Interview Questions and Answers Regarding Your Work Life

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Below is a list of commonly asked interview questions regarding an interviewee’s work life, as well as possible answers and potential mistakes.

How long have you been looking for a position? If you've been looking for an extended period of time, be ready to explain why you haven't received offers or accepted one.

Why did you leave your previous company (companies)? And why are you interviewing at this time? Unless you were fired or laid off, it's because you're looking for more responsibility, a better opportunity, a greater challenge, or increased income. It's never, for example, because you recently had a falling out with your boss or were passed over for a promotion. You're looking for a job for positive reasons, not for negative ones. If you were fired or laid off, tell the truth. An interviewer will respect your honesty. Then explain the circumstances under which this occurred and what you learned from the experience. Turn the negative into a positive!

What other kinds of positions are you interviewing for? With which companies? Be sure your other interviews are for a similar position. This will demonstrate a well-defined objective. If you're considering a variety of positions, an interviewer might feel that you have no direction and will take any job you can get.

Why do you want this position? It should be because of the opportunity for growth, more responsibility, greater challenge, etc. It should not be, for example, because the company is closer to home or has beautiful offices.

What don't you like about this position? Never mention a key part of the job. If this is actually the case, you shouldn't pursue the position. Instead, state an aspect that most people would object to, a part that you would even be expected to dislike.

What do you like about this company? What don't you like about it? Your response to the first question should address how you'll be able to grow professionally and further your career. Answer the second question as above.

What is (was) your boss's title and what are (were) his responsibilities? This question is sometimes asked early in an interview to prevent an applicant from exaggerating his accomplishments and contributions. Make sure your achievements don't conflict with your boss's role.

What are your professional strengths? And what are your biggest professional accomplishments? Why were you able to attain them? Highlight those strengths and accomplishments that are the most pertinent to the position and that will convey your ability to handle its most important responsibilities. Being able to express the reasons for your successes will also demonstrate the thought you've put into your career and how important it is to you.

With all your accomplishments, why isn't your salary higher? This is another difficult question. Your reply could be that until recently your primary concern was job satisfaction, but now you're equally interested in income. It would then be appropriate to explain that this is why you're changing jobs. Another possibility is that your current (or previous) employer has a low pay-scale, although accompanied by a generous fringe benefits package.

If you could start your career all over, what changes would you make? This question explores how much you really enjoy what you're doing. The question is also an opportunity to convey the importance you place on your career by explaining what you would have done to improve yourself.

Did you institute any new systems, procedures, programs, or policies at your previous employers? And did you take any risks? If so, what were the results? These questions probe how creative and innovative you are, whether you're a leader or a follower. When these questions are asked, the interviewer is looking for an imaginative person with leadership qualities. It'll be advantageous if your answers match the profile of the type of person the company wants to hire.

How good are you at anticipating problems versus reacting to them? Give an example. Always have examples prepared to substantiate your ability to foresee potential problems and prevent them from arising. This will underscore your expertise.

How do you go about making important decisions? This inquiry is an attempt to learn how analytical and thorough you are and whether you're a team player who seeks the advice of others or if you prefer to work independently. It will be helpful if your response portrays you as the type of person the company wants to hire.

What could your company (or department) have done to be more successful? This question probes your vision as well as your interest in your work and the amount of thought you put into it. Have suggestions for improvement to discuss.

How well do you work under pressure? Under deadlines? Under close supervision? With no supervision? Be sure your replies are appropriate for the conditions under which you would be working. Also, give examples to support your statements.

What kind of management philosophy do you have? Along with examining your ideas and feelings about how people should be supervised, the purpose of this question is to find out if you'll be compatible with the manager and how well you'll fit into his department and the company.

Tell me about the best boss you ever had. Tell me about the worst. These questions also investigate compatibility. In addition, they'll elicit information about the working conditions you like and dislike. Respond appropriately for the position for which you're being interviewed.

How would you feel about having a younger man (woman) as a boss? How would you feel about working with an alcoholic? With a gay person? With minorities? Although such questions are illegal, some interviewers ask them. Your answer to the first inquiry should be that it makes no difference if your boss is a man or a woman, younger or older. You're interested only in someone's capability. As far as the other questions are concerned, always try to avoid controversial topics. Again, your interest is in someone's competence.

How do you rate yourself in your job? Highly! Then explain why by describing your key accomplishments.

How long do you plan on staying in your next position? Why that amount of time? What do you see yourself doing next? What kind of position do you want to have in 1 year? In 5 years? In 10 years? Do you think you'll attain these goals? Why? How? How long do you plan on staying with your next employer? Why that amount of time? These questions explore your motivation and career plans. Be sure you have a well-defined goal and its timetable is realistic. If your expectations for growth are unreasonable, an interviewer might feel that you'll leave the company after a short period of time. He could eliminate you as a candidate.

After having been with the same company for so many years, don't you think it would be difficult to adjust to another? No! The transition would be easy for you because you've worked with many different kinds of people, have had managers with diverse styles, and have worked under a variety of conditions.

After having had so many jobs in such a short period of time, why should we expect you to stay with us for any length of time? This is another difficult question. Your reply could be that you've just defined your career goal and believe it could be realized at this company. Another possibility is that each change was for greater responsibility and because this company appears to reward performance with promotion, you won't have to change jobs in order to advance your career.

What salary are you looking for? How much do you want to be earning in 5 years? In 10 years? These questions, especially the last two, probe the importance you place on compensation and your level of motivation. Be sure your salary objectives are realistic and won't preclude your being made the offer. 

How do you feel about travel? About relocation? These questions examine your commitment to your job and career. Unless you have personal responsibilities that would prevent you from traveling or relocating, you're amenable to it. Don't discourage the offer before you know how much travel is required and what the likelihood is of having to relocate. You'll have ample opportunity to find out after you've been made the offer.

What did you like the most about your previous positions? About your previous companies? Your reply should address your responsibilities, the work you performed, and how you were able to develop professionally.

What did you like the least about your previous positions? About your previous companies? Always state unimportant aspects of the position and the company. Also, mention something you don't expect to find at the position and company with which you're interviewing.

Why should we hire you? Your response to this question should include your strengths and accomplishments, which demonstrate your ability to excel at the job and grow into positions of greater responsibility.
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