May 31, 2011

HR Interview: Part 1

Well I gave two-three interviews (the HR ones) almost back to back, not a long time ago. Well I might have been successful in (at least one of) them (!) but I think I could have given the interview much-much better. The problem was that I wasn't really prepared to face those interviews (big mistake!). So here I am giving my views of how I should have given the interview so it would have looked perfect (in my eyes).

Note: The words here may not be exact but these were the real questions that I was asked. In case you are wondering why I have posted this, you need to refer to my previous post "WIBWIB". A more specific reason is so that this blog can act as a reference for me and readers (friends) for any future interviews.  I believe HR interview (or for that matter 'any' interview) is about presenting your best self (if not true self). So, I would really appreciate any suggestions to improve the answers, or your own experiences to add to here. Comment section is all yours! I am also open to debate over any point I have listed here. OK, over to the interviewers:

Q. So tell me about yourself? 
My name is RavS (;). I did my schooling from SVMS shool. And did my B.Tech from BVCOE. I chose CSE as my branch because I have liked Computers since I was introduced to them in middle school. In subjects I like Linux, Java, C etc. In my free time I like to read newspapers and RSS feeds online. I am not much into social networking but do actively use Twitter and Gmail to communicate. I don't really have an idol but I am inspired by how people like Aamir Khan, Rahul Dravid, Roger Federer, Linus Torvalds, Michael Schumacher approach their work. I consider myself as an honest person who is fair as far as he can be. I don't have too many friends but all my friends are pretty close to me.

(This actually is the best question that you could have been asked in the interview IMO. The reason is that you can mingle every other answer you prepared to present your best self. Try to create an answer to this question so that you can speak for at least 5 mins about yourself. I got stuck after 2 mins which gives the impression that I don't know about myself! Try to project your good points which can be helpful in the company. Don't give too much details about anything that they can read from resume itself or things which are not important from the company point of view (like family details).)

Sir, I have been a hard working student my whole life, which reflects in the consistent scores that I have got right from school till college. I haven't been too much active in extra-curriculars, but whenever given a chance or responsibility, I have given my best to complete it. Since, I am genuinely interested in my field, I like to keep up with the latest news and technologies being developed. I know just theoretical knowledge isn't enough. Some of my strengths are (see below...). I have a few limitations/weaknesses also like (see below...). But I am working on overcoming them.

Q. How are you as a student?
I think as a student I am pretty good. Now I am not saying it to boast of myself but I make it a point to study when it's time to study and also keep all my tutorials and assignments complete. Rarely, if ever, any teacher would have had complaints with me. I do not ask too many questions in the class, but I am an active listener. I may not be the most intelligent student in the class, but I have always tried to do my best when in comes to studies.

(here the interview asked me "do you think, or do you believe or do you know; you are a good student?". I should have a said "I believe" I am a good student.)

Q. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
(In the actual interview I had listed "multi-tasking" as my weakness and I had a hard time explaining how multi-tasking was a weakness because the interviewer thought it should be considered as a strength. So, make sure you know what you are saying. Also make a list of as many weaknesses and strengths you possibly can (so you remember at least a few of them!), along with some strong use cases/egs. to back them. When it actually comes to giving the interview, give preference to your strengths but never say you don't have any weakness! When pointing out weakness, don't say anything that may seriously hamper your selection (I take time learning new things, I always have problems with my colleagues due to my bad temper :D ) but rather small weaknesses and how you are trying to get over them).

  1. I am not a quitter. Of course, I have a few limitations and weaknesses but I keep striving to improve. I have experienced a lot of mini-failures but that doesn't stop me from trying new things and improve. Like I have been trying to sleep early for past one year. I haven't been able to make it a habit yet, but I have improved and I still keep trying.
  2. I like to innovate. I mean I don't do stuffs just for the sake of it. Like if I have to make a project, I think it as a medium to learn a few new things. I always chose projects in college which I thought had some significance in real life too. Like making an MP3 player, or a Linux OS.
  3. I take initiatives. Well I am not the best in the world in terms of spoken English, so I have been trying to converse in English with my friends . It can sometimes get weird but we have met with partial success. Also recently I was able to convince my friends for group studying, where we sit together to solve (RS Agrawal!) questions sometimes competing against each other.
  4. I know it's a cliche but I am team player. The above mentioned activities not only help me but also help my friends too, and that's a win-win situation for me. Even when we did group projects, I consciously tried not to overpower anyone (even when the original project idea was mine) and tried to make everyone feel involved in project, by asking for their help whenever required and suggestions for improvements.
  5. It may sound like boasting but I always try to keep my promises and help my friends in whatever possible way I can. And this is one of the reasons that I have been able to stick to such a close set of friends over such a long period of time.
  1. I shy away from asking for help and always try to solve the problem by myself. But I know the job to be done is the main criteria and not if "I" was able to do it all by myself. So, now when I am having some difficulties in doing something I try to take help from places. Like while programming, if I am stuck somewhere, I try to ask questions on forums or seek help from friends etc.
  2. I am not too comfortable in mixing with people. I mean I don't like to go to parties or marriages etc. And even when I go somewhere it will mostly be along with close friends.
  3. Perfectionist. I always try to be a perfectionist and this can cause some delay in finishing tasks. But I have been realizing that it is just not possible to be a perfectionist in everything. So now I try to complete my work first and then if time permits I try to enhance it.
  4. I am not a naturally good public speaker. But I try to do my best by preparing/practicing for my presentations, seminars etc beforehand.
  5. I find it hard to say no to people. Well that may be because generally helpful nature but sometimes you are dealing with your own problems and an extra pressure just adds too much. I also think one shouldn't take a task if he knows he won't be able to complete it.
Q. Why do you want to join this company?
(Tell the truth, whatever the truth)

Well what I am looking for a company is:
  1. It is a sought after company. Because that indicates the company is good and cares for its employees.
  2. I get a good job profile. We were told in the presentation that my designation will be Assistant software engineer. Now I don't exactly know what I will be doing there, but I assume I would like doing the work since I like tinkering with softwares.
  3. A company where I have a very good chances of staying in the NCR region. I don't have much problems in going outside NCR, but I prefer to stay close to the family. Since you have a headquarters in the NCR region I suppose I have good chances to stay here only.
  4. Compensation for me doesn't come very high up in the reasons, but the package that you announced seems pretty good for a fresher like me.
  5. A company which gives a chance to grow and make career advances. In an esteemed company like yours, I believe I have a good chances of doing the same.
Q. What do co-workers (friends) say about you?
Well though this question my friends would be able to answer better. But I personally feel that my friends like my company not only because I am helpful or something but because I am cheerful. We people occasionally poke fun of each other but I seldom had a fight with anyone, if ever. I feel very disgusted if I don't live up to my promise to any of my friend. So they know I am good at heart and would do anything and everything in my capacity to help them. They have complemented me for my clarity of views and being honest; which I actually strive to do.

Q. What do you know about this company?
(For this question you will have to do a bit of research from Internet. Find out about company's history, business profiles, top management, turnover, recent successes, employee strength etc. The pre-placement talk/presentation is very helpful and important, since the interviewer is likely to question from there. In an interview I was asked to list the 7 products that the company made. We were told about the same in the morning, by evening I remembered only 3 :-/)

Q. Would you be willing to relocate if required?
Sir everyone likes to stay close to the family and friends. So, I would prefer to stay in the NCR region only. But at the same time, knowing how the present day business works, it is not feasible for the company to keep an employee at the same place forever. So, if it will really be required, I won't have any problems in relocating.

Q. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?
(Always have one or 2 questions ready. It shows you are genuinely interested in the company).
  • Sir, you have told me that selected candidate will be working as a software engineer. Can you please elaborate on what exactly will I work as software engineer?
  • Also I have read that your company deals in a number of things like software, hardware, BPOs etc. So, do people from say S/W field can be or actually are moved to other branches inside the company?
  • Sir, where will I be placed most probably after joining? Where exactly will the training be done?
  • When can I expect to start, if I get selected?
Q. Tell us a little bit about your family.
(They are probably trying to find out about your dependents and how much you need the job, any guarantor in the family etc.)

Sir, I live in a joint family of ____ members at _________ place. I have ____ brothers and sisters. I live with my grand parents. My father works in _________ company. My mother is a housemaker. My grand father used to work at ________ but now has retired. My brother(s) study at ____ college/school and are in ______ class. We originally hail from Uttar Pradesh and have been living in Delhi for _________ years. 

Q. So what are your favorite subjects RavS? Least favorite subjects?
(Only tell about your actual favorite subjects, because you may be asked a question or 2 from there (definitely if it's a technical interview). In my case I listed Linux, Java and OS. I knew I was good in Java and they won't be asking too many questions from Linux :)

Sir, my least favorite subjects were Analog Electronics and DSP x-(. Both were related more to Electronics branch and I had difficulties understanding them since I didn't find them interesting enough. But I worked hard in them, and though I got less marks I was comfortably (!) able to clear them.

Other points:
  • Keep your resume up to date. And be confident and well prepared in all the points mentioned there. Don't make false/tall claims in the resume, you may get caught and that would be embarrassing.
  • If you don't know the answer, think once or twice and then simply say No. Don't try to speculate or give probabilistic answers. They know what they are asking!
  • Courtesies like wishing on entering and exiting, requesting for seat, smiling while answering etc. need no reminder.
  •  Interviews, howsoever hard you try, may not go according to your liking. Try and keep your coo! in the situation. Remember, they haven't rejected you yet!
  • Prepare your best but be ready to expect some unexpected questions. Be ready to maneuver.
After giving a few interviews, I think they aren't as hard as they seem to be!

    Of course, these are my answers/experiences. Yours can be completely different from this. I also don't claim to have the perfect answers to nail the questions. So, read them, use them, modify them, agree/disagree with them; it's all up to you.

    I have a few more questions that I wasn't really asked but one can be asked. I may post them sometime in  future.