Job Interview Questions and Answers

June 4, 2018

Job Interview Time and I Am Freaking Out

Resume writing and applying for jobs was easy. Now I have been called for a job interview and I am freaking out.

Preparing for the job interview requires you to get a few things in order first before you appear at the official interview. Remember that first impressions are the most lasting and you’ll want to make your job interview the best impression possible so you can maximize your chances of getting the position.

Find below 4 simple tips to keep in mind when you are going to your job interview. Doing each of them right will help your chances of getting hired.

Be on Time:

This cannot be stressed enough. If you can’t make it to your job interview on time, you shouldn’t bother to show up at all. Showing up late not only presents an unprofessional image, but it also tells the hiring manager that you are either not that interested or cannot be trusted to show up. Would you want to hire someone who comes late to a job interview?

The easiest advice is to leave early and allow plenty of time for traffic. If you have not been to the office location before, ensure that you have printed off directions and have a clear understanding of how to get to your destination. The most optimal time to get to an interview is 15 minutes early. This will also allow you to complete any paperwork that may be required. If you do find yourself arriving for the interview extremely early go and find a coffee shop and relax before the job interview. Sitting in the business offices for an extended time is not advised. Imagine being invited to someone’s house for dinner at 8pm and showing up at 6.30!

Dress Appropriately:

Wearing a tattered t-shirt and ripped blue jeans will probably not help you get an office job. Conversely, showing up in a tuxedo will probably not help you land an auto mechanic job either. When you walk through the doors to your interview what you are wearing will impact on the first impression the hiring manager will make. Believe it or not, but how you dress can make a huge impact on your interview.

Elaborate your Answers:

I have sat face to face with many job seekers who have answered all interview questions with only yes or no answers. It goes without saying that none of these candidates got the jobs. When preparing for your interview you need to be able to anticipate the type of questions that you will be asked and prepare answers accordingly. My secret is to write down 10 career accomplishments with specific examples and adapt these achievements into your answers. This way you have examples ready to go, no matter what type of questions are asked.

Ask Questions:

Don’t be intimidated by the job interview. The interview process is much about you finding out about the business and if the business is the right fit for you. Prepare yourself before the interview with several questions that you can ask. Don’t ask about money or benefits, but ask instead about the culture of the business, the organizational future goals, the responsibilities of the job position and other questions that are important for you and your career.

Simple Steps to Job Interviewing

Making the right impression in your job interview is one of the most important steps in your future career. Many people don’t realize that being successful in your interview begins before you even arrive at the interview. Job interviewing requires careful planning, otherwise you will significantly reduce the chance of getting the job. In the current economic climate, competition for jobs is extreme and hiring managers can receive hundreds of job candidates for every job they advertise. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to properly prepare for your job interview.

Research is the key to success

The first (and sometimes most important) thing to do is conduct research about the job and company. With so much company information available online you can easily begin to educate yourself on the company’s culture, philosophy and values. The more information you can acquire the better your chances at impressing the interviewer. With knowledge of the company you can subtlety use this information during the interview (when appropriate). Don’t overdo it though – you don’t want to sound like you’re repeating their whole website!

Practice makes perfect

A great way to practice job interviewing is to role play with a friend or family member. Ask them to question you on your resume and the job you’re applying for to fully prepare you for the interview. Remember the 4 Ws – Who, What, Where and Why.

  • The interviewer will ask “Who you are?”, so give them a little detail about your life without overdoing it.
  • Interviewers will also get you to explain “What your skills are?” If you have done your research about the company properly, you will have no problem doing this. Make sure you focus mainly on the skills that the company or job is looking for.
  • The interviewer will also ask you “Where you have worked before?” It’s worth calling up your previous job (if any) and asking them to write a reference just to back up your claims. Explain the position and the responsibilities that you had with your last job.
  • The final W – “Why” – is the most important of them all.” The interviewer will ask you “Why’ you want this job?” Think of a clever answer for this one. Don’t just say you’re doing it for the money, for example. Say something about bringing and valuable skills to their workplace.

Don’t forget that non-verbal messages are often more important than words, so make sure that you greet your interviewer with a firm handshake. Maintaining correct posture and eye contact are also two very important non-verbal messages as they portray a more confident and presentable image.

Most Common Job Interview Questions

1) What are your greatest strengths?

Few candidates can show up to an interview and answer every question with ease. Preparation is key to a successful interview. If you have to sit and think about what your greatest strengths are during the interview, you’ll risk appearing unsure of your own capabilities and the interviewer won’t be reassured in your ability to perform well in the position. Prior to an interview, you should know exactly what your top strengths are in the workplace. Make a list of all your strengths and then choose the top 5 you want to express in the interview based on the desired skills and attributes for the specific position you are interviewing for. You should always remember to back up the strengths you profess with examples of times you have demonstrated those strengths in the workplace. Use this question to highlight how your attributes will help you succeed in this position.

Tip: Use the job posting as a guide to match your own strengths with the skills and attributes the company is looking for in an ideal candidate. Although you might be a whiz with numbers, there’s no point listing it as your greatest strength if you’ll be working directly with clients and not using any numbers in the position. Be honest and don’t say you’re great at something you’re not, however you should prioritize the key strengths you want to express to the interviewer with the ones they list on the job description. For example, if the job description says the candidate they want is “highly detail-oriented and organized”, then one of the strengths you mention should be your strong organizational skills or that you are detail-oriented.

2) What is your biggest weakness?

This is a tricky question if you’re not prepared. You are trying to land the job, so of course you don’t want to tell employers all of your weaknesses that may make you look bad. On the other hand, you also don’t want to avoid the question, lie and say you have no weaknesses, or give a clichéd response. For example, I’ve heard a lot of candidates say their biggest weakness is that they are a perfectionist in the workplace…really? Although some interviewers will enjoy a joke to this question, most hiring managers want a real answer.

This is a key question you need to prepare for before the interview. Don’t mention any weaknesses that will prevent you from getting hired for the job. Remember the weakness should be work-related so hiring managers don’t want to hear about how you leave your dishes in the sink for over a week. A well thought-out answer can turn this tricky question into a positive. Be sure to back up each weakness with things you are proactively doing to improve on that weakness.

The best way to respond to this question is to either:

  1. a) Mention a weakness that is irrelevant (or at least not critical) to the position you are applying for. In order to be effective, you should already know the key skills and attributes desirable for the position and think about skills that are not essential to succeed in the position. You can even find weaknesses that can actually be seen as strengths for certain positions. For example, if the position requires strong attention to detail you can say that sometimes you are overly meticulous about the details of a project.
  2. b) State a weakness that is only a weakness because you haven’t had the opportunity to develop your skills in that area. For example, you can say that although you’ve taken a course in public speaking, you haven’t had the opportunity to use your presentation skills in your previous position and you’d like to develop your skills more in this area.

After you have constructed the perfect resume and applied for your dream job you will hopefully receive a call inviting you for the job interview. This is when things begin to get scary! However by having an understanding of the types of interview questions you may be asked will ensure that you give yourself the greatest opportunity of nailing the job interview and being offered a new job.

Below we have listed 3 standard interview questions relating to why you applied for the job position, why should the company hire you above your competitors and where do you see yourself in 5 years.

Why did you apply for this position?

All companies want to know that the candidate they hire for a position genuinely wants to work for their company and in the specific role they’re hiring for. Whatever your true intentions are—whether you were retrenched from a previous job and need to make a living, or you’re miserable at your current job and are looking for anything else you can find, don’t make the mistake of appearing as if you don’t really want the position or aren’t serious about it. The truth is, there should be something that interests you about the position and company you are applying to work for, and otherwise you should question whether you should even be applying in the first place.

In order to answer this question well, spend some time examining what you like about the company such as culture, work environment or industry, and about the work you would be doing at the company. Once you hone in on exactly why you want the job, you can relate why you want the position to how your skills and personality make you a good fit for the position.

Example (if you are applying for a customer service position): “I applied for this position because I am very sociable and enjoy communicating with people and would like to use this skill in my career. I have been told by friends that I can sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman wearing a white dress, and I have demonstrated this in my proven track record selling game tickets for my universities sports games. I am applying for this entry level customer service position because I feel I have all the right skills and attributes to succeed. Here’s my entry level resume.”

Why should we hire you over another candidate for this position?

This is your chance to toot your own horn and really sell yourself for the job. You must be completely familiar with the job description and the desired qualifications and attributes to link your skills, experience, education and personality to the position you are applying for. Practice this question with a friend beforehand, as you should be able to persuade the interviewer to hire you based on this question. Whatever doubts you have or experience you lack, keep them to yourself. If the hiring manager asks you this question then you better believe you’re the best candidate for the job, and be able to convince him/her that you are the best candidate for this position.

A good answer will include your top strengths for the position including:

  1. Knowledge or experience in the industry
  2. Technical skills
  3. Soft skills
  4. Key accomplishments or demonstrated success in previous positions
  5. Experience performing certain tasks
  6. Awards or recognition
  7. Education and training

Tip: It’s not always the most qualified, paper-perfect job candidate that gets hired. Hiring managers are also looking to hire someone who is likeable, confident and who they could picture fitting in well with the company’s culture and environment.

Example (for a project management position): “I have all the qualities and experience that you’re looking for in an ideal candidate and I am confident that I’d be successful in the role. I have demonstrated my ability to lead successful projects for top companies in the past and have excellent people skills which have allowed me to develop great relationships with clients, vendors and partners alike. I also have a real passion for this industry which motivates me to deliver high-quality work.”

What are your career goals and where do you see yourself in 5 years?

The interviewer is asking you this question to see what your career goals are and how this position fits in to the larger picture of where you see yourself going. If this position fits well into your overall career plan, then the likelihood is that you will work hard to be successful in the job. The key to answering this question well is to focus on achievable goals. You don’t want to be too specific about the position you want to be in and your answer should be related to the job and company for which you are interviewing.

Tips:

  1. Keep your answer general enough so that it doesn’t raise questions about your suitability for the position.
  2. Emphasize your interest in a long-term career at the company.
  3. Express your interest in this position as an integral part of your ultimate career plans.

Example: “Right now I’d like to find a position at a company where I can develop my skills and take on new challenges and responsibilities over time. I’d like to acquire more management responsibilities in the next 5 years, but most importantly I want to work for a company where I can see myself working long-term and building a career.”

The Dreaded Job Interview

After you have constructed the perfect resume and applied for the perfect job you will hopefully receive that favorite phone call congratulating you on receiving an interview request. Typically when you apply for a job you can expect your competition to share similar skills, education and experiences as yourself. This is why you need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you not only possess the right skills, and that you are also the right fit for the company. Considering the importance of your job interview, there are a few key factors you need to do to ensure that you give yourself the greatest opportunity of finding success.

Conduct Research

Researching the company that you are interviewing for is a great way to acquire a sense of knowledge about your potential future career. When you show that you have done a good amount of research, an employer will see the enthusiasm that you have about the particular position as well for the company and this will aid you in developing a good first impression. When you are performing your research, don’t just use the company website for information. Use your imagination and look at anything from past market shares to any philanthropy or humanitarian involvement that the company is currently engaged.

Contact Your References

Prior to going into the interview, it is a good idea to contact the people that you have placed on your reference sheet. More often than not you will be asked to bring in your resume and a copy of your references and so it is imperative that these people know that they may be receiving a phone call.

Prepare Your Outfit in Advance

Don’t wait until the day of the interview to determine what you are wearing. Keep in mind that you will want to pre-plan your travelling route in order to arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes early. Arriving late is the greatest mistake you can make! Planning your outfit the day before your interview gives you time to wash, iron, and hang up your clothes so that they are in pristine condition for your interview.

Preparing correctly for the job interview will give you the greatest opportunity of getting the job. If you are hoping to succeed in your interview, you must ensure that you are sufficiently prepared in advance. Do not let yourself down. Leave no stone unturned in your interview preparation.

Top 10 Job Interview Blunders

What should you NOT do in an interview? A poll into interview blunders found that when hiring managers were asked to name the most common and damaging interview mistakes a candidate can make, 51% listed dressing inappropriately. 49% percent cited badmouthing a former boss as the worst offense, while 48% said appearing disinterested. Arrogance (44%), insufficient answers (30%) and not asking good questions (29%) were also top answers.

Below is a top 10 selection of mistakes to avoid. A big part of a successful interview is avoiding simple mistakes. Mistakes are deadly to the job seeker and easy to avoid if you are prepared:

  1. Arriving Late

Get directions from the interviewer – or look up the location on a man. Wear a watch, and leave home early. In the extreme case that you cannot avoid being late, call the interviewer and arrange to reschedule.

  1. Lack of Preparation

Not being prepared is just about the biggest mistake you can make when it comes to job interviews. You need to prepare for an interview in the same way you would prepare for an exam. When you are offered an interview, make sure you ask what form the interview is going to take so you can prepare. E.g. is it going to be a one on one interview? Will it be a group interview? Who will be attending the interview, and what are their positions? Not being able to answer basic interview questions such as “What do you know about this company?” creates the impression that you don’t care, and it can end your chances immediately.

  1. Dressing Inappropriately

You make your greatest impact on the interviewer in the first 10 seconds, and you want that first impression to be strongly positive. Dress for the occasion. You will certainly need to wear a suit if you are interviewing for professional position. When interviewing for another type of job, such as a casual summer job as a lifeguard or waitress, for example, dress accordingly in neat and casual attire.

  1. Badmouthing

This includes badmouthing your current or former employers, employees or even the competition. Nobody likes a complainer and it portrays a negative image of your personality. In the world we live in, you never know who your interviewer might be friends with or who the company’s clients are. You don’t want the interviewer to think that you might speak that way about his or her company in the future.

  1. Poor body language
    • Mumbling
    • Using constant slang
    • Crossing your arms
    • Rigid
    • Slouching
    • Nervous gestures e.g. playing with your hair
    • Using your hands too much when talking
  2. Don’t be rude or abusive

You would expect this to be obvious, however an interviewer will want to test your patience and see how you react to their questions. Losing your temper, becoming defensive, and acting abusive are the best ways to not get hired. No matter how calm or apologetic you are, the damage has already been done.

  1. Poor Communication Skills

This includes answering questions with “yes” or “no” answers. You need to display confidence. Engage the person you are speaking with, and let the interviewer know that you are an excellent candidate for this position.

  1. Talking Too Much

The interviewer wants to know why you are the best person for the job. They do not need to hear your entire life story. There are few things worse than interviewing someone who goes on and on and on. Keep your answers concise, to-the-point, and focused. Don’t ramble, and don’t lie or make up stories. The best advice is to be honest and simply answer the questions.

  1. Not answering the question

Nothing is more frustrating for an interviewer than to ask a simple question and not get an answer. Straight away it sets off alarm bells in the interviewer’s head that the person is either unprepared or not listening. Make sure you listen to the question and take a moment to gather your thoughts before you respond.

  1. Forgetting to Follow Up

No matter how well you think the interview went, always follow up. If you have not heard from the interviewer within a few days, don’t be afraid to call and follow up and reiterate your interest in the position. A follow up thank you email or phone call can sometimes go a long way to securing you the job. It also leaves a good impression.

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  • Article added on 04.06.2018

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