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Prepare for job interviews with the questions and answers asked by high-tech employers
55 most frequently asked interview questions
By adm in | August 1 8, 2005


Dan Johnston from PPR Career shared the following list of frequently asked questions on a job interview, as
well as advice on what to be prepared for.


    1.   Tell me about y ourself.        Answer in about two minutes. Av oid details, don’t ramble.
         Use “Picture Frame              Touch on these four areas:
         Approach”
                                                 How many years, doing what function
                                                 Education – credentials
                                                Major responsibility and accom plishments
                                                Personal summary of work style (plus career goals if
                                             applicable)


                                         Prepare in advance using this formula:


                                             1.   “My name is…”
                                             2.   “I’ve worked for X years as a [title]“
                                             3.   “Currently, I’m a [title] at [com pany]“
                                             4.   “Before that, I was a [title] at [company]“
                                             5.   “I love the challenge of my work, especially the major
                                                  strengths it allows m e to offer, including [A, B, and C]“.
                                             6.   Second, help the interviewer by focusing the question with
                                                  a question of your own: “What about me would be m ost
                                                  relevant to y ou and what this com pany needs?”


    2.   Did y ou bring y our            Yes. Be prepared with two or three extra copies. Do not offer them
         resume?                         unless y ou’re asked for one.


    3.   What do y ou know about         Research the target com pany before the interview. Basic research is
         our organization?               the only way to prepare for this question. Do y our hom ework, and
                                         you’ll score big on this question. Talk about products, services,
                                         history and people, especially any friends that work there. “But I
                                         would love to know m ore, particularly from y our point of view. Do
                                         we have time to cover that now?
    4.   What experience do y ou          Pre-interview research and PPR Career will help y ou here. Try to
         have?                            cite experience relevant to the com pany’s concerns. Also, try
                                          answering this questions with a question: “Are you looking for
                                          ov erall experience or experience in som e specific area of special
                                          interest to you?” Let the interviewer’s response guide your
                                          answer.

    5.   According t o y our        Be prepared to define success, and then respond (consistent record
         definition of success, how of responsibility)
         successful have y ou been
         so far?


(Is this person mature and self aware?)


    6.   In y our current or last         Give one or two accom plishment statements
         position, what were y our
         most significant
         accomplishment s? In
         y our career so far?


    7.   Had y ou thought of              Refer to positive aspects of the job, advancem ent opportunities, and
         leaving y our present            what you learned.
         position before? If yes,
         what do y ou think held
         y ou there?


    8.   Would y ou describe a few Give only one, and tell how you have corrected or plan to correct
         situations in which y our        your work.
         work was criticized?


    9.   If I spoke with y our            Be consistent with what you think the boss would say. Position the
         previous boss, what              weakness in a positive way (refer to #12)
         would he or she say are
         y our great est strengths
         and weaknesses?


    10. How would y ou describe           Keep y our answer short and relevant to the job and the
        y our personality ?               organization’s culture.


    11. What are y our strong             Present three. Relate them to that particular com pany and job
        point s?                          opening.


    12. What are y our weak               Don’t say you have one, but give one that is really a “positive in
                                          disguise.” I am sometimes impatient and do to much work myself
         point s?                       when we are working against tight deadlines.” Or “I com plim ent
                                        and praise my staff, but feel I can improv e.”

    13. How did y ou do in              Em phasize your best and favorite subjects. If grades were average,
        school?                         talk about leadership or jobs y ou took to finance y our education.
                                        Talk about extra-curricular activities (clubs, sports, volunteer work)
(Is the person m otivated? What are
his/her values, attitudes? Is there a
fit?)


    14. In y our current or last        Refer to y our satisfiers for likes. Be careful with dislikes, give only
         position, what features      one (if any) and make it brief. Refuse to answer negatively. Respond
         did y ou like most ? Least ? that y ou “like everything about my current position and have
                                        acquired and developed a great many skills, but I’m now ready
                                        for a new set of challenges and greater responsibilities.”

    15. What do y ou look for in a      Flip this one over. Despite the question, the employer isn’t
        job?                            really interested in what you are looking for. He’s interested in
                                        what he is looking for. Address his interests, rather than y ours. Use
                                        words like “contribute,” “enhance,” “im prove,” and “team
                                        environment.” Fit y our answer to their needs Relate y our
                                        preferences and satisfiers/dissatisfiers to the job opening.

    16. How long would it take          “Not long, because of my experience, transferable skills and ability
         y ou t o make a meaningful to learn.”
         contribution t o our firm?


    17. How long would y ou stay        “As long as I feel that I’m contributing, and that my
        wit h us?                       contribution is recognized. I’m looking to make a long term
                                        comm itment.”

    18. If y ou have never              If y ou want to supervise, say so, and be enthusiastic.
        supervised, how do y ou
         feel about assuming
         those responsibilities?


    19. Why do y ou want t o            “To grow and develop professionally, to help others develop, to
        become a supervisor?            build a team and to share what I have learned.”


    20. What do y ou see as the         “Getting things planned and done through others and dealing with
         most difficult task in         different personalities.” Show how you have done this in the past.
         being a supervisor?


    21. Y ou’ve been with             Let’s assume the interviewer has a point here. That doesn’t
        y our current employ er         mean y ou have to agree with the negative term s of the question.
         quit e a while. Why            Answer: “What I like about my present position is that it’s both
    haven’t y ou advanced stable and challenging. But it’s true that I’ve grown about as
    wit h him?              much as I can in my current position. (This response also turns the
                            issue of salary on its head, transforming it from What more can I
                                   get? to What more can I offer?)

22. Why are y ou leaving y our Never answer with negative reasons, even if they are true. However,
    present position?          som e com panies have financial problem s which may preclude y ou
                                   from staying with them. Frame y our answer positively by answering
                                   why you want to m ove to the target com pany instead of why y ou left
                                   or want to leave your m ost recent job. For example, instead of
                                   answering, “I don’t get enough challenges at [com pany],”
                                   respond, “I am eager to take on m ore challenges, and I believe I will
                                   find them at [hiring com pany]. ”I’m not unhappy (at my
                                   present employ er). However, this opportunity seems to be
                                   particularly interesting and I am interested in pursuing it further.
                                   Never personalize or be negative. Keep it short, give a “group”
                                   answer (e.g. our office is closing, the whole organization is being
                                   reduced in size). Stick to one response; don’t change answers
                                   during the interview. When applicable; best response is: I was not
                                   on the market when PPR Career contacted me and explained what
                                   you are doing, it peaked my interest.

23. Describe what would be         Team work is the key.
    an ideal working
    environment?


24. How would y ou evaluat e       Be positive. Refer to the valuable experience y ou have gained.
    y our present firm?            Don’t mention negatives.


25. Do y ou prefer working         Be aware of what the job requires and position your answer in that
    wit h figures, or with         context. I n many cases it would be both.
    words?


26. What kinds of people do        Use this question as a chance to show that y ou are a team player:
    y ou find difficult t o work   “The only people I have trouble with are those who aren’t team
    wit h?                         players, who just don’t perform, who com plain constantly, and
                                   who fail to respond to any efforts to m otivate them.” The
                                   interviewer is expecting a response focused on personality and
                                   personal dislikes. Surprise her by delivering an answer that reflects
                                   com pany values.

27. How would y our co-            Refer to y our strengths and skills.
    workers describe y ou?


28. What do y ou think of          If y ou like him or her, say so and tell why. If y ou don’t like him
                                   or her, find something positive to say.
         y our boss?


    29. Why do y ou want t o work Explain how this size or type of com pany works well for y ou, using
        in a company of this size. examples from the past if possible.
        Or this ty pe?


    30. If y ou had y our choice of    Refer to job preferences. Say that this job and this com pany are very
        jobs and companies,            close to what best suits y ou.
        where would y ou go?


    31. Why do y ou want t o work You feel y ou can help achieve the com panies objectives, especially in
        for us?                   the short run. You like what y ou’ve learned about the company,
                                  its policies, goals and management: “I’ve researched the
                                       com pany and people tell me it’s a good place to work.”

    32. What was the last book         Think this through. Your answer should be com patible with
         y ou read? Movie y ou         accepted norm s.
         saw? Sporting event y ou
         att ended?


    33. What are y ou doing, or        Talk about formal courses and training program s.
         what have y ou done t o
         reach y our career
         object ives?


    34. What was wrong with            Again, choose y our words carefully. Don’t be negative. Say that
        y our last company?            no com pany is perfect, it had both strengths and weaknesses.


    35. What kind of hours are         “As many hours as it takes to get the job done.”
        y ou used t o working?


( DO ES T H E P ER SO N MA T CH JO B
A N D C R IT ER IA ?)




    36. What would y ou do for         Relate past success in accom plishing the objectives which are
        us?                            sim ilar to those of the prospective employer.


    37. What has y our                 Give examples from accom plishm ents.
         experience been in
         supervising people?
38. Are y ou a good                 Draw from y our successes. Yes, my people like and respect me
    supervisor?                     personally and professionally. They often comm ent on how much
                                    they learn and develop under my supervision.

39. Did y ou ever fire any one? If y ou haven’t, say so, but add that y ou could do it, if necessary.
    If so, what were the
    reasons and how did y ou
    handle it?


40. How have y ou helped            Refer to accom plishm ents.
    y our company ?


41. What is the most money          Refer to accom plishm ents. If y ou haven’t had budget
    y ou ever account ed for?       responsibility, say so, but refer to an accom plishment that
    Largest budget                  dem onstrates the sam e skill.
    responsibility?


42. What’s the most               Rem ember, you’re talking to a prospectiv e employ er, not y our
    difficult situation y ou        best friend. Don’t dredge up a catastrophe that resulted in a
    ever faced on the job?          personal or corporate failure. Be ready for this question by thinking
                                    of a story that has a happy ending – happy for y ou and y our
                                    com pany. Never digress into personal or family difficulties, and
                                    don’t talk about problem s you’ve had with supervisors or
                                    peers. You might discuss a difficult situation with a subordinate,
                                    provided that the issues were resolved inventively and to
                                    ev ery one’s satisfaction.

43. Describe some situations Refer to accom plishm ents. Everyone has had a few of these pressure
    in which y ou have              situations in a career. Behavior -related questions aim at assessing a
    worked under pressure           candidate’s character, attitude, and personality traits by asking
    or met deadlines?               for an account of how the candidate handled certain challenging
                                    situations. Plan for such questions by making a list of the desirable
                                    traits relevant to the needs of the industry or prospective employ er
                                    and by preparing som e job-related stories about your experience
                                    that dem onstrate a range of those traits and habits of conduct.
                                    Before answering the questions, listen carefully and ask any
                                    clarifying questions you think necessary. Tell y our story and
                                    conclude by explaining what y ou intended your story to illustrate.
                                    Finally, ask for feedback: “Does this tell you what you need to
                                    know?”

44. How do y ou handle              Rejection is part of business. People don’t always buy what y ou
    reject ion?                     sell. The tick here is to separate rejection of y our product from
                                    rejection of yourself: “I see rejection as an opportunity. I learn from
                                    it. When a custom er takes a pass, I ask him what we could do to the
                                    product, price or service to make it possible for him to say yes.
                                    Don’t get me wrong: You’ve got to makes sales. But
                                      rejection is valuable, too. It’s a good teacher.”

    45. In y our present position,    Refer to accom plishm ents
        what problems have y ou
        identified that had
        previously been
        overlooked?


    46. Give an example of y our      Refer to accom plishm ents.
        creativity.


    47. Give examples of y our        Draw examples from accom plishm ents.
        leadership abilities.


    48. What are y our career         Talk first about doing the job for which y ou are applying. Your
        goals?                        career goals should mesh with the hiring com pany goals.


    49. What position do y ou         Just say y ou wish to exceed objectives so well that you will be on a
        expect t o have in t wo       prom otable track.
        y ears?


    50. What are y our                Refer back to question #48 on goals.
        object ives?


(How does the person handle stress?
What is their confidence level?)


    51. Why should we hire y ou? This may sound suspicious, negative, or just plain harsh. Actually,
                                      it’s a call for help. The em ployer wants y ou to help him/her hire
                                      you. Keep your response brief. Recap any job requirements the
                                      interviewer may have m entioned earlier in the interview, then,
                                      point by point, match your skills, abilities and qualifications to
                                      those item s. Relate a past experience which represents success in
                                      achieving objectives which may be similar to those of the
                                      prospective employer.

    52. Y ou may be over-             “A strong com pany needs a strong person.” An employer will get
        qualified or t oo             faster return on investment because you have m ore experience than
        experienced for the         required.
        position we have t o offer.


    53. Why haven’t y ou            “Finding the right job takes tim e. I’m not looking for just any
        found a new position          job.”
    before now?


54. If y ou could start again,       No need to be self-revealing. “Hindsight is 20/20; every one would
    what would y ou do               make som e changes, but I’ve learned and grown from all my
    differently?                     decisions.”


55. How much do y ou expect Be careful. If y ou don’t know the market value, return the
    if we offer this position t o question by saying that y ou would expect a fair salary based on the
    y ou?                         job responsibilities, your experience and skills and the market value
                                  of the job. Express y our interest in the job because it fits y our career
                                     goals – Receptive to a reasonable and com petitive offer –
                                     don’t talk $’s. It’s always best to put off discussing
                                     salary and let PPR Career handle that. ANSWER: I’m open to
                                     a com petitive offer. I’d prefer to discuss the opportunity and
                                     allow my recruiter to handle any salary questions.

								
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