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QUESTIONS TO ASK IN AN INTERVIEW

Asking questions indicates to the employer that your job search has been well thought out. Your interest in the organization resulted in thorough research and preparation.

The following are samples of questions prepared to start you thinking about questions you can ask in an interview.

  • What do you think are the three key skills/strengths vital to this position?
  • What would I be expected to accomplish in the first six months on the job? In the first year?
  • What are some of the department’s ongoing and anticipated special projects?
  • Identify a typical career path in your organization for someone with my qualifications.
  • How is an employee evaluated and promoted?
  • Tell me about your initial, as well as future training programs.
  • What is the next step in the hiring process for this position?
  • Will I work independently or as part of a team?
  • Can I provide you with any other information to help you in the decision making process?
  • How soon can I expect to hear from you?

You want to remain open to what the company may offer.  The following will be addressed later with the Human Resources Department:

  • Do not ask about salary and benefits.
  • If I want to further my education, does the organization offer tuition benefits?

 

GENERAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Questions start the minute the interview does, and to show that you are an exceptional candidate, you need to be prepared to answer not only the typical questions, but also the unexpected. You can expect questions regarding your qualifications, your academic preparation, career interests, experience, and ones that assess your personality.

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 you have done and jobs you have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest back and work up to the present.

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.

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.

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.

What do you know about this organization and how you would be an asset?
You should be anxious for this question. This question requires you to do some research on the organization before the interview. Find out where they have been and where they are going. What are the current issues and who are the major players. This will give you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the position being discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.

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.

What kind of salary do you need?
This is a loaded question. So, do not answer it directly. Instead, say something like, That's a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position? In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not, say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide range.

Are you a team player?
You are, of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.

How long would you expect to work for us if hired?
Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I'd like it to be a long time. Or As long as we both feel I'm doing a good job.

Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that?
This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like you like to fire people. At the same time, you will do it when it is the right thing to do. When it comes to the organization versus the individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the organization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction in force.

What is your philosophy towards work?

The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation. Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. A short and positive answer works best, showing a benefit to the organization. 

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.

What are you looking for in a job and why do you think you would do well at this job?
I’m seeking a place where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and can't wait to get to work. Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Give several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.
 
Tell me about a suggestion you have made.
Have a good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted and was then considered successful. One related to the type of work applied for is a real plus.

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 seem to get along with folks is great.

What is your greatest strength?
Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. 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 .

What is more important to you: the money or the work?
Money is always important, but the work is the most important.  A fair wage is expected for the work done according to the market.

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, Problem solver.

Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor.
This is a test to see if you will speak ill of your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former boss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.

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.

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.

What motivates you to do your best on the job?
This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are: Challenge, Achievement, Recognition.

Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?
This is up to you. Be totally honest.

How would you know you were successful on this job?
Several ways are good measures: You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are a success. Your boss tell you that you are successful

Would you be willing to relocate if required?
You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come up. 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. Be honest at this point and save yourself future grief.

Describe your management style.
Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive, salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the situation, instead of one size fits all.

What have you learned from mistakes on the job?
Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make it small, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. An example would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project and thus throwing coordination off.

Do you think you are overqualified for this position?
Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well qualified for the position.

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 working quick learner.

What qualities do you look for in a boss?
Be generic and positive. Someone with the ability to be a mentor.  Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense of humor, fair, loyal to subordinates and holder of high standards.

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.

What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?
Be honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.

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.

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.

Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.
Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization.

Do you have any questions for me?
Always have some questions prepared. Questions prepared 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.

COMMON WARDROBE MISTAKES

  • Don't be a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Plan and lay out what you're going to wear several days before the interview, so you'll have time to shop or get garments pressed and cleaned.
  • Carrying a backpack or fanny-pack instead of a briefcase or portfolio: Some image consultants suggest women ditch their purse, too!
  • Sunglasses on top of your head or headphones around your neck: Be sure to remove all your "transit gear" and tuck it in your briefcase before entering the lobby.
  • Too-short skirts: Forget what some of those gals on 'The Apprentice' are wearing. Your skirt should cover your thighs when you are seated.
  • The wrong tie: Ties should be made of silk, no less than three and a quarter inches wide with a conservative pattern. Image consultants say the best colors are red or burgundy.
  • Overly bright or large-patterned clothing: With the possible exception of creative fields like advertising or computer programming, it's best to stick with navy, black or gray.
  • Heavy makeup on women (or any makeup on a man)
  • Earrings on men: In fact, men should avoid wearing any jewelry unless it is a wedding ring, class ring or metal watch.
  • More than one set of earrings on women
  • Facial piercing, tongue jewelry or visible tattoos
  • Ill-fitting clothes: Few people can wear things straight off the rack. Spending a little extra to have your garments tailored is a worthwhile investment.
  • Long fingernails, especially with bright or specialty polishes. Nails should look clean and be trimmed to a length that doesn't leave an observer wondering how you keep from stabbing yourself.
  • Unnatural hair colors or styles. Remember, Donald Trump was a billionaire well before he began wearing a comb-over. If you're balding, try a close-cropped cut.
  • Short-sleeved shirts, even worse when worn with a tie.
  • Fishnets, patterned hosiery or bare legs (no matter how tan you are): Women should stick with neutral color hosiery that complements their suit.
  • Men whose socks don't match their shoes, or whose socks are too short and leave a gap of flesh when they are seated.
  • Rumpled or stained clothing: If interviewing late in the day, try to change to a fresh suit beforehand.
  • Scuffed or inappropriate footwear, including sneakers, stilettos, open-toed shoes and sandals.
  • Strong aftershaves, perfumes or colognes: Many people are allergic to certain scents. For a subtle fragrance, use good quality bath soap.
  • Belts and shoes that don't match: Shoes and belts should be made of leather or leather-like materials and the best colors for men are black or cordovan.
  • Telltale signs that you’re wearing a new suit. Remove all tags and extra buttons -- and remember to cut off the zigzag thread that keeps pockets and slits closed!
  • Save "innovative" or revealing garb for the club (or your couch) and strive for crisp, clean and professional. Remember, you want the interviewer to be listening to what you're saying, not critiquing what you're wearing.