From cover letters lets move on to some interview questions. The article, Top 20 Common Interview Questions and Answers by Ana Anuntes da Silva, offers up a great number of questions we all expect but overlook to prepare for, such as “tell me about yourself.” As always, I’ve picked the top questions I found most interesting but you should check out the link above to see all of the questions and their answers.
“Bare in mind that the interview starts from the minute you walk into the building until you leave and are out of sight. Don’t think that just because you have left the meeting room, you are “off the hook.” You need to maintain an image of confidence, enthusiasm, competence, reliability and professionalism throughout.”
1. Tell me about yourself.
“Have something prepared that doesn’t sound rehearsed. It’s not about you telling your life story and quite frankly, the interviewer just isn’t interested. Unless asked to do so, stick to your education, career and current situation. Work through it chronologically from the furthest back to the present.”
2. Why are you looking for another job (or why did you leave your previous job)?
“On the surface, this appears to be a simple question, yet it is easy to slip. I would suggest not mentioning money at this stage… If you are currently employed, you can say it’s about developing your career and yourself as an individual. If you are in the unfortunate position of having been downsized, stay positive and keep it brief. If you were fired, you should have a solid explanation.”
3. What do you know about this organization?
“Doing the background work will help you stand out. Find out who the main players are — have they been in the news recently? You’re not expected to know every date and individual but you need to have a solid understanding of the company as a whole.”
4. Why do you want this job?
“This question typically follows on from the previous one. Here is where your research will come in handy. You may want to say that you want to work for a company that is x, y, z, (market leader, innovator, provides a vital service, whatever it may be)…be specific and link the company’s values and mission statement to your own goals and career plans.”
5. Who are our main competitors?
“This shows you really understand the industry and the main players. Think about a few and say how you think they compare (similarities, differences). This is a good opportunity to highlight what you think are the company’s key strengths.”
6. Are you applying for other jobs?
“If you are serious about changing jobs then it is likely that you are applying to other positions. It is also a way of showing that you are in demand. Be honest but don’t go into too much detail; you don’t want to spend a great deal of time on this. If asked about names of who you have spoken to, it is absolutely legitimate to say you prefer not to disclose that information at this stage.”
7. What is your biggest weakness?
“I would advocate a certain degree of honesty and list a true weakness. Emphasize what you’ve done to overcome it and improve. This question is all about how you perceive and evaluate yourself.”
8. What has been your biggest professional disappointment/achievement so far?
“If asked about disappointments, mention something that was beyond your control. Stay positive by showing how you accepted the situation and have no lingering negative feelings. If asked about your greatest achievement, choose an example that was important to you as well as the company. Specify what you did, how you did it and what the results were. Ideally, pick an example that can relate to the positions you are applying for.”
9. What kind of decisions do you find most difficult to take?
“The logic behind this type of question is that your past behaviour is likely to predict what you will do in the future. What the interviewer is looking for is to understand what you find difficult.”
10. Why should we hire you?
“This is an important question that you will need to answer carefully. It is your chance to stand out and draw attention to your skills, especially those that haven’t already been addressed. Saying “because I need a job” or “I’m really good” just won’t cut it. Don’t speculate about other candidates and their possible strengths or flaws. Make sure you focus on you. Explain why you make a good employee, why you are a good fit for the job and the company and what you can offer. Keep it succinct and highlight your achievements.”
What did you do today?
P.S. Check out the blog written by Ana Anuntes da Silva, the same woman who came up with the above questions and answers. The blog is titled, Aim to Be, Life and Business Coaching.