Let’s Talk Interview Questions…

Another one of many articles about presenting yourself as the best candidate. This time, the focus is on job interviews (any interview etc…).

I am writing with the hope that many of you will add to this as I believe interviews differ by job type and field. So here is what you should know like your ABCs…

Before The Interview

  1. Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left side, make a list of what the employer is looking for based on the job requirements. On the right side, make a list of the qualities you possess that fit those requirements.
  2. Research the company, their industry and their competition.
  3. Prepare your 60-second personal statement (your answer to the “tell me about yourself” question).
  4. Write at least five success stories to answer behavioral interview questions (“Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of a time…”).
  5. List five questions to ask the interviewer about the job, the company and the industry
  6. Research salary data to determine your worth.
  7. Determine your salary needs based on your living expenses.
  8. Get permission from your references to use their names.

Basic Questions You Should Know By Heart

  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. What do you know about this company?
  3. What are your goals?
  4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  5. Why do you want to work for this company?
  6. What has been your most significant achievement?
  7. How would your last boss and colleagues describe you? (If you worked before)
  8. Why should we hire you?
  9. What are your salary expectations?

In addition to the above, here is the four questions I think we should all ask during a job interview:

  1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 3 months of the job?
    What you are saying: “I want to make a difference – right away” 
  2. What are the common attributes of your top performers?
    What you are saying: “I want to be a great long-term employee”.
  3. What are some of the things that really drive results for the company?
    What you are saying: “I want to add value to the company – and so you want to know the secret”.
  4. How do you plan to deal with…?
    You did your research about the company right? So, there must be something a competitor is doing well which the company should do something about in order to remain at the top. Or a negative comment your read about the company online…

In addition to the above, here is a list of questions you can and should ask at every level of the interview and why. This is geared towards experienced jobseekers…

Questions to Ask the Recruiter/HR

How would you describe the culture of the company?

  • Helps you get a feel for the company from an employee outside the direct organization you will be working for.

What do most people like about working here (the company)?

  • Similar to the above question, helps you to get an impression on why you would want to work at this company.

What is the average length of time someone stays at the company?

  • Can help you tell if this is a short term company people are using as a resume builder, potentially bad company where people don’t stay long, or somewhere you can expect to have the potential for a long career.

Why is the position available?

Will there be a hand over period so that I can best understand the role and process?

What are your training & development initiatives?

Questions To Ask The Hiring Manager

What can I expect to learn from you?

  • Gives you a sense of how the manager sees him/herself and what skills they can pass on to you.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

  • Can get an idea of what they feel is an accomplishment.

What do you value most in an employee?

  • Helps you get an idea of what the manager is looking for.
  • Helps you know if you fit those skills and can be successful or if possibly not a good fit.

What do you like most about working there?

  • Further digging into the company and more specifically the individual organization you would be working for.

What is the most important thing I can do to ensure that you feel I have done a good job in my first six months?

  • Helps to defines expectations of the position clearly so that you can determine if it’s the right pace and skill-set for you are you going to be able to meet those expectations to ultimately be successful.

Follow up Questions to Ask Dir. and up

What is your vision for the team?

  • Helps to give you an idea of the direction the senior management/executives have for the team.

What do you like best about an employee?

What kind of accomplishments can I help the team make in the first year to make you feel like we are exceeding expectations?

  • Similar to the question asked of the hiring manager, this gives an idea of what you will need to contribute to exceed their expectations and grow the team.

What do you see as the future of the company in the next 5 years?

  • Let’s you know if the plan is to grow the company, move in another direction, some inclination of where you might fit in that plan.

What reservations do you have about me as a candidate right now that I might be able to address?

  • Gives you a chance to address any concerns they may have right away before they dwell on them and make decisions on things you might be able to change.

After The Interview

  1. As soon as possible, write down what you are thinking and feeling.
  2. Later in the day, review what you wrote, and assess how you did.
  3. Write a follow-up thank-you letter/email. Please make sure to remind the interviewer of your qualities.

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