3 minute read

Simple Truths About Routine Interview Questions

Tips From The Pros

Not all interviewers are going to come out and directly ask “What is your top strength?” Many will phrase the question in a number of different ways: “Tell me about yourself.” “Why should we hire you?” “What would an old boss say about you?” “How would you add value to this department?” As you prepare answers to a list of standard interview questions, it is important to remember that a number of interview questions are designed to assess what differentiates you from other candidates—in other words, what are your strengths. With this in mind, as you prepare for an interview, you should identify your top two or three strengths as they relate to the position, and plan to get these specific points across to the interviewer during the interview. That way, when you are asked, “What makes you different from our other three candidates?” 20 minutes into the interview, you can take the opportunity to address a key strength that hasn't been highlighted yet.

Laurie Berenson, CPRW

Sterling Career Concepts, LLC

One of the most common interview questions is “Tell me about yourself.” People often have trouble answering this question because it is so open ended and they don't know where to start. The hiring authority is asking this question to determine your value-added and to decide if you are a good fit for the job. You need to craft a response that is crisp and to the point. Think of your response as if it were a PowerPoint presentation. Don't clutter the slides with too much information…just offer the key points. Here's what you should reference on your “PowerPoint” slide:

  • • Professional identity.
  • • Three core competencies and measurable proof of these competencies.
  • • Quick overview of your professional and educational background.
  • • The reasons why you are interested in the particular job opportunity or company.

Barbara Safani, M.A., NCRW, CERW, CPRW, CCM

Career Solvers

Many people feel uncomfortable bragging about themselves. The praise that you heap upon yourself may seem hollow or insincere. How do you convince the employer that you are indeed conscientious, creative, and highly organized? Doesn't everyone say they are self-motivated, dedicated, and hardworking? Why should the employer believe you? During the job interview, as you are asked about your work experience, introduce your accomplishments by attaching them to a desired trait (Trait plus Achievement). For example, let's say you want to show the employer that you are highly organized. When you hear a question where your answer will require organizational skills, fashion your answer to state the Trait plus Achievement. You might say, “I am highly organized and this has enabled me to revise the filing system, making the files more accessible.” The achievement you have tied to the trait will validate your claim to being well- organized. Some introductory statements may be: “I pride myself on being…” or “My supervisors have found me to be…” or “Colleagues recognize that I am….” Be creative in finding ways to state the traits that will introduce your answers.

Freddie Cheek, MS Ed, CCM, CPRW, CWDP, CARW

Cheek & Associates, LLC

In advance of your interview with a particular company, make sure you do your research. One of the first questions you will be asked is, “What do you know about us?” Your ignorance here will leave the interviewer with an unfavorable impression, and it's very likely your interview will be over quickly. At the minimum, you should know what products or services they provide, how long they've been in business, and their reputation in the industry. In recent years it has gotten easier to find this basic information [because] most organizations have Websites. To score additional points, Google the company name and you might find published articles that mention their initiatives in progress, changes in leadership, or other news-making events. The activities of smaller companies are often featured in the business section of newspapers, and these articles are usually archived. Log onto the local newspaper's Website, click on the relevant tab, and enter the search term for the company. There may be a nominal fee, but it is well worth it to arm yourself with information that proves you did your homework.

Melanie Noonan

Peripheral Pro, LLC

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsSimple Truths About Routine Interview Questions - Understanding The Interviewer's Motives, The 10 Questions You Need To Be Ready To Answer