Common Interview Questions

By | July 22, 2012

Tips and TechniquesThe Interview

This seems to be an obvious point but is often over simplified. Many people who aren’t normally upbeat and positive have difficulties with this at the most basic level. It requires practice if it’s not a typical trait.

Question: So you think you can handle this position?

Interview answers should be from 30 seconds to two minutes, and should never be one word answers. “Have you ever used Excel?”

  •  Poor answer: “Yes.”
  •  Proper answer: “Yes I have, and let me explain what I have done with Excel…”

Employer Questions:

What is your reason for leaving your current organization?

  • Don’t offer a selfish explanation. Take a broader, simpler view. DO NOT mention you didn’t get along with your last manager. You will be viewed as a difficult candidate.

What is your current salary?

  • Answer with a range if possible or couch your answer if you have no idea what the position pays. Working with recruiters will eliminate much of this concern as we match salary ranges and expectations prior to presenting candidates for specific openings.

Have you ever been fired?

  • These things do happen and need not hamper your job search forever. There are many reasons a person can get fired. Keep in mind that these are often complex. Consider how much you wish to disclose. In any event, admit that it happened and note that you certainly learned from this experience.

How does this position compare with the other opportunities you are considering?

  • Okay, so the goal here is not to disclose that this is one of many, or the only job you are considering. You want a manager to feel comfortable that you are genuinely interested in their position. Keep your answers to the unique opportunity being presented. This puts your active listening skills to use because it allows you to showcase your level of understanding to the interviewer. This turns a potential risky question into a positive affirmation of your interest in their opening.

Tell me about yourself.

  •  Should you get this question on the interview, you should realize you are being interviewed by a novice interviewer. They are probably crunched for time and really don’t know what other questions to ask. That  being stated: you have two minutes or less to tell your career progression since school, progressing through the positions/organizations you’ve held and ending with where you are today on your job search. Be certain to include accomplishments. It’s not a bad idea to have these hot points bullet-pointed on your notepad or reference info.

This is a good format to practice: “After graduating from ABC College with a degree in Business Administration, I accepted a position at XYZ Inc working as an Administrative Assistant to the sales team. XYZ was a mid-sized software firm. After 4 years of increased responsibility I was promoted to the Executive Admin to the VP of Sales and was supervising 5 administrative assistants. I was then recruited out by DEF Corporation to support the CEO and manage and train the administrative staff. I am here today because DEF has been sold to an international firm and our positions are being sent overseas.”

So how long have you been looking for a job?

  • Positive attitude! If you are going to admit you’ve been looking for awhile, spin it towards a positive career move. Just be prepared to discuss what’s been offered to you.

What are your three biggest strengths/weaknesses?

  • This is where you can see some of your business clichés: loyalty, strong work ethic, goal oriented, good communication skills (please don’t say you are a ‘people person’) are all good answers. For weaknesses, please avoid the workaholic syndrome. It may be best to address items that are not critical to the position. If you’re not working with Microsoft PowerPoint you might say you’ve never been able to get the hang of sophisticated presentations with animated graphics.

What are your career plans over the next five years?

  •  This is a standard question without much bite but still a popular one. It therefore requires a standard answer.Repeat after me: “I hope to continue to grow within this organization in positions of increased responsibility.During this time my career growth would continue to contribute to the organizations success and ultimately learn from each other and my colleagues.”

What do you know about the position?

  • Do not go into an interview without ANY information. Disclose what you know and be prepared to ask a lot of questions to clarify the manager’s expectation.

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