Interview questions and answers
You've got the interview, now get the job
Getting in front of a potential employer is your opportunity to find out more about the role and also demonstrate why you are the right candidate. Below is our interview guide which shows some of the questions that employers are likely to ask, along with some sample answers.
Our example interview questions and answers:
- Why do you want to work here?
- How do you feel about your progress to date?
- What are your biggest accomplishments?
- Tell me about yourself
- How well do you feel other people rate your job performance?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What are you looking for in your next job?
- What kind of salary are you worth?
- Any questions?
To answer this question you must have researched the company. Reply with the company's attributes as you see them. Cap your answer with reference to your belief that the company can provide you with a stable and happy work environment – and that such an atmosphere would encourage your best work.
This question is not geared solely to rate your progress; it also rates your self-esteem. Be positive, yet do not give the impression you have already done your best work. Make the interviewer believe you see each day as an opportunity to learn and contribute, and that you see the environment at this company as conducive to your best efforts.
Keep your answers job-related. You might begin your reply with: "Although I feel my biggest achievements are still ahead of me, I am proud of my involvement with… I made a contribution as part of that team and learned a lot in the process."
This is not an invitation to ramble on. If the context isn't clear, you need to know more about the question before giving an answer. Whichever direction your answer ultimately takes be sure that it has some relevance to your professional endeavours. You should also refer to one or more of your key personal qualities, such as honesty, integrity, being a team player, or determination. For example, if you choose ‘team player', you can tell a story about yourself outside work – perhaps as a member of a sports team – that also speaks volumes about you at work.
This is one very sound reason to ask for written evaluations of your work before leaving a company. You should also ask for a letter of recommendation whenever you leave a job. If you don't have written evaluations, try to quote verbal appraisals, such as "My boss said only a month ago that I was the most valuable engineer in the work group, because…"
Isolate high points from your background and build in a couple of your key personal qualities, such as pride in your work, reliability and the ability to stick with a difficult task, yet change course rapidly when required.
If there is a minor part of the job at hand where you lack knowledge – but knowledge you will obviously pick up quickly – use that. For instance: "I haven't worked with this type of spreadsheet before but, given my experience with six other types, I should be able to pick it up in a few days." Another option is to design the answer so your weakness is ultimately a positive characteristic. For example: "I always give each project my best shot, so if I sometimes feel others aren't pulling their weight, I find it a little frustrating. I try to overcome it with a positive attitude that I hope will catch on." Also consider the technique of describing a problem in the past and showing how you overcame it.
You want a company where your talents and experience will allow you to contribute to their business. Avoid saying what you want the company to give you; you must say what you want in terms of what you can give to your employer. The key word is ‘contribution'.
This question is asking you to name a desired figure but the twist is that it also asks you to justify that figure. It requires that you demonstrate careful analysis of your worth, industry norms, and job requirements. You are recommended to try for a higher figure rather than a lower one. If their immediate response is to say that's too much, accept it as no more than a negotiating gambit, and come back with your own calm rebuttal: "What did you have in mind?" Doing your research beforehand into how much similar roles are paying will help you answer this question more confidently.
Almost always, this is a sign the interview is drawing to a close, and that you have one more chance to make an impression. Create questions from any of the following:
- Find out why the job is open, who had it last and what happened to him or her?
- How many people have held this position in the last couple of years?
- To whom would you report? Will you get the opportunity to meet that person?
- Where is the job located? What are the travel requirements, if any?
- What type of training is required and how long is it?
- What would your first assignment be?
- What are the realistic chances for growth in the job?
- Where are the opportunities for greatest growth within the company?
- What are the skills and attributes most needed to get ahead in the company?
- Who will be the company's main competitor over the next few years?
- How does the interviewer feel the company stacks up against them?
- What has been the growth pattern of the company in the last five years?
- Is it profitable? How profitable?
- If there is a written job description, can you see it?
- How regularly do performance evaluations occur? What model do they follow?
Always bear in mind that every interviewer is trying to evaluate you on three criteria:
1. Are you able to do the job?
2. Are you willing to put in the effort to make the job a success?
3. Are you manageable?
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