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Common Interview Questions

To be a successful interviewee, you will need to fine tune your skills and be prepared to answer a wide variety of questions. Below is a list of commonly asked questions.

Background Questions

Background questions are geared more to your personal growth, including your personality, education, and overall career development. They are used to determine if you are a well-rounded individual leading a happy, balanced life.

Example Q&A:

Q: "What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments to date?"

A: "While I always enjoyed the challenge of learning and wanted to obtain a college degree, my family did not find value in a college degree. I was able to finance my education through scholarships and work, and last year I became the first college graduate in my family."

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would your friends and past employers describe you?
  • What makes you lose your temper?
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now? Ten years?
  • How satisfied are you with your career progress?
  • How do you make use of your spare time?
  • Why did you choose your college major? How did this prepare you for your career?
  • What classes did you enjoy the most? The least?

Work History Questions

Work history questions are used to determine if you have the skills and experience to perform the job, and if you have a good work ethic. Sometimes, you may be asked to perform a task, such as typing, proofreading, or finding a solution for a given problem. In your answers, try to show your knowledge of the company.

Example Q&A:

Q: "Why did you leave your last job?"

A: "While I enjoyed my work environment, I felt ready for more responsibility and challenge, but there were no opportunities in the near future at (my last employer). Since (employer you are applying to) is known nationwide for its quality products and has grown 25% in the last year, I feel it would be a mutually beneficial work experience."

  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What can you contribute to this company's success?
  • Give me an example of your creativity/problem-solving ability/initiative/reliability.
  • Do you work well under pressure?
  • What situations do you find stressful and how do you deal with them?
  • What are your three greatest strengths? Three greatest weaknesses?
  • Tell me about your last performance evaluation.
  • In your last job, what additional responsibilities or projects did you undertake?
  • Can I see an example of your work?
  • What is your explanation for the gap in employment shown on your résumé?
  • Have you ever been fired or asked to resign?
  • How many days a year did you miss at your last job? Why?
  • How often are you late to work? Why?
  • You seem overqualified for this position. Why do you want this job?
  • How do you feel about travel/relocation/overtime/weekend work?

Management Questions

These questions are often used to determine what kind of management style you work well with and if you fit the company's work philosophy. Refrain from criticizing former employees or employers.

Example Q&A:

Q: "Describe a problem you had with your last supervisor and how you resolved it."

A: "Due to a miscommunication, I was unaware that my supervisor would be out of the office for three days to attend a conference and would therefore be unable to sign necessary paperwork. I found his hotel number and faxed him the papers to be signed and returned. To avoid future issues, I suggested using a manager's log to record issues, schedules, and projects, thereby improving communication."

  • To what type of managerial style do you respond best?
  • What do you see as the major role of management? Why?
  • Who is involved in your planning process? In what ways do you involve them?
  • What methods and techniques do you employ when managing others? How effective are these?
  • How do you motivate employees and maintain good morale?
  • How do you go about planning for department results?
  • What is the proper balance between managerial control and employee independence?

Stress Questions

Stress questions are intended to test your response to stressful situations. Take a deep breath, remain calm, and give a positive answer focusing on what you learned or how you have changed.

Example Q&A:

Q: "Describe a flaw in your working style."

A: "In the past, I have procrastinated on large projects, resulting in requests for deadline extensions. However, I have learned to break projects down into smaller steps, schedule my time better, and now I finish projects before deadlines."

  • What aspects of your work are most often criticized?
  • You seem underqualified for this position. Why should I hire you?
  • Describe a time when you failed to solve a conflict with a co-worker.
  • Describe a time when you failed to perform your job.
  • What would you do if I told you that I thought you were giving a very poor interview today?

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Remember, you should be evaluating if this company will fit your career development plans. Asking the interviewer questions will not only give you more information on which to base a decision, but will also express your interest in the company and the position. Do not inquire about salary, vacation, bonuses, retirement packages or any other benefits.

  • Why is this position available?
  • What are the specific duties of the job? What would be my responsibilities?
  • What would you like me to accomplish in this position?
  • What characteristics would a candidate need to have in order to excel in this position?
  • How would you describe the style of management and reporting structure?
  • What short- and long-term problems or opportunities does this department face?
  • Tell me about the growth plans and goals for the position, department, and company.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of this position?
  • How is one's performance evaluated? How often?
  • I am very interested in this position. Is there anything I can do to improve my standing?
  • When do you plan on making a hiring decision? May I call in a week to see how I stand?
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