2015 Tips for Success Interview #3

A critical aspect of interview preparation is anticipating the questions and preparing what you want to say during the interview.  If the interview can only remember three things about you from the interview, your preparation can help ensure that they remember the most important three things.  Think about your message and how you will deliver in it response to typical interview questions.

Types of Interview Questions and Samples:

Tried and True

  • Most employers still ask the “tell me about yourself” question to break the ice.  It is a great opportunity for applicants to differentiate themselves and highlight their strengths for the particular position. Consider how you tell your story in the context of the position you are applying to.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about why you are seeking to make a change. Anticipate questions about why this job appeals to you.
  • Don’t be surprised by an interviewer asking you to walk through your resume. Hit the relevant highlights for each position and the reasons for the transtions.
  • “What are your strengths and weaknesses? “ is still asked frequently.  They expect proof statements to support the strengths and the actions taken to improve the weaknesses.  They are looking for self-awareness and assessment and expect responses that will help differentiate the student from other candidates. A twist on this is to ask what your manager or colleagues would say your strengths and weaknesses are.
  • “Do you have any questions?  They expect that you have questions and they should clearly demonstrate your preparation and research in advance, your strong listening during the interview and your interest and enthusiasm for the position.

Behavioral Interviews or “tell me about a time…”

  • “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a member of your team at work.  How did you address it and what was the result?”
  • “Tell me about a time you had multiple top priorities due at the same time.  How did you address the problem and what was the result?
  • “Tell me about a mistake you made and how you addressed it.”
  • They are trying to anticipate future behavior by understanding how you behaved in the past and what you learned.  It is important to clarify the situation succinctly, explain what specific action you took and what the result of that action was.  You are painting a word picture for them to help them understand how you work.

Mini-Case Situations or Unusual Questions

  • These questions give employers an opportunity to see how you think.
  • “What you would do if you were in this job and the CEO called and asked you why sales were down in the X division last month and then told you she needed an answer in an hour before her executive team meeting?”  This isn’t the time to talk about surveying customers or implementing tracking programs for new promotions.  What information do you need to put your hands on?  How would you use that information?  What kinds of questions do you need to ask?  You need to talk them through your thought process to show that you are thinking logically about the issue and finding actionable data.
  • “We’ve experienced disruption in the manufacturing department for each of the last three months due to timing delays of getting the six specific component parts to the assembly station for a critical part of the manufacturing process.  The VP of Manufacturing is very upset and has assured the CEO it won’t happen again next month.  He needs your recommendations first thing in the morning.  What information do you need and what possible solutions can you offer?  Think through the process out loud so they can see your thought process.
  • What would you do if you lived on an island that ran out of diapers and any materials commonly used to produce diapers?  I actually had an employer ask this of our applicants and applicants enjoyed thinking of creative solutions.  It is less about the specific answer and more about how you think creatively about a problem.  Applicants who could not provide any response did not advance in the process.  This is actually a question an employer asked in an interview process.   They love to see how you think on your feet.

At this point, we are seeing most employers asking a mix of all three types of questions to get as good a sense as possible of how well the student will fit in their organization and how well they will be able to perform the specific job.

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