Top 15 Job Interview Questions
A job interview is the result of an effective resume. However,
landing a job is typically the result of a successful interview.
Brad Fredericks from ResumeDoctor.com explains, "Many job seekers
hit a brick wall when it comes to offering meaningful responses
during the interview. You must be careful not to put your foot in
your mouth when answering open-ended questions. 'Tell me about
yourself,' is not the queue to begin your life story."
Recently, ResumeDoctor.com surveyed over 2,000 recruiters and hiring
managers worldwide in order to find out what questions are most
frequently asked during job interviews. Participants came from a
variety of industries, including information technology, marketing
and sales, finance, and healthcare.
The top 15 interview questions, in descending order, are:
1. Describe your ideal job and/or boss.
2. Why are you looking for a job? Why are leaving your current
3. What unique experience or qualifications separate you from
4. Tell me about yourself.
5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
6. Describe some of your most important career accomplishments.
7. What are your short-term/long-term goals?
8. Describe a time when you were faced with a challenging
situation and how you handled it.
9. What are your salary requirements?
10. Why are you interested in this position? Our company?
11. What would your former boss/colleagues say about you?
12. What are the best and worst aspects of your previous job?
13. What do you know about our company?
14. What motivates you? How do you motivate others?
15. Are you willing to relocate?
How to Answer These Tricky Interview Questions
Does the thought of going on a job interview cause your palms to sweat and your body to break out in hives? Stop itching; you're not alone.
The vast majority of job seekers admit to emotions ranging from mild uneasiness to downright panic leading up to their interviews. The good news is there have been no reported cases of job seekers who died of nervousness during a job interview. So relax and follow these simple tips for keeping your anxiety at bay before and during your interview.
First, take the proper amount of time to prepare for your interview. Being well-prepared will boost your confidence and lower your anxiety. Experts recommend that you spend at least three hours preparing for each interview.
You should draft answers to the most common interview questions and practice speaking them out loud. You also should read up on the company with which you will be interviewing and prepare some questions of your own. This lets the interviewer know that you are truly interested in the company and the position.
As a final step in your preparation, make sure you have good directions to the interview site. Some job seekers make a dry run to the interview site to ensure the directions are correct and to estimate the amount of time they will need to get to the interview on time.
Going into a job interview is often like entering the great unknown. Although every interviewer is different and questions vary from industry to industry, there are some questions that are common across the board. Reading through the following questions and developing your own answers is a good place to start in your preparation. Once you have done that, remember practice makes perfect! Nothing impresses a potential employer like being ready for whatever is thrown your way.
Why should we hire you?
Here's the chance to really sell yourself. You need to briefly and succinctly lay out your strengths, qualifications and what you can bring to the table. Be careful not to answer this question too generically, however. Nearly everyone says they are hardworking and motivated. Set yourself apart by telling the interviewer about qualities that are unique to you.
Why do you want to work here?
This is one tool interviewers use to see if you have done your homework. You should never attend an interview unless you know about the company, its direction and the industry in which it plays. If you have done your research, this question gives you an opportunity to show initiative and demonstrate how your experience and qualifications match the company's needs.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
The secret to answering this question is being honest about a weakness, but demonstrating how you have turned it into a strength. For example, if you had a problem with organization in the past, demonstrate the steps you took to more effectively keep yourself on track. This will show that you have the ability to recognize aspects of yourself that need improvement, and the initiative to make yourself better.
Why did you leave your last job?
Even if your last job ended badly, be careful about being negative in answering this question. Be as diplomatic as possible. If you do point out negative aspects of your last job, find some positives to mention as well. Complaining endlessly about your last company will not say much for your attitude.
Describe a problem situation and how you solved it.
Sometimes it is hard to come up with a response to this request, particularly if you are coming straight from college and do not have professional experience. Interviewers want to see that you can think critically and develop solutions, regardless of what kind of issue you faced. Even if your problem was not having enough time to study, describe the steps you took to prioritize your schedule. This will demonstrate that you are responsible and can think through situations on your own.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The secret to this question is being specific and selecting an accomplishment that relates to the position. Even if your greatest accomplishment is being on a championship high school basketball team, opt for a more professionally relevant accomplishment. Think of the qualities the company is looking for and develop an example that demonstrates how you can meet the company's needs.
What are your salary expectations?
This is one of the hardest questions, particularly for those with little experience. The first thing to do before going to your interview is to research the salary range in your field to get an idea of what you should be making. Steer clear of discussing salary specifics before receiving a job offer. Let the interviewer know that you will be open to discussing fair compensation when the time comes. If pressed for a more specific answer, always give a range, rather than a specific number.
Tell me about yourself.
While this query seems like a piece of cake, it is difficult to answer because it is so broad. The important thing to know is that the interviewer typically does not want to know about your hometown or what you do on the weekends. He or she is trying to figure you out professionally. Pick a couple of points about yourself, your professional experience and your career goals and stick to those points. Wrap up your answer by bringing up your desire to be a part of the company. If you have a solid response prepared for this question, it can lead your conversation in a direction that allows you to elaborate on your qualification
Mistakes Job Seekers Make
What do nail biting, answering your cell phone, and lying have in common? They are all ways to blow an interview.
According to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey, hiring managers identified the top mistakes job candidates make. Read on about the worst qualities you can display in an interview and real-life examples.
1. Poor Communication Skills
A candidate who has bad grammar, talks too much, or does not listen is a red flag. Being too open during the interview is a killer, too. You should be candid, but don't spill your guts with all your personal problems. And think before you speak - one candidate at a drug treatment facility asked if they drug-tested and if there was advance notice.
2. Poor Performance or Preparation
Yes, there are job seekers who don't prepare or even know what job they're interviewing for. Physical ticks like lack of eye contact or extreme gestures and movement turned off employers. Other candidates simply flaked out - answering a cell phone, eating a sandwich, or jumping up out of the chair and falling down.
3. Negative Attitude Displayed
Hiring managers are turned off by unenthusiastic, bored or arrogant behavior. Using profanity, acting cocky, or putting down a previous boss will quickly turn off an interviewer. One 37 year-old candidate said the only reason he seeking a job was because his mother wanted him to.
4. Inappropriate Appearance
Improper dress and grooming can jeopardize an interview, too. Ladies, this is not a pick-up opportunity, don't dress like you're going clubbing. Guys, jeans and a t-shirt are not acceptable. Countless hiring managers cited instances of candidates who obviously did not bathe. Think that's bad? Said one employer, "One candidate did not wear shoes to the interview. How you can forget your shoes?" Oh, and please be sober.
5. Lying on Resume or During Interview
Do you have to be told that dishonesty is a no-no? "One guy mentioned his arrest after completing on an application that he had never been arrested," said one hiring manager. And just in case you weren't sure, stealing from a prospective employer is also frowned upon in an interview.
Dress the Part
10 Interview Fashion Blunders to Keep You From Your Dream Job
First impressions are everything, especially when it comes to job hunting. That's why executive coaches, career counselors and others put so much stock in "dressing for success." The truth is, an interview might just be your only opportunity to impress. If you don't take your appearance seriously, you give the impression that you won't take your work seriously, either. Here are some common "fashion blunders" that job seekers make when getting ready for an interview.
1. They Can Smell You Before They See You
When it comes to perfume or cologne, less is best. Of all the things you want to be remembered for after an interview, how you smelled is not on the top of your list. Additionally, you never know when you will meet with someone who has allergies or is sensitive to fragrances. In most cases, it's best to hold off on the perfume, cologne or aftershave, at least for interview day.
2. The Painted Face Syndrome
Another good way to be remembered for the wrong reasons is to wear your "out on the town" makeup. Wearing makeup that is too showy will be distracting to the person interviewing you. You want to be known for what you have to say, not for the glitter in your eye shadow.
3. We Can't See Past the Tie
Although accepted styles vary from company to company, your multi-colored fish tie will not send the impression you're trying to impart. Stick to conservative, solid color or limited design ties and leave the novelty pieces for an informal occasion.
4. The Noisemaker Effect
If you don't want your interviewer to be distracted while you are talking, it's best to steer clear of pockets full of change or oversized jewelry. Interviewers often meet with several individuals, many on the same day, and you do not want to give him or her any reason not to listen to you intently. Too much jewelry or excessive pocket change will cause an unwanted distraction in the room.
5. The Hair Speaks for Itself
Unless you are interviewing at a highly creative, extremely casual company, avoid hair dye and extreme styles. The same thing is true for hairstyles such as pigtails, the "tousled" look, hair that hangs in your eyes, or any other unkempt look. Your hairstyle is large part of your overall professional demeanor and even if you have a wild side, you should sport a conservative ?do for an interview.
6. Hey Gals, This Isn't a Nightclub
In the majority of interview situations, conservative is best. This means forgoing tight, short skirts and revealing blouses for an outfit that is more demure. Instead of wowing your interviewer by an outfit that leaves little to the imagination, wow them with your qualifications and answers.
7. The Five O'clock Shadow
While companies have different policies on facial hair for men, looking neatly groomed is important in any situation. If you don't, take the time to shave in the morning. Nothing says "I just rolled out of bed," like a five o'clock shadow. If you have a beard or goatee, make sure it has been trimmed.
8. Hey Guys, This Isn't the Nightclub
So you've got a shiny silver shirt that you wore out last weekend and you think it really make an impression at your interview. You might be right, but the impression you'll make isn't optimal. While interview dress is boring to some, it's still best to stick with conservative suit colors, such as dark blue or gray, and neutral or basic color shirts.
9. Killer Nails...Literally
Like excessive jewelry, flashy fingernails will only distract your interviewer. Make sure your nails are neat, clean and trimmed before the interview, and opt for a neutral or clear polish. Men should pay attention to nails, too. Going to an interview with nails that look like you've been gardening all day will not win you points with a professional interviewer.
10. Is it Casual Friday?
Even if you are interviewing with a company you think is casual, showing up in jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes will send the wrong impression. The basic rule of thumb for dressing for an interview is to find out about the accepted attire at the company and then dress one level higher in professionalism. If you are in doubt about the company's dress code, ask. Just make sure you don't show up looking more casual than the company's employees.
Six Moves to Boost Your Interview Performance
There's no instant replay when you go through an interview. One secret I've learned is that your verbal messages are enhanced by body language, facial expressions, voice intonations and props. Your words, physical presence and voice can aid you in landing the job. Here are some tips:
Deal With Nervousness
Important events, where we are judged and need to perform well, can make anyone nervous. A little nervousness can actually aid you in being sharp and improve your performance. But heart-thumping, face-twitching, voice-quivering nervousness will reflect poorly on you and the strong, self-confident "I can solve your problems" impression you are trying to make. To rid your body of nervous tension, just before you go into the interview find a private spot outside or in the restroom, shake both arms and hands and take a few deep breaths. This physical exercise releases tension that has built up and helps calm you. Then, close your eyes and visualize a scene about winning, seeing yourself as the winner This visualization helps get you into a positive, "I can do it" framework.
The night before the interview, organize what you need to bring. Always have extra résumés -- yes, they do lose them and misplace them. Bring your list of references. Be sure all addresses and phone numbers are current and accurate. Include any work samples and the list of questions you intend to ask. Have absolute clear directions and if you don't know where you are going, find out the night before. Being late is a major no-no.
Pass The First Impression
Before you even say hello, the employer's mind is evaluating attire, hygiene, style, and formulating an opinion as to whether or not you should represent their organization. Even in today's more casual, dressed-down workplace, appearance still counts a great deal with employers. Tom, a vice president for a bank, told me last week, "I really liked a candidate, but his attire was sloppy and too casual. The CEO said, ?don't hire him, it'll get worse once he gets the job.' So the position went to someone else." Therefore, dress up. Select a conservative and well-fitting business suit. Greet the interviewer warmly, and offer a firm handshake. Nothing creates a poorer impression than a weak, couple-of-fingers handshake.
A sincere smile sends a warm, confident message. Eye contact is one of the important things employers notice about you. It is crucial and conveys that your message is believable.
Offer Support Documentation
Employers tell me they love to see proof that you can really do their job, so do bring samples of past work you've done. This can be copies of a spreadsheet that improved the tracking system, materials you've created, or brochures that list you as a panelist or speaker. Show and tell works very effectively, so bring "proof."
It is frustrating to the interviewer to ask questions that never get answered, so listen closely. Many employers reveal their "hidden agendas," those few things that really influence their decision. Paying close attention allows you to really address the true needs and land the job.
Answer Key Interview Questions Like a Pro
"We would like you to come in for an interview" are the wonderful words every job hunter longs to hear. All that stands in the way of your new job is acing the interview and handling the questions like a pro. Long, babbling answers or monosyllabic replies aren't effective.
There are four key components to successfully answering interview questions:
• Advance preparation
• Giving short, concise, specific answers that never exceed 60 seconds
• Demonstrating ability to perform the job
• Exhibiting the ideal worker personality traits
Whenever possible, give a specific example of how you've operated in the past. Employers want assurance you'll be able to do the job. Keep in mind that the ideal worker is productive, gets results, and has a success-oriented, "can-do" attitude. Plus, he or she is eager to learn, flexible and adaptable. Match these characteristics with some key answers and you are surely going to be a standout among the competition.
Practice answers in advance. To get you started, here are the key questions you'll likely be asked with appropriate answers.
Tell me about yourself.
Forget your life story. Open the interview by using what I call your "60-Second Sell" -- a customized, memorized statement that summarizes and links together your five top selling points, skills, experience and strengths into a one-minute verbal business card.
Other potential inquiries that this answer is perfect for include:
• What are your strengths?
• What makes you think you are qualified for this job?
• What makes you think you will succeed in this position?
• Why do you want this job? Why should I hire you?
Why did you leave your last job, or want to leave your current job?
Wanting more challenge or growth opportunities, relocation, layoffs, reorganization or downsizing are all acceptable reasons to depart. An effective answer might be, "The company went through a downsizing, that's why I'm available." Or, "My current employer is small and I've gone as far as I can with their organization. I'm looking for a challenge that will really use my abilities and strengths, allowing me to continue to grow and make a larger contribution."
What is your greatest weakness?
A little humor, such as "Don't ask me to repair the copier... ha-ha-ha," is definitely OK. Point out something that will have no negative impact on the hiring decision, and stress a needed skill. For example, if the position requires excellent computer skills using Office software, you might offer this response: "I have excellent computer user skills. I know Excel and Word inside and out, but I am pretty weak at actual programming and would need more training if you need customized programming..." The employer isn't asking for the candidate to program but this answer reinforces a major selling point -- computer usage skills.
I'm a little worried about your lack of...
If the employer is unaware of your experience, then it's easy to give an answer using a specific example demonstrating that skill. If they are concerned about a skill you do lack, but are eager to learn, try "I have excellent customer services skills, but you are right, I have not been a salesperson. I do know the key to success is the ability to build good client relationships, persistence, efficient time management and good follow-up skills, all of which I have. I have read numerous books on selling, and I intend to take seminars at my own expense to learn everything I can. I am a hard worker who lets rejection roll off my back. My goals include landing a sales job and then becoming one of the top sales people in my company. I've set a three year date to achieve this goal and I am determined to succeed."
You have a lot of experience. Why would you want this job?
Desperately needing any job isn't going to score points with the interviewer. The employer worries you won't stay, are burnt-out, looking for an easy paycheck, or worse, you'll go after the boss's job once you come on board. The best strategy is to not oversell your abilities. Stress why this job fits for you now, that you seek a job with less travel, or that you wish to utilize a specific skill such as training or design. Be careful not to say you want an easy, no-stress job, causing the employer seek a more eager worker.
Talk your way through a stellar interview
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Sure it's cliché,
but it's also true - especially when you're interviewing for a job.
Interviewing doesn't have to be nerve-wracking; with a little practice
and preparation you can sail through with confidence.
Most employers use the interview to identify the best candidate
for the job. But they're also trying to determine whether you fit
their company. You, too, should be gauging whether the company is
a match for you.
Preparation is key
Give yourself several days before the interview to think about
what you're going to say and to make sure you're prepared.
Research the company and develop intelligent questions about the
organization. Check out the company's Web site for press releases
and other announcements, or search the Internet for industry news
(try google.com or yahoo.com).
"You've got to show me you know about the company and the industry,
as well as our clients," says Sitrick And Company's Dana Coleman,
who has interviewed more than 20 people for jobs. "You need to be
able to speak articulately about it."
Make a clear outline of your ideal work environment, says Leslie
Bonagura, managing consultant with Drake Beam Morin, a professional
and corporate development company. Know what management style you
prefer and which job duties you enjoy most, she says. Use this outline
to help determine whether the job is right for you.
Identify key examples of when you overcame obstacles at work to
succeed. "I'm looking for concrete examples. I want to know specific
details of how they fixed the problem or how they dealt with the
problem," says Laura Cavender, a policy analyst at the American
Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., who has interviewed
dozens of candidates. "I'm looking for the interviewee's interpersonal
skills. He or she may not have solved the problem, but it's important
to know how he or she interacts with others."
Practice your answers in front of a mirror or with a friend. The
more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you'll be
during the interview.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and employers
will judge you on your professionalism and how you present yourself.
"Your appearance is very important," Bonagura says. "It gives you
the confidence to know that you look good and feel good, and that
will help during the interview."
Begin a checklist a few days before your interview. Do you need
to take your suit to the dry cleaner? Choose your best suit, appropriate
for the season. Go with minimal jewelry, accessories and perfume
Whatever you wear, make sure you're comfortable. You don't want
to be distracted by a wayward bra strap or a sports coat a size
During the interview
Every interviewer is unique: Employers will ask different questions
and approach the interview from different angles. Be prepared for
But you can expect to talk about your skills, knowledge and experience,
and how your talents fit into the organization.
When you arrive for the interview, you'll probably be a little
nervous. That's natural. Take a deep breath and relax. Remember,
you're on equal footing with the interviewer, Bonagura says. After
all, she adds, you're trying to determine whether you'd be happy
at that company.
Approach the interview as a conversation. Your resume can guide
you - expand on key points, emphasizing how your skills will complement
the organization. Ask about the employer's expectations, and describe
how your skills will serve and exceed what they expect.
Most interviewers will ask why you are looking for a new job. Be
ready to answer in a positive light. Are you looking as a result
of new management, or are you exploring other opportunities for
your career growth?
"I want to hear why the person is looking," Coleman says. "In general,
I know it's because you want new responsibility, more money or were
unhappy. How you talk about it is important."
Tell the truth about your experience and position with confidence.
Be mindful of your body language and how fast you're talking; make
sure the interviewer can understand you.
When you need to think about a question, take time to fully understand
it. You might take a deep breath, repeat the question "If I understand
what you're asking, you want..." Or ask for clarification. It's
important to maintain the flow of the conversation, so try to avoid
periods of awkward silence.
Maintain your professionalism. Some interviewers might try to make
you comfortable and relaxed, but it's important to remain formal.
You're there to discuss your professional skills, not your social
schedule. Stick to what you can bring to the company.
Interviewers are not supposed to ask questions that could discriminate
against you. This includes questions about your lifestyle, children,
age or race.
If you're asked a question that makes you uncomfortable, remain
For example, you are asked whether you have children. Don't appear
shocked. Instead you can answer: "I've never been asked that before.
Is that a question you normally ask?" In the process, you will turn
the question around.
You don't have to volunteer personal information. But how you handle
inappropriate questions is crucial. Refocus the interview to your
skills and strengths.
After your interview, take a few minutes to write a thank-you letter.
Use plain, conservative stationery and write a few lines in blue
or black ink to thank the interviewer for his or her time.
For example: "Thank you for meeting with me. I enjoyed talking
with you about the position." Make sure to reiterate how your skills
would benefit the organization. Reinforce employers how you would
exceed their expectations.
Mail the letter within 24 hours.
You'll probably want to follow up on your interview. Use what you
learned about the interviewer to decide when. Though you want to
remain on the company's radar screen, avoid seeming pesky.
One to two well-phrased phone calls are generally appropriate.
Wait a week before calling, and be prepared with a reason to talk.
"I wanted to check in to see whether there is any more information
I can get you," or "I enjoyed talking with you and I wanted to see
where your company is in the process of filling the position."
Being professional will keep you in touch with the interviewer,
which can help build your network as well. If you've impressed the
interviewer but aren't right for that particular job, he or she
might keep you in mind for another position.
Once you've finished the interview, take a few minutes to review
your performance and look for ways to improve next time. After all,
practice makes perfect.