prepare adequately for
an interview is a death
sentence. All other things
being equal, he or she who
is better prepared wins.”
2. What do you know about the job?
3. Tell me about your background /
Tell me about yourself?
4. What are your greatest strengths?
5. What are your weaknesses?
6. What is your greatest accomplishment?
7. What is the greatest difficulty you’ve had
9. What are you looking for in a new job?
10. Why should I hire you?
11. What do you want to be doing in five years?
12. What value can you lend to this company?
13. Describe the best and worst manager you’ve had?
14. Describe the most difficult problem you’ve had to solve?
15. How much are you looking to make?
2. What do you know about the job? This is a little tougher. Often all you have seen is a brief description written in an ad. In order to find more information you can visit the employment section of the company’s website. If you are working through a recruiter he or she should have lots of detail for you.The killer answer to this question is to let the interviewer know you called the human resources department, receptionist, customer service department or other people who have the same job in the company to get the inside scoop on the duties and responsibilities. After you let them know you went the extra mile to research the position ask them to describe what the duties and responsibilities are.
yourself. This is perhaps the #1 asked question. In my estimation the majority of interviewers come unprepared to an interview and do not have a list of questions to ask you. This question is an easy one for interviewers and it is essential to be prepared to answer it succinctly. There are two ways to answer this. The first is to ask the interviewer what they want to know or how far back they want you to go. The other is to simply fire away. Either way, you blow this question when you talk too long, babble on or go off on tangents. The killer answer to this question is to give them a dose of personal experience. Let the interviewer know who you are and why you are special. Mix the work
background / Tell me
about yourself. This
is perhaps the #1 asked
question. In my estimation,
most interviewers come
unprepared to an interview
and do not have a list of
questions to ask you.”
5. What are your weaknesses? This one is much trickier. I call this a thin ice question. It can easily get you into trouble you can’t get out of. In the go-go yuppie days of the 1980’s, I was taught to give one of your strengths as a weakness. “I am an overachiever. My work ethic makes my wife mad.” I believe that modern day interviewers are looking to gain some insight into who you really are, and most experienced interviewers get suspicious when they believe they are being told what they want to hear. The killer answer to this question is to give them a real weakness. An individual who knows their
question. It can easily
get you into trouble you
can’t get out of. In the
go-go yuppie days of the
1980’s, I was taught to
give one of your strengths
as a weakness. “I am an
overachiever. My work
ethic makes my wife mad.”
8. Why did you leave your previous employer(s)? This question is easy to answer if you have not jumped between jobs frequently and haven’t been fired. If either of these are true, this question will be much more difficult to give a killer answer to. If you have had more than three jobs in six years or have been fired, don’t give a brief answer. The longer you babble on about why you jumped jobs or why you got fired the more trouble you will get yourself into. If you have jumped between jobs or have gotten fired I advise being honest. Trying to dance around the truth will get you into trouble. If job jumping is your problem, tell the interviewer that you made a mistake leaving a job(s), and you want to settle down in a company you can retire with. If you got fired tell them flat out. Don’t ever tell an interviewer that “It was a mutual agreement.” This is a “Bull S_ _ _” answer. Almost every single person who ever gave this answer got fired. If a person voluntarily left a job because he was
unhappy, he will tell you he quit. Whenever you hear, “It was mutual,” the person is really saying my employer was not happy with me and they let me down easy by allowing me to resign. Whenever I hear “It was mutual,” I think the person got fired and I am being lied to.
9. What are you looking for in a new job? Sounds pretty clear cut, doesn’t it? This question sounds like a great opportunity to tell the employer exactly what you are looking for in terms of duties you prefer or not, your long term goals, whether you want to travel or work less hours, and where you want to be in five years. This question is a trap. I often ask this question early in an interview after I get the interviewee comfortable. What I hear as an answer to this question tells me whether I have the type of job that the candidate is looking for or not and how picky or demanding the person is. I have probably eliminated more candidates based upon this question than any other. Be careful. My advice is to give fewer specifics and preferences than you think acceptable. The killer answer to this question is, “I am looking for a good company that I can grow with. I hope to find a leader and mentor who can use my talents and a job I can really sink my teeth into.” Leave it vague and open ended. Specifics can eliminate you.
10. Why should I hire you? This question is easily the one that is answered incorrectly the most often. It is only asked in about 40% of the interviews I have sat through, but it still warrants preparing an answer for. The question is most often asked toward the end of the interview after you have had a chance to talk about yourself and all your strengths. The incorrect answers that I most commonly hear are a repeat of the individual’s strengths. “I am hard working. I have the relevant experience. I have always been ranked as a top performer.” The interviewer has already heard these things. I believe the interviewer wants to hear what you can do for them. Instead of talking about you or repeating your strengths, tell the interviewer what you can do for him and his company. The killer answer to this question is, “I will make your department more successful. Your customers will be happier when I service them. I will help you achieve your goal of becoming the top company in your field.” Do you hear the difference? Your department, your customers, your goals. Not I, I, I.
11. What do you want to be doing in five years? Similar to “What are you looking for”, I recommend a vague answer here. Some companies and interviewers are looking for go-getters who want to become the next CEO in five years or die trying. Other companies and interviewers may feel threatened or intimidated and worry about keeping you happy in the position they have for you. The killer answer to this question is, “I am looking to advance in pay and responsibility and hope I will be rewarded for my hard work.”
13. Describe the best and worst manager you’ve had? This one should be easy. Give the names and the reasons why a manager was your best and your worst. The reasons any manager is great is not because he was easy on you or let you come and go as you pleased. Although this may be true, refrain from sharing it. The reasons a manager was the worst was not because they were demanding and worked to push you harder than you thought necessary. The killer answer to this question is, “My best manager was Jane Doe. She was great because she was tough but fair. She pushed me to achieve my best, always believed in me and seemed to care about me personally. My worst manager was John Doe. He had a habit of yelling at people in public and he took credit for everyone else’s hard work.”
14. Describe the most difficult problem you’ve had to solve. This too requires some forethought. I suggest preparing for this question by listing 4 or 5 difficult problems you’ve had to solve or difficult situations you’ve been in. Having a handful of examples will give you an ability to use them in response to other questions. Try to prepare examples of problems that involved people, technology and situations out of your control. Prepare to demonstrate how you used your analytical and people skills, as well as your
this question is to
demonstrate you have been
listening to the interviewer
as she described what she
is looking for.”
15. How much are you looking to make? There are two ways of answering this. The first is to tell them what you are making and the second is to tell them what you are looking to make. Remember the
cardinal rule is not to talk about salary unless you are asked. Asking how much the job pays before you are asked to talk about it is improper interview etiquette and will cost you. The killer answer to this question is, “Last year I made “$”, I am sure you will make a fair offer.” “I was hoping to make “$”, however it is not all about money, I am sure you will make a fair offer.” The danger is to give them too high a number, which could eliminate you, or to give them too low a number and leave money on the table.
REMEMBER, COME PREPARED AND STAY ON YOUR TOES!
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