Interview Tips & Sample Questions
The interview is when employers will get to know your personality, interests, goals, and objectives. You will no longer be a list of skills and experiences on a piece of paper; this is your opportunity to give specific examples and anecdotes and explain how these experiences make you the perfect candidate for the position. It is the perfect time to demonstrate your interest in the position and your knowledge about the company and the industry. This is the time for the employer to find out who you are, so be yourself.
What Employers Are Looking For:
Interviews can be very stressful, but the best way to overcome this is to be prepared and know what employers are looking for:
- Job candidates with a definite idea of their goals, objectives, strengths, and skills.
- Candidates who are knowledgeable about the position they are interviewing for, the company and its products, and the industry overall.
- Candidates who can match their own skills and experiences with the needs of the company.
- Candidates who are confident in themselves and their ability to contribute to the company.
- Candidates who can discuss past experiences and give specific examples that demonstrate their skills and accomplishments.
Another way to decrease the stress of an interview is to prepare beforehand. Review your resume and make sure you know your skills, experiences, goals, interests, accomplishments, and objectives inside and out. You'll be asked a lot of open-ended questions, and you will need to be able to give specific examples and articulate yourself clearly and concisely.
Familiarize yourself with the most common Questions Asked by an Employer. Develop answers to these questions, but do not memorize your answers. Make sure all of your responses are positive and highlight your skills and accomplishments. When asked about difficult or negative experiences, describe those experiences as learning experiences.
During the interview, the employer will not be the only person asking questions; you are expected to ask questions throughout the interview, as well as at the end when the inevitable question is asked: "So, do you have any questions for me?" Always ask questions. If the employer has answered all of your questions already, come up with something else to ask about. Your questions can demonstrate your interest in the position and your knowledge about the company and industry. Keep your entire questions job related.
TIPS FOR INTERVIEW:
Here are a few suggestions on how to approach the interview process:
- Research the company. It is good to become familiar with the organization, the position and the person who may be your boss. Try to match your skills and experience to the position you are seeking.
- Look good. First impressions are lasting, so make it count. Projecting a confident and professional image is essential. Dress professionally, but don't overdo it with jewelry or excessive perfume or cologne.
- Know the location of the interview. Consider driving/ arriving at the location in advance. Rushing around trying to find the facility can add to your nervousness.
- Know your resume. Be prepared to discuss and defend every aspect of your education and career experience.
- Focus more on the interview, less on the job. There's time to evaluate the job and whether you want it after the interviewer has learned about you. For now, your goal is to get invited back for a second interview or an offer. Then you can decide if the job is just what you want.
- Talk about your previous contributions. Prospective employers are interested in knowing how you made a difference in your previous job. In a way, you need to convince the interviewer that you're the answer to the company's needs.
- Look for ways to sell yourself. Seize opportunities to tell the prospective employer how good you are. Be careful not to boast, but speak confidently about your skills.
- Don't overdo it. Choose your words carefully and don't talk too much. Most people only retain 20 percent of what they hear. Select your words, speak clearly and get to the point.
- Avoid fear by visualizing the interview. It's just an interview, not the gallows, so imagine the experience in advance. Try to visualize various things like your clothing, items to bring, physical presentation, eye contact, body language, etc.
- Listen carefully. Pause briefly after each question before you respond to be sure the interviewer has finished speaking. Answer questions directly and concisely. If you don't understand, ask for clarification.
- Bring your questions. You also are interviewing the company, too. Start with questions about the organization and move to career growth, working conditions, etc. Save benefits and compensation for last.
- Write down important data. Get the names and titles of the people with whom you interview. Be sure the spelling is correct, as you may need the information later.
- Don't run away. After the interview, don't just hop up and head down the hall. Try to leave a good final impression by letting the interviewer know you really want the job and that you're ready to move to the next step in the employment process. If that doesn't feel right, simply ask about the next step in the process.
- Obtain resources. Grab an annual report, product information or other data that will give you a better picture of the company and the kind of work you might be doing.
- Don't become invisible. Following the interview there is a way in which you can be contacted, even if you are out of town.
TYPICAL QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
Here is a list of the repeated questions that relate to almost any type of job. Please note that an interviewer may also ask questions that relate to the specific position that you are applying for.
Tell something about yourself.
The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a short statement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed. Limit it to work-related items unless instructed otherwise. Talk about things you have done and jobs you have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest back and work up to the present. Since this is often the opening question in an interview, be extra careful that you don't run off at the mouth. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover five topics including personal introduction, early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject. Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question. Don't waste your best points on it.
What is your greatest / best strength? Or, what is your strength?
For this question numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples may be a) Your ability to prioritize, b) Your problem-solving skills, c) Your ability to work under pressure, d) Your ability to focus on projects, e) Your professional expertise, f) Your leadership skills, g) Your positive attitude towards works etc., in addition to your strong academic background.
Tell something about your weakness. Or what are your weakness?
The interviewer who asks this question is looking to see how honest you are with yourself, and how well you deal with your own shortcomings.
Bit of a tricky question this, after all no one wants to show their weaknesses but we all have them. Don't pretend you don't have weaknesses, and don't avoid answering the question. This is your chance to show that you are honest and take responsibility for your actions.
A good way to answer this question is to mention your weakness, then tell what you have done to overcome that weakness. If you have been disorganized in the past, you could say, "I used to be very disorganized, always forgetting assignments and birthdays. But I managed to work out a computerized system of to-do lists and reminders that keeps me on top of everything. "You could also say, I don't have straight way transport or bus service from my residence to the office. So, during the rainy days I had difficulties in finding a rickshaw to reach the bus stop and I would get late, occasionally. Now on the raining days, I get up earlier in the morning and rush out to my office to reach on time."
The most comprehensive way of dealing with this question is to try and turn it into a "positive" from a "negative".
Do you consider yourself successful?
You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A good explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are on track to achieve the others.
What do you know about this organization?
This question is one reason to do some research on the organization before the interview. Find out where they have been and where they are going. You should be able to discuss products or services, revenues, reputation, image, goals, problems, management style, people, history and philosophy. But don't act as if you know everything about the place. Let your answer show that you have taken the time to do some research, but don't try to overwhelm the interviewer, and make it clear that you wish to learn more. You might start your answer in this manner: "In my job search, I've investigated a number of companies. Yours is one of the few that interests me, for these reasons..."
Give your answer a positive tone. Don't say, "Well, everyone tells me that you're in all sorts of trouble, and that's why I'm here", even if that is why you're there.
Are you applying for other jobs?
Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is a distraction.
Why do you want to work for this organization?
This may take some thought and certainly, should be based on the research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely important here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-term career goals.
Your resume suggests that you may be over-qualified or too experienced for this position. What's your opinion?
Emphasize your interest in establishing a long-term association with the organization, and say that you assume that if you perform well in his job, new opportunities will open up for you. Mention that a strong company needs a strong staff. Observe that experienced executives are always at a premium. Suggest that since you are so well qualified, the employer will get a fast return on his investment. Say that a growing, energetic company can never have too much talent.
What important trends do you see in our industry?
Be prepared with two or three trends that illustrate how well you understand your industry. You might consider technological challenges or opportunities, economic conditions, or even regulatory demands as you collect your thoughts about the direction in which your business is heading.
How do you handle stress and 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/ walking a mile 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.
Why did you leave your last job?
Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-looking reasons.
What experience do you have in this field?
Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for. If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.
What kind of salary do you need?
A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose if you answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something like, "that's a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position?"
In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not, say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide range. If you are asked the question during an initial screening interview, you might say that you feel you need to know more about the position's responsibilities before you could give a meaningful answer to that question. Here, too, either by asking the interviewer or 'Executive Search firm' (if one is involved), or in research done as part of your homework, you can try to find out whether there is a salary grade attached to the job. If there is, and if you can live with it, say that the range seems right to you. But whenever possible, say as little as you can about salary until you reach the "final" stage of the interview process. At that point, you know that the company is genuinely interested in you and that it is likely to be flexible in salary negotiations.
Are you a team player?
You are, of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.
Explain how you would be an asset to this organization.
You should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the position being discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.
Tell me about your dream job.
Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job you are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say another job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with this position if hired. The best is to stay generic and say something like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and can't wait to get to work.
What is more important to you: the money or the work?
Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is no better answer.
What has disappointed you about a job?
Don't get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include:
Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction Company did not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.
Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.
You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an example that relates to the type of position applied for.
What motivates you to do your best on the job?
This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are:
Challenge, Achievement, Recognition
Would you be willing to relocate if required?
You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say "yes" just to get the job if the real answer is "no". This can create a lot of problems later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself future grief.
What have you learned from mistakes on the job?
Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make it up, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. An example would be "working too far ahead of colleagues on a project and thus throwing coordination off".
What do you look for when you hire people?
Think in terms of skills, initiative, and the adaptability to be able to work comfortably and effectively with others. Mention that you like to hire people who appear capable of moving up in the organization.
What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a manager or executive?
Mention planning, execution, and cost-control. The most difficult task is to motivate and manage employees to get something planned and completed on time and within the budget.
Why are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) job? (if there is one)
Be brief, to the point, and as honest as you can without hurting yourself. Refer back to the planning phase of your job search. Where you considered this topic as you set your reference statements. If you were laid off in an across-the-board cutback, say so; otherwise, indicate that the move was your decision, the result of your action. Do not mention personality conflicts. The interviewer may spend some time probing you on this issue, particularly if it is clear that you were terminated. The "We agreed to disagree" approach may be useful. Remember that your references are likely to be checked, so don't make-up a story for an interview.
In your current (last) position, what features do (did) you like the most? The least?
Be careful and be positive. Describe more features that you liked than disliked. Don't cite personality problems. If you make your last job sound terrible, an interviewer may wonder why you remained there until now.
What do you think of your boss?
Be as positive as you can. A potential boss is likely to wonder if you might talk about him in similar terms at some point in the future.
What are your long-range goals?
Refer back to the planning phase of your job search. Don't answer, "I want the job you've advertised." Relate your goals to the company you are interviewing: 'in a firm like yours, I would like to..."
Do you have any questions for me?
Always have some questions prepared. Questions prepared where you will be an asset to the organization are good. How soon will I be able to be productive? and What type of projects will I be able to assist on? Are examples.
Where do you expect your career to be in 10 years?
(Be careful here. You do not want to give the impression that you're simply using this company as a stepping-stone to another career. Think of a related managerial position within the company that would interest you.)
There is a story about a young accountant who was asked this question by a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) firm during an interview. The young accountant replied that he saw himself as the comptroller of a large corporation. In other words, "I'm just using your firm to teach me and then after you spend your resources training me, I will leave to go work for someone else." Needless to say, he was not offered a position with the CPA firm. They know that 75% of the people they hire will leave within 10 years, but they do not want to hire someone who comes in with that plan.
Describe your Management style.
Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive, salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the situation, instead of one size fits all.
You can never be sure exactly what will happen at an interview, but you can be prepared for common interview questions. Take time to think about your answers now. You might even write them down to clarify your thinking. The key to all interview questions is to be honest, and to be positive. Focus your answers on skills and abilities that apply to the job you are seeking. BEST OF LUCK.