50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A

Review these typical interview questions and think about how you would answer them. Read the questions listed; you will also find some strategy suggestions with it.

(Excerpted from the book The Accelerated Job Search by Wayne D. Ford, Ph.D, published by The Management Advantage, Inc.)

1. Tell me about yourself:
The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a short
statement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not sound
rehearsed. Limit it to work-related items unless instructed otherwise.
Talk about things you have done and jobs you have held that relate to
the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest
back and work up to the present.

2. Why did you leave your last job?
Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major
problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers
or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep
smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an
opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-looking
reasons.

3. What experience do you have in this field?
Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for.
If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.

4. Do you consider yourself successful?
You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A good
explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are
on track to achieve the others.

5. What do co-workers say about you?
Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific
statement or a paraphrase will work. Jill Clark, a co-worker at Smith
Company, always said I was the hardest workers she had ever known. It
is as powerful as Jill having said it at the interview herself.

6. What do you know about this organization?
This question is one reason to do some research on the organization
before the interview. Find out where they have been and where they are
going. What are the current issues and who are the major players?

7. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?
Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide
variety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement.
Have some good ones handy to mention.

8. Are you applying for other jobs?
Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus
on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is
a distraction.

9. Why do you want to work for this organization?
This may take some thought and certainly, should be based on the
research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely
important here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-term
career goals.

10. Do you know anyone who works for us?
Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization. This
can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not
relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought
of.

11. What kind of salary do you need?
A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose if
you answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something like,
That’s a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position?
In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not,
say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide
range.

12. Are you a team player?
You are, of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready.
Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather
than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag,
just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.

13. How long would you expect to work for us if hired?
Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I’d like
it to be a long time. Or As long as we both feel I’m doing a good job.

14. Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that?
This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like you
like to fire people. At the same time, you will do it when it is the
right thing to do. When it comes to the organization versus the
individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the
organization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction in
force.

15. What is your philosophy towards work?
The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation here.
Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. That’s the
type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a
benefit to the organization.

16. If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?
Answer yes if you would. But since you need to work, this is the type
of work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it.

17. Have you ever been asked to leave a position?
If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying
negative things about the people or organization involved.

18. Explain how you would be an asset to this organization
You should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance to
highlight your best points as they relate to the position being
discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.

19. Why should we hire you?
Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not
mention any other candidates to make a comparison.

20. Tell me about a suggestion you have made
Have a good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted
and was then considered successful. One related to the type of work
applied for is a real plus.

21. What irritates you about co-workers?
This is a trap question. Think real hard but fail to come up with
anything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to get
along with folks is great.

22. What is your greatest strength?
Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples:
Your ability to prioritize, Your problem-solving skills, Your ability
to work under pressure, Your ability to focus on projects, Your
professional expertise, Your leadership skills, Your positive attitude

23. Tell me about your dream job.
Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job you
are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say another
job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with
this position if hired. The best is to stay genetic and say something
like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and
can’t wait to get to work.

24. Why do you think you would do well at this job?
Give several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.

25. What are you looking for in a job?
See answer # 23

26. What kind of person would you refuse to work with?
Do not be trivial. It would take disloyalty to the organization,
violence or lawbreaking to get you to object. Minor objections will
label you as a whiner.

27. What is more important to you: the money or the work?
Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is
no better answer.

28. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?
There are numerous good possibilities:
Loyalty, Energy, Positive attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise,
Initiative, Patience, Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver

29. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor
Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of
your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former
boss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive and
develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.

30. What has disappointed you about a job?
Don’t get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include:
Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction Company did
not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.

31. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.
You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an
example that relates to the type of position applied for.

32. Do your skills match this job or another job more closely?
Probably this one. Do not give fuel to the suspicion that you may want
another job more than this one.

33. What motivates you to do your best on the job?
This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are:
Challenge, Achievement, Recognition

34. Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?
This is up to you. Be totally honest.

35. How would you know you were successful on this job?
Several ways are good measures:
You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are a
success.Your boss tell you that you are successful

36. Would you be willing to relocate if required?
You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if
you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to get
the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems
later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself
future grief.

37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead ofyour own?
This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about
the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.

38. Describe your management style.
Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive,
salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions
depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational
style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the
situation, instead of one size fits all.

39. What have you learned from mistakes on the job?
Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make
it small, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. An
example would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project and
thus throwing coordination off.

40. Do you have any blind spots?
Trick question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blind
spots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them do
their own discovery on your bad points. Do not hand it to them.

41. If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?
Be careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have.

42. Do you think you are overqualified for this position?
Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well
qualified for the position.

43. How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?
First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about,
bring that up: Then, point out (if true) that you are a hard working
quick learner.

44. What qualities do you look for in a boss?
Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense of
humor, fair, loyal to subordinates and holder of high standards. All
bosses think they have these traits.

45. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute betweenothers.
Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique
and not the dispute you settled.

46. What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?
Be honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.

47. Describe your work ethic.
Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, determination to
get the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good.

48. What has been your biggest professional disappointment?
Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show
acceptance and no negative feelings.

49. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.
Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization.

50. Do you have any questions for me?
Always have some questions prepared. Questions prepared where you will be an asset to the organization are good. How soon will I be able to be productive? and What type of projects will I be able to assist on? are
examples.

Comments»

1. smiggs – August 19, 2006
Might be a british but one of the questions I always get asked is my biggest weakness.

For me there are two approaches to this either something really obvious like lacking experience (I’m a recent graduate) or the biggest interview cliche saying that you can work to hard. But I’ve had both thrown back in my face in a couple of interviews so what’s the answer should I just be honest?

2. TR Bobby – August 19, 2006
Regarding the “What is your greatest weakness?” question,

ugh! That question is a sure indicator that the person interviewing you does not know what theya re doing. It’s a sure loser. Either the applicant is honest and stupid enough to market their truly worst flaws (and every applicant has some serious flaws, like arrogance or laziness or sex obsession… they ALL have something that they ned to control as part of the human experience)… Either they tell that or they lie. The most common and cliche inexeperienced lie they tell is the perfectionist flaw… what Lakuma said. This might work, I suppose, since your interviewer is probably an idiot, but it’s also a sure sign that you are not very experienced as doing much beyond reading simplistic career books.

It’s a cliche answer to say you are super hard working… and somehow you truly greatest flaw is also what makes you a good worker… that’s so blatantly dishonest that it shows serious judgemental defieciencies. Can you imagine the worker who really thinks the fact that they are super detail oriented or a perfectionist is their greatest weakness? it is so nakedly false, fake, and disrespectful that people who say this must just not be thinking their answer through at all! And again, it is very very tired and cliche.

No, a better answer is to name a legit flaw, but not one of your truly worst ones. Tell them you have a shy personality and it may take a little while for people to realize that you aren’t stuck up and really want to be friends (if this is true, if it is not tue it will be obvious).

Or say that you have a no experience (a pretty good answer if true because it isn’t really giving any information up) I’m not sure how this gets thrown back in your face, smiggs, if it’s true, then reality was being thrown in your face, no disrespect intended.

Tell them the truth and consider asking your interviewer what they mean to accomplish with that question. I want to know that the place I’m going to work takes its emplioyees seriously. That question indicates an unseriousness about interviewing. Almost like throwing artificial obstacles in the way of getting the right employee. Inviting dishonesty or stupid answers… it’s just not professional.

The interview may not define the company, but all else being equal, I would consider it a strike against considering a job offer.

3. Rocco Stanzione – August 19, 2006
One question I’ve often been asked, and which cost me the job (I’m pretty sure, in retrospect) the first time I was asked it is: where do you see yourself in (say) 5 years? The incorrect answer is that you want to open up a business just like this one, up the street over there.

4. Eric Matthew – August 19, 2006
Biggest Flaw:

For a while I refused to answer this question and told them why. Now I have to answer honestly and say something like, “Hmmm. I’d have to say that I get a little to upset with slow drivers. Most of them are old and have been around a long time and their driving ability does not define who they are as a person or their contribution to society.”

5. Jesus – August 19, 2006
“How soon will I be able to be productive?”

Gross.

6. Frank – August 19, 2006
One I got asked often was “Do you prefer to work solo or in a team?” I think this can be pretty tricky depending on the type of job.

7. Eben de Lange – August 19, 2006
I agree with Eric, although, the idea is to try to make it relevant to the company as well. My answer to this is: ‘I tend to get annoyed when things are going inefficient”, and then IMMEDIATELY jump to the traffic situation. Most people will be able to identify with the stuck in traffic concept, and if you specify that you feel that you can do MORE in that time, then it is usually a sure-fire winner.

In addition, the idea behind the worst-flaw type question is to see what you are doing to improve it. With regards to the traffic question, I usually reply that I try to relax by listening to classical radio stations or whatever. This shows that I am aware of my flaw, and am working towards fixing it.

NEVER mention more than one flaw!

8. GoogleHateMe – August 19, 2006
Had 2 phone interviews with Google. Got rejected. Here’s the questions they asked me:

You have a cluster of web servers, each with several log files. Each line in each log file contains the time that it took to serve the request. You have 1 other machine to use to coordinate the work. How do you find the median response time efficiently?

The answer that the interviewer was looking for was this:
Have each server sort its own log files. Ask each server for its median response time. Combine the responses and come up with your best guess at the median for the cluster. Ask each server how many response times were less, and how many were more than your guess. Use their replies to refine your guess. Repeat.

You have a list of strings. How do you find the longest common prefix that occurs in at least 75% of the strings.

How do Vectors in Java work?

You have 2 unsorted arrays of integers. How can you efficiently determine their intersection?

9. smiggs – August 20, 2006
TR Bobby: yeah I’ve come to accept it as written that most people who do the interviewing don’t really know what they are doing. I think most of them know it as well and are just as nervous or in fact since I’ve become a bit blase about the whole process are more nervous than me. Most of them are determined to put you through the mill though so come up with the most cliche questions possible and then expect you to ask them seriously.

10. Chris Sherret – August 20, 2006
Regarding the “What is your greatest weakness?” question,

There is an answer to this…
The principle is: Don’t mention a weakness without knowing the solution. Everyone has weaknesses. To recognise this and have a solution is what makes the difference. Most people are lazy and not willing to go the extra mile to find an answer. Excuses don’t get the job done.
Technical Person: “I am a technical person and I realise that my people skills may not be as strong as other people. In order to overcome this I have been reading people skills books because I know I need to improve.”. You better be telling the truth though.

Only above average candidates will be able to answer honestly.
Even if interviewers don’t know why they are asking the question they will recognise a gem or a fraud.

The only reason to hide the weakness is if you don’t have a solution.
Better figure out the truth and do something about it.

11. sharpcraft – August 20, 2006
On #11, the salary question, I don’t think this is a loaded question. You should establish as early as possible the range you expect. You have to determine that you both are on the same page. If the company has a hard limit that’s $20k below your minimum then you are all wasting your time. Salary may be one of the few hard points dictated to the person hiring you, and negotiable only within the range they’ve had approved.
If you’re going into a stable company with low turnover, they may not hire enough people to know what to pay. http://www.salary.com is a good start.
Once you’ve established that they’ll put you in the tax bracket you want, then you can proceed with the rest of it and put off the exact amount until they’re getting ready to make an offer.

12. Mad Interviewer – August 20, 2006
I would commend you for most of your answers except for these two:

11. What kind of salary do you need?

I think you should state the salary you want… and then some. This puts you on a higher plane in the mind of the hiring company. No matter how good you really are, no company will respect you if you work for peanuts. People (and companies) value what they pay most for.

37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead of your own?

Of course not!

13. Jason – August 20, 2006
8. Are you applying for other jobs?
Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus
on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is
a distraction.

There can be only one response to this question:

“Are you interviewing other people for this job?”

Duh. You are looking for the right job, not any job that comes along. They are looking fro the right employee. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Do not let an interviewer forget that.

14. John – August 20, 2006
Good list of questions! This would be a great tool for someone to use in preparing for interviews with a friend.

A few other tips from my experience have been to always be positive in interviews. Negative comments say that you are an individual who is critical of others, and no one wants to work with an asshole. This will automatically put you in the second round interview pools if the rest of the interview goes smoothly. Why make it in two interviews, if you can make it in one by avoiding this pitfall.

Avoid the negative at all costs!

Do not try and be funny. Save the sarcasm and facetiousness for your firends. You are being interviewed by a stranger who might have a completely different set of values from your own, ie not getting the joke. Just don’t.

“What is your greatest weakness?”

I have never been asked this question. But I know this one is a test to see how tactful an interviewee is. A good reply would be “I’m sure I have short commings, but no one has ever enlightened me to them nor have they ever interfered with my productivity or work.” Not exactly these words, but you should get the sentiment. Do not make your reply to this question an introspection. This is an interviewer, not your shrink! A good thing to remember is interviewers are not your friend, they are merely doing their job by finding applicants to fill a vacant position. I think women have more problems with this question, as sexist as this sounds.

“Do you have any questions?”

This has been asked in every interview I have ever had, even if I was not applying for a job. Its a question that allows the interviewee an opportunity to answer potential questions some one might have, but also illustrates interest in a job, ie you are there for more than a quick dollar.

Failing to ask questions is a mistake because it shows a lack of sincere interest on the interviewees part on a job position. Ask about the job…

Do not be condescending, shaming, judgemental, critical, avoidant, short, frank, angry, or exhibit any sort of anti-social behavior.

Above all, be inquisitive, be positive, be friendly, be courteous, and walk into this interview like you are going to your first meeting with your new boss… You’ll have the spot landed in no time.

Cheers

15. mq – August 20, 2006
23. Tell me about your dream job.
The best is to stay genetic and say something
like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and
can’t wait to get to work.

Could you mean “generic?”

16. itbiz – August 20, 2006
11. What kind of salary do you need?

Say, Industry Standard!. Never disclose your salary. Say, your current CTC is confidential (Infact, it is, if u read the previous company policy).

And honestly telling the present CTC will give the intervier, a ground to FIX your next salary …

17. Jacobo – August 20, 2006
37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead of your own?

I belive the only correct answer would be something like “I shall struggle to make them coincide”. Nobody is going to believe you if you start saying that any organization is more important for you than yourself, and saying the opposite might seem selfish to the interviewer.

Sorry for my bad english but it is not my mother tongue. I hope I have been able to get through to you.

18. Bill – August 20, 2006
on the biggest weakness question I alway go with “I find I tend to lack Patience with stupid people, after showing them something more than 3 times I tend to get frustrated and let it show a bit”
This won’t work in a Sales position but for most anything else it works well.

19. Drew – August 21, 2006
Interviews go both ways. My honest answer to question #9 recently was “I’m not sure whether I want to work here or not yet. The interview process isn’t just about whether you want me, but also about how interested I would be in working here.” Or something to that effect. Not only did it get a great reaction from the fellow who was interviewing me, but I think it helped segue into all of the questions I had to ask about the company.

And it worked. I am now quite happy in my new role at Essential Security Software.
🙂

20. The New Revelation – August 21, 2006
Biggest Weakness:

Here’s what I say… it’s a total deke… that I refuse to or that I simply don’t think of myself in terms of weakness. That it’s not how I define myself. That for me, I just see opportunities to better myself… that as a person, I view myself as a constant work in progress always looking to improve myself both personally and professionally,

Then if I feel like, i’ll make up some example of a daunting task I took on (managing a project with unfamiliar people) and used that as a catalyst to force myself to further develop my leadership qualities and organizational skills…

That’s all just “for example”, but I have a pretty good batting average with job interviews == you’re hired!

21. Raena – August 21, 2006
‘29. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor… Stay positive and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.’ — oh noes. I know if I were interviewing someone I would never believe it. Everyone has an argument with a supervisor sooner or later, for some reason, even if it’s just a friendly disagreement about the direction of a project or the right way to go about doing something. People ask this to find out about your internal dispute resolution skills, not just to see if you’re in the habit of fighting with the boss.

The way to turn this into a positive answer is to think of a situation where you could talk about it reasonably and reach a nice compromise (or at least peace).

22. figz – August 21, 2006
I was once asked: “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?” What’s the right answer?

23. Ashley – August 22, 2006
A question I always ask is: What was your biggest mistake at work and what did you do about it?

I have passed over people for having no answer to it; or for the slightest whiff of lie or omission on many of the questions you advise people to answer with a lie or to weasel out of. Not everyone in the private sector belongs in a Dilbert strip. Playing that game might get you hired but it will never make you–or anyone who works with you–happy.

24. I have hired more people than you – August 22, 2006
What is your biggest weakness. A good manager will ask this to understand if you recognize things you need to improve (or do you think you’re perfect – a flaw in and of itself) AND more importantly what are the things that s/he can help you with from a career development standpoint.

25. Anonymous – August 23, 2006
>21. What irritates you about co-workers?
> This is a trap question. Think real hard but fail to come up with
> anything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to
> get along with folks is great.

If I heard this answer from a candidate I would not hire them. It indicates to me that the candidate has no depth, judgment or ability to hire the kind of people they need on their team, or to reject inappropriate team members or employees. Some people *do* fail to follow appropriate cultural or company procedures, are vindictive, abusive, dangerous, or otherwise unsuitable for any legitimate organization.

26. Kris – August 23, 2006
#11 – The salary question

I’m in HR and do a lot of interviews and I think that the best answer is:

“I would expect to be paid competitively and commensurate with the level of skill, experience and responsibility that this particular job requires.”

27. groom – August 23, 2006
After being rejected for one of the biggest job opportunities I had, the head of the review board called me and asked if I wanted to come in and discuss why I wasn’t hired (which was VERY cool of him to do!). He went over all the questions, my replies and how it effected their decision.

The biggest common flaw I had was that I wasn’t “upbeat” enough. I’d been out of college for over a year with no luck in my intended field. Most of my responces were centered around the fact that I have been down on my luck. I beat all the competing applicants hands down in my technical ability, but my personality came off as basically a loser.

Just remember to keep a 100% positive attitude during the entire interivew. Act excited to be there, about the job opportunity, about your skills, everything.

28. spoonyfork – August 23, 2006
29. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor
Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of
your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former
boss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive and
develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.

WARNING: This is bad advice. The question is designed to demonstrate the interviewee’s skills in resolving a conflict. Claiming to never had a problem is an interview ender. There are always personality and judgment conflicts that can appear to be problems. You want people on your team to disagree with you if they have a good reason to disagree. How everyone works through disagreements and problems to work together reaching a common goal is key.

29. Dan O – August 24, 2006
Another opinion from the hiring side:

I often ask about greatest strength and greatest weakness that the person has FOR THIS POSITION in an interview. And I preface my question about greatest weaknesses by noting that everbody has area that stand out in both directions, and *no* working too hard is not the kind of “weakness” that I am talking about. Nor will I accept a statement about their experience.

Often I get resistance on this question, but I press the issue. Everyone knows a significant weakness, they are just reluctant to bring it to light. But pressing this issue, I find that I can drive the interview to areas that really may affect their performance on this job.

If you wanted to game this line of questioning, you could identify a list of minor flaws. But generally I can tell you are just dodging rather than sincerely addressing the question.

I think the better answer was listed above. List real issues you have, but then explain your mitigation stratgy in a very positive way. The disdavantage of this approach is that you have alerted me to an issues that I will pay close attention to, when calling your references (which is my goal). But on the plus side, if I do sense this weakness in info that I find, I am already predisposed to accept your mitigation strategy.

In general I agree, that an overwhelming positive attitude is huge (even though I try to discount the fact that people are often intentionlly doing that in an interview)

Best of Luck.

30. Robin – August 24, 2006
Really good tips for job hunters

31. Still looking – August 24, 2006
My two worst interview questions:

#1: Name a hero.

I got caught flatfooted on this one. Name a hero? Like, Captain America? Silly. So silly. I groped a bit and coughed up “Jon Stewart.” Pretty good, I thought. But the interviewer had never heard of him. Had never heard of the Daily Show. (!!) I had to spend the time explaining the Daily Show, explaining Jon Stewart, explaining the concept of “humor”… in all, eating up valuable interview minutes when they were limited and therefore precious. Booooo on that question. From now on I’m just sticking with Captain America.

#2: Describe yourself in one word.

Again, got caught flatfooted. How the hell do you describe yourself in one word. What one word is sufficient? I mean, my first name, sure. But besides that? Handsome. Beneficent. Well-hung, if hyphenated words count. But none of those are appropriate. I came up with “Authentic,” which is a nice way to say that “I haven’t told a lie this entire interview” and is therefore a great way to say nothing at all worthwhile. What a waste of a question.

I’ve been waiting to complain about that one for months. Thanks for listening.

32. Kib – August 24, 2006
“Do you have any questions for me?”

I always ask the interviewer “What brought you to company X and what keeps you motivated to stay part of the team instead of working for one of your competitors?”

This has always elicited positive responses from the interviewer about their history with the company (and people generally like to talk about themselves) and it is always perceived by the interviewer that I am loyal and looking for a long term relationship with my employer. The interviewer usually seems to open up to me more after this question. The key is sincerity in the question.

33. BooTCaT – August 24, 2006
Thanks Bhuvans , this is one great post and i am at a mistake , if i dont write a comment .

I have a few tips , which i think would rather help readers more ,

1. CONFIDENCE , is the Mother of all kinda thingy , you initially need in attending interviews . So i would say that , it is the most essential thingy needed , before , u attend the interview .

2. NEGATIVE CONFIDENCE , is the one , which i want ALL Freshers , to hold onto . This may seem negative , but it is the most POSITIVE THINGY from my side . Consider , the JOB is ” NOT FOR YOU “.

Consider , that something ( POLITICS may be ) has been commited , and u know that the job aint for u . Use this to build a confidence , that u have a BETTER JOB Waiting for u , and sincerly and completely believing it .

Then , the actual part comes , with facing the interview , with this confidence and see how it helps you out .

But one point is that , no “NEGATIVE feedbacks , or shouts or attitudes ” , should be accompanied with this method . Just the confidence , and a positive aurora , around this , and the JOB is 4 SURE .

Thank You all , and esp. Bhuvana , thats a nice post .
My Personal BLog is at , http://catshideout.blogspot.com/

34. Harvey – August 24, 2006
11. What kind of salary do you need?

Just say it depends on what (or even better, who, as in expertise) the position requires. If they press for a number say “depending on what I know so far of the reqs., up to $X” and know X before you go in. Make X more than you want but not by too much (5-10k perhaps because you may just get it and most people underestimate their worth). Don’t give a bottom number or that’s what they’ll give you.

Your starting salary is the most important part of your new job hunt since all of your raises will be based on this number. Unless you have a really good reason, never take less than your last salary and try to always improve your salary by more than the standard 3-5% raise.

37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead of your own?

If you need a way to show how unfair this question is, ask them if the company is willing to put your interests above its own . If they need an example, ask them if they’ve ever had a layoff. The only time this question is valid is if the job truly requires a career-only, no-family employee and pays/rewards accordingly. So your answer should be NO and try to remember that when you’re working there.

35. Angela – August 24, 2006
I love #37:

Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead ofyour own?
This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about
the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.

This is such a Dilbert question. If I actually got asked this in an interview I’d know the job was probably not for me.

36. Sarvesh’s Blog » 50 common interview questions. – August 24, 2006
[…] Bhuvan just posted 50 common interview questions. […]

37. Shaun Richardson – August 25, 2006
Speaking as an employer:
*be sincere and honest – it’s really obvious if you’re not
*answer the questions to the best of your ability, but bear in mind that the interviewer has a whole lot of them, so don’t launch into a five minute epic on your high school grades
*give examples – many interviewers are taught situational techniques to elicit a response from you that gives a concrete example of how you behaved in the past to give them an idea of how you might act in the future. If that is the type of answer the interviewer is fishing for, then you’ll help your cause a lot by talking about what you have done, not making stuff up about how you plan to behave after they hire you
*don’t be late – interviewers are confronted with a large number of equally talented people. If you got to the interview, your resume shows you have the skills. The interviewer will then be looking to reduce the number of people they have to consider to find the best candidate.
*ask your interviewer questions – tips 32 and 39 are great – asking questions shows that you are interested.

38. Cynthia – August 25, 2006
Greatest Weakness – I was always told to respond with a weakness that can be used as an advantage by your supervisor. So I used a real weakness – I get bored easily – and expanded on it by saying I like to keep learning. If you’re working in IT (as I do) its a good weakness to have. Employers usually want people who keep learning. So always think if it in those terms as well.

39. Anon – August 25, 2006
What is your greatest weakness?

My inability to show my true potential in job interview like this one.

40. Sean – August 25, 2006
Figz: Jaguar. Just sounds cool.

Extending 28 + 29: Treat any question about a negative (weakness, thing you didn’t like about your old job, problem with a supervisor) as an opportunity to be honest — because interviewers know when you are not — and to demonstrate your drive to improve and/or problem solve. Pattern: [describe weakness, problem, dislike], so I [describe action taken to cure the weakness, solve the problem, address the dislike]

Number one question to ask at the end of an interview, whether prompted or not: Do you have any concerns that would prevent you from recommending/selecting me for this job?

It’s brutally hard to get in the habit of asking, but it always pays off. It gives you an opportunity to directly address any concerns that the interviewer has. One concrete example. I did my own thing for a few years. When I went to interview at an enormous company, there was some concern that I would be a cowboy who wouldn’t work in a formal structure. I was able to refer the interviewers (a pair) to earlier experience working at a large law firm where there was a lot of structure, oversight, organizational hierarchy. Totally took the issue off the table.

Beyond that, I think “What do you like about working at the company?” is a great one. If the interviewer has stuck you with a lot of negative-type questions, turn it back on him, “What would you change about the company if you could?”

Another good one, especially if you are interviewing with someone who has or likely had your position: “What positions did you have before this one?” Since most people don’t work in lockstep through an organization, this can remind the interviewer that good candidates don’t necessarily have all the exact specs on the job description.

41. K – August 26, 2006
When you are asked about salaries,I suggest that you ask what he or she would say in your position. That always works for me.

42. maria – August 26, 2006
great great post …..

43. Marco – August 27, 2006
This article is great, and comments are even better. I totally stumbled into my current job after not really looking around much.

My position now includes hiring and I want to add a few points for consideration that I think have significance in this discussion.

1. What kind of work environment are you looking for? Try to be aware of when some of the questions asked speak negatively of the atmosphere of the company.

2. There has been debate about “correct” responses to questions. This is also colored by the type of company you’re interviewing with. If they are big, corporate, structured, the suggestions in the original article seem valid. If they are smaller, more open-minded, looking for creativity and innovation, you can be more free and honest with your answers. The interviewer should take you at face value and be impressed with your confidence and honesty.

3. Remember that you are interviewing with a person, not the company. That person’s personal style may or may not reflect the company at large. It pays to try to get a read on the interviewer and tailor your responses accordingly.

44. David Grant, Vancouver, BC – August 27, 2006
50 Most Common Interview Questions

Here is a massive list of the 50 most common inverview questions. I have been doing a lot of interviews at work lately and I think these would have been really helpful. It will also be helpful for when I eventually have to look for another job.

45. Lee – August 27, 2006
This article has been most helpful for me in preparing for my interview. I’m hoping that it will get me the job, if nothing else, I will be prepared when the questions are asked.

46. fatima – August 27, 2006
yes itis the most helpful thing for any interview. thank you

47. cindy – August 28, 2006
I can’t belive I “Stumbled” on this list the day before I have an interview. I’ve been out of work for several months now and this list will help me prepare for tomorrow. thank you so much

48. R.John – August 28, 2006
how do you answer the question ” why were you terminated from your last job ? “

49. Being Prepared for Interviews – Quickie Sheets – August 28, 2006
[…] Bhuvana collected the most common interview questions and listed recommended answers for each. I honestly haven’t heard some of them asked in my own interviews so I’m not sure how common they all are. Be sure to read the comments because there are some really good additions from several HR people and other experienced interviewers there. […]

50. Zeroization » Blog Archive » 50 Interview Questions – August 28, 2006
[…] Strategies for answering 50 common interview questions. […]

51. M. Richardson – August 28, 2006
I actually interviewed for a job today (3rd time around) with the V.P. Some of the above questions came up, the one that sticks out the most is the “What areas of improvement would your current supervisor say you need to work on?” I played it “safe” and thought about it for a few moments then claimed amnesia: “Nothing in particular was emphasized or otherwise brought to my attention during my last performance review.”

This, of course, is a lie. Everyone has an area where they can improve, either a little or a lot. I didn’t feel comfortable stating, “Well, I’m trying hard to not be as big of an asshole as I used to be,” but I also didn’t like playing amnesia. However, the answers, for the super-majority of the interview, were very neutral and helpful.

I tend to agree with some of the comments here regarding never having a conflict with a supervisor, or the ones about what irritates you about coworkers. When it comes to a supervisor, I would mention a conflict I once had about how to best approach a client issue. We disagreed on what was the best solution but we collaborated, listened to each other’s input and in the end we agreed to try both approaches. We agreed we’d try mine first and then we’d try his if that failed. In the end, it was obvious that both solutions would have worked out so I learned how to work out a difference without being confrontational.

About co-workers, things that irritate me: When they’re stealing from the company (lie about timesheets, services, stealing items), racial/sexual harassment/discrimination remarks or anything else that is against the law. I’ve used this before and I was given high points for such.

Not every answer fits every interview nor does every interviewer want to hear the same thing. However, the 50 questions in this blog entry do reflect the safest approach in MOST situations, not EVERY situation. So, yes, while John Q. Interviewer wants you to be neutral about certain items, the guy from Google might want you to tell him all about something in great detail.

52. John Gould – August 29, 2006
How about this question, “Tell me about a time when you were asked to compromise your integrity in behalf of the corporate objectives.”
The CEO to the CFO, “The future success of this company depends upon YOU finding an accounting miracle.”

53. Bhuvana Sundaramoorthy’s Blog » 50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A at bennybox – August 29, 2006
[…] Bhuvana Sundaramoorthy’s Blog » 50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A 37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead ofyour own? This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes. […]

54. Aaron’s Soapbox » links for 2006-08-29 – August 29, 2006
[…] 50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A « Bhuvana Sundaramoorthy’s Blog (tags: interview career jobs questions) […]

55. summu – August 29, 2006
Well I was asked in one interview

‘Give me 3 reasons why we shudnt hire you’

56. summu – August 29, 2006
And I got that job D

57. softweyr – August 29, 2006
“What is your biggest flaw as an employee?”

I ask that at interviews every time, and I don’t particularly care what the answer is, because the interviewee will either be too startled to answer effectively, or is going to lie to me. What I’m looking for is what the person does in response to the question. Yes, I can tell if you’re giving me a well-planned response, because you won’t be startled by the question and will answer too soon, and too assuredly. I can also tell if you’re going to lie to me, just by watching your eyes.

What I can’t tell is if you actually become introspective, think about something important, and then lie to me. So if you’re going to lie in response to this question, that’s what you need to do. Think about some pleasant experience for a few moments, then give your canned response, slowly, as if recalling the experience.

Any time I have a candidate who answers all of my questions without pausing to think or recall, I begin to wonder how much he has been interviewing and why nobody else has hired him.

58. m4nd4li4 – August 30, 2006
Great! This is absolutely wonderful. Looking for another position at the moment and I have a face-to-face interview at Sophos, UK. Has anyone in the UK being to a interview at Sophos or works at Sophos? I’d love to read what they have to say about their interview with them.

59. Alex Givant – August 31, 2006
Q: What is your greatest weakness?
A: Answering to question about my greatest weakness! -)

60. EV – September 1, 2006
Got called back for my “second” interview next week for a job. I’m assuming that’s a good thing, but is it OK to ask the interviewer (will be same person as “first” round) how many other “final” candidates I’m up against? Is that appropriate? Is it OK to ask the person where I stand in the rankings, and how I can improve my chances? Or does that seem too desperate, even for a finalist?

61. Rose – September 1, 2006
What do you recommend saying if an interviewer asks a question about your field that you do not know the answer to?

62. Grateful One – September 2, 2006
I have my job interview tomorrow and I must say that I was a little worried and nervous at first but this site has really helped me. I feel much more confident now. Thanks!

63. Jeroen – September 2, 2006
#37

Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead ofyour own?
This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about
the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.

—–

If you say yes, ‘they’ will immediately recognise that you are trying to trick them with your answers, and you’ll instantly loose credibility you built up with previous answers…

You are applying for the job for your own interest… not theirs. It’s not like you are applying for your favourite pass-time.

Arguably you are forced to put their interest above your own all the time, when your total hours amount to twice what you are being payed for.

You work to live… not the other way around. Be honest about that and explain that you have no problem of putting in the extra effort when the need arises. Explain as well, that if it becomes a habbit, you’d like it to be reflected in your sallary.

64. kalyank.net » Blog Archive » 50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A – September 3, 2006
[…] Nice tips from Bhuvana Sundaramoorthy’s site. […]

65. Participant – September 3, 2006
I happen to visit your site. Congrats! It’s a wonderful site. But may I ask if you can give me a clue or two about how to set up additional navigational bars, in addition to home, and about… ie, Java Tutorial and Technical? Thank you in advance.

Yeo Zhenry
Email: firsttellfastsell@yahoo.com

66. riversaredamp – September 3, 2006
Great post!

67. M. Richardson – September 4, 2006
In resposne to #61:

“What do you recommend saying if an interviewer asks a question about your field that you do not know the answer to?”

Be honest. Don’t lie. Don’t try to make things up. You can approach this two ways:

#1 – “That’s an area where I do not have experience.”

#2 – “I have not professionally trained in that area, but I have been trained/have extensive experience in area ‘x’ which is very similar.”

I used to B.S. when asked this if I had no experience, and I know I was transparent. Now I’m brutally honest with #1 being my preferred answer. Just look them straight in the eye and say, “I do not have experience in that area, but I am very motivated and a quick learner.” Give ‘em the let down first with the BUT I AM WILLING TO LEARN part second so they remember that.

68. shuchetana – September 5, 2006
that’s funny… i seem to remember commenting on this post, but i cant see my comment.
and, i wrote a post on my blog (lifepbs.wordpress.com) about some differing opinions i had about some of these answers… but i can’t see my trackback anywhere…
ugh, i wonder when i’ll stop being a “new” blogger!

69. Jason Ruyle | 50 questions at an Interview – September 6, 2006
[…] 50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A « Bhuvana Sundaramoorthy’s Blog […]

70. Mike – September 8, 2006
People who say they have no weaknesses have no real sense of themselves. I ask this question, and as long as they pick an answer and have addressed it (I will ask how they overcome it if they do not tell me), I will move on. I have had at least a dozen people tell me they had no weaknesses. (Thanks. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.) I have had a few tell me about serious flaws (rather than weaknesses), and several had not addressed their weaknesses in any way. These are weak candidates.

One trackback said the question is a sign of a weak interviewer, but I disagree. Not every question is looking for a philosophical answer or performance. I ask some questions because I know that some people who are not prepared or who have serious personality flaws will eliminate themselves. (Every workplace killer came in the door and applied for a job.)

I also use silence in interviews. Some people cannot stand silence. They will get nervous and add to canned answers, and the follow up words will give a better insight into their true personalities. One interviewee, after a silence, told me that sometimes you have to “tell callers how it is” – a sign that he would be brusque with people when he ran out of patience. The position was for an emergency dispatcher who would have been dealing with distraught people – people who need someone who has infinite patience. He went to work for someone else as a 9-1-1 operator and was fired this year for inappropriate behavior.

I am a retired highway patrol commander and have asked a lot of questions to people trying to hide the truth and their true intent. In HR I am not looking to interrogate a criminal (at least not on purpose), but the interview questions listed here all have their purpose and they can all in their way contribute to finding the best employees if used skillfully.

71. afrofeminista – September 11, 2006
Interesting list! Just what i need for my interview later today. . .

72. sarah D – September 11, 2006
Great site for interview tips – thankyou!

Could i ask if anyone has had been for an assessment day with HSBC? Any advice on what happens on the assesment days please?

73. sarah D – September 11, 2006
Hi, On the HSBC online application form, could some one give me some example answers for the personal quality section please?

Sarah

74. Chris Dempsey :: 50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A « Bhuvana Sundaramoorthy’s Blog :: September :: 2006 – September 12, 2006
[…] 50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A « Bhuvana Sundaramoorthy’s Blog […]

75. Erich – September 13, 2006
What is your major weakness?

Try this…
I like to keep busy and productive at work. I always feel really bad during slow times because I feel that I am not contributing. So, when those times do come up, and that does happen on occasion, I have learned to ask other collegues if they need assistance or to ask my supervisor if there is anything that they would like me to help them with.

This shows initiative and teamwork, something all employers want. )

76. kothu – September 13, 2006
Oh this is a good post.Thank alot.

77. Neal – September 13, 2006
Hi there, I need help

I applied for a certain job and they have sent me an email with these questions to support my application:

1. Give an example when you have worked in a team
2. What do you like and dislike about team working?
3. Give an example of when you have had to follow technical procedures or technical instructions

I’d appreciate any answers!
thank You

78. El mejor trabajo, el último trabajo… « Memo’s Webplace – September 13, 2006
[…] Por mientras, me encontré este Blog, que sugiere como reponder a las preguntas comúnes en una entrevista.  Creo que podrá se de ayuda, ya que no hay buen vendedor si no ha sido preparado para el ataque. Sugerencias puede haber muchas, y creo que todo el mundo opina de la mejor manera, pero la verdad es que está en cada uno de nosotros poder hacer lo que queramos. […]

79. Anonymous – September 14, 2006
50 Common Interview Questions

Collection of Common Interview Questions. It also contains about how to answer them.

80. Top 15 Programming Sites on Digg.com for Last 30 Days – Intelligentedu.com Free Computer Training Blogs – September 14, 2006
[…] Here are what I deem to be the top 15 free training and tutorial sites posted at digg.com/prgramming for the last 30 days. I have compiled these here so you can see the type of content that we esteem to be valuable. These cover a variety of subjects and areas, including web development, Ajax, Java, CSS, PHP, Firefox extensions, C++, Python, MySQL, Design Patterns, Grid Computing, and Interview Questions. Roll-your-own AJAX SlideshowThe folks at TripTracker.net have decided to share their JavaScript slideshow with the rest of the Web. Just import their script in your web page to add a cool popup slideshow. Comes with a handy bookmarklet for viewing Flickr photos, too. More…32 comments Blog This Email This COWS Ajax – It’s about the 3rd-party apps, Stupid!Traditional Ajax constrains your apps to one site. COWS Ajax let’s them flourish as 3rd party accessible tools, unlocking a new breed of web application. This article addresses some of the pro’s and con’s of granting such access. More… 48 comments Blog This Email This Java: Remote Method Invocation (RMI) an applet exampleRMI is one of the core Java APIs since version 1.1. It provides a framework for distributed computing. With RMI, separate parts of a single program can exist in multiple Java environments on multiple machines. RMI is one of the fundamental APIs that Enterprise Java Beans are built on. More…41 comments Blog This Email ThisHow To: Your First Firefox Extension — Say XULThe active ingredient is XUL, a markup language (the eXtensible [or “XML-Based”] User-interface Language, to be precise) that describes things like toolbars, menus, keyboard shortcuts. More… 22 comments Blog This Email ThisC/C++ development with the Eclipse PlatformGet an overview of how to use the Eclipse Platform in your C/C++ development projects. Though Eclipse is mainly a Java ™ development environment, its architecture ensures support for other programming languages. In this article, you’ll learn how to use the C/C++ Development Toolkit (CDT), which is the best C/C++ toolkit available for Eclipse. More… 41 comments Blog This Email ThisCSS tips and tricks!I ’ve been writing CSS for about 2 years now and I still feel like every time I open up a blank file and begin writing CSS for a new design I learn something new. For those of you that are new to CSS or experts always looking for a new trick, here are some of things I do on a regular basis to keep my code organized (kind of). More… 50 comments Blog This Email ThisNew to grid computing? Take a tourGrid computing allows you to unite pools of servers, storage systems, and networks into a single large system so you can deliver the power of multiple-systems resources to a single user point for a specific purpose. 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81. dokta – September 14, 2006
thank you

82. shuchetana – September 14, 2006
Wow, this is a really great post: almost a month later, people are still reading it and leaving comments.
I just wrote a related post and posted it at my site (lifepbs.wordpress.com) a few minutes ago. It’s about dealing with the first few days at a new job.
I hope some day I’ll be able to write a post which will continue to have people commenting on it one month later )

83. eugene – September 15, 2006
If you were asked something and you doesn’t understand the question and is happened for a second time, especially in a technical interview, you can answer:
Please be more specific!

you will have some extra time and information

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One Response to “50 COMMON INTERVIEW Q&A”

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