Posted by: deltadallas | January 4, 2010

Top Ten Interview Questions…and Answers

Interviews can be nerve-racking. Even when you have a great resume, skills, experience and appearance – you still have to face the unknown in an interview. There is a certain improvisational aspect of interviewing that makes some people uneasy. It’s hard to know what employers are going to ask and even harder to anticipate what they are looking for, but you can prepare with these ten most common interview questions:

Q:  Tell me about yourself.
A:  Employers who ask you this question are not looking for your life’s story. Give a 30-second commercial about who you are and include the things that will make you a great candidate for their position. Customize this answer for each interview and talk about an experience that is relevant to the job your are interviewing for.

Q:  Why should I hire you?
A:
  This question is best answered with specifics. Let the employer know the personal qualities, knowledge and experience you posess that will add value to their company. Specific examples of past achievements help them to have quantifiable proof that you may be a good choice for their position. Highlight what might distinguish you from other candidates.

Q:  Why do you want to work for our company?
A:
  Hiring managers will be looking for interest from you. They want to know that you have put thought into applying to their organization. Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with their industry, products, services, mission statement, corporate values, etc. and let them know which things are important to you. Do you like the industry? Were you impressed with their mission statement or corporate values? Tell them about specific things that you find attractive about their organization.

Q:  Why did you leave your last job? (Or why are you looking to leave your present position?)
A:  Whether you are employed or unemployed, you need to state your reasons for leaving in a positive way. This may sound difficult, especially if you were terminated, but it’s not impossible. Never say anything negative about your past employers.

Q:  What are your strengths/weaknesses?
A:  Make sure that you know what strengths might be useful to the position you are applying for and highlight them. Give solid examples of how your strengths have been useful. Don’t try to present a strength as a weakness. Statements like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too much” seem insincere. Be honest. When you tell them your weakness, let them know that you what steps you have taken to overcome it. For instance, “I have, in the past, found time management to be challenging, but I purchased a phone last year that helps me target my time and keeps my workload on track.”

Q:  What is your salary expectation?
A:  Do your research on this one. When you go over this in your interview, be sure to stay in a range that is consistent with the job requirements while leaving the topic open for discussion later.

 Q:  How long have you been looking for a job?
A:
  The best way to handle this question is to tell the employer the “positive truth”. Let them know what you have been doing while you have been in transition. (Getting more education, acquiring more skills, contract work, volunteering…etc.) It is a good idea to let them know that you have used your time off as an opportunity to grow and progress.

Q:  If your boss were to describe you, what would he/she say?
A:
  Answer this question with examples. If you have past performance reviews, bring them. If you are on good terms with your previous bosses, have a conversation with them before the interview to see if they will endorse you. (They are less likely to say something negative about you if you call them first.)

Q:  What are you goals?
A:  When you begin to talk about your goals with a future employer, be sure that your goals align with the position for which you are applying. For instance, if you are applying to be a lab assistant, don’t tell the hiring manager that your five-year plan ends with realizing your dream of being a rock-star. Let them know that your goal at present is to work for a company where there is a potential for growth, and eventually for increased responsibility. Let the employer know that, if hired, you will stay.

Q:  Tell me about a completed project that you were proud of.
A:  When hiring managers ask this question, they are checking on your past behavior. They want to know your working methods as well as how you respond to challenges. Make sure you have a concrete example prepared for this question as well. Hiring managers like to hear about quantifiable results.

Tabitha Woods is Marketing Coordinator with Delta Dallas. Reach her at 972-788-2300 or twoods@deltadallas.com.

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