Frequent Questions

No. Questions Response Considerations
1 Tell me about yourself. Think about the needs of the job and craft your response around those needs. Use keywords found in the job description in your response. Demonstrate your fit with the requirements of the job. Don't dwell on things that aren't related to the job. Don't bring up anything negative. This is an excellent opportunity to market yourself.
2 What do you think is your greatest strength? Try to match your greatest strength with the most important aspect or aspects of the job you are applying for. See if you can fit in more than one personal strength as part of your answer. Relate how your strengths can help achieve company goals.
3 What is your greatest weakness? This question will almost always follow the question about your greatest strength. Do your best to pick a personal trait or issue that has a positive side, for example, "I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. I'll admit I am pretty picky about quality. Occasionally, I spend too much time helping others achieve the same high quality standards."
4 Tell me about your last job. Think about the requirements of the open position before you answer this question. Focus on past job accountabilities that match the needs of the new job. To the extent possible, mention accomplishments and recognition you're received for past performance.
5 Management Question: How would you describe your management style? Since it is seldom that you will know the management style-related needs of the new employer, demonstrate flexibility. For example, you might acknowledge that no single style works all of the time. You would start by evaluating the needs of the organization and your new staff, and then adopt a management style to fit those needs.
6 Why are you interested in working for this company? Employers tend to be impressed with applicants that know about the organization's products and services. Demonstrate your interest and initiative in learning about the organization. Show how the organization is a good fit with your background and long-term career aspirations.
7 What to do you think qualifies you for this job? Always answer this question with the requirements of the job in mind. Use keywords from the job description or ad in your response. Demonstrate your ability to apply your skills by highlighting past accomplishments or special recognition you've received.
8 Tell me about your educational background, including any training you're received on the job. Focus on educational achievements that relate specifically to the requirements of the job. If past education isn't specifically related to the job, draw upon parallels that might apply. Try to demonstrate your education and skills are current and that you're ready to start the job and be productive very quickly.
9 What aspect of your previous job did you like the most? Ideally, the successful candidate will like doing the kinds of tasks that are most important to the success of the new job. Relate your answers to the most important aspects of the job. Give examples of past successes or accomplishments in performing these tasks. Show enthusiasm when talking about what you like to do.
10 What aspect of your previous job did you like the least? Carefully think about the requirements of the job. It would be unwise to say you dislike any of the core requirements of the job. As a general rule, avoid negative comments of any sort. Any dislikes should be things that the average person would also dislike, e.g., company politics, gossip, etc.
11 Give me three words that best describe you as an employee. Where appropriate, use keywords from the job description or ad. The company is looking for compatibility with the needs of the job. Talk about personal characteristics that specifically address job needs. Expand your answers to include examples of those traits in action.
12 How would you describe your ideal career position? Relative consistency between an ideal career position and the position applied for is important. Future job growth and development is OK, but there must be reasonableness between what you want to do and the job you are applying for. Be sure you consider the requirements of the job before answering.
13 Do you prefer working alone or in teams? For clues, think about how work is typically performed in the job you are applying for. Most jobs entail a need for both working styles. It may be reasonable to assume that for some tasks, you prefer working alone, and for others, you prefer working in groups. The size and scope of the task will usually dictate the preference.
14 Where would you like to be in three-to-five years? Avoid expectations of quantum leaps in career advancement. Look at realistic job progression potential. Organizations want to avoid turnover and hope to hire employees for the long-term, but also appreciate a desire to advance in one's career. Reasonableness is usually the best approach in answering this question.
15 How would your former boss describe you? In the context of the open position, evaluate what the new boss would like to see in an ideal candidate. Get clues as to these needs from keywords in the job description. Try to use these keywords as part of your discussion of how your boss would describe you.
16 Why did you leave your previous employer? Reasons for leaving a current or previous job can be predictive of satisfaction with a new job. Be sure the reasons you give aren't the same things you're likely to encounter in the new job. Avoid being overly negative about a previous employer or boss. Bashing of former employers is normally poorly received.
17 What salary level are you looking for? Do some research to find out what going rates are for like positions. It is best to avoid a specific answer to this question, but you might be forced to respond. If in doubt, you might say you are flexible, and that the employer and position are more important than salary. Another response might be that you don't know much about going rates, but whatever the going rate is for a person with your experience will be acceptable.
18 Tell me about your previous boss and what you liked and disliked about him/her. Since it is unlikely you'll know the management style of the new manager, flexibility is probably the best choice for an answer. Talk about successfully working for various types of managers, how you learn their management style, then work within their expectations.
19 What would you say was the biggest accomplishment in your career? Applicants that focus on accomplishments vs. duties have a greater chance for selection. The more accomplishments you can incorporate into your responses, the better. Include enough details so that it is clear you know what you are talking about. Include pertinent facts from start to finish. Try to give an example of how you could bring about similar successes in the new job.
20 What would you say was the biggest failure in your career? Anyone can make a mistake, but successful people do something about it. Minimize the impact of any mistake that you bring up. Demonstrate what you learned from your mistake and what you did to overcome it. Explain that it was a learning experience that has made you a better and more effective employee in the long run.

Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Key Points

  • Review each frequently asked question and anticipate it will be asked of you

  • Prepare for a possible variation of the question

  • Understand the interviewer's motive in asking the question

  • Prepare your responses within the context of the job you are applying for

  • Craft and practice a response to each question so that you are prepared

  • Where possible, talk about your past accomplishments and how they relate to the job

  • Remember keywords from the job description or ad and use them in your responses