This article is an excerpt from the book, Effective Job Search Strategies by Raymond Gerson.
Interview Questions Often Asked, and Suggested Answers
1. Tell me about yourself.
Find out what specific parts of your background are of interest. This is your chance to sell yourself. Present those aspects of your education and experience that make you a good match for the job.
2. What do you know about this company?
You should have already done your research on the company. State a few of the positive attributes of the company that impress you (e. g. , industry trends, comparison to related companies, specific projects and/ or needs of the company or department).
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Emphasize two or three strengths that have helped you to succeed in other jobs. For example: “I am reliable and persevere when faced with a difficult task. " Always follow your general statement with a concrete example.
Any weaknesses that you mention should be positive ones. For example, you might say: “I tend to work longer hours than I should because of a strong work ethic. " Always say what you have learned from this situation and also what you are doing to try to improve in that area.
4. What qualifications do you have for this job?
First try to find out what is most important to the interviewer. Find out what you will be responsible for accomplishing, and present yourself as a problem solver who can accomplish the goals of your job.
5. Why do you want to leave your present job?
Do not talk negatively about your boss or company. Your answer should reflect that the new company offers more challenge and a progressive use of your skills.
6. Why are you interested in this company?
This question is very similar to “What do you know about this company?" Give a few positive reasons based on your research of the company's attributes. For example: “Your company is a leader in your industry, is highly competitive, and is also progressive. "
7. Where do you want to be a few years from now?
Find out what opportunities are available to you. If becoming a manager is a realistic goal and you aspire to be a manager, state this as an objective. If management is not a goal for you, let the interviewer know the type of contribution you would like to be making in a few years.
8. How well do you work under pressure?
Give a positive example of how you worked well under pressure in the past. Let the interviewer know that you can handle pressure situations.
9. Why should we hire you?
Tie your answer to the responsibilities of the job. Present qualifications that indicate your ability to solve job-related problems.
10. What are your salary expectations?
Tell the interviewer that the job and organization are most important, but that you would like to make as much as your experience can command. Then ask: “What did you have in mind?" Sometimes you can discover the salary range through research and informational interviewing. You want to avoid giving them a figure that is too high or too low. If you are eventually required to state a number, give a range.
11. How well do you work with others?
Let the interviewer know you can work alone and with others. If the job calls for you to work frequently with others, say that you are a team player. Give specific examples from your experience in paid jobs, classes, or organizations.
12. What do you do in your spare time?
The interviewer may be trying to find out more about your lifestyle and how it will impact the job. Let the interviewer know you live a healthy, positive lifestyle which will not have a negative influence on your job. Say something about extracurricular activities, sports, hobbies, etc. (Don't disclose too much. )
13. What were your biggest accomplishments in your last job?
Tell the interviewer about a few accomplishments, but give the impression that your greatest achievements are still to come.
14. What features of your last job did you like and dislike?
Try to tie in what you liked about other jobs with features that will be present in your new job.
15. What do you think of your last supervisor?
Think of something positive to say about your boss. Never criticize your current or former supervisor, or you may be perceived as someone who has difficulty getting along with others.
16. Can you take criticism?
Let the interviewer know that you can handle criticism without hurt feelings and that you appreciate and learn from constructive criticism.
17. What subjects did you like best in school?
The interviewer is probably probing to find out if there is a relationship between subjects you liked and the job responsibilities. If you're applying to be a journalist and loved math but hated English, the interviewer may wonder whether you are a good match for the job. Emphasize subjects that are related to the job for which you are applying.
18. What have you been doing during the periods that you were unemployed?
It's important to have a good reason for gaps in your job history. Let the interviewer know that you have been looking for a long-term career opportunity, not just any job. Emphasize the commitment you are willing to make and why you want to be part of this company.
19. How much work have you missed in the last year? What do you believe is an acceptable attendance record?
If you missed several days in a year, it is important to have a good reason and to make the point that this is not typical. Say you like to work, you are rarely ill, and that it will be unusual for you to miss work.
20. Describe a tough, work-related problem you have faced.
Tell the interviewer how you typically approach a problem. Give an example of a problem and tell how you solved it.
21. How would you assess your past job progress?
The gist of your answer should be that you have continuously progressed. Give an example illustrating your progress, and let the interviewer know that you foresee greater accomplishments in the future.
22. What are your references like?
It is best to have letters of references from past employers. Express your belief that all of your past employers will give you good references.
23. What kinds of people are difficult for you to work with?
Emphasize your ability to get along well with others. You can say that people who are negative and who don't carry their part of the workload can be annoying. You admire people who are positive and hard-working. (Be genuine with the answer. )
24. Why have you had so many short-term jobs?
If the jobs were a means to an end while working yourself through school, you have a good reason. You can also blame the changes on youth if appropriate. Emphasize the learning experience, the wide array of skills gained, and your readiness for a long-term career opportunity such as this one.
25. Do you have any questions?
You should have a few good questions already prepared that will enable you to determine if you want this job.
Copyright 1996, 2007. Raymond Gerson
Raymond Gerson has a masters in psychology and over forty years experience teaching career and personal development. Career coach, job placement specialist, and former executive recruiter, he also teaches college success strategy courses. He is the author of five books, including Create the Life You Want. Two of his ebooks, How to Create the Job You Want and Effective Job Search Strategies are available as free gifts at http://www.raymondgerson.com along with numerous success strategy and study skills articles.