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Job Interview Questions And Sample Responses

Having a positive attitude and practicing in advance can help you to field these challenging  questions with ease, and that calmness under fire will demonstrate that you can handle crises  on the job just as easily. Remember, interviewers are looking for a competent, confident  candidate who not only wants the job, but also understands its requirements and can quickly hit  the ground running. Answering these challenging questions with poise and conviction helps you  outshine other applicants, and puts you in a good position to land the job you want. 

Why are you looking (or why did you leave you last job)? 

This should be a straightforward question to answer, but it can trip you up. Presumably  you are looking for a new job (or any job) because you want to advance your career and  get a position that allows you to grow as a person and an employee. It’s not a good idea  to mention money here, it can make you sound mercenary. And if you are in the  unfortunate situation of having been downsized, stay positive and be as brief as possible  about it. If you were fired, you’ll need a good explanation. But once again, stay positive. 

How will you advance this company? 

This question should be answered with some tangible examples. Provide facts to  support the talent you will claim to bring. Make sure you offer skills that will actually be  useful to them. 

My expertise in accounting has saved thousands and, in some cases, millions of dollars  for the different companies I‟ve worked with. With the welfare of the very infrastructure at  stake, every penny counts, and I make it my priority to account for each of those  pennies. As noted on my resume, I was responsible for sourcing a funds leak disguised  as a supplies expense account at Innitech Corp. I can bring that same relentless scrutiny  to the books here.  

Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

This is a good opportunity to be honest and incorporate your goals and priorities into the  conversation.  

I don‟t really plan my life by year or by month. My goal is to continue developing useful  software and applications for the open source community and keep learning. So, if I had  to say, I‟d like to still be learning in ten years. I‟d like to have contributed enough useful  programs to provide a whole new generation of coders with the tools they need to make  life easier. I don‟t really believe in retirement either, so I plan on doing this as long as I‟m  up and running. 

Why did you choose this company?  

Potential employers don‟t just want someone talented. They want to see if you‟ll mesh  with the company.  

This has been my dream company all along. I‟ve been building up my experience and  developing my talent so that I could qualify for a position here. The people are genuine  and among the most talented in the world, you value progress and cultivating a  community of learning, and the focus is on quality work rather than arbitrary rules of  conduct and performance quotas. Everyone is here because they want to be here, and  they‟re the best at what they do. The sense of responsibility and high standards fits in  perfectly with my values.  

Why are you the best person for this position?  

Don‟t be afraid to stroke your own ego here. Don‟t say anything self deprecating. Focus  on this position in this company. Why shouldn‟t they hire someone else?  

I‟m the best for this position here because I‟ve been following this company‟s progress  for years. Any time there was a new release or you were mentioned in the news, I was  all over it. I already know the infrastructure and history of this place like the back of my  hand. Not only was my latest project focused specifically on the new language  developed here, but I‟ve been implementing it in my own personal work since its release  six months ago. I can see being here for a very long time if the company continues in the  direction it‟s going.  

What is your biggest flaw? 

Don‟t panic! They‟re not trying to trick you here. Everyone has flaws. What they want to  know is if it will interfere with your work and whether or not you‟re doing anything about  it.  

I tend to be a bit too polite. When you‟re too nice, people perceive you as a bit of a  pushover. While I would never be rude to anyone, I try to keep the small talk from  become excessive in order to maintain a “no-nonsense” reputation.  

You have changed careers before. Why should I let you experiment on my nickel? 

As a career-changer, I believe that I’m a better employee because I’ve gained a lot of  diverse skills from moving around. These skills help me solve problems creatively.

Where else have you applied? 

This is a good way to hint that you’re in demand, without sounding like you’re whoring  yourself all over town. So, be honest and mention a few other companies but don’t go  into detail. The fact that you’re seriously looking and keeping your options open is what  the interviewer is driving at. 

What motivates you to do a good job? 

The answer to this one is not money, even if it is. You should be motivated by life’s noble  pursuits. You want recognition for a job well done. You want to become better at your  job. You want to help others or be a leader in your field. 

What’s your greatest strength? 

This is your chance to shine. You’re being asked to explain why you are a great  employee, so don’t hold back and stay do stay positive. You could be someone who  thrives under pressure, a great motivator, an amazing problem solver or someone with  extraordinary attention to detail. If your greatest strength, however, is to drink anyone  under the table or get a top score on Mario Kart, keep it to yourself. The interviewer is  looking for work-related strengths. 

What are you most proud of in your career? 

There should be no pause or confusion — whatsoever. The best way to answer this  question is to tell them one significant accomplishment and explain why you are proud of  it. In other words, how did your proud moment impact the bottom line, overcome a hurdle  or knock out a personal goal? 

Why do you think you will be successful in this job? 

This isn‟t an invitation to boast – you are being asked to match your strengths to the  qualities needed to do the job. Don‟t forget, it‟s a very specific question. Why are you  suited to this job, as opposed to any other? Thorough employer research will save the  day, as it will enable you to match your skills, interests and experience to the job role  and the company. 

Give an example of a time when you handled a major crisis. 

Feel free to reframe the question. This is similar to asking „Can you give an example of a  time when you had to cope with a difficult situation?‟ or „Give an example of a time when  you had to cope under pressure‟. However, „crisis‟ is a much stronger, more emotive  word. You may find it easier to give an example if you think back through your work  experience, study, extracurricular activities and travel and come up with a time when you  had to cope with an unexpected problem.

What motivates you? 

You are particularly likely to be asked about your motivation in a strengths-based  interview, which focuses on what you enjoy doing and what you do well. Your answer  should draw on an example from your extracurricular activities, work experience or  studies that suggests you would be strongly motivated by the job you are applying for. 

Give an example of your lateral thinking. 

Lateral thinking is the ability to use your imagination to look at a problem in a fresh way  and come up with a new solution. Companies prize employees with lateral thinking skills  because without them, they can‟t innovate and create new products. Think about times  when you‟ve been faced with real-life problems and have somehow managed to  overcome them. Chances are your solution involved an original, creative approach, and  that‟s what employers want to find out about. 

Give an example of a time when you showed initiative. 

If an interviewer asks you to describe a situation in which you showed initiative, avoid  giving an example of an idea you had but never put into action. It‟s much better to talk  about a time when you not only came up with a solution to a problem but also acted on  it. Then you can explain the effect your decision had when you put it into practice. 

What do/did you like most and least about your present/most recent job? 

Concentrate your answer on areas that are relevant to the position and be specific. Don’t  say, “I liked the atmosphere.” Instead, try saying “I enjoyed the camaraderie of being  part of a team.” When discussing least-liked aspects of your present or previous job, try  to mention an area of responsibility that’s far removed from the functions of the job  you’re seeking. But be sure your answer indicates that you either performed the  assignment well or that you learned something useful. This shows that you stick with  tasks, even ones that don’t particularly interest you. 

Aren’t you overqualified for this position? 

Hardly anyone expects you to say “yes” to this question in today’s job market. If you do,  the interviewer may think you’ll grow dissatisfied and leave the company quickly. Instead  focus on the experience and skill set you’ll bring to the position and the value they’ll  receive by hiring you. 

What sets you apart from other applicants? 

The interviewer who asks you this is really probing your readiness for the job, your ability  to handle it, your willingness to work hard and your fitness for the job. Show your  readiness by describing how your experience, career progression, qualities and  achievements make you an asset. Keep it professional, and focus on the value you’ll  bring to the position. Highlight your ability by discussing your specific skills and  accomplishments, but don’t forget to show your interest in the job itself.

Do you have any questions? Can you think of anything else you’d like to add? 

Don’t say “no,” or that everything has been thoroughly discussed. If you think the interviewer has any doubts, now’s the time to restate why you’re the most logical candidate for the opening. Show your interest in the company by preparing some key questions in advance. Asking about corporate culture or what the interviewer likes the best about the company will give you insight and let the interviewers know that you’re interviewing them as well.


If you need help with perfecting your interview skills, check out our Interview Preparation session for overcoming your obstacles. Contact us for a customized approach to your needs.

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