The big bad interview and its questions often get repeated at every job. Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions by Matthew J. and Nanette F. DeLuca lists, as the title suggests, the most commonly asked interview questions. And then tells you how to answer these without getting flummoxed, whether you have to “list your strengths and weaknesses", “give us your reasons for leaving this job" or respond to the more tricky “are you into social networking?", “do you use a BlackBerry?" The book will tip you off on red herrings and help you with the usual questions. Edited excerpts from it:

What is the reason you left/are planning to leave your organization?

Answer ace: Never bad-mouth a former employer. You need to cast yourself as a winner who has always worked for and with winners. Do not whine that your employer would not promote you or give you an increase, a corner office, a higher commission schedule. Instead, take a broader view.

What is your current salary?

Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions: By Matthew J. and Nanette F. DeLuca,Tata McGrawHill, 217 pages, Rs 250.

a) Did you fill out an application? If so, the firm already has the information, so be consistent.

b) Do you know the salary range for the open position from the posting advert, the recruiter or inside information? Answer with a range, if possible (“Mid-forties before bonuses"). Negotiate salary when the job is offered, not before.

c) You have no idea what the position pays. If you come in too low, you may be taken up at a cheap price; if you come in too high, you have priced yourself out of a job. Couch your response by giving an accurate amount, and if you feel it is too low, add, “This is basic salary exclusive of perks and benefits that are generous and should be considered as a part of total compensation package."

What do you like the most about this position? What do you like the least about this position?

Answer ace: This question usually has two parts, which come one at a time. The set up comes with first asking you what you like the best because it is the easier of the two questions to answer (if you cannot think of any positives why are you there?). Identify two or three major elements or characteristics that really are the essence of the job: “I like the amount of time that will be devoted to outside clients". “I particularly like the problem-solving elements of the position."

When you are asked to identifythe least attractive aspects of the position, try to avoid the question by saying “I can’t think of anything that I dislike about the position" or “It sounds like just what I had hoped it would be." Appear confident and knowledgeable about the position. Or come up with an obvious minor drawback, like the only thing that makes the position a difficult one is the two-block distance between the department’s location and the group it is expected to serve. How does the current staff deal with it?

Have you ever worked for or with a difficult person?

Answer ace: Do not get philosophical about the various shades of meaning of the word difficult but realize that once you start to answer, you have essentially assumed that the other person was difficult while you were not. You can avoid the dilemma by starting with “if by a difficult person you mean a person who____then yes, I have. Examples may include:

• was against trying new methods

• trusted no one to take responsibility for everything

• would never delegate

• would never give credit, yet took all the credit regardless of the circumstances

• never admitted to making even a minor mistake

When you answer make sure that the difficulty is obvious and simple to describe as well as likely to generate agreement from the interviewer. Be on the lookout for grey areas that may cause confusion.

Do you instant-message? Do you twitter? Do you like to use emails? Do you have a BlackBerry or iPhone?

Answer ace: This could be an inquiry into how in touch you are with the newest technology or it could be concerned with how much time you might waste in keeping up with your social networking: It may also relate to the company’s need to be in touch with their employees 24x7. Consider the source of the question: Is it a high-tech company or not?

What is your management style? Provide examples from your current or most recent position that demonstrate this style.

Answer ace: You should’ve already considered this question as part of your self-assessment in preparation in any job search effort. There are two major approaches; one emphasizes tasks, and the other stresses relationships. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, nor should they ever be, according to the management experts.

Interviewers may use the terms manager and leader interchangeably. So clarify which you are talking about if you feel that you and the interviewer are not both discussing the same attributes.

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