Creative Job Search: Key Interview Questions (page 2)
All Interview questions are really the same question: Why should we hire you?
- 1. Tell me about yourself.
- This is an open-ended question often asked to help "break the ice" in the interview. The important thing to remember is to keep the answer job-related.
- 2. Why are you interested in working for this company?
- This will show the employer that you have done your "homework." State the positive things you have learned about the company and how they fit with your career goals. This shows the employer that you cared enough about the interview to prepare for it.
- 3. Tell me about your education.
- Even though your resume includes this information, some employers like to have you expound on the subject. Remember to include all classes, seminars, workshops, and on-the-job training you have attended that support your job goals.
- 4. Why have you chosen this particular field?
- This is one way to discover your enthusiasm and dedication to your career.
- 5. Describe your best/worst boss.
- This could be a trap. Do not present a negative picture of any past employers. If given a choice, always talk about your best boss. If pressed to describe the worst boss, pick a work-related characteristic that can be stated in a positive way, e.g., "I had a supervisor who was vague when issuing assignments. I learned to ask questions so that I knew what was expected."
- 6. In a job, what interests you most/least?
- This will give the employer another gauge for measuring how well you will fit the job opening.
- 7. What is your major weakness?
- Always turn this into a positive! State a weakness and turn it into a positive by showing how you overcame the weakness. "In the past, it has been difficult for me to accept criticism from my peers. However, I have learned to value and solicit this input and it has improved my job performance."
- 8. Give an example of how you solved a problem in the past.
- It is important to be able to show the process you go through when presented with a problem. State the problem and the steps you followed to reach the solution.
- 9. What are your strengths?
- This is the time to describe the skills you have identified that will most effectively "market" you as an employee.
- 10. How do others describe you?
- Another way for the employer to ask this would be, "Tell me how you would fit into this work group?" If you are not comfortable with this question before the interview, call some friends and/or ask people you have worked with how they would describe you.
- 11. What do you consider the most important idea you contributed or your most noteworthy accomplishment in your last job?
- Give examples of ways in which you saved the company time or money or developed an office procedure that improved efficiency.
- 12. Where do you see yourself in three years?
- Telling the interviewer, "In your job!" is not a good idea. Do indicate that you hope to acquire sufficient skills and knowledge within that time to make a positive contribution to the company.
- 13. Think about something you consider a failure in your life, and tell me why you think it happened.
- Failure implies error. Answers that point to a negative should conclude with a success. For example, "In my last job, I was given an assignment to coordinate all travel plans for an international conference. About half-way through the process, I realized I had not gathered enough information to help attendees make good travel and lodging decisions. I had to take time out to do the research which put me under a severe time crunch. I learned to do my research sooner. I haven't had the problem since."
- 14. How do you think you will fit into this operation?
- This is the time to express your interest in the job and knowledge of the company. The more you know about the operation the easier this question will be to answer.
- 15. If you were hired, what ideas/talents could you contribute to the position or our company?
- Another great opportunity for you to sell your skills. By giving examples of past accomplishments, the employer can visualize your contribution to her/his company.
- 16. Give an example where you showed leadership and initiative.
- Even if you haven't had the title of lead worker, supervisor, or manager, give examples of when you recognized a job needed to be done and you did it.
- 17. Given an example of when you were able to contribute to a team project.
- Unless you have lived in a total void you have been part of a team. Team work is used in sales because both parties have to state their needs and expectations, then negotiate the sale. Families, community activities, and school all require team work.
- 18. What have you done to develop or change in the last few years?
- This shows a willingness to be challenged and to improve. Employers are looking for people who are willing to continue learning. Talk about formal and informal educational opportunities you have pursued. Mention books and periodicals you have read related to your field of interest.
- 19. Do you have any questions for me?
- By asking questions, you again show interest in the job. Following are some suggested questions.
Keep Your Answers Brief & Job Related!
Questions to Ask in an Interview
- What are the responsibilities and accountabilities of this position?
- How well is the position defined? Can its duties be expanded or changed?
- Would you describe an average day on this job?
- What is the history of the position? Why is it vacant?
- As you think about the position, what aspects of this job would you like to see performed better?
- What are the key challenges or problems of this position?
- Where can I go from here, assuming that I meet/exceed the job's responsibilities?
- How would you describe the ideal candidate?
- What are the company's short and long range objectives?
- What's the common denominator in your successful employees?
- What does the company consider unique about itself?
- What are some outside influences that affect company growth?
- Where does the company excel? What are its limitations?
- How will I be evaluated, and in what time frames? What performance standards will be used?
- With whom would I be working? Who would be my supervisor? Who would I supervise?
- What is the department's environment like?
- When will a decision be made about this position?
- What is the next step in the decision-making process?
Reprinted with the permission of the Idaho Department of Labor.
Next Article: Creative Job Search: Reasons People Don't Get Hired
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