10 Common Job Interview Questions: Answered


A recent survey from job site Glassdoor.com concluded that more than one in five employees say one of their top resolutions for this year is finding a new job. The question is, are you ready for the interview?

According to Forbes.com, below is a list of some of the most common interview questions and some tips on how to prepare an answer for each:

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1. Why Should I Hire You?  Do your homework on the company and the position you’re interviewing for. Your job is to illustrate why you are the most qualified candidate. Review the job description and qualifications very closely to identify the skills and knowledge that are critical to the position, and then be prepared to highlight experiences from your past that demonstrate those skills and knowledge.


2. Why Is There A Gap In Your Work History?  When answering this question, list the activities you’ve been doing during any period of unemployment. Employers understand that people lose their jobs and it’s not always easy to find a new one fast. Freelance projects, volunteer work or taking care of family members all let the interviewer know that time off was spent productively.


3. Tell Me One Thing You Would Change About Your Last Job.  Be prepared with an answer that doesn’t criticize a boss, colleague or situation. Making disparaging comments about former coworkers or supervisors will paint you in an unflattering light.


4. Tell Me About Yourself.  Keep your answer short and do not share personal or irrelevant information. Cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject, but don’t waste your best points on it, you’ll have the chance to discuss this later in the conversation. And keep it clean – no weekend activities should be mentioned.


5. Explain A Complex Database To Your Eight-Year-Old Nephew.  Again, do your homework and know the industry. Explaining information security, financial applications, or just about anything in terms an eight-year-old can understand, shows the interviewer you have solid and adaptable understanding of what it is they do.

6. What Would The Person Who Likes You Least In The World Say About You?Highlight an aspect of your personality that could initially seem negative, but is ultimately a positive. An example? Impatience. Used incorrectly this can be bad in a workplace, but stressing timeliness and always driving home deadlines can build your esteem as a leader. And that’s a great thing to show off in an interview.


7. Tell Me About A Time When Old Solutions Didn’t Work.  To be prepared for this answer, you may want to explore new technologies or methods within your industry. The interviewer is trying to identify how knowledgeable you are in today’s work place and what new creative ideas you have to solving problems.


8. What’s The Biggest Risk You’ve Ever Taken?  Some roles require a high degree of tenacity and the ability to pick oneself up after getting knocked down. Providing examples of your willingness to take risks shows both your ability to fail and rebound, but also your ability to make risky or controversial moves that succeed.


9. Have You Ever Had A Supervisor Challenge A Decision?  Interviewers are looking for an answer that shows humility and the ability to take direction. Talk about the lessons you learned and not the situation itself or how wrong the supervisor was in challenging that decision.


10. Describe A Time When Your Team Did Not Agree.  This question is a way for employers to anticipate your future behavior by understanding how you behaved in critical situations and what you learned in the process. Clarify the situation succinctly and explain what specific action you took to come to a consensus with the group, then describe the result of that action.


Of course, in an interview you expect questions like the ones we’ve covered above, but you’ve got to be ready for anything. What if you were asked “Why are tennis balls fuzzy?”(question asked at a job interview for client manager at Xerox), “If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?” (for a job as an associate at Bed, Bath & Beyond), “What is the color of money?” (for a job as a project manager at the American Heart Association), or “If you could sing one song on “American Idol,” what would it be?” (for an event coordinator job at Red Frog Events)? Would you have an answer for this kind of oddball questions, or would you freeze like a deer in the headlights?

The sequel to this blog is Top 10 Job Interview Question You Should Ask

In that blog I approach the subject of the questions you, as a candidate, should ask in a job interview. You are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you. This is your opportunity to find out if this is an organization where you want to work.

Source: GlassDoor.com and Forbes.com


 Dan Counts, Founder of Fairwinds Recruiting (@FairwindsRcrtg) is a recruiter/coach for candidates and clients, specializing in the software consulting industries for Enterprise Performance Management (Oracle/Hyperion), Business Intelligence, Cyber Risk Security, Sales, and Product Management. Residing in Monterey, CA near Silicon Valley, he works with boutique firms as well as large companies nationwide. Redefining the recruitment experience one placement at a time. You can check out his website at www.fairwindslogix.com.

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