Developing Your Resume and Preparing for the Interview: Part 4 of a 4 Part Series

Posted In: First Jobs
Posted On: 5/30/2013

Interview Questions to Expect Let me start by saying, you can’t anticipate every question that will be thrown at you in an interview. The best way to be prepared is to know your three key messages backward and forward and have rehearsed sharing them in a natural manner. Your three key messages are things like results-oriented, strong work ethic, great leader, and excellent team player. And remember, you need to be able to support these key messages with examples from your work experience or educational background because they are the most important things for the interviewer to remember about you. But beyond that, here are some typical questions that you should expect:

  • What is the great accomplishment in your life to date? If it is being married or having a child, say that, but follow-up with your greatest work accomplishment. You are applying for a job, after all.
  • What is your greatest disappointment? When you answer this one, make sure you also add what you learned from that disappointment and, ideally, how you’ve used those learnings since.
  • What are your strengths? Be prepared to give examples.
  • What do you need to do better? Another way to say this is: what is your weakness? Again, here, you want to say how you are addressing it.
  • Why are you interested in this job? Be specific.
  • Why are you interested in this company? Do your homework and have specific examples of what you’re interested in—check out my earlier post, Preparing for the Interview, for places to start.
  • Why are you unhappy with your current company? This is a bit of a trick question. It is generally better to say it is not about leaving your current employer, but pursuing a better opportunity with this company. Do not bad mouth your current company, even if you hate the place—business is a very, very small world.
  • Where do you see yourself in three to five years? If you know the company well enough to have a specific job in mind, that is optimal. If not, it is perfectly alright to say you want to continue to develop a functional expertise and assume positions of increasing responsibility.
  • Give some examples of successfully working with others. This is a great time to articulate that you have been part of successful teams and the leader of successful teams. If you have minimal work experience, feel free to use examples from college, summer jobs, or your extracurricular activities.
  • How do you deal with conflict? The key concepts to help guide you through this question are fact-based solutions and listening to all points of view. Check out my video on Working With Friends from some concepts on how to do this.
  • Why should I hire you for this position? Give a concise summary of your key skills and how you will make a difference in this job. Your track record proves it.

In addition to these questions, I know a number of executives that like to pose a complex scenario for applicants to solve while they’re in the interview. Typically, it’s an example of an on-the-job situation that’s designed to get beyond the standard answers and really demonstrate how you problem solve. Don’t be nervous. Take your time. Try to imagine how the interviewer would handle it. And, give it your best answer. Finally, remember to maintain strong eye contact and you will do great!

Read the rest of the series:

  1. Developing Your Resume
  2. Your Three Key Messages and Your Cover Letter
  3. Preparing for the Interview
  4. Interview Questions to Expect