Describe a typical work week.
Answer: Interviewers want a candidate for employment to discuss what they do while they are working in detail. Before you answer, contemplate the position you are applying for and how your current or past positions relate to it. The more you can connect your past experience with the job opening, the more successful you will be at answering the questions.
It should be obvious that it’s not a good idea to talk about non-work related activities that you do on company time, but, sometimes applicants tell how they are often late because they have to drive a child to school or like to take a long lunch break to work at the gym. You should keep your answers focused on work and show the interviewer that you are organized.
Do you take work home with you?
Answer: Do you take work home with you is a tricky question, be ready. The longer the answer, the bigger the hole you’ve dug.
Best Answer: When I need to, no problem. I realize the importance of meeting deadlines and getting work done on time.
How many hours do you normally work?
Answer: Beware before you answer questions about how many hours a week you work. You don’t wish to be construed as a slacker or as someone who works too several hours. At some companies, the norm is a 40 hour week and everyone goes home on time. At others, everyone might work 50 or 60 hours a week.
However, working a lot of hours isn’t necessarily a good thing – it could mean you’re not productive enough to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time.
So, unless you’re sure about the company culture and expectations, the safest answer is not to mention a certain number of hours. Rather, mention that you work as much as necessary to get the job done.
How would you describe the pace at which you work?
Answer: When you’re asked to describe the pace at which you work, be careful how you respond. This is another question where faster isn’t necessarily better. Most employers would rather hire employees who work at a steady pace. Someone who is too slow to get the job done in a reasonable time frame isn’t going to be a good hire. Neither is a candidate who works frenetically all day.
Options for answering this question include saying that you work at a steady pace, but usually complete work in advance of the deadline. Discuss your ability to manage projects and get them done on, or ahead, of schedule. If you work at a job where you have set criteria (i.e. number of calls made or response to) that measures accomplishments, discuss how you have achieved or exceeded those goals.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
Answer: A typical interview question, asked to get a sense of how you handle on-the-job stress, is “How do you handle the pressure?” Examples of good responses include:
Stress is very important to me. With stress, I do the best possible job. The appropriate way to deal with stress is to make sure I have the correct balance between good stress and bad stress. I need good stress to stay motivated and productive.
- I react to situations, rather than to stress. That way, the situation is handled and doesn’t become stressful.
- I actually work better under pressure and I’ve found that I enjoy working in a challenging environment.
- From a personal perspective, I manage stress by visiting the gym every evening. It’s a great stress reducer.
- Prioritizing my responsibilities so I have a clear idea of what needs to be done when has helped me effectively manage pressure on the job. If the people I am managing are contributing to my stress level, I discuss options for better handling difficult situations with them.
- It’s a good idea to give examples of how you have handled stress to your interviewer. That way, they get a clear picture of how well you can work in stressful situations.
What motivates you?
Answer: There isn’t a right or wrong answer to interview questions about what motivates you. The interviewer is trying to understand the key to your being successful in the job he is interviewing for and wants to make sure it’s a good fit. Consider, in advance of interviewing, what actually does motivate you and come up with some specific examples to share during the interview.
Your response will vary based on your background and experiences, but, you will want to share your enthusiasm and what you like(d) best about your job. Here are some examples:
- I was responsible for several projects where I directed development teams and implemented repeatable processes. The teams achieved 100% on-time delivery of software products. I was motivated both by the challenge of finishing the projects ahead of schedule and by managing the teams that achieved our goals.
- I’ve always been motivated by the desire to do a good job at whatever position I’m in. I want to excel and to be successful in my job, both for my own personal satisfaction and for my employer.
- I have always wanted to ensure that my company’s clients get the best customer service I can provide. I’ve always felt that it’s important, both to me personally, and for the company and the clients, to provide a positive customer experience.
- I have spent my career in sales, typically in commission-based positions, and compensation has always been a strong factor in motivating me to be the top salesperson at my prior employer’s.
What are your salary expectations?
Answer: Before you start talking pay (and salary negotiations) with a prospective employer, you need to find out how much the job (and you) are worth. You will need to take the time to research salaries, so, you are prepared to get what you’re worth and a job offer that’s realistic and reasonable.
Once you know what you should be earning, how do you go about getting it? Start by being very patient. When interviewing for a new position, do your best not to bring up compensation until the employer makes you an offer. If you’re asked what your salary requirements are, say that they are open based upon the position and the overall compensation package. Or tell the employer you’d like to know more about the responsibilities and the challenges of the job prior to discussing salary. Another option is to give the employer a salary range based upon the salary research you’ve done upfront. Once you’ve received the offer you don’t need to accept (or reject) it right away. A simple “I need to think it over” can get you an increase in the original offer.
And if you’re ambivalent about the position a “no” can bring you a better offer too. I turned down a position I knew I didn’t want, regardless of salary, and received three follow-up phone calls upping the compensation package. Be careful though, if you do definitely need that new job there’s a risk that the employer may accept your declining position and move on to the next candidate.
What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
Answer: There is no right or wrong answer to questions like “What are the most difficult decisions to make?” or “Describe a difficult work situation/project and how you overcame it.” These are behavioural interview questions designed to discover how you handled certain situations. The logic behind these type of questions is that how you behaved in the past is a predictor of what you will do in the future.
Give concrete examples of difficult situations that actually happened at work. Then discuss what you did to solve the problem. Keep your answers positive (“Even though it was difficult when Jane Doe quit without notice, we were able to rearrange the department workload to cover the position until a replacement was hired.”) and be specific. Itemize what you did and how you did it.
Tell me about yourself.
Answer: You walk into the interview room, shake hands with your interviewer and sit down with your best-interviewing smile on. Guess what their first question is? “Tell me about yourself.”
Do you “wing it” and actually tell all manner of things about yourself? Will you spend the next 5 minutes rambling on about what an easy-going, loyal, dedicated, hard-working employee you’ve been? If this is the case, you stand a good chance of having bored your interviewer to death thus creating a negative first impression.
Because it’s such a common interview question, it’s strange that more candidates don’t spend the time to prepare for exactly how to answer it. Perhaps because the question seems so disarming and informal, we drop our guard and shift into ramble mode. Resist all temptation to do so.
Your interviewer is not looking for a 10-minute dissertation here. Instead, offer a razor-sharp sentence or two that sets the stage for further discussion and sets you apart from your competitors.
When you walk into an interview, remember to always expect the “tell me about yourself” question. Prepare ahead of time by developing your own personal branding statement that clearly tells who you are, your major strength and the clear benefit that your employer received. The advantages of this approach are that you’ll quickly gain their attention and interest them in knowing more. You’ll separate yourself from your competitors. You’ll also have a higher chance of being positively remembered and hired.
What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?
Answer: Your response to the question “What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?” will help the interviewer determine to know how easily you are discouraged.
Best Answer: If possible, tell about a personal disappointment i.e. the early death of a parent, child, or school friend. Believe it or not, it is okay to have not had the “greatest” disappointment.
What are your pet peeves?
Answer: Your response to the question “What are your pet peeves?” will help the interviewer determine if you would be a good fit with the company culture.
Best Answer: I do not have a pet peeve. If something is bothering me, I step back, analyze “why” and find a good solution. If you asked my teenage daughter she would tell you my pet peeve is the volume on her radio!
What do people most often criticize about you?
Answer: The interview question “What Do People Most Often Criticize About You?” is asked to find out how sensitive you are.
Best Answers: There’s no ongoing criticism. I’m open to personal and professional growth and welcome the opportunity to improve.
If humour is appropriate, this is a good time to use it. Example: I have a teenage daughter – few things I do are okay on her radar screen.
When was the last time you were angry? What happened?
Answer: When the interviewer asks “When Was The Last Time You Were Angry? What Happened?” he or she wants to know if you lose control. The real meaning of the word “angry”, to an interviewer, is loss of control and it’s important to know how you handle situations when you’re angry.
Best Answer: Anger to me means loss of control. I do not lose control. When I get stressed, I step back, take a deep breath, thoughtfully think through the situation and then begin to formulate a plan of action.
If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently?
Answer: When asking what you would do if you could relive your life, the interviewer is looking for a flaw in your interview. Always remember, the goal for the first few interviews is to get the next interview. For the interviewer, it is to weed out as many applicants as possible. Here’s where a personal answer could work.
I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s. I wish I’d known more about the disease to help me through that difficult time.
Really, nothing. I’ve learned from each experience I’ve had.
If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?
Answer: When the interviewer asks “If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?” he or she wants to know what your perception is of what others think about your qualifications and abilities.
Best Answer: I’m sure if you asked my friends that question they would say you should hire me because I have the skills outlined in the job description and I bring 10+ years of expertise to this position. Words they’ve used to describe me are: hard-working, professional, trusted and a team player.
Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
Answer: When the interviewer asks “Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?” he or she wants to know if you’re a team player or would rather work on your own.
Best Answers: I am equally comfortable working as a member of a team and independently. In researching the ABC company, your mission statement and the job description, I could see similarities to my previous position where there were some assignments that required a great deal of independent work and research and others where the team effort was most effective. As I said, I’m comfortable with both.
What type of work environment do you prefer?
Answer: Best Answer: I can be flexible when it comes to my work environment. What is the environment in the Engineering department here at RRS, Inc? (Once they’ve described the work environment, include key phrases they’ve used when you describe your preferred work environment).
How do you evaluate success?
Answer: Best Answer: I evaluate success in different ways. At work, it is meeting the goals set by my supervisors and my fellow workers. It is my understanding, from talking to other employees, that the ABC company is recognized for not only rewarding success but giving employees the the opportunity to grow as well. After work, I enjoy playing softball, so success on the field is catching the winning pop-up.