Typical interview questions

Tell Me about Yourself

  • Don’t give the story of Your life;
  • Give a very brief rundown including education, previous job titles targeted very specifically toward how Your experience and/or education will be useful in the position for which you’re applying.

What are Your Strengths?

Talk about strengths that are very specific to the job you’re interviewing for.

What are Your weaknesses?

Some choices for responding to weakness question:

  • Simply reassure the interviewer that You know of no weaknesses that would stand in the way of Your performing this job;
  • Reveal a trait that once was a weakness, but explain how You overcame it and learned from it.

Where do You want to be in 5 (or 10 or 15) years?
What do You want to do with Your life?

Strike a delicate balance when responding to this kind of question: Honesty/ambition/ Your desire to be working at this company.

  • Avoid responses like starting Your own business, running for Prime Minister;
  • Not totally inappropriate to mention the personal (marriage, family), but focus on professional goals.

Have You ever had a conflict with a boss?

  • Employer may want to see whether You will speak very negatively about a former boss;
  • Don’t fall into the trap;
  • And if You truly have NOT had a conflict, tell how You would handle it if You did.

Why should we hire you?

  • The unspoken part of the question is: . . . above all other candidates?
  • Tell what sets You apart — Your Unique Selling Points. Be specific about how Your qualities match the employer’s needs.

Would You rather work with information or with people?

  • Ideally, both, but tailor response to job and describe strengths in each area;
  • Don’t make yourself sound weak in either area.

What qualities do You feel a successful manager should have?

The question has a twofold purpose:

  • How You will get along with management;
  • How You see yourself as a manager.

How has Your education prepared You for Your career?

Describe Your educational preparation as very specific to the job. Provide concrete examples, when possible.

How much training do You think you’ll need to become a productive employee?

  • Key word is productive;
  • You can be productive immediately. Make sure You express confidence in Your ability to make an impact immediately.

Why are Your university exam results not better?

Don’t make excuses. Response should enhance Your value as employee.

  • You held a job while in school, which hurt Your grades but gave You great experience;
  • You made some mistakes early on, but you’ve worked hard to improve and have learned from the experience.

YES or NO Questions:

  • Are You a team player?
  • Are You a goal-oriented person?
  • Do You handle conflict well?
  • Do You handle pressure well?

Never respond with just “yes” or “no.” Always elaborate and be prepared to give specific examples.

Questions that require knowledge of the company:

  • What do You think it takes to be successful in this career?
  • Do You enjoy doing independent research?
  • Do You have any plans for further education?
  • Why do You want to work in the _____ industry?
  • What do You know about our company?
  • Why are You interested in our company?

If you’ve researched the company…you’ll have no trouble with this kind of question.

“Thought” questions:

  • What goals do You have in Your career?
  • What motivates you?
  • What changes would You make at Your college?
  • What were Your favorite classes? Why?
  • Who were Your favorite professors? Why?

These questions require:

  • Thoughtful responses;
  • Responses that are not self-serving. Think how You can tie Your response to the position You are applying to;
  • Responses that are specific to the job, if possible.

Money questions:

  • Is money important to you?
  • How much money do You need to make to be happy?
  • What kind of salary are You looking for?

Answering money questions:

  • Strike a balance. Money’s important, but so are other things, such as job satisfaction;
  • Don’t talk about needs such as mortgage repayments or how much it is costing to send Your children to school. They are not the employer’s problem, and You should be paid based on what you’re worth, not what You need;
  • If You do talk specifics, be sure You know what you’re talking about. Know Your competitive market value.

Questions that target Your decision-making skills:

  • Why did You choose this career?
  • How do You plan to achieve Your goals?

Be sure Your responses demonstrate sound decision-making processes

Do You have any actual work experience in this field?

  • Discuss the key skills You have gained from Your work experiences — and how these skills will help the employer;
  • This question also gives a good opportunity to talk about Your existing skills/strengths, if You have minimal work experience.

How should You respond if You are asked about technical expertise that You lack?

“With my experience and background, I feel certain I’ll have no problems getting up to speed.”

Why is it important to ASK questions in an interview?

  • Failure to ask questions is a major interview flaw;
  • Your success in obtaining a job offer depends significantly on the quality of Your questions and how You ask them.

Toward the end of most job interviews, the interviewer will give You the opportunity to ask questions. You must ask a least one question; to do otherwise often signals the interviewer that You don’t really have any interest in the job or the company. On the other hand, do not ask questions where the answer is obvious or readily available — or when the topic has already been thoroughly discussed in the interview. And never ask about salary and benefit issues until those subjects are raised by the employer.

So what follows are just some examples of the types of questions You might ask at a job interview:

  • What is the top priority of the person who accepts this job?
  • What are the day-to-day expectations and responsibilities of this job?
  • How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? And by whom? How often?
  • Can You describe the company’s management style?
  • Can You discuss Your take on the company’s corporate culture?
  • What are the company’s values?
  • Are lateral or rotational job moves available?
  • Does the organization support ongoing training and education for employees to stay current in their fields?
  • What do You think is the greatest opportunity facing the organization in the near future? The biggest threat?
  • Why did You come to work here? What keeps You here?
  • How is this department perceived within the organization?
  • What are the traits and skills of people who are the most successful within the organization?

What kinds of questions should You NOT ask in interviews?

  • “Me first” questions: What You can do for me? (Instead of what I can do for You);
  • Questions that reveal insecurities, such as questions phrased in terms of job security;
  • Questions that reveal weaknesses, such as will I have to meet a lot of deadlines?
  • Questions asked in a confrontational tone;
  • Questions demonstrating You failed to listen to earlier information.

Why is it important to make sure the interviewer knows You want the job?

  • It’s equal to closing the sale;
  • Make sure You ask about the next step in the process — or even ask for the job — before the end of the interview.