View Full Version : Interview Tips

08-25-2008, 07:53 AM
The title says it all. What are your favorite tips when it comes to job interviewing? What kinds of questions to you prepare for? Any examples? What's the strangest question someone's ever asked you on an interview? At least one interview I'm preparing for will be in front of a panel, not just a one-on-one situation.

Robert Toy
08-25-2008, 08:50 AM
The title says it all. What are your favorite tips when it comes to job interviewing? What kinds of questions to you prepare for? Any examples? What's the strangest question someone's ever asked you on an interview? At least one interview I'm preparing for will be in front of a panel, not just a one-on-one situation.
Important! Research - Know the company you are interviewing with (products, background, competitors, objectives, etc).

Potential questions:
Why do you want to work for us?

Would the fact that your immediate supervisor may be (younger, different sex/race) bother you? Why? Yes, OR no.

Why did you leave your last job?

If you are interviewing for a management position:
Have you ever had to fire someone? If yes, what were the circumstances and how did you feel?
If no, how would you handle firing an employee who was not performing to acceptable levels, had been previously warned AND was a single parent?

Should we place more emphasis on your level of education or experience? Why?

An interview before a panel can sometimes be a plus, as typically at least one person will be on your side. Focus on them.

08-25-2008, 09:26 AM
Never, ever, ever ask, "Did you actually read my resume or did you call me here to test some hypothesis of yours about the value of my time?"

Hirin' folk tend to look down on that one.

If you're applying at a university, make sure the position is actually open. Sometimes school officials interview clients as a formality, but they've already got someone picked out for the job.

--Bart, who is somewhat bitter.

08-25-2008, 10:43 AM
What are your strengths?

What are your weaknesses? My favorite answer is, "I enjoy working so much that I sometimes have a hard time maintaining balance between work and home."

What do you do for fun? Reading between the lines what they could be asking is: Do you go out drinking every night? Do you have a social life? Do you have more than one dimension to your personality? Are you a well-rounded person?

How do you see your role in this organization?

Have you ever had a supervisor that you didn't get along with? Why? What did you do to over come the situation?

Where do you hope to be in 3 (5, 10) years?

If you could change one thing about your last job what would it have been?

What experience are you hoping to gain here?

What can you contribute to the company?

08-25-2008, 12:17 PM
I'd say avoid memorizing anything that would make you sound like a robot. Be honest, sure in yourself and willing to prove that you alone are the one that should have that job. Most importantly, don't be nervous. What great things could you possibly contribute if you fear something as minor as an interview? Fear not the quiet before the storm, but the storm itself--as that is when you will be put to the test, and no less than perfection will keep your afloat.

My last interview was in front of only two people, and I didn't prepare anything ahead of time, but it couldn't have possibly gone any better than it did. I had little experience in the field (was desperate for a job of any sort, so I took the risk), but I was certain of my ability to learn and adapt and even made my bosses laugh (with me, not at me). They called the next day, wanted me in ASAP and now, even after having quit, they still want me to come back.

Funny part is, when I got there I couldn't remember where the interview was to take place or even the names of who was going to interview me. Luckily, I'm clever like a fox and managed to get myself through unscathed. Adventure!


08-25-2008, 03:32 PM
When I interviewed people to fill a job: "Do you have any questions for us?" I occasionally used that one to gauge how and whether the person was thinking. If they didn't have any questions, that did not bode well for them. Make sure you have an intelligent question or two lined up. If you get caught without one, say "You've given me a lot of information. I'm sure I'll have a question or two as I think it all over."

Good luck!

08-25-2008, 04:32 PM
Interviews should be two-way streets. Prepare a list of questions you can ask them about the job and the company. Interview them as much as they interview you.

08-25-2008, 04:40 PM
A little humor can work, too - one of my responses to "What is your biggest weakness?" was a (truthful) "Well, I'm not that mechanically inclined, so I'm probably not the person you'd want taking the copier apart to fix it." Not altogether flippant, because I was the key contact for equipment maintainence in my last job. I just knew when to call in the pros.

Another thing, more serious - don't forget that when you interview, you're scoping the company out to see if you'll like working there, too. I had one interview earlier this year for a job that seemed to be a perfect fit for my skills and experience, with an organization that does good and valuable work - but within five minutes of the interview, I knew I wouldn't be able to work with the person interviewing me, who would have been my manager. Our personalities just would not have meshed. I was ready to turn down the job if it was offered, but before I could, I was offered the one I have now.

As for questions for them - if they didn't bring it up in the interview, ask how the job came to be available. That's important. One of the nastiest situations I was ever put in was replacing a secretary who the department had not wanted transferred and was determined to get back at any and all cost. It's no fun being "that temporary secretary who stole our Bev's job."

The worst question I was ever asked? No contest. It was a slightly sneering, "So did your father get you all of your jobs there, or just the first few?" For the record, the answer is "none of them" and now I realize I should have just gotten up and walked out of that interview right there....

ETA - cross-posted with Neuro - he has very good advice.

08-25-2008, 11:00 PM
Many interviewers are moving toward a Behavioral-based questions instead of the traditional job interview. Instead of asking about your work history, which they can read in the resume, they ask questions that show how you might interact within the organization, things like: "Give me an example of a time when...," "Describe a situation where you..." then they ask follow ups like, "How did that turn out?"

In other words, they want to know specific details of real events to see how you handle yourself.