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  • Nice page with job search tips
    See also the entire book at
    Sample Interview Questions

    Tell me about yourself.

    This is an open-ended question often asked to help break the ice in the interview. The important thing to remember is to keep the answer job-related.

    Why are you interested in working for this company?

    This will show the employer that you've done your homework. State the positive things you've learned about the company and how they fit with your career goals. This shows the employer that you cared enough about the interview to prepare for it.

    Tell me about your education.

    Even though your resume includes this information, some employers like to have you expand on the subject. Mention your grade point average and good attendance record. Include all classes, seminars, workshops and on-the-job training you've attended that support your job goals.

    Why have you chosen this particular field?

    This is one way to discover your enthusiasm and dedication to your career.

    Describe your best/worst boss.

    This could be a trap. Don't present a negative picture of any past employers. If given a choice, always talk about your best boss. If pressed to describe the worst boss, pick a work-related characteristic that can be stated in a positive way. For example, "I had a supervisor who was vague when issuing assignments. I learned to ask questions so that I knew what was expected."

    In a job, what interests you most/least?

    This will give the employer another gauge for measuring how well you will fit the job opening.

    What is your major weakness?

    Always turn this into a positive!

    State a weakness and turn it into a positive by showing how you overcame the weakness. "In the past, it's been difficult for me to accept criticism from my peers. However, I've learned to value and solicit this input and it's improved my job performance."

    Give an example of how you solved a problem in the past.

    It's important to be able to show the process you go through when presented with a problem. State the problem and the steps you followed to reach the solution.

    What are your strengths?

    This is the time to describe the skills you've identified that will most effectively "market" you as an employee.

    How do others describe you?

    Another way for the employer to ask this would be, "How would you fit into this work group?" If you aren't comfortable with this question before the interview, call some friends and/or ask people you've worked with how they'd describe you.

    What do you consider the most important idea you contributed or your most noteworthy accomplishment in your last job?

    Give examples of ways in which you saved the employer time, money or developed an office procedure that improved efficiency.

    Where do you see yourself in three years?

    Telling the interviewer, "In your job!" isn't a good idea. Do indicate that you hope to acquire sufficient skills and knowledge within that time to make a positive contribution to the company.

    All interview questions are really the same question--
    Why are you the best person for the job?

    Think about something you consider a failure in your life, and tell me why you think it happened.

    Failure implies error. Answers that point to a negative should conclude with a success. For example, "In my last job, I was given an assignment to coordinate all travel plans for an international conference. About halfway through the process, I realized I had not gathered enough information to help attendees make good travel and lodging decisions. I had to take time out to do the research which put me under a severe time crunch. I learned to do my research sooner. I haven't had the problem since."

    "I dropped out of school at age 17 to work for a fast-food employer. I later realized I couldn't make enough money to raise my family. I returned to school in the evenings and acquired clerical skills so I'm now qualified to do this job."

    How do you think you will fit into this operation?

    This is the time to express your interest in the job and knowledge of the employer. The more you know about the operation the easier this question will be to answer.

    If you were hired, what ideas/talents could you contribute to the position or our company?

    This is another great opportunity for you to sell your skills. By giving examples of past accomplishments, the employer can visualize your contribution to his/her company.

    Give an example where you showed leadership and initiative.

    Even if you haven't had the title of lead worker, supervisor or manager, give examples of when you recognized a job needed to be done and you did it.

    Give an example of when you were able to contribute to a team project.

    Unless you've lived in a total void, you've been part of a team. Teamwork is used in sales because both parties have to state their needs and expectations, then negotiate the sale. Families, community activities and school all require teamwork.

    What have you done to develop or change in the last few years?

    This shows a willingness to be challenged and to improve. Employers are looking for people who are willing to continue learning. Talk about formal and informal educational opportunities you've pursued. Mention books and periodicals you've read related to your field of interest.

    Do you have any questions for me?

    By asking questions, you again show interest in the job. Listed on the next page are some questions you may want to ask at your interview.

    Keep your answers brief and job-related. Focus on your skills. Good Luck!

    Questions to Ask in an Interview

    What are the responsibilities and accountabilities of this position?
    How well is the position defined? Can its duties be expanded?
    Would you describe an average day on this job?
    What is the history of the position? Why is it vacant?
    What aspects of this job would you like to see performed better?
    What are the key challenges or problems of this position?
    Where can I go from here, assuming that I meet/exceed the job responsibilities?
    How would you describe the ideal candidate?
    What are the employer's short- and long-range objectives?
    What are some outside influences that affect company growth?
    Where does the company excel? What are its limitations?
    When and how will I be evaluated? What are the performance standards?
    With whom would I be working? Who would be my supervisor? Who would I supervise?
    What is the department's environment like?
    When will you make the hiring decision? May I call you for the decision? When is a good time?
    Reasons People Don't Get Hired

    Poor personal appearance
    Inability to express information clearly
    Lack of interest and enthusiasm
    Lack of planning for career-- no purpose or goal
    Nervousness, lack of confidence and poise
    Overemphasis on money
    Unwillingness to start at the bottom
    Lack of tact and courtesy
    Lack of maturity
    Negative attitude about past employers
    No genuine interest in the employer or job
    No eye contact with the interviewer
    Incomplete or sloppy application form
    No sense of humor
    Arriving late for the interview
    Failure to express appreciation for interviewer's time
    Failure to ask questions about the job
    Vague responses given to questions
    No follow-up with thank you note or phone call

    Be a Star

    Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone loves a story. Before your interview, follow the "star" method. When interviewing, bring up your "star" stories. Employers will remember you by your stories.

    Write short statements of what tasks you did and the results achieved. Be very specific.
    Use the fewest number of words, but make your points stand out.
    When possible, use numbers to measure the activity, benefits or results.
    How significant and/or believable is your accomplishment from an objective point of view?

    In an interview, illustrate how you--

    Identified a problem
    Identified possible solutions
    Selected a solution
    Implemented a solution and what the positive outcome was
    Be Prepared

    Write out answers to questions!


    Your strengths
    Your leadership
    Your ability to learn new things
    Your contributions to the organization
    Your creativity in solving problems and handling people

    You should have at least two to four stories to tell an interviewer about yourself. Don't merely say you get along well with people, tell a story. People remember specific illustrations of skills, experience and education. Make yours memorable. Stand out from the crowd. Make your stories relate to the skills the employer is seeking. Don't forget your sense of humor. SMILE