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Ace the Interview

10 Common Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about yourself!
    Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don’t ramble. Use your resume summary as a base to start. Touch on your education and professional achievements and goals. Then briefly describe your qualifications for the position and the contributions you could make to the organization.
  1. What do you know about our company?
    Do your homework before the interview! Spend some time online or at the library researching the company/organization. Find out as much as you can, including products, size, income, reputation, image, management talent, people, skills, history and philosophy.
  1. Why do you want to work for us?
    Remember, the employer only wants to hear what you can do for the company and not what they can do for you. Share what you learned about the job, the company, and the industry through you research.
  1. What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
    Relate previous experiences that demonstrate success you’ve had in solving previous employer problem(s) that may be similar to those of the potential employer.
  1. Why should we hire you?
    Briefly tell of your knowledge, experience, abilities and skills that relate to the job.
  1. What do you look for in a job?
    An opportunity to use your skills, to perform, be recognized and appreciated.
  1. Please give me your definition of a…. (the position for which you are being interviewed).
    Keep it brief – give an action and results oriented definition.
  1. Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others?
    The ideal answer would be that you are flexible. Give examples describing how you have worked well in both situations.
  1. How long would you stay with us?
    As long as we both feel I’m contributing, achieving, growing, etc.
  1. If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
    Emphasize the positives! Turn your weaknesses into positives. For example, you might say, “Sometimes I work too late but I am working to find a better balance.

Behavior-Based Interviews & Questions

Employers often conduct interviews using behavior-based questions. Such interviews are based on the simple belief that your past work performance is the best predictor of how you will behave in a similar future situation. Your answers will help the interviewer get a better idea of how you react and/or solve problems and situations.

Behavior-based questions are likely to begin with some variation of:

  • Tell me about a time when you worked effectively under pressure
  • Describe a time when you were creative in solving a problem
  • Provide an example of a time when you set your sights on a demanding goal and saw it through to completion

Obviously you want to select examples that promote your skills and have a positive outcome. Even if the interviewer asks about a time when something negative occurred, try to select an example where you were able to turn the situation around and something positive came out of it. For example, if asked, “Tell me about a time you made a bad decision.” Try to come up with an example where even though you now see it was a poor decision, you learned from it and in a future similar situation you know how you will handle it differently.

To prepare for these types of questions, it is recommended that you remember the acronym STAR, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results:

S = Situation  First, think of a related situation from your past work experience and explain it in detail to the interviewer.

T = Task  Next, think about the task that was involved and how you accomplished that specific task.

A = Action  Describe the action that took place during that situation.

R=Results  Finally, describe the end results.  What happened and what did you learn from that situation?

Be sure that you have a beginning, middle and an end to each situation.

Behavior-based questions may include the following situations:

  • Demonstrated leadership
  • Solved a problem
  • Increased company profits
  • Made a good decision/made a poor decision
  • Handled change (not money, but changing events)
  • Handled criticism
  • Met a deadline/missed a deadline
  • Worked as part of a team
  • Demonstrated creativity

Dealing With Questions About Salary

The best strategy to use when asked about salary is to deflect the question back to the interviewer by saying something like: “I would hope to be paid fairly based upon my skills, qualifications and experience.” “What were you planning to pay the best candidate?”  Keep them focused on what is an appropriate amount based on experience, skills and credentials. This requires some research on your part and you should have a salary range in mind if asked to be specific with dollar amount and be prepared to justify why you deserve the discussed amount.

Questions To Ask The Employer

  1. What capabilities do you feel are most important in the person you will hire?
  2. How will my job performance be evaluated?
  3. When will a hiring decision be made? or What is the next step in the hiring process?

After The Interview

End the interview with a handshake and thank the interviewer for his/her time. Restate your interest in the position. Ask when you will be notified of their decision.

Send a “Thank you for the Interview” note. Experts on interviewing will tell you three things:

  1. Thank you notes must be sent after every interview on the same day or the next morning at the latest.
  2. Most job-hunters ignore this advice
  3. You will stand out from all the others if you remember to send a thank you note to everyone who interviewed you.
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