1. ALL TYPE OF Interview Question and AnswerMental fear of the unknown is often what produces the physical symptoms of nervousness. In addition topreparing yourself physically, you also need to prepare yourself mentally. The best way to prepare mentallyis to know what may be coming. Fear of the unknown can only exist when there is an unknown. Take thetime to understand some of the "standards" when it comes to interviewing questions.The following are some of the most difficult questions you will face in the course of your job interviews.Some questions may seem rather simple on the surface--such as "Tell me about yourself"--but thesequestions can have a variety of answers. The more open-ended the question, the wider the variation in theanswers. Once you have become practiced in your interviewing skills, you will find that you can use almostany question as a launching pad for a particular topic or compelling story.Others are "classic" interview questions, such as, "What is your greatest weakness?" Questions which mostpeople answer inappropriately. In this case, the standard textbook answer for the "greatest weakness"question is to give a veiled positive--"I work too much. I just work and work and work"--which ends upsending the wrong message. Either you are lying or, worse yet, you are telling the truth, in which case youdefine working too much as a weakness and really dont want to work much at all. Think about it.The following answers are provided to give you a new perspective on how to answer tough interviewquestions. They are not there for you to lift from the page and insert into your next interview. They arethere for you to use as the basic structure for formulating your own answers. While the specifics of eachreply may not apply to you, try to follow the basic structure of the answer from the perspective of theinterviewer. Answer the questions behaviorally, with specific examples that show clear evidence backs upwhat you are saying about yourself. Always provide information that shows you want to become the verybest _____ for the company and that you have specifically prepared yourself to become exactly that. Theywant to be sold. They are waiting to be sold. Dont disappoint them!1. Tell me about yourself.My background to date has been centered around preparing myself to become the very best _____ I canbecome. Let me tell you specifically how Ive prepared myself . . .2. Why should I hire you?Because I sincerely believe that Im the best person for the job. I realize that there are many other collegestudents who have the ability to do this job. I also have that ability. But I also bring an additional qualitythat makes me the very best person for the job--my attitude for excellence. Not just giving lip service toexcellence, but putting every part of myself into achieving it. In _____ and _____ I have consistentlyreached for becoming the very best I can become by doing the following . . .3. What is your long-range objective?Where do you want to be 10 or 15 years from now?Although its certainly difficult to predict things far into the future, I know what direction I want to developtoward. Within five years, I would like to become the very best _____ your company has. In fact, mypersonal career mission statement is to become a world-class _____ in the _____ industry. I will worktoward becoming the expert that others rely upon. And in doing so, I feel I will be fully prepared to take onany greater responsibilities that might be presented in the long term.4. How has your education prepared you for your career?As you will note on my resume, Ive taken not only the required core classes in the _____ field, Ive alsogone above and beyond. Ive taken every class the college has to offer in the field and also completed anindependent study project specifically in this area. But its not just taking the classes to gain academicknowledge--Ive taken each class, both inside and outside of my major, with this profession in mind. Sowhen were studying _____ in _____, Ive viewed it from the perspective of _____. In addition, Ive alwaystried to keep a practical view of how the information would apply to my job. Not just theory, but how itwould actually apply. My capstone course project in my final semester involved developing a real-worldmodel of _____, which is very similar to what might be used within your company. Let me tell you moreabout it . . .5. Are you a team player?Very much so. In fact, Ive had opportunities in both athletics and academics to develop my skills as a teamplayer. I was involved in _____ at the intramural level, including leading my team in assists during the pastyear--I always try to help others achieve their best. In academics, Ive worked on several team projects,serving as both a member and team leader. Ive seen the value of working together as a team to achieve agreater goal than any one of us could have achieved individually. As an example . . .6. Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor?How was it resolved? Yes, I have had conflicts in the past. Never major ones, but certainly there have beensituations where there was a disagreement that needed to be resolved. Ive found that when conflict occurs,its because of a failure to see both sides of the situation. Therefore, I ask the other person to give me theirperspective and at the same time ask that they allow me to fully explain my perspective. At that point, Iwould work with the person to find out if a compromise could be reached. If not, I would submit to their
2. decision because they are my superior. In the end, you have to be willing to submit yourself to thedirectives of your superior, whether youre in full agreement or not. An example of this was when . . .7. What is your greatest weakness?I would say my greatest weakness has been my lack of proper planning in the past. I would overcommitmyself with too many variant tasks, then not be able to fully accomplish each as I would like. However,since Ive come to recognize that weakness, Ive taken steps to correct it. For example, I now carry aplanning calendar in my pocket so that I can plan all of my appointments and "to do" items. Here, let meshow you how I have this week planned out . . .8. If I were to ask your professors to describe you, what would they say?I believe they would say Im a very energetic person, that I put my mind to the task at hand and see to itthat its accomplished. They would say that if they ever had something that needed to be done, I was theperson who they could always depend on to see that it was accomplished. They would say that I always tooka keen interest in the subjects I was studying and always sought ways to apply the knowledge in real worldsettings. Am I just guessing that they would say these things? No, in fact, Im quite certain they would saythose things because I have with me several letters of recommendation from my professors, and those aretheir very words. Let me show you . . .9. What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have?The key quality should be leadership--the ability to be the visionary for the people who are working underthem. The person who can set the course and direction for subordinates. A manager should also be apositive role model for others to follow. The highest calling of a true leader is inspiring others to reach thehighest of their abilities. Id like to tell you about a person who I consider to be a true leader . . .10. If you had to live your life over again, what would you change?Thats a good question. I realize that it can be very easy to continually look back and wish that things hadbeen different in the past. But I also realize that things in the past cannot be changed, that only things inthe future can be changed. Thats why I continually strive to improve myself each and every day and thatswhy Im working hard to continually increase my knowledge in the _____ field. Thats also the reason why Iwant to become the very best _____ your company has ever had. To make positive change. And all of thatis still in the future. So in answer to your question, there isnt anything in my past that I would change. Ilook only to the future to make changes in my life.In reviewing the above responses, please remember that these are sample answers. Please do not rehearsethem verbatim or adopt them as your own. They are meant to stir your creative juices and get you thinkingabout how to properly answer the broader range of questions that you will face.Fifty Standard Interview QuestionsIt is not enough to have solid answers only for the above questions. You need to be prepared for the fullspectrum of questions that may be presented. For further practice, make sure you go through the requiredmock interview (see the "Competitive Interview Prep" Section) and for further review, look at some of thefollowing questions:1. Tell me about yourself.2. What do you want to do with your life?3. Do you have any actual work experience?4. How would you describe your ideal job?5. Why did you choose this career?6. When did you decide on this career?7. What goals do you have in your career?8. How do you plan to achieve these goals?9. How do you evaluate success?10. Describe a situation in which you were successful.11. What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?12. What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your life?13. If you had to live your life over again, what would you change?14. Would your rather work with information or with people?15. Are you a team player?16. What motivates you?17. Why should I hire you?18. Are you a goal-oriented person?19. Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them.20. What are your short-term goals?21. What is your long-range objective?22. What do you see yourself doing five years from now?23. Where do you want to be ten years from now?24. Do you handle conflict well?25. Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How did you resolve it?26. What major problem have you had to deal with recently?27. Do you handle pressure well?28. What is your greatest strength?29. What is your greatest weakness?30. If I were to ask one of your professors to describe you, what would he or she say?
3. 31. Why did you choose to attend your college?32. What changes would you make at your college?33. How has your education prepared you for your career?34. What were your favorite classes? Why?35. Do you enjoy doing independent research?36. Who were your favorite professors? Why?37. Why is your GPA not higher?38. Do you have any plans for further education?39. How much training do you think youll need to become a productive employee?40. What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have?41. Why do you want to work in the _____ industry?42. What do you know about our company?43. Why are you interested in our company?44. Do you have any location preferences?45. How familiar are you with the community that were located in?46. Will you relocate? In the future?47. Are you willing to travel? How much?48. Is money important to you?49. How much money do you need to make to be happy?50. What kind of salary are you looking for?Dont just read these questions--practice and rehearse the answers. Dont let the company interview be thefirst time you have actually formulated an answer in spoken words. It is not enough to think about them inyour head--practice! Sit down with a friend, a significant other, or your roommate (an especially effectivecritic, given the amount of preparation to date) and go through all of the questions. Make the most of everysingle interview opportunity by being fully prepared!Top Ten Critical Success FactorsWith all the different questions being referenced, you may wonder what exactly the employer is looking for.And I will tell you. Following is the list of the top ten critical success factors that nearly every employer isseeking:1. Positive attitude toward work2. Proficiency in field of study3. Communication skills (oral and written)4. Interpersonal skills5. Confidence6. Critical thinking and problem solving skills7. Flexibility8. Self-motivation9. Leadership10. TeamworkShow your competence in as many of the above critical success factors as possible and you will rise abovethe competition.What To Do If You Are Asked An Illegal QuestionThe interview is going along smoothly. You are psyched that "this may be the one." And then it happens.Out of nowhere. "Are you considering having children?" Or, "How long has your family been in this country?"Or, "Your people place a high value on that, dont they?" Or, "Youve done amazingly well for someone in awheelchair. How long have you had to use one?"On the surface the question may seem innocent enough. And most of the time, they are truly asked ininnocence. Yet the structure and format of the question is entirely illegal. So what do you do? How do yourespond?First of all, it is important to understand the difference between an illegal question and a criminally liablequestion. Even though a question or comment may have been stated in an illegal form, it does notnecessarily mean that a crime has been committed. There is a difference between criminal liability and civilliability. For there to be criminal liability, it requires establishing a motive or intent. Most illegal questionsare asked in ignorance, not with malicious intent. Yet there can still be civil recourse, even when there wasno criminal motive or intent.In our politically correct society, we often cry "foul" at the slightest deviation from the accepted standard.But the reality is that most illegal interview questions are asked in true innocence. Or, better stated, in trueignorance. Ignorance of the law, ignorance of what questions are proper, ignorance of how the informationcould be used by others in a discriminatory way.Ironically, most illegal questions are asked when the untrained interviewer is trying to be more friendly andasks a seemingly innocent question about your personal life or family background. Therefore, any attemptby the candidate to assert their constitutional rights will merely throw up the defense shields and will put anend to mutual consideration. Warning lights go on, sirens sound, and the interviewer begins backing downfrom what may have been an otherwise very encouraging position.So what is the proper response? The answer is up to you, but my recommendation is to follow one of two
4. courses of action: answer in brief and move on to a new topic area, or ignore the question altogether andredirect the discussion to a new topic area. The interviewer may even recognize the personal misstep andappreciate your willingness to put it aside and go on.Unless the question is blatantly discriminatory--and yes, blatant discrimination does still take place--yourbest option is to move on to other things. But if it is blatant and offensive, you have every right to terminatethe interview and walk out.While laws vary from state to state, there are some definite taboo areas with regard to interview questionswhich employers should avoid. Following is a brief list of some of the questions that employers should not beasking: Questions related to birthplace, nationality, ancestry, or descent of applicant, applicants spouse, orparents(Example: "Pasquale--is that a Spanish name?") Questions related to applicants sex or marital status(Example: "Is that your maiden name?") Questions related to race or color(Example: "Are you considered to be part of a minority group?") Questions related to religion or religious days observed(Example: "Does your religion prevent you from working weekends or holidays?") Questions related to physical disabilities or handicaps(Example: "Do you have any use of your legs at all?") Questions related to health or medical history(Example: "Do you have any pre-existing health conditions?") Questions related to pregnancy, birth control, and child care(Example: "Are you planning on having children?")It should be noted that just because an illegal question has been asked does not necessarily mean a crimehas been committed. It is up to a court of law to determine whether the information was used in adiscriminatory manner.Interview question what are your strong pointsIt is important to prepare in advance for the interview question what are your strong points. If youvealready listed your strengths when preparing your CV / resume, coming up with three answers shouldnt betoo difficult.But be careful. The interviewer is asking you to sell yourself, but at the same time, they do not want to hearyou being arrogant. And while they may want to know about your personality (if you are over confident theywill certainly learn something about you), do remember that this is still an interview situation, so youranswers must be relevant to the job in question. In other words, dont get too personal.So how do you go about answering the interview question what are your strong points? The generalrecommendation is to prepare at least three answers and to relate them to the organisation and thevacancy. This means you need to tailor your answers. Ensure there is truth in what you say, but do not betoo honest, especially it makes you sound like a less than ideal candidate.Here are some suggested responses and the reasons why they might work in interviews for certain kinds ofjobs."I am confident and outgoing"This is a response that says something about your personality, but if you are applying for a role where youneed to relate to a lot of people - particularly the public - it will serve your purposes. However, if thevacancy involves consultation, it might be better to say "I have good interpersonal skills", as this impliesthat you are able to listen to people as well."I enjoy a challenge"Be careful with this. It is an excellent response if the vacancy requires problem solving, or servicing of somekind, working to tight deadlines or project completion. It will obviously not be helpful if the job is lessdynamic and involves a larger amount of regular, less exciting duties - the employer might be concernedthat you will become bored. You could always qualify it to offer a more balanced response: "I enjoy achallenge, but Im also happy completing regular tasks." Then it illustrates that youre flexible andresponsive to different work situations."Im a strong team leader"Clearly, this is appropriate if the job involves managing people. Its a good idea to show that you know whatleading a team involves (although this will no doubt come up in other questions too). So, "Im a strong teamleader with the ability to motivate others" and "Im a strong team leader who leads by example" representstronger answers. Draw on your own understanding of your management skills plus the job description todecide what youll say here."I am ambitious"
5. This is a very strong answer and you should use it with care. In the wrong situation, it can sound hard-headed and the employer may wonder whether youll compete too fiercely with your colleagues, or evenyour superiors. However, in a sales role it might be perfect, especially if you focus your response a littlemore: "I am ambitious and aim to exceed targets"."I am dedicated and hard working"Youre on safe ground here, as this can be true whatever your individual working style. Its not the mostexciting answer, but when presented alongside two others that are more individual, it should offerreassurance to the interviewer."I am a good communicator"Again, this is a win-win answer. Be prepared to expand, though: specify whether you have strong writingskills, are good at explaining difficult ideas in a simple way, or perform well at important meetings."I work well without supervision"A majority of employers would be pleased to hear this, providing the vacancy is at a level where theydnormally expect you to need a degree of supervision. But be careful not to sound as if you prefer to workwithout supervision, as this may sound as if you risk coming into conflict with your supervisor or manager. Asafer option might be to state "I work well with or without supervision"."I enjoy learning through my work"Again, this is a safe answer. The interviewer might then ask how you have done this in the past, so be readyto give details of some hands-on learning or special training youve experienced, and to say why youenjoyed it.And finallyThese examples show that when preparing an answer to the interview question what are your strong points,it is important to consider whether your responses could be taken the wrong way. Put yourself in theinterviewers shoes - you can then ensure that the potential for a negative interpretation is removed.“Are you competitive? Is that good or bad?”Sample Answer(s)I’m quite a competitive person, but not overly so. I’d say the person I compete with most is myself. I workhard to achieve the goals and targets I set myself.Advice from the recruitment consultantThis is a difficult question to answer as competitiveness is a trait that can be both positive and negative.Almost all people that achieve success - in any field - will extol the virtues of a healthy amount ofcompetitiveness. Do the same in your answer without getting carried away. Over-competitive employeessometimes have difficulty getting along with their colleagues.“What do you know about this organization?”Sample Answer(s)I know that XYZ Corp. has been in existence for four years. It was founded by John Rush in his garage andhe has built it into the third largest office supplies firm in the state with aspirations to make it number onewithin two years. It’s renowned as an ambitious and highly progressive company and I believe it has a verybright future. I also like the fact that XYZ Corp isn’t a company that rests on its laurels.Advice from the recruitment consultantThe interviewer wants to know how hungry you are for this job. If you haven’t even prepared for theinterview, by doing the most basic research, then the chances of you getting the job are close to zero. Youcan be sure that other candidates will have done their research.Check out the firm’s website (if they have one) and business directories in your local library. You should alsocontact the firm itself, through their Public Relations department.“Can you work in a team?”Sample Answer(s)Absolutely. I feel very comfortable working in a team. I feel I have the necessary skills to communicate myown ideas and also to illicit contributions from my fellow team members. It’s hard to imagine a project I’veworked on where teamwork has not been key.Advice from the recruitment consultantThere is only one answer to this question - Yes. If you’re not a team player, it will be difficult to land the job.If you tell the interviewer that you’re not a team player, it will be impossible to land the job. Take thisopportunity to explain what makes you a great team player.“What challenges do you think you‟ ll face in this job?What problems do you think you’ll face in this job?”Sample Answer(s)Having worked in a similar role at ABC & Co, I expect that this job will present regular deadlines to meet,strains on resource availability, conflicting priorities, and budgetary concerns to name but a few issues.These are challenges that I’ve successfully tackled in the past and I’m sure that record would continue here.I relish a challenge and there’s nothing that I’ve seen in this job that intimidates me in any way.Advice from the recruitment consultant
6. The interviewer is trying to extract your real fears and apprehensions about the problems you would face inthis role. Demonstrate confidence in your own abilities and anticipation rather than apprehension for the jobin question.“How do you define „success‟ ?”Sample Answer(s)That’s very easy. For me, success is achieved if you attain the goals you have set for yourself or the goalsthat have been set for you. I believe that’s true whether you’re talking about a student, a managing directoror even a large corporation. I know that ABC Corp has set itself the target of being the number onetelecoms firm in the country within five years. If the firm achieves that goal, it will most certainly be judged‘a success’.Advice from the recruitment consultantThere is a subtle difference between this question and How do you measure ‘success’? The former asks whatit means to you for something to be successful. The latter asks what you use to measure your own personalsuccess.Success means different things to different people. If you’ve done your homework, you can impress theinterviewer by referring to the company mission statement (or corporate goals etc) in your response.“What is the most difficult challenge you‟ ve faced? How did you resolve it?”Sample Answer(s)When I assumed the role of Regional Development Manager at ABC Corp, team morale was low, users weredissatisfied, and deadlines were repeatedly being missed. The first step I took was to set a realistic timelinefor improving the situation. I knew that creating unrealistic expectations would only increase the chances offailure and exacerbate the situation. Next, I re-organized the team structure to improve customer and product focus. I also worked with the business usersto prioritize the work schedule. This allowed us to reduce the number of products we were developing, whichin turn enabled us to better focus on our core deliverables. Six months later the business users were happyand the team was happy.Advice from the recruitment consultantThis is a terrific opportunity to shine. You should certainly prepare an answer to this question prior to theinterview. If your mind goes blank during the interview you will give an impression of inadequate interviewpreparation and hint at a lack of challenging experience in your past.“What has been you favorite job?”Sample Answer(s)It’s hard to pick a single favorite job because there’s been aspects of every job that I’ve enjoyed, each fordifferent reasons. My ideal job would involve working in a challenging environment for an ambitious,forward-moving company. I get most satisfaction from a job well done, and from contributing to the successof a progressive organization.Advice from the recruitment consultantYour answer can lead to trickier questions such as ‘If it was so good, why did you leave the job?’ and ‘Whatwas your worst job?’. Your answer will also cause the interviewer to use your favorite job as an indication ofyour demands and expectations of any new job. A better answer could involve selecting your favoriteaspects of a number of jobs. Alternatively you could highlight the features of your ideal job.Remember even though the question seems to refer to your job history, the interviewer is in fact trying tofind out more about you. However you answer the question make sure to promote yourself as best you can.“If offered to you, how long do you plan to stay in this role?”Sample Answer(s)I approach every new job with a long-term view. I would like to think that I can make a positive contributionto XYZ Corp for the foreseeable future.Advice from the recruitment consultantRecruiting, hiring and training a new employee is an expensive process and represents a major investmentby an employer. The interviewer wants to ensure that your goals are compatible with the firm’s investment.“What are your hobbies?”Sample Answer(s)I have run a successful film club for the last 3 years. I started it as a way to meet new people who share mylove of movies. We now have more than a hundred members and a waiting list to join. It’s been a terrificexcuse to socialize with people I would not otherwise have met. I also enjoy working with otherorganizations such as distributors, film clubs and local film festivals to show interesting and foreign filmsthat would otherwise have been missed by the local multiplexes.Advice from the recruitment consultantThis may seem an identical question to What do you do in your spare time? However there is a slightdistinction. Specifically: a hobby is a specific activity or pastime in which you participate regularly. Listeningto music or watching TV are not hobbies, merely things you do.
7. Individuals with hobbies, particular an unusual one, are regarded as diverse and well-rounded with a healthyoutlook on life. These are attractive personal traits valued by many modern employers. Hobbies that canalso demonstrate a business or personal development benefit are of most value.“How do you handle pressure?”Sample Answer(s)I’m the type of person who genuinely revels when under pressure. I enjoy the challenge and the adrenalinrush when the chips are down and a big effort is required. Through good management and work practices Itry to avoid a situation becoming pressurized, however when I am under pressure I’m always confident thatI can complete the job successfully.Advice from the recruitment consultantThis may seem similar to the question: How do you handle stress?. There is a subtle difference: Stress is adifficulty or strain felt from within. Pressure is a strong external influence. We may not all feel stressful, butpressure is an expectation in many modern jobs. Pressure could come from your customers, your boss, oreven your colleagues.Answering this question in the negative, e.g. I’m never under pressure may suggest that you avoid pressureand the responsibility that if often entails. It also tells the interviewer that your reactions, if pressure isapplied, are unknown even by yourself.“I‟ m worried about your lack of _____ experience.”Sample Answer(s)I don’t feel you’ve anything to worry about. While I’ve only been a designated team leader for one year, I’vespent eighteen months as the most experienced member of the team and in manysituations I effectively led the team. I very much enjoy team management and am confident in my ownabilities.Advice from the recruitment consultantThe interviewer is challenging you. Don’t worry. In the hands of a competent interviewee, this is anopportunity to shine. A good approach to answering this question is to politely disagree with the interviewer,show how you do have the experience required, and then finish with a statement showing how hungry youare to gain more experience.“What do you know about the position you‟ ve applied for?What duties do you think this job entails?”Sample Answer(s)The Media Marketing Co-ordinator reports to the Marketing Director. Her role is to co-ordinate all mediaadvertising, particularly print, radio, and television. The Co-ordinator works with Media agencies to profileadvertising opportunities, then, working within a strict budget, she organizes cross-media advertisingcampaigns. An important aspect of the role is to disseminate the customer response to the adverts in orderto measure its success and thus improve future campaigns.At my last job in ABC & Co I worked closely with several different media agencies, including some thatspecialized in new media platforms such as the Internet. I also gained invaluable experience as a member ofthe team that established ABC & Co as a national brand by launching ABC DooDaa nationwide. I feel that Ican bring this expertise to the Media Marketing Co-ordinator role and help XYZ Corp achieve it’s goal ofdoubling it’s customer base every year for the next three years.Advice from the recruitment consultantYou should gather as much information as possible about the job you’re applying for. If you don’t even knowwhat the job is, how can you possibly claim to be the best candidate for it? Researching the positiondemonstrates initiative, determination and good preparation and is a great way to impress the interviewer atthe start of the interview.When answering this question make sure to include references to your skills and how they match therequirements of the job.You can gather more information about the position from the location where you learnt about the opening -a job center / recruitment poster etc. If you have the name of an appropriate contact, for example a personin the firm’s Human Resources department, you should contact them and request further information. Youshould also gather information concerning the role in general from a careers directory in a library or on theInternet.“Do you feel overqualified for this job?”Sample Answer(s)I don’t think there’s such a thing as being over-qualified for a job. Every position brings with it a newenvironment, new people and new challenges. I feel that the skills I would bring to a new job can only helpme to do a better job, and would in no way hinder the challenges I would face.Advice from the recruitment consultantDon’t let this question distress you. It’s seldom meant as an indication that the interviewer thinks you’re notright for the job, rather it’s a ‘placed’ question to test your response. The interviewer wants you to provethat you will not be bored by the job on offer. Remember, people are seldom perfectly qualified for a job. If
8. you are over-qualified, you should be capable of showing that you will enjoy other challenges that the jobpresents.“What kind of salary are you seeking?”Sample Answer(s)Answer1: I would expect a salary which reflects the experience and qualifications that I bring to the role.What range do you have in mind?Answer 2: I’ve got a strong background in this industry and my skills are a perfect match for this role. Iwould expect my compensation to be at the upper end of the position’s salary band. Can you tell me whatthat salary band is?Answer 3: Based on the information I have about the position, a salary in the range 28,000-32,000 wouldreflect the experience and expertise that I would bring to the role.Advice from the recruitment consultantWhen preparing for the interview you should try to discover the salary range for the job from therecruitment consultant or human resources department. This information can put you in a strong positionwhen the time comes to negotiate a salary.Unless pressed, you should not give a specific number here. Instead you should specify your value relativeto a ‘salary band’. Most firms have salary bands for each position. You should aim to negotiate a salarytowards the peak of the range for the position in which you are interviewing.If you are pushed for a specific salary, respond with a target range. This will help lay the groundwork forfuture negotiations. You should qualify yourself by specifying that your answer is based on the informationthat you have to hand about the job. Do not give the actual range that would satisfy you, as yourprospective employer may try to bargain you down at a later point.For example, if your target salary range is 26,000 - 30,000, you should specify a higher range such as28,000-32,000.“Have you completed your education?”Sample Answer(s)I believe that I’ve finished my formal school and college education. Right now I’m focusing on my career andon being as good at my job as I possibly can. I enjoy learning and I think it’s essential in both personal andcareer development. Ideally, I hope that the firm I join will encourage growth and learning through in-houseand/or external training. I strongly believe that the most important component of learning occurs ‘on thejob’ where you learn from your peers, manager and others around you. In summary, my answer is ‘No’, Ivery much hope that my education is not over.Advice from the recruitment consultantThe interviewer is trying to assess your attitude towards learning and your willingness to take on board newideas and new skills. As a new employee in an unfamiliar environment there will be much to learn. Youshould demonstrate your capacity for learning and your desire to take on new knowledge.“What skills do you need to develop most?”Sample Answer(s)It may seem a bit premature, but I would very much like to develop my project management and teamleadership skills. I would very much like to take responsibility for a project or team in the next twelvemonths and I think developing those skills now would make the transition easier.Advice from the recruitment consultantThe hidden question the interviewer is asking you is: What skills do you need to develop most? Be carefulanswering this question. The best way to answer is by highlighting the skills you already have. A goodanswer would allude to a skill which would not be expected of someone at your position in the organization.This could demonstrate ambition, forward planning and a desire to learn.“Tell me about yourself.”Sample Answer(s)I’m an ambitious, self-motivated account executive and I’m very happy in my life right now. I’m looking tochange jobs because I feel I’ve achieved all of the goals I set out for myself when Iembarked in my previous role, six years ago. I’ve still got a strong appetite for success and I’m looking for ajob that will provide fresh challenges and rewards.Advice from the recruitment consultantThis is a deceptively difficult question to answer. The key to answer this question is staying focused on yourprimary objective here - selling yourself as an employee. With this in mind, answer this question in light ofyour overall interview strategy. Don’t describe your record collection, your favorite movies or you pets’names. Do, for example, describe what motivates your career and drives your passions.“Name three adjectives that can be best used to describe you.”Sample Answer(s)Respond with any three of the following or any similar adjectives you care to mention:Reliable, hard-working, conscientious, innovative, smart, intelligent, communicative, organized, diligent, energetic, likable.Advice from the recruitment consultantThis is a tough question made easier through preparation. The interviewer will learn most about you byconsidering why you chose the three adjectives you did - and not any others - rather than what those
9. adjectives actually are.Avoid adjectives with a possible double-edged sword such as ambitious.“What educational goals do you currently have?”Sample Answer(s)I enjoy sailing very much. In the near future I plan to begin studying in order to become a qualifiedyachtsman. My ultimate goal is to become sufficiently experienced that I could skipper a crew in acompetitive race.Advice from the recruitment consultantThe keyword in this question is Goals. In other words, you can respond with an answer that describes aneducational achievement you have yet to even commence! Be creative, yet be realistic too. Do not feelcompelled to respond with a classroom-based answer. You will gain respect for an unusual answer thatdemonstrates the desire to attain a skill that will benefit your career.“What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?”Sample Answer(s)Being a valuable part of a successful organization is a reward in itself. Within the organization I feel thatadvancement and responsibility are suitable rewards. While salary is important, I hope it would reflect myrole and responsibilities within the firm.Advice from the recruitment consultantExpressing the rewards you hope to achieve will give the interviewer an insight into the strength of yourambition and your desire to succeed. Be ambitious in your aspirations without being unreasonable.“Why did you apply for this job?Why do you want this position?What interests you about this position?Sample Answer(s)I’ve worked in the travel industry for five years and I’ve enjoyed every minute. I’d like to work for XYZ Corpbecause they are industry leaders and I want to work with the best people and the best products I can.There are exciting times ahead for the firm, particularly in light of the firm’s recent announcement that itwas expanding it’s product range by 25% over the next 24 months. I feel that my drive, creativity anddetermination will be an asset to the firm and will enable me to succeed in this role. This position wouldenable me to apply my skills in an exciting and challenging environment. I think this position is a perfectmatch for my talents and my career goals.Advice from the recruitment consultantThis is a great chance to sell yourself but don’t waste the opportunity by reciting your resume. You shoulddescribe the assets you bring with you to the company and express the depth of your interest in this job.Your answer should be direct and unequivocal. Leave the interviewer in no doubt that you are the perfectperson for the job.“What do you like to do in your spare time?”Sample Answer(s)I enjoy participating in and watching most sports. I discovered golf at college and find it a great way to relaxand spend time with friends. I also enjoy playing football and tennis. I was captain of the school swimmingteam and I try to keep that up as best I can too. I also enjoy listening to music, watching movies, and beingaround my friends.Advice from the recruitment consultantEmployers like rounded employees that have a balanced life with interests out of the workplace. Believe it ornot the perfect employee does not work eighteen hours a day, seven days a week and employers realizethat. They’re looking for an employee that will spend a number of successful years at the company, notsomeone who will burnout in no time.Most honest answers are acceptable here. Be sure to include outdoor and team pursuits. Someone whoseonly pastimes are playing computer games and listening to their personal stereo may give the perceptionthat they’re insular in nature and would not fit in well in a team environment.Any pursuits that can be perceived to bring benefit to the workplace (such as captain of a sports team) aregreatly respected.“What makes you think you‟ re qualified for this job?”Sample Answer(s)I studied for a diploma in computers which I enjoyed immensely. In my last job I was able to applyknowledge I’d gained on the course to do my job better. I streamlined many of the department’s manualtasks by moving them from paper to a computer-based solution. I’ve also got an advanced sailingcertificate. This has helped me build many team-working skills. When I worked at XYZ Corp I voluntarilyattended a series of in-house personal development training programs.Advice from the recruitment consultantThis is an opportunity not only to specify your relevant educational and professional qualifications but also todescribe their relevance to this job. A ‘qualification’ in the context of this question is not restricted to a
10. certificate/diploma/degree. Feel free to include relevant work and/or leisure experience which makes you abetter candidate for this job.“What size organization do you prefer to work for? Why?”Sample Answer(s)There are advantages to working for a small company and advantages to working for a large company. Sizeis not the critical factor when I choose an employer. It’s more important to me that the organization I workfor is an ambitious, forward-moving company. I want to help it attain it’s goals and contribute towards it’sgrowth and development.Advice from the recruitment consultantIn some questions, the key to a great answer is in understanding the importance of the context in which thequestion is posed. This is one such question. Measure your answer to this question inlight of the company you are interviewing for. It would be unwise, to say the least, if you express apreference for small companies while interviewing for a multi-national and vice versa.“Why would you like to work for me?”Sample Answer(s)I’ve been aware of your reputation for some time. You’re regarded as an innovator within the industry andbeyond. I appreciate that your team’s success is due to a number of factors, not least of which is hard work.I’m an excellent team player, I’m a very good problem solver, and I work hard to get the job done. Forthese reasons, I’m confident I’d be an asset to your group. I hope that my experience shows I’m suitablyqualified to fulfill the position.I know that your position within this firm speaks for itself. My ideal manager is someone that fostersexcellence, innovation, and success, as well as personal and professional growth. It’s widely recognized thatXYZ Corp’s strongest asset is its staff thanks to its strong belief in training and development. For thesereasons, this is a highly desirable role.Advice from the recruitment consultantThere are two approaches to answering this question. If you know the interviewer personally or byreputation you can allude to qualities in him that you respect and the complimentary qualities you couldbring to him and his team. If you do not know the interviewer, answer this question by referring to how yourqualities would match those of a suitable, hypothetical manager.“Are you willing to travel?”Sample Answer(s)Yes, I enjoy traveling a lot. I realize there’s a big difference between traveling for leisure purposes and onbusiness, nonetheless I would be very interested in visiting other cities/countries/offices and would lookupon it as a learning experience.Advice from the recruitment consultantYou should be honest in your answer to this question. There are very few jobs where this question wouldhave a bearing on the interview. However, if you were to say that you were willing to travel in an interview,but then refused once you joined the firm, you would likely create an environment of mistrust with your newemployers. In almost every case, you are asked this question for informational purposes only.“What type of a work environment are you seeking?”Sample Answer(s)I’m looking for a challenging working environment in which my abilities will be regularly tested. It’simportant to me that I work in an environment where teamwork is fostered and I can learn and share withthose around me.Advice from the recruitment consultantThe interviewer is once again trying to learn more about you, than the actual work environment you’reseeking. The reason the question is framed this way is because most employees will describe anenvironment which best matches their talents. Focus on keywords such as ‘challenging’, ‘innovative’,‘hardworking’ and ‘team-driven’.“What are your strengths? How do they help you?”Sample Answer(s)I’m well motivated, I’ve got a strong desire to succeed, and I’m always ready and willing to learn newinformation and skills.Advice from the recruitment consultantResist the temptation to expound your greatest qualities to the interviewer. Keep your answer brief, namingno more than three of your qualities. Know when to stop or you will invalidate your entire answer.What Are Your Strenght and Weaknesses?"My strength is my flexibility to handle change. As far as weaknesses, I feel that my management skillscould be stronger, and I am constantly working to improve them."Why Should We Hire You?"I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships.This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly." "With five
11. years experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, Icould make a big difference in your company. Im confident I would be a great addition to your team."Why Do You Want to Work Here?This is the company Ive been looking for, a place where my background, experience and skills can be put touse and make things happen."or"Ive selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, and this company is veryhigh on my list of desirable choices."WHAT is ur goal"My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on wherethe company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility."If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decisionto look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience."When Were You Most Satisfied in Your Job?"I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that isan important part of the job for me."What Are Three Positive Things Your Last Boss Would Say About You?Its time to pull out your old performance appraisals and bosss quotes. This is a great way to brag aboutyourself through someone elses words: "My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had.He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humorI have been in the customer service industry for the past five years. My most recent experience has beenhandling incoming calls in the high tech industry. One reason I particularly enjoy this business, and thechallenges that go along with it, is the opportunity to connect with people. In my last job,."Next, mention your strengths and abilities:"My real strength is my attention to detail. I pride myself on my reputation for following through andmeeting deadlines. When I commit to doing something, I make sure it gets done, and on time."Conclude with a statement about your current situation:"What I am looking for now is a company that values customer relations, where I can join astrong team and have a positive impact on customer retention and sales."Answers to Some Interview Questions1. Tell me about yourself? I am down-to-earth, sweet, smart, creative, industrious, and thorough.2. How has your experience prepared you for your career? Coursework: Aside from the discipline andengineering foundation learning that I have gained from my courses, I think the design projects, reports,and presentations have prepared me most for my career. Work Experience: Through internships, I havegained self-esteem, confidence, and problem-solving skills. I also refined my technical writing and learned toprepare professional documents for clients. Student Organizations: By working on multiple projects fordifferent student organizations while keeping up my grades, Ive built time management and efficiencyskills. Additionally, Ive developed leadership, communication, and teamwork abilities. Life Experience: Ingeneral, life has taught me determination and the importance of maintaining my ethical standards.3. Describe the ideal job. Ideally, I would like to work in a fun, warm environment with individuals workingindependently towards team goals or individual goals. I am not concerned about minor elements, such asdress codes, cubicles, and the level of formality. Most important to me is an atmosphere that fostersattention to quality, honesty, and integrity.4. What type of supervisor have you found to be the best? I have been fortunate enough to work underwonderful supervisors who have provided limited supervision, while answering thoughtful questions andguiding learning. In my experience, the best supervisors give positive feedback and tactful criticism.5. What do you plan to be doing in five years time? Taking the PE exam and serving insupervisory/leadership roles both at work and in professional/community organization(s).6. What contributions could you make in this organization that would help you to stand out from otherapplicants? In previous internships, my industriousness and ability to teach myself have been valuableassets to the company. My self-teaching abilities will minimize overhead costs, and my industriousness attargeting needs without prompting will set me apart from others. Additionally, one thing that has always setme apart from my scientific/engineering peers are my broad interests and strong writing abilities. I am notyour typical "left-brained" engineer, and with my broad talents, I am likely to provide diverse viewpoints.7. What sort of criteria are you using to decide the organization you will work for? Most importantly, I amlooking for a company that values quality, ethics, and teamwork. I would like to work for a company thathires overachievers.
12. 8. What made you choose your major? My academic interests are broad, so I sought civil engineering toachieve a great balance of mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, and writing.9. Have your university and major met your expectations? The College of Engineering at MSU has exceededmy expectations by providing group activities, career resources, individual attention, and professors withgenuine interest in teaching. My major has met my expectations by about 90%. I would have enjoyed morechoices in environmental courses, and would have preferred more calculus-based learning.10. What made you choose this college? I chose this college for the following reasons: my budget limitedme to in-state schools, I was seeking an area with dog-friendly apartments, the MSU web site impressedme, I saw active student groups, and the people were very friendly.11. List 2-3 of your greatest achievements since youve been in college and why? Receiving the SWEOutstanding Member Award and College of Engineering Student Service Award I got involved with studentactivities to overcome my debilitating shyness. Receiving these awards signified that I had accomplished atransition from dragging myself to participate to feeling energized by it. Receiving the SWE Web Site AwardWithout training in web design, I competed against not only the other student sections, but professionalsections around the nation. Despite competing with more HTML-experienced people, I brought this award tomy section. After getting so much from SWE, I was able to give something back. Earning the highest gradein an organic chemistry class of ~200 people I worked very hard for this grade and loved the subject, so itwas a great feeling to see that the hard work paid off.12. Which subjects have you enjoyed studying the most and why? I have enjoyed hydrology, fluids, solid &hazardous waste management, water and wastewater treatment, and oceanography because I love waterand environmental topics. Calculus and linear algebra excite me because I love logic. I enjoyed the writingand analysis in economic history. Business law thrilled me because I have a strong interest in legal matters.13. Which subjects did you dislike and why? Introductory soil elicited little interest in me, most likelybecause the professor was inexperienced, the book was ineffective, and I had little spare time that semesterto look into other resources.14. Do you have plans to continue your education? Yes, but not immediately. I plan to continue part timewith either an MBA or an environmental engineering masters, depending on which will be more beneficial tomy work.15. How would a professor who knows you well describe you? One who does not know youwell? A professor who knows me well would likely describe my personal qualities: sweet, down-to-earth,smart, hard-working, and conscientious. As specific examples of those who did not know me well, my soilsprofessor and soils teaching assistant each considered me smart and respectful, and both thought that Imust have enjoyed the class a lot, due to my performance.16. Given the chance, how would you alter your education? Knowing now what I like the most, I wouldhave used my electives for extra math and psychology classes, since I tend to be well-rounded enough thata variety of classes are unnecessary; my personal reading is diverse enough. I have found that mathematicsand psychology are helpful to all career and life paths.17. Which part-time job did you enjoy the most and why? Working for PM Environmental was mostenjoyable to me, since I felt like I was significantly contributing to the company, and I enjoyed learning onmy own.18. Interests: Some of my interests include dogs, hiking, snow-shoeing, water sports, writing, reading(especially Charles Dickens novels), skiing, drawing, crafts, and computers.19. What are your strengths? My strongest strength is the ability to teach myself difficult material,regardless of the subject (with the exception of theater and drawing blood from dogs, which I have no talentfor). Additionally, I have always excelled verbally and look forward to writing opportunities.20. What are your weaknesses? I tend to try to do too many things, leaving little time for myself. I haveworked on balancing myself for the last several months. I am also working on improving my public speakingskills.21. What sort of serious problems have you experienced, and how have you handled them? My apartmentbuilding burned down at the end of January during one of my semesters at MSU. Before the fire got too bad,I was able to rescue my pets and the neighbors dog, as well as mytextbooks and backpack, but I lost most of my mementos and possessions. While the firemen werepreparing their hoses, I drove to school (with the animals in the car) to meet my lab partners, who werewaiting for me. I explained the situation, emailed my professors, and rushed back to the apartment.Fortunately, I had renters insurance. I missed about a week of school to deal with the insurance mattersand find a new place to live. In order to salvage my grades and sanity, I dropped a course and honored myexisting student group and research commitments. Staying active socially and keeping myself well-rounded
13. were the best healing tools for me. Within a few weeks, I was caught up and had recovered reasonably fromthe loss of sentimental items.22. Do you or have you in the past experimented with illegal drugs? No. My only addictions are caffeine andsugar.23. Would you be willing to take a drug test? Of course.24. Do you drink alcohol socially? No, but I enjoy Shirley Temples quite a bit.25. If you had your whole life to live over, what would you do differently and why? I was always good inmath, but I wish that I would have focused on math more. I feel that mathematics can lead one anywhere,and is the basis of most disciplines. On a personal level, I would have ensured that, despite pre-teen angstand insecurity, I would have been nice to everyone, even on especially bad days.26. Which is more important to you, your salary or your job? Salary is important, but I couldnt stay with ajob that brought me misery when I could support myself doing something else; hence, my job is moreimportant.27. What have you found to be the biggest source of motivation in your life? Taking advantage of mystrengths so that they are not wasted. Since nobody is lucky enough to be strong in every area, I think it isimportant to make good use of ones strengths.28. What sorts of things cause you stress, and how do you deal with them? Lack of organization throws meoff. To deal with this, I come up with some kind of system to organize things, even if it is only in my head,in the case when chaos is desirable.29. What is your definition of success? Being a good person by improving the quality of the lives of others,whether it be through work, doing sweet things, improving the environment/community, taking care of onesfamily, etc. Superficially, I tend to measure success by level of education and abilities within ones career;however, I try to remind myself of the things that are more important.30. What qualities should a successful supervisor possess in regard to job requirements and those whoreport to him/her? A successful supervisor should be able to tactfully give criticism, guide, motivate,encourage and foster a positive work environment.31. How would you develop team spirit among the people that you supervise? My experience in studentgroups has taught me that people work best when their friends (teammates) are counting on them to dowell; therefore, I believe that bonding motivates people. I would also foster team pride by promoting ourteams assets.32. Do you like to work independently or as a team? I like to work independently towards a team goal. 33.What kind of work environment do you like the best? I enjoy working with friendly co-workers who canshare a laugh while working hard and overachieving.34. How would you resolve conflicts with employees, coworkers, and supervisors? If possible, I wouldrefresh my memory on what Ive learned about conflict communication, and then I would discuss things,honestly and tactfully. I am a big fan of kind sincerity and honesty, as well as humility (when appropriate).35. In what ways have you learned from your mistakes?Upon getting myself overwhelmed with involvement in too many projects, I changed my approach. Whenpossible, I now start with less than I can handle and add more only as time allows, and in small increments.36. In what areas do you need to improve your skills? I would like to improve my public speaking skills.