Can you answer these 15 interview questions? During an interview, you will be asked many questions. Some specific and some more generic, geared to learning more about you and your motivations for applying for a particular position. While an interviewer is not trying to trick you, they want to find out what makes you tick so that they can make the best hire. Hiring is an expensive exercise in both time and monetary costs. Making sure a potential candidate fits with the company culture and the position is extremely important. Whether worded exactly the same or similar, make sure you that can answer these questions:
1. Describe a time when your work was criticized and how you handled it.
If you are criticized and you are defensive, you are not coachable. Taking criticism is an important part of the learning process. Any company will understand that your work was criticized but they want someone who will learn from it. You are someone they can coach through the process.
Choose an incident from your work history. Then talk about the situation, what happened, why you were criticized and what you learned from that experience.
2. Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it.
Learning how you will act once you’re hired is a big part of interviewing. Past behaviors predict future behaviors. Are you adaptable? You want you to tell the interviewer about the tools/processes you used to get you through. Talk about when this happened and describe the steps you used to prioritize your work.
3. Describe your work style.
This isn’t a question about what you like or don’t like. It’s a question about how you work. You need to be able to answer the following questions:
- Do you like to work in a team environment or alone?
- Do you organize a project or roll up your sleeves and dive in?
- Can you multi-task?
- Are you a competitive top performer?
4. How does this position fit in with the career path you envision for yourself?
This can be a tricky question. An employer wants to hire someone who wants the job versus someone who needs the job. They also want someone who can tell them why they want the job and how it will advance their career goals.
You may be in the early part of your career and want to gain experience in different disciplines. Or, you may be at the end of your career but want to contribute more to a particular area. Your answer tells the interviewer whether you want just any job or whether you’re interested in this particular job. Your answer must answer their question: Why this job?
5. How much money did/do you make?
There are a number of ways to handle this question.
- Tell them how much you make.
- If you have been consulting, tell them that it’s not relevant – no benefits etc.
- Try to deflect.
As a recruiter, I know that most companies have a salary range for the position and they won’t make an offer outside that range. It’s perfectly OK to tell them your salary and say you are open or give a range that you would accept. If the company cannot afford your salary, why interview?
It’s important for outside recruiters to know your salary or what you are looking for as they must position you for the job and will be involved in any salary negotiation on your behalf.
6. Why you are applying for a position that is not as senior as your past positions?
Here, again, the company wants to make sure that you really want this job. There are many reasons someone would take a step backwards. You might want an easier commute, be more hands-on versus management, want to change industries, more growth opportunities, different things to learn. Be ready to explain those reasons.
7. Is there anything I haven’t told you about the company that you’d like to know?
Always have questions ready. An employer expects you to ask questions and it shows an interest in the position and company. Here are some examples:
- Why is this position open?
- When do you want to have it filled?
- How does this role fit as a part of the whole of the company?
- Where did the person who was in this role before go?
- What made you join the company?
- What are the goals of the department?
8. Tell me about a time that you failed.
Remember, you’ve failed. No one is perfect. This is not a question meant to find your weakness. It’s a question about an event that didn’t go perfectly and what you learned from it.
First, pick a failure and then you must be able to state what you’ve learned from this event. Admit the failure, state what you learned from it and how you took steps to avoid it in the future.
9. Tell me about yourself.
This question is not about your personal life. The interviewer is asking you to tell them something about why you should get this job. It’s an open-ended question and you should take full advantage of this opportunity. Using everything you know about the company and the job, ask yourself what will impress the hiring manager.
Be concise, no longer than a minute. You want a very targeted message. You want to say you have the experience, skills and can communicate effectively.
10. What are some of your greatest and/or proudest accomplishments?
Think awards and accomplishments. Your answers must be job-related. You should choose an accomplishment that would be impressive to the interviewer/company and relate to the position.
11. Why did you leave your last job?
While you don’t want to say anything negative about you or the company you worked for, you do have to answer the question. The potential employer really wants to know if there is an issue with you and will the company have problems if they hire you. Whether it was a mass lay-off, a restructuring or you were fired, make sure you put a positive spin on it and have references who can confirm what you said.
12. Why do you want to work here?
Position fit/ Company fit/ Personal fit. Your skills make the position fit. The company’s culture or products or values fit with yours for the company fit. The personal fit can be anything from location, use of the products to knowing someone who works there and speaks about what a great place it is.
13. Why do you want to change industries?
This question is designed to find out if someone really wants to work at a particular company or just needs a job. Try to tell a story about why this particular industry is of interest to you.
14. Where do you see yourself in five years?
What an interviewer wants to hear is an answer that shows you are thinking about how your skills will work within the company over the long-term. This can also be asked in a different way: What are your long-term goals? Goal-oriented employees are seen as more productive.
No one knows what will happen in the future but be prepared to answer the question.
15. What do you know about us?
This question serves as a gauge for the interviewer. It will let them know how much they must explain but will also show them whether or not you are interested enough to have done some homework. Employers tend to be impressed by candidates who have taken the time to research their company. Even if a company or recruiter has reached out to you, if you are going to interview, make sure you do your homework. It is not necessary to spend hours or days doing research but do plan to spend 20 to 30 minutes reviewing the company.
There are no perfect answers. You must think about the question (s) and adapt your answers. When you do, you will have a great interview.