Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bug @ Notepad

Play this around to your friends/colleague if you are extremely bored Wink

1. Open a new file @ Notepad (an empty ones)

2. Type " Bush hid the facts " (without the quotes) OR " John hid the facts " (without the quotes)

3. Save it to any filename you want in .txt format

4. Close it and reopen the file you just saved...see what you get

Changing Drive Letters

If you want to change the letters assigned to your fixed or removable drives:
Right Click on My Computer
Select Manage
Select Disk Management

For a Fixed Disk:
Select it
Right click
Select Change Drive Letter and Path
Click on the Edit button
Enter in the letter you want to use

For a Removable Disk:
In the lower, right hand panel, right click on the Disk or CD ROM #
Select Change Drive Letter and Path
Click on the Edit button
Enter in the letter you want to use

Note: This can only be done for drives that do not have the Operating System Installed or you are booting to

Make Your Firefox Much Faster

1) Type "about:config" into the address bar and hit return. Scroll down and look for the following entries:


Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.

2) Alter the entries as follows: (by double clicking them)

Set "network.http.pipelining" to "true"

Set "network.http.proxy.pipelining" to "true"

Set "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to some number like 30. This means it will make 30 requests at once. (I changed mine to 100, works great.)

3) Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set its value to "0". This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it recieves.

Increase Bandwidth by 20%

have tried this and it does work this is the best and easiest way to boost your internet performance i have ever seen

here you go..

this is for broad band connections/dial up running Windows XP.

1. log on as Administrator.
2. start - run - type gpedit.msc
3. expand "local computer policy"
4. then expand "administrative templates"
5. then expand "network branch"
6. Highlight the "QoS Packet Scheduler"
7. on right window double click "limit reservable bandwidth"
8. on setting tab check the "enabled"
9. change "Bandwidth limit %" to 0

reboot if prompted

this is because Windows XP reserve 20% of the bandwidth for its self.

Making Windows XP Start 60% Faster

Stopping Unneeded Startup Services

Along with the core operating system and programs that Windows XP runs when it starts, there is also a host of services involved. Many of these services are necessary for Windows XP to operate correctly. However, many of them are for features in Windows XP that you may not use at all. You can peruse the services and disable any service that you do not want to run. The fewer services that run, the more quickly Windows XP will boot.

Exercise caution when stopping services. If you do not know what a service does or are unsure of the ramifications of stopping the service, leave it alone. Some services are critical to Windows XP's operations, so make sure you understand what the service is before you disable it.

To reduce the number of services that start on bootup, you can access two different areas of Windows XP. The first is the System Configuration Utility. The Services tab shows you the services that start when the computer boots.

You can stop a service from starting by simply clearing the check box next to the service and clicking OK. However, before you do so, there is another way to disable services that you may prefer because the interface gives you more information about the service in question.

Open Control Panel/Administrative ToolsServices or else select Start/Run, type services.msc, and click OK. Either way, you see the Services console.

I prefer to use the Services console instead of the System Configuration Utility because it describes what the service does. Additionally, you can double-click a service and examine its properties.

Notice the Startup Type column in Figure 4-2. This information lists whether the service is automatic or manual. Manual services are only started in Windows XP when you start a process that requires the service. Some other process may require the service that has a "dependency" relationship with it; in this case, the dependency service will start, as well. Because these services do not start automatically when you boot Windows XP, you do not need to do anything with manual services.

However, all services listed as automatic start when Windows XP boots. These are the services that increase boot time. As I have mentioned, many of them are necessary and important, so you should not stop automatic services from booting unless you are sure of the ramifications. You can get this information by looking at the Description column. Here's a quick look at common services you may want to live without:
· Automatic Updates: This service enables Windows XP to check the Web automatically for updates. If you don't want to use Automatic Updates, you can disable the service. You can always check for updates manually at the Windows Update Web site.
· Computer Browser: If your computer is not on a network, you don't need this service. If you are on a network, leave it alone.
· DHCP Client: If you are not on a network, you do not need this service. If you are on a small workgroup, you can still increase boot time by configuring manual IP addresses (which I explore later in this chapter).
· DNS Client: If you are not on a network, you do not need this service. If you are, leave it alone.
· Error Reporting and Event Log: You don't have to use these services but they can be very helpful, so I would leave them configured as automatic.
· Fax: If you don't use your computer for fax services, you can disable this one.
· Help and Support: If you never use the Windows XP Help and Support Center (found on the Start menu), you can disable this service.
· IMAPI CD-Burning COM: This service enables you to burn CDs on your computer. If you never burn CDs, you can disable the service.
· Indexing Service: Your computer keeps an index of files but if you rarely search for files, the service is just a resource hog. You can stop it and turn the service to manual.
· Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing: If you do not use these features, you can disable them.
· Infrared Monitor: If you do not use infrared devices, you can disable this service.
· Messenger: This service sends alert messages on a local area network (it is not the same as Windows Messenger). If you are not on a network, you can disable this service.
· Print Spooler: If you do not do any printing from the computer, you can disable this service. If you print, make sure you leave it as automatic.
· Remote Registry: This service allows remote users to modify the Registry on your computer. If you are not on a network, you can disable this service.
· System Restore Service: This service allows you to use System Restore. If you have turned off System Restore anyway, you do not need to turn off the service. If you do, you turn off System Restore.
· Themes: If you do not use themes, you can disable this service.
· Windows Image Acquisition: If you do not use scanners or digital cameras, you can disable this service.
· Wireless Zero Configuration: If do not use wireless networking devices, you can disable this service.
You may have a number of other automatic services, depending on software and other configurations on your computer. So it's a good idea to look through the services and learn more about them. If you double-click a service, a Properties dialog box appears

Notice that on the General tab, you see a Startup Type drop-down menu. If you want to change an automatic service to manual, select Manual here and click OK. As a general rule, don't disable a service unless you are sure you will never use it. However, manual configuration allows the service to be started when you find it necessary, thus speeding up your boot time.

However, before you change a service to manual, look at the Dependencies tab (see Figure 4-4). This tab shows you which other services depend upon the service you are considering changing.

Keep in mind that services are necessary for the vast functionality you get with Windows XP. Change only those services that you understand and do not use. How you use your Windows XP computer should be the best guide in terms of optional startup services.


The Indexing service and the System Restore service take up a lot of disk space and system resources across the board. You can live without the Indexing service but I suggest that you keep using System Restore. It works great when you are in a bind and this is one case where the loss of speed may not be worth the ramifications of not using System Restore.

Speed Tips and Tricks for Windows XP Startup

Aside from startup programs, services, and the Prefetch folder, there are a number of other startup procedures and issues you can modify to help Windows XP start faster. The following sections explore those tips and tricks.

Manual IP Addressing on Small Office/Home Networks

Windows XP is configured to help you take care of networking. It uses the TCP/IP protocol for networking in workgroups, or what you might call small office or home networks that do not use a dedicated server.

The problem is that automatic IP addressing can be slow. When your computer boots, it has to query the network to see what IP addresses are already in use and then assign itself one. If you want to speed up the boot time a bit, consider manually assigning IP addresses to all computers on the network. This way, the network computers do not have to worry about locating an automatic IP address. Because one is manually configured, the operating system doesn't have to spend time solving this problem.

This isn't a networking book, however, so I won't delve into the implications of using a manual IP address, but if you are using a computer that functions as a host computer to the Internet (using Internet Connection Sharing [ICS]), you can get into connectivity problems if you change the configuration of the IP address. However, you can still work around this problem by starting with the ICS host computer.

Select Start/Connect To/Show All Connections. Right-click your network adapter card and click Properties. On the General tab, select TCP/IP in the list of services and click the Properties button.

In the TCP/IP properties, you can see if you use an automatic or manual IP address. In the example in Figure 4-5, I have configured a manual IP address of and a default subnet mask. The other computers on my office network each use a different IP address in the same class, such as,,, and so on. This way, each computer has a permanent IP address, which helps increase boot time. Note that if you change the IP addresses of your computers, they must all use the same subnet mask. A default subject mask of will keep you in good shape.

Make sure you understand the implications of changing IP addresses on your network. If you have no networking experience at all, you may be wiser to leave the automatic IP addressing as is and try to gain some speed using the additional suggestions in this chapter.

Disabling Recent Documents History

Windows XP includes a feature that keeps track of all recent documents you have opened or used. The idea is that you can select Start/Recent Documents History and quickly reopen any document you have recently used. I use many documents each day and never use the feature myself. In my opinion, I can keep up with what I want to use without Windows XP doing it for me.

The bad thing about Recent Documents History is that Windows XP has to calculate what should be put there each time you boot Windows, which can slow things down. So, if you never use the Recent Documents History, it's a good idea to disable it. Here's how:

1) Open the Registry Editor (select Start/Run, type regedit, and click OK).
2) Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Mcft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer.
3) Create a NoRecentDocsHistory D_WORD key. Double-click the value to open it once it is created.
4) Set the Data Value to 1 to enable the restriction.
5) Click OK and close the Registry Editor. You'll need to restart the computer for the change to take effect.

Disabling the Boot Logo

You can remove the boot logo that appears when you start Windows XP. This little tweak probably shaves only a few seconds off your boot time but seconds count if you are serious about trying to get Windows XP up and running as quickly as possible. The only negative is that if you remove the boot logo, you will also not see any boot messages, such as check disk. (But if you are not having problems with your computer, this isn't such a big deal.)

To remove the boot logo, follow these steps:
1) Select Start/Run, type msconfig, and click OK.
2) In the System Configuration Utility, click the BOOT.INI tab.
3) On the BOOT.INI tab, click the NOGUIBOOT check box option. Click OK.

Removing Unwanted Fonts

One trick that increases your boot time a bit is to lose any fonts in the Fonts folder in Control Panel that you never use. The more fonts you have, the more processing Windows XP has to do to prep all of those fonts for use. You must be a bit careful here to not remove fonts that you might want, but there is a good chance that you can live without many of them. For instance, you may have foreign language fonts and other symbol fonts (such as Wingdings) that you never use.

To delete unneeded fonts, follow these steps:
1) Open the Fonts folder in Control Panel.
2) Select Edit/Select All and then Edit/Copy.
3) Create a new folder on your desktop, open it, and select Edit/Paste.
4) In this new folder, delete any of the fonts you do not want.
5) Return to the Fonts folder in Control Panel. Right-click the selected fonts and click Delete.
6) Go back to your new desktop folder and click Edit/Select All.
7) Return to your Fonts folder and click Edit/Paste. You now have only the desired fonts in the Fonts folder.


You can directly delete fonts from the Fonts folder without creating the secondary folder. However, I recommend the preceding steps to help ensure that you do not make a mistake in the deletion process.

Stopping Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Sharing

In Windows XP Professional, you have two remote networking features called Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Sharing. These remote networking features are very helpful in a variety of situations but if you don't use them, it is good idea to disable them to save boot time. You can always enable them later if you want to use them.

If you are interested in using Remote Desktop or Remote Assistance, see my book Windows XP for Power Users: Power Pack published by John Wiley & Sons.

1) Open the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and choose Properties.
2) Click the Remote Tab.
3) Clear both check boxes to disable Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop.

Speeding Up the Dual-Boot Timeout

If you dual-boot your computer with Windows XP and another operating system, you see an operating system selection menu on startup. If you typically boot into Windows XP and not the other operating system, you can speed up the dual-boot timeout value so that you do not wait so long for the boot process to select your default operating system and continue with the boot process. The default timeout value is 30 seconds but you can change this setting to 10. This gives you enough time to select the alternate operating system if you want but also speeds up the boot process. You can skip this section if you do not use a dual-boot configuration.

Follow these steps:
1) Locate the boot.ini file on your computer. It is a hidden file by default; mine is located in C:\boot.ini.
2) Open the file with Notepad (which is what opens it by default).
3) Change the Timeout value to 10 (see Figure 4-11).
4) Select File/Save and close Notepad.

Speeding Up Your PPPoE Connection

If you use a Point-to-Point Protocol connection over Ethernet (PPPoE), you may notice a delay in using the PPPoE connection after startup. By default, there is a 120 second delay but you can stop this behavior by manually configuring an IP address for the network adapter card. If you do not use a PPPoE connection, you can skip this section.

1) Select Start/Connect to/Show All Connections.
2) Open the TCP/IP properties for your LAN network interface card.
3) Manually set the IP address on the TCP/IP properties to an appropriate IP address and subnet mask for your network.

Reducing the Wait Time

When you start to shut down Windows XP, it has to quit, or "kill," any live applications or processes that are currently running. So close all applications first. However, some applications and processes are always running in the background. You can reduce the amount of time that Windows XP waits for those applications and processes to close before Windows XP kills them. Edit three different Registry settings to change this:

1) Open the Registry Editor.
2) Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop. Select WaitToKillAppTimeout and set the value to 1000.
3) Select the HungAppTimeout value and set it to 1000 as well.
4) Navigate to HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop. Set the WaitToKillAppTimeout and set the value to 1000. Select the HungAppTimeout \newline value and set it to 1000 as well.
5) Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Contro l. Select the WaitToKillServiceTimeout value and set it to 1000.
6) Close the Registry Editor.

Automatically Killing Tasks on Shutdown

You know the drill. You start to shut down the computer, you wait a few moments, and then you see a dialog box asking if you want to kill an application or service that is running. Instead of prompting you, you can make Windows XP take care of the kill task automatically. Here's how:

1) Open the Registry Editor.
2) Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop.
3) Highlight the value AutoEndTasks and change the value to 1.
4) Close the Registry Editor. search is famous as a search engine and it's full
of tricks. Here are a few new tricks you haven't seen

Google does calculations. For example, to find out how
many times the number 8 goes into the number 720, just
type 720/8 in the search box and press the Enter key to
get the results. You can use the standard + and - keys to
add or subtract. Use the / key to divide and the * to

You can also use google to convert measurements. For example,
type "100 meters in feet" (without the quotes) and press the
Enter key for the results.

Use a dash to eliminate a word you don't want in your search
results. For example, if you were looking for a Hilton hotel
and not the Paris Hilton, you'd type Hilton-Paris as your
search criteria.

Place quotes around your search query terms to direct Google
to search for the terms together. For example, "George Bush"
will avoid any reference to foliage.

If you want to limit your search to a certain domain type,
place a colon after your search and then type the domain
extension. For example,

To limit your search to a specific language sites, click on
Preferences (to the right of the search bar) and click next
to the languages you wish to read search results. Scroll down
to the bottom of that page and click Save Preferences.

Finally, you can enter a zip code, a +, and then a local search
result you wish to find. For example, type 90210+kitchen cabinets
to produce a list of cabinetmakers in Beverly Hills. This works
really well if you are looking for a restaurant.


LAN LAN ago, in the SYSTEM of I/O-dhya, there ruled a PROCESSOR named
DOS-rat. Once he EXCUTED a great sacrifice PROGRAM after which his
queens gave an OUTPUT of four SUNS - RAM, LSI-man,BUG-rat, and

RAM the eldest was a MICROCHIP with excellent MEMORY. His
brothers,however, were only PERIPHERAL ICS.

Once when RAM was only 16MB, he married princess C-ta. 12 years passed
and DOS-rat decided to INSTALL RAM as his successor.

However, queen CIE/CAE, who was once offered a boon by DOS-rat for a
life saving HELP COMMAND, took this opportunity atthe instigation of
her BIOSed maid, and insisted that her son BUG-rat be installed and
that RAM be BOOTED to the forest for 14 years.
At this cruel and unexpected demand, a SURGE passed thru DOS-rat and
due to FATAL ERROR he collapsed, power-less. RAM agreed to LOG INTO
forest and C-ta insisted to LOGIN with him. LSI-man was also resolved
on LOGGING IN with his brother.

The forest was the dwelling of SPARC-nakha, the TRANSISTOR of
RAW-wan,PROCESSOR of LAN-ka. Attracted by RAM's stature, sheproposed
that he marry her. RAM politely denied. Perceiving C-ta to be the
SOURCE CODE for her distress, she hastened to kill her. Weeping
SPARC-nakha fled to LAN-ka, where RAW-wan,moved by
TRANSISTOR's plight, approached his uncle MAR-icha.

MAR-icha REPROGRAMMED himself into the form of a golden stag and drew
RAM deep into the forest. Finally, tired of chase, RAM shot the deer,
who, with his last breath, cried out desperately for LSI-man in RAM's
voice. Fooled by this VIRTUAL RAM's SOUND, C-ta urged LSI-man to his
brother's aid. Catching the opportunity, RAW-wan DELINKED C-ta from
her LIBRARY and changed her ROOT DIRECTORY (or HOME PAGE) to LAN-ka.


RAM and LSI-man started LINEAR SEARCHING for the missing C-ta all over
the forest.They made friendship with the SYSTEM
ADMINI STRATOR of forest SU-greev and his powerful co-processor
Ha-NEUMAN. SU-greev agreed to help RAM.

SU-greev ordered his PROGRAMMERS to use powerful BINARY & BOOLEAN
SEARCH techniques to FIND the missing C-ta. His
PROGRAMMERS SEARCHED all around the INTER-NETworked forests. Many
tried to EXCITE the birds and animals not to forget the WEBWLERS
(Insects) and tried to INFO SEEK something about C-ta. Some of them
even shouted YAHOO but they all ended up with NOT FOUND MESSAGES.

Several other SERACH techniques proved useless.
Ha-NEUMAN devised a RISCy TECHNOLOGY and used it to cross the seas at
an astonishing CLOCK SPEED. Soon Ha-NEUMAN DOWNLOADED himself into
LAN-ka. After doing some local SEARCH, he found C-ta weeping under a
TREE STRUCTURE. Ha-NEUMAN used a LOGIN ID (ring) to identify himself
to C-ta. After DECRYPTING the KEY, C-ta believed in him and asked him
to send a STATUS_OK MESSAGE to RAM. Meanwhile all the raakshasa BUGS
around C-ta captured Ha-NEUMAN and tried to DELETE him using
pyro-techniques. But Ha-NEUMAN managed to spread chaos by using the
VIRUS 'FIRE'. Ha-NEUMAN happily pressed ESCAPE from LAN-ka and
conveyed all the STATUS MESSAGES to RAM and SU-greev.

RAW-wan decided to take the all powerful RAM head-on
and prepared for the battle One of the RAW-wan's SUN almost DELETED
RAM and LSI-man with a powerful brahma-astra. But Ha-NEUMAN resorted
to some ACTIVE-X gradients and REBOOTED RAM and LSI-man. RAM used the
SOURCE CODE secrets of RAW-wan and once for all wiped out RAW-wan's
presence on earth.

After the battle, RAM got INSTALLED in I/O-dhya and spreaded his MICRO
USERS and every one lived happily everafter

Advice to young programmers

This is the summary of speech Given by Alex Stepenov (Principal Scientist, Adobe Systems) at Adobe India on 30 Nov 2004. )

1. Study , Study and Study
- Never ever think that you have acquired all or most of the knowledge which exists in the world. Almost everybody in US at age of 14 and everybody in India at age of 24 starts thinking that he has acquired all the wisdom and knowledge that he needs. This should be strictly avoided.

- You should be habituated to studies...exactly in the same way as you are habituated to brushing teeth and taking bath every morning. The habit of study must become a 'part of your blood'. And the study should be from both the areas: CS, since it is your profession, and something from non-CS...Something which doesnot relate to your work. This would expand your knowledge in other field too. A regular study, everyday, is extremely essential. It doesnot matter whether you study of 20 minutes of 2 hours, but consistency is a must.

- You should always study basics and fundamentals. There is no point in going for advanced topics. When I was at the age of 24, I wanted to do PhD in program verification, though I was not able to understand anything from that. The basic reason was that my fundamental concepts were not clear. Studying 'Algebraic Geometry' is useless if you donot understand basics in Algebra and Geometry. Also, you should always go back and re-read and re-iterate over the fundamental concepts.

What is the exact definition of 'fundamental'? The stuff which is around for a while and which forms basic part of the concepts can be regarded as more fundamental. Of course, everybody understands what a fundamental means.

- Here are few books which I would strongly recommend that every CS professional should read and understand.
1. i. "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" by Albenson and Sussman

I personally donot like the material present in this book and I do have some objections about it but this is the best book I have ever seen which explains all the concepts in programming in a clear and excellent way.

This book is available online at

1. ii. Introduction to Computer Architecture: by Hennessy and Patterson.

How many of you have shipped the programs by writing them in assembly? A very good understanding of basics of how a computer operates is what every CS professional must have.

H&P Wrote two books on CA. I am talking about their first book, the introductory text for understanding basic aspects of how a computer works.

Even if you feel that you know whatever is written in that book, donot stop reading. It's good to revise basics again and again.

iii. "Fundamentals of Programming" by Donald Knuth.

The core of CS is algorithms and Data structures. Every CS professional must have the 3 volumes of Knuth's Book on programming. It really doesnot matter if you take 30 years of your life to understand what Knuth has written, what is more important is that you read atleast some part of that book everyday without fail.

iv. Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen, Leiserson and Rivest

This book should be read daily to keep your concepts fresh. This is the best book for fundamental concepts in algorithms.

2. Learn Professional Ethics
- As a CS Professional, you are morally obliged to do a good job. What this means is that you are supposed to do your job not for your manager but for yourself. This is already told in Bhagwatgeeta : Doing duties of your life.
- The direct implication of this is: never ever write a bad code. You don't need to be fastest and run after shipping dates; rather you need to write quality code. Never write junk code. Rewrite it till it is good. Thoroughly test every piece of code that you write. Donot write codes which are "sort of allright". You might not achieve perfection, but atleast your code should be of good quality.
- Let me quote my own example in this context. You might have heard about STL, The Standard Template Library that ships in with C++ compilers. I wrote it 10 years ago, in 1994. While implementing one of the routines in the STL, namely the "search routine", I was a bit lazy and instead of writing a good linear order implementation of KMP which was
difficult to code, I wrote a best quadratic implementation. I knew that I could make the search faster by writing a linear-order implementation, but I was lazy and I did not do that. And, after 10 years of my writing STL, exactly the same implementation is still used inside STL and STL ships with an inefficient quadratic implementation of search routine even today!! You might ask me: why can't you rewrite that? Well...I cannot, because that code is no more my property!! Further, nobody today will be interested in a standalone efficient STL ...people would prefer one which automatically ships out with the compiler itself.
- Moral is, you should have aesthetic beauty built inside you. You should "feel" uneasy on writing bad code and should be eager to rewrite the code till it becomes upto the quality. And to the judge the quality, you need to develop sense regarding which algorithms to use under what circumstances.

3. Figure out your Goals
- Always aspire doing bigger things in life

- "Viewing promotion path as your career" is a completely wrong goal. If you are really interested in studying and learning new things, never ever aspire for being a manager. Managers cannot learn and study...they have no time. "Company ladder aspiration" is not what should be important for you.

- You might feel that you want to do certain things which you cannot do till you become a manager. When you become a manager, you will soon realize that now you just cannot do anything!

- You will have a great experience as programmers. But if you care for people and love people, you will never enjoy being a manager...most good managers are reluctant managers. If you see people as people, you cannot survive at management level.

- Always aspire for professional greatness. Our profession is very beautiful because we create abstract models and implement them in reality. There is a big fun in doing that. We have a profession which allows us to do creative things and even gives nice salary for that.

- The three biggest mistakes that people usually make are aiming for money, aiming for promotion and aiming for fame. The moment you get some of these, you aspire for some more...and then there is no end. I donot mean that you shouldnot earn money, but you should understand how much
money would satisfy your needs. Bill Clinton might be the richest person in the world; he is certainly not the happiest. Our lives are far better than his.

- Find your goal, and do best in the job that you have. Understand that what is in your pocket doesnot matter...what is in your brain finally matters. Money and fame donot matter. Knowledge matters.

4. Follow your culture
I have seen the tradition that whatever junk is created in US, it rapidly spreads up in the rest of the world, and India is not an exception for this. This cultural change creates a very strong impact on everybody's life. Habits of watching spicy Bollywood or Hollywood movies and listening to pop songs and all such stupid stuff gets very easily cultivated in people of your age...but believe me, there is nothing great in that. This all just makes you run away from your culture. And there is no wisdom in running away from your culture. Indian culture, which has great Vedas and stories like Mahabharata and Bhagwatgeeta is really great and even Donald Knuth enjoys reading that. You should understand that fundamental things in Indian culture teach you a lot and you should never forget them.

Finally, I would like to conclude by saying that it's your life...donot waste it on stupid things...develop your tests, and start the fight.


First off, you must read SoYouWanna learn the basics of the GRE? before you continue reading this SYW. It'll tell you what the test looks like, how to register, and whether you should even take the test in the first place. But this SYW assumes that you are already positive that you're gonna take the GRE, that you know the basic structure, and that you just want some sparkling advice about how to get the highest score possible. Well, that's what we're here for, so listen up.

In case you have forgotten what to expect on the GRE, here's a recap. There are three sections:

* Verbal section (30 questions, 30 minutes)
* Quantitative section (28 questions, 45 minutes)
* Analytical section (35 questions, 60 minutes)

The verbal section tests your vocabulary and reading skills, the quantitative section tests your ability to do math, and the analytical section tests your ability to solve logic problems.

There is one surefire way to improve your GRE score: know exactly what's on the test. No, we don't want you to hack into the Educational Testing Service's databank (yet), but we do want you to become so familiar with the types of questions asked, so you won't have to waste any of your precious time reading directions or figuring out how to tackle the questions.

How do you do this? BY TAKING MANY PRACTICE TESTS. Get yourself some practice tests off the GRE web site or buy some software and start getting cozy with the test. Don't worry about the tricks yet . . . just get comfortable with the test as a whole. Take at least 2 full tests before worrying about Step 2.

CAT tricks
Verbal tricks
Mathematics tricks
Analytical tricks

What fun is it to take a test if you can't give yourself a bit of an edge? The sad fact is that very few people even bother trying to crack the GRE, but it's very crack-able (assuming you are not already a crackhead). So below, we provide some great tips for doing well on each section, as well as some general tips for taking the computer-adapted test (CAT).

CAT tricks

As you are well aware, you'll be taking the GRE on a computer. This computer version is called the CAT, and here are some tips for killing the kitty:

* The 10 first questions of each section are the most important ones. Why? Because as you know, the GRE adapts itself to your answers, so if you get the first question wrong, your next question will be easier. The test proceeds as such, pinpointing your score. But if you get the first ten questions wrong, you'll have to answer a whole bunch of questions correctly to dig yourself out of the hole. Did we just lose you? Then think of it this way: the tougher questions are worth more points, so you get a better score by answering the hard questions correctly. But the only way to get to the hard questions is to get the first few questions right. Yes, it's a bit confusing, but all that matters is that you should devote about half of your time to the first 10 questions.
* There is no penalty for guessing. That's right. None. Not even an Indian burn or a pile driver. So NEVER leave a question blank. Flip a coin, spin a bottle, ask a Ouija board, pray for divine intervention, but you must guess. Besides, you can't skip questions either, so you might as well take a guess. Below, we'll give you some tips for effective guessing on each section.

Verbal tricks

The verbal section is one of the toughest sections to handle, because it's so based on whether you know the definitions of words or not. But there are little tricks that can help you out.

* First and foremost, PRACTICE these questions over and over. You can get your hands on practice GREs at bookstores, so buy the book and PRACTICE. Sometimes the same words (or variants of them) pop up on multiple tests.
* Study vocabulary words that commonly appear on the GRE. Many preparation booklets have lists of these words, but you can also buy GRE study cards here and here.
* For the ANALOGIES:

The most important thing to do with analogy questions is to turn the relationship between the two words into a sentence. Write that sentence down on your scratch paper so you don't forget it.

Some of the most common relationships to look for are: part to whole, cause to effect, person to occupation, word to definition, and synonyms.

* For the ANTONYMS:

Antonyms can be tough because you have no context to work from; either you know the word or you don't. If you get a word you don't know, first try to pick the word apart. If part of the word looks familiar (for instance, it starts with "bio"), then use that information to try to guess at an answer ("bio" means "life," so the right answer will have something to do with "lack of life").

Second, try to get a sense of the mood of the word. Even if you don't know what the word means, you can often tell if it's "good" or "bad." So if you have a gut feeling that the word, whatever it means, is a "good" thing, then it's opposite should sound "bad."


Before you look at the possible answers, try to fill in the sentence with your own word. It'll make it easier to go through the answers.

Use the context of the sentence. If the sentence implies that you're looking for a "good" word, then your answer should be a "good" word. The context can tell you tons about the sentence. For instance, you should look for buzzwords like "nevertheless," "although," and "moreover," which can give you clues.

If the sentence has two blanks, then make sure that BOTH words fit nicely.


Read the passage as carefully as you can, no matter how boring it is. They make it boring on purpose, to get you off your rhythm.

Read ALL of the choices before you pick an answer.

The best way to prepare for the reading comprehension section is pure PRACTICE.

Mathematics tricks

In order to ace the math section, you merely have to brush up on very specific math skills: algebra, fractions, percentages, geometry, and data analysis (reading graphs). We're not going to re-teach you algebra, so you gotta bone up on that stuff on your own. A study book would REALLY come in hand for re-familiarizing yourself with these concepts.

* Use the process of elimination. Often times, you don't need to do any work when you can merely eliminate the wrong answers. For instance, what if you're presented with the question "What is 326 multiplied by 458?"

A) 149,303
B) 149,305
C) 149,308
D) 149,311
E) 149,313

You don't even need to bother doing the math. An even number multiplied by an even number ALWAYS has an even result. 326 and 458 are both even, and the only even choice is C) 149,308. So answer C and move on. Don't even bother doing the work.

* Use your scratch paper. The drawings on the computer screen will be all out of proportion, and doing math these kinds of math problems in your head is impossible (unless you're Rain Man or Good Will Hunting). So make use of the scratch paper you're given, and feel free to recopy diagrams or charts.

Analytical tricks

The biggest problem people have with the analytical questions is not that they're hard, but that they take too much TIME. There's an easy way to fix that:

* PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. The only way to improve your speed on the analytical problems is to get used to the kinds of questions they ask.
* When you read the rules to a logic problem, immediately write ALL of the rules down on your scratch paper BEFORE you try to answer any questions. Find the connections between the rules and map it all out, drawing pictures if necessary. It speeds things up enormously.
* Abbreviate things. If they give you the names of colors, people, rivers, whatever, just use the first letter.
* Never assume anything unless you're explicitly told it's so. The analytical section is basically testing if you jump to unfounded assumptions or not. Prove that you're a "not" and follow exactly what the rules tell you to do.

In case you didn't notice, we are huge advocates of practice. Studies conducted by the Educational Testing Services show that the biggest predictor of improvement in GRE scores is practice. So go to it. Here are a few study aids that'll help:

* Start out by practicing without timing yourself. Take all the time you need. After a couple tests, then start practicing with a stopwatch and see which section offers you the most trouble. If you're getting equal scores on the analytical and verbal sections but you keep going overtime on the analytical section, then you know where you need to put in some extra work.
* Invest in a GRE study book. In addition to containing strategies, sample questions with explanations of the answers, and practice exams, another benefit is that many of these books come with a CD so you can practice taking the computer-based GRE. Hooray for Y2K! There are lots of books out there, so finding one won't be a problem, and most books cost about $20-$30, so you'll save lots of money compared to a course. Although it might be beneficial to go to actual bookstore (yes, they still exist) and browse through your choices, you can also pop on over to's Test Prep Central.

The three most popular books are Kaplan's GRE: 1999-2000 Edition, Peterson's GRE Success 2000, and Barron's How To Prepare For The GRE Test. These books feature sample questions and strategies, as well as study plans and a concise and readable presentation of the most important information. However, each book is different and carries different features (for example, the Barron's book has an extensive vocabulary section with high-frequency words and the definition of each one), so be sure to comparison shop for your needs.

Crap. More school. Well, them's the breaks if you wanna up your score. The thing to keep in mind about test preparation courses is that they cannot guarantee you a high score. You still have to do huge amounts of work. But what a preparation course can do is guide you as to how your time can be best spent. The two most popular preparation schools are:

* The Kaplan Test Prep Center. You can get private tutoring or find a class in your area just by typing in your zip code and selecting the test you'll be taking. Prices tend to be steep though, so you should be willing to shell out some major bucks. For example, the tutoring services will run you $3,000 for 30 hours (quick math practice: $100/hr), and the class will cost you $900. Other less expensive options include online courses.
* The Princeton Review Center offers essentially the same service as Kaplan, although they focus more on the small classes (maximum of 8 students) rather than tutoring. The price of the class is about the same (though both centers are constantly offering deals to drive each other into the ground).

In addition to the Kaplan and Princeton Review web sites described above, here are some other web links for GRE strategies:

* GRE - Take a free GRE sample test, download GRE prep software, online books and use online tutoring. GREs are in the new mandatory Computer-Adaptive Test format.
* - A free online GRE preparation course. Includes tutorials, practice questions, tips, FAQ's and links.

Will you study diligently for months or will you crack open the study guide three days before the test? Will you waltz into the test center and sail through the exam or will you end up with your fist crashing through the computer screen? (Not recommended.) This SYW will put you on the right track to achieving a higher score, but the work ultimately rests on your shoulders.

When you go to take the test, you can't freeze up. Just take a deep breath and realize that you are way more prepared than the 98% of all GRE-takers that never even bothering practicing. You've already got the home court advantage! You're prepared, and you know it.

So without further ado, go forth, diligent student, and study . . . after you finish that ……………….


General Guidelines in Answering Interview QuestionsGeneral Guidelines in Answering Interview Questions

General Guidelines in Answering Interview Questions

Everyone is nervous on interviews. If you simply allow yourself to feel nervous, you'll do much better. Remember also that it's difficult for the interviewer as well.

In general, be upbeat and positive. Never be negative.

Rehearse your answers and time them. Never talk for more than 2 minutes straight.

Don't try to memorize answers word for word. Use the answers shown here as a guide only, and don't be afraid to include your own thoughts and words. To help you remember key concepts, jot down and review a few key words for each answer. Rehearse your answers frequently, and they will come to you naturally in interviews.

As you will read in the accompanying report, the single most important strategy in interviewing, as in all phases of your job search, is what we call: "The Greatest Executive Job Finding Secret." And that is...

Find out what people want, than show them how you can help them get it.

Find out what an employer wants most in his or her ideal candidate, then show how you meet those qualifications.

In other words, you must match your abilities, with the needs of the employer. You must sell what the buyer is buying. To do that, before you know what to emphasize in your answers, you must find out what the buyer is buying... what he is looking for. And the best way to do that is to ask a few questions yourself.

You will see how to bring this off skillfully as you read the first two questions of this report. But regardless of how you accomplish it, you must remember this strategy above all: before blurting out your qualifications, you must get some idea of what the employer wants most. Once you know what he wants, you can then present your qualifications as the perfect “key” that fits the “lock” of that position.

Other important interview strategies:

* Turn weaknesses into strengths (You'll see how to do this in a few moments.)
* Think before you answer. A pause to collect your thoughts is a hallmark of a thoughtful person.

As a daily exercise, practice being more optimistic. For example, try putting a positive spin on events and situations you would normally regard as negative. This is not meant to turn you into a Pollyanna, but to sharpen your selling skills. The best salespeople, as well as the best liked interview candidates, come off as being naturally optimistic, "can do" people. You will dramatically raise your level of attractiveness by daily practicing to be more optimistic.

Be honest...never lie.

Keep an interview diary. Right after each interview note what you did right, what could have gone a little better, and what steps you should take next with this contact. Then take those steps. Don't be like the 95% of humanity who say they will follow up on something, but never do.

About the 64 questions...

You might feel that the answers to the following questions are “canned”, and that they will seldom match up with the exact way you are asked the questions in actual interviews. The questions and answers are designed to be as specific and realistic as possible. But no preparation can anticipate thousands of possible variations on these questions. What's important is that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with the main strategies behind each answer. And it will be invaluable to you if you commit to memory a few key words that let you instantly call to mind your best answer to the various questions. If you do this, and follow the principles of successful interviewing presented here, you're going to do very well.
Good luck...and good job-hunting!

Avoid these six common IT interview mistakes

Hi Friends

I have got this nice article. I would like to share with all of you so that it can be helpful to all, This is written by a gentleman from US. Its worth reading it.

Avoid these six common IT interview mistakes

Tip #1: Don't discuss pay too early

As the manager of a software store for 10 years, I can honestly say that questions about pay in the first interview from anyone other than a temporary applicant always bothered me a little. Temp jobs aside, if you are not really out there just for the money, asking this question right out of the gate is going to make any other questions you ask sound conniving and insincere. Unless the subject comes up, don't wade into the issue of the pay in the first interview. You can talk about it after you impress the employer enough for a second interview.

Tip #2: Talk tech to techies only

Feel free to discuss what you know, but remember: If you are talking to a nontechnical manager or human resources representative, you are not going to impress them with talk about life in the trenches. My previous supervisor was totally unimpressed with anything to do with technology. A sure way to put the man to sleep was to begin any story that had to do with computers.

When I interviewed for a previous position, the department manager actually had a technically savvy person participate in the interview to ask and respond to questions she would not understand. When I saw this tactic being used, I knew it was not a time to try to impress with a lot of techno babble.

Answer questions about your work history briefly and keep the tech comments to a minimum until you know the history of the company and the people involved in the hiring process. If you have questions about the technology in use at the site, keep your questions specific and relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Tip #3: Keep your philosophy to yourself

If you hate Bill Gates, Windows XP, and the whole Office Suite, keep it to yourself. Ranting about your tech philosophy can ruin your chances at the position.

I once interviewed a young man for a retail sales position in a software store. When I asked about his opinion of the then-new Windows 98, the applicant ranted about "the revolution of UNIX" and loosening the grip of Microsoft on the PC market. I am not exaggerating; the man sounded like he was ready to sign on to a paramilitary group. I almost didn't have the heart to tell him my company was a Value Added Reseller for Microsoft.

Chances are, you will work with many people who need your help with one of the Microsoft products, so you don't want to blast the tools you will likely be using and supporting. If you are asked about how you feel about a product, be honest, but don't preach. The interviewer probably just wants to see how you respond to such questions.

Tip #4: Don't climb the advancement ladder in the interview

If you are joining the ranks of a new company, the last thing the interviewer wants to hear is, "How fast can I get out of this job?" Do not ask about opportunities for advancement until the second or third interview. If you are joining a company just to advance into another position, silence is golden. Keep it to yourself unless the interviewer asks or unless it is somehow already known that you'll be advancing quickly. Remember that what you say now can come back to haunt you later. You don't want to brag to someone who might be under your wing after a promotion.

Further, you never know what may happen if you actually get the job. Learn to accept and adapt and, above all, be happy you have a job. Due to downsizing, a former coworker of mine did not move into the network administration position she wanted and was expecting to get. The bitterness fostered by her broken expectations eventually caused her to resign. In the tight job market of the time—similar to the one now—and with her lack of certified qualifications, she ended up seeking work at a local restaurant.

Tip # 5: Avoid the dreaded electronic interruption

Cellular phone and pager etiquette might seem a trivial thing to those that are hooked up, but you can kiss any job opportunity goodbye if you interrupt an interview to take a telephone call, especially if the human resources representative has a low tolerance for personal digital devices. Only if you are exchanging information by invitation should you reveal the fact that you carry a PDA. If you wear it on a belt loop or somewhere that is exposed, lose it, along with any other electrical device hooks and loops, and store them in pocket, purse, or briefcase. If you can't spare the time away from the rest of the world to do an interview, why are you applying for the job?

I have conducted training classes with people who, when asked to turn off their phones and pagers during class, place their devices in silent mode. When giving a lecture to a class or holding a discussion, watching a person being silently buzzed is terribly distracting and also aggravating.

If you think getting rid of electronic communications devices isn't important, just ask any human resources rep who has had a person answer a cellular phone during a job interview. Then ask if the person got the job.

Tip six: Remember to say thank you

Beyond thanking your interviewers for their time as you leave, it's vital that you follow up in written form. If the competition for a position is tight, a follow-up thank you note can mean a lot. If the manager is slow to hire, the arrival of a thank-you note can serve as a reminder about the candidate who's awaiting the manager's next move.

Just after you've completed the interview, take note of anything specific you discussed and make a point of referencing it in your thank you letter. Even a nice greeting card is better than nothing.

It may seem like a small detail, but the experts will tell you that this tried-and-true tactic really makes an impact. A coworker of mine, who successfully worked as a job coach, used to keep a stack of generic notes in her desk. When a participant in her program applied for a job somewhere, she would give the person one of these notes to have them drop in the mail on the way home.


God bless you all.

Quotes on SUCCESS

Quotes on SUCCESS

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
~ Helen Keller

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
~ Roosevelt

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.
~ Beverly Sills

Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.
~ John Maxwell

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
~ Ronald E. Osborn

If you aren't making any mistakes, it's a sure sign you're playing it too safe.
~ John Maxwell

If you have the will to win, you have achieved half your success; if you don't, you have achieved half your failure.
-David Ambrose

Success is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition he has encountered and the courage with which he has maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.
~ Charles Lindbergh, Aviation pioneer

Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.
~ J.C. Penny

To bring one's self to a frame of mind and to the proper energy to accomplish things that require plain hard work continuously is the one big battle that everyone has. When this battle is won for all time, then everything is easy.
~ Thomas A. Buckner

Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.
~ John Wooden

You must do the very thing you think you cannot do.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having except as a result of hard work.
~ Booker T. Washington

A competitive world has two possibilities for you: you can lose or, if you want to win, you can change.
~ Lester C. Thurow 

True success is obeying God.
~ John Maxwell 

There are three ways to get something done: Do it yourself, employ someone or forbid your children to do it.
~ Monta Crane 

Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?
~ Frank Scully

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.
~ Booker T. Washington

All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.
~ James Russell Lowell

The secret of success is consistency of purpose.
~ Benjamin Disraeli

Doing little things with a strong desire to please God makes them really great.
~ St. Francis De Sales

I cannot give you a formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure - which is: try to please everybody.
~ Mr. Herbert Bayard Swope

Listing your personal milestones is like storing a pocketful of sunshine for a rainy day.

Sometimes our best is simply not enough.... We have to do what is required.
~ Sir Winston Churchill

Interview Tips

Interview Tips

1. Be on time!
Practise getting to the venue to see how long it will take. Public transport may be useless, the traffic may have been heavy, but however reasonable it won't affect the fact that your chances are reduced if you are late. Always remember - You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Aim to be early - you can always find a nearby cafe/shop/pub to wait in. And if worst comes to worst and you are going to be late, then definitely ring in and let them know.

2. Be Prepared!
Look at the employers' website and learn something about the company before you attend your interview. Feed them the opportunity to talk proudly about something positive you have found.

3. Write down and practice possible questions!
Writing them down and practicing them with someone will make it easier to remember when you get to the interview. Use the third person when talking about the job. Avoid sounding as though you assume the job is yours.

It is fine to ask about the package on offer and accommodation - living in and living out are particularly relevant. Don't forget to find out if the company will guarantee a resort or chalet - many will only allocate you a country. You could also try a fewer more testing questions such as how they differentiate themselves from their competitors or what they think the toughest/hardest part of the job is.

4. What are your weaknesses?
Don't be Spud from Trainspotting! 'None…ah well, ah'm a bit of a perfectionist actually!' Try to find an area of your experience/skill that is currently lacking. An interviewer will appreciate your candour - as long as whatever you disclose can be easily remedied.

5. You never get a second chance to make a first impression!
SMILE! Dress professionally in simple business attire. Just because you are going to be working in a ski resort does not mean you should wear Oakleys and a fleece to your interview. And don't forget that firm handshake and to maintain eye contact - without glaring!

6. Be honest!
There really is no point lying about your background and/or skills. If you get caught, or even manage to get out to resort and then get found out, you can be sure you won't be around for long! Job interviews are about matching needs - if there isn't a good match, then chances are that the job won't work out.

7. Check your CV for possible gaps!
Make sure you know how you are going to explain time gaps on your CV.

8. Talk about specific achievements!
Interviewers like to know how you felt about about a particular success. Some will ask for specific examples of things you've done that you're particularly proud of; how you solved problems; how you learned - and improved - from difficult situations.

9. Don't talk too much!
Spud again - Communication is a two-way thing so give them a chance

10. Prepare a sample menu plan!
If you are applying for a catering job then take along a sample menu plan. By this we mean a starter/main/dessert combination over six days, ideally with a vegetarian option. Think about teh balance of nutrients and how the colours will look on the plate. Our recipe section has a number of favourites.

11. Take a spare photo & CV with you!
Your interviewer won't be expecting it so you will impress them. It also helps them remember you after the interview.

12. Be enthusiastic and positive!
Don't criticize previous employers, particularly within the industry.
Focus on positive achievements and views.

12. Be on time!

And finally, Don't give up!
The fact is that you will not be offered every job however perfect you think you may be for it. Usually it's because the interviewer was completely blind to the talent that stood before them. However, just on the off chance that it was not, feedback from interviews where you have been turned down can be invaluable for improving future results. Ask politely if they can give you any feedback for the future - there's a job out there for you somewhere

64 HR Interview Questions with answers

stion 1 Tell me about yourself.

TRAPS: Beware, about 80% of all interviews begin with this “innocent” question. Many candidates, unprepared for the question, skewer themselves by rambling, recapping their life story, delving into ancient work history or personal matters.

BEST ANSWER: Start with the present and tell why you are well qualified for the position. Remember that the key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the single most important strategy in job hunting.

So, before you answer this or any question it's imperative that you try to uncover your interviewer's greatest need, want, problem or goal.

To do so, make you take these two steps:

1. Do all the homework you can before the interview to uncover this person's wants and needs (not the generalized needs of the industry or company)

2. As early as you can in the interview, ask for a more complete description of what the position entails. You might say: “I have a number of accomplishments I'd like to tell you about, but I want to make the best use of our time together and talk directly to your needs. To help me do, that, could you tell me more about the most important priorities of this position? All I know is what I (heard from the recruiter, read in the classified ad, etc.)”

Then, ALWAYS follow-up with a second and possibly, third question, to draw out his needs even more. Surprisingly, it's usually this second or third question that unearths what the interviewer is most looking for.

You might ask simply, "And in addition to that?..." or, "Is there anything else you see as essential to success in this position?:

This process will not feel easy or natural at first, because it is easier simply to answer questions, but only if you uncover the employer's wants and needs will your answers make the most sense. Practice asking these key questions before giving your answers, the process will feel more natural and you will be light years ahead of the other job candidates you're competing with.

After uncovering what the employer is looking for, describe why the needs of this job bear striking parallels to tasks you've succeeded at before. Be sure to illustrate with specific examples of your responsibilities and especially your achievements, all of which are geared to present yourself as a perfect match for the needs he has just described.

Question 2 What are your greatest strengths?

TRAPS: This question seems like a softball lob, but be prepared. You don't want to come across as egotistical or arrogant. Neither is this a time to be humble.

BEST ANSWER: You know that your key strategy is to first uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs before you answer questions. And from Question 1, you know how to do this.

Prior to any interview, you should have a list mentally prepared of your greatest strengths. You should also have, a specific example or two, which illustrates each strength, an example chosen from your most recent and most impressive achievements.

You should, have this list of your greatest strengths and corresponding examples from your achievements so well committed to memory that you can recite them cold after being shaken awake at 2:30AM.

Then, once you uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs, you can choose those achievements from your list that best match up.

As a general guideline, the 10 most desirable traits that all employers love to see in their employees are:

1. A proven track record as an achiever...especially if your achievements match up with the employer's greatest wants and needs.

2. "savvy".

3. Honesty...integrity...a decent human being.

4. Good fit with corporate culture...someone to feel comfortable with...a team player who meshes well with interviewer's team.

5. Likeability...positive attitude...sense of humor.

6. Good communication skills.

7. Dedication...willingness to walk the extra mile to achieve excellence.

8. Definiteness of purpose...clear goals.

9. Enthusiasm...high level of motivation.

10. Confident...healthy...a leader.

Question 3 What are your greatest weaknesses?

TRAPS: Beware - this is an eliminator question, designed to shorten the candidate list. Any admission of a weakness or fault will earn you an “A” for honesty, but an “F” for the interview.

PASSABLE ANSWER: Disguise a strength as a weakness.

Example: “I sometimes push my people too hard. I like to work with a sense of urgency and everyone is not always on the same wavelength.”

Drawback: This strategy is better than admitting a flaw, but it's so widely used, it is transparent to any experienced interviewer.

BEST ANSWER: (and another reason it's so important to get a thorough description of your interviewer's needs before you answer questions): Assure the interviewer that you can think of nothing that would stand in the way of your performing in this position with excellence. Then, quickly review you strongest qualifications.

Example: “Nobody's perfect, but based on what you've told me about this position, I believe I' d make an outstanding match. I know that when I hire people, I look for two things most of all. Do they have the qualifications to do the job well, and the motivation to do it well? Everything in my background shows I have both the qualifications and a strong desire to achieve excellence in whatever I take on. So I can say in all honesty that I see nothing that would cause you even a small concern about my ability or my strong desire to perform this job with excellence.”

Alternate strategy (if you don't yet know enough about the position to talk about such a perfect fit):
Instead of confessing a weakness, describe what you like most and like least, making sure that what you like most matches up with the most important qualification for success in the position, and what you like least is not essential.

Example: Let's say you're applying for a teaching position. “If given a choice, I like to spend as much time as possible in front of my prospects selling, as opposed to shuffling paperwork back at the office. Of course, I long ago learned the importance of filing paperwork properly, and I do it conscientiously. But what I really love to do is sell (if your interviewer were a sales manager, this should be music to his ears.)

Question 4 Tell me about something you did – or failed to do – that you now feel a little ashamed of.

TRAPS: There are some questions your interviewer has no business asking, and this is one. But while you may feel like answering, “none of your business,” naturally you can’t. Some interviewers ask this question on the chance you admit to something, but if not, at least they’ll see how you think on your feet.

Some unprepared candidates, flustered by this question, unburden themselves of guilt from their personal life or career, perhaps expressing regrets regarding a parent, spouse, child, etc. All such answers can be disastrous.

BEST ANSWER: As with faults and weaknesses, never confess a regret. But don’t seem as if you’re stonewalling either.

Best strategy: Say you harbor no regrets, then add a principle or habit you practice regularly for healthy human relations.

Example: Pause for reflection, as if the question never occurred to you. Then say, “You know, I really can’t think of anything.” (Pause again, then add): “I would add that as a general management principle, I’ve found that the best way to avoid regrets is to avoid causing them in the first place. I practice one habit that helps me a great deal in this regard. At the end of each day, I mentally review the day’s events and conversations to take a second look at the people and developments I’m involved with and do a doublecheck of what they’re likely to be feeling. Sometimes I’ll see things that do need more follow-up, whether a pat on the back, or maybe a five minute chat in someone’s office to make sure we’re clear on things…whatever.”

“I also like to make each person feel like a member of an elite team, like the Boston Celtics or LA Lakers in their prime. I’ve found that if you let each team member know you expect excellence in their performance…if you work hard to set an example yourself…and if you let people know you appreciate and respect their feelings, you wind up with a highly motivated group, a team that’s having fun at work because they’re striving for excellence rather than brooding over slights or regrets.”

Question 5 Why are you leaving (or did you leave) this position?

TRAPS: Never badmouth your previous industry, company, board, boss, staff, employees or customers. This rule is inviolable: never be negative. Any mud you hurl will only soil your suit.

Especially avoid words like “personality clash”, “didn’t get along”, or others which cast a shadow on your competence, integrity, or temperament.


(If you have a job presently)
If you’re not yet 100% committed to leaving your present post, don’t be afraid to say so. Since you have a job, you are in a stronger position than someone who does not. But don’t be coy either. State honestly what you’d be hoping to find in a new spot. Of course, as stated often before, you answer will all the stronger if you have already uncovered what this position is all about and you match your desires to it.

(If you do not presently have a job.)
Never lie about having been fired. It’s unethical – and too easily checked. But do try to deflect the reason from you personally. If your firing was the result of a takeover, merger, division wide layoff, etc., so much the better.

But you should also do something totally unnatural that will demonstrate consummate professionalism. Even if it hurts , describe your own firing – candidly, succinctly and without a trace of bitterness – from the company’s point-of-view, indicating that you could understand why it happened and you might have made the same decision yourself.

Your stature will rise immensely and, most important of all, you will show you are healed from the wounds inflicted by the firing. You will enhance your image as first-class management material and stand head and shoulders above the legions of firing victims who, at the slightest provocation, zip open their shirts to expose their battle scars and decry the unfairness of it all.

For all prior positions:
Make sure you’ve prepared a brief reason for leaving. Best reasons: more money, opportunity, responsibility or growth.

Question 6 The “Silent Treatment”

TRAPS: Beware – if you are unprepared for this question, you will probably not handle it right and possibly blow the interview. Thank goodness most interviewers don’t employ it.It’s normally used by those determined to see how you respond under stress. Here’s how it works:

You answer an interviewer’s question and then, instead of asking another, he just stares at you in a deafening silence.

You wait, growing a bit uneasy, and there he sits, silent as Mt.Rushmore, as if he doesn’t believe what you’ve just said, or perhaps making you feel that you’ve unwittingly violated some cardinal rule of interview etiquette.

When you get this silent treatment after answering a particularly difficult question , such as “tell me about your weaknesses”, its intimidating effect can be most disquieting, even to polished job hunters.

Most unprepared candidates rush in to fill the void of silence, viewing prolonged, uncomfortable silences as an invitation to clear up the previous answer which has obviously caused some problem. And that’s what they do – ramble on, sputtering more and more information, sometimes irrelevant and often damaging, because they are suddenly playing the role of someone who’s goofed and is now trying to recoup.But since the candidate doesn’t know where or how he goofed, he just keeps talking, showing how flustered and confused he is by the interviewer’s unmovable silence.

BEST ANSWER: Like a primitive tribal mask, the Silent Treatment loses all it power to frighten you once you refuse to be intimidated. If your interviewer pulls it, keep quiet yourself for a while and then ask, with sincere politeness and not a trace of sarcasm, “Is there anything else I can fill in on that point?” That’s all there is to it.

Whatever you do, don’t let the Silent Treatment intimidate you into talking a blue streak, because you could easily talk yourself out of the position.

Question 7 Why should I hire you?

TRAPS: Believe it or not, this is a killer question because so many candidates are unprepared for it. If you stammer or adlib you’ve blown it.

BEST ANSWER: By now you can see how critical it is to apply the overall strategy of uncovering the employer’s needsbefore you answer questions. If you know the employer’s greatest needs and desires, this question will give you a big leg up over other candidates because you will give him better reasons for hiring you than anyone else is likely to…reasons tied directly to his needs.

Whether your interviewer asks you this question explicitly or not, this is the most important question of your interview because he must answer this question favorably in is own mind before you will be hired. So help him out! Walk through each of the position’s requirements as you understand them, and follow each with a reason why you meet that requirement so well.

Example: “As I understand your needs, you are first and foremost looking for someone who can manage the sales and marketing of your book publishing division. As you’ve said you need someone with a strong background in trade book sales.This is where I’ve spent almost all of my career, so I’ve chalked up 18 years of experience exactly in this area. I believe that I know the right contacts, methods, principles, and successful management techniques as well as any person can in our industry.”

“You also need someone who can expand your book distribution channels. In my prior post, my innovative promotional ideas doubled, then tripled, the number of outlets selling our books. I’m confident I can do the same for you.”

“You need someone to give a new shot in the arm to your mail order sales, someone who knows how to sell in space and direct mail media. Here, too, I believe I have exactly the experience you need. In the last five years, I’ve increased our mail order book sales from $600,000 to $2,800,000, and now we’re the country’s second leading marketer of scientific and medical books by mail.” Etc., etc., etc.,

Every one of these selling “couplets” (his need matched by your qualifications) is a touchdown that runs up your score. IT is your best opportunity to outsell your competition.

Question 8 Aren’t you overqualified for this position?

TRAPS: The employer may be concerned that you’ll grow dissatisfied and leave.

BEST ANSWER: As with any objection, don’t view this as a sign of imminent defeat. It’s an invitation to teach the interviewer a new way to think about this situation, seeing advantages instead of drawbacks.

Example: “I recognize the job market for what it is – a marketplace. Like any marketplace, it’s subject to the laws of supply and demand. So ‘overqualified’ can be a relative term, depending on how tight the job market is. And right now, it’s very tight. I understand and accept that.”

“I also believe that there could be very positive benefits for both of us in this match.”

“Because of my unusually strong experience in ________________ , I could start to contribute right away, perhaps much faster than someone who’d have to be brought along more slowly.”

“There’s also the value of all the training and years of experience that other companies have invested tens of thousands of dollars to give me. You’d be getting all the value of that without having to pay an extra dime for it. With someone who has yet to acquire that experience, he’d have to gain it on your nickel.

“I could also help you in many things they don’t teach at theHarvard Business School. For example…(how to hire, train, motivate, etc.) When it comes to knowing how to work well with people and getting the most out of them, there’s just no substitute for what you learn over many years of front-line experience. You company would gain all this, too.”

“From my side, there are strong benefits, as well. Right now, I am unemployed. I want to work, very much, and the position you have here is exactly what I love to do and am best at. I’ll be happy doing this work and that’s what matters most to me, a lot more that money or title.”

“Most important, I’m looking to make a long term commitment in my career now. I’ve had enough of job-hunting and want a permanent spot at this point in my career. I also know that if I perform this job with excellence, other opportunities cannot help but open up for me right here. In time, I’ll find many other ways to help this company and in so doing, help myself. I really am looking to make a long-term commitment.”

NOTE: The main concern behind the “overqualified” question is that you will leave your new employer as soon as something better comes your way. Anything you can say to demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to the employer and reassure him that you’re looking to stay for the long-term will help you overcome this objection.

Question 9 Where do you see yourself five years from now?

TRAPS: One reason interviewers ask this question is to see if you’re settling for this position, using it merely as a stopover until something better comes along. Or they could be trying to gauge your level of ambition.

If you’re too specific, i.e., naming the promotions you someday hope to win, you’ll sound presumptuous. If you’re too vague, you’ll seem rudderless.

BEST ANSWER: Reassure your interviewer that you’re looking to make a long-term commitment…that this position entails exactly what you’re looking to do and what you do extremely well. As for your future, you believe that if you perform each job at hand with excellence, future opportunities will take care of themselves.

Example: “I am definitely interested in making a long-term commitment to my next position. Judging by what you’ve told me about this position, it’s exactly what I’m looking for and what I am very well qualified to do. In terms of my future career path, I’m confident that if I do my work with excellence, opportunities will inevitable open up for me. It’s always been that way in my career, and I’m confident I’ll have similar opportunities here.”

Question 10 Describe your ideal company, location and job.

TRAPS: This is often asked by an experienced interviewer who thinks you may be overqualified, but knows better than to show his hand by posing his objection directly. So he’ll use this question instead, which often gets a candidate to reveal that, indeed, he or she is looking for something other than the position at hand.

BEST ANSWER: The only right answer is to describe what this company is offering, being sure to make your answer believable with specific reasons, stated with sincerity, why each quality represented by this opportunity is attractive to you.

Remember that if you’re coming from a company that’s the leader in its field or from a glamorous or much admired company, industry, city or position, your interviewer and his company may well have an “Avis” complex. That is, they may feel a bit defensive about being “second best” to the place you’re coming from, worried that you may consider them bush league.

This anxiety could well be there even though you’ve done nothing to inspire it. You must go out of your way to assuage such anxiety, even if it’s not expressed, by putting their virtues high on the list of exactly what you’re looking for, providing credible reason for wanting these qualities.

If you do not express genuine enthusiasm for the firm, its culture, location, industry, etc., you may fail to answer this “Avis” complex objection and, as a result, leave the interviewer suspecting that a hot shot like you, coming from a Fortune 500 company in New York, just wouldn’t be happy at an unknown manufacturer based in TopekaKansas.

Question 11 Why do you want to work at our company?

TRAPS: This question tests whether you’ve done any homework about the firm. If you haven’t, you lose. If you have, you win big.

BEST ANSWER: This question is your opportunity to hit the ball out of the park, thanks to the in-depth research you should do before any interview.

Best sources for researching your target company: annual reports, the corporate newsletter, contacts you know at the company or its suppliers, advertisements, articles about the company in the trade press.

Question 12 What are your career options right now?

TRAPS: The interviewer is trying to find out, “How desperate are you?”

BEST ANSWER: Prepare for this question by thinking of how you can position yourself as a desired commodity. If you are still working, describe the possibilities at your present firm and why, though you’re greatly appreciated there, you’re looking for something more (challenge, money, responsibility, etc.).Also mention that you’re seriously exploring opportunities with one or two other firms.

If you’re not working, you can talk about other employment possibilities you’re actually exploring. But do this with a light touch, speaking only in general terms. You don’t want to seem manipulative or coy.

Question 13 Why have you been out of work so long?

TRAPS: A tough question if you’ve been on the beach a long time. You don’t want to seem like damaged goods.

BEST ANSWER: You want to emphasize factors which have prolonged your job search by your own choice.

Example: “After my job was terminated, I made a conscious decision not to jump on the first opportunities to come along.In my life, I’ve found out that you can always turn a negative into a positive IF you try hard enough. This is what I determined to do. I decided to take whatever time I needed to think through what I do best, what I most want to do, where I’d like to do it…and then identify those companies that could offer such an opportunity.”

“Also, in all honesty, you have to factor in the recession (consolidation, stabilization, etc.) in the (banking, financial services, manufacturing, advertising, etc.) industry.”

“So between my being selective and the companies in our industry downsizing, the process has taken time. But in the end, I’m convinced that when I do find the right match, all that careful evaluation from both sides of the desk will have been well worthwhile for both the company that hires me and myself.

Question 14 Tell me honestly about the strong points and weak points of your boss (company, management team, etc.)…

TRAPS: Skillfull interviewers sometimes make it almost irresistible to open up and air a little dirty laundry from your previous position. DON’T

BEST ANSWER: Remember the rule: Never be negative.Stress only the good points, no matter how charmingly you’re invited to be critical.

Your interviewer doesn’t care a whit about your previous boss. He wants to find out how loyal and positive you are, and whether you’ll criticize him behind his back if pressed to do so by someone in this own company. This question is your opportunity to demonstrate your loyalty to those you work with.

Question 15 What good books have you read lately?

TRAPS: As in all matters of your interview, never fake familiarity you don’t have. Yet you don’t want to seem like a dullard who hasn’t read a book since Tom Sawyer.

BEST ANSWER: Unless you’re up for a position in academia or as book critic for The New York Times, you’re not expected to be a literary lion. But it wouldn’t hurt to have read a handful of the most recent and influential books in your profession and on management.

Consider it part of the work of your job search to read up on a few of these leading books. But make sure they are qualitybooks that reflect favorably upon you, nothing that could even remotely be considered superficial. Finally, add a recently published bestselling work of fiction by a world-class author and you’ll pass this question with flying colors.

Question 16 Tell me about a situation when your work was criticized.

TRAPS: This is a tough question because it’s a more clever and subtle way to get you to admit to a weakness. You can’t dodge it by pretending you’ve never been criticized.Everybody has been. Yet it can be quite damaging to start admitting potential faults and failures that you’d just as soon leave buried.

This question is also intended to probe how well you accept criticism and direction.

BEST ANSWERS: Begin by emphasizing the extremely positive feedback you’ve gotten throughout your career and (if it’s true) that your performance reviews have been uniformly excellent.

Of course, no one is perfect and you always welcome suggestions on how to improve your performance. Then, give an example of a not-too-damaging learning experience fromearly in your career and relate the ways this lesson has since helped you. This demonstrates that you learned from the experience and the lesson is now one of the strongest breastplates in your suit of armor.

If you are pressed for a criticism from a recent position, choose something fairly trivial that in no way is essential to your successful performance. Add that you’ve learned from this, too, and over the past several years/months, it’s no longer an area of concern because you now make it a regular practice to…etc.

Another way to answer this question would be to describe your intention to broaden your master of an area of growing importance in your field. For example, this might be a computer program you’ve been meaning to sit down and learn… a new management technique you’ve read about…or perhaps attending a seminar on some cutting-edge branch of your profession.

Again, the key is to focus on something not essential to your brilliant performance but which adds yet another dimension to your already impressive knowledge base.

Question 17 What are your outside interests?

TRAPS: You want to be a well-rounded, not a drone. But your potential employer would be even more turned off if he suspects that your heavy extracurricular load will interfere with your commitment to your work duties.

BEST ANSWERS: Try to gauge how this company’s culture would look upon your favorite outside activities and be guided accordingly.

You can also use this question to shatter any stereotypes that could limit your chances. If you’re over 50, for example, describe your activities that demonstrate physical stamina. If you’re young, mention an activity that connotes wisdom and institutional trust, such as serving on the board of a popular charity.

But above all, remember that your employer is hiring your for what you can do for him, not your family, yourself or outside organizations, no matter how admirable those activities may be.

Question 18 The “Fatal Flaw” question

TRAPS: If an interviewer has read your resume carefully, he may try to zero in on a “fatal flaw” of your candidacy, perhaps that you don’t have a college degree…you’ve been out of the job market for some time…you never earned your CPA, etc.

A fatal flaw question can be deadly, but usually only if you respond by being overly defensive.

BEST ANSWERS: As every master salesperson knows, you will encounter objections (whether stated or merely thought) in every sale. They’re part and parcel of the buyer’s anxiety.The key is not to exacerbate the buyer’s anxiety but diminishit. Here’s how…

Whenever you come up against a fatal flaw question:

1. Be completely honest, open and straightforward about admitting the shortcoming. (Showing you have nothing to hide diminishes the buyer’s anxiety.)

2. Do not apologize or try to explain it away. You know that this supposed flaw is nothing to be concerned about, and this is the attitude you want your interviewer to adopt as well.

3. Add that as desirable as such a qualification might be, its lack has made you work all the harder throughout your career and has not prevented you from compiling an outstanding tack record of achievements. You might even give examples of how, through a relentless commitment to excellence, you have consistently outperformed those who do have this qualification.

Of course, the ultimate way to handle “fatal flaw” questions is to prevent them from arising in the first place. You will do that by following the master strategy described in Question 1, i.e., uncovering the employers needs and them matching your qualifications to those needs.

Once you’ve gotten the employer to start talking about his most urgently-felt wants and goals for the position, and then help him see in step-by-step fashion how perfectly your background and achievements match up with those needs, you’re going to have one very enthusiastic interviewer on your hands, one who is no longer looking for “fatal flaws”.

Question 19 How do you feel about reporting to a younger person (minority, woman, etc)?

TRAPS: It’s a shame that some interviewers feel the need to ask this question, but many understand the reality that prejudices still exist among some job candidates, and it’s better to try to flush them out beforehand.

The trap here is that in today’s politically sensitized environment, even a well-intentioned answer can result in planting your foot neatly in your mouth. Avoid anything which smacks of a patronizing or an insensitive attitude, such as “I think they make terrific bosses” or “Hey, some of my best friends are…”

Of course, since almost anyone with an IQ above room temperature will at least try to steadfastly affirm the right answer here, your interviewer will be judging your sinceritymost of all. “Do you really feel that way?” is what he or she will be wondering.

So you must make your answer believable and not just automatic. If the firm is wise enough to have promoted peopled on the basis of ability alone, they’re likely quite proud of it, and prefer to hire others who will wholeheartedly share their strong sense of fair play.

BEST ANSWER: You greatly admire a company that hires and promotes on merit alone and you couldn’t agree more with that philosophy. The age (gender, race, etc.) of the person you report to would certainly make no difference to you.

Whoever has that position has obviously earned it and knows their job well. Both the person and the position are fully deserving of respect. You believe that all people in a company, from the receptionist to the Chairman, work best when their abilities, efforts and feelings are respected and rewarded fairly, and that includes you. That’s the best type of work environment you can hope to find.

Question 20 On confidential matters…

TRAPS: When an interviewer presses you to reveal confidential information about a present or former employer, you may feel it’s a no-win situation. If you cooperate, you could be judged untrustworthy. If you don’t, you may irritate the interviewer and seem obstinate, uncooperative or overly suspicious.

BEST ANSWER: Your interviewer may press you for this information for two reasons.

First, many companies use interviews to research the competition. It’s a perfect set-up. Here in their own lair, is an insider from the enemy camp who can reveal prized information on the competition’s plans, research, financial condition, etc.

Second, the company may be testing your integrity to see if you can be cajoled or bullied into revealing confidential data.

What to do? The answer here is easy. Never reveal anything truly confidential about a present or former employer. By all means, explain your reticence diplomatically. For example, “I certainly want to be as open as I can about that. But I also wish to respect the rights of those who have trusted me with their most sensitive information, just as you would hope to be able to trust any of your key people when talking with a competitor…”

And certainly you can allude to your finest achievements in specific ways that don’t reveal the combination to the company safe.

But be guided by the golden rule. If you were the owner of your present company, would you feel it ethically wrong for the information to be given to your competitors? If so, steadfastly refuse to reveal it.

Remember that this question pits your desire to be cooperative against your integrity. Faced with any such choice, always choose integrity. It is a far more valuable commodity than whatever information the company may pry from you. Moreover, once you surrender the information, your stock goes down. They will surely lose respect for you.

One President we know always presses candidates unmercifully for confidential information. If he doesn’t get it, he grows visibly annoyed, relentlessly inquisitive, It’s all an act.He couldn’t care less about the information. This is his way of testing the candidate’s moral fiber. Only those who hold fast are hired.

Question 21 Would you lie for the company?

TRAPS: This another question that pits two values against one another, in this case loyalty against integrity.

BEST ANSWER: Try to avoid choosing between two values, giving a positive statement which covers all bases instead.

Example: “I would never do anything to hurt the company..”

If aggressively pressed to choose between two competing values, always choose personal integrity. It is the most prized of all values.

Question 22 Looking back, what would you do differently in your life?

TRAPS: This question is usually asked to uncover any life-influencing mistakes, regrets, disappointments or problems that may continue to affect your personality and performance.

You do not want to give the interviewer anything negative to remember you by, such as some great personal or career disappointment, even long ago, that you wish could have been avoided.

Nor do you wish to give any answer which may hint that your whole heart and soul will not be in your work.

BEST ANSWER: Indicate that you are a happy, fulfilled, optimistic person and that, in general, you wouldn’t change a thing.

Example: “It’s been a good life, rich in learning and experience, and the best it yet to come. Every experience in life is a lesson it its own way. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Question 23 Could you have done better in your last job?

TRAPS: This is no time for true confessions of major or even minor problems.

BEST ANSWER: Again never be negative.

Example: “I suppose with the benefit of hindsight you can always find things to do better, of course, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything of major consequence.”

(If more explanation seems necessary)
Describer a situation that didn’t suffer because of you but from external conditions beyond your control.

For example, describe the disappointment you felt with a test campaign, new product launch, merger, etc., which looked promising at first, but led to underwhelming results. “I wish we could have known at the start what we later found out (about the economy turning, the marketplace changing, etc.), but since we couldn’t, we just had to go for it. And we did learn from it…”

Question 24 Can you work under pressure?

TRAPS: An easy question, but you want to make your answerbelievable.

BEST ANSWER: Absolutely…(then prove it with a vivid example or two of a goal or project accomplished under severe pressure.)

Question 25 What makes you angry?

TRAPS: You don’t want to come across either as a hothead or a wimp.

BEST ANSWER: Give an answer that’s suited to both your personality and the management style of the firm. Here, the homework you’ve done about the company and its style can help in your choice of words.

Examples: If you are a reserved person and/or the corporate culture is coolly professional:

“I’m an even-tempered and positive person by nature, and I believe this helps me a great deal in keeping my department running smoothly, harmoniously and with a genuine esprit de corps. I believe in communicating clearly what’s expected, getting people’s commitment to those goals, and then following up continuously to check progress.”

“If anyone or anything is going off track, I want to know about it early. If, after that kind of open communication and follow up, someone isn’t getting the job done, I’ll want to know why. If there’s no good reason, then I’ll get impatient and angry…and take appropriate steps from there. But if you hire good people, motivate them to strive for excellence and then follow up constantly, it almost never gets to that state.”

If you are feisty by nature and/or the position calls for a tough straw boss.

“You know what makes me angry? People who (the fill in the blanks with the most objectionable traits for this type of position)…people who don’t pull their own weight, who are negative, people who lie…etc.”

Question 26 Why aren’t you earning more money at this stage of your career?

TRAPS: You don’t want to give the impression that money is not important to you, yet you want to explain why your salary may be a little below industry standards.

BEST ANSWER: You like to make money, but other factors are even more important.

Example: “Making money is very important to me, and one reason I’m here is because I’m looking to make more.Throughout my career, what’s been even more important to me is doing work I really like to do at the kind of company I like and respect.

(Then be prepared to be specific about what your ideal position and company would be like, matching them as closely as possible to the opportunity at hand.

Question 27 Who has inspired you in your life and why?

TRAPS: The two traps here are unpreparedness and irrelevance. If you grope for an answer, it seems you’ve never been inspired. If you ramble about your high school basketball coach, you’ve wasted an opportunity to present qualities of great value to the company.

BEST ANSWER: Have a few heroes in mind, from your mental “Board of Directors” – Leaders in your industry, from history or anyone else who has been your mentor.

Be prepared to give examples of how their words, actions or teachings have helped inspire your achievements. As always, prepare an answer which highlights qualities that would be highly valuable in the position you are seeking.

Question 28 What was the toughest decision you ever had to make?

TRAPS: Giving an unprepared or irrelevant answer.

BEST ANSWER: Be prepared with a good example, explaining why the decision was difficult…the process you followed in reaching it…the courageous or effective way you carried it out…and the beneficial results.

Question 29 Tell me about the most boring job you’ve ever had.

TRAPS: You give a very memorable description of a very boring job. Result? You become associated with this boring job in the interviewer’s mind.

BEST ANSWER: You have never allowed yourself to grow bored with a job and you can’t understand it when others let themselves fall into that rut.

Example: Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, but that I’ve never found myself bored with any job I have ever held. I’ve always enjoyed hard work. As with actors who feel there are no small parts, I also believe that in every company or department there are exciting challenges and intriguing problems crying out for energetic and enthusiastic solutions. If you’re bored, it’s probably because you’re not challenging yourself to tackle those problems right under your nose.”

Question 30 Have you been absent from work more than a few days in any previous position?

TRAPS: If you’ve had a problem, you can’t lie. You could easily be found out. Yet admitting an attendance problem could raise many flags.

BEST ANSWER: If you have had no problem, emphasize your excellent and consistent attendance record throughout your career.

Also describe how important you believe such consistent attendance is for a key executive…why it’s up to you to set an example of dedication…and why there’s just no substitute for being there with your people to keep the operation running smoothly, answer questions and handle problems and crises as they arise.

If you do have a past attendance problem, you want to minimize it, making it clear that it was an exceptional circumstance and that it’s cause has been corrected.

To do this, give the same answer as above but preface it with something like, “Other that being out last year (or whenever) because of (your reason, which is now in the past), I have never had a problem and have enjoyed an excellent attendance record throughout my career. Furthermore, I believe, consistent attendance is important because…” (Pick up the rest of the answer as outlined above.).

Question 31 What changes would you make if you came on board?

TRAPS: Watch out! This question can derail your candidacy faster than a bomb on the tracks – and just as you are about to be hired.

Reason: No matter how bright you are, you cannot know the right actions to take in a position before you settle in and get to know the operation’s strengths, weaknesses key people, financial condition, methods of operation, etc. If you lunge at this temptingly baited question, you will probably be seen as someone who shoots from the hip.

Moreover, no matter how comfortable you may feel with your interviewer, you are still an outsider. No one, including your interviewer, likes to think that a know-it-all outsider is going to come in, turn the place upside down and with sweeping, grand gestures, promptly demonstrate what jerks everybody’s been for years.

BEST ANSWER: You, of course, will want to take a good hard look at everything the company is doing before making any recommendations.

Example: “Well, I wouldn’t be a very good doctor if I gave my diagnosis before the examination. Should you hire me, as I hope you will, I’d want to take a good hard look at everything you’re doing and understand why it’s being done that way. I’d like to have in-depth meetings with you and the other key people to get a deeper grasp of what you feel you’re doing right and what could be improved.

“From what you’ve told me so far, the areas of greatest concern to you are…” (name them. Then do two things. First, ask if these are in fact his major concerns. If so then reaffirm how your experience in meeting similar needs elsewhere might prove very helpful).

Question 32 I’m concerned that you don’t have as much experience as we’d like in…

TRAPS: This could be a make-or-break question. The interviewer mostly likes what he sees, but has doubts over one key area. If you can assure him on this point, the job may be yours.

BEST ANSWER: This question is related to “The Fatal Flaw” (Question 18), but here the concern is not that you are totally missing some qualifications, such as CPA certification, but rather that your experience is light in one area.

Before going into any interview, try to identify the weakest aspects of your candidacy from this company’s point of view.Then prepare the best answer you possible can to shore up your defenses.

To get past this question with flying colors, you are going to rely on your master strategy of uncovering the employer’s greatest wants and needs and then matching them with your strengths. Since you already know how to do this from Question 1, you are in a much stronger position.

More specifically, when the interviewer poses as objection like this, you should…

1. Agree on the importance of this qualification.

2. Explain that your strength may be indeed be greater than your resume indicates because…

3. When this strength is added to your other strengths, it’s really your combination of qualifications that’s most important.

Then review the areas of your greatest strengths that match up most favorably with the company’s most urgently-felt wants and needs.

This is powerful way to handle this question for two reasons.First, you’re giving your interviewer more ammunition in the area of his concern. But more importantly, you’re shifting his focus away from this one, isolated area and putting it on theunique combination of strengths you offer, strengths which tie in perfectly with his greatest wants.

Question 33 How do you feel about working nights and weekends?

TRAPS: Blurt out “no way, Jose” and you can kiss the job offer goodbye. But what if you have a family and want to work a reasonably normal schedule? Is there a way to get both the job and the schedule you want?

BEST ANSWER: First, if you’re a confirmed workaholic, this question is a softball lob. Whack it out of the park on the first swing by saying this kind of schedule is just your style. Add that your family understands it. Indeed, they’re happy for you, as they know you get your greatest satisfaction from your work.

If however, you prefer a more balanced lifestyle, answer this question with another: What’s the norm for your best people here?

If the hours still sound unrealistic for you, ask, “Do you have any top people who perform exceptionally for you, but who also have families and like to get home in time to see them at night?” Chances are this company does, and this associates you with this other “top-performers-who-leave-not-later-than-six” group.

Depending on the answer, be honest about how you would fit into the picture. If all those extra hours make you uncomfortable, say so, but phrase your response positively.

Example: “I love my work and do it exceptionally well. I think the results speak for themselves, especially in …(mention your two or three qualifications of greater interest to the employer. Remember, this is what he wants most, not a workaholic with weak credentials). Not only would I bring these qualities, but I’ve built my whole career on working not just hard, but smart. I think you’ll find me one of the mostproductive people here.

do have a family who likes to see me after work and on weekends. They add balance and richness to my life, which in turn helps me be happy and productive at work. If I could handle some of the extra work at home in the evenings or on weekends, that would be ideal. You’d be getting a person of exceptional productivity who meets your needs with strong credentials. And I’d be able to handle some of the heavy workload at home where I can be under the same roof as my family. Everybody would win.”

Question 34 Are you willing to relocate or travel?

TRAPS: Answer with a flat “no” and you may slam the door shut on this opportunity. But what if you’d really prefer not to relocate or travel, yet wouldn’t want to lose the job offer over it?

BEST ANSWER: First find out where you may have to relocate and how much travel may be involved. Then respond to the question.

If there’s no problem, say so enthusiastically.

If you do have a reservation, there are two schools of thought on how to handle it.

One advises you to keep your options open and your reservations to yourself in the early going, by saying, “no problem”. You strategy here is to get the best offer you can, then make a judgment whether it’s worth it to you to relocate or travel.

Also, by the time the offer comes through, you may have other offers and can make a more informed decision. Why kill of this opportunity before it has chance to blossom into something really special? And if you’re a little more desperate three months from now, you might wish you hadn’t slammed the door on relocating or traveling.

The second way to handle this question is to voice a reservation, but assert that you’d be open to relocating (or traveling) for the right opportunity.

The answering strategy you choose depends on how eager you are for the job. If you want to take no chances, choose the first approach.

If you want to play a little harder-to-get in hopes of generating a more enticing offer, choose the second.

Question 35 Do you have the stomach to fire people?Have you had experience firing many people?

TRAPS: This “innocent” question could be a trap door which sends you down a chute and lands you in a heap of dust outside the front door. Why? Because its real intent is not just to see if you’ve got the stomach to fire, but also to uncoverpoor judgment in hiring which has caused you to fire so many.Also, if you fire so often, you could be a tyrant.

So don’t rise to the bait by boasting how many you’ve fired, unless you’ve prepared to explain why it was beyond your control, and not the result of your poor hiring procedures or foul temperament.

BEST ANSWER: Describe the rational and sensible management process you follow in both hiring and firing.

Example: “My whole management approach is to hire the best people I can find, train them thoroughly and well, get them excited and proud to be part of our team, and then work with them to achieve our goals together. If you do all of that right, especially hiring the right people, I’ve found you don’t have to fire very often.

“So with me, firing is a last resort. But when it’s got to be done, it’s got to be done, and the faster and cleaner, the better. A poor employee can wreak terrible damage in undermining the morale of an entire team of good people.When there’s no other way, I’ve found it’s better for all concerned to act decisively in getting rid of offenders who won’t change their ways.”

Question 36 Why have you had so many jobs?

TRAPS: Your interviewer fears you may leave this position quickly, as you have others. He’s concerned you may be unstable, or a “problem person” who can’t get along with others.

BEST ANSWER: First, before you even get to the interview stage, you should try to minimize your image as job hopper. If there are several entries on your resume of less than one year, consider eliminating the less important ones. Perhaps you can specify the time you spent at previous positions inrounded years not in months and years.

Example: Instead of showing three positions this way:

6/1982 – 3/1983, Position A;
4/1983 – 12/1983, Position B;
1/1984 – 8/1987, Position C;

…it would be better to show simply:

1982 – 1983, Position A;
1984 – 1987 Position C.

In other words, you would drop Position B altogether. Notice what a difference this makes in reducing your image as a job hopper.

Once in front of the interviewer and this question comes up, you must try to reassure him. Describe each position as part of an overall pattern of growth and career destination.

Be careful not to blame other people for your frequent changes. But you can and should attribute certain changes to conditions beyond your control.

Example: Thanks to an upcoming merger, you wanted to avoid an ensuing bloodbath, so you made a good, upward career move before your department came under the axe of the new owners.

If possible, also show that your job changes were more frequent in your younger days, while you were establishing yourself, rounding out your skills and looking for the right career path. At this stage in your career, you’re certainly much more interested in the best long-term opportunity.

You might also cite the job(s) where you stayed the longest and describe that this type of situation is what you’re looking for now.

Question 37 What do you see as the proper role/mission of…
…a good (job title you’re seeking);
…a good manager;
…an executive in serving the community;
…a leading company in our industry; etc.

TRAPS: These and other “proper role” questions are designed to test your understanding of your place in the bigger picture of your department, company, community and profession….as well as the proper role each of these entities should play in its bigger picture.

The question is most frequently asked by the most thoughtfulindividuals and companies…or by those concerned that you’re coming from a place with a radically different corporate culture (such as from a big government bureaucracy to an aggressive small company).

The most frequent mistake executives make in answering is simply not being prepared (seeming as if they’ve never giving any of this a though.)…or in phrasing an answer best suited to their prior organization’s culture instead of the hiring company’s.

BEST ANSWER: Think of the most essential ingredients of success for each category above – your job title, your role as manager, your firm’s role, etc.

Identify at least three but no more than six qualities you feel are most important to success in each role. Then commit your response to memory.

Here, again, the more information you’ve already drawn out about the greatest wants and needs of the interviewer, and the more homework you’ve done to identify the culture of the firm, the more on-target your answer will be.

Question 38 What would you say to your boss if he’s crazy about an idea, but you think it stinks?

TRAPS: This is another question that pits two values, in this case loyalty and honesty, against one another.

BEST ANSWER: Remember the rule stated earlier: In any conflict between values, always choose integrity.

Example: I believe that when evaluating anything, it’s important to emphasize the positive. What do I like about this idea?”

“Then, if you have reservations, I certainly want to point them out, as specifically, objectively and factually as I can.”

“After all, the most important thing I owe my boss is honesty.If he can’t count on me for that, then everything else I may do or say could be questionable in his eyes.”

“But I also want to express my thoughts in a constructive way.So my goal in this case would be to see if my boss and I could make his idea even stronger and more appealing, so that it effectively overcomes any initial reservation I or others may have about it.”

“Of course, if he overrules me and says, ‘no, let’s do it my way,’ then I owe him my full and enthusiastic support to make it work as best it can.”

Question 39 How could you have improved your career progress?

TRAPS: This is another variation on the question, “If you could, how would you live your life over?” Remember, you’re not going to fall for any such invitations to rewrite person history. You can’t win if you do.

BEST ANSWER: You’re generally quite happy with your career progress. Maybe, if you had known something earlier in life (impossible to know at the time, such as the booming growth in a branch in your industry…or the corporate downsizing that would phase out your last job), you might have moved in a certain direction sooner.

But all things considered, you take responsibility for where you are, how you’ve gotten there, where you are going…and you harbor no regrets.

Question 40 What would you do if a fellow executive on your own corporate level wasn’t pulling his/her weight…and this was hurting your department?

TRAPS: This question and other hypothetical ones test your sense of human relations and how you might handle office politics.

BEST ANSWER: Try to gauge the political style of the firm and be guided accordingly. In general, fall back on universal principles of effective human relations – which in the end, embody the way you would like to be treated in a similar circumstance.

Example: “Good human relations would call for me to go directly to the person and explain the situation, to try to enlist his help in a constructive, positive solution. If I sensed resistance, I would be as persuasive as I know how to explain the benefits we can all gain from working together, and the problems we, the company and our customers will experience if we don’t.”

POSSIBLE FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: And what would you do if he still did not change his ways?

ANSWER: “One thing I wouldn’t do is let the problem slide, because it would only get worse and overlooking it would set a bad precedent. I would try again and again and again, in whatever way I could, to solve the problem, involving wider and wider circles of people, both above and below the offending executive and including my own boss if necessary, so that everyone involved can see the rewards for teamwork and the drawbacks of non-cooperation.”

“I might add that I’ve never yet come across a situation that couldn’t be resolved by harnessing others in a determined, constructive effort.”

Question 41 You’ve been with your firm a long time.Won’t it be hard switching to a new company?

TRAPS: Your interviewer is worried that this old dog will find it hard to learn new tricks.

BEST ANSWER: To overcome this objection, you must point to the many ways you have grown and adapted to changing conditions at your present firm. It has not been a static situation. Highlight the different responsibilities you’ve held, the wide array of new situations you’ve faced and conquered.

As a result, you’ve learned to adapt quickly to whatever is thrown at you, and you thrive on the stimulation of new challenges.

To further assure the interviewer, describe the similarities between the new position and your prior one. Explain that you should be quite comfortable working there, since their needs and your skills make a perfect match.

Question 42 May I contact your present employer for a reference?

TRAPS: If you’re trying to keep your job search private, this is the last thing you want. But if you don’t cooperate, won’t you seem as if you’re trying to hide something?

BEST ANSWER: Express your concern that you’d like to keep your job search private, but that in time, it will be perfectly okay.

Example: “My present employer is not aware of my job search and, for obvious reasons; I’d prefer to keep it that way.I’d be most appreciative if we kept our discussion confidential right now. Of course, when we both agree the time is right, then by all means you should contact them. I’m very proud of my record there.

Question 43 Give me an example of your creativity (analytical skill…managing ability, etc.)

TRAPS: The worst offense here is simply being unprepared.Your hesitation may seem as if you’re having a hard time remembering the last time you were creative, analytical, etc.

BEST ANSWER: Remember from Question 2 that you should commit to memory a list of your greatest and most recent achievements, ever ready on the tip of your tongue.

If you have such a list, it’s easy to present any of your achievements in light of the quality the interviewer is asking about. For example, the smashing success you orchestrated at last year’s trade show could be used as an example of creativity, or analytical ability, or your ability to manage.

Question 44 Where could you use some improvement?

TRAPS: Another tricky way to get you to admit weaknesses.Don’t fall for it.

BEST ANSWER: Keep this answer, like all your answers, positive. A good way to answer this question is to identify a cutting-edge branch of your profession (one that’s not essential to your employer’s needs) as an area you’re very excited about and want to explore more fully over the next six months.

Question 45 What do you worry about?

TRAPS: Admit to worrying and you could sound like a loser.Saying you never worry doesn’t sound credible.

BEST ANSWER: Redefine the word ‘worry’ so that it does not reflect negatively on you.

Example: “I wouldn’t call it worry, but I am a strongly goal-oriented person. So I keep turning over in my mind anything that seems to be keeping me from achieving those goals, until I find a solution. That’s part of my tenacity, I suppose.”

Question 46 How many hours a week do you normally work?

TRAPS: You don’t want to give a specific number. Make it to low, and you may not measure up. Too high, and you’ll forever feel guilty about sneaking out the door at 5:15.

BEST ANSWER: If you are in fact a workaholic and you sense this company would like that: Say you are a confirmed workaholic, that you often work nights and weekends. Your family accepts this because it makes you fulfilled.

If you are not a workaholic: Say you have always worked hard and put in long hours. It goes with the territory. It one sense, it’s hard to keep track of the hours because your work is a labor of love, you enjoy nothing more than solving problems.So you’re almost always thinking about your work, including times when you’re home, while shaving in the morning, while commuting, etc.

Question 47 What’s the most difficult part of being a (job title)?

TRAPS: Unless you phrase your answer properly, your interviewer may conclude that whatever you identify as “difficult” is where you are weak.

BEST ANSWER: First, redefine “difficult” to be “challenging” which is more positive. Then, identify an area everyone in your profession considers challenging and in which you excel.Describe the process you follow that enables you to get splendid results…and be specific about those results.

Example: “I think every sales manager finds it challenging to motivate the troops in a recession. But that’s probably the strongest test of a top sales manager. I feel this is one area where I excel.”

“When I see the first sign that sales may slip or that sales force motivation is flagging because of a downturn in the economy, here’s the plan I put into action immediately…” (followed by a description of each step in the process…andmost importantly, the exceptional results you’ve achieved.).

Question 48 The “Hypothetical Problem”

TRAPS: Sometimes an interviewer will describe a difficult situation and ask, “How would you handle this?” Since it is virtually impossible to have all the facts in front of you from such a short presentation, don’t fall into the trap of trying to solve this problem and giving your verdict on the spot. It will make your decision-making process seem woefully inadequate.

BEST ANSWER: Instead, describe the rational, methodical process you would follow in analyzing this problem, who you would consult with, generating possible solutions, choosing the best course of action, and monitoring the results.

Remember, in all such, “What would you do?” questions, always describe your process or working methods, and you’ll never go wrong.

Question 49 What was the toughest challenge you’ve ever faced?

TRAPS: Being unprepared or citing an example from so early in your life that it doesn’t score many points for you at this stage of your career.

BEST ANSWER: This is an easy question if you’re prepared. Have a recent example ready that demonstrates either:

1. A quality most important to the job at hand; or

2. A quality that is always in demand, such as leadership, initiative, managerial skill, persuasiveness, courage, persistence, intelligence, etc.

Question 50 Have you consider starting your own business?

TRAPS: If you say “yes” and elaborate enthusiastically, you could be perceived as a loose cannon in a larger company, too entrepreneurial to make a good team player…or someone who had to settle for the corporate life because you couldn’t make a go of your own business.

Also too much enthusiasm in answering “yes” could rouse the paranoia of a small company indicating that you may plan to go out on your own soon, perhaps taking some key accounts or trade secrets with you.

On the other hand, if you answer “no, never” you could be perceived as a security-minded drone who never dreamed a big dream.

BEST ANSWER: Again it’s best to:

1. Gauge this company’s corporate culture before answering and…

2. Be honest (which doesn’t mean you have to vividly share your fantasy of the franchise or bed-and-breakfast you someday plan to open).

In general, if the corporate culture is that of a large, formal, military-style structure, minimize any indication that you’d love to have your own business. You might say, “Oh, I may have given it a thought once or twice, but my whole career has been in larger organizations. That’s where I have excelled and where I want to be.”

If the corporate culture is closer to the free-wheeling, everybody’s-a-deal-maker variety, then emphasize that in a firm like this, you can virtually get the best of all worlds, the excitement of seeing your own ideas and plans take shape…combined with the resources and stability of a well-established organization. Sounds like the perfect environment to you.

In any case, no matter what the corporate culture, be sure to indicate that any desires about running your own show are part of your past, not your present or future.

The last thing you want to project is an image of either a dreamer who failed and is now settling for the corporate cocoon…or the restless maverick who will fly out the door with key accounts, contacts and trade secrets under his arms just as soon as his bankroll has gotten rebuilt.

Always remember: Match what you want with what the position offers. The more information you’ve uncovered about the position, the more believable you can make your case.

Question 51 What are your goals?

TRAPS: Not having any…or having only vague generalities, not highly specific goals.

BEST ANSWER: Many executives in a position to hire you are strong believers in goal-setting. (It’s one of the reason they’ve achieved so much). They like to hire in kind.

If you’re vague about your career and personal goals, it could be a big turnoff to may people you will encounter in your job search.

Be ready to discuss your goals for each major area of your life: career, personal development and learning, family, physical (health), community service and (if your interviewer is clearly a religious person) you could briefly and generally allude to your spiritual goals (showing you are a well-rounded individual with your values in the right order).

Be prepared to describe each goal in terms of specific milestones you wish to accomplish along the way, time periods you’re allotting for accomplishment, why the goal is important to you, and the specific steps you’re taking to bring it about. But do this concisely, as you never want to talk more than two minutes straight before letting your interviewer back into the conversation.

Question 52 What do you for when you hire people?

TRAPS: Being unprepared for the question.

BEST ANSWER: Speak your own thoughts here, but for the best answer weave them around the three most important qualifications for any position.

1. Can the person do the work (qualifications)?

2. Will the person do the work (motivation)?

3. Will the person fit in (“our kind of team player”)?

Question 53 Sell me this stapler…(this pencil…this clock…or some other object on interviewer’s desk).

TRAPS: Some interviewers, especially business owners and hard-changing executives in marketing-driven companies, feel that good salesmanship is essential for any key position and ask for an instant demonstration of your skill. Be ready.

BEST ANSWER: Of course, you already know the most important secret of all great salesmanship – “find out what people want, then show them how to get it.”

If your interviewer picks up his stapler and asks, “sell this to me,” you are going to demonstrate this proven master principle. Here’s how:

“Well, a good salesman must know both his product and his prospect before he sells anything. If I were selling this, I’d first get to know everything I could about it, all its features and benefits.”

“Then, if my goal were to sell it you, I would do some research on how you might use a fine stapler like this. The best way to do that is by asking some questions. May I ask you a few questions?”

Then ask a few questions such as, “Just out of curiosity, if you didn’t already have a stapler like this, why would you want one? And in addition to that? Any other reason? Anything else?”

“And would you want such a stapler to be reliable?...Hold a good supply of staples?” (Ask more questions that point to the features this stapler has.)

Once you’ve asked these questions, make your presentation citing all the features and benefits of this stapler and why it’s exactly what the interviewer just told you he’s looking for.

Then close with, “Just out of curiosity, what would you consider a reasonable price for a quality stapler like this…a stapler you could have right now and would (then repeat all the problems the stapler would solve for him)? Whatever he says, (unless it’s zero), say, “Okay, we’ve got a deal.”

NOTE: If your interviewer tests you by fighting every step of the way, denying that he even wants such an item, don’t fight him. Take the product away from him by saying, “Mr. Prospect, I’m delighted you’ve told me right upfront that there’s no way you’d ever want this stapler. As you well know, the first rule of the most productive salespeople in any field is to meet the needs of people who really need and want our products, and it just wastes everyone’s time if we try to force it on those who don’t. And I certainly wouldn’t want to waste your time. But we sell many items. Is there any product on this desk you would very much like to own…just one item?”When he points something out, repeat the process above. If he knows anything about selling, he may give you a standing ovation.

Question 54 “The Salary Question” – How much money do you want?

TRAPS: May also be phrases as, “What salary are you worth?”…or, “How much are you making now?” This is your most important negotiation. Handle it wrong and you can blow the job offer or go to work at far less than you might have gotten.

BEST ANSWER: For maximum salary negotiating power, remember these five guidelines:

1. Never bring up salary. Let the interviewer do it first.Good salespeople sell their products thoroughly before talking price. So should you. Make the interviewer want you first, and your bargaining position will be much stronger.

2. If your interviewer raises the salary question too early, before you’ve had a chance to create desire for your qualifications, postpone the question, saying something like, “Money is important to me, but is notmy main concern. Opportunity and growth are far more important. What I’d rather do, if you don’t mind, is explore if I’m right for the position, and then talk about money. Would that be okay?”

3. The #1 rule of any negotiation is: the side with more information wins. After you’ve done a thorough job of selling the interviewer and it’s time to talk salary, the secret is to get the employer talking about what he’s willing to pay before you reveal what you’re willing to accept. So, when asked about salary, respond by asking, “I’m sure the company has already established a salary range for this position. Could you tell me what that is?” Or, “I want an income commensurate with my ability and qualifications. I trust you’ll be fair with me. What does the position pay?” Or, more simply, “What does this position pay?”

4. Know beforehand what you’d accept. To know what’s reasonable, research the job market and this position for any relevant salary information. Remember that most executives look for a 20-25%$ pay boost when they switch jobs. If you’re grossly underpaid, you may want more.

5. Never lie about what you currently make, but feel free to include the estimated cost of all your fringes, which could well tack on 25-50% more to your present “cash-only” salary.

Question 55 The Illegal Question

TRAPS: Illegal questions include any regarding your age…number and ages of your children or other dependents…marital status…maiden name…religion…political affiliation…ancestry…national origin…birthplace…naturalization of your parents, spouse or children…diseases…disabilities…clubs…or spouse’s occupation…unless any of the above are directly related to your performance of the job. You can’t even be asked about arrests, though you can be asked aboutconvictions.

BEST ANSWER: Under the ever-present threat of lawsuits, most interviewers are well aware of these taboos. Yet you may encounter, usually on a second or third interview, a senior executive who doesn’t interview much and forgets he can’t ask such questions.

You can handle an illegal question in several ways. First, you can assert your legal right not to answer. But this will frighten or embarrass your interviewer and destroy any rapport you had.

Second, you could swallow your concerns over privacy and answer the question straight forwardly if you feel the answer could help you. For example, your interviewer, a devout Baptist, recognizes you from church and mentions it. Here, you could gain by talking about your church.

Third, if you don’t want your privacy invaded, you can diplomatically answer the concern behind the question without answering the question itself.

Example: If you are over 50 and are asked, “How old are you?” you can answer with a friendly, smiling question of your own on whether there’s a concern that your age my affect your performance. Follow this up by reassuring the interviewer that there’s nothing in this job you can’t do and, in fact, your age and experience are the most important advantages you offer the employer for the following reasons…

Another example: If asked, “Do you plan to have children?”you could answer, “I am wholeheartedly dedicated to my career“, perhaps adding, “I have no plans regarding children.”(You needn’t fear you’ve pledged eternal childlessness. You have every right to change your plans later. Get the job first and then enjoy all your options.)

Most importantly, remember that illegal questions arise from fear that you won’t perform well. The best answer of all is to get the job and perform brilliantly. All concerns and fears will then varnish, replaced by respect and appreciation for your work.

Question 56 The “Secret” Illegal Question

TRAPS: Much more frequent than the Illegal question (see Question 55) is the secret illegal question. It’s secret because it’s asked only in the interviewer’s mind. Since it’s not even expressed to you, you have no way to respond to it, and it can there be most damaging.

Example: You’re physically challenged, or a single mother returning to your professional career, or over 50, or a member of an ethnic minority, or fit any of a dozen other categories that do not strictly conform to the majority in a given company.

Your interviewer wonders, “Is this person really able to handle the job?”…”Is he or she a ‘good fit’ at a place like ours?”…”Will the chemistry ever be right with someone like this?”But the interviewer never raises such questions because they’re illegal. So what can you do?

BEST ANSWER: Remember that just because the interviewer doesn’t ask an illegal question doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it. More than likely, he is going to come up with his own answer. So you might as well help him out.

How? Well, you obviously can’t respond to an illegal question if he hasn’t even asked. This may well offend him. And there’s always the chance he wasn’t even concerned about the issue until you brought it up, and only then begins to wonder.

So you can’t address “secret” illegal questions head-on. But what you can do is make sure there’s enoughcounterbalancing information to more than reassure him that there’s no problem in the area he may be doubtful about.

For example, let’s say you’re a sales rep who had polio as a child and you need a cane to walk. You know your condition has never impeded your performance, yet you’re concerned that your interviewer may secretly be wondering about your stamina or ability to travel. Well, make sure that you hit these abilities very hard, leaving no doubt about your capacity to handle them well.

So, too, if you’re in any different from what passes for “normal”. Make sure, without in any way seeming defensiveabout yourself that you mention strengths, accomplishments, preferences and affiliations that strongly counterbalance any unspoken concern your interviewer may have.

Question 57 What was the toughest part of your last job?

TRAPS: This is slightly different from the question raised earlier, “What’s the most difficult part of being a (job title…)”because this asks what you personally have found most difficult in your last position. This question is more difficult to redefine into something positive. Your interviewer will assume that whatever you found toughest may give you a problem in your new position.

BEST ANSWER: State that there was nothing in your prior position that you found overly difficult, and let your answer go at that. If pressed to expand your answer, you could describe the aspects of the position you enjoyed more than others, making sure that you express maximum enjoyment for those tasks most important to the open position, and you enjoyed least those tasks that are unimportant to the position at hand.

Question 58 How do you define success…and how do you measure up to your own definition?

TRAPS: Seems like an obvious enough question. Yet many executives, unprepared for it, fumble the ball.

BEST ANSWER: Give a well-accepted definition of success that leads right into your own stellar collection of achievements.

Example: “The best definition I’ve come across is that success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.”

“As to how I would measure up to that definition, I would consider myself both successful and fortunate…”(Then summarize your career goals and how your achievements have indeed represented a progressive path toward realization of your goals.)

Question 59 “The Opinion Question” – What do you think about …Abortion…The President…The Death Penalty…(or any other controversial subject)?

TRAPS: Obviously, these and other “opinion” questions should never be asked. Sometimes they come up over a combination dinner/interview when the interviewer has had a drink or two, is feeling relaxed, and is spouting off about something that bugged him in today’s news. If you give your opinion and it’s the opposite of his, you won’t change his opinions, but you could easily lose the job offer.

BEST ANSWER: In all of these instances, just remember the tale about student and the wise old rabbi. The scene is a seminary, where an overly serious student is pressing the rabbi to answer the ultimate questions of suffering, life and death. But no matter how hard he presses, the wise old rabbi will only answer each difficult question with a question of his own.

In exasperation, the seminary student demands, “Why, rabbi, do you always answer a question with another question?” To which the rabbi responds, “And why not?”

If you are ever uncomfortable with any question, asking a question in return is the greatest escape hatch ever invented.It throws the onus back on the other person, sidetracks the discussion from going into an area of risk to you, and gives you time to think of your answer or, even better, your next question!

In response to any of the “opinion” questions cited above, merely responding, “Why do you ask?” will usually be enough to dissipate any pressure to give your opinion. But if your interviewer again presses you for an opinion, you can ask another question.

Or you could assert a generality that almost everyone would agree with. For example, if your interviewer is complaining about politicians then suddenly turns to you and asks if you’re a Republican or Democrat, you could respond by saying, “Actually, I’m finding it hard to find any politicians I like these days.”

(Of course, your best question of all may be whether you want to work for someone opinionated.)

Question 60 If you won $10 million lottery, would you still work?

TRAPS: Your totally honest response might be, “Hell, no, are you serious?” That might be so, but any answer which shows you as fleeing work if given the chance could make you seem lazy. On the other hand, if you answer, “Oh, I’d want to keep doing exactly what I am doing, only doing it for your firm,” you could easily inspire your interviewer to silently mutter to himself, “Yeah, sure. Gimme a break.”

BEST ANSWER: This type of question is aimed at getting at your bedrock attitude about work and how you feel about what you do. Your best answer will focus on your positive feelings.

Example: “After I floated down from cloud nine, I think I would still hold my basic belief that achievement and purposeful work are essential to a happy, productive life. After all, if money alone bought happiness, then all rich people would be all happy, and that’s not true.

“I love the work I do, and I think I’d always want to be involved in my career in some fashion. Winning the lottery would make it more fun because it would mean having more flexibility, more options...who knows?”

“Of course, since I can’t count on winning, I’d just as soon create my own destiny by sticking with what’s worked for me, meaning good old reliable hard work and a desire to achieve. I think those qualities have built many more fortunes that all the lotteries put together.”

Question 61 Looking back on your last position, have you done your best work?

TRAPS: Tricky question. Answer “absolutely” and it can seem like your best work is behind you. Answer, “no, my best work is ahead of me,” and it can seem as if you didn’t give it your all.

BEST ANSWER: To cover both possible paths this question can take, your answer should state that you always try to do your best, and the best of your career is right now. Like an athlete at the top of his game, you are just hitting your career stride thanks to several factors. Then, recap those factors, highlighting your strongest qualifications.

Question 62 Why should I hire you from the outside when I could promote someone from within?

TRAPS: This question isn’t as aggressive as it sounds. It represents the interviewer’s own dilemma over this common problem. He’s probably leaning toward you already and for reassurance, wants to hear what you have to say on the matter.

BEST ANSWER: Help him see the qualifications that only you can offer.

Example: “In general, I think it’s a good policy to hire from within – to look outside probably means you’re not completely comfortable choosing someone from inside.

“Naturally, you want this department to be as strong as it possibly can be, so you want the strongest candidate. I feel that I can fill that bill because…(then recap your strongest qualifications that match up with his greatest needs).”

Question 63 Tell me something negative you’ve heard about our company…

TRAPS: This is a common fishing expedition to see what the industry grapevine may be saying about the company. But it’s also a trap because as an outsider, you never want to be the bearer of unflattering news or gossip about the firm. It can only hurt your chances and sidetrack the interviewer from getting sold on you.

BEST ANSWER: Just remember the rule – never be negative – and you’ll handle this one just fine.

Question 64 On a scale of one to ten, rate me as an interviewer.

TRAPS: Give a perfect “10,” and you’ll seem too easy to please. Give anything less than a perfect 10, and he could press you as to where you’re being critical, and that road leads downhill for you.

BEST ANSWER: Once again, never be negative. The interviewer will only resent criticism coming from you. This is the time to show your positivism.

However, don’t give a numerical rating. Simply praise whatever interview style he’s been using.

If he’s been tough, say “You have been thorough and tough-minded, the very qualities needed to conduct a good interview.”

If he’s been methodical, say, “You have been very methodical and analytical, and I’m sure that approach results in excellent hires for your firm.”

In other words, pay him a sincere compliment that he can believe because it’s anchored in the behavior you’ve just seen.

Good luck in your job search!