Advice on Answering Interview Questions

Advice on Answering the Most Common Interview Questions


What kind of salary do you need? Are you applying for other jobs? Why should we hire you? These are some difficult questions to answer because your answer may prevent you from getting the job.

Review these typical interview questions and think about how you would answer them. After the questions are listed, you’ll find some strategy suggestions. Practice answering these questions using your own experiences. For those “difficult questions” see the Career Services Office.

  1. Tell me about yourself.
    The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a short statement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed. Limit it to work-related items unless instructed otherwise. Talk about things that you have done and jobs you have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Think about the positions and accomplishments you have listed on your resume.
     
  2. Why did you leave your last job?
    Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers, or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an opportunity, a chance to do something special, or other forward-looking reasons.
     
  3. What experience do you have in this field?
    Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for. If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.
     
  4. Do you consider yourself successful?
    You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A good explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are on track to achieve the others.
     
  5. What do co-workers say about you?
    Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific statement or a paraphrase will work. “Jill Clark, a co-worker at Smith Company, always said I was the hardest worker she had ever known.” It is as powerful as Jill having said it at the interview herself.
     
  6. What do you know about this organization?
    This question is one reason to do some research on the organization before the interview. Find out about the company’s products and services. Read press releases and discover the current issues. Who are the major players?
     
  7. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?
    Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide variety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement. Have some good ones handy to mention.
     
  8. Are you applying for other jobs?
    Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is a distraction.
     
  9. Why do you want to work for this organization?
    This may take some thought and certainly should be based on the research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely important in answering this question. Relate it to your long-term career goals.
     
  10. Do you know anyone who works for us?
    Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization. This can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought of.
     
  11. What kind of salary do you need?
    A loaded question. Try to get the employer to answer this for you. Ask “What is the salary range for this position?” The employer may tell you. If they don’t, be prepared to give the interviewer a range—never give an exact figure. Research the market and know the average wage information for the position. Salary Wizard is a good online resource.
  12. Are you a team player?
    You are, of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Give specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself.
     
  13. How long would you expect to work for us if hired?
    Specifics here are not good. You could answer this question like: "I’d like it to be a long time.” Or “As long as we both feel I’m doing a good job.”
     
  14. What is your philosophy towards work?
    The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation in the answer. Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. That’s the type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a benefit to the organization.
     
  15. Have you ever been asked to leave a position?
    If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief, and avoid saying negative things about the people or organization involved.
     
  16. Explain how you would be an asset to this organization?
    This question gives you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the position being discussed. Focus on your accomplishments and experiences in past positions and relate them to this company.
     
  17. Why should we hire you?
    Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not mention any other candidates to make a comparison.
     
  18. What irritates you about co-workers?
    This is a trap question. Think “real hard” but fail to come up with anything that irritates you. A short statement that you get along with others works well for this questions.
     
  19. What is your greatest strength?
    Numerous answers are good, just stay positive and match the strength to the position you are seeking. A few good examples:
    • Your ability to prioritize
    • Your problem-solving skills
    • Your ability to work under pressure
    • Your ability to focus on projects
    • Your professional expertise
    • Your leadership skills
    • Your positive attitude
     
  20. Tell me about your dream job.
    Stay away from a specific job. The best answer is to stay generic and say something like: “A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute, and can’t wait to get to work.”
     
  21. Why do you think you would do well at this job or What are you looking for in a job?
    Give several reasons and include skills, experiences, and interest.
     
  22. What kind of person would you refuse to work with?
    Do not be trivial. Some example could be disloyalty to the organization, violence, unethical behavior or breaking the law.
     
  23. What is more important to you: the money or the work?
    Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is no better answer.
     
  24. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?
    There are numerous good possibilities: Loyalty, Energy, Positive Attitude, Leadership, Team Player, Expertise, Initiative, Patience, Hard Work, Creativity, and Problem Solver. Have some specific examples.
     
  25. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor.
    This is a test to see if you will speak ill of your supervisor. Stay positive and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a superior.
     
  26. What has disappointed you about a job?
    Don’t get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include:
    • Not enough of a challenge
    • You were laid off in a reduction
    • Company did not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility
     
  27. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.
    You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an example that relates to the type of position applied for.
     
  28. What motivates you to do your best on the job?
    This is a personal trait that only you can answer. Some examples may be: A challenge, Achievement, Recognition
     
  29. Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?
    This is up to you. Be totally honest.
     
  30. How will you know you were successful in this job?
    Several ways are good measures:
    • You set high standards for yourself and meet them
    • Your outcomes are a success
    • Your boss tells you that you are successful
     
  31. Would you be willing to relocate if required?
    Be honest. Do not say yes just to get the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems later on in your career.
  32. If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?
    Be careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have.
     
  33. How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?
    First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about, bring that up. Then point out (if true) that you are a hard worker and quick learner.
     
  34. What qualities do you look for in a boss?
    Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense of humor, fair, loyal to subordinates, and holder of high standards. All bosses think they have these traits.
     
  35. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute between others.
    Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique and not the dispute you settled.
     
  36. Describe your work ethic.
    Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, “determination to get the job done” and “work hard but enjoy your work” are good examples.
     
  37. What has been your biggest professional disappointment?
    Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show acceptance and no negative feelings.
     
  38. Tell me about the most fun you have had on a job.
    Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization.
     
  39. Do you have any questions for me?
    Always have some questions prepared. Questions involving areas where you will be an asset to the organization are good. “How soon will I be able to be productive?” and “What type of projects will I be able to assist on?” are examples.
     

Last Modified: 1/17/17 4:42 PM