Everyone's been in the hot seat for a job interview before: you've landed face time at the company of your dreams and you don't want to blow it. Your resume is polished and you're wearing your best attire, but how do you make sure that you stand out among several people that want the same job? A good place to start is to know some common interview questions you'll likely encounter. A little bit of homework and practice on your part, and you can breeze through them with a confident smile.
You may have highlighted your accomplishments on your resume already, but here's your chance to elaborate on the qualities that make you a good employee. If you're prompt, meet deadlines, or if you enjoy taking care of minute details, describe specific times you've demonstrated these qualities. Remember to cite a specific example of each strength you've mentioned. We are not always the best at recognizing our own strengths. If you need help thinking of your strengths, ask a former colleague or supervisor what they perceive your strengths to be (if you feel comfortable doing so).
When a hiring manager asks you about your weaknesses, make sure that you are honest, but that you demonstrate how you overcome them. For example, those who have a hard time starting a large project may overcome this challenge by taking a bit of quiet time to break down a big task into manageable steps. If you aren't a people person, maybe you overcome this by picturing each customer as your mother, and treating them how you'd like someone to treat your mom. Employers are looking for self-aware and how you motivate yourself to improve in areas where you don't have a natural talent or ability.
You may have selected a particular job because you need a paycheck, or it may be your dream job. Regardless, acing this question is easy. Read the company's website and discover things that resonate with you. You might be interviewing for a fast food job at a place you love to eat, and it's ok to tell the hiring manager that! Maybe you have the chance to work for a company whose mission statement affects you personally. Perhaps you've admired the financial success of the company, and you'd like to be part of a successful enterprise with room for advancement; this shows that you have ambition and you're invested in the success of your workplace.
Most companies will post a job description in the job ad. This is a quick way for applicants to determine if they have the qualifications necessary for success, and it's also your secret guide to discovering exactly what the company is seeking. The description will likely include a list of qualifications and skills of an ideal candidate. Pay attention to what the company included on this list, then highlight where you have demonstrated success in meeting these skills and qualifications in your prior positions. For example, if the company is looking for someone to increase sales by ten percent, cite quantifiable examples where you've landed major accounts or increased your company's revenue.
You might be tempted to say "In your seat!" to the hiring manager, but this might now be the best answer. Instead, what the interviewer is really asking is how well you understand the typical career progression in your company. If your dream job is Director of Sales, you may need to have experience in several managerial positions or hold a degree or series of certifications. While these might be achievable in a five-year span, they might not be, too. Having specific and measurable career objectives shows that you're not only motivated to excel in your current position, but that you're also open to learning new roles and mentoring. Most companies are looking for people that they can grow and advance internally, and showing that you're looking toward a future in your field shows that you're a strong candidate for this.
If you've been pounding the pavement for work for a few months, or if you've taken time out of the workforce for personal reasons, hiring managers will want to know what you've been up to and whether your skills are still sharp. Here's where you'll need to do some homework. Read up on different advances in your field, changes in your industry's best practices, or enroll in a certification class that pertains to your line of work. Volunteer, if you can. This shows that despite not working for pay, you're still committed to a responsible position.
If you're able to look through your old performance reviews, then you probably have a good idea of what your former manager thinks about your work habits and production. But here's a secret: the hiring manager is also interested in whether you're a gracious, mature former employee or whether you might be a "bad apple." Be honest about the strengths that your manager saw in you and the ways that he or she helped you improve as a worker. If you didn't get along with your last manager, be respectful - no hiring manager wants to hear that right off the bat! Instead, you can say, "I respected their opinion and position in the company, but we preferred different approaches to our work."
This question is especially popular for customer service and sales positions and shows your future employer how you react under difficult circumstances and stress. Perhaps you helped a difficult customer resolve a complaint, or maybe you regained an account that your company lost. If you're in a more technical field, you may have a role in correcting a mistake or repairing hardware. Make sure to explain the problem neutrally; don't bash a customer or former coworker, and be specific about the steps that you took to correct the issue.
Many companies have their staff work as part of a team. This might be as part of a department within a larger corporation, or it might be a smaller unit within a specific department. Sometimes, a company is looking for a particular type of team player to fill a role, whether it's the leader, team cheerleader, or the "details person." Be honest about where you work most comfortably - if you don't enjoy leadership positions, then you won't be successful as a team leader, for instance.
Many companies have shift work, weekend obligations, after-hours networking, or holiday expectations. Others may require travel or ask that you telecommute. Determine in advance where you can commit to hours outside the typical 9 to 5 - and be honest. If you know you cannot work weekends, then you won't be a good fit for a company that requires them. Your salary should fit the range for the company and position, within the area and your particular industry. An online salary finder tool can help you if you aren't sure what to expect.
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