When you go on a job interview there are a variety of types of interview questions you'll be asked. You'll be asked about your employment history, your ability to work on a team, your leadership skills, your motivation, as well as other interview questions related to your skills and abilities.
Your responses need to be targeted for the job you are interviewing for. Your responses should show the employer why you're a qualified candidate and why you are a fit for the job and the company.
Take the time to prepare for a job interview, in advance, by reviewing the different types of interview questions you'll be asked, as well as by taking a look at sample answers for each type of question.
Tell Me about Yourself. This is first basic question you will be asked.
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.
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.
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.
What applicable skills and 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.
What is Your Greatest Weakness?
When you're asked what your greatest weakness is, try to turn a negative into a positive. For example, a sense of urgency to get projects completed or wanting to triple-check every item in a spreadsheet can be turned into a strength i.e. you are a candidate who will make sure that the project is done on time and your work will be close to perfect.
Note that the term "weakness" isn't used in the sample answers - you always want to focus on the positive when interviewing.
· When I'm working on a project, I don't want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule.
· Being organized wasn't my strongest point, but I implemented a time management system that really helped my organization skills.
· I like to make sure that my work is perfect, so I tend to perhaps spend a little too much time checking it. However, I've come to a good balance by setting up a system to ensure everything is done correctly the first time.
· I used to wait until the last minute to set appointments for the coming week, but I realized that scheduling in advance makes much more sense.
· I would say that I can be too much of a perfectionist in my work. Sometimes, I spend more time than necessary on a task, or take on tasks personally that could easily be delegated to someone else. Although I've never missed a deadline, it is still an effort for me to know when to move on to the next task, and to be confident when assigning others work.
· I've learned to make my perfectionism work to my advantage at work. I am excellent at meeting deadlines, and with my attention to detail, I know my work is correct.
· I used to like to work on one project to its completion before starting on another, but I've learned to work on many projects at the same time, and I think it allows me to be more creative and effective in each one.
What is Your Greatest Strength?
What is your greatest strength?" is one of the easier interview questions you'll be asked. When you are asked questions about your strengths, it's important to discuss attributes that will qualify you for the job. The best way to respond is to describe the skills and experience that directly correlate with the job you are applying for.
· When I'm working on a project, I don't want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule.
· I have exceeded my sales goals every quarter and I've earned a bonus each year since I started with my current employer.
· My time management skills are excellent and I'm organized, efficient, and take pride in excelling at my work.
· I pride myself on my customer service skills and my ability to resolve what could be difficult situations.
How Will Your Greatest Strength Help You Perform?
As a follow up to being asked about your greatest strengths, you may be asked about how your greatest strength helped your performance on the job. When you respond, relate your strengths to both the job description and your ability to perform at work.
· 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.
How Would You Describe Yourself?
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.
· 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. Best answer for QA consultant.
· 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.—Best for IT professional.
Describe the Pace at Which You Work?
When you're asked to describe the pace at which you work, be careful how you respond. This is another question where faster isn't necessarily better. Most employers would rather hire employees who work at a steady pace. Someone who is too slow to get the job done in a reasonable time frame isn't going to be a good hire. Neither is a candidate who works frenetically all day.
Options for answering this question include saying that you work at a steady pace, but usually complete work in advance of the deadline. Discuss your ability to manage projects and get them done on, or ahead, of schedule. If you work at a job where you have set criteria (i.e. number of calls made or responded to) that measures accomplishments, discuss how you have achieved or exceeded those goals
How Do You Handle Stress / Pressure?
A typical interview question, asked to get a sense of how you handle on-the-job stress, is "How do you handle pressure?" Examples of good responses include:
· Stress is very important to me. With stress, I do the best possible job. The appropriate way to deal with stress is to make sure I have the correct balance between good stress and bad stress. I need good stress to stay motivated and productive.
· I react to situations, rather than to stress. That way, the situation is handled and doesn't become stressful.
· I actually work better under pressure and I've found that I enjoy working in a challenging environment.
· From a personal perspective, I manage stress by visiting the gym every evening. It's a great stress reducer.
· Prioritizing my responsibilities so I have a clear idea of what needs to be done when, has helped me effectively manage pressure on the job.
· If the people I am managing are contributing to my stress level, I discuss options for better handling difficult situations with them.
· I find that when I'm under the pressure of a deadline, I can do some of my most creative work.
· I'm not a person who has a difficult time with stress. When I'm under pressure, I focus, and get the job done.
· I find it exhilarating to be in a dynamic environment where the pressure is on.
· I find a past pace to be invigorating, and thrive when the pressure is on.
· I've done some of my best work under tight deadlines, where the atmosphere was very stressful.
· I'm the kind of person who stays calm under pressure, and handles stress fairly easily.
It's a good idea to give examples of how you have handled stress to your interviewer. That way, they get a clear picture how well you can work in stressful situations
What Motivates You?
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.
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.
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 type of work environment do you prefer?
When you are asked about work environments, your best bet is to say you're flexible because, at this stage in the interview process, you don't know what it will be like working for the company.
I can be flexible when it comes to my work environment. What is the environment in the Engineering department here at RRS, Inc? (Once they've described the work environment, include key phrases they've used when you describe your preferred work environment).
Describe a Time When Your Workload was Heavy?
A typical interview question to discover how you manage your work is "Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it."
While at the HKL plant, we were faced with a sudden order increase for the j-ball bearing. It was for a new customer. I immediately sat down with the production supervisor, our materials/supply manager, and the union steward. We were able to lay out a workable plan that maximized hourly costs, guaranteed materials were available and, with only a slight adjustment, meet the production deadline. While it was challenging and involved long hours, the pay-off was a signed contract with a new customer.
When I was working on a software implementation team at ABC Company, we took over another company and had to transition many clients to a new product in a short amount of time. It took a lot of planning, time, hard work, and effort, but we were able to complete the project in a timely manner.
Why Should We Hire You?
A typical interview question, asked to get your opinion, or to validate the interviewer's opinion, on why you would be the best candidate for the position, is "Why should we hire you?"
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.
What Can You Contribute to the Company?
A typical interview question to discover how hiring you would benefit the company is "What can you contribute to this company?"
The best way to answer questions about your contributions to the company is to give examples of what you have accomplished in the past, and to relate them to what you can achieve in the future.
Describe specific examples of how effective you have been in your other positions, change you have implemented, and goals you have achieved. Talk about the depth and breadth of related experience that you have.
Also, relate your abilities to the employer's goals. You will want to let the interviewer know that you have the skills necessary to do the job they are hiring for, the ability effectively meet challenges, and the flexibility and diplomacy to work well with other employees and with management.
· I'm a hard worker with the experience to get things done efficiently.
· I can contribute my organizational skills and my ability to work well in a group.
· I have the experience, contacts, and knowledge to contribute to the rapid growth of this business.
· Vision. I am experienced in the areas this company needs to grow, and my ability to plan ahead will help facilitate that growth.
Why Do You Want to Work Here? This will be asked for direct hire
A typical interview question, asked to ensure that you are seriously interested in the job and the company, and to find out how much you know about the company, is "Why do you want to work here?"
The best way to answer this question is, first of all, to be prepared and knowledgeable about the company. Spend some time researching the company (the About Us section of the web site is a good place to start) so you can talk about the benefits of working for this employer.
Compare your goals with objectives of the company and the position, then reiterate why you would be an asset to the employer. Let the interviewer know what you can do for the company, if you get a job offer.
Even though the question is about why you want to work here, you still need to convince the interviewer that hiring you will benefit the company.
Here are sample answers you can use to frame your own response:
· This company is internationally known for its (widgets), and my experience in the (marketing/planning/production/etc.) of (widgets) has me intrigued by the opportunity this position presents.
· The businesses in this area are known for their commitment to the community, and I would like the opportunity to participate in making this a better place to live.
· I am a (widget) connoisseur, and would love the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for (widgets) with customers.
If you have three contract offers, which company do u choose and why? – think answer for this.
What Challenges Are you Looking For?
A typical interview question to determine what you are looking for your in next job, and whether you would be a good fit for the position being hired for, is "What challenges are you looking for in a position?"
The best way to answer questions about the challenges you are seeking is to discuss how you would like to be able to effectively utilize your skills and experience if you were hired for the job.
You can also mention that you are motivated by challenges, have the ability to effectively meet challenges, and have the flexibility and skills necessary to handle a challenging job.
You can continue by describing specific examples of challenges you have met and goals you have achieved in the past.
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