1) Tell me about yourself.
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
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
3) What is your greatest
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
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
5) Managers: Describe your
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?
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?
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
8) Tell me about your educational
on educational achievements and training 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?
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?
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
describe you as an employee.
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?
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?
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?
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
15) How would your former
boss describe you?
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
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
17) What salary level are
you looking for?
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) What did you like and
dislike about your previous boss?
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 was the biggest
accomplishment in your career?
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 was the biggest
failure in your career?
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.
Be Ready to Answer these Questions
The above questions (or variations of them) are so common that all job candidates
should anticipate being asked a few of them during an interview. It is highly recommended
that you review and practice a response to each question. As you review the response
considerations, be sure you craft responses within the context of your particular
background and the position you are applying for.
You'll find a similar, but more detailed list of these questions in the Interview
section of the Job Search eBook under Common Questions. The question and response
considerations portions are included here for easy access and quick reference.