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Assignment Model Solved Examples In Strength

The generalized assignment problem (GAP) is that of finding a maximum profit assignment from n tasks to m machines such that each task is assigned to precisely one machine subject to capacity restrictions on the machines. With each possible assignment, associate a binary variable , which, if set to 1, indicates that machine i is assigned to task j. For ease of notation, define two index sets and . A GAP can be formulated as a MILP as follows:

In this formulation, Assignment constraints ensure that each task is assigned to exactly one machine. Knapsack constraints ensure that for each machine, the capacity restrictions are met.

Consider the following example taken from Koch et al. (2011) with tasks to be assigned to machines. The data set provides the profit for assigning a particular task to a particular machine:

%let NumTasks = 24; %let NumMachines = 8; data profit_data; input p1-p&NumTasks; datalines; 25 23 20 16 19 22 20 16 15 22 15 21 20 23 20 22 19 25 25 24 21 17 23 17 16 19 22 22 19 23 17 24 15 24 18 19 20 24 25 25 19 24 18 21 16 25 15 20 20 18 23 23 23 17 19 16 24 24 17 23 19 22 23 25 23 18 19 24 20 17 23 23 16 16 15 23 15 15 25 22 17 20 19 16 17 17 20 17 17 18 16 18 15 25 22 17 17 23 21 20 24 22 25 17 22 20 16 22 21 23 24 15 22 25 18 19 19 17 22 23 24 21 23 17 21 19 19 17 18 24 15 15 17 18 15 24 19 21 23 24 17 20 16 21 18 21 22 23 22 15 18 15 21 22 15 23 21 25 25 23 20 16 25 17 15 15 18 16 19 24 18 17 21 18 24 25 18 23 21 15 24 23 18 18 23 23 16 20 20 19 25 21 ;

The data set provides the amount of resources used by a particular task when assigned to a particular machine:

data weight_data; input w1-w&NumTasks; datalines; 8 18 22 5 11 11 22 11 17 22 11 20 13 13 7 22 15 22 24 8 8 24 18 8 24 14 11 15 24 8 10 15 19 25 6 13 10 25 19 24 13 12 5 18 10 24 8 5 22 22 21 22 13 16 21 5 25 13 12 9 24 6 22 24 11 21 11 14 12 10 20 6 13 8 19 12 19 18 10 21 5 9 11 9 22 8 12 13 9 25 19 24 22 6 19 14 25 16 13 5 11 8 7 8 25 20 24 20 11 6 10 10 6 22 10 10 13 21 5 19 19 19 5 11 22 24 18 11 6 13 24 24 22 6 22 5 14 6 16 11 6 8 18 10 24 10 9 10 6 15 7 13 20 8 7 9 24 9 21 9 11 19 10 5 23 20 5 21 6 9 9 5 12 10 16 15 19 18 20 18 16 21 11 12 22 16 21 25 7 14 16 10 ;

Finally, the data set provides the resource capacity for each machine:

data capacity_data; input b @@; datalines; 36 35 38 34 32 34 31 34 ;

The following PROC OPTMODEL statements read in the data and define the necessary sets and parameters:

proc optmodel; /* declare index sets */ set TASKS = 1..&NumTasks; set MACHINES = 1..&NumMachines; /* declare parameters */ num profit {MACHINES, TASKS}; num weight {MACHINES, TASKS}; num capacity {MACHINES}; /* read data sets to populate data */ read data profit_data into [i=_n_] {j in TASKS} <profit[i,j]=col('p'||j)>; read data weight_data into [i=_n_] {j in TASKS} <weight[i,j]=col('w'||j)>; read data capacity_data into [_n_] capacity=b;

The following statements declare the optimization model:

/* declare decision variables */ var Assign {MACHINES, TASKS} binary; /* declare objective */ max TotalProfit = sum {i in MACHINES, j in TASKS} profit[i,j] * Assign[i,j]; /* declare constraints */ con Assignment {j in TASKS}: sum {i in MACHINES} Assign[i,j] = 1; con Knapsack {i in MACHINES}: sum {j in TASKS} weight[i,j] * Assign[i,j] <= capacity[i];

The following statements use two different decompositions to solve the problem. The first decomposition defines each Assignment constraint as a block and uses the pure network simplex solver for the subproblem. The second decomposition defines each Knapsack constraint as a block and uses the MILP solver for the subproblem.

/* each Assignment constraint defines a block */ for{j in TASKS} Assignment[j].block = j; solve with milp / logfreq=1000 decomp =() decomp_subprob=(algorithm=nspure); /* each Knapsack constraint defines a block */ for{j in TASKS} Assignment[j].block = .; for{i in MACHINES} Knapsack[i].block = i; solve with milp / decomp; quit;

The solution summaries are displayed in Output 15.2.1.

Output 15.2.1: Solution Summaries

The OPTMODEL Procedure


MILP
Decomposition
TotalProfit
Optimal within Relative Gap
563
0.0000925018
0.0520833333
6.661338E-16
2.220446E-16
6.661338E-16
563.05208333
1763
1802
0.00
4.46

MILP
Decomposition
TotalProfit
Optimal
563
0
0
0
0
0
563
3
33
0.01
0.24

The iteration log for both decompositions is shown in Output 15.2.2. This example is interesting because it shows the tradeoff between the strength of the relaxation and the difficulty of its resolution. In the first decomposition, the subproblems are totally unimodular and can be solved trivially. Consequently, each iteration of the decomposition algorithm is very fast. However, the bound obtained is as weak as the bound found in direct methods (the LP bound). The weaker bound leads to the need to enumerate more nodes overall. Alternatively, in the second decomposition, the subproblem is the knapsack problem, which is solved using MILP. In this case, the bound is much tighter and the problem solves in very few nodes. The tradeoff, of course, is that each iteration takes longer because solving the knapsack problem is not trivial. Another interesting aspect of this problem is that the subproblem coverage in the second decomposition is much smaller than that of the first decomposition. However, when dealing with MILP, it is not always the size of the coverage that determines the overall effectiveness of a particular choice of decomposition.

Output 15.2.2: Log


NOTE: There were 8 observations read from the data set WORK.PROFIT_DATA.                        
NOTE: There were 8 observations read from the data set WORK.WEIGHT_DATA.                        
NOTE: There were 8 observations read from the data set WORK.CAPACITY_DATA.                      
NOTE: Problem generation will use 4 threads.                                                    
NOTE: The problem has 192 variables (0 free, 0 fixed).                                          
NOTE: The problem has 192 binary and 0 integer variables.                                       
NOTE: The problem has 32 linear constraints (8 LE, 24 EQ, 0 GE, 0 range).                       
NOTE: The problem has 384 linear constraint coefficients.                                       
NOTE: The problem has 0 nonlinear constraints (0 LE, 0 EQ, 0 GE, 0 range).                      
NOTE: The MILP presolver value AUTOMATIC is applied.                                            
NOTE: The MILP presolver removed 0 variables and 0 constraints.                                 
NOTE: The MILP presolver removed 0 constraint coefficients.                                     
NOTE: The MILP presolver modified 0 constraint coefficients.                                    
NOTE: The presolved problem has 192 variables, 32 constraints, and 384 constraint coefficients. 
NOTE: The MILP solver is called.                                                                
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm is used.                                                      
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm is executing in single-machine mode.                          
NOTE: The DECOMP method value USER is applied.                                                  
NOTE: The subproblem solver chosen is an LP solver but at least one block has integer variables.
NOTE: The problem has a decomposable structure with 24 blocks. The largest block covers 3.13%   
      of the constraints in the problem.                                                        
NOTE: The decomposition subproblems cover 192 (100.00%) variables and 24 (75.00%) constraints.  
NOTE: The deterministic parallel mode is enabled.                                               
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm is using up to 4 threads.                                     
      Iter         Best       Master         Best       LP       IP  CPU Real                   
                  Bound    Objective      Integer      Gap      Gap Time Time                   
NOTE: Starting phase 1.                                                                         
         1       0.0000       8.9248            . 8.92e+00        .    0    0                   
         4       0.0000       0.0000            .    0.00%        .    0    0                   
NOTE: Starting phase 2.                                                                         
         5     574.0000     561.1587            .    2.24%        .    0    0                   
         6     568.8833     568.5610            .    0.06%        .    0    0                   
         8     568.6464     568.6464     560.0000    0.00%    1.52%    0    0                   
NOTE: Starting branch and bound.                                                                
         Node  Active   Sols         Best         Best      Gap    CPU   Real                   
                                  Integer        Bound            Time   Time                   
            0       1      1     560.0000     568.6464    1.52%      0      0                   
            5       7      2     563.0000     568.4782    0.96%      0      0                   
         1000     432      2     563.0000     564.6212    0.29%      2      2                   
         1762       0      2     563.0000     563.0521    0.01%      4      4                   
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm used 4 threads.                                               
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm time is 4.46 seconds.                                         
NOTE: Optimal within relative gap.                                                              
NOTE: Objective = 563.                                                                          
NOTE: The MILP presolver value AUTOMATIC is applied.                                            
NOTE: The MILP presolver removed 0 variables and 0 constraints.                                 
NOTE: The MILP presolver removed 0 constraint coefficients.                                     
NOTE: The MILP presolver modified 0 constraint coefficients.                                    
NOTE: The presolved problem has 192 variables, 32 constraints, and 384 constraint coefficients. 
NOTE: The MILP solver is called.                                                                
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm is used.                                                      
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm is executing in single-machine mode.                          
NOTE: The DECOMP method value USER is applied.                                                  
NOTE: The problem has a decomposable structure with 8 blocks. The largest block covers 3.13% of 
      the constraints in the problem.                                                           
NOTE: The decomposition subproblems cover 192 (100.00%) variables and 8 (25.00%) constraints.   
NOTE: The deterministic parallel mode is enabled.                                               
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm is using up to 4 threads.                                     
      Iter         Best       Master         Best       LP       IP  CPU Real                   
                  Bound    Objective      Integer      Gap      Gap Time Time                   
NOTE: Starting phase 1.                                                                         
         1       0.0000      10.0000            . 1.00e+01        .    0    0                   
         8       0.0000       0.0000            .    0.00%        .    0    0                   
NOTE: Starting phase 2.                                                                         
        11     717.5556     540.0000     540.0000   24.74%   24.74%    0    0                   
        13     670.3333     548.0000     548.0000   18.25%   18.25%    0    0                   
        14     627.9557     548.0000     548.0000   12.73%   12.73%    0    0                   
        16     592.2500     549.8750     548.0000    7.15%    7.47%    0    0                   
        19     592.2500     558.0000     558.0000    5.78%    5.78%    0    0                   
         .     592.2500     558.0000     558.0000    5.78%    5.78%    0    0                   
        20     577.6667     558.0000     558.0000    3.40%    3.40%    0    0                   
        23     574.6667     560.6667     560.0000    2.44%    2.55%    0    0                   
        24     574.6667     563.0000     563.0000    2.03%    2.03%    0    0                   
        25     569.5000     563.5000     563.0000    1.05%    1.14%    0    0                   
        26     566.1905     563.7143     563.0000    0.44%    0.56%    0    0                   
        28     564.5000     564.0000     563.0000    0.09%    0.27%    0    0                   
        29     564.0000     564.0000     563.0000    0.00%    0.18%    0    0                   
NOTE: Starting branch and bound.                                                                
         Node  Active   Sols         Best         Best      Gap    CPU   Real                   
                                  Integer        Bound            Time   Time                   
            0       1      8     563.0000     564.0000    0.18%      0      0                   
            4       0      8     563.0000     563.0000    0.00%      0      0                   
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm used 4 threads.                                               
NOTE: The Decomposition algorithm time is 0.15 seconds.                                         
NOTE: Optimal.                                                                                  
NOTE: Objective = 563.                                                                          

Example 15.2 Generalized Assignment Problem

Interviewing Resources
Source:
www.careerperfect.com

 

Management Concerns:

  1. Can you do the job (do you have the skills/abilities)

  2. Will you do the job (are you motivated, dedicated, hard working?)

  3. Will you get along with others

  4. Are you manageable (take direction, support organizational change)

  5. Can we afford you

 

Interview Question Strategies

 

1.      Tell me about yourself

A very typical opening question, it can throw you if you are not prepared. It may be used to assess any of the first four employer concerns. Keep your answer brief and focused on work-related skills and personal qualities that pertain to your professional life. Do not discuss any requirements that you may have of an employer.Use this question as an opportunity to walk the interviewer briefly through your resume and to introduce the three things you want the interviewer to remember about you after the interview.Make sure you mention skills/abilities noted in the job description.

Be prepared to summarize your relevant qualifications and to discuss briefly your related personal qualities; for example: "I have most recently been involved with developing a more efficient widget for multimedia applications, and have a solid background in both systems engineering and digital circuit design. I really get excited and involved in my work and function well independently. I also get along well with others and enjoy being part of a team."

Try practicing this formula:  I have completed _______ degree with a major in ________.  Recently I worked for  ______ as an _______.  My strengths are _________ (soft/interpersonal) and _________ (hard/technical).  Try rehearsing your response in 30-second segments devoted to your education, work experience, and qualifications/skills.
 

2.      What are your biggest strengths and what are your biggest weaknesses?

If asked together, answer the second part of this question first.This question provides an opportunity to reveal your greatest weaknesses. Don't do it. Depending upon your answer, this question could address Employer Concern #1, #2, or #3. Take a situation early in your career that you have since corrected and from which you have learned. Or discuss a skill that is not related to this position.Another classic strategy is to use a weakness that could also be noted as a strength — but be cautious here as this approach has been overused and may appear rehearsed or inauthentic. Only use an example if it is true and you can back it up.The key is to identify ONE non-fatal weakness and focus the majority of your answer time discussing how you have overcome it.

In answering a question about strengths, have three job-related strengths identified with specific examples to illustrate each.

3.      Why should I hire you over other candidate?

This question is primarily concerned with self-image, confidence, and motivation (Employer Concern #2); it is a great opportunity to sell yourself. Now is a good time to address your related abilities from your qualifications and from your accomplishments. This is also an excellent time to indicate that you want the job.A typical question to end an interview, you should be able to once again reiterate the three things you want the interviewer to remember about you after the interview.

4. What accomplishments are you proud of?

This question focuses on your skills (Employer Concern #1) and on your motivation and willingness (Employer Concern #2) to make a valuable contribution. Draw from your related accomplishments. Be sure to create Accomplishment Profiles for each different type of position you have held so you are prepared for any position about which you are asked.

5.What are your career goals?

This question probes your goals and interests (Employer Concern #2). The employer will compare your answer to the position for which you are applying, and perhaps to any applicable career track within the organization.

Easy enough to answer if the position is a good match. Otherwise, look for a link between the position and your career goals, and be prepared to make a case for it. You don't want to be perceived as seeking a temporary or fill-in position, thus not staying long enough to justify the expense and time of recruiting and training.

  1. Why did you leave/are you considering leaving?

Acceptable reasons for leaving: professional growth, challenge, more income, prestige, location, corporate culture or environment, and security. Think about and have an acceptable answer for each position. Watch for patterns, e.g., if you repeatedly left for more money (especially if positions were short-term), you may raise the concern (Employer Concern #2) that you will not be happy for long enough to make a contribution after the expense and time that is invested in recruiting and training.

Layoff: if you have been laid off through downsizing or restructuring, while common these days, the employer will be concerned about negative feelings you might be harboring toward your former employer that may carry over to your next employer (Employer Concern #4). The employer will also be concerned that, because of your negative feelings, you may be difficult to get along with and manage. Be sure you have talked out any negative feelings about a layoff with a supportive friend or family member so you can discuss this with a potential employer in a neutral manner. Role play, tape yourself, and listen carefully. If you have any negative emotions come through, seek the help of a professional counselor to help resolve your feelings of anger, hurt, or resentment.

Termination: someone once said, "If you haven't been fired at least once, you haven't lived." Keep in mind, though, if you have been fired, the employer will likely have the same concern as with a layoff, i.e., that you may harbor negative feelings that may carry over to your next employer (Employer Concern #4), so working to resolve those feelings also applies to terminations. With a termination, there are additional concerns, such as whether or not you can you do the job (Employer Concern #1), or in the event of personality conflicts, whether or not you will get along with others (Employer Concern #3) or your manager (Employer Concern #4). Whatever the cause, you need to do three things:

1.      Resolve your negative emotions and do not place blame on others.

2.      Accept responsibility for what happened and present it as a positive learning experience.

3.      Convey that it was an isolated incident by describing other situations that illustrate your relationships or abilities in question. For example, if you were fired due to a personality conflict with your manager, describe other successful relationships you had with prior managers (and also describe how successful you were otherwise at the job). If the termination was performance related, describe other situations where you have been successful. Draw from your related accomplishments.

  1. What problems do you encounter in working with a group/team?

This question implies that you have had a problem (an assumption of a problem is a common strategy that may be used for many issues); don't take the bait. After contemplating for a few seconds, politely indicate you can't think of any problems.

If this type of question is repeated with other issues, look to concede something that happened early in your career from which you learned, or minor and common difficulties that are easily overcome, rather than saying that you never have a problem with anything. Be careful of similar patterns, as the interviewer who finds one problem may look for other examples of the same or similar type of problem.

  1. What were your primary responsibilities?

This is a straightforward question concerned with your related skills (Concern #1). It is a great opportunity to sell your skills related to the position. Focus on your related responsibilities and look for opportunities to illustrate by drawing upon your accomplishments.

Note: employers are looking for a candidate that can get up to speed fairly quickly. The risk of a new hire is often in direct proportion to the degree to which the candidate's past experience differs from that of the new position. Skill questions also typically contain the inherent concern of interest and motivation (Concern #2). If your experience differs from the position for which you are interviewing, a concern will be whether or not you will be happy, interested, and motivated in the new role. In such cases, look for similarities (transferable skills) between your past experience and the new position in question. If you cannot find a common thread, focus on your past success of stepping into something new (e.g., new responsibilities, environment, etc.), how you met, and enjoyed, this kind of challenge before, and that you can do so again.

  1. What was the most difficult part of your job? How did you deal with it?

This question is concerned with skills (Employer Concern #1), willingness to solve problems, motivation to overcome obstacles (Employer Concern #2), and sometimes manageability (Employer Concern #4), since employers want to gauge your judgment in keeping your manager informed of issues that may adversely impact their organization.

Focus on how you tackled difficult issues, what you accomplished and/or learned. You might want to tactfully add that if it were an issue with significant organizational impact, of course you would have kept (or did keep) your manager informed.

  1. What skills, knowledge, or qualities are necessary to be successful..?

This question is concerned with whether or not you understand the requirements (skills, knowledge, and personal qualities) needed for this position. Your understanding of the requirements helps determine whether you can gauge your own ability to perform the job (Employer Concern #1), as well as whether your interest level (Employer Concern #2) is based upon a clear understanding of the position.

Draw from your related accomplishments. You can follow up your answer by asking the employer for confirmation, i.e., based upon your answer, does the employer feel you have an understanding of the position's requirements? If your understanding does not closely match, ask for further clarification and supplement your answer accordingly.

  1. Do you consider yourself successful? Why do you feel that way?

This question assesses self image and confidence (Employer Concern #2), qualities that affect your performance. Answering "Yes." is easy; however, you will need to give some thought as to why you feel this way. Draw upon your accomplishments to support your answer and sell yourself at the same time. If you are just starting your career, focus on other successes you have had in other areas of your life such as academics or sports. If you have had recent setbacks in your career, focus on earlier career successes.

  1. What aspects of your job did you find to be more challenging?

This question is aimed at Employer Concern #2. Your interests, desires, and preferences translate into your motivation. The more you know about the position for which you are interviewing, the easier it will be to focus your answers on parallel interests and motivation.

Take the opportunity after answering the question to see how it has been received. For example, you might ask "How does what I have described match up to the responsibilities and challenges here?" or "What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of this position?" (It is best to conduct general research on typical job responsibilities and requirements prior to interviewing. If making a change into a new field, see Find your dream career on our Website.)

  1. What kind of rewards are more satisfying to you?

This question is aimed at Employer Concern #2. Your interests, desires, and preferences translate into your motivation. The more you know about the position for which you are interviewing, the easier it will be to focus your answers on parallel interests and motivation.

Take the opportunity after answering the question to see how it has been received. For example, you might ask "How does what I have described match up to the responsibilities and challenges here?" or "What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of this position?" (It is best to conduct general research on typical job responsibilities and requirements prior to interviewing. If making a change into a new field, see Find your dream career on our Website.)

  1. What have you done to improve your skills?

Also concerned with your motivation (Employer Concern #2), look for examples that show a pattern of improving skills to become more effective at the job at hand (versus an emphasis on improving skills to move out of the job at hand). While it is fine to show an interest in advancing your career, you want to be careful not to raise a red flag indicating that you are never satisfied or not motivated to do the job at hand or not likely to stay long enough in the position for your hiring to be cost effective.

  1. What are you looking for now?

Again concerned with your interest and motivation (Employer Concern #2), what you are looking for now — and as a confirmation question, what you have applied for recently? — should be consistent with the position for which you are interviewing. If not obvious, look for common denominators. You want to avoid giving the impression that the position for which you are interviewing is happenstance.

  1. What do you know about our company/products/services?

This question is aimed at Employer Concern #2. Your interests, desires, and preferences translate into your motivation. The more you know about the position for which you are interviewing, the easier it will be to focus your answers on parallel interests and motivation.

Take the opportunity after answering the question to see how it has been received. For example, you might ask "How does what I have described match up to the responsibilities and challenges here?" or "What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of this position?" (It is best to conduct general research on typical job responsibilities and requirements prior to interviewing. If making a change into a new field, see Find your dream career on our Website.)

  1. What aspect of this job interest you most? Least?

Again aimed at Employer Concern #2, this question addresses your interests, desires, and preferences. The more you know about the position, the easier it will be to answer. Take this opportunity to ask more about the position if needed. The best answer from the employer's perspective, is that all aspects, or the aspect requiring most of your time, interest you.

With regard to what you like least, it would be best to indicate that from what you know about the position, all aspects sound interesting, and you cannot think of any aspect that you would like least at this time.

  1. When you or your coworkers are having a bad day, how do you deal with it?

This question is also concerned with your motivation (Employer Concern #2) and your relationship with team members (Employer Concern #3). Use examples that illustrate your persistence while not being unduly influenced by coworkers (or better yet, where you have encouraged or coached coworkers). Describe examples of how you manage stress effectively, such as taking a walk at lunch, reading an appropriate book, etc.

  1. Were you satisfied with your performance in your past positions? Why?

This question assesses self image and confidence (Employer Concern #2), qualities that affect your performance. Draw upon your accomplishments to support your answer.

  1. Describe a major goal you set and what steps you took to reach it.
    This question is concerned with your goal-oriented motivation and tenacity (Employer Concern #2), and how you handle setbacks. In addition to discussing examples of goals set and achieved, be prepared to discuss goals you did not reach and how you dealt with those "failures." A common strategy after hearing about an accomplishment, or a series of accomplishments, is for the interviewer to ask about a time when the reverse happened. Emphasize the value of the learning experience and how you were not deterred for long or immobilized by failing to reach a goal. Avoid using examples of major failures, especially those related to the job in question; focus instead on minor goals and setbacks (or use examples from earlier in your career). Be careful to avoid showing a pattern of the same types of problems or setbacks.

21. When you don’t meet a goal, how do you deal with it?

This question is concerned with your goal-oriented motivation and tenacity (Employer Concern #2), and how you handle setbacks. In addition to discussing examples of goals set and achieved, be prepared to discuss goals you did not reach and how you dealt with those "failures." A common strategy after hearing about an accomplishment, or a series of accomplishments, is for the interviewer to ask about a time when the reverse happened. Emphasize the value of the learning experience and how you were not deterred for long or immobilized by failing to reach a goal. Avoid using examples of major failures, especially those related to the job in question; focus instead on minor goals and setbacks (or use examples from earlier in your career). Be careful to avoid showing a pattern of the same types of problems or setbacks.

22. What do you find hard to do? Why is that?

Pass on this opportunity to bring up your greatest weaknesses in every possible area. Instead, think about minor and common issues that do not jeopardize your ability, motivation, or relationships. Some common issues might include something unpleasant for anyone, such as firing someone (but indicate you are able to do it), or a minor example from your personal life such as a common but unpleasant chore. Another option is to take an example from earlier in your career. If pressed for more examples, either continue with another minor example, or if you are unable to think of anything else, just say so. Avoid showing a pattern of the same type of problem resulting from a particular weakness.

23.Do you feel you were sufficiently recognized for your work by your managers?

This question is concerned with manageability (Employer Concern #4). How much time will the employer need to spend acknowledging your every effort in order for you to feel sufficiently recognized?

It is best to indicate that you felt recognized, but that your primary rewards came from the job itself. Additionally, you can indicate that it was always nice to hear periodically, and/or at a salary review, that you had done a good job.

24.When you have a problem, What steps do you take to resolve it?

While concerned with problem-solving skills (Employer Concern #1), this question also addresses initiative and motivation to solve problems (Employer Concern #2), and could address manageability (Employer Concern #4), gauging your judgment in keeping your manager informed of issues that may adversely impact their organization. Use related examples from your accomplishments that illustrate problem-solving skills and demonstrate how you keep your manager informed as needed.

25. What problems do you encounter in working alone?

This question implies that you have had a problem (an assumption of a problem is a common strategy that may be used for many issues); don't take the bait. After contemplating for a few seconds, politely indicate you can't think of any problems.

If this type of question is repeated with other issues, look to concede something that happened early in your career from which you learned, or minor and common difficulties that are easily overcome, rather than saying that you never have a problem with anything. Be careful of similar patterns, as the interviewer who finds one problem may look for other examples of the same or similar type of problem.

  1. Do you prefer to work independently or with others?

This question probes your self-motivation (Employer Concern #2) and interpersonal preferences (Employer Concern #3). While some positions may require one ability more than another, most positions require someone able, and willing, to work well independently and with others. Consider the position for which you are interviewing, however, it may be best to indicate that you work well in, and enjoy both scenarios.

 27.What did you like about your most recent job?

This question is aimed at Employer Concern #2. Your interests, desires, and preferences translate into your motivation. The more you know about the position for which you are interviewing, the easier it will be to focus your answers on parallel interests and motivation.

Take the opportunity after answering the question to see how it has been received. For example, you might ask "How does what I have described match up to the responsibilities and challenges here?" or "What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of this position?" (It is best to conduct general research on typical job responsibilities and requirements prior to interviewing. If making a change into a new field, see Find your dream career on our Website.)

  1. What did you dislike about your most recent job?

This question is aimed at Employer Concern #2. Your interests, desires, and preferences translate into your motivation. The more you know about the position for which you are interviewing, the easier it will be to focus your answers on parallel interests and motivation.

Take the opportunity after answering the question to see how it has been received. For example, you might ask "How does what I have described match up to the responsibilities and challenges here?" or "What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of this position?" (It is best to conduct general research on typical job responsibilities and requirements prior to interviewing. If making a change into a new field, see Find your dream career on our Website.)

  1. Tell me about a difficult situation you faced and how you handled it.

Again, do not take this opportunity to bring up problems or weaknesses in any area. Use an example of a difficult challenge you successfully met, but be careful with anything that raises questions about your current abilities, motivation, or interpersonal relationships. An example from early in your career from which you grew professionally, preferably unrelated to current responsibilities, is best.

Another option, albeit a potentially touchy one, is to use a personal situation or challenge unrelated to your current abilities or motivation, distanced by time if possible to further minimize any impact on your current work life.

  1. How would your manager(s) describe you?

This question can relate to any of the first four Employer Concerns. Create a brief profile of yourself based on the positive aspects of how you feel your past manager saw you, touching on skills, motivation, and interpersonal abilities. For example, "My manager would say I'm a skilled C++ programmer with excellent coding and debugging skills. I have a lot of drive, and get along well with others."

Remember, this profile may be compared in a reference check, so be forthcoming while emphasizing your strengths from your manager's perspective. Although many companies today have a policy that limits reference information to dates of employment and salary, some will still provide more qualitative information.

  1. With what type of people do you dislike working?

This question addresses getting along with coworkers (Employer Concern #3) and manageability (Employer Concern #4). It is safest to indicate that you cannot think of any type of person with whom you would dislike working, and that you get along well with most everyone. If pressed further, use an extreme example of a person with work behavior that would be unacceptable in most any environment.

32. How do you handle criticism?

This question is concerned with potential manageability problems (Employer Concern #4) and whether or not your preferred management style fits the style of your potential new manager, specifically in how you react to criticism.

In answering, assume the question is: "How do you handle constructive criticism?" You might want to respond by indicating that you welcome constructive criticism and that it helps you to learn and grow.

33.What was your favorite manager like?

This question is concerned with potential manageability problems (Employer Concern #4), and whether or not your preferred management style fits the style of your potential new manager. When asked to describe other managers, focus on what they did well and the best aspects of your relationships. If pressed for specific problems with a manager who may have had a poor management style, the best response is to indicate that you did not have a problem with them or their management style, however, if given a choice, you would prefer an alternate style. Always take responsibility and never place blame.

Keep in mind that the more depth you go into about your preferred style of being managed, the more you may appear not to fit this manager's style (or even appear to be a prima donna, and thus difficult to manage). You have to decide whether it is worth the risk of losing the offer to be more specific about your preferred style of being managed, or the risk of being hired into a situation in which you may be uncomfortable. You may even want to ask how your preferences fit in with your potential manager's preferred style, or how this potential manager would characterize his or her management style.

34.What was your worst manager like?

This question is concerned with potential manageability problems (Employer Concern #4), and whether or not your preferred management style fits the style of your potential new manager. When asked to describe other managers, focus on what they did well and the best aspects of your relationships. If pressed for specific problems with a manager who may have had a poor management style, the best response is to indicate that you did not have a problem with them or their management style, however, if given a choice, you would prefer an alternate style. Always take responsibility and never place blame.

Keep in mind that the more depth you go into about your preferred style of being managed, the more you may appear not to fit this manager's style (or even appear to be a prima donna, and thus difficult to manage). You have to decide whether it is worth the risk of losing the offer to be more specific about your preferred style of being managed, or the risk of being hired into a situation in which you may be uncomfortable. You may even want to ask how your preferences fit in with your potential manager's preferred style, or how this potential manager would characterize his or her management style.

35.How does your manager best support you?

This question is concerned with potential manageability problems (Employer Concern #4), and whether or not your preferred management style fits the style of your potential new manager. When asked to describe other managers, focus on what they did well and the best aspects of your relationships. If pressed for specific problems with a manager who may have had a poor management style, the best response is to indicate that you did not have a problem with them or their management style, however, if given a choice, you would prefer an alternate style. Always take responsibility and never place blame.

Keep in mind that the more depth you go into about your preferred style of being managed, the more you may appear not to fit this manager's style (or even appear to be a prima donna, and thus difficult to manage). You have to decide whether it is worth the risk of losing the offer to be more specific about your preferred style of being managed, or the risk of being hired into a situation in which you may be uncomfortable. You may even want to ask how your preferences fit in with your potential manager's preferred style, or how this potential manager would characterize his or her management style.

  

 

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