Interview questions are all the same and the technique is to prepare your responses to answer them well. Here are typical questions that sound different but the answers can be thought about in advance and rehearsed.
Tell me about yourself.
Describe your last job.
Where do you want to be in three to five years?
and my favorite, What is your leadership style?
These are all examples of the interviewer wanting to hear how you view yourself in the work environment.
You need to have a thirty second to sixty second response that you can customize for the interviewer. The interviewer is attempting to find out if you ramble, don’t focus on the question and if you have researched their organization. Your answers should respond to what you know about the organization’s culture, be brief, and to the point.
“At Company X, my role was to develop and direct projects that focused on finding markets that met the company’s long term objectives. Now my goal is to bring these skills to a different organization as I understand your strategy is to identify new markets for your most successful products/services.”
“As a manager, I find that being transparent and organized is my most successful way to lead others.” And then ask the follow up question of the interviewer. “Is there something I can go into in more detail for you?”
Another series of questions ask you to provide an assessment of yourself.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Give me an example of when you succeeded at a work project.
Give me an example of when you failed at a work project.
What will your references say about you both good and bad?
Is there anything in your career you would do differently?
The interviewer really does not want to hear about your weaknesses or shortcomings, but wants to assess how you answer the question. Are you vague? Are you arrogant with no weaknesses? Organized in your thinking? Try to prepare answers that will create a positive impression and be truthful.
“Early in my career I learned the value of thoughtful analysis, and not jumping to conclusions. That strategy has really helped me to not shoot from the hip. Here is an example…” You are not answering the question but you are providing insight into yourself.
The interviewer will generally ask if you have any questions for them. This is where it is easy to differentiate yourself from all other candidates. Research the organization thoroughly, its strategies and operations. Review social media to learn about other employees, reactions and comments. Have a minimum of ten questions to ask. It is fine to ask the same questions of different interviewers in an organization as you will get different responses. This helps you in determining if the organization is right for you. Make sure your questions are open ended and broad enough about their business. At the right time you will get to ask about benefits and pay.
Finally, the interviewer wants to know about you as a person. What are your hobbies outside of work, are you tech savvy, are you married, stable, do you have children, where and when did you go to school, are you willing to relocate? During the second, third or subsequent interviews, talk about yourself a little, your interests and family situation. Your goal is to be likeable and pleasant and socially adept. Comment on something personal in the interviewers’ office, a picture of a boat, or ski trip or a book on their bookshelf. Begin a social conversation, and then proceed to why you are there.
As many of the questions get to the same themes, the best way to prepare to answer all the above is to write down your answers as you consider a job search. Read the answers to yourself and shorten where you can and make sure the answers are your own.
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