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career transition experts
25 Difficult Interview Questions... And Some Answers
A D oug lAs PArtn e r s i n fos h e et
Adapted from Parting Company: How to Survive the Loss of a Job and Find Another Successfully, William J. Morin and James C. Cabrera Harvest Books, New York, 1984.
© Douglas Partners 2006
day. Don’t waste your best points on it.1.. “Everyone says you’re in trouble. What can you say that you want should we to create new hire you? things and that you do for us that Answer in terms know this is a place of your ability. in a job? If you feel that you have to concoct Keep your answer related to opportuan answer to this question—if. How long would it take from your resume or list of career you to make a meaningful accomplishments. and use your expepull your own weight from the first rience and energy to solve them. reputation. it is difficult to deceive anyinterviewed). For example. Be realistic. ity is encouraged. Since this is often the opening question in an interview. Say that your skills and interests. image.” Give your answer a positive tone. mention specifics 9. and that’s why I’m here. for these reasons. it might a few months before you could expect to know the organization 5. revenues. 6. Talk example. don’t act as if you know everything. ting things done.. management style. What do you find most and its needs well enough to make a attractive about this major contribution. If the company places a great deal of emphasis on research and development. make you valuable. Talk about your record of getthe question for you. somene else can’t? youryour energy. work history. Why do you want to work for us? The deadliest answer you can give is “Because I like people. make it clear that you wish to learn more. your answer should mention a reverence for numbers. Even if you should Keep your answer brief and resultssucceed at it.) stresses financial 7. combined with this history contribution to our firm? of getting results. You might start your answer this way: “In my job search. You should learn enough security. about a company to avoid firms where 8. 2. and If the organization (See question 4. the company stresses an area about your desire to perform and be that really does not interest you—then recognized for your contributions. your prize is a job you oriented. and emphasize recent career experience. Do not say. minor. Tell me about yourself. your answer should mention that fact and show that you would like to be a part of that team. in which such activexperience. Say that while you would Mention your ability to set priorities. Why 4. Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question.Douglas-Partners.com 25DIQ1107 . you probably should not be taking the Stress opportunity rather than personal interview. Yours is one of the few that interests me. people. problems. and that it’s doing them in ways that greatly interest you. for nities within the organization. However. and mention a single. Douglas Partners (925) 200-9702 2 www. bilities and accountability. I’ve investigated a number of companies. position? What seems least attractive about it? List three or four attractive factors of the job. expect to meet pressing demands and identify problems. 3. Cover your education. he or she may answer ments. Don’t overwhelm the interviewer. Please give me your you would not be able to or would not definition of (the position want to work. ask horn and brag about your accomplishthe interviewer. history and philosophy. Since most of us are for which you are being poor liars. goals. Think in terms of responsidon’t really want. What do you know about our organization? You should be able to discuss products or services. one in an interview. What can you do for us that you really do understand what the that someone else can’t? position involves before you attempt Here’s where you can toot your own an answer. Let your answer show that you have done some research.”—even if that is true. Make sure 4. What do you look for controls. if the organization is known for strong management. If you are not certain. unattractive item.” A good answer comes from having done your homework so that you can talk about the company’s needs. You might say that your research has shown that the company is doing things you would like to be involved with. keep your answer to a minute or two at most.
How do you feel about leaving all your benefits to find a new job? Mention that you are concerned. Keep your answer achievement and results-oriented. Be prepared with two or three trends that illustrate how well you understand the industry. 13. execution. otherwise. but admit that you would have to continue to feel challenged to remain with any organization. 15. like anyone else. new opportunities will open up for you. 15. particularly if it is clear that you were terminated. What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a manager or executive? Mention planning. to the point.10. Why are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) job? Be brief. the result of your action. You might consider technological challenges or opportunities. so do not concoct a story. The “we agreed to disagree” approach is useful. Stress your experience and your energy. How long would you stay with us? Say that you are interested in a career with the organization. Mention that you like to hire people who appear capable of moving up in the organization. Admit that the situation was not easy. You are willing to accept some risk to find the right job for yourself. initiative. What do you look for when you hire people? Think in terms of skills. say so. As you consider this question. or parental (“I’m committed to taking care of my subordinates and pointing them in the right direction”). If you were laid off in an across-theboard cutback. Remember that your references will be checked. and as honest as you can without hurting yourself. Are you a good manager? Can you give me some examples? Do you feel that you have top managerial potential? 17. choosing a solution. A participative style is currently popular. the employer will get a fast return on his investment. You’re over-qualified for this position. Suggest that since you are so well qualified. Have you ever had to fire people? What were the reasons. The most difficult task is to motivate and manage employees to get something planned and completed on time and within the budget. Emphasize your interest in establishing a long-term association with the organization. Do not mention personality conflicts.Douglas-Partners. this is an open-door method of managing in which you get things done by coaching and motivating people and delegating responsibility. 12. Say that a growing. you think. Say that you assume that if you perform well in this job. indicate that the move was your decision. Rely on examples and tell stories from your career to buttress your argument. and implementing it”). naturally. results-oriented (“Every management decision I make is determined by how it will affect the bottom line”). 14. Possible styles include: task oriented (“I’ll enjoy problem-solving: identifying what’s wrong. but not panicked. What is your management style? You should know enough about the company to know that your management style will complement it. Show that.com 25DIQ1107 . 19. for the individual. energetic company can never have too much talent. What important trends do you see in our industry? 11. Think in terms achieving results and solving problems. and how did you handle the situation? Provide enough broad information to explain the situation but don’t go into details. Mention that a strong company needs a strong staff. 18. say that it worked out well both for the company and. The interviewer may spend some time probing you on this issue. you don’t enjoy unpleasant tasks but that you can resolve them efficiently and—in the case of firing someone—humanely. and costcontrol. think about whether your style will let you work happily and effectively within the organization. or even reghad to fire people? ulatory demands as you collect your thoughts. Don’t suggest that security might interest you more than getting the job done successfully. Douglas Partners (925) 200-9702 3 www. 16. Observe that experienced employees are always at a premium. and the adaptability to be able to work comfortably and effectively with others. have you ever economic conditions.
22. your 24. If not. Why aren’t you earning more at your age? Say that this is one reason that you are conducting this job search. you might say.com 25DIQ1107 . you can say that you need to know more about job responsibilities before you could give a meaningful answer. I and expect to do better. and amount At that point. he might go would like to. In your current (last) position. it’s premature to talk about pay until Present a positive and confident picit’s clear exactly what the full job will ture of yourself.. If at all possible. what features do (did) you like the most? The least? Be careful and stay positive. experience. The interviewer may be trying you here at this firm!” to determine just how much you want the job. It’s the skills. What do you think of your boss? Be as positive as you can. do some research to determine whether there is a salary grade attached to the job. It pays to be prepared. confidence is the most convincing. Don’t cite personality problems. but concan add a forward-looking ending such tinue to stress the fact that the job itas “And I’d love to continue building self is the most important thing in your on my successes with a career with mind. You cannot I’m overjoyed!” is likely to make an leave the impression that it does not interviewer wonder whether you’re really matter. time when things were going better! stand your ground politely. What’s the range for this job in your organization?” If you are asked the question during an initial screening interview. (925) 200-9702 4 www. Link questions of salary to the work itself. 23. If a search firm is involved. but don’t overstate entail. all-in-all. Don’t answer. successful 24.20.Douglas-Partners. You might answer the question with a question: “Perhaps you can help me on this one. but well and have no complaints. Reassure him or her that of life. If. Quiet ever is offered. Douglas Partners don’t you?” Remember that the act But whenever possible. You do pay market rate. proceed thing’s wonderful! I can’t think of a with the salary negotiation. What do you feel this position should pay? Salary is a delicate topic. Or you can ask if she is offering your case. for instance.. Do not be defensive. an interviewer may wonder why you remained there so long or how you’ll feel about his/her organization if you take this job. the final stage of the interview process. If this is an offer. defer tying yourself to a precise figure or range until you are offered the job. in and of as you can about salary until you reach itself. you’re happy with you can point out the way your career has progressed so that the person seems concerned far. If the interviewer continues to probe. “I expect to be paid market rate for the quality work I’ll do for you. He or she may Refer back to the planning phase of even be able to run interference for your job search. press the subject. What are your If no price range do you feel is attached to the you’ve been job and the interlong-range goals? so far? viewer continues to Say that. You Don’t sell yourself short.” back to the employer and propose that you be offered 25. before you participate in an interview. An answer like. say as little of taking a new job does not. he tells you what want the job you’ve advertised. that you’ll accept whattrying to fool him or yourself. A potential boss is likely to wonder if you might talk about him/her in similar terms. What are your longcontact there may be able to help with range goals? the salary question. “I you. Describe more features that you liked than disliked. 21. you feel that you’ve done quite you’ve always accepted a fair deal. you know that the comof responsibility you’ll be handling pany is genuinely interested in you and that relates to the market value of that it is likely to be flexible in salary the position. How more. Given the normal ups and downs about money. make you worth more money. Don’t leave the impression that money is the only thing that is important to you. You can ask the interviewer or search executive/ recruiter (if one is involved). negotiations.” Relate the position pays. “Everyyou the job. If you make your last job sound terrible. and you tell him your goals to the company you are that you are earning that amount now interviewing: ‘in a firm like yours.
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