Interview Tips and Sample Questions

Enthusiasm

This will distinguish you from the competition.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression…the first 30 to 60 seconds will determine whether the interviewer will want you to succeed with the interview or will develop a mental block for you to overcome.  Enthusiasm is one of the leading reasons why people are hired…and this is 100% in your control!  Enthusiasm leads to chemistry, which leads to offers!

Things to remember:

  • Strong inflection to show enthusiasm.
  • Strong body language shows interest…firm handshake, broad and confident smile, maintain strong eye contact, sit up straight, square off your shoulders to the person you are talking to, etc…
  • Professional appearance…dress and groom for success.

 

Take an Active Role in the Interview

Be proactive, rather than reactive (simply waiting for the next interview question), in providing and obtaining up-front information.

Uncover more details of the company, job and opportunity through inquiry, and more importantly, what candidate skills are important to the interviewer.  Examples of applicant questions that could be asked towards the beginning of the interview to provide for a more focused presentation throughout the course of the interview: 

“While I reviewed the position and job functions, could you please expand on the areas of responsibility?”
“What skills do you feel are important to be successful in this position?”

…Then stop talking and listen, as the interviewer will tell you everything you need to know to bring focus to your presentation and to market yourself to the interviewer’s needs and key criteria.

 

Know Your Strengths/weaknesses

Go to the interview with a “tool box” of skills from which you can pull at any point during the interview and speak confidently about yourself.

Develop 10 to 12 strengths by writing down on paper 5 to 6 technical strengths (example: analytical skills, knowledge of the flow of transaction within the G/L cycle, computer skills, etc.) and 5 to 6 non-technical strengths (example: team work, attention to detail, communication skills, organizational skills, etc.).  Then write down 2 to 3 work related examples (or school related examples for a new grad) to back up each of these strengths.  The examples really substantiate the strengths being presented.  Then, practice the presentation of your strengths and related examples similar to how you would prepare for a speech…so that your presentation flows very confidently!

Develop 2 or 3 weaknesses or areas of improvement.  Present 1 weakness in the past tense, show your improvement over time, to the point now where this is still an area of improvement, but at least you have identified the area and have begun the process of improvement.

 

Know Your Resume

Review your resume and be able to answer all questions relating to what, why and when.

What did you do at each position you have held?  What did you do during school…business clubs, part-time work, etc.?

Why did you choose your school? Your major? Why did you take this job?  Why did you leave this job?  Why are you currently looking to leave your current employer?

Be positive about prior experiences (don’t talk about negatives/air “dirty laundry”).  Reasons for change should be positive, professional reasons. 

Do not use compensation, commute, don’t like boss, etc. as reasons for change. Compliment previous employer/current employer for a set of skills learned or exposure gained, etc.

Briefly explain why you left or are looking to leave…provide sound business reasons.

Get back on a positive track by talking about what you are seeking in your next move.

When did you attend school and when did you work for each company ?  Memorize the months and years of employment and education.

 

Standard Interview Questions Re:  Future Growth

Prepare for the standard interview questions such as “Why are you looking?”  “What are you looking for at this point in your career?”  “What are you looking to do more long-term, say 3 to 5 years?”  Respond to these questions with clear, positive, concise, well thought out answers with business/professional motivating factors.  Your responses to short term goals/movement should align with the position you are applying for and the company you are interviewing with.  Long-term movement needs to be consistent with opportunities for movement within the company.

 

Compensation

Provide accurate information on current earnings and salary history…assume that the company at some point will ask for a W-2 or pay stub to verify earnings.  Provide detail, if appropriate, on break- down of current earnings between base, bonus, O.T., etc. and also next merit/promotion increase estimate.

Try and avoid discussing desired compensation!!  Discussion on desired compensation could eliminate you from consideration if you present a dollar amount which is perceived as too high or result in a lower offer amount if you discuss a dollar amount below the high end of the salary range.

On a written application, write, “open to a fair and reasonable offer”.

In an interview, defer questions if asked.  Respond:  “I am very interested in the opportunity you have presented, and I would seriously consider any fair and reasonable offer.”

 

Candidate Questions

You are there to interview them as well, and it is your responsibility to gather information needed to evaluate the opportunity.  Prepare questions in 3 categories – Position, company, and opportunity.  Also note that a good number of quality questions will indicate a high level of interest on your behalf.

 

Behavioral Interview Questions

Many employers are moving towards behavioral interview questions.  Questions focus on how you have reacted under certain circumstances in the past as an indicator as to how you would react under similar circumstances in the future.  Prepare for questions such as:  “Tell me about one of your biggest challenges in your current/recent position”  “Tell me about your involvement in a project that you led”  “How do you approach a project?”  “Give me an example of when you had a challenging deadline, etc..” “Tell me about a manager/mentor that was inspiring to you and what qualities made them inspiring?”

 

Interview Close

 

It is critical that you are very proactive; you need to close the interview in a strong, confident manner.  Consider these areas in closing: 

You are interested and why! If you are interested in the position, tell them!  This is also a good time to summarize why you believe this is the right employment opportunity for you (summary of your job skills matched to what the interviewer is looking for).

Ask the interviewer if there are any other questions or concerns which you can address at this point.  This tells the interviewer that you are proactive and want to provide as much information as possible.

“Thank you for your time.” “Enjoyed the discussion.”  Show your appreciation for their time, and let them know that you look forward to speaking with them again. Make sure the thank you letter is sent in a timely manner.

 

Closing Thoughts

Be on time…arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to the interview.

Focus on questions being asked…do not go off on tangents when responding. Keep your responses to 1 to 2 minutes, proving adequate detail to support your focused responses.

Remain positive during the interview…your actions and words are constantly under the microscope from when you enter the parking lot until you leave.

Do not have your resume in front of you during the interview…you should be the expert on your resume.  Bring a copy of your resume and keep it in a nice, leather bound folder. Don’t volunteer your resume; the interviewer should have your resume from us. Give them a copy of your resume if they ask for it, but don’t volunteer it because we don’t want them to waste 5 or 10 minutes of your time comparing and contrasting your resume to the resume we provided.

Call Recruiting Resources immediately following the interview with feedback…the company you are interviewing with expects timely responses on candidate feedback.

Have a great interview… Smile and Have Fun!  

 

Sample Candidate Questions

While I have been given a good description of the position responsibilities, could you please expand upon the duties and responsibilities of this position?
Could you tell me about your [hiring manager] successful progression within this company and within your career?
What do you believe is required to be successful in this position?  What do you believe is required to be successful working for this company?
What are the greatest challenges that someone in this position will face?  What are some of the main operational/financial challenges that this company is currently facing?
Once someone comes on board and accomplishes everything that is expected in this position, what advancement/new challenges can someone look forward to in your company?
[If this position offers “special project” opportunities] Can you please expand upon the nature of the special projects in which this position will be involved?
How would you describe the working environment within this company and within this department?
What makes your company unique?
What gives your company a competitive advantage?
What would you say were the “strengths” and “areas of improvement” of the incumbent’s performance?
How does this position interact with other departments and divisions?