Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Some Common Job Interview Questions and Strategies for Answering Them

Here are 5 Questions that you will likely hear at a job interview. Some of them can be difficult to come up with a 'spur of the moment' response, so be sure to think about a general idea of the answer you might give and be prepared.

Tell me about yourself.
This is a common request by an interviewer, but if you do not prepare, you may end up looking like a rambling fool. Do not turn this into a story of your life. Keep your response specific, impressive, humble, and brief (no more than a minute or two). This is usually one of the first questions, so make a good first impression. Your answer to this may set the mood for the rest of the interview. State your title, your work ethic, your education (and something it taught you), and if you have any notable accomplishments, be sure to note them. You really want to say something interesting about yourself, preferably pertaining to work, so you get their attention. It might be beneficial to leave room for them to ask questions, remember: be brief.
What are your future intentions with this company?
Make sure that you do not give them any feeling that you only want this job until you can find a better one, even if it is true. That is not saying to lie, but training a new employee takes time and money; so ensure them they are not wasting either. Who knows? You may even end up liking the job and staying. Tell them that you are interested in advancement opportunities, and it will tell them that you strive to achieve. Let the interviewer see that you know a little bit about their company by ‘hoping’ to be some part of a program they are involved with. It shows that you are motivated to join the company. …And again, do not make them feel you are only looking for a temporary position (unless it is what they are offering).
What are some of the problems you have encountered in your past jobs?
Think of a situation (with a positive outcome) that you found stressful or difficult to make a decision, and explain the steps that you took to solve the problem. Whether it is dealing with a subordinate, a superior, a customer, or with something you had to overcome, make sure you are descriptive with your story. This question is designed to analyze your ability to deal with uncomfortable situations, so show them you can with a good example.
What are some of you greatest accomplishments?
The key to answering this question is to link one of your achievements to an aspect of the job you are interviewing for. If you cannot think of anything related to the job, make sure you have a notable accomplishment that you can be proud of (preferably work-related). If you somehow made or saved your previous employer money, let them know. All companies want to cut costs, and efficiency is a good trait to have. Make sure they know if you have achieved awards from jobs or your education (including degrees earned). (Quitting smoking or having kids are good accomplishments, but not usable for an interview).
Have you ever had to fire someone? If so, how did you handle it? If not, how would you handle it?
If you are interviewing for a management or human resources position, this question will probably (and/or should) be asked. If you have had to fire somebody, it probably was not easy. I hope that you have somehow learned that “you’re fired” is not a very good phrase to use. It sparks animosity and can lead to a violent incident. Also, never fire somebody publicly. Losing your job can be humiliating, and having people watching only makes it worse. Do it in private. If the termination is because of a violent incident, it may be a good idea to call the police before you fire the disgruntled employee. What the interviewer(s) want to know is if you have the capacity to fire someone and if so, they want to know if you can also do it without causing a scene. Make sure that you think about what it would be like to be fired, and let the interviewer know you can be firm and sympathetic.

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