What They Want to Know: With this question, the interviewer is trying to understand how you handle issues and problems. Can you figure out solutions and workarounds when there is a problem? How adept are you at problem-solving? Do you enjoy a challenge, or do you get nervous when there's a glitch?
When I was first hired as store manager, our turnover rate was 75% and we were chronically understaffed. I implemented performance incentive programs that reduced attrition by 63% and significantly improved our talent pipeline by focusing on internal training and promotion.
What They Want to Know: When answering questions about your strengths, focus on the abilities you have that are key to success in the job for which you're interviewing. Don't be too humble. It's important to make the hiring manager aware of your qualifications.
My greatest strength is my ability to learn new processes quickly. When placed in a new environment, I actively observe how other people do things so that I can easily pull my weight on the team. I’m also open to testing new ways of doing things in order to optimize our efficiency.
7. What is your greatest weakness?
What They Want to Know: There are different ways to tackle questions about weaknesses. One is to turn a negative into a positive by sharing an example of how something you considered to be a weakness actually helped you on the job. The other is to speak about additional skills you now have because you worked on those that needed an upgrade.
I’m an introvert, which I used to regard as being a weakness because I was always shy about reaching out to people. However, part of being an introvert is that I’m a great listener, and I find this has really helped me as a Help Desk Technician. I’m able to focus on our customers’ issues, ask the right questions to elicit information, and resolve their tech issues.
8. How do you handle stress and pressure?
What They Want to Know: What you do when work gets stressful? Do you stay calm under pressure? Or do you have a difficult time in stressful situations? If you're interviewing for a high-pressure position, the interviewer will want to know that you can deal with the stress.
I’m pretty good at recognizing when I’m beginning to feel stressed. When this happens, I take five minutes to focus on my breathing. I also practice guided meditation in the morning before work for 30 minutes and exercise for an hour in the evening. This keeps me on an even keel.
9. Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.
What They Want to Know: When you're responding to questions about what you did on the job, be prepared to share an actual example of a challenging situation at work, what the issue was, and how you helped resolve it.
Our team, already understaffed, was thrown for a loop when a major customer demanded that we complete our deliverables two weeks ahead of schedule. Normally we try to accommodate such requests, but this time it wasn’t possible. I explained the situation to the client, and told them we could either charge them more to support the cost of hiring a temp or, if they accepted the original deadline, we’d give them a 20% discount on their next order. They opted for the latter.
10. What was your biggest accomplishment (or failure) in this position?
What They Want to Know: What are you proudest of? Was there a time something didn't work out, but you were able to learn from it? Let the hiring manager know what you achieved, again sharing examples from your most recent job.
I’m most proud of having convinced our CEO to implement an internal training and promotion program that allowed our personnel to steadily advance within our organization.
11. How do you evaluate success?
What They Want to Know: Your answer to this question will give the interviewer a sense of your work ethic, your career goals, and your life goals. Tailor your response to fit what you expect to achieve if you were to be hired by this employer.
When I wake up each morning enthusiastic about going to work, then lock the clinic at night knowing that we’ve made a difference in people’s lives, I figure the day has been a success.
12. Why are you leaving or have left your job?
What They Want to Know: There are many different reasons for leaving a job. You could be moving on because you want more opportunities for growth, you may be looking for a salary increase, perhaps you're relocating, or you have another reason you're leaving your job. Be consistent in your answer when meeting with representatives of a prospective employer, because they may compare notes.
Our business was sold and, although I was invited to transition to the acquiring company, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity for me to explore new career opportunities.
13. Why do you want this job?
What They Want to Know: Why did you apply for this position? What do you find most interesting about the job and the organization? With this question, the employer wants to know why you think this job is a match for your career objectives. Take the time to describe how your qualifications are a match for the job. The more you can show you're qualified, the easier it will be to get hired.
From the time my appendix burst as a kid and I spent a week in the hospital, I’ve wanted to be a nurse – preferably here at James Memorial. Although I went away for nursing school, I’m eager to move back home and care for our local community now that I’ve become a licensed RN.
14. Why should we hire you?
What They Want to Know: The best way to answer this question is to discuss what you can do for the company. What do you bring to the table? What skills and attributes do you have that will benefit the organization? What will you achieve if you were to be hired? This is an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager.
I am a superb consultative salesperson, never failing to surpass my quotas and break prior personal sales records because I truly enjoy working with customers to match them with the brands I know they’ll love as much as I do.
15. What are your goals for the future?
What They Want to Know: When you respond to questions about your future goals, it's a good idea to mesh your objectives with what the company might offer as a career path. At the least, make sure your goals involve staying with this company for more than a short-term basis.
My goal is to sign on with a national retail organization where I can eventually advance to a role as a regional sales manager.
16. What are your salary requirements?
What They Want to Know: Questions about salary can be tricky, especially if you don't know what the job pays. One approach to answering this question is to say you're flexible, based upon the entire compensation package including benefits.
I average around $39K annually, and I know from online salary calculators that the approximate salary here for professionals with my experience ranges from $38K to $40K. But I’m open to negotiation, depending upon your benefits package.
17. Who was your best boss and who was the worst?
What They Want to Know: This question is designed to discover what type of leadership and management style works best for you. Be careful answering, and don't be too negative. Even if you had a terrible boss, how you speak about them can leave the interviewer wondering how you will speak about other supervisors if you didn't get along with them.
My best manager had an open-door policy where we were always welcome to speak to her privately about issues. I’ve never had a bad manager. I’m not as comfortable with those who prefer to micromanage my work, but when this happens I try to gain their trust so that they’ll feel more confident about giving me some autonomy.
18. What are you passionate about?
What They Want to Know: What's most important to you? What do you love doing? The answers to this question don't have to be all about work. The company is looking to determine if you're a well-rounded person, and what you enjoy doing outside of work can give them insight into the type of employee you'd be if you were hired.
I am passionate about folk music, and love to attend festivals during the summer. I also play fiddle with a local band on the weekends.
19. Questions about your supervisors and co-workers.
What They Want to Know: Did you get along with your manager? Have you worked with difficult colleagues? How you interact with supervisors and co-workers will provide the interviewer with insight into your interpersonal and communication skills.
I think I get along well with both my manager and my colleagues, because I approach everyone with respect. When issues arise, I try to ask for clarification and find points of agreement we can use to resolve differences of opinion.
20. Do you have any questions for me?
What They Want to Know: The last question at a job interview is usually one about what you want to know about the job and the company. Be ready with a list of questions to ask. You may seem disinterested if there isn't anything you want to learn more about.
Do you have a formal schedule and mechanism for performance reviews? How soon after hiring would I receive my first review?