Frequently Asked Interview Questions
BEHAVIORAL BASED INTERVIEWING
Behavioral based interviewers believe that past behavior is an accurate predictor of future behavior. Recruiters concentrate many of their questions on situations that candidates have encountered in the past. What they want to hear is an illustration of your behavior.
To maximize the effectiveness of your answers, try using the STAR system.
- S = Describe a situation.
- T = Talk about the task.
- A = Explain the action you took.
- R = Talk about the positive results, quantifying if possible.
These questions are commonly asked. Take time to think about how you might answer them. Make notes or bullet points to help you refine your responses.
* Indicates a behavioral question
Tell me about yourself. | How would you describe yourself? | How would others describe you?
Do not get rattled by this question, and do not go into your life story. These questions are meant to probe not only your ability to do the job but also your preparation for the interview. Your preparation (or lack of it) will be immediately showcased. Have you thought about and are you able to give illustrations of your skills, knowledge bases and traits that match the position? Think of the qualities that employers look for: Do you have an example of how you demonstrated some of these qualities? If you do, then state that. If that doesn’t work for you, then qualify the question. Ask “What area of my background would be most relevant to you?” and take it from there.
Why should I hire you?
This is where you should really sell yourself. Highlight areas from your background that relate to the company’s needs. Recap the interviewer’s description of the job, matching it with your skills.
What are your skills or strengths?
Share a short list of 3-5 transferable skills (not personality traits) that are critical to performing this position well. A good way to assess which skills are most important is to study the job description and the ad. Usually the responsibilities are listed in order of importance and require specific skills to perform them well. Then design at least one story in STAR format (situation, action, result) that will illustrate this strength. Isolate high points in your background. Always back your answers with specific examples. You do have at least three strengths. Your biggest mistake here is to sell yourself short!
How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you?
Of course, be honest. Think about any compliments you have gotten on projects or activities. Don’t just tell characteristics but include examples of why friends or professors would describe you that way.
In what areas do you need to improve? | What do you consider your biggest weakness?
Everyone has weaknesses, but a careless answer can virtually end your consideration as a candidate, so prepare this answer thoughtfully before you arrive.
The interviewer is trying to find out:
- Are you aware of your weaknesses?
- Have you thought about how you might improve?
- Are your weak points going to jeopardize how you perform?
There are three ways to approach this question. If there is a minor part of the job about which you lack knowledge but will gain it quickly, use that. Be careful using this one. Put the weakness in the past. You had it once, but now you are over it. Design the answer so that your weakness is ultimately a positive. This one is your best move.
What accomplishment has given you the greatest satisfaction? *
What is the toughest challenge you have faced? * Why?
In your story, include the skills, traits and knowledge that aided in this achievement. Use the STAR system and be certain to end with positive results. Make sure you are proud of something you accomplished rather than being proud of someone or something else of which you had no contribution.
As we make our decision about your fit for this position, what do you want us to remember about you?
These are typical wrap-up questions at the end of an interview. Always be ready to give a summary of your qualifications in 2-3 sentences. This could be your skills, personal traits, work ethic, or passion for the career. Make the answer short and spirited.
Can you work under pressure? *
Don’t just give a yes or no answer; elaborate. Explain why. Give an example of a time when you felt that you were working under pressure. Talk about how you successfully dealt with the pressure.
Tell me about the position that has given you the most satisfaction. *
Talk about the most career-related position you can. If you really loved organizing the last homecoming as a student leader, talk about that experience and the skills you used, relating it to your current field. If you loved planting flowers for your grandmother and you’re seeking an accounting position, the employer may wonder why you’re not pursuing a career as a green thumb.
Describe what you think would be an ideal relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate.
What qualities does a successful manager possess?
To assign you to an appropriate manager or section of the company for a second interview, the interviewer needs to know how you want to be supervised. They also want to know what management styles displease you.
This is a time for being able to succinctly describe the qualities and attitudes that you would desire in a supervisor. This is not a time for character assassination. Employers are looking for someone who, if there is a problem, will handle the situation maturely.
Answer thinking of what you envision as being the relationship between supervisor/supervisee. Don’t just make it up. Think about why you would want a supervisor to be supportive or hands-off or a mentor or give autonomy, etc. Be realistic in thinking about whether your potential supervisor is asking the question and what his or her style seems to be now. This is a good question to ask of them too.
Tell me about a time… *
- When you had a major problem and explain how you dealt with it.
- A good follow up question to this might be How would you handle the same situation differently now?
- When you made a poor decision and how you corrected it.
- When you had to adapt to a difficult work situation.
- When you worked with someone you disliked and how you handled the situation.
Describe these events as non-judgmentally as possible. Explain difficult situations using facts (not emotions) and be as succinct as possible. Discuss the event in a professional manner and even though the result may not have been ideal, remember to also share what you learned. Possible examples: Differences in work habits, work values, or ethical attitudes.
In what type of work environment are you most comfortable?
How do you work under pressure? * Why have you left your positions?
Will you be willing to relocate? Do you have a geographical preference or limitation? How much are you willing to travel?
Tell the truth. State amount of travel in terms of annual percentage. If you are willing to relocate, know what locations the company presently has and refer to them. You may need to ask questions about what type, how much, and to where you would be relocating or traveling. Be as flexible as you can. Remember, though, if you aren’t willing to do this, don’t accept the position if offered. A bad “fit” is the number one reason for leaving a position.
What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
Is it financial reward, work environment, the supervisor, helping others, variety, challenge, etc.?
Employers want to assess this area because they know what factors they can and cannot provide.
How do you determine and evaluate success? Do you have standards? What are they? What does quality mean to you? How will you know whether you are successful? How much do you depend on other people’s feedback?
What are your salary expectations?
Until you are offered a position, this question should not be answered. Right now, you are searching for a position and a company that are a good match. If you share your ideas, and your expectations are significantly different than theirs (whether low or high), you may no longer be a candidate. If you both conclude that this could be an excellent situation, then you must be ready to discuss this subject. Before your first interview, conduct research on salaries in the industry, in this type of position, and in the geographical area. What is fair for you in terms of a total package? What do you need vs. what might you desire? Remember to assess benefits as well as the salary.
What two or three things are most important to you in your work?
Be honest here, too. But also, be professional and career oriented. Talk in terms of values such as: helping others, interacting with many different people, making tough decisions, having a variety of responsibilities, having the opportunity for advancement, being recognized for your contributions, making a difference in peoples’ lives, etc. Stay away from those more egocentric reasons such as pays well, great vacation and benefits package, fun social atmosphere, easy commute, cool uniform.
CAREER PLANS AND GOALS
- Why did you choose this particular career field?
- What are your long and short-range goals and objectives?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
These questions are designed to find out 1) if you set goals, 2) if your goals are related to your profession or industry, and 3) if you have goals of pursuing excellence. People want to hire someone who is self-motivated, who wants to improve, and who has taken the time to establish a vision beyond today. An exact career goal is not necessary nor is a plan that stretches far into the future.
SPECIFIC TO ORGANIZATION
Why are you seeking a position with our company?
Tell me what you know about our organization.
This is a test! Do you want to work here enough to have done your homework? It is assumed that, as a college student, you can learn and to research. Now this company wants to know if you were motivated enough to have utilized these skills in learning about them. Know the company’s mission, its competencies, and goals so that you can relate honestly to the issues that they believe are important. This question is one of the most important ones that interviewers ask. Interviewers want to know if you care about this company and what it does.