Top 10 Interview Question and How To Answer Them


If there is one thing I know about job interviews, it is this:  it is competency based. Interview questions are designed to determine if the candidate fits the posts by comparing his responses (along with his work experience) with the skills and comptencies required for a post.

Interview questions are not meant to be answered mindlessly, doing so would be a waste of opportunity, in fact, if you have read my previous blogs, I heavily encourage preparation (read: research), including finding out what the competencies required for the post are, attempting to determine what possible questions will be asked during the interview, AND preparing responses which the candidate must know and understand (but not memorize) and mix and match it based on the questions and scenarios asked during the interview.

What are the common interview questions and how best to answer them?

1. Tell me something about yourself.

This is not an invitation to talk about yourself  mindlessly. The question is geared towards measuring your work attitude and behavior, therefore, you MAY discus some personal items, however, you must have direction, that is, your goal should be to talk about your personal qualities reflecting honesty, integrity, professionalism, and even your philosophy as an employee or as a student.

2. Why do you want to work here?

This question requires research.  Prior to the interview, visit the company’s website, find out their history, type of business, their mission and vision, their accounts (if available), and their culture. Knowing about the company makes you sound impressive, that you did your homework, and that you are really interested to get the job.

3.  What do you know about the call center industry/agent’s work?

You are not an expert (yet), therefore, the recruiter/employer does not expect you to know everything, but having a basic knowledge of the industry or the work involved is an expectation, and naturally, failing to meet that expectation results to failure.

4. Why should I hire you?/Why should I not hire you?/What sets you apart from all the other candidates outside?

The objective of this question is to determine if you fit the job based on the skills and competencies required by the post. The second question is a trick because of the word “not” but the answer is still the same. Question is, how can you make sure that you answer this question satisfactorily?

1. Study the skills and competencies required for the post.

2. List down your own skills and competencies. Compare it with the requirements.

3. Think about the interview question. Prepare a response. The bottomline of your response should be that you have the competencies and skills required.

For fresh graduates, it is often challenging to answer this question, plainly because they have no work experience. I suggest the following:

1. Study the skills and competencies required.

2. Consider your experiences while you were still in school: organizations you joined, meetings you attended, awards you won, your advocacies, etc. List them down.

3. Compare your personal list with the skills and competencies required for the post. Then, create a response to the interview question with the goal of proving that you are fit for the job because even as a student, you already exhibited the required comptencies and skills.

The above preparation will allow you to respond to the question with full confidence and ease.

5. Why do you want to work in a call center/as a call center agent?

No matter how honest you are, DO NOT answer this question with “because of the compensation”. Remember that you are being evaluated, therefore, the objective is to “sell yourself” and to pass the interview. Talk about how close this job is to your skills, competencies, and experiences. If you don’t have the experience (being a fresh graduate or a newbie), talk about how close it is your work and  personal goals, beliefs, and that you see yourself being successful in this field. The objective is to let the interviewer know that YOU ARE PERFECT FOR THIS JOB.

6. Why did you resign from your previous company?

This question has a lot of answers, the only tricky part is if your reason for leaving is negative (disagreement with the boss, your forsaw termination, you went on AWOL, etc), no matter what the reason is, BE POSITIVE. Truth is, it does not matter if your stint was short or long (so long as it is not a string of short stints, giving the impression that you are a job hopper). Tell the recruiter about what you realized while employed with that job, and what you (positively) gained by leaving, and that you are ready to move on. One example of a good response is the employee has had a lot of achievements from the previous company that he is now ready to move on to a bigger, more dificult challenge and achieve more success.

7. What are you strenghts and weaknesses?

Responding to this questions poses a bit of a challenge. We Filipinos tend to shy away from boasting, on the other hand, we do not want our weaknesses to be exposed for fear that we will be judged unfairly.

Remember what you are applying for, if it is a call center post, focus on communication, customer service/focus, friendliness, eye for details, etc. As for the weakness, think of one of your strengths and let it come across as a weakness – my personal example here is “I tend to be too attached to my work that I am annoyed when I am not able to achieve my goals.”

8. What is your expected salary?

Remember that this is not the negotiation part yet. The secret here is to know the industry standard. You do not want to give too high an amount that will make the interviewer think that the company cannot afford you, you also do not want to give too low an amount which will give you no room for negotiation. Know the going rate for the post then blurt it out. Be confident when you say the amount, don’t be coy, don’t be too proud. Being confident about your expected salary means that you know yourself, your experience, and your self-worth, your skills and competencies.

9. Can you work on weekends? Shifting schedules? Do overtime work? Graveyard shifts?

The recruiter expects that you know the industry you are applying for, therefore, the BEST answer here is a VERY CONFIDENT YES. Do not sound doubtful. Rememeber, you are  the one job hunting. (If the work schedule is not acceptable to you, why did you submit your resume in the first place?)

10. How do you see yourself five or ten years from now?

It is tempting to answer this with “I see myself getting married, having kids, 2 cars, a house on a hill”, but this is not the response fit for this questions. Again, remember that you are being interviewed, therefore, the best response is to focus on the job you are applying for. The answer must be work-related, examples would be establishing an impressive performance as foundation for promotion, getting promoted, etc. The more specific the future plan/vision is, the better. This means that you have proper direction in your life and you have plans for your career and that you intend to be there for the long haul.

While it is true that being interviewed is nerve-wracking, it is also true that if you are well-prepared, you will be able to respond to questions with confidence and ease.  Again, read and understand the competencies required for the post you are applying for, Google interview questions and write down your sample answers, let someone look at it if you’re still not sure , know and understand the responses you prepared but don’t memorize them. Be prepared to mix and match your prepared responses based on the questions given by the recruiter.

If you have other questions that you found to be hard, or if you have suggested answers to interview questions above, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

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How to evaluate a job offer


Seven,

I’m a fresh graduate and a first time applicant in the call center industry and I’m trying to decide between the four job offers given to me. I was not allowed to bring the document home, but I was able to take note of the details. Thing is, I am very confused now. I am unable to decide which offer is best. It would help me a lot if you can give me a personal insight on what to consider when given a job offer. Thanks in advance.

Jason

Dear Jason,

Thank you for sending me an email and for visiting my blog.

Ahead of time, I will tell you that I am very detailed when it comes to making a decision about accepting a job offer. What takes time is the fact that I conduct research, compare the result with a specific set of limits/expectations, and if the result is satisfactory, I sign the offer.

For a newbie, you are very lucky having received four different offers, others barely get any. When I first applied in the call center industry 15 years ago, I had to deal with several failed attempts which prompted me to constantly hone my customer service, language skills, and professional maturity. More than a year ago, when the last company I was working for folded, I went into a relentless job hunting spree and the result was 10 different job offers laid before me, and just like you, I was very confused considering how close and juicy the offers were. Being a research-oriented person, the need to make the best choice drove me to discover the Ben Franklin decision-making technique (nosebleed).  It’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s so simple that anyone can use it in his or her daily life, at work, or even in love. I urge you to click on the link and read the entire article about this wonderful decision-making strategy, especially beneficial when you are confronted with multiple choices whose benefit closely match each other.

Now to your question.

I mentioned that when I am given a choice, I set my own limits and these become the basis of my expectations. What are these limits, work-wise:

  • Salary – is it competitive? Is it better than my earlier salary? What about appraisals? When and how Often?
  • Health and Welfare – Who is the HMO provider? What is the feedback on this HMO? What is the Maximum Benefit Limit? Pre Existing Condition Limit/coverage? How many dependents are covered? When is it given (Start of employment? Six months later?)
  • Allowances and Night differential – Is the ND competitive?
  • Vacation/Sick/Emergency Leaves available – How many VLs/SLs? When are they available? How are they filed? What is the notice period before claiming a leave? Are there days we are not allowed to file for a VL?
  • Work schedule – What time is the shift? When are the rest days? Is it on a weekend? Is it a split RD?
  • Work load – What type of account? Concerns within the account? Account attrition? Number of calls taken per day? Will there be selling/up-selling? Is it a pioneer account? If not, what batch do I belong to?
  • Training – How long is the training? Schedule? Does it have a certification? What is the pass/fail rate for the certification?
  • Scorecard – What are the KPI’s?
  • Career Development – What kind? How is it implemented? How many has been promoted? To which positions?
  • Management and Leadership – What is the culture and style of the leaders?
  • Tenureship and attrition rate of the account (if info is available) – Will I belong to a new batch/team, or will it be to re-fill the empty posts? (an indication of high attrition?) Why did they resign?
  • Retention program? – is there any? (details are normally withheld by recruiters)
  • The image, stability, and culture of the company – Is it environment friendly? Always business-like? Pro-employee? Pro-management? Is the company viable? Stable? Did it change its name in the past? Declared insolvency? Is it a call center? A BPO? A captive site? A Fortune 500? A nobody?
  • The facilities and amenities – Do they have vending machines? Concessionaire? Smoking area? Gaming and internet kiosks? Sleeping quarters?
  • Security – Is my travel to and from the office safe?
  • Proximity to my residence – Will I be spending more than what I will earn? Is there free and safe parking? Do they provide parking and transit allowance?
  • Friends – Do I have any friends or relatives working there?

It may sound a lot, but all these items are equally important to me because they make or break my tenure and my career development in that company. More importantly,  I have graduated from just looking at the basic salary as the basis for my decision, after all,  there is more to work than just money. In my experience, I have made poor decisions simply by basing it on the salary offered and I end up resigning because I am not happy with the work, the company, etc.

With the four choices that you have, I strongly recommend you look beyond the peripheral benefits – look at your medium and long-term goals – if you give it your best, will you be happy six months later? A year? 20 years? Can you see yourself being promoted from within? Bottom-line, what will make you happy in the long run? What is or are your priorities in life? The answers to these questions will help you decide, again by using the Ben Franklin decision-making technique.

I wish you luck on this new chapter of your life, I’m sure you will find it fulfilling. Just remember, the choice you will make for the job offer is only the start of the journey, what you make of yourself in between will decide your success or failure.

Hope this helps.

Seven