Câu hỏi và trả lời phỏng vấn xin việc bằng tiếng anh dành cho các ứng cử viên
Để chuẩn bị cho một buổi phỏng vấn tuyển dụng bằng tiếng Việt đã khó, bạn sẽ phải đầu tư gấp nhiều lần thời gian cho buổi phỏng vấn tuyển dụng bằng tiếng Anh.
Hãy nắm vững những từ khóa thường gặp.
- strengths /’streɳθ/: Thế mạnh
- weakness /´wi:knis/: Điểm yếu
- align /ə´lain/: sắp xếp
- analytical nature /¸ænə´litikl neitʃə/: kỹ năng phân tích
- problem-solving /’prɔbləm sɑ:lv/: giải quyết vấn đề
- describe /dɪˈskraɪb/: mô tả
- work style /wɜ:k stail/: phong cách làm việc
- important /im’pɔ:tənt/: quan trọng
- challenged /’tʃælənʤ/: sự thách thức
- under pressure /’ʌndə preʃə/: chịu áp lực
- tight deadlines /tait dɛdˌlaɪn/: thời hạn chót gần kề
- manager /ˈmænәdʒər/: quản lý
- goal oriented: có mục tiêu
- responsibility: nhiều trách nhiệm
Hãy tìm hiểu về những câu hỏi thường gặp.
- What are your strengths? – Câu hỏi về điểm mạnh
- What are your short-term goals? – Câu hỏi về mục tiêu ngắn hạn
- Could you introduce a little about yourself? – Câu hỏi đề nghị giới thiệu bản thân
- What are your long term goals? – Câu hỏi về mục tiêu lâu dài
- Why should we hire you? – Tại sao chúng tôi nên tuyển bạn?
- What do you think makes you a good fit for this company? – Câu hỏi yêu cầu bạn đưa ra những lý do mà công ty nên thuê mình
- How would you describe your work style? – Câu hỏi về phong cách làm việc
Tìm hiểu về những thông tin liên quan đến ngành nghề kinh doanh và đối thủ cạnh tranh trên các báo tiếng Anh.
Những từ vựng chuyên ngành liên quan đến hoạt động của công ty sẽ gây ấn tượng với nhà phỏng vấn, cho thấy bạn có sự đầu tư và chuẩn bị kỹ càng trước buổi gặp mặt.
Basic Interview Questions I
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What are your short term goals?
- What are your long term goals?
- What do you want to be doing five years from now?
- If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be and why?
- What does success mean to you?
- What does failure mean to you?
- Are you an organized person?
- In what ways are you organized and disorganized?
- Do you manage your time well?
- How do you handle change?
- How do you make important decisions?
- Do you work well under pressure?
Basic Interview Questions II
- Are you better at anticipating or reacting to problems
- Are you a risk taker or do you like to stay away from risks?
- Why should I hire you?
- Tell me about Q’s… / Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
- Tell me about a time you made a good decision.
- Tell me about a time you made a poor decision.
- Tell me about a time you fired someone.
- Tell me about a time you hired someone.
- Tell me about a time you failed to complete an assignment on time.
- Tell me about a time you found a solution to save the company money.
- Tell me about a time you aimed too high.
- Tell me about a time you aimed too low.
- Tell me about a time you made a great sale.
- Tell me about a time you went over budget.
School Related Interview Questions
- What extracurricular activities were you involved in?
- Why did you choose your major?
- If you redo college again, what would you major in?
- What course did you like the most?
- What course did you like the least?
- How will your performance in your worst class affect your performance on this job?
- How would your best friend describe you?
- How would your professor describe you?
- How would your mother describe you?
- Why are you applying for a job that you didn’t major in?
- During college, how did you spend your summer vacations?
- What did you learn from your internship?
- Did you do any internships?
- If you could learn something such as a new skill, what would it be?
Work Related Interview Questions I
- If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?
- During your performance reviews, what criticism do you hear the most?
- Tell me about your last three positions?
- Tell me about your last position?
- What is your management philosophy?
- What was your favorite job?
- Tell me about the best manager you ever had.
- Tell me about the worst manager you ever had.
- What could you have done to improve your relationship with a manager you didn’t like?
- What were the most memorable accomplishments in your last position?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- Where did you tell your boss you were going?
- Are you currently employed at the last place listed on your resume?
- What is the title of the person you report to?
- In your previous position, how much time did you spend …
- If you don’t leave your current job, what do you imagine you will be doing in several years?
- If you’re very happy with your current job, why do you want to leave?
Work Related Interview Questions II
- If you have problems or complaints with your current job, why haven’t you brought it to their attention?
- Give me a specific example at your last position where…
- What do you feel an employer owes an employee?
- What do you expect from your manager?
- Would you like to have your boss’s job?
- What did you hear about us?
- What do you know about our product?
- Have you managed people in any of the positions you’ve held?
- What types of people do you have trouble getting along with?
- Who do you think are our two major competitors?
- Why do you like sales?
- Do you see that stapler? Convince me to buy it.
- How long have you been looking for a job?
- Why haven’t you received any offers so far?
- If you don’t understand your assignment and you can’t reach your boss, what would you do?
Work Related Interview Questions III
- If everyone on the team is a veteran, what will you do to fit in?
- How do you intend to learn what you need to know to perform well for this job?
- If your supervisor tells you to do something that you believe can be done in a different way, what would you do?
- If you’re told to do something that you feel is illegal, what would you do?
- If you were unfairly criticized, what would you do?
- What are you looking to gain from your next job?
- What aspects of this job interest you the most?
- If you are given work from your manager that is boring and tedious, what will you do?
- How long do you plan on staying with this company?
- How do you explain the fact that you frequently change jobs?
- Tell me about a time you had a big disagreement with your boss.
- What do you do when there is no work to do?
- What do you do when there are too many things to do?
- What do you do when you feel burned out?
- How do you balance both your family and your job?
- You’ve been with one company your entire career. Don’t you think you will have a tough time adjusting to a new environment?
- What have you heard about our company that you didn’t like?
- Do you want to work for a small or large company and why?
Working With People Interview Quetions
- What do you do when you’re having difficulty solving a problem?
- What do you do when you have a problem with a direct?
- What do you do when you have a problem with your boss?
- What do you do when you have a problem with your job?
- What do you do when you have a problem with a co-worker?
- How do you handle conflict?
- Have you fired anyone?
- What do you do when a worker is giving the team more problems then helping?
- When do you know enough is enough when dealing with a subordinate that doesn’t seem to be helping?
- Do you like to work by yourself or with others?
- How do you get along…
Miscellaneous Interview Questions
- What do you do to stay in shape?
- What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?
- What’s the most recent book you read?
- What is the most recent movie you saw?
- Did you have any trouble finding this place?
- Will working on weekends be a problem?
- How do you feel about overtime?
- Have you filed for bankruptcy?
- Do you own or rent your home?
- Do you have any outside income?
- Do you earn any income from investments or hobbies?
- Are you willing to travel?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- May I contact your current employer?
- May I contact your references?
- Is there anything else you want to add?
- What kind of salary are you looking for?
- That’s a high salary for this position! Where did you come up with that figure?
- How much do you currently get paid?
- When are you able to start?
- Are you considering any other offers right now?
- Asking Questions
Câu trả lời phỏng vấn xin việc mẫu
Basic Interview Questions I
“Tell me a little about yourself.”
You should take this opportunity to show your communication skills by speaking clearly and concisely in an organized manner. Because there is no right or wrong answer for this question, it is important to appear friendly.
“I attended MIT where I majored in Electrical Engineering. My hobbies include basketball, reading novels, and hiking.”
“I grew up in Korea and studied accounting. I worked at an accounting firm for two years and I enjoy bicycling and jogging.”
“I’m an easy going person that works well with everyone. I enjoy being around different types of people and I like to always challenge myself to improve at everything I do.”
“I’m a hard worker and I like to take on a variety of challenges. I like pets, and in my spare time, I like to relax and read the newspaper.”
“I’ve always liked being balanced. When I work, I want to work hard. And outside of work, I like to engage in my personal activities such as golfing and fishing.”
“I went to the University of Washington and majored in English Literature. I went to graduate school because I really enjoyed learning. Afterwards, I started my career at Boeing as a web content editor. I’ve been there for 3 years now. Although my emphasis is in writing, I like numbers. I think solving logic problems and riddles are quite fun. I also enjoy jogging, reading, and watching movies.”
There is no right or wrong answer for this question. Most important thing you should remember is how you deliver the message. The example above shows a short answer telling a little bit about the person. The answer went from education to career, and then to personal interests all in a smooth flow.
“What are your strengths?”
This is a popular interview question. They want to know what you think of yourself. Although this is a general question, there is a wrong and right answer. The wrong answer is a generic answer saying you are organized and friendly. Although it will not hurt you during the interview, it will certainly not help you either. Answer this question based on the type of job you are applying for.
Short Answers “I believe my strongest trait is my attention to detail. This trait has helped me tremendously in this field of work.”
“I’ve always been a great team player. I’m good at keeping a team together and producing quality work in a team environment.”
“After having worked for a couple of years, I realized my strength is accomplishing a large amount of work within a short period of time. I get things done on time and my manager always appreciated it.”
“My strongest trait is in customer service. I listen and pay close attention to my customer’s needs and I make sure they are more than satisfied.”
Let’s say I am interviewing for a management position. You should mention traits that are important for managers.
“A couple strengths I have are planning and execution, and working with people. I’ve always been very good at planning and detailing all the steps. Even in college, I would spend time organizing my week and planning a strategy to tackle each class or assignment. Executing a plan has always come easy for me as well. I believe it’s due to proper planning. I also work with people very well in a way where I use the strengths of each individual in a team to produce the best results. Because of my easy going personality, I’ve been told by my directs that it’s easy to approach me.”
If you are applying for an accounting position, you should mention strong traits an accountant should have and claim them to be yours.
“I’m very detail oriented, good at managing time, and very honest. I always incorporate managing time and being detailed together. By nature I’ve been detail oriented, and that resulted in taking too much time on a particular task. After incorporating time management into the mix, I found that my work and efficiency increased dramatically.
I plan better and produce higher quality work in a time constraint environment. Finally, I’m a very honest person. When I was working as a valet attendant during college, a lady gave me a twenty dollar bill to pay for the three dollar fee. She almost drove off the lot, but I stopped her and said here is your change. My co-workers said I should have considered the change as tip, but I know what I did was honest and right. You can fool other people, but you can’t fool yourself. That’s what I believe.”
The second example can seem a little wordy. But the power of an example is greater than any great words you can string together. Everyone can claim they are honest, but with an example, it is much more believable.
“What are your weaknesses?”
For this answer, you should display a weakness that can be seen as a strength. There are many types of answers that will work. Some answers will be good answers for certain jobs, while the same answer will be a bad answer for a different job. Select an answer that will work for the position you are applying for. Here are a few examples.
Short Answers “This might be bad, but in college I found that I procrastinated a lot. I realized this problem, and I’m working on it by finishing my work ahead of schedule.”
“I feel my weakness is not being detail oriented enough. I’m a person that wants to accomplish as much as possible. I realized this hurts the quality and I’m currently working on finding a balance between quantity and quality.”
“I feel my English ability is my weakest trait. I know this is only a temporary problem. I’m definitely studying hard to communicate more effectively.”
“The weakest trait I struggled with was not asking for help. I always try to solve my own problems instead of asking a co-worker who might know the answer. This would save me more time and I would be more efficient. I’m working on knowing when it would be beneficial to ask for help.”
“I think my weakest trait is my impatience. Whenever I work in a team and a member is not performing up to my expectations, I can get impatient and annoyed. I understand if they are working hard and their portion is difficult, but sometimes a person can’t do the assignment due to incompetence or laziness. A while back I would get frustrated and start complaining, but I realized that I can help out by explaining things to some people and encouraging lazy people by reminding them of deadlines. I know it’s bad to be impatient, but I’m definitely working on it.”
“I’m too detail oriented. I never want to leave anything out and I want everything to be perfect. This is bad because it slows down my work. Initially, I tried to work faster to compensate, but that only made me sloppy. So I decided to put more emphasis on priority and planning. By doing so, I’m hoping that I can make the proper decisions on what to work on and what to intentionally leave out.”
Both of these examples show an answer that is acceptable. Although being impatient is not good, it shows that you are a quick learner and that you like efficiency. The second displays a person that is detail oriented, which can be seen as a good trait. Finally, both answers identify the weakness and show the actions of correcting it.
“What are your short term goals?”
This question primarily depends on where you are in your career. A person with 5 years of experience will have different short term goals than a person with no work experience. I’ll give an example for both scenarios. But first, here are some short answers.
“My short term goal is to find a position where I can use the knowledge and strengths that I have. I want to partake in the growth and success of the company I work for.”
“I’ve learned the basics of marketing during my first two years. I want to take the next step by taking on challenging projects. My short term goal is to grow as a marketing analyst.” “As a program manager, it’s important to understand all areas of the project. Although I have the technical abilities to be successful in my job, I want to learn different software applications that might help in work efficiency.”
“My goal is to always perform at an exceptional level. But a short term goal I have set for myself is to implement a process that increases work efficiency.”
“My short term goal is to learn everything I can about marketing. I want to find a position where I can contribute what I’ve learned through education and to gain real life experience. I believe the next couple of years will be very important to me and my immediate goal is to learn and become skilled in all aspects of marketing.”
“My short term goal is to get into a management position. The last five years of my career, I’ve concentrated on learning and acquiring all the skills needed to perform excellent work. Recently, I’ve taken more responsibilities in management because I eventually want to become a sales manager. I’m excited about the last few assignments I completed because it involved working with vendors and partners while managing a small group of workers. So I hope to be in a management position within a year or two and I feel I’m doing a diligent job by volunteering for extra work to gain more experience.”
The first example is a person straight out of school. Learning is a good short term goal to have because it shows that you will be trying hard in your job. The second example is more detailed because that person has several years of experience. Anybody can say they want a management position, but this candidate is taking it a step further by showing the steps he is taking to achieve the short term goal. Thus, it becomes a stronger answer.
“What are your long term goals?”
This question is asked to see how serious a candidate is about his or her career. Some people might not know their long term goals, and some people might have long term goals of becoming rich and retiring early. Those are incorrect answers for this question. The type of answer you want to give is an ambitious answer that shows you really love your career. A good interviewer will read between the lines and find out if a person is going to be a hard worker or just a mediocre one. Being descriptive and shooting for a big goal is something interviewers want to hear.
“I would like to become a director or higher. This might be a little ambitious, but I know I’m smart, and I’m willing to work hard.”
“After a successful career, I would love to write a book on office efficiency. I think working smart is important and I have many ideas. So after gaining more experience, I’m going to try to write a book.”
“I’ve always loved to teach. I like to grow newer employees and help co-workers where ever I can. So in the future, I would love to be an instructor.”
“I want to become a valued employee of a company. I want to make a difference and I’m willing to work hard to achieve this goal. I don’t want a regular career, I want a special career that I can be proud of.”
“My long term goal is to become a partner for a consulting firm. I know the hard work involved in achieving this goal, and I know that many people fail to become a partner. That’s not going to stop me from working hard, learning everything I can, and contributing to a company where I’ll become a valuable asset. I know it’s not a guarantee, but becoming a partner is a long term goal of mine, and I going to work towards this goal throughout my career.”
This example shows a candidate with a big goal. This person identifies the difficulty of the goal and shows the steps required to achieve this goal. Despite the difficulty, this candidate shows he or she will not get discouraged with difficult situations and will never give up. It is a short answer that goes a long way.
“What do you want to be doing five years from now?”
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
This is a similar question to the short term question, but you should answer it a little differently. Here are some examples.
“In five years, I see myself as a valued employee of a company. I want to be an expert at my position and start training to be a manager.”
“In five years, I want to be a senior analyst. I want my expertise to directly impact the company in a positive way.”
“My goal is to become a lead in five years. Although not everyone gets promoted to this level, I believe I can achieve this goal through hard work.”
“Although I really enjoy working hands on as a mechanical engineer, I want to eventually become a manager. I want to continue gaining experience, and after learning many different aspects, I see myself in management.”
“Five years from now, I would like to see myself in a management position. I’m going to be learning and gaining practical experience until then, but eventually, I want to become a marketing manager. I know there are a lot of things to learn, but I’m going to be working hard for the next five years. I believe opportunities come to great workers and I’m going to try to be one of them.”
“Five years from now, I want to be a senior sales manager. I’m currently training to become a manager, and if I continue to work hard, I feel I’ll have a management position soon. After gaining several years of experience as a sales manager, I want to be in a position where I can train and provide my expertise
to newer sales managers.”
Both answers display characteristics of working hard. The second example also mentions that he or she wants to train newer managers. This is a good answer because it targets one good trait about upper management… the ability to train managers.
“If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be and why?”
This question is another variation to the weakness question. You can provide a similar type of question unless it is the same person asking them. To answer this question, think of a person you respect and the trait they have that you really like. I used to have a manager that was very patient and explained things very carefully. I really liked this trait, so I’m going to provide the long answer by using this example. But first, let’s look at some short answers.
“I get easily frustrated at people who don’t work very hard. But I know people have different work styles and different work habits. So if I could change something, I would like to be more understanding.”
“I have high expectations and I have these expectations on others. I think if I was more understanding, I could help other workers improve instead of being disappointed.”
“I would like to be more of a risk taker. I always do my work and complete it at an exceptional level, but sometimes taking a risk can make the work even better. I’m working on this by thinking the issue through and weighing the pros and cons.”
“I would like to be more of an extrovert. I’m a little quiet and a little closer to the introvert side. I would like to change this because I would appear more friendly.”
“I wish I was more patient with people. I remember a manager I had a couple of years ago. He was very patient with everyone. Even workers that were not that smart and failed to understand a concept to perform the job. I remember thinking how can this person who can’t understand this concept continue to work here. My manager took a different approach. He was understanding of this worker and explained the concept in a different way.
He even explained how to view problems from a different perspective. That helped this worker and in time that worker became a strong contributor. So if I could change one thing about me, I would like to be more patient and understanding. I’m taking the steps to change for the better by remembering the actions of my past manager whenever I’m in a similar situation.”
This is a little long, but if you can speak smoothly, it shows off your communication skills. Also, the content of the answer is not that bad. They want a personality problem, and this answer is showing impatience while indicating that you understand difficult concepts easily. It also shows that you are working on correcting the bad behavior.
“What does success mean to you?”
There are many things you can say. This type of question doesn’t have a wrong answer. All answers will be correct. So the best answer is how good you can make the answer. A mediocre answer will be something like completing a project on time. You can say this, but add another twist to make the answer a little better. Here is an example.
“To me, success means to have a goal, plan the steps to achieve the goal, implement the plan, and finally achieve the goal.”
“Success means to achieve a goal I have set for myself.”
“Success means to produce high quality work before the deadline.”
“Success to me is knowing that my contributions positively impacted my company.”
“Success to me means completing a task and when looking back, thinking I couldn’t have done it better. To succeed is to complete a task or assignment on time in an excellent manner. But that’s only half of it. The results should be good and the people involved should gain a valuable lesson or experience. For example, if it was a group project, and only two people out of four really did the work,
I wouldn’t call that success. If everyone participated and worked together providing a valuable deliverable then it’s a success. So I think both the result and the process should be great to call something a success.”
This answer is showing that you believe in delivering great quality work. Moreover, it is implying how much you value team work. If you value teamwork highly, then it is safe to assume that you would make a great team player.
“What does failure mean to you?”
This is quite simple. I don’t see many right answers so this is what I suggest. You can believe in two of the following. One, you believe that failure is not achieving your goal no matter what. Or two, you can believe failure is only when nothing is learned from the failure. I believe in the latter, but you don’t have to agree with me.
“Failure is when I do not reach my goal.”
“I think to fail at something is making a mistake and not learning anything from it.”
“To me, failure means to have a goal and not do anything about it.”
“I think failure is not reaching your potential. If you do not use the resources you have and the resources around you, that’s failure because the work or goal could have been done better.”
“I think it’s harder to fail than it is to succeed. The reason is, if you fail in a project, you can learn a valuable lesson from your mistake. Learning from the mistake will allow you to improve future projects, or to simply not repeat them.
Just because I believe this, doesn’t mean I believe it’s acceptable to fail at a project, but just in case, I would try to learn everything I can… even when the end result wasn’t that good. So, failure to me means making a mistake and having learned nothing from it.”
Nobody wants a failure. So you can feel that answering like this will be risky. However, this is a solid answer that most people agree with. If the person doesn’t like this answer, then you might not want to work for this person. Everyone fails and if you work for someone who doesn’t tolerate failure, then you will be in a difficult situation.
Even vice presidents of large corporations will believe that learning from mistakes is a valuable lesson. This answer also states that you will do you best not to fail, but just in case, you want to gain something from your experience.
“Are you an organized person?”
You can think that this question is stupid. Actually, I do. Everyone will say they are organized. Who will admit otherwise? You should know that everyone will say similar things. Take this time to be creative with your answer. You can use these types of questions to leave a strong impression with a creative answer.
Or, if you are not creative, then the best way to answer this question is with an example. Using a story is more believable and easier to remember. Feel free to mix in a little humor to make it more memorable.
“I’m a very organized person. I like to know exactly what I’m going to do for the day and the week. So I outline my tasks and organize my work load. By doing so, I can organize my time and work better.”
“I believe I’m very organized. I like to organize my work by priority and deadlines. I do this so I can produce the highest quality work in the amount of time I have.”
“I think I’m quite organized. I like my documents and papers in a way where I can retrieve them quickly. I also organize my work in a way where it’s easy to see exactly what I’m doing.”
“Organization has always come easy to me. I naturally organize things like my desk, time, assignments, and work without thinking about them. This helps me tremendously during times when I’m approaching a deadline.”
“I’m actually a very organized person. It’s funny that you mention this because just the other day, my roommate wanted to borrow my suitcase and saw my closet. He made fun of me for organizing my clothes by length and color. I’m like that with everything. It’s just so much easier to manage things. However, I’m not picky and don’t need to have things in a certain way. I just want things to be organized. So yes, I consider myself organized.”
This example should only be done if you are confident with your communication abilities. If you appear awkward or if you sound like you are reading this type of answer, it could have a negative effect. Instead, you should make a generic answer if you are uncomfortable with this type of answer.
The Following 2 Users
“In what ways are you organized and disorganized?”
This is another variation to the previous question. This question is a little better because the question wants you to identify an area you are disorganized. Make sure to emphasize the organized portion of the answer. If you are truly an organized person, then it is really tough thinking about an area you are disorganized. So thinking ahead of time will allow you to make a good impression with a solid answer.
“I’m very organized with my time and work, but my desk is a little disorganized.”
“Since I work with many files, I like to keep my desk organized. I always have everything in a certain place so I can find things easier. The area I’m disorganized is probably my computer desktop. I usually have so many icons everywhere. I should organize it a little, but I’ve never needed to.”
“I organize my schedule the best. I’m used to many meetings so it’s important for me to be organized with my schedule and time. The area I need to improve is probably my file cabinet. I started to sort things alphabetically, but when I’m busy, I start putting things in there. It started getting hard to find things, but this is something I’m going to fix.”
“Oh… that’s a good question. Well, I’m organized in almost everything I do. I’m very organized with my schedule and time. I like to work efficiently, and being organized with my time helps me. The area I feel I’m disorganized is probably my desk. I like to work fast and don’t keep my desk area as tidy as some people I know.
This however doesn’t prevent me from doing my job well. You know some people can have files and paper all over their desk but some how know exactly where everything is located. I think I’m one of those people. However, if I know I’m having a client or a guest, then I would definitely make things more tidy.”
This answer brings a little humor to the question. It lightens the mood and makes a person seem real instead of appearing to be perfect. However, if the job you are applying for requires constant customer interaction, then this answer will not be good. This answer would be better for an office job where not many people will see your desk.
“Do you manage your time well?”
“In what ways do you manage your time well?”
The first question is a little easier. The second question is more difficult because it requires an example. I’m going to give an example for the second question and you should be able to use it for the first
question as well.
“I know I manage my time well because I’m never late to work, and I’ve never missed a deadline.”
“I’m good at managing my time. I stay busy both at home and at work and being able to manage my time is necessary for me to do everything that I want to do.”
“I manage my time well by planning out what I have to do for the whole week. It keeps me on track and evens helps me to be more efficient.”
“Managing my time is one of my strong traits. I prioritize my tasks and this allows me to stay ahead of schedule. Each day I manage my time so I can achieve more than I set out to do. So managing my time in a goal oriented way is what I feel very comfortable doing.”
“How do you handle change?”
“Are you good at dealing with change?”
Dealing with change is common in the work place. A simple yes will not be sufficient to impress the interviewer. This is another type of question where everyone will have similar answers. Of course everyone is going to claim being excellent dealing with change. You got to communicate that you are really good at dealing with change. Here are some examples for you.
“I’m good at dealing with change because I’m a quick thinker. If new information makes us change our marketing strategy for example, I’ll be quick to analyze the information and create a plan to make the changes.”
“I’ve experienced many changes previously. I handle the situation by quickly coming up to speed on the changes and applying myself to make them a success.”
“I’m good at dealing with change because I’m flexible with my work and abilities. I’m not afraid of learning new and difficult things. Whenever I’m faced with a change, I’ll put in extra effort to make the change a smooth transition.”
“I handle changes smoothly. Whenever there’s a change of any sort, I analyze the situation and I always try to find ways I can contribute to the change in a positive way.”
“I believe dealing with change is a requirement in the workplace. The mission statement can change to introduce a new market segment, or the company might need to change direction. Whatever it is, as a member of this team, I would be expected to do my share by absorbing the new information, analyzing it thoroughly, sharing my ideas, and really being a valued team member. Dealing with change is a necessary trait. I think I’m also good at anticipating change by being attentive and observant.”
Overall, this is a good answer. The last statement is a bold statement of being able to anticipate change. If the interviewer is impressed, they might follow up by asking for an example of how you anticipate change. If you use an answer like I provided, make sure you have an example. If you don’t have one, then the answer you gave will be seen as a lie and you probably failed.
“How do you make important decisions?”
There are many ways to answer this question, and if you have a reasonable method of making decisions, it will probably be sufficient. One answer I thought of included not being afraid of asking your manager. You can follow up by saying even the best needs mentoring, and you always want to improve. So basically, this could work as an answer, but depending on the job, you might have a better shot with an answer like my example.
“I make important decisions by examining all the details and then weighing the pro’s and con’s for each decision.”
“I gather all the information I can find and based on the information, I’ll come to the best decision I can. If I know a coworker was in a similar situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to find out the results to make sure my decision is the best one.”
“I believe all decisions should be made by having all the information. If you are missing an important detail, it’s easy to make a bad decision. So I make important decisions by having all of the information.”
“Important decisions are made by knowledge through information and wisdom through experience. I’ll gather all the information I can find and then apply my experience while analyzing the information. With this combination, I’m confident I’ll make the correct important decisions.”
“I think all decisions are important, and having as much information about the decision is one of the most important aspects. After examining all the facts, I would think about the outcome and consequences of each action and after weighing the pro’s and con’s, I would come to the best decision possible. However, I’m aware that some decisions are not as black and white. In this situation, I would rely on my experience, or even work with my team members to come up with the best decision.”
This is a decent answer, but I think you might be able to think of a better one. Feel free to be creative with your answers because those are the answers the interviewer will remember the most.
“Do you work well under pressure?”
In most cases, the best answer to this question is answering yes. Working well under pressure is a good trait to have. However, I think if you answer that you work the same with pressure and without pressure, the interviewer will be more impressed. However, you will need to explain in words why this is better. Here are some of my answers.
“I work well under pressure because I use the pressure to help me work more efficiently.”
“I enjoy working under pressure because I believe it helps me grow. In my previous experience, I always worked well during deadlines, and I always learned how to work more efficiently afterwards.”
“I work well under pressure because I don’t panic. I maintain self control and work as efficiently as possible. In all my experiences, I did well and I always enjoyed the experience.”
“During times of pressure, I try to prioritize and plan as much as I can. After I’m organized, I really just put my head down and work hard in a smart way. I don’t let the pressure affect me. So I believe I work well under pressure.”
“To tell you the truth, I think I work the same if there’s pressure or if there’s no pressure. I try and take out negative emotional factors and work hard regardless of down time or busy time. I always prioritize and organize my work, and from there, work efficiently. If the situation involved pressure due to a lack of time, then the only difference in my work would be the extra time I would need to put in to meet the deadline on time. Since I believe my normal work is great work, then I suppose I work well under pressure.”
I like this answer because it is different than the standard answer. If you are not comfortable with this answer, then you can use the next one.
“I have a couple of friends who hate working under pressure. I don’t know if it’s odd, but I really enjoy working under pressure. I use the feelings of pressure as a tool to motivate me to work harder and more efficiently. In my last job, I remember we had a project to complete in 4 days where it usually took 10 days.
There was a lot of panic by some team members, but I ensured everyone that if we concentrate on the task and work real hard, we can complete the project. It took a lot of overtime, and the last day we were in the office until two AM, but we managed to finish. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed that experience.”
You might not have experienced this example before, but what is preventing you from making something up? To tell you the truth, I never experienced it before either. There are some things you shouldn’t lie about because they can find out about it such as your GPA or what school you attended, but a story such as the one I included above cannot be verified by the interviewer. The only thing you have to be careful about is being able to answer follow up questions.
Basic Interview Questions II
“Which category do you fall under? A person who anticipates a problem well, or a person who reacts to a problem well?”
This is a tough question because both options look pretty good. My recommendation would be to answer depending on the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a type of analyst or upper management position, then anticipating a problem would be more useful. However, if you are applying to be a nurse for a hospital emergency room, then reacting to a problem well is stronger.
“I think it’s good to be good at both. But in my experience, I realized I react to problems better. Whenever I’m faced with a new problem, I know what steps to take to deal with the problem.”
“I believe I’m strong in both, but I try to work more on anticipating problems. In this profession, it’s very important to anticipate a problem and fix it before it becomes a real problem.”
“I’m very observant and aware of what’s going on, so I’m stronger at anticipating problems.”
“I’m good at dealing with problems, so I’m a person who reacts to a problem well.”
“I feel I react to problems well, but I’m much stronger at anticipating them. I’m a type of person that pays attention to detail, inconsistencies, and subtle signs. Basically, I want to find a potential problem and put measures in place to correct it before it happens. It’s interesting to see how the people who deal with problems get rewarded for resolving the issue. What about the people who put the fire out before it even started? So anticipating problems before it happens is what I’ve always done and I believe it’s important in any work environment.”
“Being a nurse requires many skills. One of the important traits is to be able to react to problems well. Reacting to a problem well requires the ability for quick thinking, ability to think of all the options available, and maintaining self control in hectic times. In my spare time, I even think about creative problems that might come up. Since a problem can arise at any time and in any form, I try to be as creative as I can and I walk through the situation as if I’m dealing with the problem. So this has helped me to become very good at reacting to problems.”
The answer gets stronger with examples, so if you have experienced something that you can explain, feel free to use include it in the answer. Also, if you are unsure about how to say it, remember that you can ask us.
“Are you a risk taker or do you like to stay away from risks?”
This also depends on the position. But in most cases, I believe someone who likes to take risks is a better candidate. If you choose to answer saying you are a risk taker, you should include why and how you take risks.
“I consider myself to be in the middle, but if I were to choose from my past experience, I would think I would call myself a careful risk taker.”
“I’m reliable and believe in stability and guarantees. My work will be based on facts without assumptions or guesses, so I tend to stay away from risks.”
“I think it’s important to take some risks. I keep the options open and if the reward justifies the risks, I would definitely try. So I’m more of a risk taker.”
“I take risks because through planning and working smart, it’s possible to reduce some of the risk. So if there’s a reasonable chance of success, I would take the opportunity.”
“I see myself as a risk taker. But before taking the risk, I always evaluate all other options, weigh the pro’s and con’s of success and failure, and after careful consideration, I would definitely take a risk if the rewards were high enough. I view staying away from risks similar to staying away from a gold mine surrounded by dynamite. Of course if you don’t know what triggers the dynamite, it would be unwise to take that risk.
But if you study the situation and know the location of all dynamite and the way they are triggered, then the risk is minimized. Some people would not explore the options to reduce the risk, but I would definitely study each situation and take a risk that would improve my personal or company’s situation.”
You don’t have to use the dynamite example. You can think of any other example. But I used this to clearly explain what I feel about taking risks. Not only did I choose to be a risk taker, but I also explained how and when I would take risks.
“Why should I hire you?”
I don’t know if this is a common question, but I heard many people use this question. In all the interviews I’ve been through, I never received this question, nor did I ask this question in any interviews I gave. But, there are a lot of people asking this question, so preparing for it is a must.
To answer this question, you need to know exactly what they are looking for. With this information, tie it in with your strong traits. This will verify that you are completely qualified for the job. Second and more importantly, you need to stand out more than the other people interviewing for this position. I will give two examples for the long answers, one for a person with a lot of experience, and the other for a recent college graduate.
“I’m a perfect fit for this position. I have the experience and the traits you are looking for. On top of that, I’m a great team player that gets a long with everyone.” “I should be hired because I’m efficient, smart, and friendly. I’m great at solving problems and love challenges. Most importantly, I’m dependable and reliable.”
“There are two reasons I should be hired. First, my qualifications match your needs perfectly. Second, I’m excited and passionate about this industry and will always give 100%.”
“You should hire me because I’m confident and I’ll do the best job. I have a proven track record of success starting from high school until now. I’m responsible and smart.
This position requires someone that will work well without supervision. I know how to manage my time and organize my work well. So, I’m confident I’ll be the best candidate for this position.”
“This position is for a quality assurance manager, I’m confident I’m the best person for this job because of my past experience. At ABC Software Company, I was in charge of a team that was responsible for the quality of three different applications. I have intimate knowledge of quality assurance, product support, and even some creative processes that will benefit a quality assurance team. I’ve built a team from scratch and fully understand the product development cycle. Finally, one of my traits is in developing and mentoring junior employees.
I believe in transferring knowledge to everyone in the company and investing a little more effort into the people who work for me. So I strongly believe that I’ll be the best candidate due to the combination of my experience, my managerial skills, and my desire to provide growth in employees.”
“The reason I applied for this position is because the qualifications matched my strengths perfectly. I’m good at juggling multiple tasks, I’m very detail oriented, and I organize my time very efficiently. But the truth is that many people have these traits. But if I were in your position, I would hire myself because of the passion I have for this industry, and my optimistic personality.
My education background and my strengths show that I can do this job. But I want to make more of an impact than just doing my job. I don’t want to blend in with the company, I would rather want my addition to improve it.”
The first answer is using experience and skills to convince the interviewer to hire him or her. In addition to talking about past experiences, this example also emphasizes the strong ability to mentor people. The second example is more on the personal level and definitely more creative.
Everyone one will claim to have all the good traits. So this candidate says it by saying, “… the truth is that many people have these traits.” On top of these traits, this candidate is including passion and excitement. This is very important during interviews. Finally, the last sentence is a good line that the interviewer will remember. It is creative and bold.
Tell me about Q’s… / Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
‘Tell me about. ’ type of questions are very popular. It is more effective because it is asking for an answer that comes from experience. If you don’t have a particular experience in one of the questions below, make one up. You should prepare ahead of time because you don’t want to make up a story during the interview. It will be too hard to sound believable. Finally, you should know that some questions will not be asked to certain job types. For example, if you are not in a management position, you probably won’t be asked how you saved the company money. Or if you are not in sales, you won’t be asked about making a great sale.
These types of answers are usually long because it is explaining an experience. If you want the interviewer to understand the significance of your story, they will need to understand it. So all my examples will be a little longer than regular interview questions. Finally, a lot of these are my own experiences. I encourage you to think back to your experience and create one. I’m providing my answers so you can see the structure and learn from my answers.
“Tell me about a time you made a mistake.”
The best answer for this question involves learning something from a mistake. If you are having difficulty thinking about a mistake you made that will be an effective answer, try to think of a lesson you learned that improved a good trait. Making a mistake is not good, but since you have to tell them something, you should tell them something that makes you look good. For an example, let’s create a scenario where you learned how to be someone who anticipates problems.
“I was given a project to complete in a week. I understood the project, but I misinterpreted one section. After completing the project, I was told by my manager that it was done incorrectly. I really made a mistake by assuming incorrectly in one of the sections instead of asking for clarification. I learned not to assume through the mistake I made.”
“I had a project I was working on, and while I was in the middle of typing up my documentation, my computer started acting weird. It froze for a while and so I rebooted. After 10 minutes, the computer showed a blue screen saying that there were problems and recommended that I reboot the computer again. After another reboot, everything appeared to be ok. I continued my work and finished for the day.
I spent two days on this assignment and when I went to retrieve my data the next day to double check my work, my computer wouldn’t start up. A technician came and found that my hard drive malfunctioned. I lost all the data and lost two days of work. I was disappointed and thought I would never trust a computer again, but there was a great lesson to be learned. I had a couple of warnings and I ignored them.
From then on, I practiced being someone who can anticipate problems. I now think of potential problems ahead of time and pay attention to details along the way. If I applied this sooner, I would have saved the data on another computer and I wouldn’t have lost a couple days of work. But I can’t say I regret making the mistake because it made me someone who can anticipate problems better.”
This is a minor mistake, and you can say it is really the computer’s fault. But this is a good example because I wasn’t really at fault. The computer was. But this example is wording it so it looks like the person’s fault and it explains how a great lesson was learned. In the end, this candidate became a better person through this mistake. Learning from a mistake is probably the key point here, and this example demonstrates that.
“Tell me about a time you made a good decision.”
“Tell me about a time you found a solution to a problem.”
This is a little easier than thinking about a mistake. You should make sure to include why it was a good decision and the result should be obviously meaningful. I also want to use this as an example of answering multiple questions. I would use this same answer for either of the two questions above. It was a good decision, and I fond a solution to a problem. Preparing for every interview question in the world will be too much work. Think of key experiences and apply them to multiple answers. In the case where it is the same interviewer, then you might be forced to think of a new answer. So it might be good to think of couple of answers.
“During my last project, we ran into a difficult problem. This was high priority so everyone was instructed to find a solution. I started looking for more information on the Internet, I even talked to a different manager on a different team. This helped tremendously and our problem was solved. I made a decision to use every resource I could find, and in the end, it solved the problem.”
“In my last position at Microsoft, there was a time period where our group was going to slip reaching our milestone by one day. This was because the day before exiting the third milestone, we found a problem in the program. Since we created a new build with all bug fixes each morning, we had two choices. We could either fix the problem and verify the program the next day after we build again, or we could postpone the problem and fix it in the next milestone.
Both options didn’t sound very appealing. I suggested fixing the program now, and perform another build to verify the fix instead of waiting for tomorrow. Many times people are used to following a process, but in this case, I challenged the process of building in the morning and requested another build to verify the last bug fix.
In the end, we were able to complete milestone 3 on time and fixed the important problem. This was significant because if we didn’t exit milestone 3, then everyone waiting to start work on the next milestone would have to wait another day. In essence, this saved a days work for more than 30 people.”
For this example, I was careful not to use too many technical jargons that might not be understood. I also explained the situation carefully and explained why the decision was a good one. Remember that some of these answers will not work for you. In this case, if you never worked at Microsoft and never experienced this, just follow the steps of stating the problem, explaining the choices, why you made the decision, and finally why it was a good decision.
“Tell me about a time you made a poor decision.”
This question is similar to the mistake question. So first, let’s think about what lesson we want to learn. A common mistake is when people make assumptions. I’ll give an example where a poor decision was made due to making a bad assumption. The answer will also include what was learned and how the poor decision was used as a tool to become a better worker.
“When I was doing an audit for a small company, there was a problem with one of the accounts. I tried to contact the company to ask questions, but they were not there. I made the decision to keep looking for the answer. Four hours later, they returned my call and I realized it was a simple typo. I wasted 4 hours of my day. In this case, I was too sensitive about detail. So I learned how not to be so detailed and picky.”
“In my first month working at Tiffany’s selling jewelry, I made a poor decision by making an assumption. A person buying an engagement diamond wanted to see some rings. It’s not polite to immediately ask for a price range, so I showed the person a variety of rings. He pointed to a ring that was about twelve thousand dollars. The diamond ring he pointed to was one of the more expensive ones I showed him.
Eager to sell him the ring, I explained the quality of the ring, explained our satisfaction guarantee policy to him, and made sure he was comfortable with making a purchase at Tiffany’s. He bought the ring, and I thought I made a great sell. However, it turns out that on my day off, he came in and exchanged the ring for one that was twenty five thousand dollars. It was one of the rings that I didn’t show him.
So basically, I made a bad decision on selling him what he first pointed out instead of showing him more options. I assumed that the initial ring he selected was the price range he was looking for. I never made that mistake again and I learned that I shouldn’t assume so much.”
This example is geared towards sales, but like I said earlier, make sure to clearly explain the situation, identify the decisions, explain why it was a bad decision, and most importantly what you learned by making a poor decision.
“Tell me about a time you fired someone.”
Firing someone is a difficult task. Usually you will not be asked this question unless it is for a management position. You should emphasize a couple of key things when you answer this question. First, you should be very professional about firing someone. Second, you should mention the procedures you took so the action of firing is justified. I’ll give an example for someone who has never fired someone and an example for having fired someone.
“In my last position, I had four people reporting to me. One of my direct reports failed to show up on time, complete assignments, and really didn’t care about the work. I tried to encourage the employee, assign different types of work to him, and even sat down and showed him how to do things. After 2 months of trying, I had to let him go.”
“Our company was down sizing and I had to let two people go. It’s easier when a person does a terrible job, but if everyone is doing there job, it’s more difficult. I had to select the bottom two performers and explained why they were being let go.”
“During my second year as a manager, I had to fire one of my directs. I can’t say it was a difficult task because not only did he not do his job well, he didn’t want to try. Initially, we put him on probation monitoring his work, we tried to give him different types of work that he might do better at, and we even assigned a mentor to him. However, even through all this, he was a weak performer.
I consulted with other management members and we all agreed it was best for the company to let him go. I got together with an HR representative and told him that he no longer has a job here. He wasn’t surprised at all. He just picked up his things and left.” “I’ve never had to fire somebody yet.
I believe that a manager should mentor and lead all team members to be a solid performer. But I know that there are some people who can’t or won’t perform despite management’s best effort. So in that case, I would have to let someone go in a professional manner following the procedures set by the company.”
Both of these are good answers. They mention that a manager should take actions to make the worker better, but sometimes turning something bad to something good is impossible, so the only action is to fire someone. The person with experience outlines the steps taken. For example, the probation, assigning different work, providing a mentor, etc. Then in the end he was fired. The second example shows despite experience, that he or she would fire someone in a professional manner following procedure.
“Tell me about a time you hired someone.”
If you hired somebody before, you know you could have hired someone great, or someone bad. If you have both experiences, you can ask if they want to hear a bad hire experience or a good hire experience. Sometimes the question will be, tell me about the time you made a bad hire. In that case, then you don’t have to ask. I’ll give an example of a good hire and a bad hire.
“I found a resume on the Internet that was a perfect match for one of our open positions. I contacted the person and we talked for about 10 minutes. During that call, I explained why our company was a great place to work and the opportunities we offered. After a couple more calls, he agreed to come in for an interview and we made an offer. He became a great employee.”
“I received a resume but it didn’t have all our requirements. I initially thought she wasn’t a fit, but after looking over the education background and the previous work experience, I thought this person would have more potential than other candidates. After interviewing her, we extended an offer. She was a quick learner and performed at an exceptional level. Sometimes it’s important to see potential and in this instance, it was a great hire.”
“In the last company I worked for, we had a recruiting team. They go through all resumes and submit the ones that would be a good fit for a particular team. I received a resume and after looking it over, I was quite impressed. I called him for a phone interview and after that we scheduled a full interview.
He aced almost every question given to him by 5 different interviewers. We made a reasonable and fair offer. He mentioned that he was considering another company. I called him to touch bases with him and reiterated the opportunities, the great environment here, and ultimately that we all looked forward to having him join our team.
I tried to make the phone call more personal and warm to show him that our group was a place to be comfortable. He joined our team and became one of our strongest performers. It took a little extra work, but it’s important to take extra steps when you see someone who is going to be great.”
“I had one bad experience when hiring someone. I remember I was following procedures and verifying everything I could from past experience, checking communication skills, personality, work ethic,
technical skills, and some tough logic problems. We even had 4 different people interviewing this candidate. Everything looked great. But when the person started, he had a hard time understanding new concepts. I originally thought it was because he was new and had to ramp up on many things, but as months past by, this employee was still unable to work alone.
He always had to ask how to do even simple tasks. I remember going through his resume and looking over his background and even thinking about where we missed this flaw in the interview. Using this same interviewing procedure, we hired many great people. But this one turned out a little sour.”
The first question is straight forward. This person took it one step farther by making a phone call and encouraging the candidate to join his team. But the second answer is an example of doing everything right, but seeing bad results. You can use something like this, but if you do, you must think of follow up questions such as, “what did you do to this employee?
What happened in the long run? Did you end up firing this person?” But I recommend you think of a situation that you personally experienced. Then you can answer all follow up questions easily. But if you never hired anyone before, then simply say that. It shouldn’t hurt unless it is for a recruiting position.
“Tell me about a time you failed to complete an assignment on time.”
If you are a good worker, then you probably haven’t failed to complete an assignment on time. But if you have a lot of experience, you might have some situations where external factors caused you to miss a deadline. This is what my example will be about. But if you have an example where you failed to complete an assignment, make sure you give clear reasons why you failed and what you learned from it. Also, if you can’t think of any, then use an example from your university days stating. But if you do, make sure you tell them that so far in your job experience, you completed all assignments on time or ahead of schedule.
“One time, I had a project that was due on Tuesday. On Friday I analyzed our progress and I was ahead of schedule. I didn’t have to work over the weekend to complete the assignment. On Monday, my manager was sick so I had to attend several meetings that took all day. Because of that, I didn’t complete my assignment until Wednesday. Now, I try to finish my assignments a day or half a day early because something unexpected could come up.”
“With proper planning and good execution, I think it’s hard to fail at meeting a deadline. But I remember one time in the middle of the project, our clients wanted to change one aspect of the assignment that we already completed. I analyzed the change request and told them that we wouldn’t be able to make the date. I estimated that it will take three additional days. They insisted that we finish on the agreed upon time schedule. I told them we’d try but could not promise anything.
Even with hard work and overtime, we missed the due date. We did however, finish one day late. In this situation where I didn’t feel we could reach the deadline, I specifically told them that we couldn’t, I continually sent updates on the progress to keep the clients informed. Since we missed the deadline, they were not too happy, but overall they were satisfied because I effectively communicated the progress regularly.”
I like this answer because they want a situation that should make you look bad. Instead, you gave them a scenario where you failed to complete an assignment, but really it wasn’t your fault. In the end, this answer makes you look good because you did everything right from communicating properly, giving them a new time frame, and reaching the goal two days ahead of schedule despite missing the original date by one.
But just in case they ask what you could have done better, you can say something like, “I feel I should have been more firm with the three additional days I requested. I like to meet difficult deadlines, but I knew the additional work was too large to finish on time.”
“Tell me about a time you found a solution to save the company money.”
This question is also for a management level position. If you are not in management, then you probably won’t face this question. But just in case, here are a couple of answers. If you are not in a position to save the company money, then you could think of something small.
“Hmmm… I wasn’t really in any position to save the company money, but I have one small example. When we were a smaller company, we didn’t get a significant corporate discount on our hardware.
After we grew in size, we qualified for the larger discount, but nobody realized that we now met the quota. I pointed this out and we started saving 5% more on our hardware.”
“We were outsourcing a portion of our work to a 3rd party company. We had two phases for this project. After the first phase, I was given the task to complete the work because the original worker responsible for this project left our group. I quickly got up to speed on the details of the work. I analyzed the information and realized that one portion of the work given to them could’ve been done by our group because we already had the infrastructure in place. So I only spent half a day to set this up and in turn, we were charged 35% less for the second phase from the first one.”
This is a simple story of an experience. It doesn’t include every detail on the type of work that was outsourced, or what I specifically did during the half days of work. If they choose to ask this, then I will be prepared to answer it, but this answer gives enough details to allow the interviewer to understand how you contributed in saving the company money. Also, depending on the field of work, answers will vary. If your job specifically oversees the finance, then it is probably important to think of a much better answer specifically for that position. Think of some scenarios, write them down, and feel free to ask us if the grammar is correct.
“Tell me about a time you aimed too high.”
This is another question where you can turn this answer into a good experience. I am going to be using the answer as the one where you failed to complete an assignment on time. This is good practice to use a similar answer by changing only a few sentences to answer another tough interview question. But first, I’ll give an example of a different short answer.
“We had a new project that I was interested in. Even though I was busy, I volunteered to take on the assignment. I had to work so much more. Although I managed to complete the assignment, it really burned me out. I feel I aimed too high and I would have benefited by doing a better job on my current assignments instead of wanting more challenges.”
“I believe aiming high is a good practice. Aiming high keeps me focused and forces me to grow by trying to reach high goals I have set for myself. But I know there are times where aiming too high is not good. For example, one time in the middle of the project, our clients wanted to change one aspect of the assignment that we already completed. I analyzed the change request and told them that we will not be able to make the date.
I estimated that it will take three additional days. They insisted that we finish on the agreed upon time schedule. I told them we would try but we could not promise anything. Even with hard work and overtime, we missed the due date. We did however, finish one day later. I challenged myself to complete on time, but with the large change request, it was too high of a goal to reach. In this case, I really aimed too high. I should have been more firm telling them that we will need a few more days.”
This is a similar experience we already used, but you changed the beginning and the end to tailor it to this question. Remember that you can use one answer for multiple questions. This answer should make you look good instead of looking like you made a terrible mistake.
“Tell me about a time you aimed too low.”
I have never been in sales, but the example answer I want to give is an example of answering the question while displaying good traits. Remember to be clear when explaining your experience and don’t assume that they will understand everything. You should explain it step by step.
“There was a new project that I was interested in. Because I had other responsibilities, I didn’t volunteer. I wasn’t too busy, but I was worried I wouldn’t complete the assignment on time. I realized I missed a wonderful opportunity because I aimed too low.”
“When I was selling cell phones for Verizon Wireless, I had a great month where I reached the quota in just two weeks. My goal is to always break quota by more than 10 percent, and this month, I new it was going to be easy. I scheduled to take a week off to relax, and at the end of the month I surpassed the quota by 31%. I had an opportunity to break the location’s record, but I didn’t jump on the opportunity.
I was basically thinking that having achieved my original goal of 10% was sufficient. But I think when opportunities arise, I should be flexible and willing to change my goal. I aimed too low and I missed a rare opportunity.”
This is not a bad mistake. You can say you were burned out, or needed to take some time off, or wanted to rejuvenate yourself. This answer doesn’t show a failure, but shows a great success. In this example, aiming too low resulted in great numbers and great results at the end of the month, so there is no harm done. In the end you are indicating that you could have done even better, that you are willing to reevaluate your goals, and that you are now able to see and jump on opportunities.
“Tell me about a time you made a great sale.”
This is similar to the question, “what does it mean to make a great sale?” You can change the words a little and use the answer for both questions. The key to this answer is explaining what it means to make a great sale, and then giving a good example of a great sale that you made.
“I had a customer come in that was a little rude. He had many questions and cut me off very frequently. I stayed patient and explained everything to his satisfaction. He ended up representing a medium sized business that required a large order. I feel this was a great sale because I treated this customer with respect and patience.”
“Making a great sale can be measured by how much the company made, but I think making a great sale is how satisfied the customer is. A satisfied customer will return and continue to be a valued customer, so it’s important to make sure that the customer is satisfied. One day, a customer was debating on two different types of watches. One was $1200 and the other was $400. This was a huge difference.
I believe I could have sold him the $1200 watch, but instead, I laid out all the pro’s and con’s for him, and asked him questions to find out the purpose of the watch, if it was for casual wear or formal wear, and eventually helped him realize exactly what he was looking for. He ended up buying the $400 watch.
Some people might think that was not a great sale, but I felt as a salesman and a person representing the company that I did a great job in satisfying this customer. In the next couple of years while I was working there, he came and bought many more items and had other friends come in to buy more products. I can confidently say that the $800 in missed sale resulted in thousands more for the company.”
This example has several key points. First, this answer is telling the interviewer what you believe is a great sale. Second, it is giving a good example. Finally, it is showing a good sign of an employee by saying, “a person representing the company.” All salesman or someone who works with customers is representing their company in some way. Saying this casually in an example is definitely powerful.
“Tell me about a time you went over budget.”
If you go over budget, it is a bad sign. It can mean you are not organized, do not plan well, or are not good with finance. So when you think of an answer, make sure you justify it with a good reason. Here is an example of what I am talking about.
“During our marketing campaign, we realized how many customers we were gaining through the radio advertisements. Although we didn’t have budget for more radio advertisement, I still made the decision to place our ad on three more stations. We increased sales by 25% for that month, but I ended up going over budget by 5%.”
Long Answer “There was a project that had a strict 4 month deadline. I didn’t have enough employees to complete the task, so I had to hire temporary workers. I was given a budget to either hire three extra heads for four months or to hire four extra heads for three months. Because of the importance of the project and the strict deadline, I chose to hire 4 temporary workers for 3 months to give us a time cushion at the end.
We had a couple of unexpected obstacles and it turned out that we needed the temporary workers for another two weeks. We completed the project on time and everything turned out well, but in this instance, I went over budget by 5%. Due to the importance of this project, I didn’t want to risk slipping the date. Even though everyone was congratulating me on this accomplishment, I feel I could have done better if I calculated a cushion for unexpected obstacles.”
This answer is admitting to going over budget, but the reason was good enough. The answer indicates that by saying how everyone was happy and making sure to say how important the project was. In the end you say you learned something. But you can change this answer a little. If you want to be more clear on the importance of the project, you can say a monetary value, like it was a two million dollar deal, and going over budget by $10,000 was acceptable by upper management.
School Related Interview Questions
”What extracurricular activities were you involved in?”
If you don’t have any work experience, then a company wants to know what extra activities you did in school to see if you are active. It is best to list a couple of things describing what the group is and what role you had in the group. If you were not a part of any group, it might be ok to make something up. It is hard to verify this so they will not find out. But it could back fire, if the interviewer happened to be in the same group at the same university.
“I was involved in our school newspaper. I was one of the writers for three years.”
“I was very active in our university politics. In my senior year, I was the vice president of the University.”
“Besides studying, I played baseball for our school. I really like to study and to stay physically active.”
“I was involved with a group that helped awareness of environmental problems such as pollution. I was on a team that educated people about driving alternatives such as buses and carpooling.”
“I was very active in the university magazine committee. I was a member of that group for four years. I helped write articles about events occurring in school. In my senior year, I was the editor and did less writing and more managing in regards to the magazine structure, what contents to add, and distributing work among the junior members of the group. I really enjoyed my experience there and learned about working closely together as a group to deliver a quality magazine.”
If you don’t have work experience, then you will need to say something to show them that you learned some valuable lessons such as team work. I suggest you to reflect on what you did during school and create a list of what you learned.
“Why did you choose your major?”
“Why did you choose to major in History?”
If you are a computer science major interviewing for a computer position, then they will not ask you this question. But if you are an English Literature major and interview for a computer position, then they might want to know why you chose to major in English Literature.
To create an answer for English Literature, you can say things learning to be a better communicator, having better reading comprehension, and say how skills learned from English Literature can be applied towards many fields. But something like History is different. Unless you are going to be a Historian, it’s hard to justify how your major is going to help you in your job.
“I majored in History because I enjoyed learning about the past. I always try to apply my history knowledge in many things I do. This knowledge allowed me to study many different experiences.”
“I majored in English because it was a major that would make me more skilled in reading, writing, and communicating. I believe English is a tool that is used everywhere, so I thought it was the best major for me.”
“I majored in Psychology because I was interested in seeing how the mind works. I also found it useful because it helped me to work with people better by understanding differences in everyone.”
“I majored in Biology because I initially wanted to go to med school. Although I decided not to go to med school, I still wanted to complete my bachelor’s degree.”
“I majored in History because I always had a strong interest in historical facts. I grew up very close to history and chose this major because I really enjoyed the subject. I planned on becoming a high school history teacher or even a professor, but then I started to get into computers. It’s totally different from history but it really fascinated me. Now, instead of looking in the past, I’m always looking into the future through all the technological changes.”
It doesn’t connect the major to the job but at least it gives an explanation. It’s not bad to say you majored in something because you liked the subject. The only bad answer is to say you didn’t know what else to do and you couldn’t get into a better department.
“If you redo college again, what would you major in?”
I already explained this a little in another question about restarting your career. You can use the same answer here if you want, but I will give one more example of not changing your major in the long answer section.
“I didn’t realize I was so interested in computers until I graduated college. So if I could select a different major, I would major in Computer Science.”
“I liked the fact I completed my degree in English. But if I could redo college again, I would like to double major in English and Business.”
“I would liked to have majored in Engineering. I have a strong interest in hardware so I believe Engineering would have helped.”
“I would choose to major in Marketing in the Business School. I really enjoy this type of work and having more background would have helped me to excel more.”
“If I were to redo college again, I don’t think I would change my major. I liked the fact that I majored in Business and I believe it will help me with my career. I’m pretty good with the computer, but I would like to have taken more computer classes. Because technology is growing so quickly, I think I would have benefited from having a deeper understanding in computers.”
This answer demonstrates a good choice in the beginning. I included the portion about computers because they want to see something you would have done differently. And making the comment about computers shows the interviewer your understanding about technology to some degree. But don’t say this answer without first stating that you are pretty good with the computer.
“What course did you like the most?”
“What was your favorite subject?”
When you answer this question, use a subject that helped you become a better person or a better worker. Although this question is asking for you opinion and there is no wrong answer, you should take advantage of this question by showing your strengths.
“I really enjoyed an English writing class I took. This class taught me to write more clearly and concisely.”
“My favorite subject was Physics. It really helped my logic abilities and I use this knowledge to solve problems in a variety of ways.”
“There was a speech class I took that I really enjoyed. It helped me to speak in groups better and I learned to speak professionally in front of an audience.”
“My favorite subject was applied science. I really enjoyed learning different ways of applying science into ordinary things.”
“I really enjoyed majoring in electrical engineering and it really helped me to prepare for my career, but the class I enjoyed the most is probably a couple of psychology classes I took. Although it didn’t help me in any technical way, I learned a little bit about human behavior and learned how the brain works. I started to understand the reasons for my strengths and weakness instead of just knowing them. Also, it helped me to understand people who are different than me.”
This is a simple answer but a very good one. An engineer is mostly technical and they might lack skills in human interaction. So an engineer saying their favorite course was psychology demonstrates that this person has both technical skills and the ability to work with others better. It lists several good examples such as understanding both strengths and weakness along with understanding different people.
“What course did you like the least?”
“What course did you struggle in the most?”
This is an easier answer because you don’t have to show off your strength here. All you have to do is make sure you don’t pick a subject that relates to your job. It is also safer to pick something that most people do not enjoy. Finally, picking something that you are not good at is acceptable if it is not a skill required on the job. My long example will be about a drama class.
“I didn’t enjoy history that much. It wasn’t that difficult, but it didn’t allow me to think creatively.
Most of the classes I took were about memorizing dates and facts. So history is my least favorite subject.”
“I struggled in a music class the most. I really enjoy listening to music so I tried to learn a little about it. But it was a disaster. My tone was off and I couldn’t tell if something was flat or not.”
“My least favorite class was probably poetry. During that course I struggled writing a real poem. I realized I am not a poet.”
“I disliked my geography class. It wasn’t difficult, but I simply didn’t find it very interesting.”
“For me, I had a tough time in my drama class. I didn’t realize that I was a terrible actor. I didn’t think it would be that hard, but week after week, my instructor would point out problem after problem. He gave me a B, but I think it was because of my effort, not because of my abilities. I say this because when I saw myself on video, oh my gosh, it was terrible.”
You are putting yourself down a lot here, but in this example it is actually good. Interviewers are worried that a person who can act well will be able to lie about many things during the interview. A person without acting skills will not be able to hide automatic body gestures that the interviewer is looking at. Also, this answer is good because it shows that this person never gives up and puts in a lot of effort.
“How will your performance in your worst class affect your performance on this job?”
This question is another opportunity to show many good traits. You can display traits such as endurance, effort, and willingness to work on things you don’t like. This is very important because during your career, you will have to do many boring things. This long answer will display that you are a person that will do good at any task.
“No matter if I liked the class or not, I always tried my hardest. As a result, the lowest grade I ever received was a B. So I’m confident that I’ll be good at any task.”
“I had one class where I really struggled. I asked more questions and studied more. As a result, I did very well. So even if I’m struggling, I feel I can find ways to do a good job by putting in more effort.”
“My performance in my worst class will positively impact my performance on this job. I struggled with a logic class, but I studied harder, researched more information, and I never gave up.”
“I remember I did terrible in my astrology class. I didn’t have much interest in the subject and I really didn’t know that I would struggle in it. I thought about just doing enough to make it through, but I decided that I was going to put some effort into it. I continually asked questions and studied more for this class than I did in others. I got a B for all my effort, but at least I didn’t give up and I kept pushing forward. So now I know that whether I like a project or not, I’ll do the best I can because it’s my responsibility.”
This answer shows maturity and the interviewer should like it.
“How would your best friend describe you?”
This answer can be short. Use key words that show how you are a good fit for this position. If it if a salesperson, mention things like, an easy person to talk, good personality, and dependable as the traits. But if it is for a manager position, then you can use different words like organized, helpful, considerate, and smart. So it all depends on the position. Most people will be honest and say what the best friend will actually say, but it is more effective to choose the words so it relates to the job. Here are some examples.
“Oh, let’s see… I think my best friend would describe me as honest, detailed, and very organized.”
“I think my best friend would say that I’m very responsible. Whenever our group of friends had to coordinate an activity, they always relied on me.”
“My best friend would probably say that I’m warm, friendly, and understanding.”
It doesn’t have to be long, but don’t blurt out the answer without thinking. Then it makes it appear as you are thinking about it instead of saying an answer you already prepared.
“How would your professor describe you?”
Same thing here, but you can’t choose any words. You have to choose one that relates to school work. Select words that are general and that applies to most types of jobs.
“I think my professor would describe me as a great team member and consistent in my school work.”
This is good because school has group projects. It shows team work experience and it also mentions consistency.
“My professor told me one time that I was like a fireball. I always had a good attitude that positively affected other students in group activities.”
“My professor always told me that I was very creative. He liked my papers because it showed that I really thought about the problem and tackled it in a different way.”
“How would your mother describe you?”
You can use more personal words here because your mother knows you in a different way.
“I think my mother would say I’m very friendly because I had a lot of friends and that I’m very focused because I always finish what I start.”
This answer is showing two different types of characteristics. One is more personal and one is a good work trait. It also shows reasons by saying because… Overall, these types of questions are not that significant and a short answer that is good should be fine.
“Since I was the oldest out of three, I think my mother would describe me as responsible and someone who is looked to for answers.”
“My mother told me I was always smart. When I was younger, she was surprised to see A’s in my report card. After awhile, she would be surprised when I didn’t receive an A.”