Interviewing answers to difficult questions
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Interviewing answers to difficult questions

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  • 1. THE DIRTY DOZENA wide variety of questions may be asked during interviews. Most of them can beanticipated. You can be sure youll be asked at least some of them.This list consists of the twelve most common interview questions. Prepare your answersto these questions and practice saying them. 1. Tell me about yourself. 2. What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses? 3. Why did you leave your old job? 4. Why do you want to work for us? 5. What did you like/dislike about your old job? 6. What kind of salary are you looking for? 7. What do you know about our company? 8. Why should we hire you? 9. What did you think of your old boss? 10. What are your long-range goals? 11. Do you like to work overtime? 12. What was your favorite/least favorite class in college?
  • 2. SAMPLE ANSWERS TO DIFFICULT OUESTIONSYou will be more confident about the interview if you practice good responses to difficultquestions, if you are well prepared, you might even be disappointed if the interviewerdoesnt ask any "tough questions."Here is a list of the most commonly-asked questions, with suggested responses, toprepare you for almost anything!Note: Some questions may have more than one purpose. Interviewers Purpose and Questions Consider When AnsweringIs the person prepared? Organized and concise? 1. Tell me about yourself. Answer in about two minutes. Avoid details, dont ramble. Touch on four areas: -born/raised -education/military background -work experience -current situation 2. Did you bring your resume? Yes. (Be prepared with 2-3 extra copies.) 3. What do you know about our organization? Talk about products, services, history, and people-especially any friends that work there. 4. According to your definition of Be prepared with your definition of success, how successful have you success, and then respond, using been so far? specific examples of achievements.
  • 3. Is this person mature and self-aware? 5. In your current or last position, what Give one or two accomplishment were your most significant accomplishments? statements. in your career so far? 6. Had you thought of leaving your present "No job is perfect. Yet, there are position before? pluses in every position." Refer to positive aspects of the job, and what you learned.If yes, what do you think held you there? 7. Would you describe a few situations in Give only one, and tell how you have corrected or plan which your work was criticized? to correct your work. 8. If I spoke with your previous boss, what Be consistent with what you think the boss would say. would he or she say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Position the weakness in a positive way (refer to #11). 9. How would you describe your personality? Keep our answer short and relevant to the job and the organizations culture. 10. What are your strong points? Present three. Relate them to that particular company and job opening. 11. What are your weak points? Dont say you have none, but give one that is really a "positive in disguise." "I am sometimes impatient and do all the work myself when we are working against tight deadlines."
  • 4. 12. How did you do in school? Emphasize your best and favorite subjects. If your grades were average or below, talk about leadership activities or jobs you took to finance your education.Is the person motivated? What are his/her values, attitudes? Is there a fit? 13. In your current or last position, Refer to your satisfiers for likes. what features did you like most? Be careful with dislikes; give only one and make it brief. Least? 14. What do you look for in a job? Relate your preferences and satisfiers/ dissatisfiers to the job opening. 15. How long would it take you to "Not long, because of my experience, make a meaningful contribution to our firm? my transferable skills and ability to learn."16. How long would you stay with us? "As long as I feel that Im contributing, and that my contribution is recognized."17. If you have never supervised, Be honest. If you dont want to how do you feel about assuming those supervise, emphasize that you can responsibilities? contribute more as an individual player. If you want to supervise, say so, and be enthusiastic. Highlight earlier experiences when you had the opportunity to lead others. 18. Why do you want to become a supervisor? "To grow and develop professionally, to help others develop, to build a team, and to share what I have learned." 19. What do you see as the most difficult task "Getting things planned and done in being a supervisor? through others, and dealing with different personalities."
  • 5. Show how you have done this in the past.20. Why are you leaving your present job? Refer to a difference in style or opinion. Never personalize or be negative. Keep it short. Stick to one response; dont change answers during the interview.21. Describe what would be an ideal working Refer to your job preferences and environment. satisfiers; relate them to that particular company and job.22. How would you evaluate your, present firm? Be positive. Refer to the valuable experience you have gained. Dont mention any negatives.23. Do you prefer working with figures, or with Be aware of what the job requires words? and position your answer in that context. 24. How would your co-workers describe you? Refer to your strengths and skills. 25. What do you think of your boss? If you like him or her, say so and tell why. If you dont like him or her, find something positive to say.26. Why do you want to work in a company Refer to job preferences and satisfiers of this size? Of this type? Explain how this size or type of company works well for you, using examples from the past if possible.27. If you had your choice of jobs and Refer to job preferences. Acknowledge companies, where would you go? that no job is perfect. Say that this job and this company is very close to what best suits you.
  • 6. 28. Why do you want to work for us? You would love to be part of a company project; solve a company problem. You like what youve learned about the company; its policies, goals, and management. Ive researched the company and friends tell me its a good place to work.” 29. What was the last book you read? Think this through.Your answer Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended? should be compatible with the company culture and the image of yourself youre trying to present. 30. What are you doing, or what have you Talk about formal courses done to reach your career objectives? And training programs; also promotions youve actively sought. 31. What was wrong with your last company? Choose your words carefully. Dont be negative. Say that no company is perfect; it had both strengths and weaknesses.32. What kind of hours are you used to working? "As many hours as it takes to get the job done." Then ask, “What is an average working day or week here?”Does the person match job and criteria? 33. What would you do for us? Relate past success in solving problems which are similar to those of the prospective employer. 34 .What has your experience been in Give examples of accomplishments supervising people? 35. Are you a good supervisor? Draw from your successes. Give an example. Why do you feel you have management
  • 7. potential? "Because I have been told that I have management potential in my evaluations; I know what skills are necessary to be a manager, and know that I have them."36. Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what If you havent then say so, but were the reasons, and how did you add that you could do it, if handle it? necessary.37. How have you helped your company? Refer to accomplishments38. What is the most money you ever accounted for? Refer to accomplishments. If you Largest budget responsibility? havent had budget responsibility, say so, but refer to an accomplishment that demonstrates similar skills.39. Describe some situations in which you Refer to accomplishments. have worked under pressure or met deadlines. Everyone has had a few of these pressure situations.40. In your present position, what problems Refer to accomplishments. have you identified that had previously been overlooked?41. Give an example of your creativity. Refer to accomplishments.42. Give examples of your leadership abilities. Draw examples from accomplishments.43. What are your career goals? Talk first about doing the job for which you are applying, and then talk about long- range plans.44. What position do you expect to have "A position similar to the one were discussing or the next in two years? step up."
  • 8. 45. What are your objectives? Refer back to question 43 on goals. Keep answers fairly general. Short range: Be more specific; talk about particular skills you want to master, growth opportunities, maybe having more responsibilities, or moving into management.How does the person handle stress? What is their confidence level? 46. Why should we hire you? Relate a past experience which represents success in solving problems which may be similar to those- of the prospective employer. 47. You may be overqualified or "A strong company needs a strong too experienced for the position we person. have to offer. "Experienced people are at a premium today." An employer will get faster return on investment because you have more experience than required. 48. Why havent you found a new "Finding the right job takes time. Im position before now? not looking for just any job." 49. If you could start again, what No need to be too self- revealing. would you do differently? "Hindsight is 20/20; everyone would make some changes, but Ive learned and grown from all my decisions." 50. How much do you expect, if we Be careful. If you dont know the
  • 9. offer you this position? market value, return the question by saying that you would expect a fair salary based on the job responsibilities, your experience, and skills, and the market value of the job. Then ask what salary range has been set for the job. If you know the market value of the job, that may be the key answer. "My understanding is that a job like the one youre describing may be in the range of $___.____ Is that in your ball park?”What is this persons market value? 51. What kind of salary are you worth? Ask more about specific responsibilities of the job. This will tell you how important the job is to the company and its willingness to pay. When the interviewer opens the discussion of salary, you will be in a much better position to determine what the job is worth to both the employer and you. Delay all mention of money until the end of the interview. If they insist on knowing your desired salary, quote a range. 52. What other types of jobs or companies "Im looking at similar positions in are you considering? several companies." You dont have to be specific.
  • 10. WINNING QUESTIONS TO ASKInterview etiquette requires that you, as the applicant, allow the interviewer to direct andcontrol the first part of the interview. The interviewer takes the lead in asking thequestions about your work experience, education, skills and attitude.However, at some point, the interviewer will turn to you and ask d you have anyquestions. You must be ready with questions that demonstrate your business judgmentand maturity.Here are some questions that may be appropriate to ask. Review these questions beforeeach interview and decide which ones apply to your situation. 1. Why was this position created? 2. What would be my primary duties initially? How will these change over time? 3. Tell me how this job fits in with other jobs. 4. What is the most difficult part of the job? 5. Why did the previous person in this position leave? 6. What are the expectations of the supervisor? 7. What freedom would I have in getting the job done? 8. Describe the type of person who does well in this organization/office/unit. 9. How would you describe the management style of the company as a whole? 10. Can you tell me how my performance will be evaluated? 11. What do you see as my greatest strengths and weaknesses in terms of this position? 12. When will you be making your decision to fill this job?
  • 11. INTERVIEW FOLLOW-UPAt the close of an interview, most people assume they have done all they can and that, atthis point, the interviewer makes a Yes or No hiring decision. However, mostinterviewers either decide No, or Maybe at the end of an interview. They are undecidedand usually schedule more interviews with other candidates.Since a job offer seldom comes during the first interview, follow-up is important.Following up after an interview can keep you in the running and make the difference ingetting a job offer. Turn the interviewers indecision to your advantage by doing thesethings:1. TAKE GOOD NOTESImmediately after the interview, write down what you discussed, why you are good forthe job, and any possible objections you think the interviewer may have about yourbackground. Keep good notes on every interview. Then use this information when youfollow up with a letter or a phone call.2. DECIDE WHETHER TO CALL OR WRITESend a standard thank you note after every interview, even when you are not interested orunqualified for the job. Use your energy in a creative follow-up effort only when there isa high probability of receiving an offer for a job that you want. Call if urgency is a keyfactor. Write if they will not be hiring someone immediately.3. TAKE THE EMPLOYERS PERSPECTIVEAsk yourself questions like these: Did I show that I can do the job? Do they see mefitting into their group? Am I compatible with the supervisor? What contributions can Imake? What concerns do they have? What should we have discussed, but didnt? Usethe insights you gain from these questions to organize what to say in your follow-up.4. DRAFT A BRIEF FOLLOW-UP LETTERInclude some of these points in your letter: (a.) Express your interest. (b.) Show positivematches between what they want and what you have to offer. (c.) Refer to previousexperiences or education. (d.) Volunteer further information. (e.) Ask for clarificationregarding anything that came up in the interview. (f.) Offer to provide references. (g.)Justify a reason to get together again.5. REVIEW THE LETTER WITH YOUR COACHHave an objective, third party read your letter to see if it says what you intended.
  • 12. INTERVIEW FOLLOW-UP (continued)6. MAIL THE LETTER TWO DAYS AFTER THE INTERVIEWMailing it on the same day makes you appear too anxious. Later than two days, you notonly lose impact, you may lose the job.7. MAKE A FOLLOW-UP CALLTwo days after the person gets your letter, call to express your interest in the job,introduce a new point or two about your qualifications, and arrange a second meeting. FOLLOW-UP LETTEREffective follow-up can help you get a job offer. Follow-up may even result in theposition being tailored to your strengths.If nothing more, the interviewer may refer you to someone else: You cannot afford to not follow-up on interviews.Study the sample letter and phone call on the next few pages before following up.
  • 13. SAMPLE FOLLOW-UP LETTER MATT CLARK 2031 King Street Atlanta, GA 30339 (404) 751-6733 Home (404) 856-0047 MessagesJanuary 16, 2005Ms. Linda BakerExecutive EditorBlossom Publishers, Inc.8116 Armour StreetAtlanta, GA 30339Dear Ms. Baker:Thank you for taking time to interview me for your Assistant Editors position.After listening to what you need done, it seems to me that there may be some ways toorganize the editing process to allow tracking procedures to flow more smoothly. I thinksome of my ideas may be of immediate benefit to your company. I like the idea of beingable to make a contribution right away.Feel free to call my prior supervisor, Bill Rosenberg, about my editing experience andwork habits. His number here in Atlanta is 404-621-9600.I am very interested in this position and look forward to speaking with you again. I willcall soon.Sincerely,Matt Clark
  • 14. SAMPLE FOLLOW-UP CALLMatt Clark: Hello. This is Matt Clark calling for Linda Baker.Secretary: Will Ms. Baker know the nature of your call?Matt Clark: Yes, she will. I met with her last week and am following up by telephone on correspondence we had from that meeting.Secretary: One moment while I connect you.Linda Baker: This is Linda Baker.Matt Clark: Ms. Baker. This is Matt Clark. You and I met last week to talk about your Assistant Editor position. Can you talk now, or have I caught you in a meeting?Linda Baker: Matt Clark? Sure, I remember. Id be glad to talk.Matt Clark: Great. The reason Im calling is to let you know how interested I am in working for you, I’ve thought a lot about our discussion and have several suggestions of ways that I can organize the editing process to make it easier to track the status of each job. Id like to schedule a meeting and share my ideas to see if they make sense to you.Linda Baker: Well, Matt, youve got my curiosity up. Lets sit down and take a look at what youve come up with. How about this afternoon at 2:30?Matt Clark: You bet. Ill meet you at your office.
  • 15. INTERVIEW DOS & DONTS* Do research the company * Dont neglect appearance* Do prepare questions to ask * Dont give limp handshakes* Do practice your answers * Dont lack energy* Do bring paper and pen * Dont be rude* Do bring an extra resume * Dont be too familiar* Do be on time * Dont emphasize money* Do dress appropriately * Dont be indecisive* Do Maintain Eye Contact * Dont be unprepared* Do wait to be seated * Dont criticize anyone* Do Be Positive * Dont name drop* Do be honest * Dont make excuses* Do show youre a team player * Dont be too aggressive* Do ask about the next step * Dont talk too much* Do ask for a business card * Dont take a friend with you (even if youre just picking up an application)* Do send a follow-up letter *Do follow-up by telephone