Top interview questions


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Top interview questions

  1. 1. Top 15 Interview Questions Thursday, May 6th 2004 By Richard Serby Read More About: gis jobs career Classified Ads: CSUNs GIST is a 12-month, graduate-certificate program that provides the advanced skills, capabilities and hands-on experience needed to increase professional relevancy in this rapidly changing field. Credits earned will soon be applicable to the CSUN MPA degree. Click here Interviewing for a job can be one of the most uncomfortable events in your life. It is equally uncomfortable for many managers who must interview candidates for a position. Preparation can make the task easier. Here are some questions that are the most frequently asked, according to a survey of 2000 corporate recruiters. You should have answers prepared for these questions.1. Describe your ideal job and/or boss.2. Why are you looking for a job? Why are leaving your current position?3. What unique experience or qualifications separate you from other candidates?4. Tell me about yourself.5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?6. Describe some of your most important career accomplishments.7. What are your short-term/long-term goals?8. Describe a time when you were faced with a challenging situation and how you handled it.9. What are your salary requirements?10. Why are you interested in this position? Our company?11. What would your former boss/colleagues say about you?12. What are the best and worst aspects of your previous job?13. What do you know about our company?14. What motivates you? How do you motivate others?15. Are you willing to relocate? Dont forget to write a brief ‘Thank You’ note to the person or people who interviewed you. You may be the only candidate who performed this small courtesy! The 25 most difficult questions youll be asked on a job interview Being prepared is half the battle. If you are one of those executive types unhappy at your present post and embarking on a New Years resolution to find a new one, heres a helping hand. The job interview is considered to be the most critical
  2. 2. aspect of every expedition that brings you face-to- face with the future boss. One must prepare for itwith the same tenacity and quickness as one does for a fencing tournament or a chess match.This article has been excerpted from "PARTING COMPANY: How to Survive the Loss of a Job and FindAnother Successfully" by William J. Morin and James C. Cabrera. Copyright by Drake Beam Morin, inc.Publised by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Morin is chairman and Cabrera is president of New York-based Drake Beam Morin, nations majoroutplacement firm, which has opened offices in Philadelphia.1. Tell me about yourself.Since this is often the opening question in an interview, be extracareful that you dont run off atthe mouth. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics: early years,education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject. Rememberthat this is likely to be a warm-up question. Dont waste your best points on it.2. What do you know about our organization?You should be able to discuss products or services, revenues, reputation, image, goals, problems,management style, people, history and philosophy. But dont act as if you know everything aboutthe place. Let your answer show that you have taken the time to do some research, but dontoverwhelm the interviewer, and make it clear that you wish to learn more.You might start your answer in this manner: "In my job search, Ive investigated a number ofcompanies.Yours is one of the few that interests me, for these reasons..."Give your answer a positive tone. Dont say, "Well, everyone tells me that youre in all sorts oftrouble, and thats why Im here", even if that is why youre there.3. Why do you want to work for us?The deadliest answer you can give is "Because I like people." What else would you like-animals?Here, and throughout the interview, a good answer comes from having done your homework sothat you can speak in terms of the companys needs. You might say that your research has shownthat the company is doing things you would like to be involved with, and that its doing them inways that greatly interest you. For example, if the organization is known for strong management,your answer should mention that fact and show that you would like to be a part of that team. Ifthe company places a great deal of emphasis on research and development, emphasize the factthat you want to create new things and that you know this is a place in which such activity isencouraged. If the organization stresses financial controls, your answer should mention areverence for numbers.
  3. 3. If you feel that you have to concoct an answer to this question - if, for example, the companystresses research, and you feel that you should mention it even though it really doesnt interestyou- then you probably should not be taking that interview, because you probably shouldnt beconsidering a job with that organization.Your homework should include learning enough about the company to avoid approaching placeswhere you wouldnt be able -or wouldnt want- to function. Since most of us are poor liars, itsdifficult to con anyone in an interview. But even if you should succeed at it, your prize is a jobyou dont really want.4. What can you do for us that someone else cant?Here you have every right, and perhaps an obligation, to toot your own horn and be a bitegotistical. Talk about your record of getting things done, and mention specifics from yourresume or list of career accomplishments. Say that your skills and interests, combined with thishistory of getting results, make you valuable. Mention your ability to set priorities, identifyproblems, and use your experience and energy to solve them.5. What do you find most attractive about this position? What seems least attractive about it?List three or four attractive factors of the job, and mention a single, minor, unattractive item.6. Why should we hire you?Create your answer by thinking in terms of your ability, your experience, and your energy. (Seequestion 4.)7. What do you look for in a job?Keep your answer oriented to opportunities at this organization. Talk about your desire toperform and be recognized for your contributions. Make your answer oriented towardopportunity rather than personal security.8. Please give me your defintion of [the position for which you are being interviewed].Keep your answer brief and taskoriented. Think in in terms of responsibilities and accountability.Make sure that you really do understand what the position involves before you attempt ananswer. If you are not certain. ask the interviewer; he or she may answer the question for you.9. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?Be realistic. Say that, while you would expect to meet pressing demands and pull your ownweight from the first day, it might take six months to a year before you could expect to know theorganization and its needs well enough to make a major contribution.
  4. 4. 10. How long would you stay with us?Say that you are interested in a career with the organization, but admit that you would have tocontinue to feel challenged to remain with any organization. Think in terms of, "As long as weboth feel achievement-oriented."11. Your resume suggests that you may be over-qualified or too experienced for thisposition. Whats Your opinion?Emphasize your interest in establishing a long-term association with the organization, and saythat you assume that if you perform well in his job, new opportunities will open up for you.Mention that a strong company needs a strong staff. Observe that experienced executives arealways at a premium. Suggest that since you are so wellqualified, the employer will get a fastreturn on his investment. Say that a growing, energetic company can never have too much talent.12. What is your management style?You should know enough about the companys style to know that your management style willcomplement it. Possible styles include: task oriented (Ill enjoy problem-solving identifyingwhats wrong, choosing a solution and implementing it"), results-oriented ("Every managementdecision I make is determined by how it will affect the bottom line"), or even paternalistic ("Imcommitted to taking care of my subordinates and pointing them in the right direction").A participative style is currently quite popular: an open-door method of managing in which youget things done by motivating people and delegating responsibility.As you consider this question, think about whether your style will let you work hatppily andeffectively within the organization.13. Are you a good manager? Can you give me some examples? Do you feel that you have topmanagerial potential?Keep your answer achievementand ask-oriented. Rely on examples from your career to buttressyour argument. Stress your experience and your energy.14. What do you look for when You hire people?Think in terms of skills. initiative, and the adaptability to be able to work comfortably andeffectively with others. Mention that you like to hire people who appear capable of moving up inthe organization.
  5. 5. 15. Have you ever had to fire people? What were the reasons, and how did you handle thesituation?Admit that the situation was not easy, but say that it worked out well, both for the company and,you think, for the individual. Show that, like anyone else, you dont enjoy unpleasant tasks butthat you can resolve them efficiently and -in the case of firing someone- humanely.16. What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a manager or executive?Mention planning, execution, and cost-control. The most difficult task is to motivate and manageemployess to get something planned and completed on time and within the budget.17. What important trends do you see in our industry?Be prepared with two or three trends that illustrate how well you understand your industry. Youmight consider technological challenges or opportunities, economic conditions, or evenregulatory demands as you collect your thoughts about the direction in which your business isheading.18. Why are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) job?Be brief, to the point, and as honest as you can without hurting yourself. Refer back to theplanning phase of your job search. where you considered this topic as you set your referencestatements. If you were laid off in an across-the-board cutback, say so; otherwise, indicate thatthe move was your decision, the result of your action. Do not mention personality conflicts.The interviewer may spend some time probing you on this issue, particularly if it is clear that youwere terminated. The "We agreed to disagree" approach may be useful. Remember hat yourreferences are likely to be checked, so dont concoct a story for an interview.19. How do you feel about leaving all your benefits to find a new job?Mention that you are concerned, naturally, but not panicked. You are willing to accept some riskto find the right job for yourself. Dont suggest that security might interest you more than gettingthe job done successfully.20. In your current (last) position, what features do (did) you like the most? The least?Be careful and be positive. Describe more features that you liked than disliked. Dont citepersonality problems. If you make your last job sound terrible, an interviewer may wonder whyyou remained there until now.21. What do you think of your boss?Be as positive as you can. A potential boss is likely to wonder if you might talk about him insimilar terms at some point in the future.
  6. 6. 22. Why arent you earning more at your age?Say that this is one reason that you are conducting this job search. Dont be defensive.23. What do you feel this position should pay?Salary is a delicate topic. We suggest that you defer tying yourself to a precise figure for as longas you can do so politely. You might say, "I understand that the range for this job is between$______ and $______. That seems appropriate for the job as I understand it." You might answerthe question with a question: "Perhaps you can help me on this one. Can you tell me if there is arange for similar jobs in the organization?"If you are asked the question during an initial screening interview, you might say that you feelyou need to know more about the positions responsibilities before you could give a meaningfulanswer to that question. Here, too, either by asking the interviewer or search executive (if one isinvolved), or in research done as part of your homework, you can try to find out whether there isa salary grade attached to the job. If there is, and if you can live with it, say that the range seemsright to you.If the interviewer continues to probe, you might say, "You know that Im making $______ now.Like everyone else, Id like to improve on that figure, but my major interest is with the job itself."Remember that the act of taking a new job does not, in and of itself, make you worth moremoney.If a search firm is involved, your contact there may be able to help with the salary question. Heor she may even be able to run interference for you. If, for instance, he tells you what theposition pays, and you tell him that you are earning that amount now and would Like to do a bitbetter, he might go back to the employer and propose that you be offered an additional 10%.If no price range is attached to the job, and the interviewer continues to press the subject, thenyou will have to restpond with a number. You cannot leave the impression that it does not reallymatter, that youll accept whatever is offered. If youve been making $80,000 a year, you cantsay that a $35,000 figure would be fine without sounding as if youve given up on yourself. (Ifyou are making a radical career change, however, this kind of disparity may be more reasonableand understandable.)Dont sell yourself short, but continue to stress the fact that the job itself is the most importantthing in your mind. The interviewer may be trying to determine just how much you want the job.Dont leave the impression that money is the only thing that is important to you. Link questionsof salary to the work itself.But whenever possible, say as little as you can about salary until you reach the "final" stage ofthe interview process. At that point, you know that the company is genuinely interested in youand that it is likely to be flexible in salary negotiations.
  7. 7. 24. What are your long-range goals?Refer back to the planning phase of your job search. Dont answer, "I want the job youveadvertised." Relate your goals to the company you are interviewing: in a firm like yours, I wouldlike to..."25. How successful do you youve been so far?Say that, all-in-all, youre happy with the way your career has progressed so far. Given thenormal ups and downs of life, you feel that youve done quite well and have no complaints.Present a positive and confident picture of yourself, but dont overstate yourcase. An answer like, "Everythings wonderful! I cant think of a time whenthings were going better! Im overjoyed!" is likely to make an interviewerwonder whether youre trying to fool him . . . or yourself. The most convincingconfidence is usually quiet confidence. 50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&AAugust 19, 2006 by bhuvans3,373diggReview these typical interview questions and think about how you wouldanswer them. Read the questions listed; you will also find somestrategy suggestions with it.(Excerpted from the book The Accelerated Job Search by Wayne D. Ford, Ph.D,published by The Management Advantage, Inc.)1. Tell me about yourself:The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a shortstatement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not soundrehearsed. Limit it to work-related items unless instructed otherwise.Talk about things you have done and jobs you have held that relate tothe position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthestback and work up to the present.2. Why did you leave your last job?Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a majorproblem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workersor the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keepsmiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as anopportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-lookingreasons.
  8. 8. 3. What experience do you have in this field?Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for.If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.4. Do you consider yourself successful?You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A goodexplanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and areon track to achieve the others.5. What do co-workers say about you?Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specificstatement or a paraphrase will work. Jill Clark, a co-worker at SmithCompany, always said I was the hardest workers she had ever known. Itis as powerful as Jill having said it at the interview herself.6. What do you know about this organization?This question is one reason to do some research on the organizationbefore the interview. Find out where they have been and where they aregoing. What are the current issues and who are the major players?7. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A widevariety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement.Have some good ones handy to mention.8. Are you applying for other jobs?Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focuson this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else isa distraction.9. Why do you want to work for this organization?This may take some thought and certainly, should be based on theresearch you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremelyimportant here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-termcareer goals.10. Do you know anyone who works for us?Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization. Thiscan affect your answer even though they asked about friends not
  9. 9. relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thoughtof.11. What kind of salary do you need?A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose ifyou answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something like,That’s a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position?In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not,say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a widerange.12. Are you a team player?You are, of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready.Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team ratherthan for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag,just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.13. How long would you expect to work for us if hired?Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I’d likeit to be a long time. Or As long as we both feel I’m doing a good job.14. Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that?This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like youlike to fire people. At the same time, you will do it when it is theright thing to do. When it comes to the organization versus theindividual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect theorganization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction inforce.15. What is your philosophy towards work?The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation here.Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. That’s thetype of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing abenefit to the organization.16. If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?Answer yes if you would. But since you need to work, this is the typeof work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it.
  10. 10. 17. Have you ever been asked to leave a position?If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid sayingnegative things about the people or organization involved.18. Explain how you would be an asset to this organizationYou should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance tohighlight your best points as they relate to the position beingdiscussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.19. Why should we hire you?Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do notmention any other candidates to make a comparison.20. Tell me about a suggestion you have madeHave a good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was acceptedand was then considered successful. One related to the type of workapplied for is a real plus.21. What irritates you about co-workers?This is a trap question. Think real hard but fail to come up withanything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to getalong with folks is great.22. What is your greatest strength?Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples:Your ability to prioritize, Your problem-solving skills, Your abilityto work under pressure, Your ability to focus on projects, Yourprofessional expertise, Your leadership skills, Your positive attitude23. Tell me about your dream job.Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job youare contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say anotherjob is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied withthis position if hired. The best is to stay genetic and say somethinglike: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute andcan’t wait to get to work.24. Why do you think you would do well at this job?Give several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.
  11. 11. 25. What are you looking for in a job?See answer # 2326. What kind of person would you refuse to work with?Do not be trivial. It would take disloyalty to the organization,violence or lawbreaking to get you to object. Minor objections willlabel you as a whiner.27. What is more important to you: the money or the work?Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There isno better answer.28. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?There are numerous good possibilities:Loyalty, Energy, Positive attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise,Initiative, Patience, Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver29. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisorBiggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill ofyour boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a formerboss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive anddevelop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.30. What has disappointed you about a job?Don’t get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include:Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction Company didnot win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.31. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give anexample that relates to the type of position applied for.32. Do your skills match this job or another job more closely?Probably this one. Do not give fuel to the suspicion that you may wantanother job more than this one.33. What motivates you to do your best on the job?This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are:Challenge, Achievement, Recognition34. Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?This is up to you. Be totally honest.
  12. 12. 35. How would you know you were successful on this job?Several ways are good measures:You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are asuccess.Your boss tell you that you are successful36. Would you be willing to relocate if required?You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview ifyou think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to getthe job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problemslater on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourselffuture grief.37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead ofyour own?This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry aboutthe deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.38. Describe your management style.Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive,salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptionsdepending on which management expert you listen to. The situationalstyle is safe, because it says you will manage according to thesituation, instead of one size fits all.39. What have you learned from mistakes on the job?Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Makeit small, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. Anexample would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project andthus throwing coordination off.40. Do you have any blind spots?Trick question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blindspots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them dotheir own discovery on your bad points. Do not hand it to them.41. If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?Be careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have.42. Do you think you are overqualified for this position?Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very wellqualified for the position.
  13. 13. 43. How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about,bring that up: Then, point out (if true) that you are a hard workingquick learner.44. What qualities do you look for in a boss?Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense ofhumor, fair, loyal to subordinates and holder of high standards. Allbosses think they have these traits.45. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute betweenothers.Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving techniqueand not the dispute you settled.46. What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?Be honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.47. Describe your work ethic.Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, determination toget the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good.48. What has been your biggest professional disappointment?Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Showacceptance and no negative feelings.49. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization.50. Do you have any questions for me?Always have some questions prepared. Questions prepared where you will be an asset tothe organization are good. How soon will I be able to be productive? and What type ofprojects will I be able to assist on? areexamples. Why did you apply for this position?Tip: How do you think that you might fit into this company Would you tell us what attracts you to a career with us? How do you see your studies,skills, experience and personal qualities contributing to the work of the organisation?Tip: How do you think that you might fit into this company Describe a time when you had to deal with conflicting demands. How did you deal withthis situation and what was the outcome?Tip: STAR
  14. 14. Can you describe a time where you have been required to perform as part of a team? What wasthe situation? What part did you play in the team and what was the outcome of the exercise?Tip: STAR How do you establish a working relationship with new people?Tip: Team skills Where do you expect to be in 5 years time? What will you do if you are not successful ingaining this position?Tip: Demonstrate to the interviewer that you have thought about what it is you want from workand what you hope to achieve. Let them know you are flexible however, and willing to explorenew opportunities. What particular skills and qualities do you bring to the workforce? What other skills would youlike to develop in the future?Tip: Strengths and weaknesses Tell me about a challenging situation you have faced. What was the situation and how did youcope with it?Tip: STAR Is there an achievement of which you are particularly proud? What is it? Why is it significant?Tip: STAR Imagine that you are a member of a small team responsible for the development and productionof an internal publication. Your team is dependent on another workgroup to provide the datawhich will form the basis of your publication. The deadline for completing this project is notable to be relaxed. (a) What factors do you think might affect the teams ability to meet thepublication deadline? (b) What could the team do to ensure the project is completed on time?Tip: Hypothetical questions allow the interviewer to identify key competencies deemedimportant by the employer. No right or wrong answer What are the key elements of measuring performance and how can you establish whether anoutcome represents a success? (Answer this in terms of your own work or study experience.)More specifically, what do you think might be some key indicators of the successfulperformance of a national agency?Tip: STAR (Behavioural +Situational question) You have demonstrated in your CV that you have knowledge of entomology. Could you pleaseexpand on your experience and tell us what you think your strengths are in this field. Animportant component of the position will be the maintenance of water quality parameters withinacceptable limits for the species. Can you outline your experience in water quality testing? Whatdo you feel are the most important water quality variables?Tip: Multi-part question
  15. 15. The ability to work independently within a structured team is essential to the position. This willrequire the successful applicant to be self-starting, able to prioritise tasks, be a goodcommunicator, as well as showing considerable initiative. Can you give us some examples whereyou have worked within a team environment and demonstrated these abilities?Tip: STAR + multi-part question What do you feel is the potential for aquaculture in Australia and what are some of the majorimpediments to its development? What are some of the major aquaculture species cultured infreshwater? As well as the position involving general maintenance of the aquaria and pondfacilities, a significant component will involve participation in scientific experiments through thecollection and collation of research data. Can you describe previous experience you have had inthe day to day running of scientific experiments?Tip: STAR + multi-part question The research project and facilities the successful applicant will be involved with receivesconsiderable attention from the general public. Therefore, a component of the job will involveliaising with the general public and media. This requires the delivery of information in a simpleprecise manner. How confident do you feel you are in delivering sometimes complexinformation in a simple manner?Tip: give examples What computer programs are you familiar with, and more specifically, what programs wouldyou use to write a report, enter research data, and to prepare a poster or seminar.Tip: give examples of where you have applied the use of these programs. You have had an opportunity to look at the statistical table from the publication (this wassupplied before the interview). (a) Imagine you were asked to write a commentary on theinformation in the table. Are there any significant or curious or interesting features revealed bythe data which you think should be highlighted, and if so, what might you say about them? Canyou offer any suggestions to explain these features? (b) What is your opinion of the generallayout of the table? How might it be improved?Tip: multi-part question TopHow to Answer 23 of the MostCommon Interview Questionsby Paul Michael on 4 October 2007193 comments
  16. 16. Photo: Marco Bellucci / Flickr[Editors note: If you recently lost your job, take a look at Wise Breads collection of tips and resourcesfor the recently laid off.]Lets face it; no one likes the interview process. Well, certainly not the people beinginterviewed anyway. You have to be on your best behavior, you only get onechance to get it right, and its like taking your driving test all over again. Over theyears Ive been to countless interviews. To get my first job out of college I attendedsome 15-20 interviews a week. Whether it was in Britain or over here in the States,the questions never really seemed to change from job to job. Not only that, but theanswers to them are usually the same, with your own personal interpretation ofcourse. Here I present 23 questions youre likely to be asked, and how I havelearned to answer them. Why 23? Because I had more than 20 and less than 25.
  17. 17. Remember, being interviewed is a skill, and if you do the preparation you shouldace it every time. (See also: 5 Tips to Acing an Interview)1. So, tell me a little about yourself.Id be very surprised if you havent been asked this one at every interview. Itsprobably the most asked question because it sets the stage for the interview and itgets you talking. Be careful not to give the interviewer your life story here. Youdont need to explain everything from birth to present day. Relevant facts abouteducation, your career and your current life situation are fine.2. Why are you looking (or why did you leave you last job)?This should be a straightforward question to answer, but it can trip you up.Presumably you are looking for a new job (or any job) because you want to advanceyour career and get a position that allows you to grow as a person and an employee.Its not a good idea to mention money here, it can make you sound mercenary. Andif you are in the unfortunate situation of having been downsized, stay positive andbe as brief as possible about it. If you were fired, youll need a good explanation.But once again, stay positive.3. Tell me what you know about this company.Do your homework before you go to any interview. Whether its being the VP ofmarketing or the mailroom clerk, you should know about the company or businessyoure going to work for. Has this company been in the news lately? Who are thepeople in the company you should know about? Do the background work, it willmake you stand out as someone who comes prepared, and is genuinely interestedin the company and the job.4. Why do you want to work at X Company?This should be directly related to the last question. Any research youve done onthe company should have led you to the conclusion that youd want to work there.
  18. 18. After all, youre at the interview, right? Put some thought into this answer beforeyou have your interview, mention your career goals and highlight forward-thinkinggoals and career plans.5. What relevant experience do you have?Hopefully if youre applying for this position you have bags of related experience,and if thats the case you should mention it all. But if youre switching careers ortrying something a little different, your experience may initially not look like itsmatching up. Thats when you need a little honest creativity to match theexperiences required with the ones you have. People skills are people skills after all,you just need to show how customer service skills can apply to internalmanagement positions, and so on.6. If your previous co-workers were here, what would they say about you?Ok, this is not the time for full disclosure. If some people from your past are goingto say youre a boring A-hole, you dont need to bring that up. Stay positive,always, and maybe have a few specific quotes in mind. "Theyd say I was a hardworker" or even better "John Doe has always said I was the most reliable, creativeproblem-solver hed ever met."7. Have you done anything to further your experience?This could include anything from night classes to hobbies and sports. If its related,its worth mentioning. Obviously anything to do with further education is great, butmaybe youre spending time on a home improvement project to work on skills suchas self-sufficiency, time management and motivation.8. Where else have you applied?
  19. 19. This is a good way to hint that youre in demand, without sounding like yourewhoring yourself all over town. So, be honest and mention a few other companiesbut dont go into detail. The fact that youre seriously looking and keeping youroptions open is what the interviewer is driving at.9. How are you when youre working under pressure?Once again, there are a few ways to answer this but they should all be positive. Youmay work well under pressure, you may thrive under pressure, and you mayactually PREFER working under pressure. If you say you crumble like aged bluecheese, this is not going to help you get your foot in the door.10. What motivates you to do a good job?The answer to this one is not money, even if it is. You should be motivated by lifesnoble pursuits. You want recognition for a job well done. You want to become betterat your job. You want to help others or be a leader in your field.11. Whats your greatest strength?This is your chance to shine. Youre being asked to explain why you are a greatemployee, so dont hold back and stay do stay positive. You could be someone whothrives under pressure, a great motivator, an amazing problem solver or someonewith extraordinary attention to detail. If your greatest strength, however, is to drinkanyone under the table or get a top score on Mario Kart, keep it to yourself. Theinterviewer is looking for work-related strengths.12. Whats your biggest weakness?If youre completely honest, you may be kicking yourself in the butt. If you say youdont have one, youre obviously lying. This is a horrible question and one thatpoliticians have become masters at answering. They say things like "Im perhaps
  20. 20. too committed to my work and dont spend enough time with my family." Oh,theres a fireable offense. Ive even heard "I think Im too good at my job, it canoften make people jealous." Please, lets keep our feet on the ground. If youreasked this question, give a small, work-related flaw that youre working hard toimprove. Example: "Ive been told I occasionally focus on details and miss thebigger picture, so Ive been spending time laying out the complete project everyday to see my overall progress."13. Lets talk about salary. What are you looking for? ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENTRun for cover! This is one tricky game to play in an interview. Even if you know thesalary range for the job, if you answer first youre already showing all your cards.You want as much as possible, the employer wants you for as little as youre willingto take. Before you apply, take a look at for a good idea of whatsomeone with your specific experience should be paid. You may want to say, "well,thats something Ive thought long and hard about and I think someone with myexperience should get between X & Y." Or, you could be sly and say, "right now,Im more interested in talking more about what the position can offer my career."That could at least buy you a little time to scope out the situation. But if you dohave a specific figure in mind and you are confident that you can get it, Id say gofor it. I have on many occasions, and every time I got very close to that figure(both below and sometimes above).14. Are you good at working in a team?Unless you have the I.Q. of a houseplant, youll always answer YES to this one. Itsthe only answer. How can anyone function inside an organization if they are aloner? You may want to mention what part you like to play in a team though; its agreat chance to explain that youre a natural leader.
  21. 21. 15. Tell me a suggestion you have made that was implemented.Its important here to focus on the word "implemented." Theres nothing wrong withhaving a thousand great ideas, but if the only place they live is on your notepadwhats the point? Better still, you need a good ending. If your previous companytook your advice and ended up going bankrupt, thats not such a great exampleeither. Be prepared with a story about an idea of yours that was taken from idea toimplementation, and considered successful.16. Has anything ever irritated you about people youve worked with?Of course, you have a list as long as your arm. But you cant say that, it shows youas being negative and difficult to work with. The best way to answer this one is tothink for a while and then say something like "Ive always got on just fine with myco-workers actually."17. Is there anyone you just could not work with?No. Well, unless youre talking about murderers, racists, rapists, thieves or otherdastardly characters, you can work with anyone. Otherwise you could be flagged assomeone whos picky and difficult if you say, "I cant work with anyone whos aBroncos fan. Sorry."18. Tell me about any issues youve had with a previous boss.Arrgh! If you fall for this one you shouldnt be hired anyway. The interviewer istesting you to see if youll speak badly about your previous supervisor. Simplyanswer this question with extreme tact, diplomacy and if necessary, a big fat loss ofmemory. In short, youve never had any issues.19. Would you rather work for money or job satisfaction?
  22. 22. Its not a very fair question is it? Wed all love to get paid a Trump-like salary doinga job we love but thats rare indeed. Its fine to say money is important, butremember that NOTHING is more important to you than the job. Otherwise, yourejust someone looking for a bigger paycheck.20. Would you rather be liked or feared?I have been asked this a lot, in various incarnations. The first time I just drew ablank and said, "I dont know." That went over badly, but it was right at the start ofmy career when I had little to no experience. Since then Ive realized that mygenuine answer is "Neither, Id rather be respected." You dont want to be fearedbecause fear is no way to motivate a team. You may got the job done but at whatcost? Similarly, if youre everyones best friend youll find it difficult to make toughdecisions or hit deadlines. But when youre respected, you dont have to be acomplete bastard or a lame duck to get the job done.21. Are you willing to put the interests of X Company ahead of your own?Again, another nasty question. If you say yes, youre a corporate whore whodoesnt care about family. If you say no, youre disloyal to the company. Im afraidthat youll probably have to say yes to this one though, because youre trying to bethe perfect employee at this point, and perfect employees dont cut out early forJimmys baseball game.22. So, explain why I should hire you.As Im sure you know, "because Im great" or "I really need a job" are not goodanswers here. This is a time to give the employer a laundry list of your greatesttalents that just so happen to match the job description. Its also good to avoidtaking potshots at other potential candidates here. Focus on yourself and yourtalents, not other peoples flaws.
  23. 23. 23. Finally, do you have any questions to ask me?Ill finish the way I started, with one of the most common questions asked ininterviews. This directly relates to the research youve done on the company andalso gives you a chance to show how eager and prepared you are. Youll probablywant to ask about benefits if they havent been covered already. A good genericone is "how soon could I start, if I were offered the job of course." You may alsoask what youd be working on. Specifically, in the role youre applying for and howthat affects the rest of the company. Always have questions ready, greeting thisone with a blank stare is a rotten way to finish your interview. Good luck and happyjob hunting.