It is an exercise to help you recognize the mistakes you might be making when answering ques- tions and to help you prepare stronger answers in the future. It is a test to be taken over and over again, each time improving your sense of what makes a story stronger and boosting your Interview IQ.
Turn the page and begin to take the Interview IQ Test. Always select what you determine to be the strongest answer. The best way to benefit from the exercise is to think the way an interviewer might think. Reading through the example, would you want to hear more from this person as a possible candidate for your job? Which answer impress- es you the most? After completing the test, rate yourself and your ability to select the strongest answers.
Add up the points you have accumulated from each question answered and record your score. See pages — for a score- card you can use again and again. When you have your total points, check your rating. Remember that this is a test that can be retaken until you get the score you desire. As in any book on interviewing, the answers provided are not meant to be memorized and recited at an interview, resulting in canned- or robotic-sounding answers.
You will have far more successful interviews if you answer the questions in a sincere and natural manner, giving the interviewer an opportunity to get to know you and hear how you work best. Canned answers are easy for an interviewer to spot because they sound like something anyone could say.
It is your task to select the answer you think would be most effective in an interview situation. Choose the answer you think is the strongest. As you read through the choices, think the way the interviewer might think. The next step is to total your points and check your Interview Ability Rating. By reading the examples several times you will become comfortable with the types of questions you may encounter and get an idea of the strongest answers to those questions.
For a scorecard to use as you answer each question, see pages — This scorecard can be used every time you take the Interview IQ Test. Try rereading the Interview IQ Test the day before your next inter- view to refresh your memory on what makes an answer the strongest one. When you feel satisfied that you have the hang of the technique and that your score is as high as you want it to be, you will be ready to start preparing your own stories. For instructions on creating your own answers, turn to Part 2 to learn the secrets of the trade and get an in-depth look at storytelling that will make it easier for you to write your own focused and concise stories.
The Test: The Fifty Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions The following interview questions have been divided into two categories: general questions the first 25 and behavioral questions the next When you read through the questions and answers, you will get a sense of what differentiates a question as behavioral and the technique needed to answer this type of question.
General Interview Questions General questions are the questions most commonly used in inter- views. This is where the interviewer gets to know your skills, strengths, weaknesses, motiva- tors, and style. These questions also include information about what motivates you and when you have been satisfied in your work.
A I was born in Cincinnati. My mother was a nurse, and my father was a lawyer. I went to the local high school and then attended the state college and graduated with a major in English. I worked for four years at a high-tech company, where I was a customer service rep. Then I moved to a large company and worked there for two years as a help desk rep. I was at my last company for one year as a manager of customer service.
B I have a total of seven years in the customer service field. In my last job I managed a team of 14 reps. I have excellent communi- cation and interpersonal skills, and that allows me to work with a broad range of people at various levels. My background includes working in Fortune companies as well as smaller companies. My strength is my ability to organize and coordinate projects, making sure deadlines are met.
Would you like to know about my personal life or my professional life? What would you like me to focus on? The interviewer knows your total years of experience, the types of companies where you have worked, and what you consider your strengths relative to the job.
The answer also provides a good blend of knowledge-based skills, transferable skills, and some personality traits. You are striving to give the interviewer a good snapshot of yourself. The ideal answer contains a well-rounded, current picture of you. The Weakest Answer C This is a very common reply to this question but is a weak answer.
It does not show any preparation or planning in regard to what the employer would be interested in knowing about you. Your reply to this question is your opportunity to lead the inter- view and start out by focusing on what you want the interview- er to know about you and your qualifications for the position. If you chose answer A , give yourself 3 points. A The company had a reorganization, and my department was eliminated. The work had begun to dwindle, and so it was not a complete surprise. I would like to find a job similar to the one I lost. B I am looking for a new challenge.
I am looking for a company where I can take on new challenges and grow. My current job is a dead end for me. C Since there are no advancement opportunities within the compa- ny, I have decided that it would be a good time for me to look outside. I have set some career goals for myself and could not achieve them at that company.
What I am looking for is a job with a bigger company where I can contribute but also move on a career path that has more responsibility. The answer indicates a good attitude toward an unfortunate incident. The Mediocre Answer C This is an acceptable answer. It is natural to want to take on more responsibility; it is also acceptable to quit a job. A skilled inter- viewer would follow up with a question about your career goals and why you think you can achieve them at the new company.
Would you have an answer prepared for that question? The Weakest Answer B This is the weakest answer because it is trite. If you chose answer C , give yourself 3 points. If you chose answer B , give yourself 0 points. A I did some research and selected the companies I am most inter- ested in working for, and yours is at the top of my list. B I found the job posting on the Internet. The job is a perfect match for my skills and abilities.
I see this as a real opportunity to find a challenge. I want to work for a company where I can grow and develop and be challenged. I am looking for a company with a solid financial record and industry standing—like yours. I have always been a fan of your clothing line and buy at your stores all the time. I would really like to be able to say I work for this company. I see this as a great opportunity for me to be with a top-notch company that I really feel good about. You selected this company by doing research and checking out how employees rate the company.
This answer shows confidence in your skills and ability to fit into the culture. A caution would involve the way this answer is delivered. Overconfidence can be as big a turnoff as lack of confidence. The Mediocre Answer C This is a very mediocre answer.
While being a fan or customer of a company is good from the consumer point of view, the answer would be stronger if you looked at the business side of the situation, for instance, by talking about one of your favorite ads or marketing campaigns used by the company or how the company is doing against its competitors—something that indi- cates how your role as a consumer relates to the job you are applying for. Simply being a fan or customer of a company does not get you any extra points in the interview process. A little flat- tery goes a long way, but make sure you are looking at the busi- ness side of the picture, not the consumer side.
The Weakest Answer B This is the weakest answer. A My goal is to work for a company where I can grow and eventu- ally become a marketing manager. I am interested in a company that is forward-thinking and growth-oriented. B I want to work in a department that believes in cross-functional training. I think that is the best way to learn and see the bigger picture in a company. Eventually I hope to return to school to earn an MBA. I think that will broaden my knowledge so that one day I can own my own consultant company, working nation- ally or internationally.
C I break down goals into short-term goals, with the long term in mind. I want to contribute to a team, bringing my extensive experience in this field to add to the team mix. Long- term goals will depend on the career path available at the com- pany. Ideally, I would like to move progressively within a company. Since this an open-ended question, there is no right or wrong way to answer it.
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The Mediocre Answer A The problem with this answer is that it is too specific and could be a turndown factor if the company does not have a career path that would allow an employee to reach this goal. It is best to stay away from answers that are narrow or inflexible. The Weakest Answer B This answer starts out well and then takes a nosedive. While it pays to be honest, this answer could turn the interviewer off. The employer is looking for someone who will stick around and con- tribute to the company. A My strength is my strong people skills.
I love working with peo- ple and helping them solve problems. My customers are very important to me, and I let them know it. B My strengths are a combination of my technical skills and my ability to work with a variety of customers. I consider myself a data-mining expert, but what makes me stand out from the com- petition is my ability to work directly with customers and get to the root of the problem. I can break down complex issues into simple, understandable concepts and language so that the cus- tomers can understand what I am saying.
I have received custo- mer service awards in the technical area for the last two years. C I have a strong background in customer service. Whether the cus- tomer is internal or external, I pride myself on my ability to work with people on problems and solutions. What else can you offer that other candidates cannot? The more skills you can include in your answer, the more information the interviewer will have to judge whether you have what it takes to do the job—and beyond.
It is good in that it lets the interviewer know that you have a strong ability to work with internal and external customers and work with problems and solutions. This answer would be stronger if you blended in some of the skills that come from your experience or knowledge, such as your industry or product knowledge. The Weakest Answer A This is a very general answer that could be used for any position.
Helping people solve problems is too general a concept to make a good impression on the interviewer. If you chose answer A , give yourself 0 points. This means not only your knowledge- based skills experience and education but also the skills that are used in almost any job—transferable or portable skills communication skills, time management skills, problem-solving skills.
A Weaknesses are not something that I dwell on. What I have found is that by help- ing members of the team who are having problems, I can move projects forward instead of being frustrated and doing nothing. B I am a person who likes to get the job done correctly the first time. C My weakness is working too hard to get the job done. Because of the workload, I have to work many evenings and weekends so that projects meet deadlines.
Some forethought was put into the answer. It also shows an awareness of your need to improve and what action steps you need to take to work through the issue. The Mediocre Answer B This is not a bad answer. However, the interviewer could become concerned that you are a bit of a perfectionist, and that could cause a problem. Avoid mentioning personality traits that would be difficult to change. An interviewer might be concerned about whether you are working hard because of the workload or because of poor work habits.
In answering this question it is best to avoid saying that you are weak in any areas that would affect your job performance as seen in the job positing. A In my previous job I worked directly with customers and their problems. What I liked was solving problems and helping peo- ple. Sometimes it was difficult because of the people constantly complaining and being upset with me.
What motivated me was when customers took the time to tell me they appreciated the service. B Last year I was involved in a project that was very exciting. I was assigned to work with a team, and we had to brainstorm about a product that was not being received well by the consumers. I would wake up in the morning thinking of creative ways to over- come our problem.
The especially great part of this project was the team I was working with. The team and the creative problem solving are what make a difference in my motivation.
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I feel really good about solving problems for the customer. I like the challenge of a new problem and the chance to think of ways to solve problems. I like taking a project from the beginning to the end. You can get a strong sense of the enthusiasm and energy behind the motivation and satisfaction. Think about the time when you were last motivated.
How did it feel? The Mediocre Answer A This answer tends to emphasize the negative aspects of the job almost as much as the motivating or positive side of the job. It would be a stronger answer if you talked only about helping peo- ple and solving problems, especially times when the people appreciated your service.
The Weakest Answer C This is the weakest of the three answers because almost anyone could say these things. A I am a high-energy person who is a hard worker. I learn very quickly and adapt well. I am very responsible about deadlines. I have the ability to get along well with people. I have the ability to get along well with everyone. B I am a high-energy person who is motivated by new challenges and problems. I can hit the ground running and come up to speed faster than anyone I know. I have a proven record of suc- cess and a reputation for meeting deadlines on time.
My strength is my ability to convert complex details into simple understandable language. I have been able to save companies time and money by coming up with solutions. If you compare the words in answer B with those in answer A , you will notice that they basically say the same thing.
The Weakest Answer C This answer refers more to skills than to your personality. It has a strong focus on analytical problem solving but is one-dimen- sional. By adding some personality traits that are more transfer- able, such as communication skills, you would give a better, well-rounded picture of yourself. Describing your personality is like writing an ad for a product. What makes you unique?
Making a list of your specific personality traits is a good exercise to prepare for an interview. A I accepted my last job partly because I had a good rapport with my boss. After I was there six months, she left the company. From the very beginning it was clear that my new boss and I were going to be at odds.
We just had different personality types. She kept changing the rules. This woman was really overbearing in her management approach. One day she called me in and told me I was fired, with no explanation. She just fired me! B One of the managers who reported to me made a big mistake that caused the company to lose a great deal of money. Because I was his boss, we were both fired. At first I did not think this was fair. I now realize that the man was under my supervision and that it was on my shift, and I take full responsibility for what happened.
I have put the incident behind me and am looking forward to moving on to new opportunities. C I made a mistake in judgment that went against company policy and was fired. There is no point holding on to the past. I will be more careful about my actions in the future. I am ready for a second chance and know that I will be a better employee because of this experience. Being able to look the interviewer in the eye and admit you made a mistake is not easy, but it may pay off in the long run. The Mediocre Answer C This answer is straightforward and truthful. Laying the truth on the table is a better way of handling the situation than is lying because one lie leads to another.
The way you deliver this answer will be as important as the answer itself. You broke company pol- icy. However, there will be those who appreciate your honesty and sincerity and may see this as an honorable trait. The Weakest Answer A This is the weakest answer because the blame is put on someone else. It is best to say that when the boss who hired you left, the position changed and it was no longer a good fit with your val- ues and goals. If you are questioned further, you can say that your new boss had a work style different from yours.
If you chose answer C , give yourself 3 points If you chose answer A , give yourself 0 points. People get fired every day. They move on and get new jobs. No mat- ter what the circumstances, it is best to put it behind you. Deal with your feelings about the firing before the interview, and as you pre- pare your script, you will feel more confident and less emotional about the situation.
A Because the job market is so tight, I did not run out and try to get just any job. I went on some informational interviews to find out what opportunities were out there and where this industry was head- ed. I also took some on-line classes and a few short courses. I have to admit it was a nice time to research and explore. I now feel prepared and ready to find the right opportunity. I have an excellent background with five years of experience in this industry and knowledge of several software programs.
I know there are a lot of other people out there with similar skills, but what sets me apart from the masses is my ability to relate and work with a wide range of customers. Having the combination of technical skills and people skills has helped me advance. I am looking for an opportunity in a compa- ny that respects customer service.
I have been in a job search the entire time. I know there are a lot of people out there looking. The competition is tough. It also deflects the question and focuses on what you have to offer, especially what separates you from all the other people applying for this job. Talking about what you can bring to the job, not what you have gone through to get to this interview is a good technique. It could benefit from some information about what you have discovered in your quest for information or what you have to offer as a result of your searching.
This answer has a somewhat passive tone. An interviewer might get the idea that no one else was willing to hire you and that maybe you are not a desirable product. A My experience is a good match with the qualifications needed for this position. I meet all your requirements and then some. I think I could bring added value to this position through my under- standing and knowledge of international business in Asian coun- tries. Speaking the language and understanding the cultural norms would be a tremendous asset in negotiations and dealings with companies from those countries.
B I know I could do this job. I have the skills and experience neces- sary to succeed here. I want to work for this company, and I feel that this position would be an opportunity and a challenge for me. I am a person who likes to be challenged, and I also intend to continue to grow and learn new skills. I am strong at solving problems using analytical data. I like working on a team and con- tributing to solutions.
C With six years of experience working in the electronics industry, I have worked on the types of systems required for this job. My strength is my leadership skills. If you asked my staff members about me, they would tell you that I was there when they need- ed me. I am very adaptable and have worked as many as 70 hours in a week so that we could meet a deadline. The Mediocre Answer A This answer has its strong points, but it does not present as good an overall picture as answer C does.
Depending on how important your value is to the position, this could make the difference in your being the chosen candidate. The Weakest Answer B This answer focuses too much on what the job can do for you. The emphasis is best placed on what you can do for the company. This answer would be stronger if it gave specific information about the years of experience and the types of problems solved. A My last boss and I had very different personalities, and that sometimes resulted in conflicts.
I think he would tell you that I was above all a professional in all my dealings with customers, internal and external. He also would tell you that I met all my deadlines. I kept her on track when she was running behind schedule, and I jumped in when she needed a hand. C He would tell you that I have excellent skills working with all kinds of people. He nominated me for an in-service award for my excellent customer service work within the company. He treated me with respect and gave me the feedback I needed to learn and grow in my job.
He also would tell you that I was very depend- able and always made my deadlines. This answer informs the interviewer about your technical skills and abilities as well as your flexibility and willingness. It also speaks of the relationship you built with your boss. Not all jobs end with personal relationships, but if you can quote your boss or mention something positive that a boss said in a performance review, it will strengthen your answer.
The Mediocre Answer C This is an acceptable answer but is not as strong as answer B because it is not as specific. It points out good communication and people skills as well as your being dependable and meeting deadlines, which is good, but it would benefit from an example. The fact that you were nominated for an award is definitely worth mentioning. The Weakest Answer A This is a weak answer. The answer does have a positive slant because it talks about being professional and meeting deadlines. A good inter- viewer would probe further and find out the nature of the conflicts.
I am very familiar with your products and the companies you are competing against. I looked up the backgrounds of your two founders and traced their careers and successes. I know that your current stock price is down but that you have a new product in the wings. I know you are a company that I am very interested in joining.
B My interest in this company began when I was in college and did a research paper on companies and stocks. I have followed the progress of the company: the ups and the downs. I know that there are currently some deals in the works that may change the makeup of the company as well as its standing in the industry. I have targeted this company as the place where I want to spend my career.
I began asking friends and colleagues what they knew about the company.
They all had really positive things to say about working for this company. I have heard that this company really treats its employees well and that the benefits here are top of the line. This answer provides information and knowledge beyond what was on the website. There is enthusiasm for the company and a history of research. All that information can be found by searching on-line or at the public library. The Weakest Answer C This is the weakest answer because it does not provide any facts to talk about.
At the very least a visit to the company website is essential. The Internet is an excellent source of information on any company. A Communication skills are the most critical. A good support per- son deals with a number of executives and key customers. Communications skills are extremely important. I have had to plan many social events and conferences where my communica- tion skills were important to the success of the project.
My boss- es have depended heavily on my communication skills to convey messages and explain sensitive situations when necessary. B It really depends on the nature of the job and the responsibilities involved. I sometimes support groups and at other times work with individual bosses. Whatever I do, I try to accommodate each person as well as I can. C Some of the key skills needed are being organized, having good communication skills, being flexible, being reliable, and being a team player. These particular skills are some of the skills I pride myself on having. I have excellent communication skills and respond well when asked to work on projects that are not part of my everyday job.
I respond quickly and never miss deadlines. It would be stronger if you had answered the question as asked. Be sure you are listening to—and answer- ing—the questions asked. The Weakest Answer B This is the weakest answer because it lacks the focus to convey what the key qualities are and whether you have them. It is all right to say that you have the qualities needed as long as you answer the question at the same time. The more customers you have, the more revenue is generated. I believe in customer service. I believe in empowering my team to do whatever it takes to satisfy the cus- tomer.
I believe that if you have a solid customer base, you have a profitable business. B I lead by example. I work hard and meet deadlines, and I expect my subordinates to do the same thing. I assign the work and expect that the work will get done. If I have to look over shoulders to keep peo- ple on schedule, I am not a good manager. Just give me an assignment and let me go to work. C If you asked my team members, they would tell you that I am a fair and open manager. I make myself available every day.
My objective is to recognize people for their strengths. I recently pro- moted a team member who had begun as a problem employee but through some one-on-one coaching from me, along with his willingness to put in some extra time, became a star. These are good tech- niques to use when you are answering a subjective question like this one.
It also demonstrates a genuine commitment to the team members and to letting them know that their work counts in the bigger picture and provides a specific example of how you do that. The Mediocre Answer A This answer does not show a basic understanding of leadership. It talks about empowering people, which is positive. The Weakest Answer B Depending on how the position description is written and what they are looking for, this answer shows a very hands-off approach to management.
Most companies prefer managers who work with and develop their people. A I had extensive experience working with customers in my last job. In the beginning I had to learn to deal with people who were very frustrated and wanted to take their feelings out on me. I have to admit that in the beginning it really would get to me when someone was being nasty and rude. I needed that experience to be able to move forward to a job like this one.
B My current job is really not a good fit for me. I am overqualified and somewhat bored. I took the job knowing that I could do it without much of a stretch. I am now ready to move forward and give my all to this job. I know I could do this job and bring added value to the department. C My last job was a great stepping-stone for me to take on the new challenges this job will provide. I had to deal with all kinds of sit- uations and people in my last job. After five years in that job I am ready for some new challenges in a new industry. I know I am ready to move up and would be good at this job because I have the patience needed to deal with difficult people.
It also talks about training and devel- opment to get an understanding beyond the job itself. This is a good example of showing how your past experience is an indi- cator of your future success. When too much focus is on the challenge, it takes away from what you bring to the job. The interviewer might have reason to be concerned that this will happen again.
It is best not to talk about the negatives of any job. One of my pet peeves is to hand off something and find out that it was never taken care of. B I really value teammates who are supportive and are willing to do whatever it takes. One project at my last company really put my team to the test when one of the members had an accident and had to take time off. Even though we each had our own deadlines, we all jumped in to fill the gap when it occurred. It meant two additional long weekends, but we had a common goal. We were able to meet the deadline and feel good about helping someone with a problem.
C I value communication skills in any work I do, but in particular when I work with teams. I think it is essential for everyone on the team to be able to express himself or herself in a clear manner and be able to listen and follow directions. When communica- tions break down, there is no team. Language skills are the most important part of any team effort. The answer is secondary to the message it conveys.
Teamwork means getting along and working together. The Mediocre Answer A This answer could be viewed as complaining or negative. A I look for a company that is growth-oriented, a place that is secure, where I can grow with the company. There are so many changes going on in the industry that I am seeking a company that has a solid reputation and foundation. I look for jobs where there has been low turnover because that usually is an indicator of the way people are treated and the benefits they are given. B The number one thing that I look for in a job is the opportunity it allows.
C The first thing I look for is job satisfaction. What I mean by that is a feeling that my work is of importance in some way to the bottom line or the bigger scheme of things. I also look for jobs that have advancement opportunities. I want to grow with the company. Lastly, I would like to enjoy my coworkers and have some fun.
I spend a lot of time at my job and want it to be a good experience. Job satisfaction is among the top val- ues of most candidates.
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Because you explain what job satisfaction means to you, the interviewer has a better idea of your career interests. Read through the job ad and determine what values are important at this company. The Weakest Answer A This is the weakest answer because it is focused too much on your benefits. This answer might be seen as an indicator of your inse- curity, presenting you as someone looking for security in a com- pany.
This is a wish list of qualities for the job. If you do a comparison between what they are looking for and what you want in a job, you will have an idea whether this is a good match for you. If the job is not a good match, you might want to reconsider applying for it. Would you really want this job? A I do all the standard things. I read the business section of the newspaper daily.
I research the Internet for information on the industry. I attend a local networking organization and subscribe to an industry journal. I belong to a professional organization and attend monthly meetings to network and stay in touch. I really like what I do, and so it is interesting to me to learn and keep current with the ever-changing world we live in.
B I use the Internet and check the news sites to see what is hap- pening in the world. I feel that I am more informed than the average person. I have been working overtime for the past year. My busy life does not allow for much more than watching the evening news to catch up with the latest happenings.
By being involved in groups and organiza- tions you also are widening your network, which is the number one way to get a job. The Mediocre Answer B This answer is not a bad one; it just limits your information by the sources you use to stay informed. You are correct that you are probably more informed than the average person, but you are competing to be above-average in the interview process.
Often a company is seeking someone who is connected to the industry and looks at the groups to which you belong. Regardless of the posi- tion you hold in a company, staying informed about the latest trends and issues is crucial for job success. A Are you concerned about my ability to succeed in this position? I can assure you that I always work hard and get my work done no matter what my title or my salary.
My work is very important to me, and I want to make a difference. If you think my salary is too high, I can assure you that the opportunity is far more important than the pay. I want this job, and if you choose me, I will prove I can do the job, bringing my experience and suc- cesses with me.
B From the first time I read the ad for this position, I knew that I could do the job and do it well.
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I have extensive experience that will enhance the position as described, bringing new ideas and methods. I have a record of proven success in bringing order to chaos and making things run more efficiently. C That would depend on your definition of overqualified. I have been in this industry a long time.
I remember when we did things without computers. I have learned the hard way, not just from taking classes like these young kids do, but through hard work and trial and error. I always meet the deadlines and goals that I set for myself. I was taught that you earn your pay, not just col- lect it by showing up. You can bring something that the new company needs, and you can provide added value. That concern could be addressed in subsequent answers. What are you looking for? Nevertheless, it is best not to bring up this subject until the inter- viewer asks about it.
The Weakest Answer C This answer sounds dusty and needs to be refreshed. When someone thinks you are overqualified, he or she may relate that to your years of experience. One of the things the interviewer may be concerned with is your ability to be cutting-edge.
Vocabulary is very important in interviewing. Using appropriate language could be the difference between success and failure. Check several job postings for current language used in the company or industry. A They probably would tell you that I am very knowledgeable about my job and am willing to share my knowledge with them whenever they need help. Second, they would tell you that I have great organizational skills. I plan ahead and meet schedules. The third thing they would tell you is that I know when to laugh. I think they would tell you that I am a hard worker, because I am.
I think they would tell you I am a very thoughtful person; at least I try to be. And I think they would say I am a team player. I always try to help others. I think they think I am responsible. But I think it is best to keep work on a nonpersonal basis. You gave an example of your work knowledge; your organizational skills, which can be applied in any job; and your personal traits, which make you a likable person. That is what makes you unique. The Weakest Answer C This answer is weak because it does not have a positive viewpoint and turns negative at the end.
Never volunteer a negative thought about yourself unless you are asked for a weakness. This answer does not give the impression that you are much of a team player. A I can do this job. I know I can. Because I am a quick learner, I have the ability to pick up things faster than most people can. I can learn this job very fast and be useful almost immediately. I am looking for an opportunity to try something new. B My strong people skills are what I can bring to this job and com- pany. My customers always ask for me personally because they know I will give them excellent service. C If you compare my qualifications with your requirements, you will see that I am almost a perfect match for this position.
You are seeking someone with the years of experience and skills I have acquired in this industry, and in addition to that I have excellent writing skills. I have the ability to work with a wide variety of people at all levels. She keeps the morale up and the work flowing. The best way to persuade the inter- viewer that you are the best person for the job is to present your- self as being as close a match to the requirements as possible. Let them know that you are a match by telling them about your skills, particularly in the specific areas required.
If you have something additional to bring to the job, that will make a differ- ence; it may be the deciding factor in whether you get the offer. Quoting colleagues or bosses helps prove your point without your having to say so. The Weakest Answer A This is the weakest answer because it has a desperate tone. This answer does demonstrate an eager attitude and a proven ability to learn quickly, which is the right approach to take when you are lacking skills.
Remember that the company is not in busi- ness to teach you new things but to get the work done. A I have an unusual hobby that you might remember my mention- ing. I collect one-of-a-kind stamps that have printing errors. I have a collection worth thousands of dollars.
B I can be remembered for my excellent communication skills and experience working with all types of people. I really want to help people. C I have two skills that are distinctly different but that define my personality. Obviously, you will not always be able to relate your hobbies to your job, but you can see how this would make the interviewer remember you after you finished the inter- view. The idea is to find something that sets you apart from everyone else. If you could somehow tie your hobby into the job functions, your answer would be stronger. I started doing this because of my strong attention to detail and ability to pick up on errors.
It became a challenge. The Weakest Answer B The problem with this answer is that it is one that a lot of other people could give. There is nothing unique about it. I also have stock options and bonus- es and a very generous benefits package. I would like to compare your benefits package before I give you an exact number. B I really need more information about the job and other benefits before I can come up with a figure.
I think after I have the facts we can come to a mutually agreeable figure. Could you share with me the range that you have budgeted for the position? I am more interested in working for this company and the opportunity that it allows. It also puts the onus on the employer by asking what range has been budgeted. Until you have a thorough understanding of the job responsibilities and the range allowed for a person with your background or experience, you cannot give the interviewer an accurate figure.
When the time comes, you can push harder for what you want. The person who mentions a figure first loses. A I would like to know about the bonus situation and how it is decided who will receive a bonus and who will not. I also would like to know more about payment of the premiums on health- care insurance. B You have been very thorough in your explanation of what the job entails. Could you tell me what has worked to this point and what you would expect to see done differently? The Mediocre Answer A Depending on where you are in the interview process, this answer could be appropriate.
This would not be a good question to ask in a first interview before any interest is shown. This ques- tion focuses on what you will get out of working for this compa- ny. You will need the information eventually; just wait until the appropriate time to bring it up, such as during a second inter- view or after an offer has been made. It is very important that you ask questions to show your interest and let the interviewer know you have been listening.
The best questions come from what is heard during the interview. Pay attention to the questions asked during the interview. You can pick up valuable information by listening to what is said and what is not said. Read between the lines and then ask for more information. Behavioral interview questions can be recognized by the wording used. The key to answering behavioral questions is to be specific.
The more recent and job-related the example is, the more effective your answer will be. If you do not have a recent, work-related example to relay, use a volun- teer, college, or life experience. The important point is that it in some way relate to the qualities sought for the job for which you are applying. In Part 2 you will learn how to write and tell your own stories in an organized, succinct manner, relaying your experiences and showing the interviewer that you have had successes and could repeat those success- es at the new company. Turn the page for the behavioral section of the Interview IQ Test.
A The company I worked for received a huge order; in fact, it was the biggest order the company ever achieved. The order was for a major client, and the completion of the order would be a major bonus for us and a revenue stream for the future. Our challenge was a pricing issue. To design what we set out to design became unreasonable because of the cost of materials and labor. After many meetings we were able to combine some of the features of the product and still satisfy the customer. I never worked harder on a project to meet an unrealistic expectation. B We had a safety project that most of us had had little or no expe- rience with before.
We really had to pull together and share infor- mation and resources to pull this one off. Fortunately, we all got along well and supported one another. We were able to put together this project with a lot of effort. We stayed late and worked weekends for two months. The good news is that we were able to get it done. Everybody felt really good about pulling together on this one.
C I was in charge of designing the safety program for a huge order received by my last company. The first thing I did was to select three top technicians to work with me. We worked as a team, with each of us assigned a piece of the project. I led the group by coordinating the schedules and making sure all the deadlines were met.
I was in constant communication with my team mem- bers and was there to troubleshoot as needed. Because of the open communication between the four of us, we were able to complete the project ahead of the shipping date. This example talks about some of the skills you used: leader- ship, coordinating, follow-through, tracking, communication, problem solving, time management, and troubleshooting. While it is important to give credit where credit is due, it is also necessary to describe what you did to pull this project together as a team member or leader.
What exactly was your role in this team effort? One of the biggest mis- takes candidates make is not saying what their role was. More details of your actions are needed for this to be a strong answer. While it is important to not take credit for something that the team did, it is equally important to give yourself credit for your role in a project. A When I was a project manager for an entertainment company, I had to coordinate the video presentation for a very important meeting with an extremely tight deadline. The problem was that not all the film arrived. The first thing I did was get in touch with the other branches to see if anyone else had copies of the film.
I was able to find everything I needed and have it shipped overnight. I stayed until three in the morning to get the project done, but it was quality work and was completed on time. My boss gave me extra points for getting through that one. B I have to work around obstacles all the time. Of course I always have people problems to contend with. It is a book I strongly recommend to every job seeker. I had an interview with ADP just recently because HR found my resume online and gave me a chance to be interviewed.
I am so happy that I was able to apply everything I have learned from the seminar I had with you a month ago. The IT manager was so impressed that aside from being astounded by my English not to mention I am Filipina and just been here for 5 years , but with how I answered his questions.
I felt equally comfortable talking to him. At least, after so many years, I have experienced how it is being interviewed again. I am looking forward to my interviews in the future. More powers and have a nice holiday! Sincerely, Layra. Hi Carole, Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me and provide feedback. I learned a lot from your suggestions, especially the story format model.
Reading your book has really helped me out so much with interviews, and my confidence in going into them. Before I read this book I was a not good at interviewing. I want to say Thank you so much …. I spent nine months surfing 92 Web sites to find a caring professional to advise job seekers on how to prepare for and ace the interview. I picked Carole Martin. I trust her to help all the clients, family and friends I send to her.
Carole is simply the best interview and career coach on the Internet. I just wanted to let you know that I passed the interview! It was tough but your behavioral interview preparation techniques helped a great deal. Dear Carole, I want to tell you how much I appreciate you helping me with my interview style. Thanks to you, I learned about what engages the interviewer and how I need to keep the focus on myself.
Thank you also for the insight of how to structure my stories to highlight my skills. I hope to have the opportunity to work with you again in the future. Betty — California. The book: Features an Interview IQ Test, interview skill-building exercises, and other interview aptitude boosting tools. Shows job seekers how to craft job-winning answers to the 50 key questions interviewers ask. The Workbook — From Lynn in Chicago: Reading your book has really helped me out so much with interviews, and my confidence in going into them.
Related Interview Fitness Training, A Workout with Carole Martin, The Interview Coach
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