Common Interview Questions & Answers


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Why do you want to work for this company?

Why are you sitting in front of your interviewer? You were chosen to interview for this position and you belong there. Therefore, validate yourself as a viable candidate. The interviewer is looking for a foundation before moving on to more specific questions, so place importance on this answer. Research the company before the interview, so you have a thorough understanding of the organization and its mission. Talk about your career goals, future plans with the company, and the growth opportunities you would capitalize on. Without limitations, focus on and vocalize what you want to gain from this potential opportunity. 

Examples:

  • [Company name] seems like a perfect fit for my career goals and future plans, and I would like to grow in this field.
  • I see many opportunities for growth based on the research I’ve done.
  • I am interested in joining an organization that will recognize and reward my skills and expertise.

What is your greatest weakness?

This is an opportunity for you to turn a potentially negative answer into positive reinforcement. No one is perfect and the interviewer knows that. They simply want to hear your point of view. Answer with confidence, and don’t sound like you are defending your capabilities and/or qualifications. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a regurgitation of your resume. Lastly, never start the answer to this question with, “My greatest weakness is…” 

Examples:

  • My organizational skills could be improved. Through my experience in various managerial roles, I’ve acquired the ability to personally manage my workload in order to complete all projects on time.
  • I am a perfectionist, and that can sometimes be a flaw. I prefer that my work is perfect, but my work is always correct the first time.
  • During the initial stages of my career, I focused on one project at a time until it was completed. Through the years, I have improved my ability to multi-task and can work on many projects at once.

What is your greatest strength?

Citing strength can be overwhelming, because there is so much you want to say. This is not an open door for you to tell the interviewer every positive thing about yourself until you run out of breath. Recall the research you did about the organization and the position. A strength in this context is a personal trait you possess that the interviewer feels would benefit the position. Lastly, never start the answer to this question with, “My greatest strength is…” 

Examples:

  • I am highly organized, efficient, take ownership of my tasks, and fulfill all responsibilities to the position.
  • I have been complimented for having great interpersonal skills, and work very well in team environments.
  • Problem solving is a strong suit of mine. I can analyze any situation and find resolutions with ease.

How do you handle stress and pressure?

Interviewers want to know the effect workplace stress and pressure have on you, and ultimately how you react and reconcile them. Make sure that you answer in a calm and confident tone. Give the interviewer the impression that you will react with diplomacy and rationale. It's a great idea to cite examples of how you have handled stress in the past, but do not find yourself in a tangent where you are being too verbose.

Examples:

  • I don’t really react to the actual stress or pressure, but rather the situation causing it. By reacting effectively, the stress and pressure are resolved.
  • I enjoy working under stress and pressure. It drives and motivates me, helping me deliver timely and effective results.
  • I thoroughly prioritize my responsibilities, giving me clear objectives. This has helped me effectively manage stress and pressure on the job.
  • I am the kind of person who remains calm under stress and pressure, so I handle those types of situations with ease.  

How would you describe teamwork?

There are many definitions of teamwork you can give the interviewer. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you should not do, define it. The interviewer is looking for your description of this essential part of workplace performance. What does teamwork mean to you? Describe instances from your work history where teamwork was integral in meeting company goals. Describe how teamwork has helped you strengthen your performance in the workplace.   

Examples:

  • Teamwork is essential to business operations. I have been part of many teams where cohesiveness and effective teamwork helped us accomplish goals.
  • Through the years, I have always had the tendency to work better in teams. I feel it provokes more thoughts and ideas, helping reach goals more effectively.
  • Multiple people working on the same project will ensure a thorough completion of that project. Two heads are always better than one.

How would you describe yourself?

The interviewer has an idea of the perfect candidate; so don’t try to describe the position. Describe yourself and how you can be a good fit for the position. You can do this effectively by knowing the position you are interviewing for, the corporate culture of the company, and the type of workplace in the organization. Ideally, your answer should show the interviewer why you are a match.

Examples:

  • I am a great problem solver, highly analytical, and work well with others.
  • I am efficient and highly organized.
  • Peers have said I’m very friendly and easy to communicate with.

What motivates you?

Motivation is a quality all applicants possess, because they want to get hired. Interviewers want to know what motivates you to determine whether you are a good fit for the position or not. Think about what motivates you prior to the interview, and be prepared to share those motivators with the interviewer.

Examples:

  • I have always been driven to excel in any position I’ve been placed in. Succeeding in any role is very important to me.
  • My clients’ satisfaction is the most important thing to me. I do everything I can to ensure their needs are met. That is all the motivation I need.
  • I am motivated by growth and the potential for advancement within an organization.

What are your career goals?

This is an excellent opportunity to show the interviewer what your aspirations are. The objective statement on your resume is a perfect summary of those aspirations, so reiterate it. This is not the time to tell the interviewer that you want to be a millionaire and retire in 10 years, or that you want to be the C.E.O. of a company someday. Speak about securing a position in your field and seeing yourself build tenure with a company where you can grow. Address practicing expertise in your field and succeeding in the company.  

Examples:

  • I want to secure a human resources position with a national firm that focuses on staffing and retention.
  • I want to be part of a growing company, where I can contribute my strengths in all facets of operations.
  • A secure position where my skills and expertise are recognized and rewarded, leading to advancements and growth.

Why did you leave your last job?

This is not the time to make negative comments about your previous employer. Whatever the reason for your departure, focus on the position you are interviewing for. Address your accomplishments and what you learned in your previous position, and how you are ready to use those skills in a new opportunity. Keep it general, not specific.

Examples:

  • The position just wasn’t a good fit for me. I was exposed to some valuable managerial responsibilities, and would like to use what I’ve learned in a new opportunity.
  • I felt like I was not being challenged enough. I would like to grow in my field and this company would be a perfect medium for me to accomplish that.
  • The company did not allow me to perform at my fullest potential, and there were no opportunities for growth.

What can you offer this company that no other candidate can?

The interviewer has opened the door; now simply walk through it! Freely talk about accomplishments, and what you can bring to the company. Focus on all the goals you’ve met from previous employment, and describe how you would be an asset to the organization. Describe your consistent performance, and how the company can benefit by having someone like you on the team.

Examples:

  • In my previous management roles, I made difficult decisions that affected the entire company, but resulted in more efficient operations. That type of experience will definitely help me achieve the challenges this company has to offer.
  • Through my extensive experience in sales, I will fulfill my responsibilities and meet the company’s goals every day.
  • My performance is consistent day in and day out, and I never lose focus.

How has your education prepared you for your career?

Focus on your behaviors and your best qualities. Match them with the requirements of the position you are applying for. Your educational background is how you have acquired the knowledge and discipline needed to succeed in the career of your choice. The experiences from your educational career made you the quality candidate you are today.

Examples:

  • My education taught me discipline that helped me focus on learning what is important to succeed in the job market.
  • Through many long hours devoted to achieving an objective, I learned to be a hard worker, and the ability to multi-task. This helped me acquire the skills needed to make advancements in my career.
  • Pursuing higher education was a great decision. I gained valuable organizational skills that gave me the tools I need to excel in my career field. 

How would you describe a successful manager?

A manager was selected for that role based on his/her accomplishments. Becoming successful was due to their efforts; therefore describe what it takes to become successful in a managerial role. It takes effective leadership, strong interpersonal skills; the ability to make tough decisions, and vision that reflects organizational goals.

Examples:

  • A crucial quality for a successful manager is leadership. He/she must have the ability to delegate tasks and provide a sense of direction to their subordinates.
  • A manager must be able to inspire their employees. That is the only way they will perform to the best of their abilities.
  • Developing employees in their career is a responsibility a manager assumes. A successful manager would be able to develop an employee to excel, by capitalizing on their strengths and helping improve their weaknesses.

Describe a problem you encountered, and how you resolved it?

Your ability to evaluate situations and critical thinking skills are being tested by this question. The interviewer wants to know how you react and resolve the situation. It does not matter what example you use. It is sometimes difficult if you don’t have much experience or just coming out of college. Regardless, use any example you can think of. It can be completely objective.

Examples:

  • At my previous place of employment, I encountered a personnel issue between two employees who were in a disagreement. As their manager, I evaluated both sides and helped them come to common ground to resolve the issue.
  • When I was in school, I took many classes at once so I could graduate early. Sometimes I didn’t have enough time to study, but I would prioritize my time and complete my assignments.
  • I was given a deadline and realized I could not make it. I reprioritized my tasks, worked a few extra hours, and met the deadline.

What do you feel has been your greatest work-related accomplishment?

The interviewer knows that this question takes some evaluation and reflection from your past, so think it through prior to the interview. You don’t want to sound rehearsed, so do your best to speak in a confident and clear tone. Choose an accomplishment, award, or honor you received for performance, quality, or attendance. 

Examples:

  • Through hard work and strong interpersonal skills, I am always great with customers. After consistently receiving the highest customer satisfaction rates, my team honored me with the Employee of the Month Award.
  • With my previous organization, I was recognized consistently for top sales for the month.
  • I was the leading agent in customer resolutions, and received multiple rewards for my outstanding performance.

Have you ever had to discipline an employee?  If so, how did you handle it?

If you are being considered for a position that requires management or supervisory duties, this is a likely question. Explain how you evaluated the situation thoroughly and found the most effective way to address the employee. Highlight your skills as a member of the management team, such as exhibiting problem solving, listening, and coaching skills to help the employee.

Examples:

  • A former employee was having attendance issues. I helped him find ways to manage his time more efficiently, so he would no longer arrive to work late.
  • Violating company policies was strictly prohibited at my old company. An employee once committed such an infraction. Through consulting her and evaluating the situation, she was disciplined and the infraction was never committed again.

What has been your most difficult obstacle? How did you overcome it?

Prepare for this question. The interviewer is trying to gain insight into your strengths and ability to address tough situations head on. The obstacle you should address should be related to the company as a whole and not just you. Cite examples of the skills you used to resolve the problem and accent the successful results. If you worked with a team to get those results, highlight your contributions to the team.

Examples:

  • My previous manager informed our team that budget cuts were to be made in our department. I wasn’t sure how cuts could be made without affecting jobs. My team and I found ways to cut costs with non-efficient processes costing the company money, so jobs would not be affected. I did the analysis of possible non-personnel cuts and contributed that to the team.
  • I’ve always been a shy person, and it’s hard for me to talk to people. I know I can relate to them once I make the initial conversation happen. This made associating with co-workers difficult. I finally overcame my fear and started building my interpersonal ability when I started participating in more team-building exercises.

How do you evaluate success?

The interviewer has his or her idea of how to evaluate success, so be genuine with your answer. Don’t sound rehearsed, because your answer will not be remembered. Success is an intangible unit of measurement. This status is achieved through your performance, workplace accomplishments, and general recognition. Give the interviewer a specific response, and don’t be afraid to cite examples of your past where you’ve had success.

Examples:

  • Meeting and exceeding the goals set by management and my team.
  • Success can be evaluated by growth. Excelling in and mastering my current position causing a promotion to a higher level in the company can be used to evaluate it.
  • Fulfilling my career, accomplishing my goals, and retiring comfortably.

What is your definition of a leader?

A dictionary definition is not what the interviewer is looking for. Your answer can propel you in the interview, so keep in mind that generic answers are common. Do some research on the company and the position prior to the interview, and define it based on what a “leader” in this company would be.  

Examples:

  • Someone who is able to manage various employees inter-departmentally.
  • A leader is someone who can take 20 different personalities, and find a common medium to discuss workplace decisions. 
  • Someone who can exercise the organizational mission across all departments.

What will you do if you do not get this position?

If you are an external candidate, the interviewer wants to know if you are confident in your capabilities and credentials, so answer with conviction. The answers you have given in the interview, along with your qualifications, will speak for you. If you are interviewing for an internal position, the interviewer simply wants to know if you are more concerned with the advancement or the company as a whole.

Examples:

  • My qualifications and background are a perfect fit for the job. I appreciate your time, and will keep searching for another opportunity.
  • I am committed to this company. Even if I don’t get the promotion, I will continue to deliver the exceptional level of service that you have been accustomed to.

Do you have any questions for me?

The research you have done on the company can help you decide what questions to ask your interviewer. This is an open forum for you to probe the interviewer, so don’t be afraid to be liberal. Show the interviewer that you are eager to join the organization. It is okay to ask about the position you are applying for, specific tasks or goals you will be responsible for and how they affect the rest of the company, benefits, and advancement opportunities. Do not ask questions that make you sound presumptuous or arrogant. “When can I start,” is a horrible way to end the interview.

Examples:

  • What are the daily responsibilities of the positions?
  • What are the next steps in the recruitment process?
  • How many other candidates are you considering for this position?


Article by Fort Bend Works




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