Question 20: Would your current boss describe you as the type of person who goes that extra mile?
When interviewing with companies, you will often be asked questions that seem straightforward to answer. However more often than not – a ‘yes’ ‘no’ answer is not good enough. Always try to back up what you are saying with examples, as this will validate what you are trying to say.
Sample Answer: “Absolutely. In fact, on my annual evaluations, he writes that I am the most dependable and flexible person on his staff. I think this is mostly because of my ability to prioritise.”
Advice: Share an example or experience that demonstrates your dependability or willingness to tackle a tough project. If you describe “long hours of work,” make sure that you prove the hours were productive, and not the result of poor time management.
Question 21: What new skills or ideas do you bring to the job that our internal candidates don’t offer?
Often in an interview, you will be asked to separate yourself from other candidates who may be more qualified or may be less of a risk-factor.
Sample Answer: “Because I’ve worked with the oldest player in this industry, I can help you avoid some of the mistakes we made in our established markets.”
Advice: This question addresses your motivation in adding “true value” to the job. Evaluate the job carefully, considering current limitations or weaknesses in the department and your unique abilities. Your ability here to prove “I offer what you need and then some” could land you the job.
Question 22: Give us an example of a situation where you didn’t meet your goals or objectives.
What they’re looking for with this one is an example of where objectives weren’t met and what you did to rectify the situation.
Better still, provide an example of where things almost went wrong and what you did to prevent it.
Beware: a common trap to fall into is to give one of the following two answers:
Bad: “I can’t think of such a situation.”
This makes you either seem unbelievably perfect (i.e. arrogant) or completely naïve and unable to spot and avoid potential disaster.
Bad: Give an example of a situation that went wrong, but not realise until you’re half way through the story that it doesn’t have a happy ending!
Try to make the examples relevant to the job for which you are applying.
However, it’s generally acceptable to offer non-work related examples, if these are good illustrations of transferable skills required for the job.
Question 23: Give us an example of a situation where you faced conflict or difficult communication problems.
This is not the time to tell the interviewer how much you hate your current boss or colleagues!
It’s also not the point to launch into a tirade about how difficult people in your office are to work with and how many arguments you have.
So what are they looking for? They’re looking for someone who can rise above conflict and diffuse the emotions, finding a win-win solution.
Basically, recruiters want to employ people who will get on well with others, whilst still delivering the company’s objectives.
This type of question is your chance to demonstrate your interpersonal and team-working skills.
The interviewer will be looking for maturity and the ability to be able to keep your calm, whilst others around you are losing theirs. Don’t feel you have to provide an answer that gives you full credit for the solution – it can often be more powerful (if it’s true) to demonstrate how you worked with others to find a fix.
Practise your answer to this question. It can have many guises, but is almost guaranteed to be asked in some form.
Question 24: Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How was it resolved?
Note that if you say no, most interviewers will keep drilling deeper to find a conflict. The key is how you behaviourally reacted to conflict and what you did to resolve it.
For example: “Yes, I have had conflicts in the past. Never major ones, but there have been disagreements that needed to be resolved. I’ve found that when conflict occurs, it helps to fully understand the other person’s perspective, so I take time to listen to their point of view, and then I seek to work out a collaborative solution. For example . . .”
Focus your answer on the behavioural process for resolving the conflict and working collaboratively.
Question 25: If you know your boss is 100% wrong about something, how would you handle this?
An answer that works well is: “It depends on the situation and the personality of the supervisor.” To elaborate, give examples:
My present supervisor does not like to have his authority questioned. He’s fairly new on the job and almost all of the people he supervises have been on the job longer than he has. He’s never bothered to learn the procedures, how things are done or how the computer system works. But if any of us tell him that how he wants something done won’t work, he gets extremely angry. So, I never tell him he’s wrong. Never. Whatever he tells me to do, I smile and say “okay.” Then if I know a way to get it done that will work, I do it that way, give him the results he wants and never tell him I didn’t do it the way he told me to. He got the results and is happy. I saved myself the stress of being yelled at and gave him what he wanted, so I’m happy.
My prior supervisor was more easy-going and if I told her “you know, I think it might work better if I do what you asked in such and such a way,” she say “okay, try it.”
If I were a new hire on a job, I would probably not question a supervisor because I might think I didn’t know enough. Except on the new job I’m going to. The director has admitted that she’s new on the job and there are a lot of things that a secretary does that she doesn’t know how to do, so she will be depending on me to know how to keep the office running.
Question 26: Where do you see yourself in 3 / 5/ 10 years time?
Not a good response.
So what might an employer be looking for with this question?
• Are you serious about the company? Is the company part of your long-term plan, or are they a stepping stone?
• Are you serious about your career?
• Do you know where you want to go?
• How does this job help you get there?
• Are you ambitious? This can be positive or negative.
• How does this job fit within your longer-term plans? Is this job just a stop-gap? If the job is part of your strategy, how likely are you to want to be promoted?
• Do you have any longer-term plans? They may use this to judge how far you would plan ahead in your new role.
This question is a good opportunity to show your commitment to the role and knowledge of the company’s structure and vision.
Beware of seeming to threaten your future manager, if they’re interviewing you. A humorous answer we have often heard to this question is “doing your job”. This may be true and may even get a laugh, but some managers are quite insecure and may not want to hire someone who they fear would undermine them.
Sample Answer: “In five years, I would like to have progressed to the point where I have bottom-line responsibility and the chance to lead an operations unit.”
Advice: Avoid the urge to describe job titles; this makes you seem unbending and unrealistic, since you do not know or control the system of promotion. Describe new experiences or responsibilities you’d like to add in the future that build on the current job you are applying for.
Question 27: How do you plan to achieve those goals?
As a follow-up to the above question the interviewer will often ask how you plan on achieving those goals. A good answer to this question will speak specifically about what you are going to accomplish and how you are going to accomplish it. Examples of good responses include:
I plan on gaining additional skills by taking related classes and continuing my involvement with a variety of professional associations.
I noticed that XYZ Company (the company you are interviewing with) provides in-house training for employees and I would certainly be interested in taking classes that would be relevant.
I will continue my professional development my participating in conferences, attending seminars, and continuing my education.
Question 28: What drives you to achieve your objectives?
An interviewer is looking to fulfil certain competencies, in this case motivation and commitment. “You might say ‘I like doing a job well and perform best when stretched’,” says Tim Forster, the head of UK experienced recruitment at Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
Question 29: What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
You can begin your answer with this question: Tell me, Mr./Ms. Interviewer, what is a typical career path at OPL for someone with my skills and experience?
(Based on the answer you can then respond to the original question using the phrases from the answer to frame your response).
What is important to you? Two things are very important to me. One is my professionalism at work; the second is my family life.
Question 30: What would your current manager say are your strengths?
We often find it hard to tell people what we’re good at.
Selling yourself, without appearing arrogant, is one of the most common interview worries. Many people simply don’t sell themselves, for fear of seeming big-headed.
Do you know what your strengths are? You’d be surprised how few do.
One place to start is your recent performance appraisals. What did they highlight as your strengths? Can you supply evidence (provide examples)? Can you relate the strengths to the position you’re being interviewed for?
Still stuck for answers to this question?
• You could try asking someone. Ask a trusted friend or work colleague. Make sure they give you examples of where you have demonstrated the strengths, so you can quickly use these, if asked.
• It’s also worth revisiting the job information, to look for which competencies they are looking for. You will make a more favourable impression if you can cover some of these in your answer.
Question 31: What would your current manager say are your weaknesses?
This is not the place to admit your biggest flaws.
It’s also not the time to pretend you don’t have any development areas – it would make you look either conceited or as though you can’t evaluate your own performance.
So how should you handle this type of question?
The main thing is to admit that you have areas to develop, whilst showing that you are already working on them and giving examples of the progress you have made.
If possible, choose a development area that doesn’t affect your ability to do the job for which you are being interviewed.
It’s usually a good idea to make the “weakness” something small. Avoid topics such as “organisational skills” or “time management”! Be ready to turn it into a positive.
What happens if one of your development areas is one of the key strengths required for the role?
Make sure you can demonstrate why it won’t be a problem.
Question 32: Are you overqualified for this job?
Overqualified? Some would say that I’m not overqualified but fully qualified. With due respect, could you explain the problem with someone doing the job better than expected?
I’m flattered that you think I’m headhunter bait and will leap to another job when an offer appears. Not really. This job is so attractive to me that I’m willing to sign a contract committing to stay for a minimum of 12 months. There’s no obligation on your part. How else can I convince you that I’m the best person for this position?
As you note, I’ve worked at a higher level but this position is exactly what I’m looking for. You offer opportunity to achieve the magic word: balance. I’m scouting for something challenging but a little less intense so I can spend more time with my family.
Salary is not my top priority. Not that I have a trust fund but I will work for less money, will take direction from managers of any age, will continue to stay current on technology and will not leave you in the lurch if Hollywood calls to make me a star. And I don’t insist that it’s my way or the highway.
Question 33: Why should we give you this job?
This is the time to give them your USP – Unique Selling Proposition – or what makes you different from all the other applicants.
It’s really worth working out and practising your answer to this before the interview.
Some businesses use the phrase “30 second elevator speech”.
Imagine you have just bumped into the CEO of the company you want to work for, getting into a lift. He or she asks you “Why should we give you the job?”. You have the time it takes for the lift to reach its destination (about 30 seconds) to give a compelling answer.
The key is to highlight your strengths and the benefits you can bring to the company. Make sure you avoid sounding desperate!
As preparation, you should refer back to the job advert and also listen carefully during the interview, to make sure your answer meets the needs of the “buyer” (the interviewer).
You are giving your answer from the perspective of the buyer’s needs, rather than your own.
Finish your answer with: “I have the qualifications you need Question 34: We’re considering two other candidates for this position. Why should we hire you rather than someone else? Do not be distracted by the mention of two other candidates, you don’t know anything about them and they could be fictitious. Focus on what strengths you bring to the table. These should be consistent with the four things most employers are looking for in candidates during the job interview: competence, professionalism, enthusiasm, and likability. Remember, they are looking for chemistry between you and them. Be prepared to summarize in 60 seconds why you are the best candidate for the job. Also, let the employer know you want the job and you will enjoy working with them. A lack of interest in the job may indicate a lack of enthusiasm for the job and them.
Question 34: We’re considering two other candidates for this position. Why should we hire you rather than someone else?
Do not be distracted by the mention of two other candidates, you don’t know anything about them and they could be fictitious. Focus on what strengths you bring to the table. These should be consistent with the four things most employers are looking for in candidates during the job interview: competence, professionalism, enthusiasm, and likability. Remember, they are looking for chemistry between you and them. Be prepared to summarize in 60 seconds why you are the best candidate for the job. Also, let the employer know you want the job and you will enjoy working with them. A lack of interest in the job may indicate a lack of enthusiasm for the job and them.