The economy is tight (competitive), so now, more than ever, you need to know the smart answers and sharp questions that will get you that super job.
Most job hunters make two devastating mistakes when they are being questioned in an interview.
First they will fail to listen to questions. They annoy the interviewer either by answering a question that wasn’t asked or by giving out a lot of superfluous nonsense.
…Second and most important, they attempt to answer questions with virtually no preparation. The glibbest person on earth, even the most skilled debater, cannot answer questions off the cuff without damaging his chances of success. One personnel manager used to tell job hunters, “I’m not asking questions. I’m waiting for answers!” You can have these answers if you take the trouble to anticipate the questions and prepare your responses.
What follows is a number of questions that various surveys have indicated are asked most often, regardless of the job classification. Study all of these questions carefully, develop strong responses, and your candidacy will receive prime consideration.
Why should I employ you?
The interviewer asking this question does not want a lengthy regurgitation of what your CV has already told him. He is not yet asking for a barrage of facts and figures. He is interested in testing your poise and confidence. Give him a short generalised summary. “I have the necessary qualifications required by the position and my track record proves it.” If you are younger; “I am capable of quickly learning what you have to teach me, and I can be productive in a short amount of time”; or “I’ve chosen this field (your business) after a considerable amount of in-depth investigation and personal evaluation. I know that this is the job for me and that I will be successful.”
How many other applications are you interviewing?
Why do you want to work here?
This should be your easiest and favourite questions to answer in fact, if he doesn’t ask it, volunteer the information anyway. Because you have done your homework on his company, you know exactly why you want to work here. All you must do is organise your reasons into several short, hard-hitting sentences. Using facts, not puffery, tell him why his company is your number-one choice. For example, “You make the best product on the market today. You’ve got a sales force that is aggressive and imaginative. Your managements is farsighted enough to reinvest profits so that soon you will be the leader in your category.”
What interests you most about this position?
Here’s the perfect chance to tease your interviewer’s curiosity. Give him a truthful one or two word answer, like “the future”, “the challenge”, “the competition”, “the environment”. This response will force the employer to ask you to explain, giving you yet another opportunity to demonstrate your profound knowledge of this company.
Who has had the greatest influence on you?
Give one name. A person with some authority: a professor at university, and old boss, an author. Then be prepared to give a very short explanation: “He taught me to be unafraid of new ideas”, “she showed me how to focus in what really matters.”
How long will you stay with the company?
As with marriage, most employers expect a till-death-do-us-part attitude, but they are equally attracted to someone with a combination of ambition and candour. A reasonable response might be: “As long as I continue to learn and grow in my field.”
How do you feel about your progress to date?
Never apologise for yourself. You can’t expect someone to hire you if you don’t think highly of your own capabilities and accomplishments. “I think I’ve done well, but I need new changes and opportunities.” This is good time to drop hero stories: “No one in my company has advanced as fast as I have.” “I think you’ll agree, I’ve accomplished quite a bit in the last five years.”
What are your greatest accomplishments?
Be ready with a neatly typed list of four of five individuals who are willing to recommend you highly. Ideally it is best to offer references from various areas: business, academic, civic. Your eagerness and preparation will impress your interviewer.
Do you have plans to continue your studies?
You must know the employer to be able to answer this question effectively. If you are applying for a job where an advance degree is important, if not necessary, and if you honestly intend to take evening classes, by all means tell your interviewer. In fact, tell him the precise degree you’ll be working towards, the classes you’ll be attending, and if possible, the names of the professors. Your command of these details will convince the interviewer of your dedication and sincerity. On the other hand, beware of employers who question the value of additional education. Your ambition may signal that you will not be with their company very long.
Have you done the best work of which you are capable?
This Girl Guide question is best answered with some degree of self-effacement. “I would be lying to you if I told you I was perfect, but I have tackled every assignment with all my energy and talents”, or “I’m sure there were times when I could have worked harder or longer, but over the years I’ve tried to do my best and I believe I have succeeded.”
What would you like to be doing five years from now?
To answer this question, make sure you know exactly what can and cannot be achieved by the ideal candidate in your shoes. Too many job hunters butcher this question because they have not done their homework and have no idea where their career will lead them. If you see yourself at another company or in another department of the present company, tread lightly. You can’t afford to tell your interviewer that you believe you’ll be more successful than he is.
Do you have any questions to ask?
Absolutely. The job hunter who tells her interviewer she has no questions is making a classic error that often results in either losing the job offer altogether or becoming entrapped in a job she never wanted in the first place. The questions you must ask will serve two vital purposes. First, they will enhance your candidacy. No interviewer can fail to be impressed by serious, probing, carefully thought out questions. Good questions may indicate that you are ready for a position of much greater responsibility. They will help you gain a higher salary. They will help your interviewer remember and select you out of a sea of qualified applicants.
What training/qualifications do you have for a job like this?
Your interviewer could probably answer this question himself after looking at your CV, but he wants to hear you explain in person, don’t give him a rehash. Deliver a short, fact-filled summary of two or three most important qualifications you have: “I have a background in accounting. I’ve demonstrated proven selling skills. I’m capable of handling several projects simultaneously.” If you are a recent graduate, try to construct an answer that includes both academic and job-related experiences.
Will you be asking me to relocate out of town?
Why do you want someone for this job?
Force your interviewer to explain why this job can’t be done by one of his current employees. This will give you a valuable job description.
Why isn’t this job being filled by someone within the company?
You may discover that nobody in his organisation would accept it or that your future fellow employees are a weak lot.
Can you draw me an organisation chart so I can see just where I fit in?
Here’s the point where you discover just who your real boss will be, how significant your responsibilities will be, your rank in the line up.
How many people have held this job in the last five years?
If the turnover has been high, you have a right to suspect that the job may leave something to be desired. Or it could mean that you can expect to be promoted quickly.
Was the person who held this position promoted?
What do you like most about your company? Least?
Someone in the personnel department may give you a relatively worthless answer, but anyone else in the company is well worth listening to.
What do I have to do to be promoted?
If this question makes your interviewer nervous or uneasy, it is reasonable to expect that he has little desire to promote. On the other hand, if he explains, take careful notes. This information could be useful before and after you are employed.
What are the company’s future plans and goals?
Can you picture yourself working there three or five years from now? Does his projection conflict with what you have discovered in your homework?
What kind of benefits does this company offer its employee?
Pay close attention. Listen for inconsistencies. Do they offer any valuable benefits you were not aware of?
What qualifications are you looking for in the person you need?
What exactly would you like me to accomplish in this position?
Is your interviewer being realistic or is he describing an 18-hour-a-day job that will lead you straight into a divorce?
How many people do I supervise?
Obviously, this is not a question for recent graduates or school leavers.
How soon will you decide if you want to hire me?
This question can save you a lot of anxiety and also gently nudge your interviewer into making a quicker decision.
Do you have any questions about my qualifications?
Here’s your chance to clear up any misunderstanding and come to terms with any reservations your interviewer may have.
Do you have any medical problems that could inhibit your performance in this job?
Tell the truth. Summarise everything in one sentence. If he want to know more, he’ll ask.