These are 50 interview questions and answers: see why they are asked. William sourced this list of 50 interview questions and answers from several websites on the internet and compiled them for your convenience. He knows first hand how difficult it is to find such a big list of questions, because having gone through many of these lists himself, he found that the majority of the questions were duplicates, and after about 20-30 questions, it was all the same questions given in different words.
Anyway without further ado, here are the 50 questions and answers!
1. Why Do You Want To Work For Us?
2. What interests you about this job?
3. What do you know about our company?
4. What challenges are you looking for in this position?
5. Who was your best boss and who was the worst?
6. Why did you choose this particular career path?
7. What are your aspirations beyond this job?
8. Why do you think this industry would sustain your interest in the long haul?
9. Tell me about yourself.
10. What has been the biggest disappointment in your life?
11. What are your pet peeves?
12. If you could relive the last 10 years of your life.
13. How has your education prepared you for your career?
14. When was the last time you were angry and what happened?
15. How do you evaluate success?
16. What are the major reasons for your success?
17. Describe a typical work week for you.
18. How would you describe the pace at which you work?
19. Give us an example of a situation where you didn’t meet your goals or objectives.
20. Give me proof of your persuasiveness.
21. Would your current boss describe you as the type of person who goes that extra mile?
22. Give us an example of a situation where you faced conflict or difficult communication problems
23. Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How was it resolved?
24. If you know your boss is 100% wrong about something, how would you handle this?
25. Where do you see yourself in 3 , 5, 10 years time?
26. How do you plan to achieve those goals?
27. What drives you to achieve your objectives?
28. What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
29. What would your current manager say are your strengths?
30. What would your current manager say are your weaknesses?
31. Are you overqualified for this job?
32. Why should we give you this job?
33. We’re considering two other candidates for this position. Why should we hire you rather than someone else?
34. What would you do if one of our competitors offered you a position?
35. What are your biggest accomplishments?
36. What did you like, dislike about your last job?
37. Can you work under pressure?”
38. What environments allow you to be especially effective?
39. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
40. Give us an example of when you have worked to an unreasonable deadline or been faced with a huge challenge.
41. Tell me about a special contribution you have made to your employer.
42. What is the most difficult situation you have faced?
43. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate customer. How did you handle the situation?
44. How do you take direction?
45. What colour is your brain?
46. Do you prefer working in a team or on your own?
47. What do your work colleagues think of you?
48. Tell me about your salary expectations.
49. What will you do if you don’t get this position?
50. What is the first thing you would change, if you were to start work here?
50 Interview Questions & Answers:
Question 1: Why Do You Want To Work For Us?
It’s rare for an interview not to include this question.
The good news is that it’s an easy one to prepare for.
Most companies want to recruit people who are enthusiastic about the company and its products. They don’t want people on the team who “ended up there by accident”. So this is your chance to show why working for the company is important to you and why you think you will fit in.
They will be looking for evidence that you can make a contribution and will be able to grow into the role they are recruiting.
This question is designed to screen out candidates who aren’t serious about the company or may be using it as a stop-gap, while they look for something better.
It’s also your chance to make the most of the company research you have done. You can use this opportunity to add comments that show you understand the company’s position in the market place; the role of its competitors and any challenges it may be facing.
Sample Answer: “I’m not looking for just another pay check. I enjoy my work and am proud of my profession. Your company produces a superior product, provides a superior service. I share the values that make this possible, which should enable me to fit in and complement the team.”
Question 2: What interests you about this job?
When you’re asked what interests you about the position you are interviewing for, the best way to respond is to describe the qualifications listed in the job posting, then connect them to your skills and experience. That way, the employer will see that you know about the job you’re interviewing for (not everyone does) and that you have the qualifications necessary to do the job.
For example, if you were interviewing for a Human Resources Manager job where you would be responsible for recruiting, orientation, and training, you will want to discuss how you were responsible for these functions in your past positions, and why you are interested in continuing to develop your expertise in Human Resources management.
Another example would be if you were interviewing for a Programmer / Analyst position. In that case, you would mention your interest in learning and excelling at new technologies, your experience in programming both new applications, and your interest in and your ability to problem solve.
In all cases, you will want to convey your enthusiasm for the opportunity to interview, along with your solid ability to do the job.
Question 3: What do you know about Our Company?
A typical job interview question, asked to find out how much company research you have conducted, is “What do you know about this company?”
Prepare in advance, and in a word, research, so, you can provide relevant and current information about your prospective employer to the interviewer. Start by researching the company online. Review the “About Us” section of the company web site. Google the company, read blogs that mention it, and check Discussion Boards and social networking sites.
Use the information you have gathered to create a bulleted list of relevant information that you can easily remember during the interview. Taking the time to research will help you make a good impression with how much you know about the company.
Question 4: What challenges are you looking for in this position?
A typical interview question to determine what you are looking for your in next job, and whether you would be a good fit for the position being hired for, is “What challenges are you looking for in a position?”
The best way to answer questions about the challenges you are seeking is to discuss how you would like to be able to effectively utilize your skills and experience if you were hired for the job.
You can also mention that you are motivated by challenges, have the ability to effectively meet challenges, and have the flexibility and skills necessary to handle a challenging job.
You can continue by describing specific examples of challenges you have met and goals you have achieved in the past.
Question 5: Who was your best boss and who was the worst?
I’ve learned from each boss I’ve had. From the good ones I learnt what to do, from the challenging ones – what not to do.
Early in my career, I had a mentor who helped me a great deal, we still stay in touch. I’ve honestly learned something from each boss I’ve had.
Question 6: What have you been doing since your last job?
If you have an employment gap on your resume, the interviewer will probably ask you what you have been doing while you were out of work.
The best way to answer this question is to be honest, but do have an answer prepared. You will want to let the interviewer know that you were busy and active, regardless of whether you were out of work by choice, or otherwise.
As I said, it doesn’t really matter what you did, as long as you have an explanation. Hiring managers understand that people lose their job – it can happen to anyone – and it’s not always easy to find a new job fast. Also, there are legitimate non-employment reasons for being out of the workforce.
Question 7: Why did you choose this particular career path?
Sometimes in interviews, you will be asked questions that lend themselves to be answered vaguely or with lengthy explanations. Take this opportunity to direct your answer in a way that connects you with the position and company, be succinct and support your answer with appropriate specific examples.
Sample Answer: “I chose advertising because I have always been a strong communicator with a good eye for design. I have a particular interest in creating dynamic eye-catching pieces that support a new product being introduced to the market. I also like the fast-paced high-energy environment that seems to be commonplace in the advertising industry.”
Advice: Your answer needs to convince the interviewers that your skills are exactly what they want. They want to know if you have a realistic view of what it is like to work in their industry. Be specific; show them that their industry and your career goals are in sync.
Question 8: What are your aspirations beyond this job?
Again, don’t fall into the trap of specifying job titles. Stick to a natural progression you see as plausible. How should this job grow for the good of the organization? Then turn your attention once again to the job at hand. If you seem too interested in what lies beyond this job, the interviewer will fear that you won’t stick around for long.
Sample Answer: Beyond this job as a marketing assistant, I see myself moving up through marketing analysis into brand management and eventually running a category. I’m aware that there are several skills I need to develop in the interval, and I believe with your continuing-education program and my own motivation for self-improvement, I’ll have those skills when the opportunities arise for greater responsibility. That’s why I’m determined to learn from the ground up, starting as a marketing assistant.
Question 9: Why do you think this industry would sustain your interest in the long haul?
What expectations or projects do you have for the business that would enable you to grow without necessarily advancing? What excites you about the business? What proof can you offer that your interest has already come from a deep curiosity-perhaps going back at least a few years-rather than a current whim you’ll outgrow?
Sample Answer: The technology in the industry is changing so rapidly that I see lots of room for job enhancement regardless of promotions. I’m particularly interested in the many applications for multimedia as a training tool.
Question 10: Tell me about yourself?
This is not an invitation to ramble on. If the context isn’t clear, you need to know more about the question before giving an answer. In such a situation, you could ask, “Is there a particular aspect of my background that you would like more information on?” This will enable the interviewer to help you find the appropriate focus and avoid discussing irrelevancies.
Whichever direction your answer ultimately takes, be sure that it has some relevance to the world of your professional endeavours. The tale you tell should demonstrate, or refer to, one or more of your key behavioural profiles in action–perhaps honesty, integrity, being a team player, or determination. If you choose “team player” (maybe you’re the star player on your team tennis group), you can tell a story about yourself outside of work that also speaks volumes about you at work. In part, your answer should make the connection between the two, such as, “I put my heart into everything I do, whether it be sports or work. I find that getting along with teammates–or professional peers–makes life more enjoyable and productive.”
Or you might describe yourself as someone who is able to communicate with a variety of people, so give an example from your personal life that indicates an ability to communicate also at work.
This isn’t a question that you can answer effectively off the cuff. Take some time in advance to think about yourself and those aspects of your personality and/or background that you’d like to promote or feature for your interviewer.
Question 11: What has been the biggest disappointment in your life?
Your response to the question “What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?” will help the interviewer determine to know how easily you are discouraged.
Sample Answer: If possible, tell about a personal disappointment i.e. the early death of a parent, child, or school friend. Believe it or not, it is okay to have not had a “greatest” disappointment.
Question 12: What are your pet peeves?
Your response to the question “What are your pet peeves?” will help the interviewer determine if you would be a good fit with the company culture.
Sample Answer: I do not have a pet peeve. If something is bothering me, I step back, analyse “why”, and find a good solution. If you asked my teenage daughter she would tell you my pet peeve is the volume on her radio!
Question 13: How has your education prepared you for your career?
This is a broad question and you need to focus on the behavioural examples in your educational background which specifically align to the required competencies for the career.
Sample Answer: My education has focused on not only the learning the fundamentals, but also on the practical application of the information learned within those classes. For example, I played a lead role in a class project where we gathered and analysed best practice data from this industry. Let me tell you more about the results . . .
Focus on behavioural examples supporting the key competencies for the career. Then ask if they would like to hear more examples.
Question 14: When was the last time you were angry and what happened?
When the interviewer asks “When Was the Last Time You Were Angry? What Happened?” he or she wants to know if you lose control. The real meaning of the word “angry”, to an interviewer, is loss of control and it’s important to know how you handle situations when you’re angry.
Sample Answer: Anger to me means loss of control. I do not lose control. When I get stressed, I step back, take a deep breath, thoughtfully think through the situation and then begin to formulate a plan of action.
Question 15: How do you evaluate success?
I evaluate success in different ways. At work, it is meeting the goals set by my supervisors and my fellow workers. It is my understanding, from talking to other employees, that the GGR Company is recognized for not only rewarding success, but giving employees opportunity to grow as well. After work, I enjoy playing softball, so success on the field is catching the winning pop-up.
Question 16: What are the major reasons for your success?
This is not the time to become extremely self-centred and arrogant. Keep in mind that employers are often looking for team players rather than Lone Rangers. A good response to this question may relate to a mentor and or philosophy of work or the people you work with. Also, use this question as an opportunity to inquire about an appropriate “fit for success” with this company.
Question 17: Describe a typical work week for you.
Interviewers expect a candidate for employment to discuss what they do while they are working in detail. Before you answer, consider the position you are applying for and how your current or past positions relate to it. The more you can connect your past experience with the job opening, the more successful you will be at answering the questions.
It should be obvious that it’s not a good idea talk about non-work related activities that you do on company time, but, I’ve had applicants tell me how they are often late because they have to drive a child to school or like to take a long lunch break to work at the gym.
Keep your answers focused on work and show the interviewer that you’re organized (“The first thing I do on Monday morning is check my voicemail and email, then I prioritize my activities for the week.”) and efficient.
Question 18: How would you describe the pace at which you work?
When you’re asked to describe the pace at which you work, be careful how you respond. This is another question where faster isn’t necessarily better. Most employers would rather hire employees who work at a steady pace. Someone who is too slow to get the job done in a reasonable time frame isn’t going to be a good hire. Neither is a candidate who works frenetically all day.
Options for answering this question include saying that you work at a steady pace, but usually complete work in advance of the deadline. Discuss your ability to manage projects and get them done on, or ahead, of schedule. If you work at a job where you have set criteria (i.e. number of calls made or responded to) that measures accomplishments, discuss how you have achieved or exceeded those goals.
Question 19: Give me proof of your persuasiveness.
This is a question about leadership, but try not to use an example in which you were the designated leader. If possible, describe a time when you didn’t really have authority but instead used your powers of persuasion to get people on your side. Describe your goal and the outcome of your efforts. Why did people trust or believe you?
Sample Answer: During my summer internship I was assigned the task of conducting a benchmarking study for all the communication expenditures for a major utility. I had to get the consensus of employees in several different departments. Unfortunately, they resented the fact that I was just a summer intern, and they refused to cooperate. I had to schedule individual meetings with every employee and persuade each one that I was doing what would be ultimately to his or her own department and to the company. After a frustrating month, I finally got everyone’s cooperation, the project went flawlessly, and in the end I received a bonus for my efforts.
Question 20: Would your current boss describe you as the type of person who goes that extra mile?
When interviewing with companies, you will often be asked questions that seem straightforward to answer. However more often than not – a ‘yes’ ‘no’ answer is not good enough. Always try to back up what you are saying with examples, as this will validate what you are trying to say.
Sample Answer: “Absolutely. In fact, on my annual evaluations, he writes that I am the most dependable and flexible person on his staff. I think this is mostly because of my ability to prioritise.”
Advice: Share an example or experience that demonstrates your dependability or willingness to tackle a tough project. If you describe “long hours of work,” make sure that you prove the hours were productive, and not the result of poor time management.
Question 21: What new skills or ideas do you bring to the job that our internal candidates don’t offer?
Often in an interview, you will be asked to separate yourself from other candidates who may be more qualified or may be less of a risk-factor.
Sample Answer: “Because I’ve worked with the oldest player in this industry, I can help you avoid some of the mistakes we made in our established markets.”
Advice: This question addresses your motivation in adding “true value” to the job. Evaluate the job carefully, considering current limitations or weaknesses in the department and your unique abilities. Your ability here to prove “I offer what you need and then some” could land you the job.
Question 22: Give us an example of a situation where you didn’t meet your goals or objectives.
What they’re looking for with this one is an example of where objectives weren’t met and what you did to rectify the situation.
Better still; provide an example of where things almost went wrong and what you did to prevent it.
Beware: a common trap to fall into is to give one of the following two answers:
Bad: “I can’t think of such a situation.”
This makes you either seem unbelievably perfect (i.e. arrogant) or completely naïve and unable to spot and avoid potential disaster.
Bad: Give an example of a situation that went wrong, but not realise until you’re half way through the story that it doesn’t have a happy ending!
Try to make the examples relevant to the job for which you are applying.
However, it’s generally acceptable to offer non-work related examples, if these are good illustrations of transferable skills required for the job.
Question 23: Give us an example of a situation where you faced conflict or difficult communication problems.
This is not the time to tell the interviewer how much you hate your current boss or colleagues!
It’s also not the point to launch into a tirade about how difficult people in your office are to work with and how many arguments you have.
So what are they looking for? They’re looking for someone who can rise above conflict and diffuse the emotions, finding a win-win solution.
Basically, recruiters want to employ people who will get on well with others, whilst still delivering the company’s objectives.
This type of question is your chance to demonstrate your interpersonal and team-working skills.
The interviewer will be looking for maturity and the ability to be able to keep your calm, whilst others around you are losing theirs. Don’t feel you have to provide an answer that gives you full credit for the solution – it can often be more powerful (if it’s true) to demonstrate how you worked with others to find a fix.
Practise your answer to this question. It can have many guises, but is almost guaranteed to be asked in some form.
Question 24: Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How was it resolved?
Note that if you say no, most interviewers will keep drilling deeper to find a conflict. The key is how you behaviourally reacted to conflict and what you did to resolve it.
For example: “Yes, I have had conflicts in the past. Never major ones, but there have been disagreements that needed to be resolved. I’ve found that when conflict occurs, it helps to fully understand the other person’s perspective, so I take time to listen to their point of view, and then I seek to work out a collaborative solution. For example . . .”
Focus your answer on the behavioural process for resolving the conflict and working collaboratively.
Question 25: If you know your boss is 100% wrong about something, how would you handle this?
An answer that works well is: “It depends on the situation and the personality of the supervisor.” To elaborate, give examples:
My present supervisor does not like to have his authority questioned. He’s fairly new on the job and almost all of the people he supervises have been on the job longer than he has. He’s never bothered to learn the procedures, how things are done or how the computer system works. But if any of us tell him that how he wants something done won’t work, he gets extremely angry. So, I never tell him he’s wrong. Never. Whatever he tells me to do; I smile and say “okay.” Then if I know a way to get it done that will work, I do it that way, give him the results he wants and never tell him I didn’t do it the way he told me to. He got the results and is happy. I saved myself the stress of being yelled at and gave him what he wanted, so I’m happy.
My prior supervisor was more easy-going and if I told her “you know, I think it might work better if I do what you asked in such and such a way,” she say “okay, try it.”
If I were a new hire on a job, I would probably not question a supervisor because I might think I didn’t know enough. Except on the new job I’m going to. The director has admitted that she’s new on the job and there are a lot of things that a secretary does that she doesn’t know how to do, so she will be depending on me to know how to keep the office running.
Question 26: Where do you see yourself in 3 , 5, 10 years time?
Not a good response.
So what might an employer be looking for with this question?
• Are you serious about the company? Is the company part of your long-term plan, or are they a stepping stone?
• Are you serious about your career?
• Do you know where you want to go?
• How does this job help you get there?
• Are you ambitious? This can be positive or negative.
• How does this job fit within your longer-term plans? Is this job just a stop-gap? If the job is part of your strategy, how likely are you to want to be promoted?
• Do you have any longer-term plans? They may use this to judge how far you would plan ahead in your new role.
This question is a good opportunity to show your commitment to the role and knowledge of the company’s structure and vision.
Beware of seeming to threaten your future manager, if they’re interviewing you. A humorous answer we have often heard to this question is “doing your job”. This may be true and may even get a laugh, but some managers are quite insecure and may not want to hire someone who they fear would undermine them.
Sample Answer: “In five years, I would like to have progressed to the point where I have bottom-line responsibility and the chance to lead an operations unit.”
Advice: Avoid the urge to describe job titles; this makes you seem unbending and unrealistic, since you do not know or control the system of promotion. Describe new experiences or responsibilities you’d like to add in the future that build on the current job you are applying for.
Question 27: How do you plan to achieve those goals?
As a follow-up to the above question the interviewer will often ask how you plan on achieving those goals. A good answer to this question will speak specifically about what you are going to accomplish and how you are going to accomplish it. Examples of good responses include:
I plan on gaining additional skills by taking related classes and continuing my involvement with a variety of professional associations.
I noticed that XYZ Company (the company you are interviewing with) provides in-house training for employees and I would certainly be interested in taking classes that would be relevant.
I will continue my professional development my participating in conferences, attending seminars, and continuing my education.
Question 28: What drives you to achieve your objectives?
An interviewer is looking to fulfil certain competencies, in this case motivation and commitment. “You might say ‘I like doing a job well and perform best when stretched’,” says Tim Forster, the head of UK experienced recruitment at Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
Question 29: What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
You can begin your answer with this question: What is a typical career path at ……. for someone with my skills and experience?
(Based on the answer you can then respond to the original question using the phrases from the answer to frame your response).
What is important to you? Two things are very important to me. One is my professionalism at work; the second is my family life.
Question 30: What would your current manager say are your strengths?
We often find it hard to tell people what we’re good at.
Selling yourself, without appearing arrogant, is one of the most common interview worries. Many people simply don’t sell themselves, for fear of seeming big-headed.
Do you know what your strengths are? You’d be surprised how few do.
One place to start is your recent performance appraisals. What did they highlight as your strengths? Can you supply evidence (provide examples)? Can you relate the strengths to the position you’re being interviewed for?
Still stuck for answers to this question?
• You could try asking someone. Ask a trusted friend, your manager or work colleague. Make sure they give you examples of where you have demonstrated the strengths, so you can quickly use these, if asked.
• It’s also worth revisiting the job information, to look for which competencies they are looking for. You will make a more favourable impression if you can cover some of these in your answer.
Question 31: What would your current manager say are your weaknesses?
This is not the place to admit your biggest flaws.
It’s also not the time to pretend you don’t have any development areas – it would make you look either conceited or as though you can’t evaluate your own performance.
So how should you handle this type of question?
The main thing is to admit that you have an area to develop, whilst showing that you are already working on it and giving examples of the progress you have made.
If possible, choose a development area that doesn’t affect your ability to do the job for which you are being interviewed.
It’s usually a good idea to make the “weakness” something small. Avoid topics such as “organisational skills” or “time management”! Be ready to turn it into a positive.
What happens if one of your development areas is one of the key strengths required for the role?
Make sure you can demonstrate why it won’t be a problem.
Question 32: Are you overqualified for this job?
Overqualified? Some would say that I’m not overqualified but fully qualified. With due respect, could you explain the problem with someone doing the job better than expected?
I’m flattered that you think I’m headhunted bait and will leap to another job when an offer appears. Not really. This job is so attractive to me that I’m willing to convince you that I’m the best person for this position.
As you note, I’ve worked at a higher level but this position is exactly what I’m looking for. You offer an opportunity to achieve the magic word: balance. I’m scouting for something challenging but a little less intense so I can spend more time with my family.
Salary is not my top priority. Not that I have a trust fund but I will work for the money, will take direction from managers of any age, will continue to stay current on technology and will not leave you in the lurch.
Question 33: Why should we give you this job?
This is the time to give them your PSP – Prime Selling Points – or what makes you different from all the other applicants.
It’s really worth working out and practising your answer to this before the interview.
Some businesses use the phrase “30-second elevator speech”.
Imagine you have just bumped into the CEO of the company you want to work for, getting into a lift. He or she asks you “Why should we give you the job?”. You have the time it takes for the lift to reach its destination (about 30 seconds) to give a compelling answer.
The key is to highlight your strengths and the benefits you can bring to the company. Make sure you avoid sounding desperate!
As preparation, you should refer back to the job advert and also listen carefully during the interview, to make sure your answer meets the needs of the “buyer” (the interviewer).
You are giving your answer from the perspective of the buyer’s needs, rather than your own.
Finish your answer with: “I have the qualifications you need [itemize them], I’m a team player, I take direction, and I have the desire to make a thorough success.”
Question 34: We’re considering two other candidates for this position. Why should we hire you rather than someone else?
Do not be distracted by the mention of two other candidates, you don’t know anything about them and they could be fictitious. Focus on what strengths you bring to the table. These should be consistent with the four things most employers are looking for in candidates during the job interview: competence, professionalism, enthusiasm, and likeability. Remember, they are looking for chemistry between you and them. Be prepared to summarize in 60 seconds why you are the best candidate for the job. Also, let the employer know you want the job and you will enjoy working with them. A lack of interest in the job may indicate a lack of enthusiasm for the job and them.
Question 35: What would you do if one of our competitors offered you a position?
The interviewer is trying to determine whether the candidate is truly interested in the industry and company, or whether he or she has chosen the company randomly. Contrast your perceptions of the company with its competitors, and talk about the company’s products or services that you’ve encountered. In the long run, which players do you believe are most viable and why? This is also a good place to ask the interviewer for his or her opinion.
Sample Answer: I’d say no. I’m not interested in other players in this industry. I want to work with you because I (do your homework about the company, their corporate values, products etc)…..and I know I’d be convincing selling your product to retailers.
Question 36: What are your biggest accomplishments?
Keep your answers job related. You might begin your reply with: “Although I feel my biggest achievements are still ahead of me, I am proud of my involvement with . . . I made my contribution as a part of that team and learned a lot in the process. We did it with hard work, concentration, and an eye for the bottom line.”
Question 37: What did you like/dislike about your last job?
The interviewer is looking for incompatibilities. If a trial lawyer says he or she dislikes arguing a point with colleagues, such a statement will only weaken–if not immediately destroy–his or her candidacy.
Most interviews start with a preamble by the interviewer about the company. Pay attention: That information will help you answer the question. In fact, any statement the interviewers make about the job or corporation can be used to your advantage.
So, in answer, you liked everything about your last job. You might even say your company taught you the importance of certain keys from the business, achievement, or professional profile. Criticising a prior employer is a warning flag that you could be a problem employee. No one intentionally hires trouble, and that’s what’s behind the question. Keep your answer short and positive.
You might say, “I really liked everything about the job. The reason I want to leave it is to find a position where I can make a greater contribution. You see, I worked for a large company that encourages specialisation of skills. The smaller environment you have here will, allow me to contribute far more in different areas.” Tell them what they want to hear–replay the hot button.
Of course, if you interview with a large company, turn it around. “I work for a small company and don’t get the time to specialise in one or two major areas.”
Question 38: Can you work under pressure?
You might be tempted to give a simple “yes” or “no” answer, but don’t. It reveals nothing, and you lose the opportunity to sell your skills and value profiles. Actually, this common question often comes from an unskilled interviewer, because it is closed-ended. As such, the question does not give you the chance to elaborate. Whenever you are asked a closed-ended question, mentally add: “Please give me a brief yet comprehensive answer.” Do this, and you will give the information requested and seize an opportunity to sell yourself. For example, you could say: “Yes, I usually find it stimulating. However, I believe in planning and proper management of my time to reduce panic deadlines within my area of responsibility.”
Question 39: What environments allow you to be especially effective?
Emphasize your flexibility and your ability to work in many different types of environments. Your answer should not consist of a laundry list of requirements (private office, few interruptions, and so on) or the interviewer may conclude that you will be difficult to satisfy.
Sample Answer: Although I can work effectively in most environments, I prefer environments where people are allowed to contribute and share ideas, within reason. I like to have a goal but be able to draw my own map to get there. To accomplish goals, I rely on asking questions and finding people receptive, so cooperation and access are important to me in a work group.
Question 40: What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
These are behavioural interview questions designed to discover how you handled certain situations. The logic behind these types of questions is that how you behaved in the past is a predictor of what you will do in the future.
Give concrete examples of difficult situations that actually happened at work. Then discuss what you did to solve the problem. Keep your answers positive (“Even though it was difficult when Jane Doe quit without notice, we were able to rearrange the department workload to cover the position until a replacement was hired.”) and be specific. Itemize what you did and how you did it.
The best way to prepare for questions where you will need to recall events and actions, is to refresh your memory and consider some special situations you have dealt with or projects you have worked on. You can use them to help frame responses. Prepare stories that illustrate times when you have successfully solved a difficult situation.
Question 41: Give us an example of when you have worked to an unreasonable deadline or been faced with a huge challenge.
What is an interviewer looking for with this question? Most interviews will contain a question like this, to see how you cope under stress.
They may be checking for integrity – one of the most highly valued skills for a recruiter. They may also want you to demonstrate your commitment to delivering results.
This is a really useful question to prepare some examples for, before an interview.
Choose examples that show how you went the extra mile, but didn’t do anything illegal, immoral or unethical.
The interviewer will want to see how you rise to a challenge and how you react when put under pressure.
Think about the positive things you did, to achieve the “unachievable”.
Depending on your career history, this is another question where it’s acceptable to use an example from outside work, as long as the skills are clearly transferable to your new role.
You might not have had the experience in your career so far, so most interviewers will accept an extra-curricular illustration that shows how you would add value to their company.
Question 42: What is the most difficult situation you have faced?
The question looks for information on two fronts: How do you define difficult? What was your handling of the situation? You must have a story, one in which the situation was tough and one which will allow you to show yourself in a good light. Avoid talking about problems that have to do with co-workers. You can talk about the difficult decision to fire someone, but emphasise that once you had examined the problem and reached a conclusion you acted quickly and professionally, with the best interests of the company at heart.
“What are some of the things that bother you?” “What are your pet hates?” “Tell me about the last time you felt anger on the job.”
These questions are so similar that they can be treated as one. It is tremendously important that you show you can remain calm. Most of us have seen a co-worker lose his or her cool on occasion–not a pretty sight and one that every sensible employer wants to avoid. This question comes up more and more often the higher up the corporate ladder you climb, and the more frequent your contact with clients and the general public. To answer it, find something that angers conscientious workers. “I enjoy my work and believe in giving value to my employer.”
Question 42: Tell me about a special contribution you have made to your employer.
Before an employer makes his/her decision to hire you, they will need to know how you have performed in the past and any other special contributions that you can bring to the company
“In my last job, I ran the fundraiser campaign for three consecutive years. I believed it was an important cause, and I knew it was difficult for the company to find volunteers.”
Advice: Don’t give long boring answers; instead focus your answers on the actions you took and the positive results that you obtained.
Question 43: Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate customer. How did you handle the situation?
How you react when others lose their temper or become upset is very important in most positions, especially those in service industries. The interviewer will be looking for evidence of your aptitude for work that involves a great deal of contact with the public. Give an example of a time when you were faced with a difficult person and how you handled it. Your answer should illustrate your maturity, diplomacy, and awareness of the needs and feelings of others.
Sample Answer: My customer service position at the telephone company involved dealing occasionally with irate customers. When that happened, I’d try to talk in calm, even voice, in order to get the person to respond in a businesslike manner and focus on trying to resolve the situation. Most times I was able to rectify the problem and pacify the customer, but I remember one incident in particular in which the caller became verbally abusive. I tried to remain calm and professional and not to let my personal feelings enter into the situation. I didn’t respond to the abuse, I just made a knot of it and continued to help he customer as best I could. When the abuse persisted, however, I politely asked him to call back and ask for my manager, because at that point I knew I shouldn’t resolve the problem.
Question 44: How do you take direction?
The interviewer wants to know whether you are open – minded and can be a team player. Can you follow directions or are you a difficult, high-maintenance employee? Hopefully, you are a low-maintenance professional who is motivated to ask clarifying questions about a project before beginning, and who then gets on with the job at hand, coming back to initiate requests for direction as circumstances dictate.
This particular question can also be defined as “How do you take direction?” and “How do you accept criticism?” Your answer should cover both points: “I take direction well and recognise that it can come in two varieties, depending on the circumstances. There is carefully explained direction when my boss has time to lay things out for me in detail; then there are those times when, as a result of deadlines and other pressures, the direction might be brief and to the point. While I have seen some people get upset with that, personally I’ve always understood that there are probably other considerations I am not aware of. As such, I take the direction and get on with the job without taking offence, so my boss can get on with their job. It’s the only way.”
Question 45: What colour is your brain?
Be aware that you’ll probably be asked zany questions. The point is not to stump you, but to find out what makes you tick. When the standard interview questions are asked, people are prepared, and it’s harder for the recruiter to get to know the real person. An advertising recruiter, for example, tries to avoid this. There is no right or wrong answer to this type of question. In fact, the recruiter won’t even really care what your answer is. He or she just doesn’t want to hear something like, “I don’t know, I guess it’s blue because that’s the way I imagine it.” The point is to see how creative you are and how you think. Be sure to explain why you answered the way you did.
Sample Answer: My brain is red because I’m always hot. I’m always on fire with new plans and ideas.”
Question 46: Do you prefer working in a team or on your own?
Think about this one before you answer.
Think about the position for which you are applying. It is likely to require flexibility of working styles, but will probably fall into one of the following 3 categories:
1. Group /Team
You don’t have personal responsibility for the outcome, but are part of a group that achieves it. Often everyone has the same role, e.g. in a call centre.
2. Team / Solo
Most professional roles require a mixture: you have a defined role and responsibilities, but tend to do much of your work in a team environment.
3. Mainly solo
you are responsible for your own outcomes and may be required to spend a considerable amount of time working independently. You will probably still work as part of a team.
The best bet with this question is to try to tailor your answer to the company’s needs, whilst remaining honest. If you say you are a great team player, they’ll soon spot you’re not, once you start the job…
Question 47: What do your work colleagues think of you?
I like to ask people to consider the third-person perspective; they have to think on their feet, and it allows me to assess their self-awareness. I’d also ask what their work colleagues would consider were their strengths and areas for development,” says Geoff Hall, the head of human resources for World Duty-Free.
Question 48: Tell me about your salary expectations.
Everyone wants to make a lot of money working the job they love. You should be honest here. Saying that you will be ok working for £30,000 when you think you are worth £40,000 is not a very smart idea. The experience will show that you will lose interest in the job pretty quickly.
Sample Answer: “Current salary information published by our State Association or market rate (do your homework) indicates a range of £30,000 to £40,000 a year. While I’m not certain how your salaries compare to this industry, my feeling is that my value would certainly be in the upper half of this national range.”
Advice: You should answer this question in general terms. Mention the market value for yourself.
Question 49: What will you do if you don’t get this position?
When you’re interviewing for an internal position within your company, you may be asked what you will do if you don’t get the job. The interviewer wants to know whether you are concerned about just the advancement opportunity or the company.
Sample Answer: I am committed to this company and its advancement so, should I not be selected, I will work with and support whoever might get selected. However, I do feel that my experience in the department and with the team would make me the best candidate.
Question 50: What is the first thing you would change, if you were to start work here?
Your answer to this depends on how much you know about the job.
Why are they recruiting?
Are they looking for an “agent of change” or someone to maintain stability? Would you be in a position to change anything?
A good strategy for this question is to precede your answer with a brief explanation of how you would get to know the business, the people, the challenges and your role before you considered changing anything.
Unless you’ve been specifically recruited to make fast, radical change, few people will appreciate a “bull in a China shop” approach.
It’s important that you illustrate empathy for change that will be acceptable within the corporate culture. However, for management positions, you may be required to make changes that will be unpopular.
It is perfectly acceptable to answer this question with a question; asking them what they would expect from you.
This is quite a sensitive topic and you may find an interview coaching session useful if you’d like to practise answering it.
Main Source: Posted by William, AustraliaWorks –
Thanks for this post. I have an interview next week, this post has given me a step up already. Thanks a lot.
Chris, Auckland, New Zealand
This is an amazing article, thank you for all of the advice!
Yet another brilliant career post. Thank you and keep blogging.
This is the post that’s telling me exactly what I need to know to be able to face potential employers. Thanks for this, Catherine
A very helpful post. Too bad I didn’t find this a few days ago. I rushed through the research component of the school (working in Marcom in a school) and was only able to highlight one point. For some unbelievable reason I completely missed seeing their main website and was doing circles trying to find anything. I normally nail interviews but this one was blundered in that one moment. The brutal thing about that question is that anyone can learn this stuff on the first day on a job. It certainly doesn’t dictate whether an employee is qualified or not by any means. My best interviews never asked that question interestingly enough. They were more concerned with a fit for their needs skills/personality wise.
Great and wide coverage of all potential interview questions. Based on this overall concept, can manage any type of questions. let me follow these ideas on my next week “Internal Job Interview”.
Very useful information indeed. Practice really does make perfect especially for those who always draw a blank even for the simplest interview questions.