What your interviewer will probably ask
- Tell me about yourself.
Cover four segments about your life: your early years, education, work experience, and what’s been going on in recent times. Keep your complete answer to not more than 2 or 3 minutes. Be sure you don’t ramble or over-elaborate.
- What can you offer us? Why should I hire you?
Be sure you know something about the job situation they have in mind before you try to answer this. Then you can relate some of your past experiences where you have succeeded in solving problems that appear similar to those of your prospective employer.
- What are your strengths?
By now you should be able to tick off 3 or 4 key strengths that are relevant to their needs.
- What have you accomplished?
Try to pick out accomplishments that bear on the challenges you have been discussing. Stay away from ancient times.
- What are your limitations/weaknesses?
Respond with a strength which if over-done, can get in your way and become a weakness. For example, you might say,
my ambition to get the job done sometimes causes me to press a little too hard on myself, but I am aware of this problem and believe that I have it under control. Or deal with your need for further training in some aspect of your profession. Do not claim to be faultless. This is the most dreaded question of all. Handle it by minimizing your weaknesses and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on the traits it will take to be successful in this position.
I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I am finding to be very helpful.
- How much are you worth?
Try to delay answering this until you have learned quite a bit about the job and, if possible, explore beforehand the typical ranges they are accustomed to paying for similar positions. If you feel obligated to answer something, you might reply along these lines,
You are aware of what I have been earning at Ajax, and I would hope that coming with Acme would be a progressive step. I am looking forward to an offer based on what I know about the company and hope that you are considering offering me the position.
- What are your ambitions for the future?
Indicate your desire to concentrate on doing the immediate job well and your confidence that the future will then take care of itself. You do not want to convey the idea that you have no desire to progress, but you need to avoid statements that are unrealistic or that might threaten some of the present incumbents.
- What do you know about our company?
If you have not done your homework, you can honestly state that you have studied the information that is publicly available about Acme and are thus aware of quite a bit of the published facts. However, let your knowledge show gracefully through the informed way you handle the interview.
- Why do you want to work for us?
Indicate that from your study of the company, many of the activities and problems are the sort that would give you a clear chance to contribute to the company, through your past experience and skills. If you can honestly say so, explain your admiration for the company and what it is that appeals to you. The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example,
I’ve selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices.
- What do you find most attractive about the position we are discussing? What is least attractive?
Mention three or more attractive factors, but hold the unattractive factors down to one or two minor ones.
- What do you look for in this job?
Keep your answer opportunity-oriented. Talk about the chance you would have to perform and get recognition.
- Please give me your definition of a … (the position for which you are being interviewed).
Keep your answer brief and task-oriented, that is, with responsibilities and accountabilities.
- How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
Be realistic and speak in terms of six months to a year.
- Don’t you feel you might be over-qualified or too experienced for the position we have in mind?
A strong company needs strong people, with the right experience to deal with current problems. Explain that your interest in the company would be a long-term one, and that you are willing to bet that you are willing to bet that your accomplishments in the first year or two will eventually lead to growth opportunities for you.
- What is your management style?
If you have not thought about this, it’s high time you did. If the job you are going for has management responsibilities, you might want to talk about how you set goals and then get your people involved in them. Also, describe the techniques that you like to use to bring out the best in people. Try to sense whether the company believes in a highly participative style, or is more military in it’s approach.
- Why do you feel you have a good potential to be a manager?
Keep your answer oriented toward your past achievements and the task to be done. Explain how you go about getting work done, either by yourself or through your organization.
- As a manager, what would you be looking for when you hire people?
Their skills, initiative, adaptability and whether their chemistry fits with that of the organization.
- As a manager, have you ever had to fire anyone? If so, what were the circumstances and how did you handle it?
Answer in brief that you have indeed had experience with this problem and that it worked out to the benefit of both the individual and the organization.
- What do you see as the most difficult task in being a manager?
Getting things planned and done on time, within the budget.