Typical Interview Questions & Answers:
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: The most common interview question is the infamous”tell me about yourself” question. Although this may sound simple, most people will start their interview off on the wrong foot by not answering this question in a concise away. If asked, this will be the first question that comes out of the employer’s mouth and therefore your answer will determine his or her first impression of you. And you know what they say – You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Now that I’ve effectively frightened you, here’s your attack plan. You want to have a rough-draft summary of yourself in your mind in a timeline format. No, not from birth to present. You want to start with your educational history simple by stating your majors and graduation dates. You want to include skills that apply to the job in this answer as well. Lastly, you want to finish this answer up by intermingling your personal experience with the job/company. For example, I graduated from XYZ University in 2005 with an Information Systems Degree and my interest in system engineering has only increased. My first job out of college was with ABC Corporation as a Systems Analyst which was an invaluable learning experience. Aside from work, I enjoy (insert activities here). I believe that my skills in (related skills) and the fiscal year goals of interviewing company would make me a perfect fit for this job.
Q: What do you know about (Company)?
A: Research the company. If they’re a public company, look up their company profile at Yahoo! Finance or Google Finance. Check out their financial statements and see how they are doing. This might sound complicated, but all you need to really look at is their Assets, Sales and Liabilities. This should give you an idea where they stand financially. You don’t have to memorize anything, just have an idea if they are in the green, have a lot of debt, etc. Do some more searching, and read about their upcoming ventures, such as mergers and acquisitions and future product launches. You should have a thorough knowledge of what this company is about and what their future plans are prior to going into the interview. If you do this, you will separate yourself from 60%-70% of the other applicants just by showing the company that you took the time to learn about them.
Q: Why do you want to work for us?
A: Again, make sure you do your research. Be sure to fully understand the company’s short term and long term goals, and be very adamant about how your skills can help the company achieve them. Also, check to see if the company is involved in charities (this information should be on their website), and mention how you have similar interests (if you’ve done similar charitable work, make sure you mention this).
Q: What are your strengths? What is your greatest strength?
A: This is a common interview question and will be asked on most job interviews. The best way to answer this is to mention a strength that is somehow applicable to the job you are interviewing for. If you are interviewing for a sales job, you may mention that you are a “people person” who can make anyone feel comfortable. If you have previous work in sales, you should be specific with your past sales numbers, promotions, etc. when answering this question. Be sure to relate your answer to a key skill needed for the job you are applying for.
Q: What are your weaknesses? What is your greatest weakness?
A: Many websites will tell you to turn a weakness into a strength. Don’t do this. Interviewers aren’t stupid. They want you to be acknowledge a weakness, confront it front on, and explain how you are working to fix it. Giving an answer like “I would say my biggest weakness is that I just work way too hard” sounds cheesy and is detrimental to your entire interview. For example, if you aren’t the most organized person you could say something like this: “In the past, my organization skills weren’t my strongest point, but I have since implemented (insert organizational software/tools here) to help me complete my tasks and deadlines on time.
Q: What are some of your best attributes? How would you describe yourself as a person?
A: Similar to the “What is your greatest strength” interview question, you want to gear the answer to this question towards the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a customer service position your “best attribute” would be your ability to be patient and empathetic with people no matter the situation (use examples from your previous work history).
Q: Do you get stressed at work? How do you handle stress?
A: This question can be tricky. You may want to immediately answer “no,” but this isn’t the correct answer. Employers and interviewers know that every work place gets stressful at some point. Saying that you don’t get ever get stressed can be construed that you are lethargic and don’t care about the job. You want to answer this question by saying something like this: “I understand that every job will present stress at some point. Personally, I handle stress by (insert activity here; running, gym, etc.), but I find that some stress is a great motivator at work and I always prioritize my duties to alleviate significant on-the-job stress.”
Q: What kind of salary are you looking for?
A: See The Salary Question.
Q: What is your business related experience? What sort of skills do you have that make you a good fit for this position?
A: “Business related experience” is just a fancy way of saying “work history” that applies to the job you’re interviewing for. Prior to going on the interview, read the job description and remember some of the key points. When you are asked this question, mention the specific skills the original job posting mentioned – but in your own words.
Q: Have you been ever been asked to leave a past position?
A: You should answer this interview question with “No.” If, for some reason, you have been asked to leave a position AND you believe the potential employer could find out, be honest about it. Explain that there was no negative intentions on either side and that it was the best decision for both you and the employer. Remember, never say negative things about any of your past employers.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years? What is your dream job?
A: These sort of questions are a round-about way of the employer trying to figure out whether or not this job is just a stepping stone for you, or if this is a serious opportunity. Unless you are applying for a seasonal job, you must answer this interview question by telling the interviewer that you see yourself with their company. Don’t be cheesy and say that the job you are applying for is your dream job – they will know you are being insincere. The best way to go about answering this question is not being specific. Explain why you love the work that you do (relating to the job you are applying for) and say that your dream job/where you see yourself in the future is a job where you not only love the work that you do, but you love the people and company that you work for. To summarize this interview answer, stay away from specifics. Do not say the job you are applying for is your dream job, but allow the interviewer to make the implication in their mind own mind that this is the perfect job for you.
Q: Tell me about a problem you had with a past co-worker or supervisor?
A: This is a very common interview question. Do not, I repeat do not, say you have never had any problems with past co-workers or employers. You and the interviewer both know that that is a lie. Everyone has had problems with someone that they have worked with in the past and your potential employer is fully aware of this. The best way to go about this question is to point out a small problem you had with a co-worker, such as a difference of opinion on a project plan, and explain how you both came to an acceptable middle-ground that most effectively accomplished the project goals. Like most answers, you should use an example when answering this interview question.
Q: Would you be willing to travel? Would you be willing to relocate?
A: This interview question is probably the only question that you should be 100% straight-forward about. No sugar-coating. If the employer is asking this question, it means that the job you are applying for likely requires some travel or possibly relocation. If you are not 100% comfortable with either, do not agree that you are. If you say yes to this question, then down the road refuse to travel or relocate, you could easily be laid off or even fired. If you get fired, you’ll have to explain that on your next interview and that interview question is a doozy!
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?
A: Whether they ask you this or ask you what your biggest ‘professional accomplishment’ is, you should answer in terms of your past work history. Employers don’t care (that much) that you can run a good 5k. Although they want you to have a life outside of work, they want to know what you have accomplished for your past employers because this success will hopefully follow you onto your new position with them. Explain, in detail, your biggest accomplishment at your past employer. Be sure to credit your co-workers and/or supervisors with their accomplishments, as well as your employer for providing the opportunity to succeed. Although you may want to brag, you will come off as a much better applicant if you give some credit to your co-workers/supervisors for your past successes.