Common Interview Questions:
1. Tell me about yourself.
Keep your answer short and focused on your professional life. This is not the time to bring up relationships, childhood experiences, family etc. A brief history of education, career and special interests is what is called for here. End it with why you are interested in this particular job.
2. Why are you applying for this particular job?
In interview Show interest and demonstrate that you have researched the job and know what you are getting into. Bring up evidence from past work/ studies that supports your interest in this role and any skills you have acquired in preparation for the role. You can say something like 'I would like to work for a leader in innovative network and telecommunications solutions and my college degree in computational mathematics has given me a solid background for this role. Mention the value-added you can bring to the job.
3. What do you know about our company?
Indicate what you have learnt from your research activities - from their annual reports, newspapers, word of mouth, other employees etc. Use this to flatter them and show that you have done your homework.
4. What makes you qualified for this particular job?
Again, explain that you are very interested in the job and demonstrate what it is about your past experiences, education and qualifications that makes you ideal for the job. Show enthusiasm and support your answers with evidence wherever you can (eg. my summer internship at Citibank gave me broad exposure to the area of equity analysis and I think I can apply many of the tools I learnt there in this job). Elaborate on all the past experiences and skill sets that make you suitable for the job.
In cases where your past experience is not directly relevant, you can still find elements of it that can be useful. Play up teamskills, computer skills, leadership roles, specific courses and independent research activities that can be useful to the job at hand to show your initiative even where you don't have directly relevant job experience.
5. What can you do for us that someone else can't?
Demonstrate key strengths, skills and personal characteristics.
6. Why should we hire you?
See 3. Because you have all the experience/ traits/ credentials demonstrated in 3 and in addition to being qualified, you are enthusiastic, intelligent, hardworking, flexible and willing to learn. Also mention any key relationships you may have that may assist you in the job.
7. What do you look for in a job?
Be honest. Also mention keywords such as challenging, steep learning curve, good work culture, demanding, rewarding, opportunities for advancement and growth, team environment, opportunity to build and maintain client relationships etc.
8. Why are you looking to make a career change?
Mention your interests and make sure you bring up all skills/ experience however insignificant that can support your move in this new direction. It is quite common in this day and age to make a career switch. You need however to show that you have very carefully thought about the change, have a strong interest in the new career and can use some of your previous skills/ education/ relationships to make that move.
9. Why did you leave your last job?
Do NOT use this as an opportunity to badmouth past employers or peers or talk about a failure of any sort. Any of these answers are acceptable: you were looking for a new challenge, your learning curve had flattened out in the previous job and you were looking for a new learning opportunity, the company or department were restructuring, you were ready to start something new after achieving your career goals at the previous company etc.
10. Why do you want to work for us (as opposed to the competitor companies)?
In interview Demonstrate that you know something about the company, that you believe they are leaders/ innovators in what they do, or you think their work culture is exactly what you are looking for, or you like their product(s) or you have friends who work there and have always been attracted to the company etc. Flatter the company and show you know something about it.
11. How long will it take you to start making a meaningful contribution?
Show that you are enthusiastic and willing to learn and will put in all the hours and effort necessary to learn the ropes and start making an immediate contribution. Indicate that your past experiences/ skills/ credentials will enable you to make an immediate contribution at some level while you quickly learn all new aspects of the job. An Interviewer wants someone who is willing and able to learn and will make a return on his investment sooner rather than later.
12. What are your strengths?
See 14 below. In addition, keywords such as good teamplayer, work very well under pressure, very creative, very strong quantitative or computer skills, and very strong client relationship skills may be appropriate depending on your chosen field.
13. What are your weaknesses?
Do NOT mention key weaknesses here. This is not the place to say you are bad at meeting deadlines or you never mastered highschool mathematics etc. Turn this question around to your benefit. For example, you are 'overambitious' or 'extremely attentive to detail' or 'like to take on too many projects'. Make it sound positive.
14. What are your career goals?
Show you have thought forward and are committed to your career.
15. How would you describe yourself?
Any of these are good examples of attributes employers are looking for: intelligent, hardworking, quick to learn, enthusiastic, honest, efficient, productive, ambitious, successful, compassionate (in the medical fields).
16. How would your colleagues describe you?
Do not bring up anything negative here.
17. How would your boss describe you?
They will check references anyways so bring up the most positive attribute you can think of about yourself eg hardworking, honest etc. and leave it to your Boss to say anything to the contrary.
18. What did you most like/ dislike about your past job?
Do not use this to badmouth past jobs/ employers. Keep it light and in your favour eg I outgrew the job, there wasn't a clear career progression, I wasn't learning anything new etc. Ideally, you will have loved your last job and would like to achieve the same kind of success and job satisfaction in a more challenging area as you have now 'outgrown' that job and are ready for 'new challenges'.
19. Describe a situation in your past where you showed initiative?
You could describe any new methods you came up with to do your job or to save money for the company or to turn around a bad situation. It can be something as simple as changing a filing system, or establishing a relationship with a vendor that saved your department a lot of money. If you are in sales, you may want to talk about how you brought in that big account. Creatives may talk about how they came up with that cutthroat image or design that brought in the business.
20. What were your main responsibilities in your last job?
Have these ready and list them all. Dwell on the ones that are most relevant to the new job. This answer should be smooth and practiced.
21. What do you consider your greatest accomplishments?
Many of us have one or two milestones in our career that we are very proud of eg. that early promotion, that 'huge' deal we brought in, the design we came up with, the costs we saved, the revenues we increased, the people we trained, a new invention or process we came up with etc. Examples of accomplishments may be: 'Reduced costs by X%; or renamed and repositioned a product at the end of its lifecycle, or organized and led a team to do do XYZ, or achieved sales increase of X% etc. If you are a fresh college graduate, talk about extracurricular activities, leadership roles and grades.
22. Describe your management style (if relevant)
23. Do you work better in teams or independently?
Show that you are a proactive teamplayer and like to bounce ideas off others and get input; however you are very capable of working independently (give examples).
24. How do you work under pressure?
Well. Give evidence.
25. What other jobs have you applied for?
Don't mention jobs in different career directions (eg advertising and investment banking). Do however bring up any other offers or Interviews from competing firms.
26. How did you do in college?
Keep it positive. It's okay to say you were very busy making the most of college and were very involved in sports, activities, social life etc. Employers want human beings not robots. Mention the areas you did very well in even if it was just one or two courses you excelled in. They will check for themselves.
27. What kind of hours would you like to work?
Employers want to see flexibility. Indicate you are willing to put in whatever hours are necessary to finish the job. Do however mention any constraints you have eg. you would like to be home to pick your kids up from school at 3:30. Most employers are willing to work around your constraints if you show flexibility on your side as well.
28. Do you have any questions for me?
YES you do. Questions engage the Interviewer and show your interest. Ask questions that show you know something about the company or the job, that you are planning ahead, that you are anxious and willing to learn the ropes and that you are committed to the position. See Questions to Ask the Interviewer for examples.