Article 43

 

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Toughest Interview Questions

The 25 most difficult questions you’ll be asked on a job interview.

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 like?
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- humanel

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.

Source:
http://www.datsi.fi.upm.es/~frosal/docs/25mdq.html

Credit:
displacedtechies.com

Posted by Elvis on 07/31/05 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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Thursday, July 28, 2005

CAFTA

Another way to outsource American jobs to cheap foreign labor.

CAFTA will eliminate trade barriers between the United States and five Central American countries—Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica - along with the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.

Supporters had to overcome what some have called free trade fatigue, a growing sentiment that free trade deals such as the NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT with Mexico and Canada have contributed to a loss of well-paying American jobs and the soaring trade deficit.

Democrats, who were overwhelmingly against CAFTA, also argued that its labor rights provisions were weak and would result in exploitation of workers in Central America.

But supporters pointed out that CAFTA would over time eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers that impede U.S. sales to the region, correcting the current situation in which 80 percent of Central American goods enter the United States duty-free but Americans must pay heavy tariffs.

CNN STORY

CAFTA No: U.S. Workers Cant Afford Another NAFTA
June 24, 2005
laborresearch.org
by Moira Herbst

The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) - the latest installment of free trade legislation being pushed by President Bush narrowly passed in the House and Senate Finance Committees last week and may soon be put to a formal Congressional vote. While it seems the deal lacks adequate support, it is critical that labor and its allies keep the heat on until it is defeated. What is at stake is no less than the future direction of world trade - and whether U.S. workers will continue to lose good jobs as the global sweatshop expands.

The accord, signed last year by Bush and the leaders of six mostly impoverished countries Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua - would eliminate most tariffs on the $33 billion traded annually between the U.S. and CAFTA countries. Modeled after NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), CAFTA would be another step toward passage of the FTAA (Free Trade of the Americas Act), which would create a completely free trade” zone in this hemisphere. What the deals have in common is that they are designed to promote the interests of corporations and their investors, allowing them to trump the rights workers and the regulatory powers of national governments.

Another Raw Deal for U.S. Workers
As the Bush administration and its allies court Congressional votes, they echo promises made ten years ago when NAFTA was up for debate. Eliminating tariffs, they say, will mean more American exports, translating into more jobs for U.S. workers.

What Bush fails to mention are the jobs destroyed as American companies relocate to Central America to take advantage of cheaper, largely unorganized labor. A report from the ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE estimates that NAFTA alone displaced nearly 900,000 decent-paying jobs in the U.S. in industries such as aircraft, food processing, auto manufacturing, apparel and consumer electronics.

Job losses accelerated as imports from NAFTA countries outpaced exports, creating a severe trade imbalance. Since NAFTA was implemented, the United States trade deficit with Canada and Mexico has ballooned 1,200%, from $9 billion in 1993 to $111 billion in 2004.

The overall U.S. trade deficit is growing at an alarming pace, hitting $617 billion last year and potentially reaching $780 million next year. CAFTA will only add to the deficit and leave American workers to search for new jobs, often in the lower-wage service sector where most new employment is being created.

Shedding U.S. Jobs to Keep Sweatshops in Business
Despite the Bush administration’s rhetoric of spreading “development and democracy” in Central America, CAFTA is actually designed to let businesses to profit from the low wages and denial of workers rights that are routine in parts of Central America [see the AFL-CIOҒs new report The Real Record on Workers’ Rights in Central America"].

Many Central American countries lack basic labor protections like anti-discrimination laws or the right to organize, and workers regularly face exploitation, abuse and hazardous working environments. In Guatemala and El Salvador, attacks on, and even the murder of, union members are well documented.

Instead of insisting that Central American governments respect internationally recognized workers rights - basic standards outlined by the United Nations International Labor Organization - the Bush administration has negotiated provisions requiring only the enforcement of domestic labor laws. And like NAFTA, CAFTA would do nothing to see that they are actually enforced. Just last week an amendment to apply the same penalties for breaking labor laws as for violating intellectual property rights was defeated by the Senate Finance Committee.

Of course this is part of the bargain for multinational companies choosing to relocate to Central America: keeping workers fearful and unorganized keeps them quiet about poverty wages and hazardous working conditions. And cheap, acquiescent labor means bigger profits.

So, while Americans stand to lose jobs at home from CAFTA, the deal will likely bring destruction and not development to Central America. NAFTAs legacy is instructive. Over the ten years it has been in place, real wages in manufacturing in Mexico have actually fallen, and liberalization in agriculture displaced nearly a million rural small farmers. An estimated 1.3 million agricultural jobs were lost, a figure not offset by job growth in export processing sectors. CAFTA will likely push Central American workers into unemployment or into work in maquiladora-style factories.

The American labor movement has teamed up with unions and grassroots groups in Central America to voice opposition to CAFTA. Nearly all Democrats in Congress are united in their opposition, as are many textile and sugar manufacturers - including a coalition of 23 manufacturing associations representing 18,000 companies who know they wonגt be able to compete if CAFTA is passed.

But the Bush administration and its allies in big business especially agribusiness and the pharmaceutical industry - are aggressively courting Congress, accusing critics of economic isolationism.

Already bearing the brunt of NAFTA and expanded trade with China, American workers will not be fooled they have learned the hard way that the דfree trade model is a failure. It fails to maintain or create good jobs at home while it tramples indigenous industries in poorer countries. Now the Bush administration is trying to secure yet another deal that destroys the chances of a secure middle-class life in America. By ensuring CAFTA’s defeat, the labor movement can show that U.S. workers will not back away from the fight.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 07/28/05 •
Section General Reading
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Act of 2005

Here’s a note from the Pensionrights.org in Washington, DC. 

We’re holding the bad guys back!  Now we need more sponsors for the Harkin
Bill.

-----------------------------------------

We’ve gotten wind that there is likely going to be a cash balance amendment offered tomorrow when the Senate Committee on Finance meets to mark-up the “National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Act of 2005.” We have heard that it is going to be prospective only and will NOT be retroactive; will prohibit wearaway; and will have some kind of transition benefit.  If this is the case, you should know it’s because of you. Your letters and phone
calls have made an impact!

If you’d like to make a last minute appeal to the Senate Committee on Finance, simply send them a message in the morning or tonight that reads:

We understand that the senate Finance Committee is likely to vote on a cash
balance amendment when you mark-up the “National Employee Savings and Trust
Equity Guarantee Act of 2005.” Tens of thousands of employees have been hurt
in conversions.

Please protect our pension promises by:

· Making the bill PROSPECTIVE and NOT RETROACTIVE

· Prohibiting wearaway for normal and subsidized early retirement benefits

· Providing adequate transition benefits such as the greater of between the old and new formulas.

Posted by Elvis on 07/26/05 •
Section Pension Ripoff
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Monday, July 25, 2005

AFL-CIO Dissidence

Nearly 1,000 union members will meet in Chicago to take part as delegates to the AFL-CIO’s 25th Constitutional Convention July 25-28 2005. The Convention marks the 50th anniversary of the merging of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

From the (now dead) UNITE TO WIN blog:

UNITE-HERE, TEAMSTERS, UFCW and SEIU will not attend the AFL-CIO Convention.

The leaders of those unions and the UFW and Laborers will not run or serve as part of the elected leadership of the AFL-CIO.

Monday, our unions will meet to begin the long process of developing a joint plan for helping millions of workers join our unions and unite their strength with others in their industry.

The world has changed, the economy has changed, our employers have changed, our jobs have changed, and there is no way to have unions stay the same and be successful.

Sources:
http://afl-cio.org/aboutus/thisistheaflcio/convention/2005/
http://www.unitetowinblog.org/story/2005/7/24/23527/0842

Posted by Elvis on 07/25/05 •
Section General Reading
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Turning Japanese

wish_i_were_dead.jpg

My mom lives in near poverty - and remembers like it was yesterday - the GREAT DEPRESSION in America--people waiting on soup lines for a meal, others loosing their life savings and homes, families splitting up from the stress, and some committing suicide. 

Lately we talk about her son’s career loss and the US’ political and economic policies that favor moving economic wealth AWAY from the middle class to the rich - and WONDER WHAT MAY HAPPEN to our great society if mass EXPLOITATION of the global labor pool and human rights continues down it’s current path, while MULTINATIONAL corporate interests increasingly control our governments and destinies.

Watching the news, especially LOU DOBBS on CNN, his chilling reports of management of our country, steady erosion of middle class jobs to cheap foreign labor, and my failed job hunt - going on over a year - SQUASHES most hope of getting back on my feet, or having the money to visit or help my mother out - EVER AGAIN.

With the added baggage of AGE BIAS, unemployed middle-aged techies like me MAY FIND staying optimistic about the future ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

Talking with my cousin - a retired truck driver enjoying a healthy union-bargained pension - didn’t bring the comfort one would expect. He said I can live in his basement if I go BANKRUPT and loose the house. As gracious as the offer was, rather than feeling relieved, the only things I felt were hopelessness, failure, envy, and depression.

Then I have some friends that totally disregard feelings by saying things like “Just go bankrupt,” “Sell the house,” “Trust in God,” or “Stop worrying - everything will be OK”.  They mean well, and I guess they don’t know what else to say - but stuff like that is pretty thoughtless and hollow.

What a way to spend the second half of one’s life - stuffed in a basement with the dirty laundry.

Everything isn’t OK, and things may or may not turn out OK.

Loneliness, FEAR, failure, loss of hope, envy, insensitive friends, selfishness, and superficial emotional support - are powerful negative influences on one’s spirit.

In JAPAN, some people see SUICIDE as an honorable way of taking responsibility for lives gone sour.

So does this American.

Posted by Elvis on 07/25/05 •
Section Personal
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