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Standard Interview Questions & Answers

Standard Interview Questions & Answers 
 

Q. Tell me about yourself?

A. This is the dreaded, classic, open-ended interview question and likely to be among the first. It’s your chance to introduce your qualifications, good work habits, etc. Keep it mostly work and career related.

Example:

“I am a hard worker and I think I generally have good organizational skills. In the univerity, I led a team of students in the architectural department to design a model of a food cafeteria for the university.  .” 

Q. What do you know about our company?

A. To answer this one, research the company before you interview.

Describe your first encounter or a recent encounter with the company or its products and services. What would be particularly motivating to you about working there as opposed to working the same type of job in a different company? The recruiter will look for evidence of genuine interest and more than just surface research on the company. Reciting the annual report isn’t likely to impress most recruiters, but feedback from customers and employees will.

Example:

"I served as an intern to a market analyst of a beer company last year, so I followed all the beverage companies closely. What you’ve done especially well is focus on a limited menu with great consistency among locations; every Ghanaian household trusts your products and perceive them to be of great quality. I’m particularly interested in your water group and its expansion plans." 

Q. How would you describe your ideal job?

A. Talk about what you enjoy, skills that are natural to you, realistic problems or opportunities you’d expect in this particular job or industry, and what you hope to learn from those experiences. Avoid mentioning specific time frames or job titles.

Example:

"I’d like to stay in a field related to training no matter what happens. I was too interested in business to work at a university, but I believe that teaching is somehow in my blood. I’ve been good at sales because I took the time to educate my clients. Now I look forward to training the new hires."

 

Q. Why are you interested in our company?

A. Tell me what you know and have researched regarding this company? What particular aspect of our work interests you? Tip: Only speak about aspects of the business that you are sure about. Avoid guessing at what they do. Tip: Do your research. Do NOT get caught knowing nothing about the company! Possible effective response: I first became interested in your company through … Since then I have followed your progress in the … field and have become particularly interested in … I am also interested in the … and … aspects of your business and am excited at the possibility of working in such a … organization”

 

Q.  What kind of salary are you looking for?

A.  A well-prepared candidate can effectively turn this question around. Ask first for the company’s salary range, then answer in general terms based on your qualifications in relation to the job requirements.

Example:

Based upon salary information retained from peers, the market price for someone with my experience and educational background is in the range of eight to ten million cedis a month. Although I’m not certain how your salaries compare to the national norms, my feeling is that my value would certainly be in the upper half of this national range. I hope you’ll share with me some of your salary ranges relative to the national norms."  

 

Q.  If I were to ask one of your professors or supervisors to describe you, what would he or she say?

A.  Be modest and honest. Do not exaggerate. Tell the recruiter what a favorite professor or supervisor would say.

 Example:
 
“He/she would describe me as hardworking, creative, aggressive and intuitive.”

 

Q. What’s the best decision you ever made?

A.  Be concise and not too arrogant. Let the recruiter know that the decision was with merit and has positioned you well for the specific job or any other job. 

Example:
“The best decision I made was getting my MBA degree in Accounting. It has strengthened my analytical and intuitive skills which have helped me contribute immensely in management meetings.”

 

Q. What has been your greatest achievement?

A.  Be sure that the achievement you describe here is relevant to the job you’re interviewing for. Also, be careful that your answer doesn’t sound as if the best is behind you. Mention something great that you’ve achieved, but clearly communicate your belief that the best is yet to come.

Example:

"I’m proud of the fact that I graduated on time with a solid GPA while I singing in the university choir for four years. I believe the reason I got through it all was sheer determination; I never even let myself visualize anything but finishing on time and with good grades. So I firmly believe, as a professional counselor, in the importance of a positive outlook."

 

Q.  Describe a situation in which you were successful.

A. Describe a specific event or situation, not a general description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. The situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.

 

Q.  What is your long-range objective?

A. Long-term goals are those goals you wish to achieve in 5 to 10 years. Having long-term goals can be beneficial to you in several ways:

  • Many organizations have staffing plans or forecasts regarding where they want their employees to be in the organization in the future.  By having your plan, you and the employer can evaluate if there is a good match, not only with respect to where you might start, but where you may advance and in what time period.
  • Our society is constantly changing and likewise, jobs change.  No doubt, as you’re working, opportunities and problems will occur.  Long-term goals give you a yardstick to evaluate the situation and make appropriate decisions.

Example:

“The future is always uncertain, yet I’ve always known my goal. My objective is to manage a regional territory, remaining directly responsible for all of its customers, sales levels, marketing, and customer service with my MBA. I know that your company offers the potential to achieve that position and I’m fully prepared to do what is necessary to get there. It’s always been important for me to set my goals high and then follow through. At my present job I once…”

 

Q.  What is your greatest strength?

A.  Describe two or three skills you have that are most relevant to the job. Avoid clichés or generalities; offer specific evidence. Describe new ways these skills could be put to use in the new position. If you have to talk about weaknesses, be honest without shooting yourself in the foot-avoid pointing out a weakness that could be a major obstacle in landing the job. For example, it might be wise to mention you barely have the required work experience for the job; the interviewer has surely noticed this much, and then you can explain how you’re qualified nonetheless.


Example:

"My strengths are interpersonal skills, and I can usually win people over to my point of view. Also, I have good judgment about people and an intuitive sense of their talents and their ability to contribute to a given problem. These skills seem to me directly related to the job. I notice that you require three years’ work experience for this job. Although my resume shows I’ve only two years’ experience, it doesn’t show that I took two evening college courses related to my field and have been active in one of the professional societies. I also try to gain knowledge by reading the industry’s trade journals. I’m certain that my combined knowledge and skill level is the equivalent of that of other people who do have three years’ of work experience. I’m also currently enrolled in a time-management course; I can already see the effects of this course at work on my present job."

 

Q.      What is your greatest weakness?

A.      This is a great example of what is known as a negative question. Negative questions are a favorite among interviewers, because they’re effective for uncovering problems or weaknesses. The key to answering negative questions is to give them a positive spin. For this particular question your best bet is to admit to a weakness that isn’t catastrophic, inconsistent, or currently disruptive to your chosen professional field, and to emphasize how you’ve overcome or minimized the problem. Whatever you do, don’t answer this question with a bail-out like "I can’t think of any," or even worse, "I don’t really have any major weaknesses." This kind of a response is likely to eliminate you from contention.


Example:

"I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist. I take a great deal of pride in my work and am committed to producing the highest-quality work I can. Sometimes if I’m not careful, thought, I can go a bit overboard. I’ve learned that it’s not always possible or even practical to try and perfect your work-sometimes you have to decide what’s important and ignore the rest in order to be productive. It’s a question of trade-offs. I also pay a lot of attention to pacing my work, so that I don’t get too caught up in perfecting every last detail."

 

Q. What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

A. This open-ended question is one of the most difficult and stressful ones job seekers face. Employers ostensibly ask this question because they are looking for people who know what they want to do and who are focused on specific professional goals. If you lack goals, you will have difficulty answering this question. Be sure you arrive at the interview with a clear vision of what you want to do today, tomorrow and five years from now. Be consistent with the objective on your resume and the skills and accomplishments you’re communicating to the interviewer. Your answer should be employer-centered.


Example:

"In five years I hope to be working with an employer in an increasingly responsible position that enables me to utilize my talents and work closely with my colleagues in solving important problems. I see myself taking on new and exciting challenges in an enjoyable environment and hopefully this will be with your company."

Do not indicate that you hope to start your own business, change careers, or go back to school. Such responses indicate a lack of long-term interest since you do not plan to be around for long. While some may respond that they honestly haven’t really thought that far ahead, the interviewer infers that the applicant lacks vision and goals.

 

Q.  Where do you want to be ten years from now?

A.  Please review answer to previous question.

 

Q.  Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How did you resolve it?

A.  Be honest and do not hesitate on giving the whole story. Refrain from passing blame to yourself, colleague or boss.

 
Example:

Yes, I have had one such incident in the past. It was not major, but it was a situation where the misunderstanding needed to be resolved. I found that in that situation, it was because of a failure to see both sides of the situation. For example in my role as … at … a situation occurred where … In an effort to resolve this, I listened to her perspective and at the same time asked that she allow me to fully explain my perspective. At that point, I worked with her to find a suitable solution. If a compromise had not been reached I would have agreed to her decision because she was my supervisor. In the end, you have to be willing to accept the directives of your supervisor, whether you’re in full agreement or not, as he/she may have the benefit of market knowledge and experience.

 

Q.  What are your short-term goals?

A.  Right now your goal may be to get a job. But what kind of job? And where do you go from there? Be employer-centered. The employer is looking for someone to come in and solve problems. Since planning is a key factor in this job, think of examples where your planning has affected the results. After giving some thought as to where you want to go and how you can help the employer achieve results, try scripting your answer.


Example:

"I have learned that long-term goals are best achieved when I break them into shorter goals. My short-term goal is to find a position that will put me in a forward-moving company with solid performance and future projections. As part of a team, I want to add value and continue to grow the company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. My plan is to move into a position of responsibility where I can lead a team."

No one can tell you exactly how to answer this question, since your response will come from what is important to you. However, the more focused and employer-centered you can be about your goal, the better your chances will be of steering the interview in the right direction.

 

Q.  Will you relocate? In the future?

A.  You may, even in some first interviews, be asked questions that seem to elicit a tremendous commitment on your behalf, such as this one. Although such questions may be unfair during an initial job interview, you may well conclude that you have nothing to gain and everything to lose with a negative response. If you’re asked such a question unexpectedly during an initial job interview, simply say something like "That’s certainly a possibility" or I’m willing to consider that."

Later, if you receive an offer, you can find out the specific work conditions and then decide if you wish to accept the position. Remember, at the job-offer stage you have the most negotiating power, and the employer may be willing to accommodate your needs. If that isn’t the case, you might wish to explain that upon reflection, you’ve decided you can’t (for instance) relocate but you’d like to be considered for other positions that might open up in the future.


Example:

"I’d prefer to be based here, but it’s certainly a possibility I’d be willing to consider."

 

Q. Would your rather work with information or with people?

A. This question is quite tricky. Ideally, both, but tailor response to job and describe strengths in each area. Don’t make yourself sound weak in either area. Make sure to answer the question based on the position and its relevant requirements. Usually, you need both so do not be one-sided. Never mention the preference for one or the other.

 
Example:

“It is imperative that I work with both quality information and competent people since projects differ based on the requirements of both information and team players.”

 

Q. What motivates you?

A. By making a list of motivating experiences from your last two or three jobs, you will begin to see patterns of projects and tasks that stand out. Analyze what you did before. Do you want more of this type of responsibility in your next job? The answers to these questions will give you insight into what stimulates you as well as possibilities for fulfillment in future jobs with similar responsibilities.

Additionally, by focusing on times when you were energized by your work, you may become more enthusiastic about the job you are seeking. Answer the motivation question, reflecting your values and what is important to you.


Example:

"In my previous job, I worked directly with customers and their problems. What I liked was solving problems and helping people. Sometimes it took a lot of effort on my part, but it was very rewarding when the customer appreciated the service."

This answer reflects the candidate’s interest in helping people and the satisfaction he gets in finding solutions.

 

Q.  How do you handle conflict?

A.  This is one of the toughest interview questions of all. It’s sort of a trick question, as a matter of fact. Never speak negatively about anyone. The ability to successfully resolve conflicts is important for all members of an IS team.. It may be the most important factor if you’re working in a service environment, such as a large consulting firm that deals with outside clients. The answer you give here could go a long way toward getting you a job offer. Managers want to see that you are mature and unselfish. The answer should involve proof of your maturity level. They are looking for your ability to handle conflict. Compromise and working it out without external intervention are the keys. A disgruntled person is not going to be productive, and tends to bring down coworkers’ morale as well.


Example:

"I sat down with the other person and asked what his issues were. Then I outlined my issues. We talked about which were the most important ones and which we could compromise on. We looked for the common aspects of our goals and placed those first. Then we decided together what to give up and what to keep, so that both parties felt they were winning something. Both parties were satisfied."

 

Q. Are you a team player?

A. Are you most productive working alone or in a group?

The interviewer is looking for someone who can work in an environment without the environment disrupting the candidate’s preferred way of getting work done. Be honest but communicate that you’re a flexible and reasonably adaptable employee.


Example:

"I need some privacy time for planning, but otherwise I like the activity and noise of people around me and the ability to share ideas. I think most writers need reinforcement, because we all get writer’s block occasionally."

 

Q. What major problem have you had to deal with recently?

A. The interviewer will want to know how you hold up under pressure. Describe a situation, either personal or professional, that involved a great deal of conflict and challenge and placed you under an unusual amount of stress. What, specifically, were the problems, and what did you do to resolve them?


Example:

"One time, my coworker went on maternity leave for six months  and I picked up a lot of additional work to help her out. I know she would’ve done the same for me, and it’s important for me to have that kind of trust among the members of my work group."

 

 

Q. Do you handle pressure well?

A.  It might be helpful here to describe a stressful project you’ve worked on and the specific actions you took to organize each step and see the project through. How do you keep yourself calm and professional under pressure?


Example:

"I try to get out for lunch at least once during the week to clear my head. I also have a personal rule that stops me from reacting to a problem until I feel calm about it. I think, then act-but I’ve learned to do that over time."

 

Q.  Are you willing to travel? How much?

A.  If traveling were not part of the job, the interviewer would not be asking this question. Therefore, the only acceptable answer is "yes".   If you are willing to travel, answer yes and give some illustrations of work-related travel you have done.  However, if you do not want to travel, you should find out more about this aspect of the job before accepting the position, such as how much travel will be involved, where will you be traveling to and for how long. 

 

Q.  Is money important to you?

A. When talking about money, always balance the importance of it by the eternal goals it can help you attain. Remember to comment that money is only a tool. The motivations behind making more money is to help you achieve your dreams and visions in life. So perhaps it is also a good time for you to share your view on life, your view on how to motivate yourself towards your goals in life and how you manage to overcome obstacles. For the criteria to choose your ideal job, I think most of you would undoubtedly advocate the challenges and opportunity to learn rather than monetary rewards. Remember, the employers are expecting similar answer. So your ¡§standard¡¨ response is not going to do you any goodness among other candidates. What make you outstanding is again how your view money against other values in life. Be realistic, apart from stressing your desire to improve yourself and to learn, you should clarify your concept of money. You do need it. There is nothing wrong to look for better salary and benefits for your rewarding services. So describe yourself to be a confident employee who does regard a healthy and fair pay is also your expectation because you deserve it.

 

 Q. What do you want to do with your life?

A. Strike a delicate balance when responding to this kind of question: Honesty/ambition/ Your desire to be working at this company.
• Avoid responses like starting your own business, running for Prime Minister.
• Not totally inappropriate to mention the personal (marriage, family), but focus on professional goals.
Response could be: "I’m here to let you know that I am the best person for the job. If in the future you feel I would be a candidate for a higher level position, I know I wouldn’t be passed up."
OR: "I hope to stay at the company and expect that in five years, I’ll make a significant advance in the organization."
OR: "I would like to become the very best ______ your company has."

 

 Q.  Do you have any actual work experience?

A.  Discuss the key skills you have gained from your work experiences -- and how these skills will help the employer.
This question also gives a good opportunity to talk about your existing skills/strengths, if you have minimal work experience.

 
Q.  Why and When did you decide on this career?

A. I decided to pursue this career while studying art during my freshman and sophomore years in college. The decision to focus on design came naturally as I took as many of the fine arts and graphics course electives that the schedule would allow; I really did not have to think about it, it just happened. I was always interested in art, and found myself much more suited for the "structure" of graphic design versus the fine arts courses I was taking. I always admired magazines and catalogs for their layout even before I knew much about the profession of graphic design. Though I enjoy fine arts very much, I found graphic design to be the perfect fit.

 

Q. What goals do you have in your career?

A. Again, don’t fall into the trap of specifying job titles. Stick to a natural progression you see as plausible. How should this job grow for the good of the organization? Then turn your attention once again to the job at hand. If you seem too interested in what lies beyond this job, the interviewer will fear that you won’t stick around for long.


Example:

"Beyond this job as a marketing assistant, I see myself moving up through marketing analysis into brand management and eventually running a category. I’m aware that there are several skills I need to develop in the interval, and I believe with your continuing-education program and my own motivation for self-improvement, I’ll have those skills when the opportunities arise for greater responsibility. That’s why I’m determined to learn from the ground up, starting as a marketing assistant."

 

Q. How do you evaluate success?

A.  Be candid without sounding arrogant. Mention observations other people have made about your work strengths or talents. This question is similar to the question "What sets you apart from the crowd?"


Example:

I never assume our customers are satisfied with our product, so I do my best to follow up with every customer. This feedback has provided valuable insight into the quality and characteristics of our products. The customer, as well, always appreciates this follow-up, especially when something hasn’t gone right and you still have the opportunity to correct it on a timely basis. In addition, I’m able to pass on information to our design and production units to help improve both process and product."

 

Q.  What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your life?

A.  Be sure that the accomplishment you describe here is relevant to the job you’re interviewing for. Also, be careful that your answer doesn’t sound as if the best is behind you. Mention something great that you’ve achieved, but clearly communicate your belief that the best is yet to come.


Example:

"I’m proud of the fact that I graduated on time with a solid GPA while I played varsity volleyball for four years. A lot of women on my team either took a reduced course load or let their grades suffer. I believe the reason I got through it all was sheer determination; I never even let myself visualize anything but finishing on time and with good grades. So I firmly believe, as a professional counselor, in the importance of a positive outlook."

 

Q. Why should I hire you?

A. Don’t repeat your resume or employment history. Offer one or two examples to explain why you’re talking to this particular company. What’s the most compelling example you can give to prove your interest? This question often remains unasked, but it’s always in the back of the recruiter’s mind. Even if this question isn’t asked, you should find an opportunity to use your prepared response sometime during the interview, perhaps in your closing remarks.


Example:

"My uncle had a company that was a small-scale manufacturer in the industry, and although he later sold the business, I worked there for five school vacations doing all sorts of odd jobs. For that reason I believe I know this business from the ground up, and you can be assured that I know what I’d be getting into as a plant manager here."

 

Q. Are you a goal-oriented person?

A. At the beginning of every week you sit down with your planner and current projects and define what will be your weekly goals for each of your projects. Then, pull out your planner and show the interviewer the goals that you had set the week before. Explain and show the details that back up your answers.

 

Q. Why did you choose to attend your college?

A. Be open and honest about the reasons for choosing one college over the other. Point out the services and opportunities the school offers that sets it apart from others.

 

Example:

I applied to many schools I chose Ashesi University and I am extremely happy that I did. Ashesi is a small community where you truely become best friends with your classmates. The class is small enough that I could really get to know the people you go to school with both in and out of the classroom. I also had great interaction with my professors who knew me well and had an interest in seeing me do well. Our Dean was also very interested in getting to know us and what we thoughtshould be the future of the school. My family and I live in Accra so I wanted to be close to Accra but not in another region.

 

Q. How has your education prepared you for your career?

A. Explain how your courses and career-related projects have positioned you to be qualified for such a position.


Example:
“As you will note on my resume, I’ve taken not only the required core classes in the _____ field, I’ve also gone above and beyond. I’ve taken every class the university has to offer in the field and also completed an independent study project specifically in this area. But it’s not just taking the classes to gain academic knowledge I’ve taken each class, both inside and outside of my major, with this  profession in mind. So when we’re studying _____ in _____, I’ve viewed it from the perspective of _____. In addition, I’ve always tried to keep a practical view of how the information would apply to my job. Not just theory, but how it would actually apply. My final year project involved a real-world model of _____, which is very similar to what might be used within your company...”

 

Q.  What were your favorite classes? Why?

A. The interviewer will want to see how well you respond to difficult situations. Demonstrate that you won’t fold in the face of difficulty, and that you’re willing to put in the extra effort to meet a challenge.


Example:

"Initially I was completely overwhelmed by the introductory chemistry course that I took last year. No matter how hard I studied, I seemed to be getting nowhere. I failed the first three quizzes. So I tried a new approach. Instead of just studying by myself, I asked a friend who’s a chemistry major to help me with my studies. I also began to seek help from the professor after class. And I found that more time I spent in the lab was critical. I ended up with a B-plus in the course and thought I achieved a solid understanding of the material. More than that, I learned that tackling a new field of study sometimes requires a new approach, not just hard work, and that the help of others can be crucial!

 

Q.  Do you have any plans for further education?

A.  If you have any intention to further your education, the interview setting is not the opportune time to indicate that. It reduces your chances if an employer gets the notion your stint with the company may be short in duration.

 

Q. How much training do you think you’ll need to become a productive employee?

A. You can be productive immediately. Make sure you express confidence in your ability to make an impact immediately.

 

Q.  What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have?

A. The question has a twofold purpose:
• How you will get along with management.
• How you see yourself as a manager.

 

Q.  Why do you want to work in the _____ industry?

A.  Tell a story about how you first became interested in this type of work. Point out any similarities between the job you’re interviewing for and your current or most recent job. Provide proof that you aren’t simply shopping in this interview. Make your passions for you work a theme that you allude to continually throughout the interview.


Example:

"I’ve always wanted to work in an industry that makes tools. One of my hobbies is home-improvement projects, so I’ve collected a number of saws manufactured by your company. I could be an accountant anywhere, but I’d rather work for a company whose products I trust."

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