Copyright 2009 – Thomas Sullivan
The information presented here is designed to provide a benefit to anyone who must answer questions during the dreaded job interview. The main point presented here is that the key to a successful job interview is preparation. The following discussion expounds on this key point.
While some tough job interview questions take us off guard, others we can see coming a mile away. How we answer job interview questions will make the difference between getting and not getting the job. We all have questions that we’d rather not be asked during an interview. But how can one prepare completely for a tough interview?
The answer to this question really comes down to intense preparatory work. In a nutshell, do your homework. Make sure that you know your resume thoroughly and expect questions to come from your work history. Also, expect questions about the company you want to work for and the type of future you want in that company, and finally, expect questions about you. You should use several large lists of questions in preparation for the interview. Below, you will find a list of tough job interview questions, which should be helpful in preparation for the job interview.
While the questions below are pretty standard and can be expected at most job interviews, you should also create your own questions. In creating your questions in preparation for an interview, you really need to sit down and think through what you would ask if you were the interviewer. Remember that the person interviewing you has a job to do as well. If you can provide a good answer to most of the questions below, and to the questions you have created, you have increased the probability of obtaining the job you are seeking.
Obviously during a job interview, regardless of your personality, you need to be congenial and polite. Try not to appear nervous as well. Most importantly, try to appear confident in yourself but not to the point of appearing cocky. Remember, the interviewer is not only trying to select the best candidate for the job, they also want to be sure that you will be compatible with other employees you will be working with. Also, remember that the interviewer is trying their best to find any red flags that may be present in your past work history.
The following is a list of questions you can expect at most job interviews. You most likely will not be asked all of these questions, but you can expect some of them. Many of these questions come from About.com, and some were created by our staff.
Job Interview Questions: Work History
- What is the name of the company you worked for and what titles or positions did you hold?
- In a nutshell, describe what you did at your previous company.
- When were your employed by this company?
- What were your expectations for your previous job and to what extent were they met?
- What were your starting and final levels of compensation?
- What were your responsibilities?
- What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?
- What did you like or dislike about your previous job?
- Which was most and least rewarding?
- What was the biggest accomplishment and failure in this position?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Why were you fired?
- What was the most enjoyable aspect of your previous job?
Job Interview Questions: About Your Supervisors and Co-Workers.
- What was it like working for your supervisor?
- What do you expect from a supervisor?
- Who was your best boss and who was the worst?
- What is the ideal co-worker?
- What is the ideal boss?
Job Interview Questions: About You
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What is your greatest strength?
- In terms of your current or last position, describe a typical work week for yourself.
- Do you take work home with you?
- How many hours do you normally work per week including work completed at home?
- How would you describe the pace at which you work?
- How do you handle stress and pressure?
- In terms of your career, what motivates you to move upward and attain further success?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?
- What has been your greatest accomplishments in your life?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are your pet peeves?
- What do people most often criticize about you?
- When was the last time you were angry? What happened?
- If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently?
- If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?
- Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
- Give some examples of teamwork.
- Were you responsible for any major projects at your last position, and if so, please describe in a nutshell the project you were responsible for.
- What type of work environment do you prefer?
- How do you evaluate success?
- Have you ever given a work related presentation to a group of people greater then 10, and if so, how did that work out?
- If you know your boss is 100% wrong about something how would you handle it?
- Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.
- Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it.
- What have you been doing since your last job?
Job Interview Questions: About the New Job and the Company
- What interests you about this job?
- Why do you want this job?
- What applicable attributes or experience do you have?
- Are you overqualified for this job?
- What can you do for this company?
- What do you know about this company?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What challenges are you looking for in a position?
- What can you contribute to this company?
- Are you willing to travel?
- Is there anything I haven’t told you about the job or company that you would like to know?
- How do you plan to move up within our company?
- What is the highest level you wish to be promoted within our company?
- Why should we select you for this job?
Job Interview Questions: The Future
- What are you looking for in your next job?
- What are your career goals for the next five years and ten years?
- How do you plan to achieve those goals?
- How long would you like to stay with our company and why?
- What are your salary requirements – both short-term and long-term?
- What will you do if you don’t get this position?
Once again, the key to a successful job interview is preparation. When you are completely prepared, you will tend to be less nervous. Of course, it is highly likely you will be presented with a question or two that you did not expect. This is why preparation also entails having the knowledge base that you can expect the interviewer will tap into.
Here I am not talking about the knowledge needed to do the job. That should be a given anyway, otherwise you would have not been asked to be at the interview. Here I am talking about knowing yourself and your attitudes, and being able to present your attitudes in a way the interviewer can appreciate. It does not hurt to let the interviewer know what really makes you tick, if the interview goes in that direction.
Make sure that you display an enthusiastic attitude. Make sure you present to the interviewer a willingness to learn and a desire to advance in the company you are about to potentially work for. You do not want to appear as if you are lacking seriousness and definitely do not appear cavalier. Try to appear enthusiastic and positive in a mature and professional way. If you are naturally an enthusiastic and positive type of person, then half the battle is won. The point is to be your self, but try to present the best of who you are.
Remember this, many employers prefer a less educated candidate with fewer credentials who is bright and willing to learn, over one who is more prepared but lacks the proper attitude. A good example of this is the entrepreneur who wants to launch a new business. For him or her who is starting a new venture, hiring someone who is bright and has the right attitude is extremely important. More important then previous education. In this case, the entrepreneur is looking for someone who is not afraid to take risks and is very much goal oriented. Here it is very important that you display to the interviewer your ability to work as part of a team. The 9 to 5 type worker who expects to work basically the same hours 5 days a week would not fit well here. And the interviewer needs to know this.
To conclude, in the end, most interviewers are looking for the right attitude for the job they are trying to fill. If you also have the right credentials along with the right attitude, then your chances are increased tremendously. If you can answer most of the above questions, display an enthusiastic attitude, and present yourself in the best possible way, this should result in you obtaining the job you are seeking.