If you say your biggest achievement was improving throughput by 18 percent in six months but you're interviewing for a leadership role in human resources, that answer is interesting but ultimately irrelevant. Instead, talk about an underperforming employee you "rescued," or how you overcame infighting between departments, or how so many of your direct reports have been promoted. The goal is to share achievements that let the interviewer imagine you in the position -- and see you succeeding.
What happened? Mistakes happen. Sure, strengths come to the fore, but weaknesses also rear their heads. And that's OK. No one is perfect. But a person who tends to push the blame -- and the responsibility for rectifying the situation -- onto someone else is a candidate to avoid. Hiring managers would much rather choose candidates who focus not on blame but on addressing and fixing the problem. Every business needs employees who willingly admit when they are wrong, step up to take ownership for fixing the problem, and, most important, learn from the experience.
But that doesn't mean you have to make up an answer. You can learn something from every job. You can develop skills in every job. Work backward: Identify things about the job you're interviewing for that will help you if you do land your dream job someday, and then describe how those things apply to what you hope to someday do.
And don't be afraid to admit that you might someday move on, whether to join another company or -- better -- to start your own business. Employers no longer expect "forever" employees. Don't talk about how your boss is difficult. Don't talk about how you can't get along with other employees. Don't bad-mouth your company. Instead, focus on the positives a move will bring. Talk about what you want to achieve. Talk about what you want to learn. Talk about ways you want to grow, about things you want to accomplish; explain how a move will be great for you and for your new company.hiring employees for the first time
Complaining about your current employer is a little like people who gossip: If you're willing to speak badly of someone else, you'll probably do the same to me. An experienced interviewer will push to get a real answer by asking this follow-up question: How is your current employer not satisfying these needs? So take a step back and think about the job you're applying for and the company's culture because every company has one, whether intentional or unintentional.
If a flexible schedule is important to you, but the company doesn't offer one, focus on something else. If you like constant direction and support and the company expects employees to self-manage, focus on something else. Find ways to highlight how the company's environment will work well for you -- and if you can't find ways, don't take the job, because you'll be miserable.
When you're the one in the interviewer's seat, you'll get a more honest answer by asking: What do you care about most at work? Having no answer is a definite warning sign. Everyone makes tough decisions, regardless of their position. My daughter worked part-time as a server at a local restaurant and made difficult decisions all the time -- like the best way to deal with a regular customer whose behavior constituted borderline harassment.
A good answer proves you can make a difficult analytical or reasoning-based decision -- for example, wading through reams of data to determine the best solution to a problem. A great answer proves you can make a difficult interpersonal decision, or better yet a difficult data-driven decision that includes interpersonal considerations and ramifications.
Making decisions based on data is important, but almost every decision has an impact on people as well. The best candidates naturally weigh all sides of an issue, not just the business or human side exclusively. Try sharing leadership examples instead.
Say, "The best way for me to answer that is to give you a few examples of leadership challenges I've faced," and then share situations where you dealt with a problem, motivated a team, worked through a crisis. Explain what you did and that will give the interviewer a great sense of how you lead.
And, of course, it lets you highlight a few of your successes. What did you do? Disagreements are fine; it's what you do when you disagree that matters. We all know people who love to have the "meeting after the meeting," where they've supported a decision in the meeting but they then go out and undermine it. Show that you were professional. Show that you raised your concerns in a productive way. If you have an example that proves you can effect change, great -- and if you don't, show that you can support a decision even though you think it's wrong as long as it's not unethical, immoral, etc.
Every company wants employees to be honest and forthright, to share concerns and issues, but to also get behind a decision and support it as if they agreed, even if they didn't. It's a total throwaway. But I did ask it once, and got an answer I really liked. If I say I will help, I help.
I'm not sure that everyone likes me, but they all know they can count on what I say and how hard I work. But if you're asked, use this general framework: You'll work hard to determine how your job creates value -- you won't just stay busy, you'll stay busy doing the right things. You'll learn how to serve all your constituents -- your boss, your employees, your peers, your customers, and your suppliers and vendors. You'll focus on doing what you do best -- you'll be hired because you bring certain skills, and you'll apply those skills to make things happen.
You'll make a difference -- with customers, with other employees, to bring enthusiasm and focus and a sense of commitment and teamwork. Then just layer in specifics that are applicable to you and the job. Even so, don't be tempted to fib and claim to enjoy hobbies you don't.
Focus on activities that indicate some sort of growth: skills you're trying to learn, goals you're trying to accomplish. Weave those in with personal details. For example, "I'm raising a family, so a lot of my time is focused on that, but I'm using my commute time to learn Spanish. The aim of the new prohibitions is to end the cycle of pay discrimination. Even so, it's still OK to ask: Does your current salary really reflect the market rate in your field?
Or, is your current salary what you hope to get in your next job? For job candidates, this is a tough one. You want to be open and honest, but frankly, some companies ask the question as the opening move in salary negotiations. Try an approach recommended by Liz Ryan.
Is this position in that range? Maybe the interviewer will answer; maybe she won't. If she presses you for an answer, you'll have to decide whether you want to share or demur. Ultimately your answer won't matter too much, because you'll either accept the salary offered or you won't, depending on what you think is fair. Each day he climbs up three feet, but at night he slips back two feet.
How many days will it take him to climb out of the well? As the interviewer, you're not necessarily looking for the right answer, but instead a little insight into the job candidate's reasoning abilities. Listen carefully as they talk through their logic as they try to solve the problem. Who cares if people get it wrong? The best candidates will laugh at themselves. Assess how the interviewee deals with failure. Moreover, do they know how to be a good communicator? Smart questions not only signal a great candidate but also reveal to the candidate whether the company is a good fit for them.
After all, they're being interviewed, but they're also interviewing the company and have a keen sense of the questions to ask during an interview. Rather than using it to find out the information they truly want to know about the job, the manager, and the culture, they instead try to use the time to further impress their interviewer and pitch themselves for the job.
Here, ten really strong questions that will get you useful insights into whether the job is right for you. Questions About the Position 1. You might find out that while the job posting listed 12 different responsibilities, your success in fact just hinges on 2 of them, or that the posting dramatically understated the importance of 1 of them, or that the hiring manager is battling with her own boss about expectations for the role, or even that the manager has no idea what success would look like in the job which would be a sign to proceed with extreme caution.
Or you might find out that the part of the job that you were most excited about actually only comes up every six months. But even barring major insights like that, the answer to this question can just help you better visualize what it will actually be like to be in the job day after day. What took up most of their time? What has turnover in the role generally been like?
Questions About Your Success in the Position 5. The thing about this question is that it goes straight to the heart of what the hiring manager is looking for. And this question says that you care about the same thing. Questions About the Company 7. But asking about what types of people tend to thrive versus those who tend to struggle can get you more revealing information.
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|Did your boss give you a glowing performance review? How much does the company pay employees of your skill level? While working at Investment Bank X, we had a very interesting policy for investing in new fintech projects. So, I thought that an internship at [Company X] would be an awesome start to my career in marketing. Do your plans for the future match the career path for someone typically hired for this position?
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|Why do you plan on leaving your current employer? Have a few questions of your own ready to ask the interviewer. Listen closely to how the candidates show their respect for their current boss and company. Explain what you did and that will give the interviewer a great sense of how you lead. Employers don't want to hire people who just want a job; they want to hire people who want a job with their company.
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|What motivated you to apply for this job? This gives you the chance to talk about your experience. I'm not sure that everyone likes me, but they all know they can count on what I say and how hard I work. Why you left your last job The employer may ask you questions about leaving your last job. Ask for examples. Try to come up with one or two things that you think could be improved. Are you the best candidate for the job?
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They call for specific stories, and these stories make your candidacy more memorable and colorful. You want to leave a great impression, and intriguing anecdotes are one way to accomplish this. Common Behavioral Questions Can you describe a time you demonstrated leadership? Can you speak to a time that you had to handle criticism of your work? Tell me about a time when your workload was especially heavy and how you dealt with it. What would you do if you were asked to take on more assignments than you could conceivably finish by the expected deadlines?
Tell me about a time you went above and beyond expectations at work. Have you ever worked on a time when someone was not pulling his weight? What did you do? Have you ever had trouble working with a manager? Can you tell me about a time your boss disagreed with something you did? How did you deal with it? How do you handle difficult customers? How do you deal with stressful situations? Have you ever had to deal with a coworker who put you down at work?
Can you tell me about a time that you faced a difficult situation with a colleague? Give me an example of a time that you failed. Have you ever had to give someone tough feedback? How did you go about that? Have you ever gone against official policy or directives? What were the results? Can you give me an example of a challenge or conflict you faced at work?
Describe how you handled it. Tips for Answering Behavioral Questions As you can see, behavioral questions explicitly ask you to give specific examples. Your mission, then? To highlight success stories that show you possess some of the core competencies the interviewer is looking for.
Just as all your answers should be tailored to the job at hand, so too should your examples be chosen based on the job description and organization. If problem-solving is a big part of the prospective job, then choose an example, if possible, that demonstrates your problem-solving skills. The best way to ace these behavioral questions is to show up with a few prepared success stories in your mental suitcase.
Perhaps you can pack four or five that relate to the most common questions - a time you showed leadership, a challenge you faced, a story about teamwork, an example of problem solving, and an instance of failure. Be honest about the failure, but show how you saw it as a learning opportunity. Talk about how you acknowledged, addressed, and grew from your mistake. Your attitude toward setbacks may be just as important as the story you share. Maybe your ideal workplace values teamwork, innovation, or indoor climbing walls.
Let the interviewer know what draws you to its culture. Organizational culture has always been important for employees, and today it seems to be even more so. Many private companies, in particular, pay a ton of attention to workplace values and the happiness levels of employees. Good morale and workplace perks can improve individual performance, retention, and teamwork, as well as prevent workplace conflict. Many hiring managers, therefore, will ask interview questions aimed at gaining a sense of your cultural fit.
Check out some of the questions below, and then read on for a few tips on how to prepare for them. What does teamwork mean to you? What three qualities do you look for in a workplace? How well would you say you adapt to change? What are you passionate about? Describe your ideal company culture. What four or five characteristics does it have?
Who inspires you and why? What motivates you to come into work everyday? What was it like working at your last company? What are some of your workplace values? Do you prefer a more structured work environment or one where you can be more entrepreneurial? What personality types would you say you work best with? What are some activities you like to do outside of work, and how do they benefit your day-to-day job?
What would your friends tell me about you? Tips for Answering Cultural Fit Questions As you can see, a lot of these cultural fit questions focus on workplace values. They also bring out soft skills, like communication, flexibility, motivation, passion, and outside interests. You still want to customize your answers to the organization, and the best way to do this is to research its culture online and, if possible, by speaking to its employees. If you know any people who work there, definitely reach out and ask them about their experiences.
These cultural fit questions work two ways. Find out about values, and, if you share them, reflect this understanding and alignment in your responses. Logistical questions might ask about a gap in employment or a career change, such as, "Going from a dog walker to a NASA astronaut seems like a big change. Could you speak on that a bit? They might ask about details on your resume, your professional goals, or your salary expectations.
Some of these questions, especially about salary, may show up later in the hiring process, like in a second interview. You should be prepared to discuss them, though, just in case. Below are some common questions that fall into this logistical category. Common Logistical Questions You worked at your last company for a long time. Will it be difficult moving to a new firm?
Why have you changed jobs so often over the past few years? If you got this job, how long would you plan to stay with us? What did you earn at your last job? What are your salary expectations? Why do you have a gap in your job history? Why do you think you can lead a team without any previous managerial experience? Why do you want to join our company? Why do you want to move from an academic field to the business world or vice versa? Why should we give you the job over other applicants?
Would you jump ship if you received another offer? What other companies are you applying to? Why did you freelance for a long period of time? What caused you to leave your last position? Why do you want to leave your current position? Why did you take a job that seems unrelated to your career path?
Tips for Answering Logistical Questions While you may have already talked about your skills and experiences, these logistical questions will get you talking specifically about your professional history. Be prepared to speak on your last job, its responsibilities, and your reasons for applying elsewhere. If you have any gaps in employment or are making a career change, you should also be ready to speak on that.
As for salary, interviewers may save this question for later in the hiring process, like a second interview. Again, as you should in all your responses, make sure to communicate your enthusiasm for the position and commitment to the organization should you be hired. Don't get thrown by random questions, like, "If you were a vacation, would you be a camping trip, a group tour, or a luxury spa?
Like they sound, these questions run the gambit of total randomness. They tend to be odd and imaginative, and are mainly asked to gain a sense of your personality and ability to think on your feet. Some questions aim to root out your entrepreneurial qualities or vision. Others seek to see how you self-reflect and make decisions.
Then check out some tips on how to prepare for the unexpected! Potential Curveball Questions If you could be an animal, which one would you be and why? If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently?
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? What would the name of your app be? You have two minutes. Teach me something. Why do people climb mountains? From Space Exploration Technologies: When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why? From Whole Foods Market: Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or duck-sized horses? From Urban Outfitters: What would the name of your debut album be?
From J. Business Acquisitions: How would you sell hot cocoa in Florida? From Boston Consulting Group: If you were a brand, what would be your motto? From Delta Air Lines: How many basketballs would fit in this room? Source of questions Glassdoor.
Sure, to some extent. They keep their imaginations active and flexible with improv activities. You might similarly try a rapid-fire question and answer practice session to see what you come up with. You should find that your answers come easier and more creative the more you warm up. As with all your other answers, you might be able to tailor your responses to the job. At the same time, try not to overthink these too much.
Even if your interviewer doesn't ask you any of the previous 99 questions, you can be pretty sure that she'll ask you this next one! But we promised you questions, and saved the nearly universal question for last. This question is an absolute must for your interview preparation. Here it is: Do you have any questions for me?
Your questions are one more opportunity to show your interest and enthusiasm. You might say, "I saw on your website that one of your long-term goals is xxx. For more suggestions on questions to ask at the end of your interview, check out this question and answer guide. So there you have it, one hundred of the most common questions that get asked in job interviews.
Here's one piece of advice: Do your preparation before you get to the interview! Preparing for Interview Questions: Final Words of Advice Interviews can be an intimidating hurdle in the hiring process, but believe it or not, they can also be exciting!
Could you tell me about yourself and describe your background in brief?. How did you hear about this position?. What type of work environment do you prefer?.