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Question 1 - Can You Tell Me a Little Bit About Yourself?
How do you ace an interview that starts with a question so broad? Do you start with your most relevant background, highlight the key skills that you bring to the table? Hopefully this is the area that you have practiced the most, and these are the key things that you want to stay in the recruiter's mind. Perhaps starting this way would be a good approach, but then - isn't there a chance they perceive you as a dry, business-only type of person? May be they are looking to add someone business-savvy, but also fun ... OK - here is what the recruiter is really trying to find out about you, when she starts with this question: 1. How eloquent and comfortable are you when communicating under the pressure of a jobinterview? Do you come across as sincere, calm and composed, or do you have the "talent" to transfer your stress to everyone else in the room. We all can be a little nervous in a job interview - it is a natural reaction. You have the opportunity however to demonstrate from the start how well you can control yourself under stress. 2. It is about business, so the second thing the recruiter will notice is how quickly and how well (or if at all) you transition to your most relevant experience and why you think you are the perfect fit for the job. While broad, this question is actually a great opportunity for you to set the tone for the interview. This is the chance you are given to make a good first impression. 3. Energy level. The recruiter wants to see how enthusiastic and energetic you are about the opportunity to work for her. Even if it is a non-management position - the candidates with higher energy level are perceived to be a better fit. There is something more - your enthusiasm has to come across naturally. If you are playing the role of the enthusiastic candidate, but really feel just mildly interested, the discrepancy will show. So act naturally as much as you can, and learn how to show your enthusiasm in ways that are in harmony with who you are.

Question 2 - At This Point in Your Career What Would Be the Perfect Job For You?
Now let me start by clarifying one thing - yes, this is a trick question. Every time you hear this question you have to be able to answer without a blink: "This job is the perfect job for me!" Here is how you do this. You look at the job description and start listing down answers to the question why this job is a perfect match for your background.

now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you. It will give the recruiter a sense of what your relationship with your boss was. They assume that if you do .2 It is very important to list your business reasons. that illustrate why this is the perfect job for you. and try to highlight the aspects of your experience with the ex-boss.Whom Did You Report to and What Was Their Position With the Company? This is a more specific question that usually is straight-forward and requires a straight forward answer. Over-prepare." Once you have the list of reasons 'why' then you will be able with confidence to say to the person you are interviewing with: "This job is the perfect job for me. Here is another opportunity to impress by highlighting specific achievements from your background. Stay positive instead. 3.try to keep your answers under the section "What I can do for the company!" and avoid the section "What the company can do for me. Question 3 .now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you.better avoid it. but if it is not your true reason for wanting the job . In a . Yet there is enough for you to relate to. when asking this question: 1.most job-descriptions are standard. Your energy level is one measure of your enthusiasm for the job. The answer to this question will help the recruiter gauge your exact position in the pecking order. Even if you have sound business reasons not to be happy with your previous position a job interview is not the right place to vent. and the answer you give to this question is the other measure.. like "I really dig the salary for this type of job!" In addition .At Your Last Job .. OK .!" OK . because . 2. In my experience a surprising number of people make the mistake of criticizing their ex-bosses or ex-employers.I can guarantee you the recruiter will like your answer. or borrowed answer. The recruiter wants to know if you truly want this job. that will make you a better fit for the position you are applying for. If you have prepared your list with 'why this is the perfect job for you' . when asking this question: 1. but don't overdo it. Many times the title does not carry its meaning from one company to the next.it will show in how you approach the answer to this. vague and provide few specifics about the job. It may look great on paper. Do you really know what this job is all about? True . and not personal reasons. The recruiter will see through any cliche. First she wants to know if you had done your homework.

With the answer to this question you will have the opportunity to go for the touchdown . multi-million dollar budget and a team of MBAs reporting into that same manager or associate.your best bet is preparation based on the job-description. this person will leave tomorrow and criticize me in the same manner!" Question 4 . At the same time in another organization a simple title like Manager or Associate. 2. when asking this question: 1. If you are talking with the hiring manager she may think "Gee. or merely a problem register. on results. Your answer to this question will reveal your exposure level .it is a mistake to offer any negative information about your relationship with your boss or negative information for that boss in general. you would probably speak with pride about past accomplishments)? Will you be confident and assertive go-getter? Will you be a problem-solver. or prefer not to change your game plan . or even one on paper.now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you. to have influence with your work. The recruiter will also be on alert for your criticism of your ex-boss. When asking you about your prior responsibilities. which could be great clues for the attentive jobhunter. Will you be proud of your work (then. Give a lot of examples and be specific. 3. If you cannot decipher anything.and it is all just to give the potential clients the sense that they are working with someone high enough. It makes a difference if you were reporting to one of the many directors or to the Senior VP and this is something the recruiter wants to know. or drop the ball altogether. Sometimes she would even ask clarifying questions.? 2. and the work that you put in. while in the same time increasing accuracy to 100%".. may come with a P&L responsibility. How do you shine here? It can be quite simple if you focus your message on achievements. while owning your work. etc.how high in the organization you were able to reach. In my experience the hiring manager will often have a mental list. This is why it is so important to have as much . You get the picture? OK .What Were Your Personal Responsibilities? This is the real deal now. This is usually a good indicator for possible future attitude so like I said . the projects that you owned. This is where you describe what you did on a day-to-day basis. the recruiter is examining in detail what kind of employee you are going to be.3 sales-driven organization for instance a sales rep may have the title of Vice President or Director . Instead of "Prepared the monthly productivity reports" you could say "Decreased by three days the preparation time for the monthly productivity reports.. on the things that you changed and improved. and will check off each of the responsibilities for the position she is looking to fill.

but about how you would see yourself through the eyes of the ex-boss. The recruiter is also interested in the overlap between your skills-set and the one needed for the position you are applying for. Your confidence and quick reaction may have a bigger impact than what you say.4 of a detailed job-description as possible. 3.it may take you by surprise.from mere understanding of excel. But most would only ask the question as a fun way to open a discussion about personal and professional qualities. when answering this question "He would probably describe me as a bit lazy!" 2.you may not be able to see the fun in this. It is not about the ex-boss.now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you. 3.How Would Your Boss Describe You? This is another trick question and if you are not prepared . This is valid no matter how prepared or unprepared you are. If you are not prepared though . to the finer points of the emotional intelligence required in an increasing number of places. But preparation is not necessarily what they are looking for it is the unique insight. The way you approach your answer will highlight what you think is important in terms of professional qualities and this is what the recruiter is really interested in.are you over or under-qualified? What is the expected learning curve? Question 5 . when asking this question: 1. With your answer you will reveal a lot about your professional and personal value system. Then they will ask the question and take notes and then would call the ex-boss to compare. This would include any type of skills . OK . . You can not do too much here and you can go as far as setting up a prior informational interview with someone in the company to help you get more information on the key responsibilities. It is one thing to say how you feel about yourself and it is another to say how your supervisor may have felt. If the interviewer sees that you are surprised by this question she would be able to see also how fast you think on your feet and how comfortable and confident you are with your message. There are recruiters that will actually first verify that your ex-boss is listed as a reference.the medium is the message. and others dread. As Marshall McLuhan put it -. I had one person say to me in an interview. Also . This is the type of mind game that some job hunters thrive on. It is often relatively easy for a recruiter to see if the candidate is prepared for this question or not.

. so if for instance a candidate describes a managerial project as her greatest accomplishment. Another issue usually comes when a candidate has prepared multiple answers and does not want to limit herself to just one "greatest" achievement.. was this one project.What Was Your Greatest Achievement and How Did You Accomplish It? This is the heart of a behavioral job interview..it is about you. 3.now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you.. but make sure you give it as part of your answer. You need to tell the story of what you had done. !" OK . Often the "how did you accomplish" part is omitted in the question.. 2. This is where people prepare most and this is where it gets most personal. It would go somewhat like this: "Among the top 3 thing I accomplished as a manager. then this is usually a pretty good sign that she liked being a manager. And the number one accomplishment in my professional career so far is . If you are applying for a store manager position and tell the interviewer that your greatest accomplishment was the punk-rock CD that you produced and recorded in your basement a couple of years ago . Sometimes discrepancies and warning signs will pop-up and raise red flags in the mind of the recruiter so watch for relevance in your answers. In this case it may be a bit easier if she would use the count-down approach. where . or the department. or the company .it would be pretty obvious where your heart is.. So candidates who have difficulty talking about themselves and especially difficulty "bragging" about their accomplishments can be at a disadvantage. when asking this question: 1. What you consider an accomplishment is also another helpful way for the recruiter to tell about your business and professional goals.5 Question 6 . The circumstances of a simple month-end general ledger close can sometimes provide enough drama. People tend to speak about what they like. The greatest achievement question is usually pretty straight forward to answer and most recruiters are really looking for examples of past behavior as a predictor for the future employee you will be. which in turn would show how great you are.. Another accomplishment I am really proud of is . It is not about the team.

what have you done to fix them?. The recruiter will try to evaluate your business strength in light of the pressures and requirements of the position in question. For instance . So while relevance still counts. There is the presumption that everyone embellishes a little bit on their resume and when talking about their achievements.if you are applying for a position that requires you to make daily data analysis and you give as a major weakness your excel knowledge . . When you can walk your listener through the problem and how you became aware. The key is in the second part of the question -.this sends a very strong positive signal. which is only presented as a weakness.this can become another big gold star for you in the notebook of the interviewer. how you worked on it and how it is not a problem any more . It really is another opportunity for you to strengthen your case if you have prepared correctly. In addition to the specific shortcomings and the work you have done to address them .now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you. always focus on answering this second part more than anything else. but it is not worth the risk. This should be an honest discussion.well you may have just shot yourself in the foot.6 Question 7 . You should. Although these are rare -. If you show awareness for your weaknesses and at the same time demonstrate that you have been very serious about improving yourself . Not true. This is why the weakness question is meant to serve as some kind of reality check. which by the way is often omitted by the interviewer. You can also go a step further and talk about a limitation that is already pretty much in the past.What Are Your Weaknesses and What Have You Done to Fix Them? Many job-hunters believe that the answer to this question should not be a weakness. 2. it is probably a good idea to avoid discussing any of the core skills for the position in question. OK . however.the focus of the interviewer is on any major discrepancies between your expected skills and your real skills. but a strength. 3. because anything else will likely be sensed by the hiring manager and will not work in your favor. Many recruiters are really interested in the amount of work and time you have dedicated to fixing any shortcomings in your professional arsenal. when asking this question: 1.this discussion will reveal more about your personal and professional characteristics. It may work.

OK . If you consistently took every career opportunity. decided to change ship.Why Did You Leave Your Previous Employment? Depending on each individual situation. and want to stay there till retirement.then this could be an ideal prospect for both sides. If every one of the last three jobs on your resume was less than two years then this can be a red flag and the recruiter has the right to examine the situation. than this would be a red flag for the recruiter. If you. So regardless of your personal situation . The hiring manager would want to know how long you plan to stay if you are hired. 3. Perhaps you are applying for the perfect position.you have to focus on the business reasons and present a strong and convincing case that you have made a sound business decision when you left your previous job. however. Any discrepancy in the story. If the company you worked for went out of business and was closed then it is what it is. If however the opposite is true. or somehow let go under unfavorable circumstances. Still you have to convince the company that these are your intentions. this could be a very short or a little longer discussion point. when asking this question: 1.now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you. So be ready to give good business reasons why you decided to change your career by leaving your last job. With this question the recruiter is also probing for possible signs that you are an opportunity minded individual. The hiring manager is also looking for signs that might indicate the candidate was fired. then an examination of your reasons can be a further source of useful information for the hiring manager.7 Question 8 . when answering this question. So if the company has the practice to promote its top-performers . This can be a very good thing for some positions and not so good for others. . can harm more than anything else. this may be a good sign that you will continue to do so in the future. 2. There can be all kinds of personal and business aspects of your decision and this again can be an opportunity for the candidate to strengthen her case.

. This is why it is important to do an inventory of your marketable skills and select those skills. especially in companies. This type of a candidate usually is not looked upon favorably because it is believed that the over-zealous candidate is doing it to cover for some personal or professional shortcoming. For the prepared candidate it is another opportunity to give favorable examples of past job situations. In some cases the recruiter will also look for signs of the rare breed of over-zealous change agents.What Risks Have You Taken in Your Latest Job and What Were the Outcomes? Even if it is not necessarily a part of your expected job-description. 2.. which answer the question. In a surprising number of interviews the risk that the candidate describes comes down to the approval of the boss. 3. The risk was either a) Do the right thing with the project (report. Go check the DVD "Mastering the Job Interview" for some great answers. when asking this question: 1.now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you. or are you risk-averse? This question shouldn't really matter that much. or b) Wait for the boss to come and make the "right" decision. . which most perfectly fit the image you want to project. The recruiter wants to know details about specific situations that were tricky for you. the risk profile of a candidate can tell a lot about their work habits and decision making. Will you always wait for proper guidance in all your work.8 Question 9 . This question in your job-interview is about your thought process more than anything else. fill in the blank here) and risk the manager's fury. Another side of you that will be revealed with your answer to this question is how proactive as an employee you are going to be. because in most cases the recruiter will not make their hiring decision based on your risk profile. which would illustrate further what a great fit she is for the positions in question. where proactive employees are discouraged. So are you a risk-taker. or will you look for ways to improve the process? This may be of paramount importance. This usually works well except in rare organizations. OK . memo . where change is on the agenda (and lately change is on the agenda for all). And of course you need to find good examples from your career so far.

If the position is "Analyst" and the candidate says "I want to be Vice President in 5 years!" this will definitely raise a redflag. There are always several possible scenarios.9 Question 10 . what other personal business goals would you have. the candidate.it will be a good thing to have a plan for your future. motivated and committed contributor?" OK . this is the place for you to remember that a job-interview is all about the business. So for you. the question should really read more like . This question can often serve as a reality check for the recruiter.most people including yours truly also have no answer to this question. in addition to being a diligent. 3. Obviously the first thing the recruiter is looking for is ambition. . The question you want to keep in mind is . The candidate may have a good plan how to get there.now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you. Ambitious employees learn faster. The other important quality you want to demonstrate here is the ability to plan ahead and to think strategically about a situation. So in general to show ambition is a good thing. They are more responsible and proactive and their energy level is usually higher and more contagious. but at the present moment this may look a little too ambitious. Then why is this question even needed? Well."By possibly assuming this position with our company.What is the right kind of ambition they expect for this position? 2. So if you also are aware of this . when asking this question: 1. Certainly nobody realistically will expect you to stay in the same position for 5 or more years. try harder and in general achieve more. Here is a secret .What Are Your Long-Term Goals? This is a variation of the notorious "Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?" and many job-hunters really do not have an answer to this one. There is a fine line between ambitious and over-zealous employees. Thinking in time and showing good judgment while at it may be the decisive difference between you and the next guy. but they never add up to 100% of the possibilities for me and for most of the people I have worked with.

so at this point you might help the situation with your questions. For instance you may help a hiring manager clarify the expected time commitment: "The hours for this position are 6:30 to 3:00 in the afternoon.Do You Have Any Questions About the Company Or the Position Here? This is the question that often is left out. Another good question always is about what it takes to be successful in the position you are applying for. and would certainly expect compensation within the industry standard. If you only skimmed the home page and didn't really spend time researching the company .the more specific your questions .10 Question 11 . 3. If this summary answers your prepared questions you will have to quickly come up with new ones. Is this going to be a problem?" Some recruiters will also have a prepared summary about the company and the position and they would present it at some point (often in the beginning). Also . Your future compensation and benefits is also not a topic you should touch. OK . .the better. So your best bet is to prepare.the best thing to do is deflect by saying you really want to make sure it is the right opportunity for both parties. So you have to look at this as an opportunity to both demonstrate interest and actually get answers to questions that may be essential for you. In some cases this may not be very important and in others it will be. Sometimes the interviewer forgets about it. It is OK if you don't know everything . My general advice would be to focus on open-ended questions about the strategic direction of the company or the department. when asking this question: 1. in the company and apparently you can't learn everything from the web-site. The hiring manager first wants to know what your level of understanding about the position and the company is. Your questions will inevitably confirm your professional awareness about the job.please.now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you. avoid inquiring about negative or embarrassing moments in the company history. and sometimes she wants to see if you will have enough interest and courage to ask about the job and the company. In any case .what is more important is that you ask the right questions. Details that are important may not have come up.it will show. If the interviewer attacks you with the question how much you expect to get paid . Or in other words . In any case your questions should be an essential preparation for your job interview. You have to show interest in the job. This will again show your interest and preparation.how much do you already know. The second thing that will become more clear with this question is your level of interest in the position or the company. If there isn't much available information about the company you may use this by asking questions that will fill the gaps for you. 2. The recruiter is also looking to clarify important elements about the position.

I will say it again . At this point in an interview. If this is a question asked at the beginning of the interview. .11 Question 12 . But when they do the first thing they want to see is your reasons why you think you are the best candidate.everything is an opportunity). "Why you?" is in a way a challenge to the candidate and some recruiters don't even feel comfortable asking it.if you are not convinced in what you are saying.now here is what the interviewer is really trying to learn about you.Why Should We Choose You? Even if you don't get this question. that resonates in the best possible way with who you are. Because it is a bit of a psychological aggression. OK . You can summarize what you have already said in answering other questions and offer the logical conclusion. how do you expect the interviewer to believe you. you should have a very good answer for yourself. I have listed this as # 12. It may be something very specific to the situation. They are giving you a chance to set the tone and the direction of the interview. In any case .this is yet another opportunity for you to close the deal. when asking this question: 1. or it could be a general statement about how diligent. You bring your unique experience and skills to the table and you should know the top 3 or 4 most relevant marketable skills for the position you are applying for. and how much you are aware of your strengths. They may already have decided from your previous answers if it is a "yes" or a "no" and they are just looking for a confirmation from you. which is "I am the best for the job!" 2. (While they are still talking to you . 3. motivated and skilled employee you are going to be. The content of your answer is about 50% and the other 50 is the confidence you put into it. the hiring manager will also look for your purely emotional reaction to this." The key to making this work for you is in the reasons. you should be able to say with conviction "Because I am the best candidate. but this can be even an opening question. then the recruiter is also trying to see how well you articulate. How well you perform under stress is important in many jobs and this is why you should prepare and find the answer.

right? 2. This is why it is important after your first line to add your business reasons why you are so flexible. If you are for instance borderline desperate then your answer should be something like "I am really flexible and if you have certain budget limitations at the moment. When you are somewhere in between . This of course implies that you have done your homework and know what the salary range for this job is. You may point at this time that since you have the right experience or since in another way you are bringing a lot to the table.The Mind Game Behind the Question "What Are Your Salary Expectations?" So here you are . This again should be a careful and polite response to the question "Why I want this job?" when they really are asking about your salary expectations.you want the job and you really are not certain what the salary range is so you are not worried about the low end of it . It is often hard to guess the real reasons behind a question like this and if you are prepared you don't have to guess. It is also acceptable to very politely challenge the interviewer with something like "Do you have any budget limitations at this time?" or "What salary range have you budgeted for this position?" 3.12 Question 13 . Remember "Because I need to pay the bills" may be a very valid business reason for you. I am sure we can come to an agreement!" With a line like this you send the message that you are willing to work with them and also you pretty much reveal that you are desperate.never mention a number and if the interviewer really insist on hearing one .whatever you do . then your answer could be more subtle. What are your salary expectations? Some people really dislike talking about money on the first interview and this is the right instinct in a serious job-interview situation. 1. Your answer should depend more on your motivation to get the job you are applying for.you aced all 12 questions and just when you thought you were done you hear Question #13. If you find yourself in a situation where the interviewer is pressing you for a number then your best play . then you expect to be rewarded according to the industry standards.speak about the range for the position.then it is always safe to focus on the opportunity. If on the other hand you are not quite certain you want to take the job at the lowest end of the range for this position. Often times it is quite acceptable to respond that you are really interested in the opportunity to join the company and take on the job and that this job would really help with your long-term career goals. Especially since it is the perfect job for you. If you get that question . but it is not a business reason for the company.

.13 is to give them the "industry standard" range for the position and to indicate that you expect to be rewarded within this range.