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Typical Interview Questions

Great news! They love your resume and want to bring you in for an interview.    So all you have to do now is show up on time wearing your most impressive outfit, right?  Wrong!  You’ve skipped a vital step in securing your next job, Preparing for the interview.  There are multiple steps you must take to wow an interviewer.  This article covers preparing your responses for possible questions the interviewer may ask.  See the article entitled "Interview Strategies, Preparation Before the Interview" for information on researching the company, preparing questions for them, and dressing appropriately for the interview. 

The first thing to consider is why you want the job and what things in your background and experience qualify you for this position and what impact you feel you could have on the company.  All of the questions the company may ask will touch on that basic concept.  With this in mind, here are some sample questions and possible ways to develop your answers. 

Tell me about yourself. 
This is open-ended question is designed to learn how you think and give your pitch for why you are qualified for this job.  This is your opportunity to talk about yourself in a broad sense and why you would be a good fit for the company and position.  They are NOT looking to hear about what you do for fun or hearing about your family. In fact, it’s not appropriate for you to discuss personal things that aren’t related to the job. 

What inspires you to work hard? 
Focus on work-satisfaction related answers rather than rewards. 

Walk me through Your Resume. 
When an interviewer asks you this question, they want you review only those things in your background that are relevant to your qualifications for this position. It would be a mistake, for example, to start out with discussing why you chose your first job out of college if it is not directly related to why they should hire you for this position. 

Why do you want to leave your current job? (Why did you leave your last job?) 
It’s important to be honest, while remaining positive.  Although it can be challenging in some cases not to bash your last employer (after all, if things were great, you wouldn’t have left,) it’s important to focus on the nature of your job change as career-growth rather than an escape from a horrid boss.  Its okay to discuss challenges you are seeking that may have been previously lacking, but stay away from personal attacks.

Why did you choose your career? 
An employer wants to know that you have a plan and that you make thoughtful decisions. If you did happen to just fall into this career, discuss how you made conscious choices to develop yourself in this career once in it. 

What past accomplishments gave you satisfaction? 
For this question, it’s important to focus on work-related goal-achievement, rather than monetary or personal accomplishments.  Use examples from your past that show things you’ve done which made your department look good or had an impact on the company and received Kudos. 

What are your strengths? 
Share with the interviewer attributes about yourself that make you a strong candidate for the position, again, focusing only on the professional rather than personal.  Share examples of how these strengths were an asset to your previous employers. 

What are your weaknesses? 
It’s important not to sound canned and say that you “work too hard.”  Rather, share one example of a weakness and how you’ve learned from it and are working on overcoming the challenge. 

Which adjectives would you use to describe yourself? 
Use adjectives that describe work-related behavior, such as honest, goal-oriented, focused, or hard-working. Give brief examples of why these are the adjectives that you chose to describe yourself. 

How would a colleague describe you? 
Similar to the adjectives you chose to describe yourself, an employer wants to here positive work-related attributes.  It would make the most sense if the description you chose to describe yourself is related to the one that others would use to describe you, otherwise they may get the impression that you are difficult to read and have more communication skills. 

What do you know about our company? 
If you’ve read the article “Interview Strategies, Preparation Before the Interview,” then you know how important it is to research the company previous to the interview.  Share with them what you have learned about the company, highlighting anything relevant to that division or department.  Good things to know are the organization's products or services, all of their locations, who they count among their clients, the company philosophy & goals and the company growth. 

Why do you want to work for us? 
If you’ve done your research, then you know what it is about the company that attracts you.  It must be more than what the company can do for you – focus on how you can contribute to their goals. 

Why should I hire you? 
Here you can bring in examples from your past showing the contributions you’ve made to previous employers and how you feel you could impact the company.  Focus on goals you’ve achieved and how they would benefit. 

What are your qualifications for this position? 
This is the time to discuss past experiences, education, and skills that have prepared you to take on the challenges of this job.  Remember to stick to specific work-related examples. 

What type of work environment do you like best? 
It would be counter-productive to describe an environment that is the complete opposite of this job, but you don’t want to answer by simply describing this job’s environment.  The bottom line is, you wouldn’t be applying for this position if the environment was not attractive to you, so use examples from your past that show how you excelled in an environment with some similar characteristics to this one. 

Why do you want this job? 
Focus on why this job would be a good fit for both sides.  Based on what you know about the job description and the company, discuss how you think you would excel in the position. 

How do you handle pressure and stress? 
Keep your responses work-related.  How you unwind at home after a stressful day is inappropriate to discuss.  Instead, talk about things you do to remove stress from your work-life, like coming in early on a day that is predictably going to be crazy to avoid the crunch, or preparation ahead of time to reduce stressful situations.  Highlighting your strong communication skills and ability to remain calm under pressure as a way to combat stressful situations is also an excellent response. 

Give an example of how you overcame a major obstacle. 

Here you can highlight your problem-solving skills.  Give an example or two of something work-related that challenged you for which you successfully found a solution.  Stay away from personal challenges such as recovering from a divorce or illness. 

Where do you see yourself five (ten or fifteen) years from now? 
Employers like goal-oriented people so it’s important to show that you have a plan.  However, it is equally important that this job and company fit into that plan and that you show them how your plan will benefit them. 

How do you characterize success? 
Stick to goal-achievement examples and stay away from monetary or reward responses here. 

If you were hiring for this position, what qualities would you look for? 
Though tempting, try not to overtly describe yourself.  Even though you want them to see that all the qualities you posses are what they need, it’s best to bring up specific qualities that you know that they would benefit from based on the job description.  It’s okay to ask some questions along with answering the question to get a better understanding of the position details.  

While you don’t want to describe yourself exactly, you definitely don’t want to bring up any qualities that you don’t possess either.  It’s a fine line which, if walked deliberately and with care, will show the interviewer that you care not only about getting the job for yourself, but that you care about what is best for the company as well. 

Describe your ideal job. 
You can use various examples from your job history that would make up your ideal job.  It has to be real, so make sure you use examples from your past jobs that have similar characteristics to this job and why that attracts you. 

What are your salary expectations? 
It’s typically not appropriate for you to bring up salary in an interview, but if you are asked, you must have an answer prepared.  Giving a specific number may hurt you so it’s best to give your last salary and say that you would like to have a reasonable increase. 

Along with these questions, you will likely be asked industry-specific questions relating to your knowledge of a specific software or process.  If you’ve been in the industry a while, these should be much more straight forward to answer, but just remember that all responses should highlight specific work-related examples showing how they will benefit from you. 

How FPC of St. Lawrence Can Help 
FPC recruiters work with their candidates to make sure they have access to and understand the details of the position and can bring out relevant examples from their past experience that would highlight why this company would benefit from hiring them.

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