Friday, September 20, 2019

Answering Interview Q's: Why do you want to work with us?

How to answer the following interview questions:

❓Why do you want to work with us?

❓Why do you want to join our company? 

❓Why do you want to enter this particular career? 

❓How will you define your ideal company and job profile?

Purpose of asking these types of interview questions:

➕To test your awareness about the company, job profile & sector

➕Examine your motive behind opting to apply for their company

➕To check how close you consider your abilities & skills match the desired job profile

➕To see if you intend to be a long term player in the company

How to answer these type of questions?
👉Emphasize on the long term growth prospects of the company or the industry vertical the company is operating in as your reason for joining 

👉Briefly correlate how your skills and knowledge makes you the ideal person for the job profile 

👉Mention which positive attributes of the company attract you as one of the reasons for wanting to join it 

👉Your answer should also cover how the company's corporate goals and visions fit in with your own professional career aspirations

Prior research is essential

This answer needs careful thinking and background research to enable you to give an adequate answer. Prior to going for the interview, you should check upon the growth prospects of the company, its future plans and direction, the corporate goals and vision, the various aspects of the job responsibility, and the industry segment or vertical the company is operating in. 

Short term Vs Long term point of view
Giving short term, temporary reasons for joining a company or for entering into a particular career stream may put a question mark against your maturity level and soundness of your choice.

During the interview session for a major hotel chain, several students cited the good growth prospects in the hospitality industry due to the Commonwealth Games being held in the country as a reason for wanting to pursue a career in the hotel industry. This is an example of a short term point of view upon which to base a career decision on. The interviewer asked the candidates who gave this answer that what will happen after the Commonwealth Games – would there not be an overcapacity in the hospitality sector afterwards which may lead to a slump in occupancy and rentals? None of the candidates were able to give a satisfactory reply to this. 
So it’s better to focus on long term trends in the industry and not on short term temporary phasesAs such, you have to give solid, long term reasons for joining the company. 

Don't give superfluous reasons for wanting to join

Superfluous answers such as the company being a market leader, having a good product range or brand image, appealing advertising strategy, etc. will show that you have not given a deep thought to why you wish to join the company. These are temporary things which may change over time. 

You should emphasize on the core values, long term vision and corporate objectives of the company, which generally remain unchanged over time and through the ups and downs

Elaborate how your skills match the job profile and that your professional career goals can be best fulfilled while working for the company, and how the company offers you the best working environment to achieve your ambition.   

Make sure you do your homework  

During a campus interview session of an FMCG company, one candidate emphasized upon the company’s excellent work culture as his reason for wanting to join. While there was nothing wrong in that answer, a bit of in depth probing by the interviewers revealed chinks in the candidate’s knowledge of the work culture of the company. The student actually had no clue of the company’s work culture or HR policies. So, be careful what you say is  backed by concrete facts and knowledge. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Answering Interview Q's : Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

What are your future career goals?

If you've ever given an interview before, you'll know one of the most important question is the one which concerns your future career goals. Such questions typically come in the form of direct questions like 'What are your future career goals?' or indirect ones like 'Where do you see yourself in 5 years?', or to take a more long term perspective - 'What do you wish to achieve towards the end of your career?'

Why is this Question asked?

Like all other interview questions, these questions also have a specific purpose. If you know the motivation behind why such questions are asked, you'll be be able to answer in a more suitable manner which can create a positive impact on your interviewers.There are generally four main reasons why such questions are asked during interviews:

1. To find out how clear you are in your future career goals and whether you have mapped out your career path in a consistent manner. 

2. If your career goals match with the corporate goals set for the specific position you have applied for. 

3. To discover the extent of your ambition and your perception of success.

4. Finally, if you're serious about staying in the job, or merely using it as a stopgap until something more suitable comes along. 

So how to answer such questions in a way which creates a positive impact on your interviewers? 

How not to answer

1. Many candidates answer such questions by elaborating upon their own future benefits and personal achievements such as promotions, higher salary and incentives which gives the impression of a very selfish, narrow ambition. Instead, focus on higher work responsibilities and wider contribution to the company with respect to your job.

2. A lot of candidates also make the mistake of saying that their goal is to start their own business. While being an entrepreneur is an admirable ambition, it's the wrong sort of answer to give during a job interview, as your prospective employers are looking to develop you into a human resource asset in the future, and not someone who will gain experience at their expense and then leave the job to start their own business.

3. Another wrong way to answer is to mention that you're looking to continue your education and will be going in for higher studies. It gives the impression that the job is a temporary proposition for you, and you'll leave it as soon as you get entrance in some full time course. If you wish to mention about your ambition for continuing further studies, you should make it clear it will be through distance or online education, or part-time evening classes, something that won't disturb your regular work schedule.

How to answer 

First of all, you should realize that these type of questions cannot be answered on the spur of the moment, or without any preparation, or you could end up giving completely unrealistic or generalized kind of answer.

1. Prior to your interview, you should first find out about the company's corporate goals, the specific job responsibilities involved, and the career growth path before answering this question and customize your career goals accordingly. 

2. Your answer should be task focused and not materialistic. Project yourself as someone who can develop the relevant expertise and experience to perform wider work responsibilities and functions in the future, whom the company can depend upon to contribute towards its growth, instead of just obtaining higher monetary benefits and promotions for your self.

3. It may be a good idea to give a break up of your immediate short term goals and your long term goals. Short term goals are always specific and target oriented.Your short term goals need to adhere to the SMART Goals criteria:  


4. If you’re giving an interview for a marketing job profile, focus on achievement of targets (measurable), expanding the client base of the company, brand promotion and development of sales team (specific), etc. For a technical job profile, it could be successful testing and implementation of new software (specific) or meeting the project completion deadlines (measurable).

5. Don't try to oversell yourself or impress your interviewers by giving unrealistic or non-achievable goals.Answers such as 'I'll be able to double the sales figures in my area in one month's time' or 'I'd like to see myself as the regional manager of the company within one years time' will definitely be considered ambitious and unrealistic. 

For example, if you're going for a marketing or sales related job interview, you should familiarize yourself with the past growth rates of the industry vertical, and the intensity of the prevailing competition. For a technical job profile interview, it's always a good idea to consult some one who's working in a similar job profile prior to your interview to get a realistic picture of the achievable goals possible in that role. 

How long should your answer be?

Such type of questions are open-ended questions, which means you can give an elaborate answer. However, make sure to start off with the most relevant part of your answer first, then move on to the less relevant ones, as you may be interrupted by your interviewer(s) once they hear what satisfies them, or the moment you start giving irrelevant information.

Pre-interview preparation is the key

In conclusion, it's important to understand that prior preparation & research are the key to answering most interview questions, and this one's no exception. The higher the level of your preparation, the better are your chances of performing with ease and confidence during your interview, and to be able to give relevant answers. To end off with a word of caution, don't make your answers sound rehearsed and memorized from beforehand. You need to answer in a natural spontaneous manner which will sound more authentic to your interviewers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Developing Problem Solving Skills

A rare day at work would be one without any problems. Effective problem solving skills are hotly in demand in any kind of job profile, making it a universal skill set to possess. This is why in most job interviews you are faced with hypothetical questions on how you would go about resolving specific job related problems which may crop up in real life work situations. Your potential employers wish to check if you possess effective and practical problem solving skills and whether you are able to apply your mind to solving problems quickly.  

Problems should be seen as opportunities: they allow you to see things differently and to do things in a different way, leading to new techniques of innovation and greater insight into things. It’s not only how quickly you can solve a problem, but how you go about doing it that’s also as important. No plan is a guarantee of success, so there is always an element of risk involved in applying the solution.

The key aspects of successful problem solving are being able to identify exactly what the problem is, dissecting the problem so that it is fully understood, examining all options pertaining to solutions, setting up a system of strategies and objectives to solve the problem, and finally putting this plan into effect and monitoring its progress.

Try out solving this simple problem to check how you can best apply your problem solving skills within a limited time period:

Activity 1: LINE UP

Materials Required : Blindfolds, Timer

Group Activity

Time Duration: 5 minutes

Select a group of minimum 10 people. Blindfold everyone in the group. Whisper to each person a number from one - to the number of persons in the group. After you are done, tell the players they must line themselves up by consecutive numbers without talking. Every-one should begin to move slowly around each other, putting palms up facing outward to protect themselves from collisions. Only tactile contact (Tapping, patting, etc.) is allowed as a means of communication.

How do you need to go about it?

Steps in problem-solving:

· Identify and evaluate the information or situation
· Break it down into it's key components
· Consider various ways of approaching and resolving the situation
· Decide on the most appropriate of these ways
· Implement your chosen alternative
    · Observe and analyse if the solution worked or needs to be modified

The IDEAL Model of problem-solving:

· Identify the problem
· Define the problem
· Examine the options
· Act on a plan
· Look at the consequences

What skills are involved?

Problems Solving involves both analytical and creative skills. Which particular skills are needed will vary, depending on the problem and your role in the organization, but the following skills are key to problem-solving:

· Analytical Ability 
· Lateral Thinking
· Initiative
· Logical Reasoning
· Persistence  

Analytical and critical thinking skills help you to evaluate the problem and to make decisions. A logical and methodical approach is best in some circumstances: for example, you will need to be able to draw on your academic or subject knowledge to identify solutions of a practical or technical nature.

In other situations, using creativity or lateral thinking will be necessary to come up with ideas for resolving the problem and find fresh approaches

Not everyone has these two types of skills in equal measure: for this reason, team working is often a key component in problem-solving. Further skills, such as communication, persuasion and negotiation, are important in finding solutions to problems involving people.

How to develop your analytical and problem-solving skills?

Most problem-solving skills are developed through everyday life and experience. However, the following interests and activities may be useful in demonstrating a high level of these skills - this may be particularly important when applying to employers in areas such as engineering, IT, operational research and some areas of finance.

· Mind games - such as cryptic crosswords, Sudoku, chess, bridge, etc.;
· Computer games – the best of these can involve strategic planning, critical
 and statistical analysis and assessing the pros and cons of different courses 
 of action;
·Practical interests - such as programming, computer repairs, car 
 maintenance etc.
     ·Academic study - evaluating different sources of information for essays,
      designing and constructing a ‘micro shelter’ for an architecture project;              setting up a lab experiment.

Stages to solving a problem:

1) Evaluating the problem
· Clarifying the nature of a problem
· Formulating questions

· Gathering information systematically
· Collating and organizing data
· Condensing and summarizing information
· Defining the desired objective (the solution)

2) Managing the problem
· Using the information gathered effectively
· Breaking down a problem into smaller, more manageable, parts
· Using techniques such as brainstorming and lateral thinking to consider options
· Analyzing these options in greater depth
· Identifying steps that can be taken to achieve the objective

3) Decision-making
· deciding between the possible options for what action to take
· deciding on further information to be gathered before taking action
· deciding on resources (time, funding, staff etc.) to be allocated to this 

4) Resolving the problem
· Implementing action
· Providing information to other stakeholders; delegating tasks
· Reviewing progress

5) Examining the results
· Monitoring the outcome of the action taken
· Reviewing the problem and problem-solving process to avoid similar
 situations in future

Activity 2 : Lost at Sea

Materials Required: Ranking sheets, pens, one room, 3-5 tables, 15-25 chairs

Group Activity

Time Duration: 40 minutes

In this activity, participants must pretend that they've been shipwrecked in the Atlantic ocean and are stranded in a life boat. Each team has a box of matches, and a number of items that they've salvaged from the sinking ship. Members must agree which items are most important for their survival.

Learning Outcomes:
This activity builds problem-solving skills as team members analyze information, negotiate and cooperate with one another. It also encourages them to listen and to think about the way they make decisions.

What You'll Need:
· Up to five people in each group. 
· A large, private room.
· A "lost at sea" ranking chart for each team member. This should comprise six columns. The first simply lists each item (see below). The second is empty so that each team member can rank the items. The third is for group rankings. The fourth is for the "correct" rankings, which are revealed at the end of the exercise. And the fifth and sixth are for the team to enter the difference between their individual and correct score, and the team and correct rankings, respectively. 
· The items to be ranked are: a mosquito net, a can of petrol, a water container, a shaving mirror, a sextant, emergency rations, a sea chart, a floating seat or cushion, a rope, some chocolate bars, a waterproof sheet, a fishing rod, shark repellent, a bottle of rum, and a VHF radio. These can be listed in the ranking chart or displayed on a whiteboard, or both.
· The experience can be made more fun by having some lost-at-sea props in the room.

1. Divide participants into their teams, and provide everyone with a ranking sheet.
2. Ask team members to take 10 minutes on their own to rank the items in order of importance. They should do this in the second column of their sheet.
3. Give the teams a further 10 minutes to confer and decide on their group rankings. Once agreed, they should list them in the third column of their sheets.
4. Ask each group to compare their individual rankings with their collective ones, and consider why any scores differ. Did anyone change their mind about their own rankings during the team discussions? How much were people influenced by the group conversation?
5. Now read out the "correct" order, collated by the experts at the US Coast Guard (from most to least important):
Shaving mirror. (One of your most powerful tools, because you can use it to signal your location by reflecting the sun.)
Can of petrol. (Again, potentially vital for signaling as petrol floats on water and can be lit by your matches.) 
Water container. (Essential for collecting water to restore your lost fluids.)
Emergency rations. (Valuable for basic food intake.)
Plastic sheet. (Could be used for shelter, or to collect rainwater.)
Chocolate bars. (A handy food supply.)
Fishing rod. (Potentially useful, but there is no guarantee that you're able to catch fish. Could also feasibly double as a tent pole.)
Rope. (Handy for tying equipment together, but not necessarily vital for survival.)
Floating seat or cushion. (Useful as a life preserver.)
Shark repellent. (Potentially important when in the water.)
Bottle of rum. (Could be useful as an antiseptic for treating injuries, but will only dehydrate you if you drink it.)
Radio. (Chances are that you're out of range of any signal, anyway.)
Sea chart. (Worthless without navigational equipment.)
Mosquito net. (Assuming that you've been shipwrecked in the Atlantic, where there are no mosquitoes, this is pretty much useless.)
Sextant. (Impractical without relevant tables or a chronometer.)

Advice for the Facilitator

The ideal scenario is for teams to arrive at a consensus decision where everyone's opinion is heard. However, that doesn't always happen naturally: assertive people tend to get the most attention. Less forthright team members can often feel intimidated and don't always speak up, particularly when their ideas are different from the popular view. Where discussions are one-sided, draw quieter people in so that everyone is involved, but explain why you're doing this, so that people learn from it.

The Stepladder Technique: 
Making Better Group Decisions

The Stepladder Technique gives quiet team members a boost.
Making decisions within a group can often be challenging. When things go well, they can go very well. However, when things go wrong, you can end up mired in conflict. Some people may fight for recognition and position, others may be over-critical or disruptive, while others may sit quietly and not contribute anything to the overall effort. Because of this, groups can often spin out of control and make worse decisions than individuals working on their own.
When this happens, it's easy to see why some people throw their hands up in frustration and give up. However, when a group works in the right way, it really WORKS. Groups that function effectively together can outperform individuals and make much better decisions.
But how do you make your group effective? How do you get all group members to contribute and inspire one another to create great ideas and solutions?
The Stepladder Technique is a useful method for encouraging individual participation in group decision making.

The Stepladder Technique is a simple tool that manages how members enter the decision-making group. It encourages all members to contribute on an individual level BEFORE being influenced by anyone else. This result in a wider variety of ideas, it prevents people from "hiding" within the group, and it helps people avoid being "stepped on" or overpowered by stronger, louder group members.
All of this helps the group make better decisions at problem solving.

Using the Stepladder Technique

The Stepladder Technique has five basic steps. Here's how it works:
Step 1: Before getting together as a group, present the task or problem to all members. Give everyone sufficient time to think about what needs to be done and to form their own opinions on how to best accomplish the task or solve the problem.
Step 2: Form a core group of two members. Have them discuss the problem.
Step 3: Add a third group member to the core group. The third member presents ideas to the first two members BEFORE hearing the ideas that have already been discussed. After all three members have laid out their solutions and ideas, they discuss their options together.
Step 4: Repeat the same process by adding a fourth member, and so on, to the group. Allow time for discussion after each additional member has presented his or her ideas.
Step 5: Reach a final decision only after all members have been brought in and presented their ideas.

The Delphi Technique:

The Delphi Technique is a more complex method used for problem solving. A group of people independently work on the solution to the problem and give their assessments to a facilitator who reviews the data and issues a summary report. 

The first session aims to get a broad range of opinions. The results of the first round, when summarized, provide the basis for the second round of questions. Results from the second round of questions feed into the third and final round. The aim is to clarify and expand on issues, identify areas of agreement or disagreement and begin to find consensus.

Step 1: Choose a Facilitator
The first step is to choose your facilitator. You may wish to take on this role yourself, or find a neutral person within your organisation. It is useful to have someone that is familiar with research and data collection.

Step 2: Identify Your Experts
The Delphi technique relies on a panel of experts. This panel may be your project team, including the customer, or other experts from within your organisation or industry. An expert is, any individual with relevant knowledge and experience of a particular topic. 

Step 3: Define the Problem
What is the problem or issue you are seeking to understand? The experts need to know what problem they are commenting on, so ensure you provide a precise and comprehensive definition.

Step 4: Round One Questions
Ask general questions to gain a broad understanding of the experts view on future events. The questions may go out in the form of a questionnaire or survey. Collate and summarize the responses, removing any irrelevant material and looking for common viewpoints.

Step 5: Round Two Questions
Based on the answers to the first questions, the next questions should delve deeper into the topic to clarify specific issues. These questions may also go out in the form of a questionnaire or survey. Again, collate and summarize the results, removing any irrelevant material and look for the common ground. Remember, we are seeking to build consensus.

Step 6: Round Three Questions
The final questionnaire aims to focus on supporting decision making. Hone in on the areas of agreement. What is it the experts are all agreed upon?

Step 7: Act on Your Findings
After this round of questions, your experts will have, we hope, reached a consensus and you will have a solution to the problem. 

The Stepladder Technique is similar to the Delphi Method. While both tools have the same objective, they differ in a few key ways:

· In the Delphi Method, an objective facilitator or leader manages the group. In the Stepladder Technique, all members are equal.
· The Delphi Method keeps members anonymous. The facilitator manages the flow of information, and members may have no idea who else is in the group. The Stepladder Technique involves face-to-face meetings, so everyone knows who the other members are.
· The Delphi Method is a lengthy process, while the Stepladder Technique is much quicker.
· The Delphi Method is often used for major decisions that need input from a large number of people. The Stepladder Technique works best with smaller groups that make a wide range of decisions.

Groups can begin to lose their effectiveness and ability to make good quality decisions if they have too many members. Keep your group small – four to seven team members – to maximize effectiveness.