No two job interviews are conducted in the same manner, therefore the candidate’s task of preparing for the all-important interview is often very difficult. Getting ready for an upcoming job interview – prepping your portfolio and wardrobe, researching the company in advance, knowing what you expect to earn and the ways you can contribute to the company, are all equally necessary parts to the interviewing process mix. But what if I told you there were common questions nearly all hiring managers are prone to ask during the first stage of the interviewing process. That’s good news any interviewer can use – especially if you use this knowledge to increase your odds of being offered employment.
In this article, we will discuss some of the more common preliminary interview (your first interview in a series of possibly three or more) questions, and possible answers that a hiring manager may find more desirable. Below are a few of the common questions. This information is perfect for the candidate who has not been on a job interview in a number of years, or is a first-time interviewee.
1. Why are you looking for a new job?
As basic as this question may be, you had better have a solid answer prepared before you set foot in the interviewer’s door. Imagine a hiring manager’s surprise to hear a job seeker bobble the answer to a question as preliminary as this. While there are many reasons or circumstances surrounding a candidate’s job search, answering with a brief, honest answer is best. Describe your job loss or career change-of-heart in the most proactive or positive way possible, and remember to sound as though you are seeking new employment at your own insistence. Never persecute your former boss, company or co-workers in your explanation.
Here are some good explanations that can be used for a variety of circumstances:
- “My company is restructuring. I had the option to take another job internally, but I decided to look elsewhere.”
- “In an effort to avoid my job skills becoming stagnant in my current assignment, I have decided to seek out a new career that will allow my professional interests to grow.”
- “My industry (or company) has undergone a under a major restructuring. I was caught with 1900 others workers.”
- “I want to move my career in a new direction (be sure to state the new direction).”
- “My career objectives did not match my company’s objectives. I want to seek out an organization with similar strategic interests as mine.”
2. What kind of position are you looking for?
Perhaps nothing can hurt a candidate more than showing a hiring manager you don’t have a clear work objective. Know specifically what you want from your new career, and avoid generalities such as “I want an exciting job” or “An opportunity that will allow my career to grow.” Be prepared to state several positions that are of interest to you, such as inside sales, Internet marketing, graphic design/advertising and reinforce a number of ways you can be an asset to the company. Talk persuasively about your skills and how they fit into the hiring company’s needs (Remember: You should have already researched the company, their structure and clientele to know exactly how your skills or expertise will benefit their needs).
Here are some good answers:
- “I am a ‘number’ person, and more specifically my area of expertise is within the financial industry, so I am confident I would be a great match for any openings in your accounts payable/receivable department, accounting or inside sales.”
- “I have been a dedicated…
3. Why do you want to work for this company?
This is where your research into the business practices of the company will really pay off. Show off what you know about the organization and remember to place yourself and your job skills into the job opening or company’s strategic planning. Never use reasons such as, “Well, it seems like a fun place to work” or “One of my friends works here and really likes it” and especially “I hear you pay really well.” While those reasons may be true, it will be better if you keep your reasons on the professional level that show a sense of pride in your work or career.
4. Tell me a little about yourself.
Have dialogue prepared specific to your interests; both at work and off the job, work ethic, what motivates you , etc. Realize that this question is often asked to engage the candidate in small talk at the beginning of the interview. Keep your conversation brief and know when to end the conversation and allow the interviewing process to begin.
5. What type of job assignments did you perform in your last job?
Be specific, honest and accurate, even if the types of duties you preformed in your last job are not exactly the same duties you anticipate you will do in the job you are interviewing for. If you volunteered your time on specific projects, worked on a committee, or held an office position within any of your past jobs, now is a good time to offer that information.
6. What do you consider your strongest qualities/weaknesses to be?
Your interviewer will look for qualities that demonstrate you take responsibility for your work ethic, actions, and experiences learned (or failures) on the job, problem-solving ability, and values.
7. What do you consider to be your greatest career achievements?
Try to name at least three. Be sure to not blame management for past successes or failures. Your achievements will be used as a quick guide into what you want out of your career. Be sure to mention accomplishments you are proud of (such as employee recognition or rewards).
8. Where do you see yourself eighteen months from now?
Give answers that reflect your confidence and drive to reach a level of work that will be rewarded for your success. State realistic expectations and predict a real plan of where you want to go within the organization. Never sound overly confident, fearful or confused.
9. What does an “open door” policy mean to you?
Be aware that “open door policy” means one thing to managers and another to employees. As an employee, show your interest in being able to schedule frequent meetings with your boss, or if you are interviewing for a managerial position, show your openness and availability in adopting such a policy for those you will supervise.
10. When you start a new job, how do you establish good relationships with your new co-workers and supervisors?
A good candidate will view this as an extremely important part of their new job and tackle the response with enthusiasm. Realize that productivity depends on good relationships with staff around you so don’t take your answer to this question lightly. Cite examples of how you have networked the new staff in past jobs.
At the close of your interview, the interviewer will give you an opportunity to ask questions of your own. It isn’t a bad idea to bring a notepad with you during your interview to jot down key points. Even if you have already asked every question on your list, you still look prepared. If you simply cannot come up with any questions, it is okay to respond, “I’d like to come up with a few ideas and meet with you again.”
Remember, not every job opening is right for every candidate. And don’t be discouraged if you are not offered the job at the close of your first interview – the purpose of the first interview is to lead the candidate into the second interview. Don’t get discouraged during your job search and keep a positive attitude!