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Popular Interview Questions

Tell us about yourself?

If you’re looking for an unusual, consistent, and efficient IT professional – I am the one. With my rich educational background in Systems Engineering and Technology, combined with the 10 years of hands-on experience in the field, I am ready to face the challenges that your organization is dealing with from day to day. I am highly skilled in software project management, which involves all phases from generating ideas and writing codes to evaluation of the end product. I am confident that my technical skills, friendly attitude to others, and the ability to communicate my thoughts clearly and freely will enable your organization to make better progress towards your IT goals.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Tell us about an interest or hobby that you enjoy?

I enjoy playing both basketball and soccer since these are team games. The most enticing thing about those kinds of sports is the balance one has to strike between individual performance and teamwork.

What do you like to read? Tell us about a book, newspaper or magazine article you have read recently?

Difference engine: Wired for speed published by The Economist on June 15, 2012. The article offers the reader valuable tips on how to distinguish the bad programmer from the good programmer. It was quite a useful read for me given my future goals in the IT sector.

In what kinds of jobs are you most interested?

I’m interested in jobs that combine advanced data analysis and work with people.

What are the most important considerations for you in choosing a job?

I guess the most important factors are the ability to do something I am good at, as well as being surrounded by enthusiastic people. I also aspire for working towards meaningful goals.

Is your study performance an indication of your ability to do this job?

My Graduate Diploma and Certificate in Technology with all grades exceeding 70% are good indications of my effort to successfully master many IT-related subjects. The internships I had also helped me hone in my skills and put my knowledge to practice.

Please outline any previous work experience you have and indicate what value it has been to you?

As self-employed research and software development specialist, that I’ve been for the past 10 years, I have learned many good ways to design and test software in a business environment. One of the hallmarks of my previous positions was design of Sidereal Year Revolution of Moon and Lunar phases for Million Years Software and other calendar software.

Why did you choose your course?

Efficiency and optimization are things that bring me the most pleasure in my work. That, along with my passion for computer programming, has propelled me to choose my course.

Which one of your subjects have you found most interesting so far? What have you learned?

My most interesting subject so far has been learning and using C, C++, and Java programming languages. I learned that they are universally applicable to many goals of a typical cutting-edge enterprise, including yours.

Tell us about your weaknesses?

My major weakness that I can think of is that I sometimes get overly nervous when some minor and unimportant details in my projects do not quite fall in place. I deal with this problem by concentrating more on getting the major things right and doing the little things just well enough.

How do you operate under pressure?

I take a deep breath and split my work in a logical sequence of steps. The feeling of completeness after every single step of a daunting task calms me down and gives strength to go on.

If we were your manager, how would we get the best out of you?

The key to my highest productivity is the function of motivation, career growth, and adequate compensation. I feel most motivated when I’m trusted, listened to, and praised for what I do. In other words, I can then feel I can make a difference in my organization. Thereby, I really appreciate and work on constructive critique and suggestions from the management.

Aren’t you overqualified for this job?

I know all the dangers of over-theorizing the routine problems and objectives of a typical IT specialist. The most tasks we programmers do involve creative manipulation of the theoretical concepts we have learned for practical purposes. That was what I have done in my past 10 years of hands-on work experience. In fact, I have learned more things in IT by a series of trials and errors than I did by reading textbooks.

Tell me about a time when you failed to complete a project on time, despite your best efforts. What did you do to fix the situation? What was the outcome?

When I was involved in research on lunar phases software, it took us months of a team effort to arrive at an agreeable solution. There were always technical hitches coming up that almost drove me to madness since I was already past the deadline. However, I didn’t give up my efforts and ultimately produced a valuable product that has now become part of my intellectual property.

Tell me about a time when you had to work as a part of a team and you had a team member who wasn’t being very cooperative or productive. What did you do to help rectify the situation? What was the result?

When I was doing my academic project in Business Implementation Failures, one of our team members seemed to always disagree with me. He was very contentious and created unwanted tension and confusion. The most irritating part about the whole situation was that he never was conscious of the set deadlines and objectives for different phases of our project. I had to cover for him until it escalated into explicit tension between us two. I found a way out, however. I talked to him and learned the real reason behind his uncooperativeness was his strained relations in the family. We spent more time in an informal setting, and soon he started to trust me more, dispelled his negative thoughts, reassessed the value of our mutual project, and became more productive.

Sometimes adjusting to change can be very difficult. Can you think of a specific time when you needed to adapt to change and what steps you took in order to be successful at it? What was the outcome?

Every new company I worked for was quite a change to me. Of course, handling change was rather stressful to me. Yet, over time, it has become a habit to me to confront the new challenges as they come around. Now it does not seem so stressful anymore.

Describe the biggest problem you have solved in the past year. How did you handle it? What was the result?

When I conducted research on lunar phases software project last year, I ran into a few technical issues that set me back for a few months. However, I persevered and ultimately resolved all issues. The key to my success was that I’d never give up, even though the end result seemed uncertain.

Tell me about a time when you effectively lead a group? How did you do this? What was the result?

After completing my academic project, I was asked to present the project findings on behalf of our team. The team invested great confidence in my presentation style and skills. Ultimately, our group received appreciation from the entire student community for our findings and crisp presentation.

Before we finish, is there anything else you would like to add to your application?

I regularly publish the info on my accomplishments in reputed journals since I’m interested in letting other people know what I’m up to.

Thank you for answering our questions. Before we finish, do you have any questions you would like to ask us?

Your motivation to work in this organization. Why did this position appeal to you?

This position is a perfect match for my technical and interpersonal skills.

Why would you like to work for our organisation?

You are a forward-looking company providing state-of-the-art solutions to complex IT problems. Put simply, I’m willing and able to contribute.

What interests you about our products or services?

I’m rather intrigued by your emphasis on customer satisfaction and loyalty. I like the way you work with existing customers and scrupulously collect feedback to keep improving your services.

What do you want to be doing in your career five years from now? Why?

I plan to hone in my IT skills and undertake more complex projects taking into consideration evolving business demands and technological advance. This sense of flexibility and growth, I hope, will determine the rest of my professional career, five years from now and onwards.

How long would you stay with the company?

I would like to stay for as long as there are growth opportunities.

How long would it take you to make a contribution?

I believe I will need about a week or so to learn the specifics and everyday routines of your company. In the meantime, I will implement what I have learned while learning even more and then implementing the same. My contribution will also become visible in the first project I will do for you.

What do you think determines a person’s progress in an organization?

I think it is an ability to learn quickly and produce deliverables within the time frame provided.

Interview Questions

Have you ever had any part-time or vacation employment or previous experience in this field?

I’ve been working in the IT field for the past 10 years as a self-employed research and software development specialist.

What’s on your shopping list for your first job?

I’d like to get more insight into what I already know about programming from the perspective of your organization’s services. I’d also like to take on more leadership responsibilities and be able to assess the progress of others. Finally, I’d like to expand my networks and get to know professionals from outside my organization.

Your motivation to work in this career

Why did you choose this career?

I think this career gives me the most powerful internal drive to work and explore myself, unlike any other career. I enjoy working with information technology also because I can thus be helpful to others and bring my share to the advance of our civilization.

What are you looking for in a job?

I’d like to enrich what I already know about programming from the perspective of my new employer and organization. I’d also like to develop my leadership skills, learn to delegate and be able to assess the work of others. Finally, I’d like to expand my networks and get to know professionals from outside my workplace.

What are your major motives for working?

My three major motives are the willingness to help others, implement and polish my IT knowledge, and meaningfully contribute to the cause of your organization.

How ambitious are you?

In jobs and projects I have done before I have strived to reach new heights and tackle more and more complex problems. I learned to face new challenges with open and clear mind, so in a way, it has become like a fun game, where I must experience the sense of growth and success in whatever I do. So yes, I do think I’m ambitious.

What subjects caused you most difficulty? How did you overcome this problem?

Is this career your one option at this stage? If not, what other types of careers interest you?

I’m also considering a career in computer optimization and automation of processes in organizations. However, I feel like programming work suits me best.

Which jobs/assignments did you enjoy most? Why?

I particularly enjoyed the assignments where I had to combine my general research skills and specific computer competencies to complete a project.

Your skills and abilities

Tell me about yourself?

If you’re looking for an unusual, consistent, and efficient IT professional – I am the one. With my rich educational background in Systems Engineering and Technology, combined with the 10 years of hands-on experience in the field, I am ready to face the challenges that your organization is dealing with from day to day.

Why should I hire you?

I am highly skilled in software project management, which involves all phases from generating ideas and writing code to evaluation of the end product. I am confident that my technical skills, friendly attitude to others, and the ability to communicate my thoughts clearly and freely will enable your organization to make better progress towards your IT goals.

Can you get recommendations from your previous employers? What would they say about you?

I am a self-employed person and research activist. All my findings have earned appreciation from many academicians and journals, like Computer Society of India. Many people who occupy top positions in the IT field in India also appreciate my work and so I could also solicit positive recommendations from them.

What have you learned from some of the jobs / assignments you have held?

See above

What is your major weakness? What have you done about it?

See above ‘Tell us about your weaknesses?’

What are your greatest strengths?

My greatest strength is my interpersonal skills, the ability to oversee others’ work, and of course, my technical expertise. In addition, I can work well under significant pressure and am sensitive to deadlines.

Have you ever done any public speaking? What feedback did you get?

In 2011, when I was through with my Million Years Software, I was asked to present my work to my superiors and colleagues. My bosses also decided to bring in some people from the outside, who could potentially have some investment interest in what I was doing. One of the guests, during question time, praised my ability to translate complex IT terms into plain English, as well as the logical consistency of my speech. After the presentation, that guest became one of our sponsors.

How good are your listening skills?

I am more of a listener than a speaker. I normally listen to both sides of the story before making any assumptions or making my point. Occasionally, people say in my face that I am a great listener. That is how I can tell.

What qualities do you perceive as necessary to be successful in your field? Do you have those qualities?

I think those qualities are perseverance, clear communication, and firm focus on results. Those qualities have been instrumental in several of my past projects, and so I believe they are key to my future career successes as well.

What entrepreneurial activities have you been involved in?

My entrepreneurial activities to date have been connected with my patent rights for the software I have developed. I own copyrights for several software products and in the process of obtaining the patent rights, which I believe will become an extra source of income.

How do you ensure that your work is of the highest standard?

I compare my progress to the originally stated objectives, both my own and organizational. If I have given the maximum of my efforts towards those objectives, I can then tell that my work is of the highest standard. Doing my best is my thing when it comes to complex job assignments.

Your working style

Under what conditions do you work best?

I work best when there are some minor sources of noise around me. I do not like very silent work environments. Of course, I like to work in my enclosed cubicle, but I appreciate having other people around.

Can you work under pressure?

See above How do you operate under pressure?

How do you handle stress?

See above How do you operate under pressure?

How can you tell when you are stressed?

I feel stressed when my mind is pointlessly wandering from one problem to another without being able to find the solution. My breathing becomes shallow and fast. My shoulder muscles and the entire body become tense.

How do you plan your daily activities?

I usually keep a diary or a notebook, where I put down things to be done during the day, week, month, etc., and prioritize them.

Tell me about an experience in your career that really challenged you

See above ‘Describe the biggest problem you have solved in the past year’

How do you define doing a good job?

See above ‘How do you ensure that your work is of the highest standard’

How have you benefited from your disappointments?

When I was working on the Calendar software project, I had a colleague who was not very productive and uncooperative alike. I had many failed attempts to put him back on track until one day I decided to accept things as they were and simply talk to him in an informal setting. The guy intimated to me about his family problems, and that he didn’t quite enjoy his work. I found the right words and managed to have him do his best with his last project at work. This experience taught me the value of listening.

What does teamwork mean to you?

To me, teamwork means working side by side to get the job done. It also involves the willingness to do one’s best, while putting the group interests ahead of individual interests. I also find it important to replace the air of competition with the air of support and encouragement among teammates.

What is your idea of a good leader?

Several characteristics come to my mind when I think of a good leader. First, a good leader has the integrity and perseverance necessary to “walk the talk”, not only set plans or declare vision. Second, a good leader truly cares about his/her subordinates, without trying to look bossy. And third, good leaders manifest an epitome of consistency and excellency in approach to the organization or enterprise.

What leadership qualities do you think are important?

Assertiveness, perseverance, integrity, compassion, intuition, consistency, and enthusiasm.

Do you prefer working alone or as a part of a team?

I enjoy both. It depends on which phase of the project I’m in at the moment. When it comes to data collection or writing codes I appreciate being left to my own means. However, when it comes to analyzing or presenting what I do, I’d prefer to solicit advice and feedback from teammates.

Provide examples of difficult decisions you have made in recent times. Why were they difficult?

It took me some time to make my mind on which career path I’d like to pursue. Initially, I was considering a career in computer optimization and automation of processes in organizations. However, after I contemplated about what I did most effectively and with most pleasure, I figured programming suited me best. It was a difficult decision to make, yet I’m now sure it was the right one.

Behavioural questions

Tell me about a situation in which your work was criticized. What did you do? What was the outcome?

When I published the results of my Calendar software project in one of Indian IT journals, I received several critical remarks from the editor. The critique, especially against something I have worked on for so long, hurt and angered me at first. Then, I calmed down and started to look closer at those unpleasant comments. As a result, I was able to conceive of several other improvements to my software, on top of those suggested by the editor. It was then that I realized the explicit an implicit value of constructive criticism, which is a great way of telling someone if they are headed the right direction.

All jobs have their frustrations and problems. Describe some examples of specific job conditions, tasks or assignments that have been dissatisfying? Why?

While I was doing research for my lunar phases software project last year, I confronted a few technical hitches that seemed unresolvable at first. I tried to approach them from different angles, but all to no avail. This wrangling delayed me for several months after the deadline. Eventually, I tackled the problem and learned my lesson for the future that perseverance can resolve any problem. Afterwards, it was a great pleasure for me to share my hard-won experiences with my colleague on IT forums.

Describe a situation when you wished you’d acted differently with someone at University / work?

When I was doing my Master’s in System Engineering & Networking, I had a classmate who earned a reputation of being not very diligent. He asked me to share my homework with him on a couple of occasions so that he could understand the material better. Albeit with unease, I agreed. However, after having realized that he had copied my assignment verbatim, I refused him the next time. Later on, that guy was kicked out from the university for poor academic performance. I now realize that I had chosen the wrong strategy towards him; instead of rejecting him, I might have helped with his homework and explaining the material, without necessarily having to share my assignment.

Describe a situation in which you were able to influence positively the actions of others in a desired direction?

You could use one of the stories above about an uncooperative team member.

What have you done which demonstrates your initiative and willingness to work?

As mentioned on my resume, I earned a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, graduate diploma and graduate certificate of technology. These educational achievements have cost me a lot of time and effort. Besides my studies, I was actively involved in research and software development as a self-employed specialist. In such a way, I managed to combine hard academic work and practice in the IT field.

Tell me about a really good team you have worked in. What part did you play in its success?

When I was doing research on Sidereal Year Revolution of Moon for Million Years Software, our project was divided into several parts and assigned to the best people in my area according to their skill. I was on the list too. The project was not going easy, however. There were a lot of technical nuances that required great team effort and coordination. I cannot attribute the success of this project solely to myself; however, I wrote an important part of code, which brought the project to a successful end more quickly.

Tell me about a time when you had to alter your own priorities with little or no notice due to changing demands? What did you do?

When I was preparing for publication one of my software development articles, to my great surprise, I received a lot of criticism from the chief editor. She certainly did not favor the way I illuminated the problem and went about presenting it. The submission deadline was fast approaching, so I had to overcome my emotions and do something about my manuscript. Upon closer look, I realized that the editor had some good points and her criticism was deserved, and so I made some alterations. Thereby, I managed to preserve my original idea, albeit in a somewhat different format, and publish on time.

Tell me about a time where you were able to effectively motivate your team. How did you do this?

Once I was assigned a junior teammate, who was to assist me with some of the project flowcharts and diagrams for the calendar software project. The fellow was new to the job and, for some reason, showed very little interest in the same. What eventually I decided to do is simply talk to the guy. I told him about the bright prospects of a programming career and why it is important to be hard-working in that kind of job. I did the conversation in a very friendly and informal manner. The guy’s long-term dream, as I turned out, was to become a professional programmer. He thought this over and started working more productively.

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