If you don’t take the BPO path because there are plenty of options that lie ahead of you owing to your above average education, then bless you. But there are thousands of job applicants who claim the same in their resume, and you’ll be hard pressed to get it across to the HR head during the interview with these questions:

Tell me about yourself

This question doesn’t require you to summarize what’s contained in your resume. However simply worded this question is, it is based on the psychology of spontaneous and automatic response. 7 out ten respondents would begin their answer by giving their name and age, and where they live. But the creative and perceptive ones would start off with a catalogue of their best traits: flexibility, transparency, openness to correction, curiosity. These attributes don’t only speak volumes about one’s capacity to do the job at hand but also one’s suitability to the company culture. Many times aside from the candidate’s skills match, HRD managers also look into his/her soft skills-if they’re a good match to the company’s corporate culture. If both calibrate well with the company’s, then here comes a perfect candidate.


What was your reason for leaving?


Most applicants would see this as an opportunity to tell on their former employer. If you do, it can only damage your own reputation and nobody else’s. This question doesn’t solicit an accusing answer nor does it demand that you justify your decision of moving from one job to another. There could be a dozen and one reasons why someone decides to leave a job, regardless whether it’s a high-paying or barely-paying job, long-term, short term or project-based. It’s largely a question of how one sees his job. To most, a job is a duty, something that needs to be done in order to get paid. But few others (myself included) see it as meaningful work—something that we’d do anyway because we like (others say they love) it. Meaningful work is something you do out of passion and getting it done gives you immeasurable psychic reward, much more than money can buy.


To say that you left a job because you were underpaid and harp on being paid more at your new one in itself is fine. But to make it the be-all and end-all of your interview blinds you to the other side of the equation: pay is commensurate to ability, expertise, and execution of work. These have to be demonstrated consistently, for which you need not bleep a request for a raise. An incentive just comes on its own accord. If you’d be so straightforward as to verbalize that you expect a bigger salary, the HR manager would put it to you straight as well: “Then, work hard for it.”


What are your strengths and weaknesses?


Nothing rubs in on the interviewer more powerfully than you telling the truth about yourself. It’s unimaginable that you only have got strong points and nothing more. In which case you shouldn’t be working for someone else; you should be your own CEO. Even so, you’d have to blunder every now and then, as everyone is bound to. Nor should you keep a ledger entry of strengths and weaknesses that balances out at the end. It only looks too contrived! One would do well to “speak from the source” , meaning speaking in all honestly so that the HRD manager could get a picture of how you deal with trying situations.

In speaking about strengths, you shouldn’t take this as an opportunity to crow about your achievements. Well, you can, but there’s a way to talk about them in which you don’t sound like you’re bragging. So much depends on your tone of voice and facial expression.


What attracts you to the position?


The classic answer by now is “Because I’m seeking career growth in a workplace that offers me opportunities to be the best I can be.” Sounds like a beauty pageant Q&A. Wouldn’t one find himself facing a dead end when the position he is applying for is the same as the one he’s resigned from? How does one get around that? You can’t shift the focus on salary issues with the same job because it seems like you’re complaining. Worse, backstabbing your former employer can only lead to rejection.


You’re not just after a position in a company. You’re actually after a number of things—corporate culture, image and reputation, colleagues, accessibility, suitability to your moral code, etc. When most of these register in your internal radar, then you do your best to get the job—because the job represents an “ideal” in your head.


How much salary do you expect from this job? When can you start?


These two are usually asked together as a clincher. As noted earlier, before you lay it all down and ask for a “reasonable rate” make sure you have made a strong case to deserve it. This being money matters, you have be rather precise and unambiguous when “naming right price”. In certain cases (and this has happened to me several times) it’s the HR manager that seems adamant about asking or going in that direction. All positions have their own corresponding salary range according to company policies, and deciding which one goes to which candidate rests on certain factors– which not only the HRD head has a hand in but as well as the CEO. The latter makes the final decision whether to hire or to continue the candidate search. By the time the CEO does the ultimate interview he/she has gotten hold of a copy of the applicants “desired salary”.


I had a friend who when asked the question (she was applying as an account manager) “How much do you expect?” said, “How much can you afford?” She signed the employment contract the same day.