General interview questions and how to answer

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General Techniques

  1. STAR Method
    • SITUATION: Give the interviewer context by describing the situation.
    • TASK: What did you need to do?
    • ACTION: What were your specific actions?
    • RESULT: What was the end result? What did you learn? How did it affect others?
  2. Elevator Pitch
  3. Problem-Solution-Benefit1
    • Answer should contain: A problem you faced, Your solution, The benefit to your employer.
    • Sample
      • (Problem) I had to work with another programmer who complained a lot about our projects.
      • (Solution) I took the time to learn about his personal life. It turned out he was going through a tough divorce. Once I got to know him, he was actually a great coworker.
      • (Benefit to employer) We worked so well together after that we were the most efficient programming pair in the company.
  4. CAR Method
    • Challenge
    • Actions
    • Result

General Tips

  1. Stay honest.
  2. Use research to guide your answer.
  3. Convey healthy enthusiasm.
  4. Be prepared.
  5. Draw from the job description.
  6. Prepare specific examples.
  7. Take your time answering.

How to Prepare for the Interview

  1. Research the company and your interviewers.
  2. Practice your answers to common interview questions.
  3. Study the job description and note required skills, qualities, and experience.
  4. Answer the questions using the STAR Method.
  5. Recruit a friend to practice answering questions.
  6. Be prepared with examples of your work.
  7. Plan your interview attire the night before.
  8. Prepare smart questions for your interviewers.
  9. Bring copies of your resume, a notebook, and pen.
  10. Tie your answers back to your skills and accomplishments.

Questions

General Sources2 3 1 4

General, Informational

  1. Tell me about yourself.
    • Approach A 3
      • Start by describing your background with a summary of your most impressive responsibilities
        • “I’ve been a hostess at XYZ Restaurant for just over two years where I greet and seat customers, assess wait times, fulfill to-go orders and answer the phones. I love the lively and busy environment—we often have Friday and Saturday wait times of one hour or more…”
      • Next, briefly summarize your previous experience with key achievements
        • *”…Before working at XYZ Restaurant, I worked in retail as a floor associate for five years. Working in retail developed the customer service skills that make me a great hostess, offering a top-tier dining experience from the moment customers walk in the door. It also equipped me with the ability to work quickly under pressure…"
      • Lastly, express how you found the new job and why it’s a good fit for you and your goals
        • "…I’ve enjoyed and grown in my current role, but wish to expand and utilize my customer service expertise in an elite restaurant environment. I am interested in your restaurant because of its reputation for delivering first in class service to your patrons in a lively, dynamic environment.”
    • Approach B
      • FORD Method
        • Family
        • Occupation
        • Recreation
        • Dream
  2. Why do you want to work here? 5 6
    • Don’t answer something that’s selfish. Think of it as “Why would this company want to hire me?”
    • Ask yourself:
    • How can you help the company succeed?
      • Read up on what’s happening with the company and its industry. Has it recently changed its product or service offerings? What competitive pressures is it facing? Consider this landscape and think, “What knowledge and experience do I have that would be especially useful to this employer right now?”
    • What past career successes could you potentially repeat at this company?
      • In previous jobs, how did you meet or exceed your employers’ expectations? What problems did you play a major role in solving? What ideas did you introduce that helped the company save money or otherwise boost its bottom line? What lessons have you learned that you could apply in the future to create value for the potential employer?
    • How will you complement the company’s culture?
      • A candidate’s ability to fit within the organizational culture is an important hiring factor for many employers. So, do your homework on the company’s culture and identify what you find most appealing about it. For instance, if the firm encourages entrepreneurial thinking and that’s important to you, include that in your response.
    • Examples
      • “I see this opportunity as a way to contribute to an exciting/forward-thinking/fast-moving company/industry, and I feel I can do so by/with my … ”
      • “I feel my skills are particularly well-suited to this position because … ”
      • “I believe I have the type of knowledge to succeed in this role and at the company because … ”
      • “I’m excited about this job opportunity, as it would allow me to … ”
  3. What’s your most impressive win in your career this far?
    • Tells of what does this person think is successful. Is it really impressive?7
  4. Why should we hire you?
    • EXPERIENCE Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results.
    • WORK CULTURE Highlight that you’ll fit in and be a great addition to the team.
    • IMPACT Describe how hiring you will make their life easier and help them achieve more.
    • CAPABILITY Show enthusiasm for performing required duties, not just capability.
    • Sample: Oh wow, where do I begin! I have been an avid traveler since as young as I can remember. When I reached adulthood and started booking flights for myself, your airline would be my top choice. Alpha Airlines has always made long-distance travel a pleasure, and I would be honored to say that I work for you. On top of this, I believe that my patience and multitasking skills are second to none, and these would go a long way in helping me the best flight attendant possible.
    • What not to answer: Money, perks, skills, desperation, general interest
  5. What can you bring to the company?
  6. Can you explain why your background and experience would be a good fit for this job?
    • Sample: I certainly can! Well, from what I’ve read on your company’s roadmap plans posted online, it sounds like you need a project manager who is capable of handling other departmental roles, as well. I couldn’t find a way to succinctly describe it on my resume, but during my internship at BioGenCo, I spent a month each on five different teams to get a handle on how the company functions as a whole. Now, with my supervisory experience where I’ve raised output by 32%, I believe I am well equipped to be the best project manager, while also being knowledgeable of the roles of other departments.
  7. Why are you the best person for this job?
  8. Why did you leave your past job?
    • What to answer & what not to answer8
      • Examples of what to answer
        • Want to experience new work environment
        • Offered something new
        • Left for opportunity to advance career
        • Offered an increase
        • Left for something aligned with passion
        • Brought in someone & felt it was time to leave
        • No longer find work fulfilling
        • Feel need for change
        • Reevaluated career goals
        • Want new responsibilities
      • Do not
        • Badmouth
        • Say you had a fight with someone & blame them
        • Money money
        • Sound impulsive and lost in career
        • Be vague
  9. What are your greatest strengths?
    • Examples
      • Action-oriented/entrepreneurial, Attentive/detail-oriented, Collaborative, Committed/dedicated, Creative, Determined, Disciplined/focused, Empathetic, Enthusiastic/passionate/driven, Flexible/versatile, Honest, Innovative, Patient, Respectful9
      • Adaptable, Culture add, Collaborator, Leader, Growth mindset, Time management, Communication, Problem solver, Creative thinker, Results driven
  10. What are your greatest weaknesses?
    • Examples9
      • Disorganized, Self-critical/sensitive, Perfectionism, Shy/Not adept at public speaking, Competitive, Limited experience in a nonessential skill (especially if obvious on your resume), Not skilled at delegating tasks, Take on too much responsibility, Not detail-oriented/too detail-oriented, Not comfortable taking risks, Too focused/lack of focus
  11. What is your greatest achievement?
  12. What is your greatest professional achievement?
  13. What should I know that’s not in your resume?
  14. What is your personal mission statement?
  15. How did you find the the past work cultures you worked with?
  16. What makes you unique?
  17. What type of work environment do you prefer?
  18. What’s your work style?
  19. What’s your management style?
  20. How would your boss and coworkers describe you?
  21. What projects do you have in mind?
  22. How do you manage your tasks?
  23. What motivates you?
  24. Do you consider yourself successful?
  25. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  26. How do you give feedback?
  27. How do you problem solve
  28. What are the most important to you in a job?

Behavioral

Time management

  1. Tell me about a goal you set and reached and how you achieved it.
  2. Tell me about the last time your workday ended before you were able to get everything done.
  3. Give me an example of a time you had to prioritize certain tasks or projects over others.
  4. Give me an example of a time when you had to handle multiple responsibilities at once. How did you prioritize your time?
  5. Tell me about the last time you handle a long-term project. How did you keep the project on track?

Adaptability

  1. Can you share about a time you had to be flexible or adaptable?
  2. Tell me about a time when you had to be creative to solve a problem.
  3. Tell me about a time you had to learn quickly.
  4. Tell me about a time you made a difficult decision.
  5. Tell me about how you work under pressure.

Overcoming challenges

  1. Tell me about a time when you handled a challenging situation.
  2. Give me an example of a time you made a decision that was unpopular and explain how you handled implementing it.
  3. Tell me about a goal you failed to achieve.

Motivation and values

  1. Give me an example of how you set goals.
  2. Can you give me an example of a time when you felt dissatisfied with your work?
  3. Tell me about a body of work you felt was most impactful for you or your company.
  4. How do you stay motivated when a job requires you to perform repetitive tasks?

Communication

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to say “no.”
  2. Talk about a time when you’ve had to manage up.
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to explain a complex topic to people with less subject knowledge. How did you make sure everyone could understand you?
  4. Tell me about a time you had to build rapport with a coworker or client whose personality was different than yours?

Teamwork

  1. Tell me about a time when you collaborated with others who were different than you.
  2. Tell me about the best presentation you’ve given. Why was it good?
  3. Tell me about a time when you felt like a good leader.
  4. Can you give me an example of how you’ve contributed to the culture of previous teams, companies or groups?
  5. Share an example of how you were able to motivate a coworker, your peers or your team.

Conflict resolution

  1. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a supervisor.
  2. Tell me about a time you had to stand up for your beliefs.
  3. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your manager’s leadership style or team culture.
  4. Tell me about a time when you were in conflict with a peer and how the situation was resolved.
  5. Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation with a coworker differently.

Situational

  1. Tell me about a challenge/ conflict you experienced in work and how you dealt with it.
  2. Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.
  3. What’s a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work?
  4. Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for work.
  5. Tell me about a time you failed.
  6. Tell me about a time you had to choose something else over doing a good job.
  7. Describe a situation where you weren’t satisfied with your job. What could have made it better?
  8. Tell me about a time you had to collaborate with a coworker who was tough to please.
  9. Tell me about a time you had to work with an important customer or a difficult manager.
  10. Describe a situation where you had to make a good impression on a customer. How did you do it?
  11. Tell me about a time your workload was very heavy.
  12. Tell me about a long-running project you handled. How did you manage your time to meet your deadlines?
  13. Describe a time when you had too many to do items on your list. How did you solve the problem?
  14. Tell me about a time you made a great presentation.
  15. Tell me about a time you used written communication skills.
  16. Describe a situation where you needed information from a coworker who was slow to respond. What did you do?
  17. Tell me about a time you had to persuade someone to see your side of things.
  18. Tell me about a situation when your job went through big changes. How did you adjust?
  19. Tell me about your proudest professional accomplishment.

Others

  1. Do you have any questions for us?
    • Always answer yes.10
    • See (for tech): 105 Questions to Ask a Company During Your Tech Interview | by Fatos Morina | Better Programming
    • Generally
      • If you are interviewing with the hiring manager, ask questions about the job, the desired qualities and the challenges.
      • If you are interviewing with the human resources manager, ask about the company and the department.
      • If you are interviewing with management, ask about the industry and future projections. This is your chance to demonstrate your industry knowledge.
    • Examples11
      • Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?
      • What are the skills and experience you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
      • What are the most immediate problems that would need to be addressed?
      • What does a typical day look like?
      • Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six years?
      • Is this a new role that has been created?
      • Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development?
      • How will I be trained?
      • What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, 90, days on the job?
      • Where have previous successful employees in this position progressed to?

Others


  1. 20 Situational Interview Questions and Answers to Nail Your Interview ↩︎

  2. 50 Common Interview Questions and Answers | The Muse ↩︎

  3. 125 Common Interview Questions and Answers (With Tips) | Indeed.com ↩︎

  4. 35 Behavioral Interview Questions to Prepare For (with Example Answers) | Indeed.com ↩︎

  5. How to Answer, ‘Why Do You Want to Work Here?’ | Robert Half ↩︎

  6. 10+ Best Answers for Why Do You Want to Work Here? ↩︎

  7. #4: How To Get A Job In Marketing - Marketing School - Digital Marketing and Online Marketing Tips | Podcast on Spotify ↩︎

  8. Best Answers to “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job” - 20 Good Reasons for Leaving | Career Sidekick ↩︎

  9. 39 Strengths and Weaknesses to Discuss in a Job Interview | Indeed.com ↩︎

  10. Do You Have Any Questions? | Monster.com ↩︎

  11. Common Job Interview Questions & Answers (Top of 2021) ↩︎

  12. 4 Ways to Handle Interview Questions You Don’t Know How to… | The Muse ↩︎



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