How HR Thinks

I thought that this was worth a look since it was written by a senior HR type.  How effective his organization has been might be determined by how well his company is doing.

Which is not so hot. I suspect that he may be needing the advice pretty soon.

Especially considering his age bracket.

Is IBM guilty of age discrimination? — Part one

Is IBM guilty of age discrimination? — Part two

Any way, the questions are the same old same old, with the same pablum.  This post is almost word for word the same as that cheat sheet I found, from 1981.  Just don’t answer them like this. Anyway here’s my commentary

1.  Tell me about yourself.

Your resume has already been reviewed prior to you arriving. Do not go into your whole background as shown on your resume. Start out something like this: “Allow me to expand upon a couple things which I have accomplished in the past that made an impact regarding, (my company, a client, my project, etc)” Keep it concise. State what you did, and how it benefited your company, client or project.

Actually the chances are that the person across the desk hasn’t “reviewed” your resume.  He’s been too busy and this was just dumped on him.  Keep it simple and short.  The best thing to do is think how you can get off the standard interview track as early as possible and turn it into a real conversation.

2.  Describe your ideal job.

Be sincere, and talk about the positive aspects of your own career goals that will convey positive information about how you can contribute or make an impact.

Is there and ideal job?  Maybe, but you aren’t looking for an “ideal job” here, just a place for a real job.  Keep it real and don’t go off into the hypotheticals.

3.  What was your greatest achievement?

Do not ramble. I recommend the topic to be job related if possible. You need to have the subject well rehearsed and ready to present. Keep it simple: Answer it in 3 simple steps: 1) What you did. 2) How you did it 3) How it benefited your Client, your Company, your Department, or the Project.

Think about what you could do for them and keep it relevant.  They don’t need what you did for somebody else, they need to know what you can do for them.  Have some good stories ready, but don’t go way off the path.

4.  Why should we hire you?

Please do not stumble on this question. You need to be prepared to answer this. Prior to the interview, write out why you have been a good employee in the past including your best accomplishments. If you are new to the workforce, answer based upon personal, and school accomplishments. What drives you to do well? Think about it.

They have a need.  Remember that they think that they might need YOU.  That’s why the conversation is happening in the first place.  Remember that and talk about the future and not the past.  The past is NEVER your friend.

5.  Can you travel without restriction?

If you do not plan to travel, be honest. Do not say what the interviewer wants to hear just so you can get to the next step. That is a lack of integrity and you are just wasting time for everyone. Decide if travel can be part of your job, and then stick to it. Be intentional about the non-travel time to plan quality time with your family/friends.

This is something that you should have prepared for.  Some jobs are going to require a lot of travel and you can usually tell from the job description.  If they seem to want more travel than the description ask why.  Usually the additional travel represents problems and problems represent opportunities, for you.

6.  What do you like/hate about your current job?

It is beneficial to have thought this one through again prior to going into the interview. What motivates you reflects upon how you work in a team, how you perform under pressure, how you set goals, your passion, how you face challenges, and how you can meet expectations.

Again, take this to their problems as best you can.  I will reiterate, the past in NOT your friend.

7.  What would your “First 30, 60, 90 days” look like?

You need to really understand the job, so do your homework. Then think about how you would plan to execute during your first 3 months. This will typically reveal initiative, organizational skills, and how to set priorities. Be sure to include how you would gather information in the first 30, 60, 90 days in order to perform at your peak for the long-term. I recommend writing out a precursor “first 30, 60, 90 days” outline beforehand.

This is just stupid with out knowing anything about the scope of the work.  For the first thirty days you will just be discovering how things work.  Having a 90 day plan for a job that you don’t yet have makes no sense other than the idea of a candidate doing homework.  This is a job, not school.  You need to be focused.  Again look at the future.  and if you’ve been around the bush a few times you can have a plan set up on the fly anyway.

8.  Why do you want this job?

Keep in mind why they are asking this. They usually emphatically want to know if you have serious interest in the company and position or are you half-heartedly looking around and just kicking tires? Tell exactly why you find this opportunity attractive and why you are eager to pursue it. Do your research ahead of time.

You want to get paid for your work.  You might find something interesting about the kind of work they do, but guess what, no company is that special. Remember that they need you more than you need them or you wouldn’t be there.

9.  What do you know about us?

I have had hiring managers tell me that if a candidate knows very little about our company in the first interview, it is pretty disappointing and they are certainly not impressed. This lack of knowledge also reduces the chance of a second interview. Take the time to research before you go in. There are no excuses these days with all the detailed company information on the internet.

The important stuff you can’t discover through outside research.  Do enough research to have some questions you want to ask.  Do some research in the lobby when you get there.  You would be amazed how much you can learn because companies typically put stuff about themselves all over the lobby, what they have achieved, the awards they have earned, what their people are like.  Do the internet stuff like going through the catalog, but still make sure that you get there early and keep an eye open in the lobby.

10.  The money/salary Questions

Contrary to widespread suggestions, you should simply be open about your current comp, and have some legitimate idea of a range for expectations. Do not play too cool or posture too hard about the compensation topic. Most companies will carry out background and employment checks at the end of the process anyway.

NO, NO, NO, HELL NO.  The amount of money you are currently making is NOT their concern.  The only reason they want to have that information is to screw you over when they make the offer.  If they get sticky about it, leave. Remember they need you more than you need them.

11.  Why would you consider leaving your current job?

If you have proactive reasons, state those reasons. If you were let go, simple answer, “I was let go”. Most everyone has had this happen to them including the interviewer. Be direct and honest. Don’t try to mask it.

You want a better deal than your getting.  Remember that you are trading your irreplaceable time for their fairly easily replaceable money. Your time is more valuable to you than their money is valuable to them.

12.  Tell me about your technical expertise.

You need to be ready to give a concise rundown on your technical skills that are pertinent to the role you have applied to. Prepare ahead of time to give brief details of how you have applied these skills in projects.

See, I told you that they didn’t review the resume.  Again use this to explain what you can do for them.  Don’t refer to past and don’t be afraid to mention just about everything that you can do.  Don’t get caught up in one particular kind of software. At this time that stuff isn’t really important.

13.  The Counteroffer Questions

You might be asked, “If we give you an offer to come to work for us, how would you respond to a counteroffer from your current boss?” This is an important subject that can have a dramatic affect on you and your future. See this link for a complete summary regarding the controversial subject of considering counter-offers.

It’s a bidding war.  Remember that. If your current boss has a better offer, take it even if it doesn’t last very long. And IBM is just another company.

14.  How did you hear about this position?

Turn this into a positive stimulating answer, and once you share the source, move your answer to tell exactly why you find this position and the company attractive and if so, why you are eager to pursue it.

Who cares? You saw it on the internet.

15.  Do you have any questions for me?

I recommend having some pre-written questions. Take them with you to the interview. You can ask questions about the company, the position, the projects and the career path.

The only question that matter is, “when can I start?”  And “What’s your offer?”  Everything else is irrelevant.

The fact is that IBM seems to be stuck in a business model that treats it’s employees like serfs that owe everything to the “COMPANY.” rather than values assets that they are.  Which is one reason that IBM may not be with us very much longer.

Unfortunately this attitude seems to prevail across much of corporate America these days and I think that we have not yet begun to see the consequences of it.  People are not cattle and shouldn’t be treated as such.




  1. penneyvanderbilt · April 16, 2016

    Reblogged this on Ancien Hippie.


  2. Pingback: Why Does Everybody Hate HR? | The Arts Mechanical

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