description of your accomplishments than subjective statements. You could talk about your action-oriented nature helped the company meet a client-imposed deadline in your last job.

2. Are you a problem solver?

Again, 90 per cent candidates cannot answer 'problem' questions.

You should be able to tell the interviewer why they should hire you and what the company will miss out on if they do not hire you. Show your ability to think logically and demonstrate problem-solving capabilities by asking questions and analysing the information given to you.

3. Have you researched the prospective organisation?

Most candidates do not research companies for information and the problems they are facing. You should develop your own tactful suggestions for solutions without appearing to be a 'know-it-all.' 

Read trade magazines to learn more about the specific industry. You could also visit the company's website to get first hand information about their products/ services.

Knowledge about the domain and the company shows the interviewer you are interested. It also demonstrates initiative on your part.

4. Would you hire someone like yourself for the job?

A lot of candidates have attitude problems. Most attitude problems come from fear, but show up as defiance.

Hiring managers want candidates who they can train and rely on, not ones with inability to take instructions or feedback.

Be honest to yourself and keep your eyes and ears open. If your friends always complain about your indecisiveness or poor listening skills, now is the time to pay attention and take some corrective action. If unattended, these can become roadblocks in your career.

5. Can you communicate clearly and with conviction?

A lot of candidates give a negative impression by performing poorly during the interview.

Speak up, speak clearly, make eye contact and use facial expressions.

The first impression you make on the interviewer depends primarily on your communication skills. If you can't get the interviewers' attention in first few minutes, they won't really give you a chance to demonstrate your technical know-how or knowledge.

Ask your potential employers for feedback every time you attend an interview.

6. Can you stay from cribbing and complaining?

Most candidates complain about past employers or bring up personal information. Perhaps it was not your intention to complain or reveal information, but you honestly answered the beguiling 'entrapment' question of "Tell me a little bit about yourself."

Caution! Stay focused on the job interview with answers about your experience, education, skills, and success. Be positive and, remember, never say anything bad  about a former employer or give unnecessary details about how your last job ended.

Any employer would love to hear about how you took responsibility for your actions and learnt from your mistakes.

If you left your last job under less-than-ideal circumstances, don't lie about it. A background check would reveal the truth anyway. Make sure the interviewer understands what happened to cause you to leave your last job was the exception, not the rule.

An honest introspection is critical to your success in an interview. So, put on your thinking cap and impress yourself before you impress a potential employer.

Sunder Ramachandran is managing partner at WCH Solutions, a training solutions organisation. He can be reached at

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