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Interview Questions

interview Questions

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    December 1969
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How will your greatest strength help you perform? Sample Answers My greatest strength is my ability to work with many different people. I enjoy learning from everyone I meet, and in this position I believe that will enhance my ability to perform on the team. My greatest strength is my ability to focus on my work. I'm not easily distracted, and this means that my performance is very high, even in a busy office like this one. My greatest strength is my ability to focus on the job at hand. I'm not easily distracted from the big picture. My organizational skills are my greatest strength. I'm capable of keeping many projects on track at the same time. One of my greatest strengths is my ability to manage my time well. I am able to effectively anticipate the time needed for a project, and complete on time or ahead of schedule. My greatest strength is my ability to effectively delegate appropriate tasks to my team. I identify the strengths of the people on my team, and help them to utilize them to make the whole team work more efficiently. My greatest strength is my listening ability. I pay careful attention to what I’m being told about everything, from specific information relating to current projects, to future projects, even to what my colleagues did over the weekend. I feel that by being a good listener, I am more effective at completing projects, as well as effectively motivating others. Are you lucky? Sometimes, during an interview, an employer will surprise you with an unusual question, like, "Do you consider yourself to be lucky?" Although the question sounds strange, it's one that recruiters may use to assess whether you have an optimistic or pessimistic view of the world. Employers generally want to avoid candidates who have a sulking, "woe is me" attitude. You'll need to demonstrate that you aren't easily defeated by difficult circumstances. Best Answers Answering in a way that is balanced, yet still optimistic, is a good way to showcase some of your strengths as well as your positive attitude. You can also note how you might have met some challenges. You can begin by referencing some reasons why you have been fortunate, like having a strong family background, great mentors, inspiring bosses, or a solid education at an outstanding school. Good fortune of this kind points to assets that will ultimately serve you well in your job. You can also note that you have dealt with some adversity like an injury, a health crisis in your family, or a past employer going out of business. Although you should explain how you rebounded or coped with the challenge, make sure you convey that it is no longer a distraction or drain on your energy and has instead resulted in a strong sense of confidence and resilience. Review sample answers to the interview question "How would you describe yourself?" When you respond, keep in mind the type of position you are interviewing for, the company culture, and the work environment. Your answer should help show the interviewer why you're a match for the job and for the company. How would you describe yourself? Sample Answers  I'm a people person. I really enjoy meeting and working with a lot of different people.  I'm a perfectionist. I pay attention to all the details, and like to be sure that everything is just right.  I'm a creative thinker. I like to explore alternative solutions to problems and have an open mind about what will work best.  I'm efficient and highly organized. This enables me to be as productive as possible on the job.  I enjoy solving problems, troubleshooting issues, and coming up with solutions in a timely manner. Describe a typical work week. Interviewers expect a candidate for employment to discuss what they do while they are working in detail. Before you answer, consider the position you are applying for and how your current or past positions relate to it. The more you can connect your past experience with the job opening, the more successful you will be at answering the questions. It should be obvious that it's not a good idea talk about non-work related activities that you do on company time, but, I've had applicants tell me how they are often late because they have to drive a child to school or like to take a long lunch break to work out at the gym. Keep your answers focused on work and show the interviewer that you're organized ("The first thing I do on Monday morning is check my voicemail and email, then I prioritize my activities for the week.") and efficient. When you are asked about how you work during an interview, it's important to impress the interviewer with your comptentency and accuracy, rather than just your speed. Describe your work style. Here are sample answers to the interview question "How would you describe your work style?"  I am very focused on my work, and consequently, am able to work quickly.  I keep a steady pace, and check my work as I go along, to prevent mistakes from snowballing.  Because I am very organized, I am able to accomplish a lot in a limited amount of time.  I'm organized and efficient and I'm able to multi-task very well.  I'm always on top of my projects, but I do welcome input and will consult with team members to ensure we're all on the same track. Do you consider yourself successful? Why? If you are asked, "Do you consider yourself successful? Why?" in an interview, the recruiter is trying to determine how you performed in previous positions. Understandably, you might not consider yourself to be a total success, but think of the question as an invitation to discuss the professional characteristics that you're proud of, or a particular highlight in one of your past jobs. Best Responses The easy part of your response is to assert confidently that you do consider yourself a success. Make sure you look the recruiter in the eye and sell the statement with self-assurance. The more challenging task, however, is to back up your assertion. You should have a copy of your resume on hand, so you can review each position and be ready to name your accomplishments in each role, no matter how small. Be prepared to describe the situation or challenge you faced, in addition to the skills or knowledge you leveraged to bring about positive results. Analyze the requirements for your target job and focus on your assets that correspond to the preferred qualifications of the ideal candidate, which you will most likely be able to find in the job listing or on the company's website. Once you have established a basis for professional success, you can add a personal achievement, like being a dedicated dad or marathon runner, in order to round out your answer. Do you work well with other people? – Hiring managers often mention that some of the interview questions which don't typically get the best responses from job applicants are questions about working with others. Companies want to know how you work well with other people and you'll need to say more than you enjoy working with others, which is the standard response. Soft Skills It's important because even if your role in the company doesn't require a lot of communication, you will still need to deal with those you work with in a professional and personable manner. Companies are as interested in your soft (people) skills as they are in your hard (quantifiable) skills. Here's more on hard skills vs. soft skills and what employers are seeking in applicants. In addition, regardless of the job, employers don't want to hire people who are difficult to get along with because that will cause workplace issues and conflicts. It can make sense to screen out applicants who don't have strong people skills, even if they have solid qualifications for the job. Expanding Your Response Candidates often say that they "enjoy working with people" but don't explain or expand upon their response. Anyone can say that they work well with people, but it's important to show hiring managers how you accomplish it. How can you avoid the pitfall of giving a lame interview answer, but still make a viable point about your suitability for jobs requiring lots of interaction with people - and even for jobs which don't? What do you do that makes you a good people person at work? That's what the interviewer wants to know. What's important is to show your prospective employer the skills you have and how you have used them in the workplace, using real-life examples. Keys to Responding to Questions The first key is to specify the types of interactions with people which are attractive to you or at which you are particularly adept. In addition to specifying how you work well with managers, co-workers, customers, vendors and others, you should also speak to what you accomplish during those interactions. Here are some examples:  Assessing the skills, personality traits and work ethic of candidates by applying behavioral interviewing techniques.  Motivating subordinates to improve performance.  Leading group discussions in a way that incorporates diverse views and draws consensus.  Developing a comfortable rapport with clients and determining their preferences for products and services.  Listening actively and emphatically to encourage clients to share their feelings and problems.  Creating and delivering training sessions which engage the audience in active learning.  Providing difficult news to employees targeted for layoffs.  Mediating conflicts between employees or with clients.  Resolving customer complaints with patience and creativity. How are you different from the competition? What makes you better than the competition? It's important to be able to share information on why you're the person who should be hired during job interviews. It's not uncommon for employers to receive hundreds of applications from eager job seekers. Employers make hiring decisions by comparing these various candidates who are applying for a position, and sometimes they will ask you to help them to assess what is distinctive or advantageous about hiring you. Separate Yourself from the Other Applicants In most cases, you will have no idea who you are competing with for a particular job, so this type of question is really an invitation to summarize your strengths as a candidate with an emphasis on any assets which might separate you from the typical applicant. Make a List of the Priority Job Requirements Start preparing by analyzing the requirements for the job that seem to have the highest priority. A detailed job description within the listing for the position will give you some cues about what the organization values the most from candidates. If the ad is short on substance, then look for advertisements of similar positions on major job sites to discern a pattern for employer preferences. Make a list of the top five qualifications for the ideal candidate. Review that list and try to think of how you have applied those skills, qualities or areas of knowledge to make a strong contribution in your paid employment, internships, volunteer work, academics or activities. Best Answers Be prepared to reference each asset and to describe a situation where you used that strength and any results you helped generate or how your organization has benefited from your actions. For example, your answer might begin with an acknowledgement like "Of course, I am not aware of the other candidates in the applicant pool, but I can say that my skills in Excel are quite advanced. I have created complex macros to track seasonal variations in sales and expenses which have helped my department to save money." In addition to addressing the standard job requirements, try to add a strength that is relatively unique, and would add value. For example, although foreign language skills might not be listed in the job advertisement, you might mention that your Spanish language skills would enable you to establish rapport with Latino clients. Bring a Copy As well as rehearsing your points prior to the interview, you may also want to type up the list and print out a copy for your interviewer to keep. That way, if they miss any part of your spiel, they'll be able to look back on the document post-interview. How do you view yourself? Who do you compare yourself to? In order to assess your strengths and weaknesses during an interview, an employer might ask you to describe yourself. This type of question can take various forms, from "How do you view yourself?" to "Who would you compare yourself to?" Best Answers The best way to answer is to share some of your strengths, particularly those that match the qualifications for the job. In addition to discussing strengths that are central to the job, you should also include some other interesting personal qualities that are not particularly relevant, but will provide an authentic feel to your presentation. For example, for a job in advertising, you might mention how you view yourself as a creative type of person and then also mention that you are a risk taker who enjoys skydiving or bungee jumping. Follow Up Questions Be ready for follow up questions, such as a request for you to cite examples of whatever qualities that you mention. Be prepared to reference situations where you applied that strength and the impact which you had. Another line of follow up questioning might be to ask about your weaknesses if you have supplied a totally positive view of yourself. The best way to answer is to mention a weakness that won't directly hinder the outcome of the interview. For example, mention one that is not central to the job, could be construed as a strength or one that you've worked on to the point that it is no longer actually a weakness. Comparing Yourself to Other People Some employers might ask you to compare yourself to someone else in order to determine more clearly how you view yourself. Generally, you should take a modest approach and avoid comparing yourself to iconic figures in business, politics or the entertainment world. A better tact can be to mention a personally inspiring individual such as an older sibling, parent, teacher or mentor. The key will be to point out some positive, common quality that makes you similar. For example, you might say "I'm a lot like my Dad; he instilled in me a keen curiosity about scientific phenomenon." In answering this question, the key is to arrive at an answer that presents you in a positive light, but is at the same time humble and authentic. How many hours do you normally work? Interview questions about how much you work can be tricky. Be careful before you answer questions about how many hours a week you work. You don't want to be construed as a slacker or as someone who works too many hours. At some companies, the norm is a 40 hour week and everyone goes home on time. At others, everyone might work 50 or 60 hours a week. However, working a lot of hours isn't necessarily a good thing - it could mean you're not productive enough to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time. So, unless you're sure about the company culture and expectations, the safest answer is not to mention a certain number of hours. Rather, mention that you work as much as necessary to get the job done. Your response will show the employer that you're willing to work hard, without committing to an exact number of hours per week. How many hours do you normally work? Interview questions about how much you work can be tricky. Be careful before you answer questions about how many hours a week you work. You don't want to be construed as a slacker or as someone who works too many hours. At some companies, the norm is a 40 hour week and everyone goes home on time. At others, everyone might work 50 or 60 hours a week. However, working a lot of hours isn't necessarily a good thing - it could mean you're not productive enough to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time. So, unless you're sure about the company culture and expectations, the safest answer is not to mention a certain number of hours. Rather, mention that you work as much as necessary to get the job done. Your response will show the employer that you're willing to work hard, without committing to an exact number of hours per week. There isn't a right or wrong answer to interview questions about what motivates you. The interviewer is trying to understand the key to your being successful in the job he is interviewing for, and wants to make sure it's a good fit. Consider, in advance of interviewing, what actually does motivate you and come up with some specific examples to share during the interview. What motivates you? Sample Answers Your response will vary based on your background and experiences, but, you will want to share your enthusiasm and what you like(d) best about your job. Here are some examples: I was responsible for several projects where I directed development teams and implemented repeatable processes. The teams achieved 100% on-time delivery of software products. I was motivated both by the challenge of finishing the projects ahead of schedule and by managing the teams that achieved our goals. I've always been motivated by the desire to do a good job at whatever position I'm in. I want to excel and to be successful in my job, both for my own personal satisfaction and for my employer. I have always wanted to ensure that my company's clients get the best customer service I can provide. I've always felt that it's important, both to me personally, and for the company and the clients, to provide a positive customer experience. I have spent my career in sales, typically in commission-based positions, and compensation has always been a strong factor in motivating me to be the top salesperson at my prior employers. Are you a self motivator? Review sample answers to the interview question "Are you a self motivator?" When you respond, keep in mind that companies are seeking motivated and enthusiastic employees.  Absolutely. I am a very active person, and I enjoy my work. I'm always looking for new and innovative ideas to bring to a project.  I believe I am a self motivator. I give my all to a project, and am always looking ahead to the next one at hand. Successfully completing one and moving on to the next is very exciting for me. I am passionate about my work, and truly enjoy working toward the next big goal.  I have always been self motivated. Coming from my background, not very much was expected of me after I finished High School. I always wanted more, and put myself through college and grad School with very little support from my family. In the workplace, I bring that same drive to managing projects and deadlines.  Are you a self motivator? Review sample answers to the interview question "Are you a self motivator?" When you respond, keep in mind that companies are seeking motivated and enthusiastic employees.  Absolutely. I am a very active person, and I enjoy my work. I'm always looking for new and innovative ideas to bring to a project.  I believe I am a self motivator. I give my all to a project, and am always looking ahead to the next one at hand. Successfully completing one and moving on to the next is very exciting for me. I am passionate about my work, and truly enjoy working toward the next big goal.  I have always been self motivated. Coming from my background, not very much was expected of me after I finished High School. I always wanted more, and put myself through college and grad School with very little support from my family. In the workplace, I bring that same drive to managing projects and deadlines. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make? There are no right or wrong answers to questions like "What are the most difficult decisions to make?" or "Describe a difficult work situation / project and how you overcame it." These are behavioral interview questions designed to discover how you handled certain situations. The logic behind these types of questions is that how you behaved in the past is a predictor of what you will do in the future. Best Answers Give concrete examples of difficult situations that actually happened at work. Then discuss what you did to solve the problem. Keep your answers positive ("Even though it was difficult when Jane Doe quit without notice, we were able to rearrange the department workload to cover the position until a replacement was hired.") and be specific. Itemize what you did and how you did it. The best way to prepare for questions where you will need to recall events and actions is to refresh your memory and consider some special situations you have dealt with or projects you have worked on. You can use them to help frame responses. Prepare stories that illustrate times when you have successfully solved a difficult situation. Tell me about yourself. You walk into the interview room, shake hands with your interviewer and sit down with your best interviewing smile on. Guess what their first question is? "Tell me about yourself." Do you "wing it" and actually tell all manner of things about yourself? Will you spend the next 5 minutes rambling on about what an easy-going, loyal, dedicated, hard working employee you've been? If this is the case, you stand a good chance of having bored your interviewer to death thus creating a negative first impression. Tell Me About Yourself - Best Answers Because it's such a common interview question, it's strange that more candidates don't spend the time to prepare for exactly how to answer it. Perhaps because the question seems so disarming and informal, we drop our guard and shift into ramble mode. Resist all temptation to do so. Your interviewer is not looking for a 10-minute dissertation here. Instead, offer a razor sharp sentence or two that sets the stage for further discussion and sets you apart from your competitors. Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Give them "your synopsis about you" answer, specifically your Unique Selling Proposition. Known as a personal branding or a value-added statement, the USP is a succinct, one-sentence description of who you are, your biggest strength and the major benefit that a company will derive from this strength. Here is an example of a Unique Selling Proposition: "I'm a seasoned Retail Manager strong in developing training programs and loss prevention techniques that have resulted in revenue savings of over $2.3Million for (employer's name) during the past 11 years." What a difference you've made with this statement. Your interviewer is now sitting forward in her chair giving you her full attention. At this point, you might add the following sentence: "I'd like to discuss how I might be able to do something like that for you." The ball is now back in her court and you have the beginnings of a real discussion and not an interrogation process. Be Specific The key is that you must lead with your strongest benefit to the employer. Be specific and don't wander about with some laundry list of skills or talents. Be sure to put a monetary value on your work if at all possible and be ready with details when you're called upon. Give an estimated value to the $$ you've either helped to make or save for your employer. Be Prepared When you walk into an interview, remember to always expect the "tell me about yourself" question. Prepare ahead of time by developing your own personal branding statement that clearly tells who you are, your major strength and the clear benefit that your employer received. The advantages of this approach are that you'll quickly gain their attention and interest them in knowing more. You'll separate yourself from your competitors. You'll also have a higher chance of being positively remembered and hired. Interviewers will sometimes start an interview with an open ended question like "Tell me about yourself." It's a way to break the ice and make you feel more comfortable during the interview process. It's also a way for the hiring manager to get insight into your personality to help determine if you're a good fit for the job. Sharing too much or too little information isn't a good idea. The interviewer doesn't want to know everything about you, but disclosing too little can make him or her wonder why you aren't more open. What to Share With The Interviewer Although it might be tempting to share a list of your most compelling qualifications for the job at hand, a more low-key approach will probably help you to develop a personal rapport with your interviewer. Try starting out by sharing some personal interests which don't relate directly to your work. Examples might include a hobby which you are passionate about like quilting, astronomy, chess, choral singing, golf, skiing, tennis or antiquing. Interests like long distance running or yoga which help to represent your healthy, energetic side are worth mentioning. Pursuits like being an avid reader or solving crossword puzzles or brain teasers will help to showcase your intellectual leaning. Interests like golf, tennis and gourmet food might have some value if you would be entertaining clients in your new job. Volunteer work will demonstrate the seriousness of your character and commitment to the welfare of your community. Interactive roles like PTA volunteer, museum tour guide, fundraiser, or chair of a social club will help show your comfort with engaging others. Avoid Politics and Controversy Typically, you would steer clear of controversial topics like politics or religion. It's important to avoid any references to topics that would cause concern about your ethics, character, productivity or work ethic. You also don't need to share personal information about your family. There is no need to discuss spouses, partners, children or any other strictly personal information. Transition to Professional from Personal After sharing a few interesting personal aspects of your background, you can transition to sharing some key professional assets that would help you to add value if you were hired for your target job. Consider using phrases like "In addition to those interests and passions, my professional life is a huge part of who I am, so I'd like to talk a bit about some of the strengths which I would bring to this job." Share Your Expertise Then be ready to share three or four of the personal qualities, skills and/or areas of expertise which would help you to excel in the job for which you are interviewing. Ultimately you will want to share several other strengths before the interview is over. Make a list before you go the interview, so you know what you will share. Look at the job description and match it with your skills. Then share the top few skills which make you an ideal candidate for the job. However, be careful not to overwhelm the interviewer with too much information. After mentioning three or four strengths, you might mention that you have several other assets which you would like to discuss as the interview unfolds. At first, you should only mention the asset and allude only briefly to some proof of how you have tapped it to your advantage. For example, you might say that you love to give presentations and that has helped you to generate lots of leads at sales dinners for prospective clients. Later in the interview, you will want to be more specific and detailed in discussing situations, interventions and results flowing from your strengths. What has been the greatest disappointment in your life? Your response to the question "What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?" will help the interviewer determine know how easily you are discouraged. Best Answers If possible, tell about a personal disappointment i.e. the early death of a parent, child, or school friend. Believe it or not, it is okay to have not had a "greatest" disappointment. My biggest disappointment is that I wasn’t able to follow my dream of being a professional dancer. I was injured as a teenager during a performance, and was never able to move quite as fluidly again. Even though I was disappointed at the time, I realize now that if I had taken that direction, I would not have my advanced degrees and a career I love. My biggest disappointment is that my dad passed away just before I graduated from college, and got my first job. He was a pioneer in the technology industry during his time, and he was so proud of me following in his footsteps at such an exciting time. I have had many disappointments, like most people, but I believe that we learn from all the experiences we have in life, and that the disappointments as well as the accomplishments make us stronger and better able to deal with many different situations. Of all the disappointments in my life, the greatest one at the time was when I wasn’t able to go straight to college out of high school. I think the two years I spent working helped to focus me on what I really wanted to study, and ultimately made my college experience much better. Having a little extra time to figure things out, I was much better prepared to make decisions about what I wanted to study and how that would prepare me for my career. What are you passionate about? When you're asked what you're passionate about during a job interview it's a good opportunity to share what is important in your life. It's also an opportunity to show your dedication and what's important to you. Your response doesn't need to be work focused, but do be sure that what you share isn't something that could potential cut in to your working hours. For example, you don't want to say that you're a mountain climber with the goal of climbing Mountain Everest or that you're getting ready for the Tour de France or looking to spend the winter skiing in Aspen. Sample Answers: What Are You Passionate About?  One of my greatest passions is helping others. When I was younger, I've enjoyed helping mom with household repairs. As I grew older, that habit grew and I desired to help others as well. I like helping people find solutions that meet their specific needs.  I'm passionate about painting. I take an evening art class once a week and try to find time each weekend to paint. Painting is a good way for me to relax and even though I don't have much talent, I do it enjoy it.  I lost my father to pancreatic cancer and ever since then, I have spent time volunteering to help raise awareness and funding for cancer research. I volunteer for PanCan, the advocacy group, and I'm part of their volunteer network. One of the things I'm passionate is to assist in finding a cure, however I can.  I'm passionate about making a difference. When I'm involved with a project at work I want to do my best to achieve success. I feel the same way about what I do in my personal life.  I'm an avid skier and I like to spend weekends and vacations on the ski slopes. What are your hobbies? When you're preparing for an interview, remember that not all the questions posed to you during an interview will directly relate to the job at hand. Sometimes interviewers will want to gain an understanding of what you are like as a total person. This is where a question like, "What do you do in your spare time?" or "Tell me about your hobbies" comes in. Questions like these could stem from a number of concerns your employer might have, from your overall health and energy level, your mentality, or how you might engage and entertain clients and coworkers. What Not to Say You probably already know there are certain subjects you should leave out of any interview, so even if your favorite way to spend time is gambling, partying, or any illegal activity, don't bring it up in the interview. Best Responses That said, do make sure that your answers are genuine. For example, if it's been a decade since you had a gym membership, don't brag about being a "fitness junkie." However, you should focus on constructive answers, whatever they may be in your case. It's true that exercise and fitness related hobbies can demonstrate health, energy, vitality and the ability to manage stress. Older candidates should be especially careful to make some points of this sort if possible. Sports like golf, tennis and skiing can be useful ways to interact with clients and build relationships. But, remember to be honest first and foremost. You don't want to brag about being a "golf pro" and then get to the driving range with your new employer, and have no idea what to do. In addition, you might also mention any volunteer work or community activities, like coaching your child's baseball team. Volunteer work shows high character and a concern about someone other than yourself. Working for community-based organizations is also a great way to source potential clients while pursuing a common interest. Professional development activities are another potentially rich area of sharing how you use your spare time. Maybe you take classes or seminars, read journals or complete online tutorials that enhance skills related to your job. Maybe you're learning another language in your spare time. In addition, helping to coordinate conferences or carrying out duties for a professional association are other ways to show that you are professionally engaged. You can also share anecdotes from your daily life. Maybe you like to spend your spare time bonding with your spouse or children; maybe you enjoying going hiking with your dog. Maybe you're a fan of the New York Times crossword puzzle; maybe you love to read mystery novels. Whatever you choose, make sure it paints you in a positive light. Mix Personal and Professional Pursuits Overall, the best approach to this question is to mix in these types of personal items with more professional or work-related pursuits. This combination will enhance the believability of your response, and when you're discussing your hobbies, always make sure you speak with enthusiasm - and a smile. What do people most often criticize about you? The interview question "What Do People Most Often Criticize About You?" is asked to find out how sensitive to you are and how you accept criticism. This is a question that you should be careful answering. You don't want to imply that you are criticized on the job, but you also don't want to imply that you're perfect. It makes sense to mention things that are not specifically related to the job to which you're applying when you respond. Best Answers There's no on-going criticism. I'm open to personal and professional growth and welcome the opportunity to improve. One of the things that I am sometimes criticized for is being too much of a perfectionist. I tend to expect very high standards of work from myself. I had a supervisor many years ago tell me that I was too critical of other people’s work. I took that to heart, and made sure from that point forward that my analysis and suggestions are always supportive and helpful rather than critical. From the time I was a child, I always had a hard time making presentations, in any group situation. A few years ago I took several courses in public speaking, and last year I received an award for a presentation I gave at the company’s yearly executive board meeting. If humor is appropriate, this is a good time to use it. Example: I have a teenage daughter - few things I do are okay on her radar screen. What is the biggest criticism you received from your boss? Interviewers will ask different types of questions in an effort to determine if you have any weaknesses that would interfere with your ability to carry out the job at hand. One question you might be asked is, "What was the biggest criticism you received from your boss in your last job?" Best Answers A tough interviewer won't let you off the hook easily on this one. If you are in the unusual situation where your performance reviews have been flawless, then you can mention that fact and even offer to provide evidence of your stellar reviews. However, in most cases, you should be ready to share an issue or two that has surfaced over time. Pick a performance area that is not central to the job you're applying for. If possible, pick an issue that you have addressed and improved upon. For example, if in your past job, your supervisor critiqued your public speaking skills, leading you to take steps to enhance your skills, you might share that story. This approach would work best if excellent public speaking skills are not crucial in the new position. Be careful about supplying cliché answers, such as mentioning a weakness that can be interpreted as a strength. Most interviewers will be turned off by statements like "I'm a perfectionist and put too much pressure on myself." Employers will be looking for sincere answers and an indication that you are willing to recognize your weaknesses and to take steps to improve. What is your dream job? "Tell me about your dream job?" can be a tricky interview question. Even though your dream job might have nothing to do with the job you're interviewing for, don't mention it if it's not related. Instead, you should make an effort to connect your answer to the position you're interviewing for. In the interview, your potential employer will likely focus on figuring out whether or not you have the right skills to be successful in the job you are applying for. However, they'll also be interested in how motivated you are to perform the job, and whether or not you will be satisfied with the position. What to Mention Ideally, your response to the question should reference some elements of the job you're applying for. For example, if the position is a customer service job, you might say that your dream job would have a high level of interaction with customers. In order to prepare your answer, brainstorm what appeals to you in the job at hand. Do you enjoy solving problems, or mediating conflicts? Do you thrive under pressure? Do you consider yourself a “people person” who likes to engage with clients or with the larger community? Create a Job Profile Think of what you want in a job, and create a “profile” of your ideal job that includes some of those functions. Your “dream job” doesn’t have to be a specific position, like “Account Executive” or “Public Relations Director,” but can instead include different responsibilities you would enjoy having as part of your position. Share Examples Your answer can be more convincing if you reflect on why you found these types of activities rewarding in the past, and how your skillset matches the type of job you're after. Be ready to share some examples of how you have enjoyed utilizing those skills in the past. Other Options for Answering Another way to answer the question is to mention a certain goal you would like to reach through your “dream job.” For example, if you're applying for a job with a non-profit environmental organization, you might mention that an essential element of your dream career would be a role that advances the green agenda. Best Answers Ultimately, the key to answering “Tell me about your dream job?" is to convey your long-term interest in a high-level position, without overshadowing your interest in the job you’re applying for. For example, even if you are applying for a job as a customer service representative, you might share your future goal of being a customer service manager or a salesperson. Make sure you express a reasonable time frame and set of expectations for advancing towards your dream job. You might say something like "Down the road, after becoming an expert in your product line and developing strong relationships with your customers, I would love to work in sales." What is your professional development plan? It’s important for employers to hire applicants who aren’t stuck in their career and who are continually moving forward to gain new expertise. Employers are eager to recruit candidates who are intent on developing the right skills and acquiring the right knowledge to excel in their field. Organizations look for employees who are plugged into the latest trends impacting their field and eager to keep pace with changes in technology and best practices. They also recognize that no employee is perfect and look for evidence of self-awareness and a willingness to address any weaknesses. Interviewers will ask a variety of questions to get at this information. The most common tactic will be to ask about your weaknesses and how you might have addressed them. Some recruiters might approach this issue by asking you about the most prominent trends impacting your field. A question like "What is your professional development plan for the next year?" has a broad enough scope to capture both weaknesses and professional trends. Not having a plan in place will be a red flag for a prospective employer. The expectation for anyone hired for a professional position will be that you are prepared to continually upgrade your expertise. As an aside, that upgrading is valuable for resume building, too. Best Answers The first step is to make sure you have a professional development plan at all times, since you never know when you will need to transition into job search mode. In most cases, this should include mastering the latest area of technology being tapped by employees in your sector. So a project manager might be prepared to say "I have been working on strengthening my business intelligence skills and have taken (or plan to take) a seminar on advanced Plex system ERP applications." Try to incorporate some reference to a hot industry trend in your plan if possible. Review the latest journal articles and conference agendas for your professional associations and speak to well informed colleagues for ideas. For example, a hospital administrator might say "I have been reading articles on using electronic health records to generate clinical quality measures and plan to attend a seminar at the next Hospital Association conference on the topic." Finally, if you have been working on an area that could use some improvement you might mention that strategy as part of your plan. For example, if you are in a field where presenting to groups is not a core skill but is somewhat valued, you might say "I plan to work on my presentation skills by taking a workshop on optimizing the use of presentation tools like PowerPoint. I have always gotten positive feedback about my presentations but would like to jazz them up a bit." What makes you angry? When an interviewer asks what makes you angry, he or she is trying to determine how you might react to stressful situations in the workplace, and how you might handle your personal emotions without letting them affect your performance. Be prepared for employers to ask for specific examples of situations that made you angry, particularly in a professional environment. Best Responses Your answer should contain two components: first a description of the situation that angered you, and then a reference to how you processed the event and handled your anger. Avoid bringing up a situation that involves a supervisor, since employers tend to side with management and may perceive you as an easily disgruntled employee. Try to present yourself as someone who, like most people, occasionally gets annoyed by certain situations, but doesn't lash out in an outburst of anger. For example, you might say, "When I'm on a tight deadline and working to finish a project, I get frustrated if I run into roadblocks, like if my Internet won't load or my partner is slacking off." While you want to be careful about blaming others, you can mention certain office behavior that doesn't sit right with you, like if a coworker complains too much or misuses company resources. The most important aspect of your response to this question will be the way you describe how you handle your anger. Answers that emphasize a measured, controlled response are the most effective. Try to respond in a way that implies that you recognize your anger, but do not express it in an emotional or dramatic way. If you're discussing a coworker's unethical or irresponsible behavior, explain how you may have calmly confronted him or her, and then provided constructive feedback. Maybe, you offered a suggestion and then walked away before things got heated. Whichever anecdote you are able to provide, make a point of illustrating how you are a level-headed, rational employee who doesn't let his or her emotions cloud the workplace. Best Responses for Management Jobs Prospective managers might be asked this question to determine if they are tough enough to deal with problem employees. In those situations, you might describe how you dealt effectively with frustrating underperformers. Typically, you should state how you communicated directly with subordinates about problem behaviors or performance, and then set up a plan for improving performance. The plan should include consequences for continued poor performance, and how you may have partnered with Human Resources to devise the plan. Why did you choose your major? Interviewers will often ask why a candidate chose their major to gain insight about their interests, abilities, and decision making style. Effective answers to this question will depend on how closely your major relates to your target job. When the Job Fits Your Major If, for example, you majored in finance and are looking for a job in banking then it's relatively easy to respond. You will want to emphasize how the content of your major appeals to you and the types of skills you have developed while pursuing that degree. When You Need to Make a Connection In situations where the connection between your major and your job goals is more tenuous, you will need to work harder to make a viable case for your interests and skills. For example, if you majored in sociology and are targeting a management training program your challenge will be to underscore reasons why sociology was attractive that would also serve you well as a manager. You might reference a fascination with how groups function or the dynamics of effective communication, for example. Think about projects you have completed or specific courses which you have taken in your major that have the closest connections to the job. Use them as examples during the interviewer. What Transferable Skills Do You Have? In addition, assess your transferable skills, especially ones related to your target job. Choose skills which you have enjoyed using. Be prepared to discuss how they were applied to your studies. Common transferable academic skills include writing, research, presentation, leadership, communication, problem solving and teamwork. Finally, make sure that you thoroughly research the job in question so that you can clearly state specific reasons why you have an interest even though your major may seem unrelated If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently? – When asking what you would do if you could relive your life, the interviewer is looking for a flaw in your interview. Always remember, the goal for the first few interviews is to get the next interview. For the interviewer, it is to weed out as many applicants as possible. Here's where a personal answer could work. Personal Answer I lost my mother to Alzheimer's. I wish I'd known more about the disease to help me through that difficult time. Non-Personal Answers Really, nothing. I've learned from each experience I've had. I am actually very satisfied with the career I’ve chosen, and how it has progressed. I have learned important things at every stage, and from the people I have worked with. I have had people ask me in the past if I would have been happier if I had started out in my current career instead of beginning in the business world. I am very glad that I have my experience in business, as I think it gives me unique insight and perspective that I otherwise wouldn’t have. Even though I love what I do now, I wouldn’t change how I got here. If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say? When the interviewer asks "If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?" he or she wants to know what your perception is of what others think about your qualifications and abilities. Best Answers I'm sure if you asked my friends that question they would say you should hire me because I have the skills outlined in the job description and I bring 10+ years of expertise to this position. Words they've used to describe me are: hard working, professional, trusted and a team player. My current supervisor would tell you that I am innovative, complete projects on schedule, am willing to help out where necessary, and am a leader of our team. My colleagues would say that I am easy to work with, and that I bring fresh, honest perspective to difficult situations. I am the person that many of them seek out for advice when they are dealing with a particularly sensitive issue in the office. Related Question: Why should we hire you? Questions About Your Strengths and Weaknesses Review more interview questions related to your strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and accomplishments, along with examples of answers. Do you prefer to work independently or on a team? Are you overqualified for this job?  Overqualified? Some would say that I'm not overqualified but fully qualified. With due respect, could you explain the problem with someone doing the job better than expected?  Fortunately, I've lived enough years to have developed the judgment that allows me to focus on the future. Before we speak of past years, past titles and past salaries, can we look at my strengths and abilities and how I've stayed on the cutting edge of my career field, including its technology?  I hope you're not concerned that hiring someone with my solid experience and competencies would look like age bias if once on the job you decided you'd made a mistake and I had to go. Can I present a creative idea? Why don't I work on a trial basis for a month -- no strings -- which would give you a chance to view me up close? This immediately solves your staffing problem at no risk to you. I can hit the floor running and require less supervision than a less experienced worker. When can I start?  I was proud to be a charge nurse but I really like getting back to working with patients.  I'm flattered that you think I'm headhunter bait and will leap to another job when an offer appears. Not really. This job is so attractive to me that I'm willing to sign a contract committing to stay for a minimum of 12 months. There's no obligation on your part. How else can I convince you that I'm the best person for this position?  I'm here because this is a company on the move and I want to move up with you. With more than the minimal experience to just skim by, I offer immediate returns on your investment. Don't you want a winner with the skill sets and attitudes to do just that?  My family's grown. And I am no longer concerned with title and salary -- I like to keep busy. A reference check will show I do my work on time, and do it well as a team member. I'm sure we can agree on a salary that fits your budget. When can we make my time your time?  Downsizings have left generational memory gaps in the workforce and knowledge doesn't always get passed on to the people coming up. I could be an anchor or mentor -- calm, stable, reliable and providing day-to-day continuity to the younger team. For my last employer, I provided the history of a failed product launch to a new marketing manager, who then avoided making the same mistakes.  As you note, I've worked at a higher level but this position is exactly what I'm looking for. You offer opportunity to achieve the magic word: balance. I'm scouting for something challenging but a little less intense so I can spend more time with my family.  Salary is not my top priority. Not that I have a trust fund but I will work for less money, will take direction from managers of any age, will continue to stay current on technology and will not leave you in the lurch if Hollywood calls to make me a star. And I don't insist that it's my way or the highway. Interview questions about your abilities. Job Interview Questions About Your Abilities and Sample Answers Tell me about a time that you worked conveying technical information to a nontechnical audience. The Interviewer wants to know how you relate to people outside your area of expertise. While I worked for Mr. Smith in the accounting department, I was selected to explain the financial section of the employee's paycheck to all new hires. After my first two sessions, I realized I needed to reframe my information so the new hires would have an accurate understanding of the impact of their decisions as it related to their pay. I worked with colleagues in human resources and marketing, and developed a training outline that was implemented at the other locations throughout the company. Tell me about a time that you worked with data, interpreting data, and presenting data. If you are in a non-technical profession, this question is designed to see if you are comfortable with information not directly related to your position. While at the GHI corporation, one of my job assignments was to work with the IT department to prepare the annual meeting brochure complete with financial data, graphs and related SEC requirements. I became proficient at designing graphs that gave an accurate picture of the financial data, as well as editing the legal information into a more readable format. Why do you think you will be successful at this job? The interviewer is concerned as to whether you see this as a career move, or stop-gap employment. As my resume reflects, I have been successful at each of my previous places of employment. My research of your company, the job description outlined, and the information we've exchanged today, lead me to believe I have the skills and experience for which you are looking; and I'm eager to be a contributing employee. Tell me about a time that you participated in a team, what was your role? Companies, for the most part, do not want "Lone-Rangers" - - they are looking for employees who will adapt to the company culture and get along with others. In high school, I enjoyed playing soccer and performing with the marching band. Each required a different kind of team play, but the overall goal of learning to be a member of a group was invaluable. I continued to grow as team member while on my sorority's debate team and through my advanced marketing class where we had numerous team assignments. What applicable attributes / experience do you have? When you are asked questions related to the experience that qualifies you for the job, it's important to be very specific about your skills and experience. The best way to respond is to describe your responsibilities in detail and to connect them to the job you are interviewing for. Tie your responsibilities in with those listed in the job description for the new position. That way, the employer will see that you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. Focus most on your responsibilities that are directly related to the new job's requirements. It's also important to be honest and accurate. Don't embellish your job, because you don't know who the hiring manager will be checking with when they check your references. Here's how to match your qualifications to a job description. Why do you want this job? - Best Answers A typical interview question to discover what assets you have that are specific to the company's goals is "What can you do for this company?" First of all, be sure to have researched the company prior to the interview, so you are familiar with the company's mission. Respond by giving examples why your education, skills, accomplishments, and experience will make you an asset for the employer. Take a few moments to compare your goals with objectives of the company and the position, as well as mentioning what you have accomplished in your other jobs. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company, as well as the job. What can you do for this company? A typical interview question to discover what assets you have that are specific to the company's goals is "What can you do for this company?" First of all, be sure to have researched the company prior to the interview, so you are familiar with the company's mission. Respond by giving examples why your education, skills, accomplishments, and experience will make you an asset for the employer. Take a few moments to compare your goals with objectives of the company and the position, as well as mentioning what you have accomplished in your other jobs. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company, as well as the job. Why should we hire you? When an employer asks you, “Why should we hire you?” she is really asking, “What makes you the best fit for this position?” Your answer to this question should be a concise “sales pitch” that explains what you have to offer the employer. The best way to respond is to give concrete examples of why your skills and accomplishments make you the best candidate for the job. Take a few moments to compare the job description with your abilities, as well as mentioning what you have accomplished in your other positions. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company and the position. Here's how to prepare your response. Think of the Job Listing To prepare an answer to this question, look at the job listing. Make a list of the requirements for the position, including personality traits, skills, and qualifications. Then, make a list of the qualities you have that fit these requirements. For each quality, think of a specific time that you used that trait to achieve something at work. For example, if you list that you are a “team player,” think of a time in which your ability to work well on a team resulted in a successfully completed project. Keep it Concise You want your answer to be brief – no more than a minute or two long. Therefore, select one or two specific qualities from the list you created to emphasize in your “sales pitch.” Begin by explaining what you believe the employer is looking for, and how you fulfill that need. Focus on your Uniqueness The interviewer wants to know how you stand out amongst the other applicants. Therefore, focus on one or two qualities you possess that might be unique, or more difficult to find, in other interviewees. For example, if you are very experienced with a certain skill that the job requires, say so. This is your chance to tell the interviewer why you would be an invaluable employee. Examples of Answers You have explained that you are looking for a sales executive who is able to effectively manage over a dozen employees. In my fifteen years of experience as a sales manager, I have developed strong motivational and team-building skills. I was twice awarded manager-of-the-year for my innovative strategies for motivating employees to meet and surpass quarterly deadlines. If hired, I will bring my leadership abilities and strategies for achieving profit gains to this position. You describe in the job listing that you are looking for a special education assistant teacher with an abundance of patience and compassion. Having served as a tutor at a summer school for dyslexic children for the past two years, I have developed my ability to be extremely patient while still achieving academic gains with my students. My experience teaching phonics to children ages 6 to 18 has taught me strategies for working with children of all ages and abilities, always with a smile. My previous employer often placed me with the students with the most severe learning disabilities because of my history of success. I will bring not only experience, but patience and creative problem-solving, to this position. Interview questions about your abilities. While I worked for Mr. Smith in the accounting department, I was selected to explain the financial section of the employee's paycheck to all new hires. After my first two sessions, I realized I needed to reframe my information so the new hires would have an accurate understanding of the impact of their decisions as it related to their pay. I worked with colleagues in human resources and marketing, and developed a training outline that was implemented at the other locations throughout the company. Tell me about a time that you worked with data, interpreting data, and presenting data. If you are in a non-technical profession, this question is designed to see if you are comfortable with information not directly related to your position. While at the GHI corporation, one of my job assignments was to work with the IT department to prepare the annual meeting brochure complete with financial data, graphs and related SEC requirements. I became proficient at designing graphs that gave an accurate picture of the financial data, as well as editing the legal information into a more readable format. Why do you think you will be successful at this job? The interviewer is concerned as to whether you see this as a career move, or stop-gap employment. As my resume reflects, I have been successful at each of my previous places of employment. My research of your company, the job description outlined, and the information we've exchanged today, lead me to believe I have the skills and experience for which you are looking; and I'm eager to be a contributing employee. Tell me about a time that you participated in a team, what was your role? Companies, for the most part, do not want "Lone-Rangers" - - they are looking for employees who will adapt to the company culture and get along with others. In high school, I enjoyed playing soccer and performing with the marching band. Each required a different kind of team play, but the overall goal of learning to be a member of a group was invaluable. I continued to grow as team member while on my sorority's debate team and through my advanced marketing class where we had numerous team assignments. What strength will help you the most to succeed? Recruiters will find many different ways to appraise your qualifications for a job, and one way they might go about this is by asking you about what strengths you have that will help you most succeed in the job. Most interviewers will probe your core strengths to determine how you might make the greatest impact if hired. Be prepared to share the qualifications you have that will enable you to do well if you are hired. Best Answers The best way to prepare to respond is to start with a careful examination of the key qualifications that your employer is seeking. Look for an essential qualification that corresponds well with one of your most prominent assets. Then, think of a situation where you applied that strength to the advantage of your employer and be ready to share any positive results that you generated. If possible, prepare two or three stories of how you have added value in different contexts by tapping that strength. Interviewers will often follow up with a question about another strength or two that has led to your success on the job. So, be prepared to discuss several strengths that would be highly applicable to the job at hand. What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you? One of the interview questions you may be asked is what you are looking for in your next job. The interviewer wants to know whether your goals are a match for company’s needs. Prepare to respond by comparing your interests and goals to the requirements listed in the job posting. That way, you can offer a personal response specifically tailored to the job for which you're applying. Best Answers I'm looking for a position where I can have the opportunity to successfully use my skills. I want to be able to provide a company with the best possible work. I am looking for the opportunity to use the skills that I have developed during my years in marketing to engage your sales force and increase productivity and international sales. I am excited by the opportunity to learn about your company’s innovations, and utilize the experience I have in technology to help streamline your products for even more successful implementation. In my next job, I would like to be able to have a positive impact on my patients. Your facility offers patients a total recovery program, and I feel that my experience, education, and specialization would make this a good fit for me. You can begin your answer with this question: Tell me, Mr./Ms. Interviewer, what is a typical career path at OPL for someone with my skills and experience? (Based on the answer you can then respond to the original question using the phrases from the answer to frame your response). Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? When you are interviewing for a new job, it can be hard to articulate where you would like to be in your career next year let alone five years down the road. Even when you do know, it's important to be careful how you respond because you'll need to tailor your answer to the job for which you are interviewing. Here are tips for responding to questions about the next stage of your career, while affirming your interest in the role you are being interviewed for. Where Do You See Yourself 5 Years from Now? Outline a Career Path In order to prepare well for this question, research a reasonable career path which will flow from the position for which you are applying. How long does one ordinarily spend in that job? What are the next steps within five years? Some employers will clearly outline pathways in the career section of their website. However, you may need to approach professionals in the field through alumni, family, friends or professional associations to gain an accurate picture. Start With Your Interest in This Job It is often advantageous to emphasize your interest in thoroughly mastering the initial position before moving on. If it seems like you are rushing past that first job, employers might question how motivated you are to carry out those duties. After all, the hiring manager will probably want someone who will be happy and competent in that role for at least a year or two. Integrating a clear rationale into your answer regarding how your interests and skills equip you to do the job you are being considered for can help to alleviate any concerns about how long you will want to stay at the job. When There is No Clear Career Path Not all jobs are stepping stones to higher positions. For positions like counseling, sales, event planning, teaching and computer programming, for example, it will be perfectly appropriate to emphasize mastery of that job as your five year goal. Think about components of the job in which you can excel. For example for a sales job: "Within 5 years I would like to be recognized as an expert in terms of product knowledge, have developed very close relationships with clients, have significantly expanded the client base in my region and perhaps have been assigned some major national clients." Goals = Results Stating your goals in terms of results which you would like to produce is another angle for responding. So, for example, a prospective teacher for a district which is trying to upgrade performance on standardized tests might say "I would like to significantly increase the percentage of students reading at or above grade level through creative instructional methods." Of course, you would need to be able to share some examples of how you would achieve this. Moving Up the Career Ladder There are a few jobs where you are expected to move on after a couple of years, including some analyst positions in investment banking and consulting, as well as legal assistants and scientific research assistants (for new college grads). In those cases, you will have more leeway in your answers, but you will still want to establish how the job at hand makes sense given the skills and interests you would bring to the employer. Where do you see yourself in 10 years For older candidates, being asked about where you see yourself in five or ten years can be a way to determine how close you may be to retirement. Answering this question can be tricky since the employer may be looking for someone who will be happy in the position for which they are interviewing, and they also may be assessing your future potential. In addition, if you are planning on retiring sooner rather than later they may be concerned about hiring someone who won’t stay with the company for long. Share Your Interest in the Job It’s important to reference what is most appealing to you about the job, as well as your interest in mastering that job for a reasonable period of time. If the job is one that an employee would normally hold for a long period of time, then your focus should remain on excelling in that role and fully developing the knowledge and skills to add optimal value. When You Want to Advance If you wish to advance from that initial job, then you should research a typical career path evolving from that job. You can ask your interviewer about options for promotion once you have established yourself with the company. By expressing interest in advancement, you will reassure your interviewer that you are looking to make a commitment to the company and your career, not just filling the time until you can retire. For example, if you would like to advance from sales to sales management, you might express your high level of interest in expanding your product knowledge, developing strong relationships with clients and expanding sales. Then you could mention that, in the future, you would like to share what you had learned with newer sales representatives and coach them towards success by taking on a role as a sales manager. When You Plan on Retiring For older workers, who are obviously closer to the normal retirement age, you will have a decision to make as to whether to address this issue directly. It can be effective to say something like "I love my work and certainly don't anticipate retiring within that time period.” You could then go on to speak specifically about what you would hope to accomplish during that 5 or 10 year period.