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Dated 08th Dec 2004

How do you deal with a question that tries to probe "your biggest accomplishments"?

Anitha
Travancore

This is your opportunity to "brag" about yourself and what you've accomplished. Lots of people find it hard to answer this question but it may be your great chance to sell yourself. The key is to show how your accomplishments will benefit the employer. The answer to this should be job-related. However, modesty should again be applied, hinting that your best work is yet to come. Don't be hesitant or vague when answering this question. Show that you have a clear idea of your achievements to date. A big accomplishment doesn't need to be overly impressive, but should rather highlight your competency. Efficiently managing a small team of diverse people, or ably dealing with a shortage of resources is an accomplishment that can be meaningful, but claiming your role in a huge project sounds fanciful and isn't likely to leave a favourable impression.

What is the best way to resolve disputes with your co-workers? How can you effectively handle conflict at work place?

Sangita Chauhan
New Delhi

Getting along with co-workers can be the hardest thing to do sometimes. Think about how you feel when people disagree in your presence, or when you are confronted. Do you withdraw from conflict? Do you deny the issue, or try to rationalise away the feelings with facts? Perhaps you're someone who always gives in just to end the argument, or you feel you need to force your opinion on others. Whatever your attitude, you need to understand it before you can effectively deal with the issue. Your attitude could be the reason behind it. Take a good, honest look at yourself and if you don't like what you see, then it's time you modified your behaviour. Concentrate on resolving work- related issues rather than personal feuds.

Whether you know it or not, `conflict' pervades your work place. Some people just smile and pretend conflict doesn't exist. Others may allow the "bullies" to take control while leaving others to quietly stew, or plot revenge. Some others resolve disputes by pulling rank or "going by the book," ignoring the personalities and realities of the situation. Very few workplaces recognise conflict as inevitable but manageable. People can usually reach an equitable agreement and prevent escalation if they deal with conflict directly and honestly.

If you are ever asked about a possible conflict with a colleague, the best answer is to tell the interviewer about the dispute and how you resolved it. You could also mention how you worked together productively after the episode.

Remember that employers are sick of dealing with employee conflicts and they want a mature person who can resolve conflict on his own without complaining to the boss.

What's the best approach to adopt when an interviewer asks why would I like to switch my job? Please give me some instructions to tackle this question.

Jayanthi
Gurgaon

If presently employed, you can say, "the reason I wish to change my job is the company I am approaching for a job is known nationwide and I want to work for a company with such background and one that I can retire from."

Additionally, if you decide to leave your current employer, it is also wise to have consensus among the reasons for your decision to leave the job.

Use your research to put forth several points about the company that you feel are crucial (for the company) and suit your particular skills and experiences. Emphasise the fact that this opportunity to work for them is 'just what you have been looking forward' because... and then go into details about the way you can add value to the organisation. When asked why you left, do not downgrade in any way your previous /current employer.... leave the interviewer with the feeling that you have only been associated with winners! Present yourself as a vital, enthusiastic employee that can offer experience to their organisation...for many years to come. If appropriate, point out that you are not just 'looking around' but are sincerely interested in working for this particular company and that you are not a 'job-hopper' but are interested in a long-term career move.

Kumaaran
Singapore

Job fairs are becoming a common means of entry- level recruiting. For the corporate recruiter, they offer an opportunity to reach interviewing terminal velocity--the highest possible number of prospects in the shortest possible amount of time. For many students, job fairs provide a "freebie" opportunity to meet with hiring employers.

However, unless you do your homework, you will end up wasting your time at a job fair. Job fairs are the meat markets at the entry level, with employers sizing up candidates quickly, based on appearances and first impressions. Job fairs have a set of rules and protocols of their own. But, if you understand how to effectively work within the system, you can easily double or triple your productivity and effectiveness.

Usually, a full 50 percent or more of the attendees at job fairs are "window shoppers" who are just browsing to see what is available. While this approach may seem valid, take note that job fairs are not "get acquainted" sessions for you to meet prospective employers. They are multiple interview sessions where the plain vanilla candidates are stepped on and over by those who are focussed and prepared. Yes, even the two to three minute greetings involving exchange of sound bites is considered a real interview. You are being evaluated, whether it is for thirty seconds or thirty minutes. You always need to be at your very best. If you are to succeed at the job fair of the new millennium, you have to take a very aggressive yet structured approach.

How can I hone my decision-making skills?

Almost every decision involves some conflict and doubt. The difficult part is to pick a solution where the positive outcome can outweigh any possible losses.

These are a few decision-making techniques:

* Identify the purpose of your decision. What is the problem exactly and why should it be solved? * What are the factors the problem involves? What standards and criteria should the solution meet?

* Brainstorm and list different possible choices. Generate ideas for possible solutions. Evaluate each choice in terms of its consequences

* Determine the best alternative. This is much easier after you go through the above preparatory steps Put the decision into action and execute your plan of action.

Finally, evaluate the outcome of your decision and action. This is an important step for further development of your decision-making skills.

The FAQ column deals with career concerns addressed to The C&K Management LTD. PO Box 2178, Secunderabad 500003 or emailed to faqs@cnkonline.com

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