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Common Interview Questions

 Keep the employer’s needs and the job description in mind when answering these questions.

  1. Tell me about yourself. Or, “What is your background, your work experience?” Your answer should be a quick overview of your work experience. You may touch briefly on education and training if it applies to the job. Be prepared to relate your strongest skills, key accomplishments, and main areas of knowledge. “I have approximately 15 years of experience in operations in a manufacturing environment. The last five years, I was Operations Manager for a 300 employee PC board division. My strongest areas are organization, team building, and budget control. I also place a lot of emphasis on continuous quality improvement. I have improved quality standards and productivity by 42% in the last two years.”
  2. What are your strengths? Or, “What have you been most successful at; what have been some of your main achievements?” Emphasize key points that you think most closely relate to the requirements of the position. “I am a quick learner, have strong organizational skills, and can balance several projects effectively at one time.”
  3.  What are your limitations? Or, “What are your weaknesses?” The purpose of this question is to bring up any limitations that may relate to the position for which you are interviewing. Phrase your statement so that any weakness could also be considered a strength. “An area I would like to develop further is delegation. I tend to take on too much responsibility.”
  4. What are your short and long-term goals? Or, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Your response gives the interviewer insight into your ambitions. It also reassures the employer you are a good fit. “This position is such a good fit for me. In five years, I plan on being even more valuable to the company.”
  5. Why did you leave (are you leaving) your last/current job? Be honest, concise, and positive about your reason for leaving your last job.Whatever the circumstances, emphasize some positive aspects of the last job. If you were fired, this will tell the interviewer something about how you handle adversity.“At McDowell Company, I experienced seven years of increased responsibility and earned above-average evaluations. My decision to leave was based on a management reorganization.”
  6. What did you like least about your last position? The interviewer is checking to see if there is anything you don’t like to do.Be careful not to give overly negative responses.Doing so may give the impression that you are angry, blaming, inflexible, etc. Your response is key in giving the impression that you can deal with any type of situation, even though it may be unpleasant at times.“I would rather spend time with clients than filing. However, I know that it’s necessary in most jobs. I try to handle it daily before the pile gets too big.”
  7. What did you like most about your last position? Or, “What was enjoyable, rewarding?” Avoid getting into salary, benefits, personalities, or company environment. Stick to job content and opportunities where you contributed and achieved department/company goals. “I like the fact that my manager let me operate independently. However, our group also functioned as a team on many projects.”
  8. What qualities do you like in a manager? This is an opportunity to express what you really appreciate in a work environment.“My favorite boss gave me opportunities to give input into day-to-day activities.”
  9. How would your former boss or peers describe you? Objectively consider your key traits and accomplishments that contribute to your co-workers and work environment.Offer short, descriptive adjectives.“They would probably say I’m easy to get along with, supportive, and have good organizational skills.”
  10. Would you rather work by yourself or with others? Or, “Are you a team player?” Both of these should be answered positively.“Although I enjoy working on my own, I enjoy working on a team effort also.”
  11. Do you work well under pressure? Or, “Can you handle several projects and meet deadlines as required?” Be brief and give some specific examples of how you have handled demanding situations.“I believe in doing a thorough job on everything. Recently, I coordinated a large customer survey. It included interviewing over 50 companies, while still giving full administrative support to my department.”
  12. What are you most proud of in your work history? Or, “What value do you bring to this company?” Your response should relate to how you saved a company time, money, etc.What ideas or processes did you implement that resulted in a better product or service? Greater efficiency and/or quality? “I developed and implemented a quarterly customer survey and interview process. It was so well accepted that we were able to retain our full customer base and grow it by 40% in one year.”
  13. Why do you want this job? Or, “Why should I hire you?” Briefly summarize the job as you understand it. Describe how you meet each qualification. “As you described the position and the challenges it entails, I realize I have considerable experience and expertise in the areas we discussed. I’ve faced many similar situations and have been successful in their resolution.”

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