125 Câu hỏi và trả lời phỏng vấn xin việc bằng tiếng anh dành cho các ứng cử viên
Những lưu ý từ vựng trước buổi phỏng vấn bằng tiếng Anh
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.
1. Hãy nắm vững những từ khóa thường gặp.
Một số từ vựng phổ biến:
- 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
2. 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
3. Tìm hiểu thật kỹ những thông tin về công ty và những thuật ngữ mà họ thường sử dụng khi truyền thông.
4. 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.”
Long Answer “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.”
- “Why are you applying for a job that you didn’t major in?”
“Why didn’t you pursue a career in your major?”
In the United States the statistics for a person changing career paths is very high. It’s something like an average person will change careers five times. Changing jobs is one thing, but completely changing careers is a big move. So this question is not that significant. If everyone worked in the industry as their major, then this question is more important, but because everyone changes jobs frequently, it’s no big deal. You just have to use this opportunity to show them how much you like the current industry you are in.
“I majored in English because I liked to write. Because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I majored in something I was very interested in. After working for a year on the marketing team, I realized that this is what I want to be doing.”
“I majored in History, but during my senior year, I had an opportunity to work at an accounting firm. After seeing first hand at the work they were doing, I really wanted to become an accountant.”
“I was planning on going to Dental School so I majored in Biology. After working with computers, I realized how interesting and challenging it was. So I studied computers on the side because I wanted a career working with computers.”
“I enjoyed majoring in psychology, but I didn’t want to become a psychologist. I just found the subject to be very interesting. It also helped me to understand a wide variety of things. For my career, I wanted to be doing something I was good at and what I enjoyed doing. I had an opportunity to work at a smaller logistics company as an administrative assistant. During that time period they were short handed and I actually got to do some planning and organizing for one of the smaller clients. I didn’t lead anything, but I realized how much I enjoyed the work. Ever since then, I’ve been studying up on planning, logistics, and business.”
This example does three things. It explains why this person is not going into a field related to their major, it is explaining why this person is going into logistics, and finally it is showing passion for the industry and a desire to learn. Since you are probably competing against people who majored in logistics, you need to make an impression with your answer. So you should definitely show enthusiasm here.
- “During college, how did you spend your summer vacations?”
The best answer is to have spent your summer productively such as working as an intern. Even if you did only one intern, the interviewer will like that. The worst answer is to say you didn’t do anything. Or say you worked in the supermarket to get some money so you can party at night. So think of something productive, and if you don’t have an intern experience, you can say that you spent your summer learning something new.
“My last two summers of college, I did an intern for a consulting firm. I gained experience working on office solutions for large companies.”
“I have a strong interest in traveling, so I used my summer to travel. I went to Europe, Australia, Brazil, and China.”
“Every summer, I took extra English classes. I also took some drawing classes because it’s one of my hobbies. So I spent my summers learning more things.”
“My first two summers, I had to work to save money for tuition. But after saving enough money, I had a free summer. I actually ended up taking some computer classes to prepare myself for the business world. These days it’s a requirement to know computers, so I prepared for that.”
Although I said don’t mention useless work, it is ok if it is for tuition. It shows financial responsibility. Finally, taking some computer classes for the summer is a great way to prepare for work life and it was a summer well spent. Make sure you have an answer that shows productivity.
- “What did you learn from your internship?”
If you worked as an intern, your resume will say it. Your resume should also include a list of what you learned during your internship. You can answer this question repeating what was on the resume, but using full sentence and with more enthusiasm.
“In my final summer vacation, I had the opportunity to work as an intern for a public accounting firm.
It was only for 3 months, but I learned a lot about performing quarterly tax services for small and medium size companies. I also learned to deal with time pressure and learned how to prioritize work to be more efficient. It was a great experience that I know will help me when I start my career.”
- “Did you do any internships?”
You should be asked this question if your resume doesn’t have any internship experience, or if they didn’t look at your resume. If you do have internship experience, then you can answer, that you do and say the same answer as the one provided with the question, what did you learn from your internship. But if you don’t, you can simply answer that you didn’t do any internship but give a good excuse.
“Yes. I did two internships. The first internship was for Johnson and Johnson. I worked in the distribution team, and my second internship was for Starbucks. At Starbucks, I had the opportunity to work on overseas venture.”
“I did one internship for IBM. I was on the development team creating applications for business solutions.”
“I love to travel and I realized that when I start my career, I won’t be able to travel for long durations. So I used my summers to travel a lot. I spent one summer in Europe for 2 months. I spent another summer traveling between China and some South East Asian countries, and finally, I took a road trip through the United States.”
Traveling is not a bad answer. It is not as good as doing an internship, but definitely better than nothing. It is definitely not a wasted summer. Also, if the internship was useless and generic, then the interviewer will not remember this answer as a good answer. So it didn’t do any good. In this case, traveling could be better because the example I gave is significant and interesting. Something different always stands out more.
- “If you could learn something such as a new skill, what would it be?”
“What’s the next thing you want to learn?”
This is another type of question that has no wrong or right answer. That means you need to make your answer a little more creative so it stands out.
“I would love to learn more about auditing. As a tax accountant, I primarily work on tax. But I like all aspects of accounting and I think auditing would be very interesting.”
“The next thing I want to learn is how to make web pages. I think this skill can be used anywhere. If I want a personal web site, I would make it myself. And if my group at work needed an internal web site to organize activities, I would be able to make one.”
“I want to learn the different ways to market globally. In my marketing team, I learned everything about marketing on a local level, but I would really love to learn about marketing to different countries.”
“I use the computer on a daily basis and know how to use everything I need to be good at my job. But sometimes something goes wrong with the computer for no reason at all. Because I’m not a computer engineer, I have no idea what’s going on. Basically, I have to wait for a technician to fix it. During these times, I want to kick the computer out of frustration. Mostly, it ends up being a problem I could have fixed if I new the details of how a computer works. So even though it’s not in my job description, I want to know how to fix computers at a basic level.”
I heard from many people who don’t know computers that well that they get frustrated with them. So wanting to kick the computer is understandable and it is a little humorous. Wanting to learn a little more about the computer is always good and it would definitely help out with future work by not having to wait for a technician.
Work Related Interview Questions I
- “If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?”
This depends on several factors. If your university major is different than your career choice, then you could answer that you would choose a different major to prepare you for your choice in career. Or if you started at a small company and didn’t have many opportunities, you can say that you would have started at a larger company. This is not a significant question so a regular answer should suffice.
“I started my career at a small company. I feel I would have benefited more if I started at a larger company. A large company usually provides training that I didn’t receive, so I would like to have started my career in a larger company.”
“I didn’t know how much I liked working with computers until I finished college. If I had known earlier, I would have liked to have worked with computers earlier in my career.”
“Well, I majored in chemistry and now I’m working in the marketing department for a telecommunications company. I had a lot to learn in the beginning, but I quickly learned what I needed to know to be an effective member of the marketing team. However, I always felt that if I majored in business or marketing, I would have started off with a better foundation. I’m great at what I do, but if I could start over again, I would probably choose to have majored in business administration.”
This is an acceptable answer because the answer doesn’t display any problems in the work history. Many people change careers or go into a field that is unrelated to their major. This is common, so answering this question using this answer is common. If you don’t want to use this common answer, then thinking about a scenario early in your work career that you would have done differently might be more effective.
- “During your performance reviews, what criticism do you hear the most?”
This question is primarily for people with work experience. If you are fresh out of college, then you will not be asked this question. The answer to this question should not disclose any real faults. Instead, try to think of something that doesn’t sound too bad. Here is what I hear at my reviews and this is how I would answer this question.
Short Answers “I heard that I need to be proactive. I always perform at an exceptional level, but I didn’t volunteer for additional work. I wasn’t accustomed to it so I’m glad that I received this criticism. I now practice keeping an eye out for additional projects I can take on.”
“During my review, my manager told me to voice my opinions more frequently. He always liked my suggestions when I told him, but in group meetings, I usually let my manager speak. Now, I feel more confident that I can suggest my ideas in groups.”
“My manager told me that I should send more updates. He told me I did my projects well, and that I was never late, but he would like more updates so he can report to his manager.”
“I actually like to receive criticism because it gives me information on how to improve. But the most common criticism I hear is hard to correct because I disagree with the comment. I’m told that I should be more visible. I’m told that I do great work and I do a lot of extra work, but in a large organization, it’s important to visibly stand out. I’m not a person who likes to be secluded in the office. I like to go out and collaborate, I like to work with people, and I email my co-workers with valuable information that will help with their job, so I can’t say I agree, but I always try to be more visible.”
This criticism is actually a common comment used by managers if they can’t give you a good review score but have nothing bad to say about you. In large organizations, you are measured against your peers. That means if you do well, you might get a bad review score because everyone did better. Likewise, if you are just mediocre and everyone else is terrible, you will get a good review score. Because of this system, I’m regularly told to be more visible. So when I answer this question, I make sure to back up my disagreement with examples of being visible.
- “Tell me about your last three positions?”
This type of question is generally asked by lazy interviewers who want to hear you talk for a while. A better question would be to separate the three positions and ask them one by one. But some people will ask this question, so you should definitely prepare for it. You can use this as your advantage. If you don’t have many good things to say about your second position, you can briefly comment on it and spend more time talking about the other two positions. I’ll give an example in the long answer, but here are some short answers first.
“I’ve only had one position. In my last position, I worked as a marketing analyst for South American markets. I worked closely with partners in Chile and Argentina.”
“I’ve only held two different positions. In my first job, I was a lab manager for ABC Software company. I monitored 50 computers and performed diagnostics regularly. In my last position, I was a network engineer fixing network problems and trouble shooting bottlenecks.”
“I worked as a translator for the King County court house. Afterwards, I worked as a translator for hospitals. My last position was translating help documents for a software company.”
“The first position I held was working at Radio Shack as a salesman. I learned a great deal about retail stores, about sales and working with customers, and became more independent. I thought I learned a great deal and enjoyed my work, but I wanted to experience different types of work. So I started working for Verizon. I had an office job and did a variety of different tasks such as planning, data entry, and organizing projects. I learned a little about the office setting, but I wanted to get back into sales. So I was given an opportunity to sell cell phones for Verizon at a retail store. I used my past sales experience and worked hard becoming one of the top sales person three years in a row. I’ve been there ever since.”
I haven’t worked at three different positions, so I just made one up. The question is pretty general, so the answer is pretty general. It does emphasize sales skill and coming back to the type of work that this person enjoys. But you should think of something that is related to the position you are interviewing for. Only thing you should be concerned about it clearly explaining your past three positions, what you learned there, and if you did something notable, include that as well.
- “Tell me about your last position? What did you do and how did you do it? Include the people you worked for and the people you worked with.”
This question is a little better than asking about the last three positions. It is more direct and focuses on getting more information about the last position. You might not get this question with so much detail. It might just be, “Tell me about your last position.” But you can use the other questions as a guide when answering this question. You should mention what you did, how you did it, how you work in a team, what you learned, how well you did your job, etc.
“I was a staff auditor for a small accounting firm. I performed audits for small to medium size businesses. This involved meeting the clients and retrieving data required to complete the audit. I worked closely with my supervisor that presented my findings of the audit to the clients.”
“I worked for a large insurance company as an agent. I made sales to new customers and provided customer service to existing customers. I worked with three other people in my group and we helped each other by sharing ideas and experiences.”
“I was a program manager for a manufacturing company. I was in charge of cost analysis concerning different quantities of manufacturing. I also worked on planning the procedure for the next deliverables.”
“In my last position, I was a senior auditor. My duties included auditing governmental businesses and Native American tribes. For all the audits I was conducting, I was the in charge auditor overseeing the audits of other team members and doing a portion of the audit myself. I have experience in conducting
an audit from beginning to end without supervision and I worked with controllers and senior accountants on a regular basis. Along with working with experienced and knowledgeable client’s, I also had to work with junior level accountants that didn’t know all the details of auditing. I was clear and concise in asking for what I needed. In the last year I was working as the senior auditor, I planned and organized each visit to our client’s site. I regularly trained and managed new members of our team and I was the go to person for technical auditing questions.”
The question wanted detail so the answer has to be a little long detailing some of the highlights of the last job. I included the type of people I worked for, the people I work with, the job description, and included that I was a great team member and a leader at the last position. Most of you will not be in the accounting field, so you can’t use this example. But you should follow the steps of being detailed and showing off your strengths.
- “What is your management philosophy?”
This is another question only for managers and above. You can make this short or long, but in the least it should be an answer that stands out. Think of a guideline that you follow as a manager that you think is a good philosophy to follow.
“I think management should provide guidance, direction, leadership, and finally set an example to subordinates.”
“My management philosophy is to provide an environment that leads to productive employees. I achieve this through conflict management, keeping the morale high, providing encouragement to low performers, and also rewarding the strong performers.”
“I believe in setting an example. My favorite managers in the past were the ones that worked smart and efficiently. I learned a great deal and found that leading by example is a strong way to influence directs to work diligently.”
“Before I was in management, I had many types of managers. I learned a lot from observing their management styles. I also learned a lot from the bad managers I had. I had a manger who was never there, another that didn’t care, and another that had a phrase similar to, ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ So the traits I acquired are from my good managers such as working smart instead of working long, but the philosophy I always think about is from my bad managers. So I believe I should lead by example, provide guidance and growth by giving important feedback, and to be accessible to everyone.”
If you want a shorter answer that is to the point, you can consider this one.
“I believe management should provide guidance for employees to do their job well. This includes several meanings. First, it means management should provide challenging tasks related to the job that gives employees experience. This also stretches their abilities and brings growth. Also, by guiding employees to do their job well, it benefits the company by having productive employees.”
Questions that are related to what you think should differ person to person. So think what your management philosophy is and write it down. Put more thought into it and then you will be able to explain exactly what you mean. If you have no idea, then consider what I wrote down in my two examples above.
- ”What was your favorite job?”
I have never been asked this question, but I know some people who ran into it. That means you should at least give it a little thought so you can think of a good answer ahead of time. The best way to answer this question is to select a job that is most similar to the job that you are applying for. For example, if a person who is applying to be a financial analyst says their favorite job was being a salesman, then the answer is basically useless and not effective at all. Rather, you should say that you like your last marketing job because you have passion for it and you really enjoy it. Many people fail interviews based on lack of enthusiasm. So make sure you show them that you love the job you are applying for.
“My favorite job was working as a financial analyst. I wanted to pursue other areas of finance so I accepted a position as a financial consultant. After a while, I realized how much I enjoyed my work as a financial analyst so I’m looking for a financial analyst position.”
“The last position I held was my favorite job. I really enjoy all aspects of accounting and auditing. However, I don’t want to limit myself to just governmental accounting so I want a position where I can be doing similar type of work but in a larger setting.”
“My favorite job was the last position I held in the marketing department. That’s why I’m applying for this job. It’s similar to my last position and I really enjoyed it. Even though I really like my job, I want to experience the same work for a larger company. That’s the primary reason for wanting to leave my current job.”
This answer is brief but effective. It states that this person loves marketing. The second part of the answer is basically answering a question before it is asked. If you love your job, why are you leaving? You can answer this in several ways, but my example is using the excuse of wanting to work for a larger company because it shows that I want to take the next step in my career. It shows that I want to grow and that I want to go to bigger and better opportunities. Basically, it is showing a little ambition without saying it directly.
- “Tell me about the best manager you ever had.”
This question is primarily used to see what you value in a manager. The best way to answer this question is to explain a little bit about the manager and list the things you respect. Also include that you learned how to become a good manager through your experience with your good manager.
“My favorite manager was a person with a lot of knowledge. She stood her ground firmly and knew the best process to take by analyzing all the information.”
“My favorite manager was very trusting and easy to approach. I grew in many ways under this manager and I valued his method of dealing with directs. I believe in growing employees and this manager did a great job.”
“I had a manager that worked efficiently. Instead of bossing everyone around, he set an example of hard work through his actions. I respected that trait and learned to be more like him by working smarter.”
“The best manager I had was during my first year at Microsoft. Since then, I have been under many different managers, but nobody matched up to his level. I respected him the most because of two reasons. He spent a great deal of time mentoring me and teaching me many work related things. I became a great employee because of him. And second, he produced the greatest amount of quality work among all the other managers. I always wondered how he could spend so much time with me and still find ways to out perform other managers. But that is where I learned how to work smart and efficiently. He showed me how to be the best employee through his action and through the individual lessons he gave me. I was so happy to have had a great manager early in my career.”
This is an easy answer for me because I was truly amazed at my first manager. I made sure to explain why he was the best manager and what I learned from him. Another reason why it is important to be able to answer this question is because most great employees were taught by a great manager.
- “Tell me about the worst manager you ever had.”
Just like learning from a good manager, you should learn from bad managers as well. When you tell the reason why your manager was bad, make sure to include that you learned not to be like that.
“In my last position, I had a manager who didn’t like to give instructions. I managed to figure a lot of it out, but I would have saved a lot of time if my manager gave a simple 5 minute overview on the project.”
“I had one manager that was very disorganized. Whenever I ask a question, he would look around his desk for a couple minutes looking for information to give to me. I like to be organized so this trait really bothered me.”
“One manager didn’t like talking to people. He always had his office door closed and whenever anyone asked a question, he seemed disturbed. He was very intelligent and produced a great deal of work, but as a manager, I believe you should be approachable by your directs.”
“The worst manager I had was when I was working at a database company. I didn’t like my manager because he was never available. When ever he was given an assignment, he always delegated the work without explaining the details. We were told to figure it out. I believe that you can learn from figuring some things out by ourselves, but it was obvious that this wasn’t his intention. But the worst thing about it was that I didn’t know that he was bad until I changed to a different manager. He kept feeding us false hope saying we are close to being promoted. Basically it was a way to keep us motivated to work extra hard. Sure it worked for a while, but I didn’t gain anything else out of it except what not to be as a manager.”
This is a pretty easy answer that just explains the behavior of a bad manager. If you haven’t had many managers, then it might be difficult to think of one. But you should definitely think of an answer even if you have to bend the truth a little. Although my example was ordinary, you can make a better answer by listing out what you learned through your bad manager.
- ”What could you have done to improve your relationship with a manager you didn’t like?”
This question could be a follow up to the question about having a bad manager. In my case, I didn’t know he was a bad manager until I switched managers. But here is a generic answer that shows professionalism.
“If I communicated my problems earlier, I feel we both would have benefited. I waited several months before approaching my manager, and after our talk, our relationship got much better. So I could have improved my relationship by talking about problems sooner than later.”
“I feel I should be more understanding of different work styles. I didn’t like my manager not communicating enough, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t approach him. So I’m learning to work seamlessly with different types of people.”
“One of my managers gave too much criticism. I value criticism, but hearing something negative every other day was difficult. I think I could have communicated how the criticism affected me in order to improve our relationship.”
“I had a manager in the past I didn’t like that much, but I couldn’t say he was a bad manager. Our personalities conflicted and we had some arguments. This affected my performance and willingness to work in the beginning, but I asked myself this same question. I thought I should try to get along with my manager despite my personal feelings. I set them aside and maintained a professional relationship. Taking this approach really helped. Because I was willing to look past minor differences, our work relationship got stronger and I performed at a higher level.”
This answer shows that this person took proper actions before it was too late. It shows that this candidate has the ability to work with managers and team members despite personal differences or feelings of dislike. When you think of your own answer, make sure you answer this question showing that you dealt with this problem before and that you overcame the situation.
- “What were the most memorable accomplishments in your last position?”
“What were the most memorable accomplishments in your last career?”
Both of these questions can be answered with the same question. If you do not have much experience, it might be hard to think of a good answer. Also, if your previous job was very simple or followed a regular routine, then a memorable accomplishment might be hard to think about. So take a lot of time to think of anything. Because answering this question with nothing to say is basically the only wrong answer. Here are some ideas. Did you save the company money? Did you create a new process and put it into place? Did you break a sales record? Did you meet a difficult deadline? You can use all of these types of experience for this answer.
Short Answers “I remember the day I completed an audit from beginning to end all by myself. Since I was an entry level auditor, this accomplishment really felt good because it was my first major step.”
“One day our director came out of his office asking who wrote up the documentation for ABC firm. I didn’t know if he was upset or impressed. I said I did it and he basically said, great job and went back to his office. This was memorable because the director never did this before.”
“The most memorable accomplishment I had as a sales associate for a software company was closing a deal worth $17 million. This was the second largest order our company ever had and it felt like hitting a grand slam.”
“My last position was selling copy machines. I had one month where I broke the sales record for a given month. I think that was a great accomplishment. However, throughout the calendar year, I exceeded the average number of sales by 20% ten out of twelve months. Having a great month is good, but I feel it is a greater accomplishment maintaining solid numbers throughout the whole year.”
“I think the greatest accomplishment in my last position was implementing a simple process that reduced the number of broken builds by 20%. Whenever we have a broken build, it slows down work for 20 different people. That puts risk on slipping the ship date. But my process involved following 25 steps prior to building to ensure a successful build. The 25 steps only took 15 minutes to complete and we reduced the number of build breaks significantly. It worked for our product and upper management instructed other groups in our organization to put this process in place. I really felt excited about that accomplishment.”
These two examples are different. One is for a sales position and the second is for a technical engineer position. Both of them are great accomplishments. Sales is easy to answer because you can just throw out numbers and it sounds good. The second is a little more difficult because you have to explain the situation a little. But make sure you explain your scenario enough so the interviewer can see the significance of your contribution.
- “Why do you want to leave your current job?”
There are many wrong answers to this question. Some of them include saying things like, I hate my job, I hate the company, I’m not appreciated there, I hate my boss, I’m sick of working there, etc. Basically, anything negative is a bad answer. If you say something negative, they will think you will eventually get into that situation again while working for them. So I highly recommend you have a good answer that leaves a positive impression while displaying good traits.
“I want to find a company with more opportunities. My previous company was very small and didn’t have opportunities for growth. After learning about the work environment here, I felt this is exactly the type of place I want to work.”
“My current company is very large and it’s difficult to do different tasks. We have routine work that never changes. I want to work in an environment where I can utilize more of my skills.” “Our family moved to live near a better school district for our children. This area is great and I want to find a job closer to my new home. My previous job was too far away to commute.”
“I really enjoy what I’m doing, but I feel I’m following a routine. I looked around for more opportunities to grow, but because the company is small, I’m very limited. I want to work in an environment that will help me realize my full potential and a place I can contribute everything I’m capable of doing. My current job doesn’t provide these things for me and that’s why I want to work here. I know ABC Company has a lot of opportunities for growth and encourages employees to take on challenging projects to learn more. That is what I’m looking for.”
This answer shows a couple of good traits. It also shows excitement and mentions the company name.
It is personal and direct. This is a generic answer so you can use this if you want. If you decide to think of your own, make sure it displays good traits and the reason for wanting to leave your current job is not a negative reason.
- “Where did you tell your boss you were going?”
“Where does your boss think you are?”
I highly doubt you will be asked this question. But it is true that interviews are conducted during office hours. That means if you are employed, then you will have to have a reason for not working. There are a couple of options. If the interview is less than two hours, you can schedule one during lunch time. If so, you can say you told your boss that you had to take care of some personal matters and you are taking an extended lunch. Another option is to tell the interviewer that your boss is aware of your interview schedule. But make sure it is true. I don’t know what the best way to answer this question. But if I had to respond to this question, I would answer by saying I’m taking a personal day, or a vacation day. But make sure you don’t say you are using a sick day. That is a complete lie and the interviewer will see that you are willing to lie for your personal gain.
“I wasn’t required to tell my boss because I used one of my vacation days to be here. I’m really excited to have this interview opportunity and using a vacation day was very well worth it.”
This answer is turning an awkward question into an opportunity to show enthusiasm for the interview and the company. This is a key example where little things count. By adding the last sentence, the interviewer is sure to remember your answer more. That is because he or she will see your enthusiasm and excitement. If all the answers are the same, this one will be sure to stand out. When interviewing, everyone has similar answers. The key is to find opportunities to put in little extra comments to give you the advantage.
- “Are you currently employed at the last place listed on your resume?”
This is a simple yes or no answer. I do not recommend lying. They can find out and if they catch you lying, then you lost your chance at this job. The reason this question is important is because someone who is currently employed appears to be a better candidate than someone who doesn’t have a job. I do not believe it is true that an employed person is better qualified for any job, but it is one of those things that most people grew up with. If you are currently employed, then simply answer yes. You don’t’ have to say anything else. If no, then you can say something to justify your reason for not having a job. But make sure it is a good reason. Otherwise, it might be better to simply answer, “No, I’m not currently employed.”
- “What is the title of the person you report to? What responsibilities does he or she have?”
This is a trick question for people who are giving them a bigger title. An interviewer will know what you really did by finding out what your manager does. For someone who didn’t prepare for this question, he or she will fall into a trap. Let’s say a person said he or she was a manager. If the interviewer asks this question and the person responds by saying similar types of responsibilities, then something is wrong. Why do you have the same responsibilities as your manager? To prepare for this question, make sure you answer that your manager did higher level work than your own. The work that you mention you did should be showing off your skills, but your manager should have even greater responsibilities. Then it really shows how high you are. The example I’m going to give represents me as a Group Program Manager.
“He was a sales manager. His duties included scheduling, customer support, and managing a group of 15 sales associates.”
“My manager had a supervisor title. He was in charge of distributing work to staff auditors, reviewing final audits, scheduling business trips, and he also performed audits as well.”
“My manager had the title Test Manager. She was in charge of delivering high quality features for each software application. She planned each project giving a timeline of completion, worked with management from different groups to make sure quality is assured, and provided direction to our team of 20 testers.”
“The title of the person I report to is Product Unit Manager. The Product Unit Manager is responsible for overseeing the entire project. He uses the information from Test, Development, and Program managers to make sure the project is on line. He also is the person representing our whole group and reports progress to the vice president of our organization. He provides high level guidance and direction making sure we are following our mission statement. Other people who report to him are the Development manager and the Group Program manager.”
The more details you provide the better your answer. It ensures you are telling the truth and that you are aware of what you need to be able to do to take the next step up. Finally, a great way to answer this question is to know what position you are applying for and then list off the responsibilities of the person you would be reporting to if you got hired. That will make the interviewer think that you have very similar or exact experience for the job you are applying for.
- “In your previous position, how much time did you spend on the phone?”
“In your previous position, how much time did you spend in meetings?”
“In your previous position, how much time did you spend working by yourself?”
“In your previous position, how much time did you spend working in a team?”
These questions all depend on the type of position you are applying for. If the position is a product support position, then time spent on the phone is going to be large. Let’s say your previous work involved working alone a lot, and the position you are applying for requires a lot of teamwork. Even though you worked by yourself a lot, you should emphasize the work you did in teams. If this is the situation, then I would say I did a combination of both.
“In my last position, we had large projects that involved multiple people. We had meetings to discuss the project and worked in teams whenever it involved overlap of feature. After the meetings and working with the team, I was required to finish my work by myself. So it was quite balanced between meetings, team work and working by myself.”
This is not an extravagant answer, but it definitely shows that this person is capable of working in groups and working alone. Most office work requires a combination of working in groups and alone, but if your situation is different, then answer according to what the interviewer wants to hear.
- “If you don’t leave your current job, what do you imagine you will be doing in several years?”
There are several things the interviewer wants to learn from this question. The interviewer knows you are looking for another job because you are not happy with where you are at. Knowing this, they want to find out how you react to situations where you are not happy. Most people who do not prepare for this question will have a generic answer that doesn’t stand out. You can use this opportunity to give a solid answer.
“I’m confident I’ll be in a management position several years from now. In my current position, junior employees ask me many questions and I like to mentor people. My work is very routine and I’m very efficient. I want to find more challenges my work currently doesn’t offer.”
“To tell you the truth, I feel I’ll be doing the same thing I’m doing now. I always look for more work and different opportunities, but my current company doesn’t have many opportunities for advancement.”
“I’m a very proactive person and I’ll continue to do my job well. I’ll always look for opportunities and even create places where I can improve my work. I know if I continue to perform well, I’ll have more opportunities to get promoted when a position opens. So hopefully, in several years, I’ll be managing people that are in my current position now.”
Despite having some negative feelings about work, this answer shows that he or she will continue to do hard work regardless of being unhappy. You shouldn’t say you are unhappy, but looking for another job is one indication of not being happy.
- “If you’re very happy with your current job, why do you want to leave?”
If you portray that you are very happy with your current job, then they might ask you this question. I was in a very similar situation and I will include my answer as the example. You can use other reasons, but make sure it doesn’t contradict you being happy.
“I like the work I’m doing and I like everyone on my team, but I have a strong desire to learn other aspects I can’t learn in my current position.”
“I have been in my current position for four years and I want to gain experiences in other areas. I love my job, but I want to grow more as a professional.”
“I love to learn new things and after several years in my current position, I realized I was doing the same thing over and over again most of the time. So the only reason I want to leave my current job is to broaden my knowledge by gaining other experiences.”
“I have been with my previous group for more than three years. I was doing the same thing on a regular basis. Although we received different projects from time to time, it was very similar to my previous work. So I had a desire to gain new experiences and learn from different products. I believe having a variety of experience is good for my career so I made the decision to leave my current job.”
This is simple and direct. It answers the question without including unnecessary excuses. It also shows my desire to grow, learn more, and improve myself. This is a good indication of a good employee so using an answer like mine is a safe answer.
Work Related Interview Questions II
- “If you have problems or complaints with your current job, why haven’t you brought it to their attention?”
If the interviewer knows you have complaints about your current job, then they might ask you this question. Make sure the complaints are things that do not make you look bad. For example, having no opportunities is a good complaint, but not getting a good raise is a bad complaint. After you decide on the complaint, then you can create your answer around it. It is better to answer that you did bring this up multiple times. That way, you are displayed as honest.
“I actually told my manager several times. I told him about my desire to learn new things and take on new challenges, but there aren’t many opportunities in my current group.”
“I believe in being straightforward, and I told my manager on numerous occasion that I was interested in taking on more responsibilities. However, my current group doesn’t have opportunities I’m looking for.”
“After working the night shift for a couple of years, I wanted normal working hours. I told my manager about this, but there was no positions available for regular hour shifts.”
“My biggest complaint is that there are no opportunities to grow. My manager tells me I’m doing great work, but I feel I am stuck at this level. I spoke with my manager for more work so I can grow and gain more experience, but unfortunately, there isn’t any work to give. I even had a discussion about changing roles, but because there is no open headcount in other divisions, it was hard to do that. So I definitely conveyed my desire for more work or for change, but it was something they couldn’t provide.”
Having an employee that complains about a lot of things is an employee you do not want to hire. However, if an employee complains about not having enough work, it could be seen as a good complaint. Most work places have more work than resources, so giving more work isn’t a problem. So this complaint shows that you are a person who wants to work and wants to learn. These are good traits and that makes this answer a good one.
- “Give me a specific example at your last position where you increased revenue.”
“Give me a specific example at your last position where reduced cost.”
“Give me a specific example at your last position where you made things more efficient.”
These are very similar to the ‘Tell me about’ type of questions. They want a specific example from your work experience. But if the position is an engineer position, you will not get questions about revenue and cost, but you might get one about efficiency. In other questions, I gave an example of reducing cost, so I will use this time to give an example of increasing revenue.
“As a sales associate, I do my part in increasing revenue by making more sales. Even if I’m having a good month, I continue to work hard to make sure our company is continually increasing its revenue.”
“It’s something small, but in our office, everyone left there monitors and lights on. I simply put up signs to turn off their monitors and to turn off office lights. This really helped and our VP even told me he appreciated the small effort.”
“We provide many different brochures for our clients, and when we get low on a specific brochure, we have to order each one separately. I created a small tool that automates this process and saved about 30 minutes of work each time we ordered brochures. It was something small, but my manager appreciated it.”
“In my last position, I was the manager for a Japanese restaurant. We were located in downtown and realized that not everyone had a full hour for a lunch break. I created a system to turn 5 of our dishes into meals that would be ready in three minutes. We put up a sign indicating that we would have meals in less than three minutes and revenues jumped 30%. I considered the location of the restaurant and saw an opportunity to provide meals to customers that would’ve never considered our meal due to their lack of time. The store owner was really proud of this accomplishment.”
All examples will be different because everyone has different experiences. When you think of your own, you should primarily be concerned about how clear you are. Think of something you did and put them into words. Having answers ahead of time will keep you organized during the interview.
- “What do you feel an employer owes an employee?”
This purpose for this question is basically to see what you expect from the company. It is a simple answer, but you should also mention what you will give, in return for what you are expecting.
“I believe an employer should provide a good work environment and opportunities for growth in return for hard work.”
“I believe an employer should respect their employees and treat them fairly. I plan on working hard and I should be recognized for my contributions.”
“I believe an employer should provide an environment where everyone can succeed. I also believe that opportunities for growth and advancement should be provided by the employer.”
Long Answer “I have a lot of expectations from my employer. Financial compensation is a given, but there are other things I expect. I feel an employer should provide a good work environment, opportunities for growth, reward and recognition for excellence, and guidance in career development. I know I will be giving everything I can to help my employer succeed, and in return these are some of the expectations I have.”
If you look at the list of things I mentioned, all of them are strong indicators of a good employee. If a person is wanting to grow and guidance in career development, then that worker is serious about improving him or herself. Also, wanting reward and recognition for excellence indicates that this person is going to try to achieve excellence to get the reward. I would try to avoid saying things like, having a good sick day policy, or an understanding of missed days due to miscellaneous issues, or mentioning a good maternity leave plan. These things are all provided by large companies, but mentioning them indicates that you are a person who gets sick easily, or a person planning on having a baby, or an unlucky person that misses work due to bad luck.
- “What do you expect from your manager?”
This question should be answered that shows what type of worker you are. Mention things that will help you to become a better worker instead of mentioning that you want an understanding manager.
“The most important thing I want from my manager is constructive feedback so I know where I need to improve. I want to continually grow and having a good manager will help me achieve my goal.”
“I expect my manager to provide work that is relevant to both the company and my growth. My manager should know my strengths and also help me work on my weaknesses.”
“I expect my manager to be a smart person who works hard. If my manager is setting a positive example, I believe I’ll be more encouraged to work harder. Having a manager that bosses people around without doing any work is very discouraging. So I expect my manager to lead by example.”
“I expect my manager to give me relevant work, to be accessible, setting an example through action, providing both positive and negative feedback so I can improve, and finally a manager that will help me succeed. Ultimately, I know it’s my responsibility to be a great performer, but having a manager that I can learn from can help me grow that much more. That’s what I’m looking for.”
This example shows the use of key words such as, succeed, great performer, improve, and grow. Each item listed demonstrates a desire to work hard and to improve. If you want to think of your own answer, keep this in mind.
- “Would you like to have your boss’s job?”
Unless you have a better answer, the best answer for this question is a yes. However, you should clearly state that you want to learn everything and eventually move into a similar position. Do not sound like you are a person who is going to steal the job, but rather someone who is going to work hard to earn the position.
“When I gain a little more experience, I’ll be looking to find a position that is similar to my managers job. But for now, I want to continue to learn as an employee while helping the company grow.”
“I’m always learning new things and in time, I would like to have my boss’s position. I believe I’m on track to become a manager and I’ll continue to work hard to prove my abilities to the company.”
“Yes. I have several years of experience and I also took on projects to learn more about management. I don’t necessarily want to replace my manager, but I would like to learn more about management so I can be ready when a position is available.”
“I would definitely like to have my boss’s job. However, before taking on that role, I want to gain more experience and learn from my manager. I believe in thorough preparation and I am doing everything I can to learn more about management and taking on more difficult projects. I know through my hard work I will eventually have the opportunity to have a similar position to my boss.”
Being ambitious is important and this answer shows that. It also shows that this person has a strong understanding on the steps to become a manager by learning about management and taking on more responsibilities. Finally the last sentence displays confidence. If you are creating your own answer, make sure use a similar structure as this one or if not, make sure it is better.
- “What did you hear about us?”
“What do you know about us?”
“What do you think we do at this company?”
I feel this question is not to quiz you about your knowledge about the company. It also doesn’t test if you researched this company or not. I feel that this question is to find out what you know before they explain some things about there company. You should understand that if you are a strong candidate and you are doing well on your interview, then they will start sharing some things about the company to entice you to take the position. However, it could turn out to be a quiz so make sure you do your research before interviewing for a position.
“I heard that ABC Company is the leader in copy machine distribution. ABC Company is a global company in 18 different countries, and finally, it’s one of the best companies to work for.”
“I heard ABC Company has a great work environment and a place where strong contributors are rewarded. I want to work for a company with opportunities and I know ABC Company provides these things.” “I read on your website that ABC Company provides accounting services to small and medium size corporations. I also know ABC Company is the leader in tax services in this area. That’s why I’m excited to have the opportunity to join this company.”
“I heard a lot of good things about ABC Company. I know this company provides financial services to small and medium size corporations. Specifically, ABC Company focuses on creating automation for routine financial transactions. Besides what the company provides, I heard that the office environment is great and the employees are well taken care of.”
You don’t have to list everything you know… just enough to let them know that you did your homework. Also, take a little time to give the company a compliment such as the last sentence. It is a psychological tool that you should use to your advantage. This type of compliment is directed at the company and the interviewer will be happy to hear this.
- “What do you know about our product?”
“Do you know what our team is making?”
This is another type of question they ask to find out what you know so they don’t tell you something that you already know. If it is an existing product, then you should definitely know what it is. If not, and after you researched as much as you could, tell them the little that you know. For example, I interviewed for a group within Microsoft that was very new. I had no idea what the team was creating but I was interested because it was a new technology. I found out as much as I could and when they asked me this question, this is how I answer.
“There isn’t much information about your products yet, but I heard you are creating new technology to create a more secure database. I worked with databases most of my career and the thought of more security really interested me.”
“I heard this company is creating a camera lens for deep sea photography. Because my major was in engineering and my hobby is in photography, I believe this is the perfect position for me.”
“I hear this group has several functions. It has an incubation team that grows new ideas and if the product has potential a new product is formed. I also hear this group creates solutions for companies to entice them to buy more Microsoft products.”
I didn’t know much, but after researching, this is all I could find. This is exactly what I said and they responded by telling me more detail. It wasn’t wrong, but at least I said enough about the group to sound like I researched a little bit. That’s basically all you have to do for this question.
- “Have you managed people in any of the positions you’ve held?”
If your resume states that you are a manager or states that you manage people, then they won’t ask you this question. It is for those that are not in a defined management position. Basically, they want to know if you have any experience managing people. I do not recommend lying. They can keep asking questions until they find you in a lie. I would recommend telling the truth. I’ll give two examples. One is my experience of managing two temporary workers. And another is an example that would show some managing experience without actually saying you managed people.
“Yes. I have one year experience in managing three people. I distributed work to each member of my team, provided assistance and guidance, and mentored each employee to be a better employee.”
“I have three years of experience managing people. I managed a team from 3 people to a group of 10. Most of my duties as a manger was to make sure our projects were on track and that each employee was completing their work.”
“I’ve never managed people yet, but I have 2 years of experience mentoring new employees. I took several courses on management and I feel I’m ready to take the next step of managing people.”
“I didn’t hold a management position, but I was in charge of several projects where I had to manage a group of 4 workers to complete projects for a three month duration each. These projects gave me great experience in managing people.”
“I’ve never been in a management position yet, but I did manage two temporary employees for a one year duration. During that time, I was given a large area of work to cover. I planned and organized the work to distribute to the two extra workers. I managed their work and kept track of how many hours they worked each week. I met with them on a regular basis and provided feedback on where they are doing well, and where they needed improvement. Their time in our team ended after we completed the project. It wasn’t a management position, but I gained experience in managing people.”
“I never held a position where I was managing people, but I had a lot of experience where I was in charge of large projects. Although it was my co-workers, I had the experience of taking the lead on projects where I had to manage people for a specific time period. Although I didn’t experience the full aspect of managing people, I learned how to bring people together, how to use individual strengths of each worker, and how to organize and break down a large task to distribute to several people.”
If you have management experience, then you can tell them about your experience. But if you haven’t, then it might be good to show them that you have some experience in managing people as I illustrate in my example.
- “What types of people do you have trouble getting along with?”
Even if you believe you get along with everyone, the interviewer will not believe you so don’t say that you do. I recommend thinking about a type of person that is a bad worker. Use that person as an example and then explain what you do to put effort into the troubled relationship.
“I get along with almost everybody, but I tend to get frustrated at people who always say yes and end up not delivering. I expect honesty and integrity, and saying yes should mean yes.”
“I’m very understanding of different people and different work styles, but I have a hard time with people who only do work that is seen by management. There’s so much work that needs to be done and not everything is seen by the manager. So I get upset when work is neglected.”
“I get along with almost everyone, but I think I have the hardest time tolerating people who think they’re always right. Not everything is black and white and many times there are multiple ways of doing something. In my last group, I had a coworker that believed his way was the correct way. That’s fine, but when you try to explain another view point, he doesn’t listen, starts to talk louder and he begins to think it’s a debate. I avoided him for a while, but realized I should put in an effort to deal with his personality.”
For a follow up question, the interviewer can ask you what you did in this situation. Here is an example of dealing with this type of person.
“Basically, I had to change the way I talked to him. I was very careful with my words and always said something like, ‘that’s a great idea, but could we add this to it’ or ‘I definitely agree with you, but can I get your opinion on this method.’ To tell you the truth, I would rather not deal with a person like that, but I thought the right thing to do was find a way to deal with him so that is what I did.”
The reason why it is acceptable to say you have a difficult time dealing with people like this is because everyone will have a hard time dealing with this type of person. So it doesn’t make you look bad because you can’t get along with this person, however, this is a good answer because it shows taking initiative to correct the relationship.
- “Who do you think are our two major competitors?”
I never received this question, but it is very likely if it is important to know competitors. Make sure during your research, you also investigate the competitors of the company you are interviewing for. You can make your answer if you know more details such as market percentage of each company, or if it is a product company, what products they make. For the long answer, I’ll give an example of a person interviewing for a marketing position for McDonalds. This is a good example, because one of the competitors is obvious. It is Burger King. But what is the second competitor. That is the significance of this example. It gives you an opportunity to explain your opinion of the second competitor. But the figures I’m giving for all the answers are fake. You should make sure you research numbers so you can use them in your answers.
“The number one competitor to Verizon is Cingular. After they merged with AT&T, they became the largest cell phone provider with a 19% market control. The next competitor is Nextel. Although they only have 10% of the market, they are increasing in strength.”
“The two competitors of Nokia are Motorola and Samsung. Motorola has a strong presence in the United States where Samsung is more global.”
“Microsoft is competing with many different companies because Microsoft provides many different software. MSN is growing and AOL is the number one competitor for this business, while the Microsoft OS is challenged by Linux because it’s free.”
“The biggest competitor is Burger King. Where ever you see a McDonalds, it’s common to see Burger King near by. They specialize in flame broiled burgers and use that as their marketing strategy. The Whopper is their number one selling burger selling approximately 30% more than all their other burgers. The second competitor is Wendy’s. Although in some regions other hamburger stores sell more, if you take international sales into consideration, Wendy’s clearly is a strong competitor. They advertise opening late and concentrate on their dollar menu luring people in to buy other more expensive items.”
This example clearly demonstrates knowledge about the industry instead of just McDonalds. Knowing the industry is important because and this question gives you the opportunity to show that off. This example also demonstrates an understanding of the international aspect of selling burgers. Finally, their marketing strategy is included in the answer. When you are interviewing for a position, make sure you know as much detail as you can to show that you are knowledgeable about the whole industry.
- “Why do you like sales?”
You can answer this question in numerous ways. But to make your answer effective, you should think of an answer that will show your strong points as a salesman. Make sure to cover your own traits that are important to sales. Here is an example.
“I like sales because I like talking with people and I’m good at making people feel comfortable.”
“I enjoy sales because it requires strong communication skills and that’s one of my strong traits. I like the challenge of making a sale and I feel good whenever I make a good sale.”
“I like sales because it fits my personality. I enjoying working with all sorts of people and I like to provide great customer service by answering questions about products professionally.”
“I’ve always liked sales. I enjoy working with and talking to people. I’m good at making people comfortable and I also like the challenge. In the past with my friends, I heard comments frequently that I would make a good salesman even before I got into sales. So basically, I like sales because it fits my personality and I really enjoy it.”
This is a simple short answer. Not everyone can be a salesperson. They need to have the right
personality such as good communication skills. You don’t have to have a great answer for this question. But the most important aspect is showing that you enjoy sales.
- “Do you see that stapler? Convince me to buy it.”
This is a test to see if you are an experienced salesperson. I do not have much sales experience but I would answer this question by thinking of salesman I encountered in the past that I felt was good.
Think about your experience with sales people and list what they did. For example, they probably follow a format. First, they explain what the product is. Then they tell you the functionalities and where you can use it. Third, they should tell you how much easier it will make your work. Fourth, it should have a good warranty. The question didn’t give you details. So feel free to make something up. It will show your creativity. Continuing, the product should have a good return policy. Finally, you can talk about the reduced price, or the price guarantee.
“This stapler is the newest model with easier to use features such as quick loading and safety protection. It also comes with a money back guarantee for any reason if you are not satisfied.”
“This stapler is on sale for 30% off. The manufacturer is a new company so their prices are great right now. They have a great warranty program and it will save your company a lot of money with the substantial discount.”
“This stapler has the best value. With a 15% lower sticker price, it provides identical functionality with the more expensive brands. It’s durable and staples through more paper than the other brands.”
“We are proud to carry this stapler. It’s very durable and easy to use. Loading the staples is as simple as clicking this button on the bottom to open the top. The design is made with more curves to make it more appealing on the desk. It also is designed with more safety in mind. If you accidentally drop the staple on your foot or hit it with your hand, the curves are smooth enough where it will not break the skin. The warranty on the stapler is great too. It comes with a five year guarantee. We are currently offering this stapler for a low price of $19.99, and we have a low price guarantee. If you find a lower price in the next thirty days, we will gladly pay you the difference.”
If you are applying for a sales position, you have to be ready to be able to sell anything in the room. I would recommend thinking about an outline. Get that in your head. Then use the outline to practice selling variety of things. You can use my answer as an outline covering features, functionality, safety, design, warranty, and price. But don’t limit it to just these, if you have another idea, add it to this, or make up your own.
- “How long have you been looking for a job?”
I don’t know if this is legitimate question for an interviewer to ask, but it is definitely possible. I don’t like the question, but at least we should think about it and prepare an answer. If you have been looking for a job for like eight months, it could sound like you are a bad candidate because nobody wants to hire you. Instead, I would take a different approach than answering honestly. If the resume shows you have been out of work for a year, then you have to explain the one year. You have two options. First,
you can be honest and say you have been looking for one year, or you can think of a good excuse. It’s hard to lie and sound believable so I’m going to give an honest answer. If you have a good excuse for not working for a long duration, feel free to use that as an excuse.
“I sent out my resumes just last week. I’m very excited to join a company where I can help out.”
“I’ve been looking for about a month now. Because of the slow economy it’s taking a little longer than I expected, but I’m confident that I can be a valuable asset to any company.”
“It’s been about 2 months now. I wasn’t as aggressive in the beginning because I was taking some classes, but now that I’m done with class, I’m really trying now.”
“To be honest, I’ve been looking for a job for quite a long time. The job market hasn’t been that great and it’s been a little rough. But I spent my year productively by reading up on new technologies, self studying, and trying to challenge myself with small projects. I definitely learned a lot and I’m really ready to start working again.”
If you have a real excuse such as a sick mother you have to take care of, here is an example.
“I have been out of work for a year, but I have only been looking for a job for about 3 weeks now. My mother had cancer and I wanted to spend the final months with her. She passed away and I can starting work again.”
I don’t recommend lying for this question. It could turn bad if they find out the truth later. Telling them the truth like my first example shows honesty and shows that you tried to stay productive.
- “Why haven’t you received any offers so far?”
“What offers have you received so far?”
This is another type of question that most interviewers will not ask. But just in case, I’ll provide an example. For the question asking what offers have you received so far, you can simply list the ones you have received without details. For example, “I received offers from Boeing and InfoSpace.” But if they ask you why haven’t you received any offers, then your answer will depend on if you have an offer or not. If you do, then you can politely correct them by saying, “Actually, I received an offer from Intel. But I didn’t respond with my answer yet because this company is my first choice.” If you do not have any offers, then you can say something like this example.
“I just started interviewing this past week, so it’s a little too early to tell.”
“I recently started looking for a job, but I’m hoping that I’ll receive offers soon.”
“I received one offer from a smaller company, but I want to see what else is out there. I like what this company has to offer so I’m hoping everything turns out well today.” “I’ve only interviewed with two other companies so far and I have a second interview with one of them. It’s too early to tell if I’ll be receiving any offers right now, but I’m confident that I will get a couple.”
This answer is suggesting that you are actively interviewing. Mentioning a second interview with another company also shows that you passed the first interview stage. You are not admitting to any fault by not receiving any offers, but simply saying it is too early because you haven’t been searching for a job that long.
If you have been looking for a job for a long time, then you will not be able to use an answer like I just showed. Instead, you might have to be honest and try to put the blame somewhere else. More likely you will not receive this answer, but just in case, here is one more example. This example admits directly to not receiving any offers but shows diligence and shows that this person doesn’t give up.
“Most of the jobs I have been applying for require more experience than I have. Also, because the job market is rough right now the competition has been pretty tough. But I plan on self studying continually and I know through my diligence that I will get a job soon.”
- “If you don’t understand your assignment and you can’t reach your boss, what would you do?”
This question is seeing how you react to ambiguous situations. Also it checks to see how resourceful you are. The best way to answer this question is to provide step by step actions you would take in this situation.
“I would investigate the assignment deeper by searching for more information, asking coworkers or other managers and make the smartest decision on how to tackle the assignment.”
“There are many places I can look for clarity. I would look through some books, or the Internet, or my peers, or even other managers. If I try to look for answers, most of the time I can find them.”
“I would first see what the deadline is and if my manager will be back before the deadline. If not, then I would leave a message on my managers phone. Afterwards, I would ask my peers or other managers to see if they know the assignment. I believe investigating the assignment further will help me understand it.”
“First, I would read the assignment again thoroughly to see if I missed a clue or anything. I could even turn to the Internet and look up other documentation if it was something like a difficult process I didn’t know. After investigating this assignment, and I still don’t understand it, then I could turn to my peers and see if anyone has done an assignment similar to the one I received. If my peers do not know either, then I could ask my boss’s manager and verify with him. After exhausting these options, then I would have to make a decision on how to do the assignment and make the best decision I can on how to tackle the assignment. Before engaging in the assignment, I would leave a message on my boss’s cell phone.”
There might be a better answer, but in my experience many interviewers are looking for a process of reaching a goal. In this example, it shows each step from beginning to end. Feel free to add or change these steps after thinking about it.
Work Related Interview Questions III
- “If everyone on the team is a veteran, what will you do to fit in and be a beneficial team member instead of a person who appears to be in training?”
This is actually an easy question. Everyone should have a similar answer because there are only a few things that you can do. I’m going to be giving an example of preparing and reading up on information more than usual.
“In this situation, I’ll have to ramp up quickly and study notes from previous meetings before attending any. I’ll also do a lot of studying to catch up so I can participate in discussions instead of appearing to be in training.”
“In the beginning, I’ll put a lot of effort into catching up on any existing projects I join. I believe studying a lot in the beginning to be aware of what is going on is very important.”
“I’ll study as much as I can to fit into a group of veterans. I know I’ll have many questions along the way, but listening carefully and putting pieces together will allow me to catch up quickly. I know I’ll be able to be an effective team player in a short time by following this method.”
“Even if everyone is a veteran, I feel confident I can fit right in. I would prepare as much as I can by reading existing material to catch up on the project. I would plan for meetings by making a list of questions I have and finding the answers to these questions before the meeting. I would also create a list of ideas through the documents I have read. A fresh mind could help with creative solutions. I know that I would be required to study a lot in the beginning, but I would be able to do so at home or by working late in the office.”
This answer shows steps of becoming a team member that doesn’t appear to be in training. It is describing ways to limit training times in meetings, and includes that a new worker could benefit an existing team by making a list of ideas.
- “How do you intend to learn what you need to know to perform well for this job?”
We have a similar question here, but we can use this opportunity to see another example.
“I have experience in learning new concepts without training. I usually look through books or manuals
to find answers. Because I’m good at learning, I’ll study relevant material to help me do my duties well.”
“I have experience in this area so I won’t need much training. However, I know different companies have different ways of doing things, so I’ll learn company policies and methods quickly to apply my existing knowledge to do a good job.”
“The first couple weeks are important. I think it’s important to study the correct material, ask the right questions, and put in extra effort to learn what I need to know. This is what I usually do to make sure I’ll be performing well.”
“If the company provides training, I’ll utilize the training to learn. If not, then I’ll learn by being attentive to what other people do, read up on the documentation, and be willing to ask questions when necessary. I know the first couple of weeks are important and I’m willing to put in extra effort to start off on the right track.”
This example is shorter and more to the point. It is not an answer that will astonish the interviewer, but it is an answer that will show couple good traits about yourself.
- “If your supervisor tells you to do something that you believe can be done in a different way, what would you do?”
This question is designed to see how you would react to your manager when you disagree. It is important to trust your manager, but at the same time, not follow blindly. That means I should ask questions to clarify, make suggestions, and after a discussion, follow the instructions of your manager. This is the steps I would take to answer this question.
“I will tell my supervisor of an alternative way and explain the benefits. If my supervisor is not convinced, then I’ll follow his instructions.”
“I’ll suggest a different way of doing the assignment along with the benefits. If my supervisor disagrees and insists I do it a certain way, I’ll follow the instructions.”
“I’ll suggest a different method and ask my supervisor if I can do this work the new way. If the result will be the same but would potentially save more time, then I believe my manager will allow it. However, if my manager wants it done a certain way for other reasons, I’ll follow his or her instructions.”
“I would question my supervisor why he or she wants it done this particular way. If I still don’t agree with the method, I would suggest alternate ways of tackling the assignment and explain how my
suggestion would be better. After having a good conversation, if we still can’t see eye to eye, then I would have to trust my superior and follow his or her instructions.”
This is a solid answer because it is showing independence by having my own suggestion and thought, it shows I can think for myself, and finally, shows that I would be an employee that trusts the supervisor. Ultimately, this answer shows that I’m a smart person willing to make adjustments. I’ll take a moment here to clarify something. How does this answer show that I’m smart and a person willing to make adjustments? Well, many times, the interviewer will not see exactly what you want them to see. However, even if they don’t see all your good intentions, they will at least get a good feeling about you through your solid answers.
- “If you’re told to do something that you feel is illegal, what would you do?”
This is an easy answer. Unless you are interviewing to be a gangster, you should have a similar answer to mine.
“I would first verify if it’s legal or not. If it is legal, then I would continue with the work. If it’s illegal,
I would not do the work and tell my manager that this work is illegal. I would also let Human Resources aware of the situation.”
“I’d verify if the work was legal or not. If it wasn’t legal, then I’d confront my manager and my manager’s manager with this incident.”
“I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions. I would rather question my manager to verify if it is illegal or not. If I’m not convinced through facts, then I would investigate through other means. If I find it is illegal, I will not continue with the work and inform Human Resources of this incident.”
“If I’m not sure, I would verify whether it’s legal or illegal before performing the task. If I find it is legal, then I would continue with the task. If not, then I would report the request to the boss of the person who asked me to do it. If the boss does not take appropriate action, I would find out why and report the incident to Human Resources myself.”
This is making you sound firm and stubborn. But in this situation, you have to be bold with your answer. You cannot let them think that you would hide the fact. This is especially true if you are interviewing for a finance or accounting position that deals with money or other important information.
- “If you were unfairly criticized, what would you do?”
This is the hardest question I have to answer here. Being unfairly criticized is one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate it when it happens and I usually blow up. I get mad and start to argue. But as you know, this is a bad answer to this question. They are asking you this question because they want to see if you will react professionally. Any answer that shows professionalism will be good.
“I’d probably ask for clarity on the criticism. I think it’s important to accept criticism for self improvement, but if it’s unfair, then I will clear things up by asking for clarity.”
“When I’m unfairly criticized, I usually think about the criticism and try to view it from a different angle. If I still can’t see why I was criticized, then I’ll approach the person and initiate a dialog to resolve the unfair criticism.”
“I usually use all criticism to help me grow. If I was criticized unfairly, there must be a little truth to it. I’ll learn as much as I can from it, but if it was really out of line, I would definitely approach the person and ask for clarity.”
“If I was unfairly criticized in private, then I would initiate dialog asking why he or she thought this way. I would try to understand their point of view and explain my point of view. If I was unfairly criticized in public, then I would be a little upset but I would wait to address the problem until the person criticizing me was alone. I would do this because if I’m upset, I wouldn’t want to start an argument without thinking. So after some time, I would approach the person and ask him or her why I was criticized. If it was justified, then I would use that as constructive criticism to improve myself. If not, then I would tell that person that it isn’t good to publicly criticize someone when they are not sure if it is correct.”
This is a professional answer, but it could sound like you are a weak person. If you want an example of becoming upset, then this is how I would get upset in a professional way.
“If I’m publicly criticized unjustly, I would immediately ask that person on what grounds he or she is saying that. One of my pet peeves is putting someone down in public and if I don’t say anything there, then this person is getting away with something terrible, and everyone there will think I did something wrong. I would keep my temper in check but make sure that people know the criticism wasn’t justified.”
- “What are you looking to gain from your next job?”
The answer will depend on where you are in your career. If you are new, then you want to gain more experience and learn a wide variety of things. If you have a lot of previous experience, you might want to find something challenging and more opportunities for growth.
“I want a position where I’ll be challenged. I want to learn a lot of new things and I want to continually grow. So I’m looking for a job that will provide these things for me.”
“I want to gain experience in many areas of accounting. I want a position where things are not routine and where many of my accounting skills are utilized.”
“In my next job, I want more opportunities to write automation. In my previous position, we didn’t have these opportunities because we outsourced this work to other groups.”
“For the last several years, I have done a wide variety of things. I have set my goals and continually moved forward. I have worked in a time constraint environment, juggled many tasks at one time, and even managed several people. However, one of my goals is to improve my creative side of design. Working for a large company demands a lot of work from each designer. So although creating graphics came naturally for me, I never had the luxury of creating work without being pulled in four different directions. So I want to find a position where I can use more of my creativity.”
This is a stronger answer than the generic one about learning and finding something challenging. This answer displays a lot of experience, ability to work hard, and the ability to deliver items quickly. This person answers by saying he wants to find a position where he can use more creativity, while showing off his credentials as a good worker.
- “What aspects of this job interest you the most?”
This is a question to see how interested you are in the position. For this question, how you talk will be more important than what you say. Many people fail interviews due to the lack of enthusiasm, so make sure you sound excited when you answer this question.
“I’m very excited about this job because of the variety of different work. I’m well rounded and it’s always exciting when I can use many of my skills for a job.”
“The most interesting aspect of this job is the product you’re working on. I think it’s so exciting working on a product that twelve million people use. I want to be on a team where my work will make many people enjoy our product more.”
“I like the fact that this position requires someone who is detail oriented. Because we’re working with sensitive data, it’s important that all the information is perfect. This type of challenge always interested me.”
“Ever since I was studying mechanical engineering in college, I had a strong interest in automobile engines. This position is to help the engine design team to create better fuel efficient cars. When I read that, it really jumped out to me. I knew I really wanted this position because it combined my interest and my experience into one. So being on a team where I can work on something I love is what appeals to me the most.”
Listen to how this example is said more than the words. You really have to convey the message that you are interested in the job.
- “If you are given work from your manager that is boring and tedious, what will you do?”
This is an important question for the manager. If you are hired on as a analyst and you have to do some data entry, you might not be happy about it. But if there it has to be done, then the manager has to assign the work to someone. They want to find out if you are the type of person who is willing to work on boring and tedious things. The long answer is the answer I gave when I was asked this question.
“If it’s helping the company in any way, I don’t mind doing boring work.”
“My responsibility as an employee is to help the company succeed. If the work I’m given will help the company, then I’ll do the best that I can no matter if it’s boring or tedious.”
“I don’t mind doing boring and tedious work. As long as I don’t have to do it for a long duration such as six months, then I really wouldn’t have a problem.”
“I trust that management knows what is best for the project. Whatever work I’m given, I’m going to do my best knowing that it’s helping the entire company. I’m more oriented towards the success of the company and I’ll do whatever it takes to help out. So I wouldn’t mind doing boring and tedious work for awhile.”
This answer is showing loyalty and being able to sacrifice personal interest for the success of the company. Maybe it was this question that helped me pass my third interview.
- “How long do you plan on staying with this company?”
This question is usually asked to the people who move between jobs frequently. They do not want to hire someone who will leave after several months. The hiring process costs the company money and time and they want to hire someone who is looking to stay for awhile. I recommend saying you want to stay for a long time.
“To tell you the truth, I have been working and gaining experience to get into this company. This is where I want to be and I plan on staying a long time if I’m offered the job.”
“The only time I get bored is if there is no work to do. As long as there’s a lot of work, then I’ll be happy and stay a long time. I’m a busy body and I need to do work.”
“This company has everything I’m looking for. It provides the type of work I love, the employees are all happy, and the environment is great. I plan on staying a long time.” “One of my goals is to obtain a position in this company. I know that once I start working here, it’ll be for a long time.”
“As far as I can tell, this company has everything I’m looking for. I enjoy this type of work and the benefits at this company are great. I’m looking for a long term position and if there are opportunities for advancement and growth here, then I want to stay for a long time.”
This is another question you can answer in a short way. You don’t want to answer with a single line answer because it doesn’t sound believable. So a couple of sentences explaining what you want will convince them that you want to stay for a long time.
- “How do you explain the fact that you frequently change jobs? I see that you haven’t stayed with a company for more than 2 years.”
To pass this question, you have to convince them that you are going to stick around. This isn’t a question to see what you know or what your philosophy is, it is a concern they have that you have to address. Your persuasion skill will be required for this answer. But if you can’t be persuasive, convince them through step by step facts that leads to the fact that you are going to stay with this company if they hire you.
“I have been gaining experience and knowledge to have the minimum requirements to work for this company. My goal is to work for this company, and I’ll be working here a long time because this is where I want to be.”
“I planned on staying with my current job for a longer time period, but when this position opened up, I really wanted to apply because this company has everything I need. So even though I change jobs frequently, I’m certain that I love this industry and that this is a great company to work for. I plan on staying a long time.”
“I want to work for a large company that has many opportunities. I didn’t receive this in my other companies because they were smaller, but I learned this company has a lot of great work to do and a lot of different opportunities.”
“To tell you the truth, early in my career, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’ve been in a couple different industries, and it wasn’t until my last position that I found exactly what I wanted to be doing. I stayed with my previous company for more than a year but there weren’t enough opportunities. I finally found what I love to do and now I want to find a company where I can be a part of the company instead of a worker that has no interest in the overall company. I’m being careful to choose my next job because I want to establish my career in my next job, and after researching, I found that ABC Company can provide everything I’m looking for. So I’ll definitely be here for the long term.”
This answer is a little long, but if you don’t convince them that you are going to stay long, then you have a very little chance of being hired. So take whatever time you need to convince them. If you think of your own answer, write it down and be able to say it smoothly so they can fully understand that you are serious about staying.
- “Tell me about a time you had a big disagreement with your boss. What did you do and what was the outcome?”
Here is another ‘tell me about’ question. You will have to think of an example of your own. The items you need to include in your answer should consist of you showing proper communication, taking appropriate action, and ending with a good outcome. It’s perfectly natural to disagree with your boss. It is important how you react when you have a disagreement. Show the interviewer that you are professional about disagreements.
“I never really had a big disagreement with my manager. The only thing I can think of was when I recently got back from a business trip, my manager told me I had to go on another one the next day. In my previous company, it wasn’t common to send someone on a business trip immediately, but another employee got sick so I had to fill in.”
“I had a disagreement with my boss on how to do an assignment. It was easy to resolve by having a discussion on the pro’s and con’s of both methods. We didn’t come to any conclusion which way was better, and I ended up performing the work the way my manager wanted. This was because in case I couldn’t finish the assignment, he could easily pick up where I left off.”
“I don’t think I’ve had a large disagreement with my boss before, but I do remember a small disagreement. I received an email from my boss telling me that he wants me to stop the work I was doing on my project and give it to a co-worker. He wanted me to start on a new project immediately. I spent two and a half weeks on this project and I only had three days left. I really wanted to finish this and it didn’t make sense for me to hand this project off to someone else. So I put some thought into it, went over to my boss’s office, and asked him why this project couldn’t wait three days. He made his argument and I still didn’t agree. We discussed this for a while and we compromised by having someone help me finish the project I was working on so I can have some time to kick start the next project. That’s the only experience I had with a disagreement, but I learned that it only takes simple dialog and a little compromise to overcome a disagreement.”
I know this answer is long, but all types of ‘tell me about’ questions are long. You have to tell a story in the shortest way for them to understand while explaining the disagreement along with the outcome. It’s a huge question and it will take a long time to master ‘tell me about’ questions. That is why you should diligent on these types of questions.
- “What do you do when there is no work to do?”
The interviewer wants to find out what type of person you are. Are you a busy body looking for work, or are you a lazy person doing only the work that they tell you to do? This question will determine just that so make sure you give them an answer showing your great work habits.
“I always try to be productive even if there isn’t much work to do. I use my time to find areas of improvement within the office, take time to study new things that will help me on future projects, and
volunteer to help other coworkers that might have too much work.”
“Usually when I have nothing to do, I ask my manager if any of my peers need help. If not, then I usually spend time studying material that will help me on my next project.”
“As a sales associate, there are many times when there is no work. But I always stay busy by cleaning and rearranging the items I’m selling before customers come in.”
“When I have no direct work, I always find side project such as thinking about a process of some sort that helps with office efficiency. One time, I created a small tool using MS Word that helped our team speed up the mailing process.”
“I’m a type of person who hates not having work to do. In my last position, I frequently asked my supervisor for more work when I finished early. And in times when there really is no work, I go around searching for work and if I’m still unsuccessful, I’ll try to make work that will make existing processes more efficient. So I believe there never is a time when there is no work to do.”
Would you want a person like this? I think most companies will love an employee who wants to continually work. So the example is the type of answer you should give.
- “What do you do when there are too many things to do?”
When someone is busy, it is important to take some time to organize and prioritize the work. Many people just try to work faster, but that doesn’t really help. Planning and working smarter is the best answer when times get busy.
“I usually plan, organize, prioritize and then work real hard. I always keep my cool and work on one item after another. I found that this is efficient instead of worrying about how much work there is to do.”
“I really like it when there is so much work. I’m a fast and efficient worker and I like taking challenges that are big. With proper planning and execution, I have always managed to complete all my tasks.”
“I regain my composure, take a deep breath, and work diligently. If there is a chance that I might not finish something due to the size of the work item, I’ll inform my manager and make sure my manager is aware of my situation.”
“I believe in hard work. A lot can get accomplished by working diligently. In a situation where there are many things to do, I’ll reprioritize my work, plan and organize as much as I can and work hard.”
“For me, the busier it gets, the more I organize and plan. Some people might think I could use the time I spend in planning out my day to work on something, but I realized how efficient I can work when I
organize my work ahead of time and plan out my day thoroughly. Also, it prevents me from panicking or from blowing up from the pressure. I learned from my previous manager that when there are many things to do, you should work smarter instead of faster.”
You can answer by saying that you will work harder or work faster or even work overtime, but people with experience knows that working smarter by planning and organizing comes from experience. So even if you don’t have much experience, this type of answer can make you look like you have been in this type of position many times and overcame them.
- “What do you do when you feel burned out?”
If you never burn out, then you are either superman or you don’t work that hard. It is ok to admit to burning out at times, and you should provide an answer that shows how you deal with the times when you do get burned out.
“I think it’s important to anticipate being burned out before it happens. But if a deadline requires me to work so much that I end up being burned out, I try to relax myself and get reenergized by not thinking about work at home and watching a good movie.”
“When I feel burned out, I go to the gym and work out. This actually helps me because it moves the focus from my mind to my body. After a good work out, I really feel mentally rejuvenated.”
“I usually use the weekends to engage in my personal hobbies to prevent me from burning out. I like to play tennis and golf, and these activities keep me mentally energized to work hard in the office.”
“I try to prevent burning out by maintaining a healthy balanced life. I try to engage in personal hobbies outside of work such as playing the guitar or going for a hike. They keep me energized to work hard in the office. But if I do feel burned out, I like to rent a movie and relax for the night.”
As you can tell, this is an easy answer. Many times a person who constantly works without a break can eventually become a bad employee by burning out. Being able to communicate exactly what you do during burnouts or how to prevent them indicates that you have balance. So simply listing a couple of hobbies and adding, ‘keeps me energized to work hard in the office’ is a good enough answer that the interviewer will accept.
- “How do you manage having so many things to do such as work, family, and school?”
“How do you balance both your family and your job?”
This is another easy answer where you can show your willingness to work hard. But it is unlikely you will get this question. Most of the time, the interviewer will ask this during small talk. When interviewing in America, I noticed there are many times where small talk is important. For example, walking together to the office could take two minutes. Are you going to say nothing during those two minutes? What if the interviewer asks how your day is going? He or she is basically initiating small talk. So it is definitely possible you will engage in small talk, and you should definitely practice small talk.
“With my kids in school, it’s really easy to manage my time. I have the full day to myself and I want to be productive by helping a company grow.”
“I’m very organized and I plan everything I do. This helps me to easily find a balance between family and work.”
“Well, during the day while my kids are in school, I like to work. And in the evenings we spend time together doing homework. I really enjoy being busy and managing multiple things in my life.”
This is a short answer that shows the ability of multi-tasking. Also, a person who enjoys being busy is a good sign. So even if you receive questions during small talk, make sure to give answers that show good traits.
- “You’ve been with one company your entire career. Don’t you think you will have a tough time adjusting to a new environment?”
If this is the case and you have been with only one company your entire career, then the best way to answer this question is to say how many changes you experienced in your previous position. Then it will sound like you are good with change and can adapt to new situations easily.
“In my company, my projects changed very frequently and I was required to ramp up on new technologies. I’m also very friendly and like to meet new people. So I think I’ll have an easy time adjusting to a new environment.”
“I actually like being in new environments. I like to travel a lot and even when I’m in a different country, I have always blended in smoothly.”
“I don’t think it will be very difficult. I learned that this company is very diverse and has a great office environment. I feel I’ll blend right in and make solid contributions to this company.”
“Although I’ve been with one company, I have experienced many changes and new roles in my career. For example, during the middle of a long project, the vice president sent out a group wide mail completely changing our direction. We had to basically start from scratch with half the time left. It felt like I was a new employee again having to ramp up on new technology, reading up on instructional documentation, and learn new applications. So through my experience dealing with change and adjusting to new projects, I am confident I will not have a tough time adjusting to this new environment.”
Saying this confidently is the key. It’s not an important question, but more like a question verifying that you are willing and capable of new things. But the more you convince them of your abilities to change, then the better you will appear.
- ”What have you heard about our company that you didn’t like?”
This is an unusual question but just in case you will need an answer. After researching and you find out that everything is good, you can basically say that you couldn’t find anything wrong. Try to mix in humor if you can since this is an odd question. Also, take a moment to pretend to be thinking about the question before answering immediately.
“From my research, I didn’t find anything I disliked. This company provides great benefits, works on exciting products, and is listed in the top 100 companies to work for.”
“When I search for a job, I always look for negative things. However, I didn’t find anything that I didn’t like. That’s why I’m very excited to have this opportunity to work here.”
“Hmmm… I read up on this company thoroughly and even spoke with a friend who works here. I didn’t hear anything negative about ABC Company. Is there something I should know before working here?”
The last sentence in the answer is a question you should say with a slight smile. That should lighten the tension a little and show that you are fully confident.
- “Do you want to work for a small or large company and why?”
This all depends on what size company you are interviewing for. Usually, large companies will not ask this question. But if they do, make sure you mention you want to work for a large company because of the resources, the training, and other things you can think of. More likely, a smaller company will ask you this wondering why you would choose a small company. The best way to answer this question is to first think about what a small company can provide over a big company. The most significant advantage of working for a small company is having the opportunity to work on a variety of tasks.
“I want to work for a large company because there are different opportunities within the company. I also feel a larger company provides better training. Finally, a larger company already has key processes in place to provide employees tools to work efficiently.”
“I worked for a small company for a year and missed out on a lot of benefits a larger company provides such as training, structured work environment, and a wider variety of work. So I want to work for a large company.”
“I want to work for a small company because I feel I’ll have more opportunities to gain valuable experience. I know some friends in large companies and they have specific roles that limit what they’re capable of doing. I’m hoping that a small company will have more variety and challenges for each employee.”
This is pretty short but to the point. It displays wanting to learn and an eagerness to try a variety of things.
Working With People Interview Quetions
- “What do you do when you’re having difficulty solving a problem?”
There are many different ways to approach this answer. So there are many right answers. Just remember to explain yourself step by step.
“I usually take a short break. I found that this helps me think clearer and often times I end up solving the problem.”
“I break down the problem piece by piece and try and solve difficult problems step by step. This approach helps me not to get overwhelmed by difficult problems.”
“I always do my best solving difficult problems. If I have trouble, I’ll use resources around me such as looking through the Internet, asking co-workers, asking my manager, or looking through some books.”
“There are couple things I do when I’m having a problem. Sometimes I try to focus so hard that I miss a point that would help me solve the problem. So I take a 2 minute break to help me approach the problem in a different way. I could either go get a drink of water, or stand up and move around. I find that this helps me at times. But if I still continue to have problems, I don’t mind asking a co-worker for some assistance. I believe in using all the resources around me and I think co-workers should use me as a resource as well.”
This answer first tries to solve the problem without bothering another person. But if everything fails, it is ok to ask questions to someone else.
- “What do you do when you have a problem with a direct?”
This is more of a question for management. There are multiple ways you can answer this, but you should show that you are responsible and that you know how to resolve these types of problems.
“I believe in open communication. I always analyze the problem and then tell my direct clearly. I always provide steps that we both can take to deal with the problem. This approach helps me because it shows my respect.”
“In this situation, I believe communication is very important. I’ll usually have a meeting with my direct on the problems I have. It’s easier to work on a problem together when everyone involved is aware, so I always communicate the problems that I see.”
“I believe feedback is important to solve problems with a direct. I meet with my directs regularly and always provide suggestions on how to improve. I also use this time to work out problems we might have. It’s important to let my directs know where I stand so they don’t have to make assumptions.”
“Because I’m the manager, I feel it’s my responsibility to improve the relationship. If the problem is work related, I’ll narrow the problem down whether it’s with his working style or another type of problem and assist in anyway I can. This would also involve providing feedback and suggestions on how to approach problems. But if our personality’s conflict then I would try to be more understanding.”
- “What do you do when you have a problem with your boss?”
This question is a little easier for me because I haven’t had many directs I didn’t like. It is easier to tell a manager your problems because they are in a position where they should accept listening to your problems. So in this case, I would answer it by showing some honesty trait.
“I’m very open with my manager. I feel it’s important that my manager knows about how I feel. I always start a conversation and try and solve our differences through professional conversation.”
“When I have a problem with my boss, I don’t like to keep it bottled up. I want to resolve problems so I can work efficiently without distractions. So I always talk to my manager about the problems that I have openly.”
“I deal with different types of people very well, but if I have a problem that affects my work, I will openly tell my manager and the reason why it’s bothering me.”
“I’m a very honest and open person. So anytime I have a problem with my boss, I always let him or her know. I make a list of things that bother me. I ask my boss for time to chat and I reveal these problems and the reasons for them. I want to make sure I’m not being offensive or sound like I’m accusing my boss of anything.”
- “What do you do when you have a problem with your job?”
Nobody likes to be working when there is a problem with the job. You can hate it, or you could be too busy and too tired. What ever the reason, it is best to show that you will look for the problem and take measures to solve it.
“In this situation, I ask my self why I’m having the problem. After identifying it, I work on solving the problems so I can be more efficient in my work.”
“It depends on the specific problem, but in most cases, I’ll face the problem that I have with my job and find a solution. If I avoid the problem, it will always be there and my work quality will decrease. So I found that solving the problems immediately helps me in the long term.”
“If I have a problem that I can solve, I’ll do everything I can to correct it. If the problem is out of my control, I feel it’s important to let my manager know what my problems are.”
“Whether I’m happy or unhappy, I’ll always do my best work. If the problem I have with my job is affecting the quality of my work, I’ll identify the problem and then take steps to find solutions.”
- “What do you do when you have a problem with a co-worker?”
Usually when two co-workers have a problem, then they will just hate each other and try to be better than the other. You can’t say this because it is the wrong way to handle it. I would probably not deal with the problem and hate the other person, but that is not what I would say in an interview. You can mention that you believe having to deal with a problem with a co-worker is difficult because competitiveness comes into factor. Along with this statement, follow up with how you would try to look beyond that to make your relationship better.
“If I have a problem with a co-worker, I believe it’s so important to talk to them. Even if I’m the one with the problem, I want to know so I can be a better team mate.”
“If I have a problem, I try to approach my co-worker and let them know as professionally as possible. If I’m the one with the problem, I’ll politely ask what I can do to improve the relationship. I found that proper communication solves many problems.”
“I’ve always been told that I’m a great person to work with, but if I were in a situation where I was having a problem, I believe I would work on our relationship by being more understanding.”
“Well it all depends on if it’s a personality conflict or an issue that is causing the problem. An issue is easy to deal with. I think I’d go and talk with the co-worker saying something like, ‘If you have some time, I think it will be good for us if we talk about this issue.’ Starting a conversation to deal with the problem with a co-worker is the hardest step, and if it’s done properly, then the issue can easily be resolved. If it is a personality issue, then I would try to be more understanding and at worst deal with the problem by anticipating conflicts ahead of time to put myself in a position to either avoid it or to make it less of a problem.”
This is showing answers by using scenarios. It is a solid answer but if you disagree, feel free to think of a good scenario that will fit you better.
- “How do you handle conflict?”
This is a general question. It doesn’t ask if you are the one with the conflict, if it is a conflict with another person, if it is a conflict of schedule, or if it is a conflict with changes at work. If you want, you can ask a question to clarify. But if you want to answer in a general way, try to think of an answer that will work for all types of conflict.
“I treat most conflicts the same. I analyze the conflict and create a list of steps I can take to resolve it. By thinking about these steps and taking action, I found that most conflicts are easy to handle.”
“I handle conflicts by analyzing them. I’m a very analytical person and I feel all problems have a solution. I usually think about the conflict and find ways to deal with it.”
“Whenever I’m confronted with a conflict, I always follow a simple process. I think about what the current conflict is, think of several ways I can deal with this conflict, and then take the best action after my analysis.”
“Whenever I have a conflict I have to deal with, I like to follow a simple process. I first identify the problem causing the conflict, think about solutions or ideas that will solve the problem, and then try to implement a solution. Although it’s very simple, it makes sure that I’m not panicking, losing my temper or losing control of the situation. And it prevents me from rushing into a decision that might make the problem worse.”
This is an answer that could be applied to all types of conflicts. It doesn’t state the exact situations of each conflict, but it does state why following a process is good. The interviewer will not think this is an original idea. However, the answer provides reasons why it helps. These reasons are the key to the answer and it shows that you are organized and in control. This answer, without the last sentence is just mediocre. But the last sentence makes is very strong.
- “Have you fired anyone? And if so, why?”
If you fired someone before, then that means you are a manager or hire. If your answer is no, then this is an easy question. But if you answer yes, then you have to give a reason why. If you say I fired one of our employees because he or she couldn’t do the work properly, then this is a regular answer that will not help you. Large corporations have a procedure they follow to fire someone. If you can incorporate using the process of firing into your own experience, then the answer will be stronger. Here is an example.
“I’ve never had to fire anyone yet, but if I’m in this situation, I would follow company policy and do it professionally.”
“I had to fire one employee who continually failed to complete projects. Before firing this employee, I tried to work with him by motivating, encouraging, and even providing different work. In the end, nothing worked and I had no choice but to let him go.” “The only time I had to fire someone was when an employee was continually late. We have a company policy of giving a verbal warning for the first three offenses, and then a written warning after the 3rd offense. I had many discussions about this problem with this employee, but it didn’t help. In the end, we had to let him go.”
“When I was a managing a group of 4 people in my last position, I unfortunately had to fire one of them. The person was unable to perform at an acceptable level for a long period of time. Our company has a process in place of trying to grow our employees, empower them, and help them find their strengths, but nothing helped. I put the person on probation and explained that he will have to try harder. But after seeing bad performance due to a lack of effort for a long time, I had to fire him.”
Another approach to this question is to take a strong stance on performance. As I said before, if the answer is different and creative, the interviewer will remember it more and that means they will remember you more. Then your chances of getting the job increase more than others. Here is an example of an answer that the interviewer will remember.
“Oh yeah, I fired a lot of people. All of the reasons were the same. They were not performing their jobs. I believe in good management. I believe I should mentor and help grow our employees. This is a business and we need to do whatever we can to help our company grow. One of the biggest factors on the success of a company is having great employees. So I won’t hesitate to fire someone that isn’t performing their job. It leaves more room to bring in someone who will benefit the company.”
This is an answer I would be willing to use. But before using this answer, you must first look at the type of person asking this question and determine if he or she will like it. If the person is a strong person that shows no emotion, then it might be good. But if a person is very friendly, then that person might not like it. Even though it is a good answer, a friendly person might not like it because it could indicate that you are a cold person. Basically friendly people don’t like cold people and if you have to work together, they might not want to work with you. So be careful on using this type of answer.
- “What do you do when a worker is giving the team more problems then helping?”
If you have a lot of team work experience, you know that there are a lot of people like this. It is a fact that some people actually slow down the work than help the work. That is why this is a good question to ask. A good employee will know how to handle this situation. A bad employee will do all the work themselves. Although doing the work is good, it doesn’t show that you can deal with different types of people.
“I follow a process of helping my coworker out in any way I can. This can include assistance in their portion of the work or by encouragement. If that doesn’t work, then we redistribute the work to make sure everything is covered. I believe it’s important to let my manager know of the problem as well.”
“If the problem is related to a difficult task that a coworker cannot solve, then I’ll get all the team
members to help out. But if the problem is due to laziness or unwillingness to work, then I’ll inform my manager of the problem.”
“It’s hard to deal with a worker that puts in great effort but slows down the team. I noticed it is best to tackle the problem early. One way I found that was helpful was to be more firm. This way, the project continues to move forward without so many interruptions due to small arguments.”
“I’ve been in this situation a couple of times. One time, we organized and distributed easier work to the worker with problems. But this is only a short term solution. Most of the time, I end up spending a lot of time helping the person out. It might have been quicker if the rest of the team members did all the work, but I figure helping this person now will benefit us in our next project. Although this method doesn’t work all the time, I really get excited when it does work. Then I know I really helped another person succeed and this in turn helps the company.”
This answer will also work if you leave out the last two sentences. But I included the last two sentences to emphasize that helping other people succeed is really the truth instead of just words. If you choose the right way to say something, it sounds much more believable.
- “When do you know enough is enough when dealing with a subordinate that doesn’t seem to be helping?”
This is another good management question. The best way to answer this question is with a procedure in mind. Basically after you tried everything, then enough is enough. But what exactly is everything. You can’t use everything because that shows you really don’t know. Instead of the word everything, list out all the steps so the interviewer believes you know what to do in this situation.
“I know enough is enough when I’ve exhausted all measures to help this employee grow. I would do my part by providing encouragement, giving extra instructions, mentoring, and giving different types of work. If I exhaust all of these steps, then I know I can’t do anything further and that is when enough is enough.”
- “Do you like to work by yourself or with others?”
Even if you have a strong preference to work alone or with others, the best answer is to say both. Even if a job is mostly about working alone, there might be some team work involved. Most employers want someone who can work well in a team and work well alone.
“That’s a tough question… I like the combination of the two. It’s great working in teams while getting and sharing ideas with each other, but it’s also nice to sit at your desk and work hard productively. I like to do both so it’s hard to choose one over the other.”
If they insist on choosing one, then choose the one that is relevant to the job you are interviewing for. Make sure you pause a little before saying so.
“If I had to choose just one, then. I’d probably choose to work alone.” 11 .How do you get along…
This isn’t a very popular question because it’s hard to learn about the person answering. The answers are all going to be the same. It’s just a matter of how you say it. Because there isn’t anything exciting to say here, you should show friendly characteristics so it is believable. These answers can be short. It really doesn’t matter how long the answer is but you have to make sure you show your friendliness through your voice.
“How do you get along with your subordinates?”
“My relationship with my directs is very good. They’re very open and honest with me and I’m sure they feel they can come to me with any problems.”
“How do you get along with your co-workers?”
“I’ve always had an easy time getting along with different types of people. So I never had a problem getting along with my co-workers. I consider many of them my friends.”
“How do you get along with your superiors?”
“I’ve had my share of great managers and mediocre managers, but I’ve always gotten along with all of them very well. I’ve rarely had conflicts with them and if there was an issue, I always talked it over with them.”
Miscellaneous Interview Questions
- “What do you do to stay in shape?”
Staying in physical shape also helps the brain function better. It really doesn’t matter if you are completely in shape or not. But being active indicates that you are not a lazy couch potato.
“I like to take long walks with my dog on a regular basis, and I also go on weekly hikes at a trail near my house.”
“I work out at a gym a couple times a week. I like to stay active.”
“I play for a co-ed softball team. It’s fun and it gives me a little exercise.”
All these examples will work. It doesn’t have to be long but you should answer with something that indicates that you are active.
- “What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?”
This is another question where they want to find out some of your hobbies. Basically, you can answer this question similar to how you would answer, what are your hobbies.
“When I’m not in the office, I like to play golf, read magazines, and spend time with my wife.”
“Well, I like the piano so I have piano lessons on a weekly basis. I also like gardening, so I work on my yard a lot. But if I want to relax, I like to watch videos at night.”
Something short and simple is the best answer. No need to elaborate on why.
- “What’s the most recent book you read?”
If you are interviewing for a marketing position, don’t say you are reading a book called International Marketing Strategies. Rather, answer with a novel such as Michael Crichton books or John Grisham books. It is more realistic and shows other interests that you have.
“I just finished The Runaway Jury by John Grisham. I find all of his books very entertaining.”
“I have a strong interest in World War II, so I was reading a book about Hitler. It’s quite interesting to see how he grew up and what lead him to his hatred towards the Jews.”
Something simple like this will be good enough.
- “What is the most recent movie you saw?”
You can either answer by using a similar answer to the recent book question, or you can say that you don’t watch movies that much.
“The last movie I saw was The Last Samurai. I thought it was great.”
“Oh gosh… it’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie. I think it was Spider Man. I like to spend my time outside, so I don’t see movies that often.”
Both of these answers are fine. Whether you like to see movies or not, just tell them exactly what you think. Your answers will be more natural. If you answer these types of questions awkwardly, they might get the impression that you are uncomfortable or that you are not capable of small talk. So answer without thinking too much about these questions.
- “Did you have any trouble finding this place?”
This question is not an interview question, but a question usually asked by an interviewer right when you see them. This is especially common if the building location is hard to find. Here is another question you should tell exactly what happened.
“No problem at all. I checked for directions on the Internet and found it pretty easily.” “A little bit. I didn’t realize that there was another building back here, so I drove by a couple times, but that’s ok, I eventually found it.”
With the first answer, they will say something like, that’s good. Then they will move on to other questions. If you answer with the second question, they will probably talk a little more about how he or she agrees that this building is hard to find. Either answers are acceptable.
- “Will working on weekends be a problem?”
If the interviewer is asking this question, then this position is probably going to requires some weekend work. Maybe it’s not a lot, but they want to make sure that if something goes wrong and more work is required, you will be able to work on weekends. I recommend answer by saying it will not be a problem. If you want to find out how often you will have to work weekends, you can ask it after answering the question.
“It shouldn’t be a problem at all. I frequently worked on weekends in my other position, especially during tax season. How often is weekend work required here on average?”
This answer is stating that it is no problem. It also supports the answer by saying I have worked on weekends in my previous group. And the last sentence is an example how you can ask them about weekend work.
- “How do you feel about overtime?”
If this is an hourly job, then pay is given to employees working extra hours. If it is a salary position, most of the time they will not ask this question because they expect you to work overtime. But expect this position to have some overtime requirements if the interviewer is asking this question.
“I don’t mind working overtime at all. I know during busy times people are expected to work more, and I’m flexible with my hours so I won’t have a problem.”
- “Have you filed for bankruptcy?”
This question is for positions that deal with finance and money. You might see this question if you are interviewing for a banker position, a financial analyst position, or a stock broker. If money is a factor, then they want someone who is responsible with money. Just simply tell them the truth. If you have filed for bankruptcy, then you probably shouldn’t be applying for this job anyway. So I’m going to give only one answer of no.
“No. I’m very responsible with money and I have great credit.”
- “Do you own or rent your home?”
Renting or owning a home sometimes indicates your financial status. Renters are usually people who do not have enough down payment for a house or people with bad credit who cannot get a loan. So it is best to have your own home, but if you don’t, then give them an answer that shows you are preparing to buy a home.
“I’m currently renting, but I plan on buying my own place next year.”
“I’m renting right now, but I’ll probably buy a house when I get married.”
If you own your house, then a simple, “I own my house” will be a good enough answer.
- “Do you have any outside income?”
This might be a job interview question, or it could be a question when you are talking to a creditor. In either case, you can simply reply with a yes or no. If it is a yes, then briefly tell them the other source of income.
“I get paid child support from my ex-husband.”
“I have a rental property.”
“No. I do not.”
- “Do you earn any income from investments or hobbies?”
If you are active in the stock market, then you can mention something like that. Another income from investment is from your savings account or mutual funds. Whatever it is, simply tell them what it is.
“I have a savings account that I earn a little extra income from.”
“I have some mutual funds that perform about 8% a year.”
“I have some investments in the stock market.”
- “Are you able to make frequent business trips?”
“Are you willing to travel?”
If they are asking this, then this position probably requires some traveling. If you say no, then you probably won’t get hired because they want someone who is able to travel. But depending on your job, you will already know if it requires traveling or not.
“I know as an auditor that I’ll have to make business trips. So I’m definitely willing to travel.”
“I don’t have any problems with traveling.”
- “Are you willing to relocate?”
This is a tough question because relocating means moving to a completely new area. It might be ok to answer with a no, but I would answer with a maybe. Here is an example.
“I guess it would depend on the location and the pay. If everything is the same, I would rather stay here because this is where I grew up. But I would be willing to consider it.”
This answer is not saying yes or no. This is saying maybe in a polite way. Don’t answer with a direct maybe. That is bad. Instead use something similar to my example. If you are willing to relocate, it is an easy answer.
“I love change and I’d definitely be willing to relocate.”
- “May I contact your current employer?”
This all depends on if your current employer knows that you are searching for another job. If you are not employeed, they might ask if they can contact your former employer. Regardless, the best answer is to say yes. If not, then they will think you have something to hide.
“Yes. Do you have their contact information?”
- “May I contact your references?”
The only correct answer to this question is a yes. If they have your references, then a simple yes will be enough. If they do not, then answer yes and offer them a list.
“Sure. After the interview, I can email or fax you a list of references. Will that be ok?”
- “Is there anything else I should know?”
“Is there anything else you want to add?”
Adding one more sentence to state one more thing never hurts. But choose carefully because it is their last impression of you. If you felt you didn’t show that much enthusiasm, here is your chance. Or if you feel that they didn’t ask you about one of your strong traits, you have a chance to state it.
“I don’t know if I expressed it that well, but I’m very excited about this position. I’m confident that I can do very well here.”
“One final trait that I have that would be perfect for this position is my organizational skills. I’m very detailed and plan very well.”
- “What kind of salary are you looking for?”
“What pay range are you looking for?”
There are a couple of ways to answer this. If you state a figure, you risk stating something that is too high, or something that is too low. Either case, you will not benefit from this question. A lot of people suggest saying something like, “I’m sure whatever I’m offered will be a fair price.” But I don’t agree. It is a safe answer, but if I was the interviewer, I would appreciate numbers instead of a safe answer. So I recommend answering this question with a range. I’ll explain this more in the negotiation portion, but just in case you skip that section, here are some examples.
“I’m expecting somewhere between $50,000 – $60,000.”
If you know the pay for the position you are applying for. Then giving a figure is not that bad. Just state something a little higher with a small range included
“I know that the average pay for this position is roughly around $45,000, but because I have a couple years more experience, I would want something around $48,000 to $50,000.”
If the salary range is already included in the job description, then you can answer that you are willing to consider any offers stated in the job description.
“The job description says that the salary will be around $45,000 to $53,000. I think it’s a fair range.”
- “That’s a high salary for this position! Where did you come up with that figure?”
If you said a figure that was too high, you might here this question from the interviewer. This is not good because they would only ask this if the figure you stated was too high. So I would first justify the larger figure and explain that would consider a little less.
“I have three more years of experience that will help a lot. I also have a college degree that is not stated as a requirement. But if the figure is too high, I would consider something a little less.”
- “How much do you currently get paid?”
I don’t think you can lie about this question. It’s easy to find out the truth. I would recommend saying exactly how much you made.
“I was paid $50,000 a year plus an 8% bonus.”
“I received $27.50 an hour at my last position.”
- “When are you able to start?”
If you are not working, then you are able to start immediately. But saying immediately sounds too desperate so tell them next Monday or something. If you are currently employed, then you have to show that you are responsible by giving your current employer a two week notice.
“I’ll be able to start as early as next Monday.”
“I have to give my current employer a two week notice so I could start immediately after that.”
- “Are you considering any other offers right now?”
This question is not asking if you got an offer or not. It is asking if you are considering it. Regardless, you can tell them the truth.
“I’m not considering any of my offers right now.”
“I was considering an offer I received last week, but I don’t think I will be accepting that position.” “I’m thinking about an offer I have, but I want to keep my options open.”
- Asking Questions
Most of the time, the person interviewing you will ask if you have any questions. It is important that you ask intelligent and relevant questions. Make sure you prepare some questions before you interview so you can learn more about the company and the position. Here is a small list of questions you can ask. Feel free to create more of your own.
“Do you have any questions?”
“Does this job usually lead to other positions at the company?”
“Tell me some of the skills that you want in a candidate for this position.”
“What are the people I’ll be working with like?”
“What do you like the most about this company and why?”
“How is this company doing in comparison with competitors?”
“I know of products x and y, does the company plan to introduce any new products?”
“What is the company doing to maintain its market strength?”
“How many employees work for this company?”
“What has been the company’s layoff history in recent years?”
“Do you know of any anticipated cutbacks in any departments in the near future?”
“What major problems has the company recently faced?”
“What type of training do you provide here?”
“What do you like best about this company?”
“What position title will I be reporting to?”
“What other departments does this department work closely with?”
“What kind of training should I expect?”
“How long is the training program?”
“How did this position become available?”
“Is a written job description available?”
“Please describe a typical day for this position.”
“How long has this position been available?”
“How many candidates have you interviewed for this position?”
“How many total candidates will you be interviewing for this position?”
“Do you interview a large number of people before making an offer to a person, or do you make an offer to the first person who is qualified?”
“What type of hardware and software will I be working with?”
“What will my workstation be like? Will it be an office, a cubicle, or a desk?”
“What opportunities for advancement are available here?”