Employer Interview Questions

June 4, 2018

With the current economic climate and changing job market, employers have now started to alter the types of questions they ask in interviews. With hundreds of Internet pages dedicated to types of interview questions and all listing the same “general” type questions (what are your strengths, where do you see yourself in 10 years, etc.), employers are now steering away from these types of questions and introducing a new set of questions that test your creativity and flair. Below is a list of questions which you may not have thought about previously. Think about how you would answer these questions if faced with one of these in an interview:

  • If you had the option, would you change your college career?
  • How do you go about deciding what to do first when given a project?
  • What are the most important rewards you expect in your business career?
  • Provide an example of how you are a risk taker.
  • If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
  • Why do you want to work for us and not for our competitor?
  • What did you think of your previous manager/supervisor?
  • What did you do in your last job to increase value?
  • What are some of the things that bother you?
  • Tell me about the last time you felt anger on the job.
  • Do you need other people around to stimulate you or are you self-motivated?
  • What management style gets the best results out of you?
  • How can our company offer you what your previous company could not offer?
  • How long do you think it would take before you were making a significant contribution to our business?
  • How ambitious are you? Would you compete for my job?
  • What do you like and dislike about the job we are discussing?
  • Why did you choose a career in…?
  • What do you think is the most important dilemma facing our business today?
  • How much does your last job resemble the one you are applying for? What are the differences?
  • Why did you decide to join your previous company? Did the job live up to your expectations? Why are you leaving now?
  • Explain the organizational structure and hierarchy in your last company and how you fitted into it. Did this suit you?
  • Do you prefer to work in a small, medium or large company?
  • What interests you about our company, product or service?
  • You have not done this sort of job before. How will you cope/succeed?
  • Do you consider yourself successful in your career to date?
  • What was your greatest success in your professional career? How did you achieve it?
  • What has been your biggest failure in your professional career?
  • Did you feel you advanced and progressed in your last job?
  • How do you handle criticism?
  • What would you like to avoid in your next job?
  • How did you get on with your previous manager, supervisor, co-workers and subordinates?
  • What will your referees say about you?
  • Fantasy questions – What would you do if you won the Lottery? Would you come to work tomorrow?

Dealing With Stress And Pressure Interview Questions

1) Do you work well under pressure?

This may seem like an obvious question, but the answer should be more comprehensive than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Truth be told, there are few jobs where the ability to work well under pressure isn’t valuable, so try to demonstrate to the employer that you can work well under pressure and that past experiences can show that you can work under pressure and succeed in your work. There are some jobs that are high pressure and high stress so employers will want to be sure that you are comfortable working in that environment and that you can still deliver quality work. If you really don’t work well under pressure in the workplace, you can say something like, “I can work under pressure when needed, however I usually manage my time well so that I am not overwhelmed trying to complete numerous tasks at the last minute.”

Tips:

  1. Try to avoid simple yes or no answers, and use the question as an opportunity to sell your skills.
  2. Offer an example of a time when you worked well under pressure in a previous position if you have one.

Example: “Yes, I do work well under pressure. I find it stimulating to work under tight deadlines while producing my best work, however I usually try to plan out my tasks appropriately so that I don’t have anything to do that is rushed or left until the last minute.”

2) How do you deal with stressful situations?

While this question is similar to ‘do you work well under pressure’, here hiring managers want to know what you do to actually cope with stress in your daily life. You’ll likely encounter stressful situations at least once in a while in most jobs, but especially in customer service or other positions where you deal directly with the public or clients.

If you’re applying for these types of positions, then it’s important for employers to know that you can handle stress in a healthy way without blowing up at customers, taking it out on coworkers or burn out quickly and quit the job. You should always emphasize that you have a high tolerance for stress and give examples of very stressful situation in which you stayed calm, continued in a professional manner and coped with the stress later in a healthy way.

Tips:

  1. Everyone deals with stress differently, and not all ways of dealing with stress are healthy or effective. Only bring up positive things you do to deal with stress.
  2. Keep your answer focused on workplace stress and avoid talking about stress in your personal life.
  3. Prepare a carefully written functional resume to demonstrate your strong points.

Don’t Say:

“If it’s a customer being unreasonable then I’ll put him back in his place. I don’t need to deal with rude customers.”

Example: “I usually handle stress well and have a high tolerance for stressful situations. I try to remain calm in stressful situations, take deep breaths and try not to get emotional but rather act in an appropriate, professional manner. For example, I once had a customer who became irate when he learned the store’s return policy was only valid for 30 days and he had exceeded that time. He was screaming and even insulting me, however I remained calm and explained the policy and why it was in place. I then offered to show him some other products he might be interested in exchanging the item for. I believe the only reason he ended up calming down was because I remained calm and did not give in to a heated argument.”

Interview Question: What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

How to answer one of the toughest interview questions….

What’s your greatest weakness?

Without doubt one of the hardest questions to answer. Being too honest can severely affect your interview. Everyone has something they can work on, so saying you have no weaknesses makes you sound arrogant. The best way to approach this is to think of a weakness that won’t impact your getting the job. Remember that this question is a work-related question, so don’t say that your biggest weakness is not helping enough around the house or, the worst answer I ever heard, “chocolate cake.”

Tips:

  • 1) Do not mention a weakness that will prevent you from being hired. If you’re going for a job as a telemarketer, don’t say your greatest weakness is speaking on the telephone!
  • 2) No clichéd responses. “My greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist.”
  • 3) Do not avoid the question. The interviewer has asked you this question and you need to answer it.

My advice is to provide a real work-related weakness and follow it up with examples of how you are fixing the problem.

Example:

If you’re asked this question, give a small, work-related flaw that you’re working hard to improve. Example: “I’ve been told that I occasionally focus on details and miss the bigger picture, so I’ve been spending time laying out the complete project every day to see my overall progress.”

Admitting a real weakness and then following up with what you’re doing to improve yourself is preferable. “My presentation skills are not as strong as I’d like, so I signed up for weekend presentation skills classes and also joined a Toastmasters club.” Remember that the specific job you are interviewing for will help to determine how you answer the question.

Interview Questions About Being Out Of Work

1) Why have you been out of work for so long?

This can be a very frustrating question to be asked if you’re out of a job, especially if you’ve been diligently searching and going on interviews but just haven’t landed the right position yet. Don’t simply say you haven’t found the right opportunity yet, or that the job market is just very slow right now. If you haven’t actually been looking for that long because you took time off initially, took a course first or made a big move that you needed to focus on, it’s best to tell that to employers; otherwise they might get concerned that you don’t have the skills or experience needed to do the job if no one else wants to hire you. Typically employers want a candidate who is desirable to other company’s and that would be an asset to the company, so it’s always best to try to demonstrate this.

Tips:

  1. Do not use this opportunity to become negative, make excuses or complain. Stay positive and optimistic at all times. It makes you a more desirable candidate.
  2. Although you’ve been out of work, everybody wants what someone else wants, so it’s best to make yourself appear desirable in some way.
  3. Try to show that you haven’t actually been looking for that long due to personal or professional reasons.

Example: “Initially I took some time off to be with my sick grandmother who needed constant care. It’s only in the last 3 months I’ve really begun a serious job search, and so far I’ve had some really good feedback and interviews. I’m hoping to find the right position soon.”

2) What have you been doing since you were laid off?

Your answer to this question should go beyond simply, “I’ve been trying to find a new job.” What hiring managers want to know is whether or not you can stay productive with your time even without a job; if you are the type of person who can maintain a positive outlook even in a very difficult situation; are you proactive and use your time constructively even when not on company time; and whether or not you are an ambitious person. There are a lot of ways you could be using your time productively if you were laid off. It’s always nice to see job candidates who are not only using 8 hours of their day to job search, but also using their time to accomplish other goals, update their skills, volunteer their time, or take up a project around the house. Even working out is a productive activity. By keeping busy, ambitious and productive while you’ve been laid off, you can show the hiring manager that you are a dynamic go-getter who will take on new projects and stay proactive if hired.

Tips:

  1. Don’t simply say it’s been your job to find a new one and that’s the only thing you’ve been doing.
  2. Don’t mention things you’ve been doing that may appear negative, such as lying around the house, being depressed or lazy.
  3. It’s okay to take some personal time off if you were laid off, such as visiting family that lives far away, taking a trip you’ve always wanted to, or taking the opportunity to take a course in something new that you’ve always wanted to learn.
  4. Provide examples of what you have been doing to keep busy and stay productive while you’ve been searching for a new job.

Example: “Since I was laid off, I took the opportunity to visit my parents who live in another country. When I came back from that, I enrolled in a Spanish course to update my language skills, as it would help with the work that I do. I’ve also been repairing a lot of things around the house that I didn’t have time for previously.”

3) Have you ever been asked to leave a position?

If you’ve never been asked to leave a position, then this is an easy question for you to answer. If you have been asked to leave a position, however, this is a dreaded interview question you could be asked. You need to be honest about being asked to leave a position and address it openly. Reference checks will bring out the information, so it will be detrimental to your chances of landing the position if you lie about it. The best way to answer if you have is to give a brief explanation, be honest, and stay positive about the situation and what you learned from it. If it was a mistake on your part, be open about it and let the hiring manager know that you have learned from it and taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Tips:

  1. Don’t ever talk badly about a previous employer, even if you were let go of. If it was a misunderstanding, try to stay objective and professional when discussing it.
  2. You can give a brief explanation for why you were let go, however don’t make it sound like you are complaining or making excuses.
  3. Keep your answer brief, as you don’t want to go into too many details for why you were let go.

Example: “Unfortunately I have been let go of a job before. The industry was changing drastically and I was so swamped with work that I didn’t have the time to update my skills according to the industry changes. When my company downsized by half of its employees, I was unfortunately part of those retrenched. I now make it a top priority to constantly be updating my skills with new training, seminars and personal reading so that I can do whatever possible not to find myself in that position again.”

Does the color of your clothing really make a difference when it’s time to Interview?

The psychology of color:

Preparing for a job interview is tough work. You rehearse answers to common questions, decide on what clothing to wear and ensure you have done an adequate amount of research into the company. But what about the color of your clothing – does this matter? Is wearing a white shirt with a blue tie going to help you get the job over wearing a blue shirt with a black tie?

Studies have shown that the colors you decide to wear in an interview can actually make a difference. In the competitive world we live in you need to ensure that you take every advantage you possibly can.

Different colors evoke different emotions and it is imperative when you’re interviewing that you evoke the right emotions from the interviewer.

Examples:

Blue: Words that describe the color blue include: trust, loyalty, wisdom, peaceful. These are exactly the type of feelings you want to be portraying in your interview. Blue is a calming color (think ocean and sky) and sends out a signal to the interviewer that you are indeed honest and sincere. Studies have shown that wearing the color blue to an interview will increase your chances of getting hired more than any other color.

Red: In contrast to the color blue, the color red stirs emotions more than any other color. Red is a strong color, very emotional, an extreme color that in an interview scenario can work against you. Unlike blue which has a calming effect, the color red is a fiery color (the color of love and passion), and can be an intimidating color for the interviewer.

Orange: Similar to red. A color that stirs emotion and therefore a color I would avoid wearing in a job interview. Although orange is not seen to be as an aggressive as the color red, it is still perceived as a color that can evoke feelings of power and aggression.

Grey: My second favorite color to wear after blue. Grey gives the look of sophistication and authority. In a corporate environment the color grey is professional and portrays an individual as being confident without being intimidating.

Purple: The color of “Royalty”. The color symbolizes power, aristocracy, lavishness, and extravagance.

Black: Be careful when wearing just black to an interview. The color black is seen as a power color and can be viewed as threatening. Wearing black outfits can portray an individual as being powerful or even arrogant. Black is also associated with negative implications such as death, sin, and fear.

Just remember that first impressions count a lot when you go to interview. Know your audience and dress accordingly.

Good Luck!

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  • Article added on 04.06.2018

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