CAREER GUIDE Friday, November 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India
  Tips for your job interview

I am interested in town planning. Please advise?


Tips for your job interview
Pervin Malhotra

Before you target a company, do try to find out answers to these questions:

*What is the general work climate ó is it congenial?

Is there some management problem? Are there any workersí problems?

*Does the employer treat people well? What is the staff turnover? Is it more or less? What is the outlook of people working there?

*Does the organisation provide any career plan? Does it have a good personnel policy?

*What is the salary level offered by the organisation and how does that compare with what is prevalent in the market?

*How professional is the organisation?

*What is the size of the organisation?

*What is the turnover?

*What is the ranking of this company in the whole industry?

*What is its public image and how is its track record?

*Does the company have a growth plan?

*Is it afloat in the capital market?

*What are its sister companies or group companies?

How about your job in particular?

*Where does it fit in the overall hierarchy?

*What promotional opportunities does the job provide?

*Who is your boss?

*What are the difficulties experienced by your predecessor?

*Who are your assistants? (if any)

*What is the exact nature of the job?

*Will it provide learning opportunities?

*Will you have the opportunity to leverage your strengths to score meritoriously?

*Who is the real decision-maker for this employment position?

Practice, practice, and more practice...

Research shows that mental practice has quite the same effect as real practice. In many ways your mind does not know the difference between an actual and an imagined way. By creating mental images for success you are in fact creating memories. A detailed mental image of success is more than wishful thinking or day dreaming. It is a mental practice to build success block by block. Therefore, before appearing for the interview rehearse mentally that you are a winner. Nobody knows precisely how Ďthinking like a winnerí helps a person to win in reality, but those who have practised such techniques are convinced that it does. Many athletes, surgeons and artistes have done it with tremendous success. When applied steadily, it strengthens the personality and greatly enhances your chance of winning the interview.

Commonly asked interview questions:

*Tell me something about yourself

(What are you really like?)

*What are your strengths?

*What are your weaknesses?

*Why did you leave your last job?

*You donít have sufficient experience to do the job?

(What exactly can you do for us?)

*What are your most significant accomplishments?

*What type of boss are you looking for?

(Ans: "A strong competent leader who can guide me well and who would allow me the freedom of doing my job").

*What kind of salary are you looking for?

(Donít bring up this topic yourself and donít undersell yourself by quoting less in your anxiety to clinch the job)

*Would you like to task any questions?

Supplementary questions

*These questions are generally repeated in one form or another. It would help to rehearse them in advance. While many may appear repetitive or not quite relevant, they are aimed at testing your level of preparation).

*How do you think you are qualified for the job?

*Why are you taking up a job instead of going in for higher studies?

*What do you expect from the job: money, power, job satisfaction?

*Tell us how you solved a problem in your previous assignment, or social life or personal life?

*What are your long-term career objectives?

*Do you have plans to go abroad?

*Do you work overtime?

*Do you have family commitments, which cause you to take leave often?

*How often do you report late for work?

*How often were you hurt by your boss in the previous organisation or by your professor in college or by your parents at home?

*How often do you get angry in your day-to-day life?

*Name at least two persons who influenced your life profoundly?

*What kind of training courses have you attended?

*How do you assess the performance of your subordinates? Do you believe in a self-appraisal system?

*Which is the one single factor that has attracted you to this organisation in case you are offered a job?

Questions you should ask:

*What are the key responsibilities of the job and what scope does the job provide in enlarging it?

*How would you measure my performance on this job and how have my predecessors handled this job?

*What kind of latitude is available for the jobholder to make decisions on the job?

*What are the promotional avenues and what kind of personnel policy do you have with regard to growth?

*Who will be my immediate boss and what is the general reporting system?

*What opportunities are provided for learning, training and development?

*What are my prospects of getting this job?

*Would you insist on any long-term commitment from me?

*What are the organisationís growth plans?

Best of luck!



Q I am interested in town planning. Please tell me something about it and what are the prospects?

Raja Chopra, Chandigarh

A Town planning is a profession in itself with specialised fields such as environmental planning, housing planning or transport planning.

Planners design schemes for developing housing, industrial, recreation transport.

The primary aim of town planning is to balance the conflicting demands made on land. Before making a plan, the town planner has to assess and evaluate all available information. This involves research, surveying the area and consulting those in the governmentís Health, Sanitation and Transport departments. Much of the information is technical or in chart, graph or statistical form and computers are increasingly being used to store and analyse the data.

Besides a fair amount of administrative and managerial skills, writing reports and addressing meetings, you will closely work with other professionals such as architects, lawyers, civil engineers, statisticians, sociologists and economists.

Knowledge of computers is essential as computer-aided design systems help in preparing the layout or video simulation to help the client envision your ideas.

Opportunities exist in government as well as the private sector. After your Masterís in Town Planning, you can join a firm of housing developers or government organisations like the Municipal Development Authority or private planning consultants.

You can also go into consulting after sufficient experience. There are openings in tourism boards, health authorities, construction companies and environmental organisations.

Postgraduate courses in town planning are offered at:

* University of Calcutta

* IIT Kharagpur.

* Bengal Engineering College, PO Botanic Garden, Howrah-711103.

* Visvesvaraya Regional College of Engineering, Nagpur-440011.

* JNTU School of Planning & Architecture (Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University), Mahavir Marg, Hyderabad -500028.

* School of Planning & Architecture, 4, Block-B, Indraprastha Estate, New Delhi 110002.

* IIT-Roorkee, Roorkee-247667

* Guru Ramdas School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar - 143005.

* School of Planning, Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology, Kasturbhai Lalbhai Campus, University Road, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad -380009.

BSc (Agri)

Q I am in my final year of BSc (Agri). Due to unavoidable family circumstances, I cannot study further. Could you please tell me how I could utilise my degree and start earning without further delay?

Prabhjot Singh, Amritsar

A Donít worry. With a Bachelorís degree in agriculture, you could become a consultant, thereby earning both money as well as respect in the farming community.

And the best part is that you could do so straight after college (or even while working)!

The Ministry of Agriculture, in association with NABARD has launched a unique programme to tap the expertise available in the large pool of agriculture graduates or those in allied fields.

Irrespective of whether you are a fresh graduate or currently employed, you could open your own agriclinic or agribusiness centre to provide professional extension services to farmers like advising them on crop selection, best farm practices, post-harvest value-added options, key agricultural information, etc

The government provides a free 2-month start-up-training programme comprising entrepreneurship, business management and skill improvement modules in your chosen area of expertise. On completing the training you can also apply for special start-up loans for your venture.

For detailed information regarding modules, enrolment criteria, the institute closest to you, and the business potential in the field of your choice, contact:

Post Bag No 1, Agriclinic & Agribusiness Centres Cell, National Institute of Agriculture Extension Management (MANAGE), Rajendranagar, Hyderabad ó 500030 (AP). For details log on to

In the meantime, also make it a point to visit agriculture melas/fairs conducted by agriculture universities of your area or log on to, the countryís first agricultural job portal. This will help you gain invaluable knowledge about the industry and other opportunities in this field.

Fashion Designer

Q My daughter who it at a very impressionable age, insists on becoming a fashion designer like several of her classmates. She says thereís more money in fashion than in any other field of design. Is it true?

Ahluwalia, Ludhiana

A The fancy salaries and glitzy photo-features that we see in the double-page spreads of fashion glossies are only for the handful of genuinely talented designers graduating from the premier fashion schools. That too, after years of sweat and hard work. For the rest, establishing a toehold in the industry is no cakewalk.

What you can do as a parent is to arrange for her to meet a couple of designers so that she goes into the field with her eyes open. Then if she is convinced she is cut out for it, let her prepare for the entrance exams of some top-of-the-line institutes such as NIFT, NID, etc. If she makes it through the highly competitive selection procedure, you can be assured that she has the necessary aptitude. The course should hopefully groom and equip her with the necessary skills to make it in this industry.

However, with just about everyone rushing into fashion design, it may be wise to look at some of the other related courses like garment manufacturing technology, apparel merchandising, accessory design, jewellery design, window display, fashion photography, fashion journalism, etc, all of which have a component of fashion design in them.

Aerospace Engg

Q I am planning to pursue a course in aerospace engineering from an American university. But Iíve heard that itís now very difficult to get a student visa. Is this true?

Tushar Dhal

A Post-September 11, the visa issuing norms for students have been tightened. Under the new rules, foreign nationals who want to study in the USA must obtain a student visa before joining classes, unlike earlier when they could travel as tourists while waiting for admission.

In procedural terms students have to now fill two forms (DS 156 & DS 158), instead of one. Male students (between the ages 16-45) have to fill in a third form to ascertain that they have no terrorist links.

Also instead of the earlier norm of one or two days, the issue period has been increased to 30 days. Students seeking to take up advanced courses in sensitive subjects and technologies taught only in American universities will now be screened by a special panel, including representatives of intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Any change of status from either tourist (B-2) or business (B-1) visa to a student visa while in the USA is prohibited unless you have clearly stated your intent to check out possible schools and universities at the outset.

In fact, under the US Governmentís Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), institutions are required to report all details of the 1 million foreign students (including their address, the courses they are majoring in as well as information about their leaving school or being expelled) to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Incidentally, nearly 50 per cent of student visa requests from India were turned down last month (August).

Change of Job

Q I am working in an MNC for the past six years. I was doing very well but because of some internal problems I am not feeling comfortable with my current job. I have done my B.Com (H) and ICWA (three groups, and two papers of the last group) plus a one-year computer course. Presently I am working in the Finance Department. I have sufficient work experience and exposure to finance and accounts, including excise and sales tax. As part of the team I worked on development of a new software somewhat like the ERP. I have attended various seminars on the ERP (Baan, SAP, Oracle, Mfg Pro, etc). I now want to change over. I am looking at a break either in software or finance.

Madhur Juneja

A With your academic qualifications and six years of experience in an MNC, it should be well within your reach to actually find a higher-level job than your present one. Your area of expertise is accounts and finance, plus the relevant software experience you have should stand you in good stead in your current field.

On the other hand, switching over to software is not going to be easy without expensive specialist training in contemporary software. A mere one-year course wonít be of much help when even those with a BE/BTech/MCA find it difficult to find jobs. You could perhaps look at ERP (Oracle Financial, etc).

Please send in your query preferably on a postcard along with your name, complete address and academic qualifications to: 
Editor, Career Hotline, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160020, or at