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Interview Questions and Answers Examples

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The U.S. unemployment rate is higher than it's been in 26 years making today's employment market more competitive than it's been since 1982. Competence or even excellence in your chosen field doesn't necessarily translate into interviewing know-how.

Too often job seekers unknowingly sabotage their own candidacy. This is all the more tragic because these mistakes are easily correctable.

Here are 10 common interviewing mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Arrogant Attitude
Candidate arrogance is a common complaint among interviewers. Candidates too often cross over from confidence to arrogance. There's a fine line between the two.

Confident people relate to interviewers as equals. Arrogant people are condescending giving the impression they think they're above other people (socially or otherwise).

Be especially careful about arrogance when you’re interviewing with someone younger than you or if you’re interviewing for positions that are a step or two down from your last role.

2. Unsuitable Behavior
Examples of unsuitable interviewing behavior include acting disinterested, answering your cell phone, relentless eye contact, not meeting the interviewer's gaze, talking incessantly and being too familiar.

Interviewers have certain expectations about how you should act. These expectations fall in line with the rules of common courtesy. Being polite, business like, friendly, attentive and appropriate will stand you in good stead.

3. Failure to Listen
There are few things more disconcerting to an interviewer than a candidate whose responses aren't on point. Or one who constantly asks to have questions repeated.

Stay engaged in the give and take of the conversation. Ask clarifying questions when you need to. Give answers that are on point. Lean slightly forward. Maintain appropriate eye contact. These behaviors indicate you're actively listening.

4. Inappropriate Dress
Generally speaking blue jeans and flip flops are not appropriate dress for an interview. Neither is very short skirts or low cut blouses. A three piece suit may not be appropriate either.

What's appropriate depends upon the open position. What you wear when interviewing for a banking position will differ from what's appropriate when interviewing to be a fashion designer's assistant.

5. Bashing Former Employers
If you speak ill of a former manager the interviewer will assume you would do the same to her. Bad mouthing the company, manager or your former co-workers is always self defeating. You may be tempted to confide when the interviewer feels more like a friend than a decision maker. But don’t do it!

6. Asking Poor Questions
The only thing worse than asking poor questions is asking no questions at all. Poor questions focus on what the company can do for you. They include questions about health benefits, salary or paid time off. These questions should wait until after an offer is forthcoming. (This is also in line with effective negotiating tactics.)

Good questions ask about what you can do for the company. Questions like "How do you measure success in this position?" or "How would you describe your ideal employee?" show you 'get it'.

7. Inadequate Answers
It’s surprising when candidates are unprepared to talk about themselves or their accomplishments. Interview questions seem to catch them off guard. Or they give very short answers that don't convey much information. Interviewers interpret this behavior as laziness or disinterest.

Take time to review common job interview questions and decide in advance how you will handle them. Practice telling (short) stories about your accomplishments.

8. Not Researching the Company
Too many candidates interview with companies they know nothing about. If you can't be bothered to do basic research the interviewer will infer you're not willing to go the extra mile. The bigger the company, the more unforgivable this will be.

9. Forgetting the Interview Isn't Over Until You're Out of the Building
There's nothing more heartbreaking than acing the interview only to blow it as you're leaving. This happens more than it should.

An interviewer I know likes to pull a “Columbo”. Just as candidates get to the door she casually asks, "By the way, how did you manage to get time off today?" It's surprising the number who answer, "I called in sick."

Likewise beware of casual interactions inside the company's building or restroom. Don't say or do anything that would reflect poorly on you if it were shared with the hiring manager.

10. Leaving the Interview Without Knowing What to Expect
You need to know what happens next. Having this information will help keep you from fretting about an offer and more importantly it will facilitate effective follow-up.

Questions like, “When do you anticipate making a decision?” or “When should I expect to hear from you?” are completely appropriate.

By decreasing the jitters BEFORE your interview you can increase your confidence DURING the interview.

Getting nervous just before or during an interview is natural but there are specific actions you can take to decrease, if not eliminate it. Here is a checklist of 7 important actions you can accomplish before any interview you walk into.

1. When it comes to answering interview questions, forget trying to memorize scripted answers that you probably read somewhere. Instead, focus on answering the questions in a way that makes sense to you that showcases your experience and skills.

Do this by developing your stories. By this I mean, you'll develop stories around specific examples of your career where you get to tell how you…

a. either made money or saved money for your current or previous company. b. faced a crisis or two in your life or job and how you responded or recovered from it. c. functioned as a part of a team and what your contribution was. d. had to deal with stress in your career. e. and many other stories revolving around typical interview questions that you can always expect.

Interviewers want to know more about who you are and telling small stories like this is an excellent way to do this. You stand out from the crowd and be remembered and you'll personalize yourself. Another benefit is that you won't have to worry about memorizing answers to stock questions. Just be yourself and let your story shine through. If you can have about 5 to 7 good little stories of about 30 to 90 seconds each, your confidence will rise tremendously for any interview you have.

2. Do company research well in advance so that you can relax before the interview rather than scrambling to get ready at the last minute. This also reduces the possibility of stupid and embarrassing questions on your part. You should know full well what products or services the company is in the business of providing. You should know their size, their annual revenues (if they are a public company), what the title and functions of the job are, and lastly, the name and title of the person interviewing and their role in the hiring process.

3. Plan ahead to wear comfortable clothing that suits this type of interview. The usual mode these days is business attire. That could mean different things to different companies. If you're not sure, call ahead to either your interviewer or the HR department and ask. When in doubt, dress more conservatively. You want to fit in and not feel self conscious about your clothing choice during the interview.

4. Make sure you have the name and number of a contact person, preferably the person you'll be meeting with. Stuff happens and when it does you'll want to keep them informed of delays that may be beyond your control.

5. Log on to Mapquest and get directions if you're not sure of their exact location. You want to arrive well in advance so that you can get there a little early so you can shift gears and collect your thoughts before you walk in.

6. Remember to bring copies of your resume with you. One for yourself and one for your interviewer and perhaps a spare one or two just in case. You might want to refer to your resume during the interview and having a copy in front of you can add to you sense of security. If there are any other items you need, like a portfolio, bring this as well.

7. Finally, don't place undue pressure on yourself. This is just one interview. It's not "do or die". The last emotion you want to project is one of neediness or desperation because you aren't either. Once you walk in to the interview, your prep work has been done and you can feel confident about letting the chips fall where they may.

The magic of doing your best means doing all your preparation beforehand so you can go into the interview relaxed and calm.

Interview Example Question Styles

Interview questions are designed to rate the skills and personality of a job applicant. There are different types of interview questions which aim to measure the qualifications of an applicant. Learn more on the different types of interview questions.

Companies utilize a set of interview questions as a tool to analyze the qualities of a job applicant for a certain position required by the company. These questions are specifically designed to thoroughly get substantial information from an applicant to know whether he is qualified for the job. Interview questions are also used to validate the information contained in the applicant’s curriculum vitae or resume.

An interviewer prepares a set of interview questions which he asks to all applicants. He will then compare the answers given him and gauge from here who the most qualified applicant is. It is the human resource department who usually prepares these questions. and they have set a standard set of answers also to measure the qualifications of every applicant.

Interview questions vary depending on the company’s preference and needs. There are no standards or patterns in these types of questions. Basically there are different types of interview questions which job applicants may encounter during interviews. These types of interview questions are have their specific objectives pertaining to the different qualities of the job applicant.

Credential Authentication Questions
This type of interview question aims to gather enough information on the applicant’s previous background. Common question includes “How long have you worked at the company?”

Work Experience Questions
These types of questions aim to evaluate a job applicants’ working experience with previous employers. It raises questions related to duties and responsibilities performed with the previous work.

Work Competency Questions
The most common questions with this type includes, “Could you provide examples of your qualities as a leader?” or “Elaborate on how you have provided solutions on certain problems in your work?” The main purpose of this type of question is to measure the behavior and the competency of the applicant which can contribute to the position being applied for.

Opinion Questions
In some cases, interviewers would raise opinion questions to see how an applicant responds to certain scenarios. The interviewer usually provides an example scenario wherein he will ask questions like “If you encountered this problem, what would you do? What are your strategies?” In this type of question, the interviewer may ask the applicant on his or her strength and weaknesses.

Dumb Questions
Some interviewers use dumb questions just to test the applicant’s ability to think instantly. This type of question does not have any right or wrong answers. Some of the common questions used are “What is the color which represents your personality?” “If you were given a chance, what animal do you like to be, and why?”

Mathematical Questions
Mathematical questions are basically given in order to measure the mental quickness of the applicant. It also evaluates the ability of formulating mathematical procedure. It also measures how alert an applicant is in mental thought processes.

Case Questions
Case questions are designed to rate the problem solving capability of an applicant in certain situations. Examples of questions used includes “What is your forecast with regards to online retailing?” or “How many gas companies in the European region?”

Behavioral Questions
This type of question is usually used by many companies. Most companies give greater importance on the behavior of its applicants rather than the skills because they believe that an applicant with good behavior can be trained in terms of skills. It is basically designed to predict the future behavior of an applicant by basing it with its past behaviors. Questions used with the interview include “Give specific experiences of how you have handled such situations. What are the specific steps you have implemented in order to finish the task?”

As a job applicant, it is best to be well prepared before any job interview. As much as possible, review the contents of your resume. When undergoing an interview, you must have self confidence and answer questions in a relaxed manner.

Interview Top Tips and More Examples

No matter how expert or experienced you are, when you are applying for a promotion in your own organisation, or a post in another organisation, being fully prepared for the interview is critical. Your expertise, knowledge, reputation, experience, and appearance, will help you, but it is highly likely that the other candidates will have similar attributes.

Here is list of actions that you should carry out in order to be fully prepared. Gather information about the recruiting organisation (this includes your present employer if it is an internal interview): before you decide whether to attend the interview, it is essential that you gather information about the organisation and analyse this. You need information on its recent and forecast performance, the condition of the business sector in which it operates, and the post that it is offering. If the organisation and sector are healthy, and the post looks secure and has potential, then you can move on to the next stage. If your findings are negative then it is almost certain that the best decision would be to reject the opportunity. You need to gather information about the condition of yourself, looking at how your personal and career plans are progressing, focusing on how the prospects in your current job match with your personal and career objectives, and then how the new post could help you to achieve those objectives.

Decide to attend or not to attend the interview. You need to make an objective decision as to whether taking up this new post is the right decision for you, at this time. Armed with the information that you gathered earlier, you can assess the merits of being appointed to the new post, against staying in your current post, albeit perhaps until a more appropriate opportunity arises, and make your decision confidently. It is, of course, tempting to apply for a job which appears to offer a higher salary, more responsibility, more status, and new directions, and if this is so appealing that you are confident that you can adjust your development plans to match it, and be happy with that decision, then yes, attend the interview and perform to the best of your ability. However, be warned that the interviewers may well reject you because it will become obvious to them that the position they are offering is not a natural fit with your career to date, and worse, they may well ask you how this new opportunity fits with your future personal development plans, and be disappointed with your unconvincing response.

Gather details of the job itself. You need as much information as you can gather about the nature of the job, the role, responsibilities, reporting relationships, location of the workplace, working conditions, and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays, and corporate policies and procedures that apply to the position. Some of this information will be given to you in the information pack sent to you by the interviewing organisation, or department, but often, sadly, the quality of information sent out is poor. Most professional organisations will have HR departments that will answer your questions on these issues, or pass you on to the appropriate line manager.

Research the interview format: you need to do some basic but essential research on the practicalities of the interview. Again, some of this information will be sent to you. You should be clear about: how to get to the organisation and the specific interview location (don’t rely on asking for this information when you arrive, as this adds to the stress of the occasion); who is on the interview panel (their titles will give you important clues as to their relationships to the post); what format the interview will take (there is nothing worse than arriving expecting a traditional face-to-face interview and finding that it is a day-long series of tests, group activities, and interviews).

Timing of arrival. Make sure that you arrive in good time, allowing time to tidy your physical appearance after your journey, and sufficient time to become calm before the actual interview.

Your appearance. Do not make the mistake of thinking that it is only your history, qualifications, skills, and knowledge that will win you the job. Most other candidates will have similar attributes, so you need to make an impression, to look professional, smart, and appropriate for the post. In many cases, there will have been a previous holder of the post that the interviewers may be using, albeit subconsciously, as a benchmark. You can’t guess what the interviewers want, or don’t want, in terms of physical appearance and personality, but don’t for one second believe anyone that tells you this doesn’t matter (it shouldn’t, perhaps, in certain circumstances, but you are being invited into their world, and they will be looking for someone who they will be comfortable with (even if the role requires you to be an aggressive change-agent). Yes, in some countries there is legislation that says the job should be offered to the most appropriate person, regardless of appearance, but in real life this isn’t what happens. The answer to this dilemma is to research the culture of the organisation that you are joining, so that you are aware of how people, in positions similar to the one you are being interviewed for, dress and behave, and you can comment on or ask questions about this during the interview. However, don’t go to the interview in jeans and t-shirt, even if that’s the day to day standard. You need to look as professional, as serious about obtaining the job, as possible. For men, that almost certainly means a business suit, or jacket and trousers, with or without tie. For women, a business suit or business outfit. For both sexes, smart-casual can be acceptable, if, but only if, it is that type of environment. In most situations, for most posts on offer to professionals, specialists, managers, experts, consultants, a business outfit is expected at the interview, even if, after appointment, they would never again expect you to come to work in anything remotely as formal.

Your approach. In a word, think positively. You are offering your talents, your experience, your time, effort, and energies, to this organisation, and you need to give the impression that you would be a valuable asset that they would be foolish to reject. This doesn’t mean being aggressive, over enthusiastic, pompous, or pretentious, but it does mean showing the interviewers that you are a confident, assertive, pro-active, flexible, professional who would perform successfully if appointed.

Prepare for, and practice answering, the interview questions: think about questions that you are likely to be asked. Brainstorm this with a colleague, friend, or partner, and practice answering. Practice using the interview questions to strengthen your argument that you are the best person for the job. For example, you will be almost certainly be asked about your experience and qualifications, even though this will be shown in your CV. Your response should be phrased in such a way that you relate your experience, knowledge, and qualifications, to the role and responsibilities of the new post, showing how these existing attributes will give you the confidence and skills to successfully handle the tasks that lie ahead. With luck you will not be asked questions such as - What do you think are the main benefits that you could bring to this job, if appointed? However, it still happens, so you must be prepared for them. Again, practice responding in a way which links your experience and existing skills to the demands of the new role. If you are asked - What would you say are your biggest strengths and worst weaknesses? then talk mostly about your strengths, giving examples of how these have been effectively used, and be very, very careful talking about your alleged weaknesses. Choose a relatively harmless weakness that could be interpreted as a strength, such as being over-zealous about quality criteria being met, or insisting on deadlines being met which can upset some team members. Don’t, under any circumstances, negatively criticise your present or past employers, or colleagues. Even if the organisation that you work for is known to have faults or bad practices, don’t criticise it or any personnel within it. This is almost always a fatal mistake. You will almost always be asked some questions about the interviewing organisation. Again, use these as an opportunity to show you have researched the organisation, but also to explore what the organisation is planning (at least in the area that you will be working in), and-or what they are expecting of you. For example, you could mention new markets that the organisation has recently entered and ask if that will impact on the post that you are being interviewed for. If you are asked about hobbies and interests, don’t give a list of twenty, keep it simple and don’t try to impress with esoteric hobbies that you don’t actually have. Imagine saying that you enjoy watching French films and then being asked a question about this, in French, by one of the interviewers who is fluent in the language!

Questions asked by you. Most interviews will close with the interviewee being asked if they have any questions to ask. The answer should always be - Yes. Have two questions ready, and either ask these or ask one of them and one that has arisen because something raised in the interview. Make sure that your questions are ones that reinforce your suitability for the post. You could, for example, ask questions about personal development opportunities, explaining, briefly, what you feel would be a potentially useful development activity (of benefit to you and to the organisation) if you were to be offered the post (this should be an area that you have considered whilst researching the organisation and the job itself).

General behaviour: remember, you are being assessed at all times, possibly from when you enter the building and approach the receptionist, certainly from the moment you walk into the interview room to the moment you leave. You must be as natural and relaxed, physically and mentally, as possible, but also professional, polite, and courteous. Never argue, unless you have been given a direct instruction to give your opposing views. Be alert, show an interest in each interviewer as the ask questions, and answer directly to that person, but occasionally look at the others during your answer. In answering questions, don’t be evasive, be confident, and use your answers to demonstrate how you would make a good match for the position on offer.

Final word. As the interview ends, thank the interviewers for their time and questions. Say that you would be very pleased if appointed to the job and that you look forward to hearing from them. Even if you have doubts at that moment, this is a courteous and wise way to end the interview. You may later decide that you would like the job and if you have appeared negative as the interview ended you will have reduced your chances considerably.

In summary, the key to being successful at an interview is to treat it as a project that needs to be planned and executed in as professional a manner as possible. Changing jobs, moving into a new position, changing organisations, changing the direction of your career, perhaps moving into a different business sector, leaving behind friends and colleagues, meeting, working with, managing, new colleagues, is a major change in your life. The interview is your doorway into a new world, into the next stage of your personal development. It is a major event, a major opportunity, and must be treated as one.

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May 1, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermittie

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