Be Prepared for Commonly Asked Questions

Tell me about yourself.
Be prepared to respond to the question, "Tell me about yourself," by creating a 15-second "sound bite" that describes your professional background and strongest skills in two or three sentences. Vary your response according to the specific job opportunity and offer a brief description of why you would be a good fit for the position. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to rehearse with a tape recorder and then critique your answers.
Tell me about your background, accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses.
Employers who ask this question are usually looking for a short synopsis of your experience. Be sure to demonstrate how you've developed professionally and be objective when listing your strengths and weaknesses.
How would you describe your most recent job performance?
Hiring managers tend to ask this question in order to gauge your level of enthusiasm for the work that you do. They're also looking for a direct connection between your current position and the one for which you're applying.
What interests you about our company?
This question seems straightforward, but it can sometimes be difficult to answer if you haven't thought about it beforehand. There are two important factors to include in your answer. The first is to use your knowledge of the company to show your sincere interest. Second, give a specific reason the position for which you're applying appeals to you (other than the fact that you need a job).
Who was your most difficult boss and why?
It's imperative to be as diplomatic as possible when answering this question. Avoid becoming too personal; instead, focus on your previous supervisor's management style and the manner in which he or she communicated. The interviewer is looking for some indication as to how well you would get along with your future boss, if you were hired.
What outside activities are most significant to your personal development?
Many employers ask this question to see what kind of balance you are looking for between your personal and professional lives. While it's good to list one or two activities, be careful not to list too many activities as the employer may wonder if outside interest will interfere with your work.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years?
Avoid mapping out a detailed plan when answering this question. Instead, describe what you feel is the next logical step or steps in your career path.
Prepare a handful of questions to ask the interviewer following his or her round of questions for you. Otherwise, you may run the risk of appearing dis-intrested and ill-prepared.
Below is a list of sample questions to ask. 4-6 should be plenty.
  • Why is this position available?
  • How many people have held this position in the last two years?
  • Who would be my supervisor? To whom would I report?
  • Whom will I supervise?
  • With whim will I be working most closely?
  • What do you like about working for this company?
  • What are the current plans for expansion or cutbacks?
  • What kind of turnover rate does the comapny have?
  • How financially sound is this company?
  • What happened to the person that held this position before?
  • What is this company's culture? (ex: Is it rigid and formal or relaxed and flexible?)
  • What are the current problems facing the company (or this particular facility)
  • What do you like the most about working for this company? The least?
  • What is the philosophy of the company?
  • What do you consider to be the company's strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the company's long and short term goals?
  • Describe the work environment
  • What attracted you (the interviewer) to this organization?
  • Why do you enjoy working for this company?
  • Describe the typical responsibilities of the position.
  • Describe the opportunities for training and professional development.
  • Will I receive any formal training?
  • What is the company's promotional policy?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement within the organization?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?