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Preparing for the Interview:
Common Interview Questions, Purpose and Suggestions


“Tell me about yourself?”

Purpose:

  • To put you at ease.
  • To learn from you why they should or should not hire you.
  • To see how you define yourself.
  • To find out if your mind is on what you can offer the employer.
  • To learn a little bit about your background.

Suggestions:

  • When speaking about your interests and experience provide information that only relates to the job.
  • Touch on you attributes, including you ability to get along with others.
  • Touch on some appropriate personal information to indicate stability and your well rounded character.
  • Do not ramble on about your life history.

“What are your greatest strengths?”

Purpose:

  • To discover reasons for hiring you.
  • To find out how well you know yourself.
  • To find out if you believe in yourself and to find out if you are the right person for the position.

Suggestions:

  • Give an honest answer that relates to the job.
  • Mention that besides the work skills and/or experience that you would contribute, you also offer job related qualities. For example, you could list your attributes.
  • Be ready to back these attributes with specific examples.

“What are your weaknesses?”

Purpose:

  • To discover how honest and objective you are.
  • To discover if you are wrong for the job due to reasons such as a lack of experience, poor people skills, poor attitude, laziness.

Suggestions:

  • Describe a positive attribute you have.  For example, state that it is important to meet deadlines, maintain high standards or see that all messages are answered.
  • Continue with a statement or reassurance such as; "I have to really have to insure that I remain patient (diplomatic) when I see this is not happening."
  • Or… honestly state an obvious weakness, then describe factors that compensate for it.   For example, "I am so enthusiastic what I want to do a hundred things at once, so I have to sit down and make a list of priorities and plan a schedule."

“Why do you want to work here?”

Purpose:

  • To find out what you know and like about the organization and if you would stay.
  • To see if your work qualifications fit the requirements and approach.
  • To find out if you are genuinely interested in contributing to the company or only want the security, benefits and prestige they offer.

Suggestions:

  • Indicate the liking for the work you do and how your skills match their requirements.
  • Describe what you know about the organization.  If you can, honestly compliment the company on such points as its reputation, service, product or quality, do so.
  • Indicate the interest and care you took in finding out backgrounds information about the company.
  • Make "you" statements not I need statements.

“Why should I hire you?”

Purpose:

  • The employer does not want to know how you will benefit from the job, but how the company will be better off hiring you.

Suggestions:

  • Show how your skills and experience are important to the job.
  • Show enthusiasm to be part of the team.

“What would you do in ‘this’ situation?”

Purpose:

  • To assess your ability to answer unexpected questions.
  • To assess your ability to handle and juggle real life situations.
  • To learn about actual experience you have had.
  • To discover if you are aware of company policy and government rules.

Suggestions:

  • Mention your commitment to follow company guidelines and consulting your supervisor when appropriate.
  • Describe a time when you successfully dealt with that type of situation.
  • Describe related situations, experience, skills and attributes.

“Do you have any questions?”

Purpose:

  • Indicates that the interview is almost over.
  • Find out what you are interested in knowing and how much research you have done.

Suggestions:

  • Keep questions brief.  Act confident but not demanding or self seeking.
  • Show that you have listened to the employer and that you have already researched the company.
  • Ask questions that will decide if the job is really for you.

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