Top 5 Interview Questions . . . Answered!

interview job search Oct 01, 2018

No.1     Why Should We Hire You?

When asked this question the interviewer is looking to hear an overview of the top reasons why you feel you will be successful in this role. First and foremost, you should be able to highlight how your experience can help solve current challenges the organization or team is experiencing. Build your answer from there. 

  • As a guide, use the framework that you used to develop your professional summary or your elevator pitch. For example, share your qualifications i.e., the number of years relevant experience you have to offer; your deep industry knowledge; experience working in a similar environment.
  • Make a list of the KEY requirements for the position, that you can speak to based on your experience, including skills (excellent writing skills; an experienced team leader; a great relationship builder etc.), personality traits (you're a go-getter; you get things done; you think outside the box; you think strategically and are willing and able to roll up your sleeves and jump in when needed to ensure flawless execution; you're not afraid to make mistakes etc.)
  • Keep your answer concise. 

No.2     Why Are You Open to Leaving Your Employer/Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

You may not have been actively looking for a new role, but instead of saying, "I wasn't looking; a recruiter approached me," I would recommend you share the following answer as it conveys your interest in the role and company: 

  • "Although I wasn't actively looking for a new role when this opportunity presented itself, I feel that the role aligns very well with the experience and current role I hold today. And after doing research into the organization, leadership team, and product lines, I was intrigued to learn more."

If you were fired/laid off from your job, use one of the following:

  • "Being laid off was a blessing in disguise. Now I have an opportunity to explore positions that better suit my qualifications and interests. Based on what I have learned so far about this role, it sounds like a great fit. Would you like to hear more about my experience implementing new systems and programs?" (Take cues from what is noted in the job description or what you learned in the phone interview.)
  • "My competencies were not the right match for my previous employer's needs, but it looks like they'd be a good fit in your organization. In addition to marketing and advertising, would skills in social media be valued here?" (Take cues from what is noted in the job description).
  • "A new manager came in and did a reorg. I was laid off, so he could bring in members of his old team. It was unfortunate, but I'm looking at this as a good opportunity to bring the experience I have learned to a new, growing organization. I also have great references to share from my last boss."

If you left of your own accord, review these suggestions on how best to answer and tailor your response to meet your particular situation. Focus your interview answer on the future, especially if the reason you left wasn't under the best of circumstances.

  • "After three great years, where I learned a lot professionally and grew personally, I felt it was time to explore a new environment that was in a growth stage. Ideally, a company where I can bring immediate added value and have a bigger impact on the bottom line based on my experience while still having the opportunity to learn and grow professionally would be ideal for me."

Regardless of why you left, NEVER speak badly about your previous employer.

No.3     Where Do You See Yourself/What Are Your Goals 5 Years from Now?

Research a reasonable career path which will flow from the position for which you are applying. How long does one ordinarily spend in that job? What are the next steps within five years?

  • Some employers will clearly outline pathways in the career section of their website or you may need to do research by asking the hiring manager.
  • It is often advantageous to emphasize your interest in thoroughly mastering the initial position before moving on. If it seems like you are rushing past that first job, employers might question how motivated you are to carry out those duties. After all, the hiring manager will probably want someone who will be happy and competent in that role for at least a year or two.
  • Not all jobs are stepping stones to higher positions.
    • For example, for positions like counseling, sales, event planning, teaching, and computer programming, it is perfectly appropriate to emphasize mastery of that job as your five-year goal.
  • Think about the components of the job in which you can excel. For example, a current Director of Communications may share the following answer:
    • “My goal for the next three to five years is to be in an organization where I can build and grow a 'best in class,' innovative, proactive, and highly effective communications organization.”
  • You can also refer to some of the current goals that you are working on. For example:
    • “Today, my most immediate goal for the communications team is to complete the roll-out of a new Three-Step Crisis Communication process I first developed and presented to the executive team over 18 months ago. The program was developed to respond effectively and efficiently to incoming crisis communication calls. We plan to hire two new Crisis Communication Managers to execute this program (we've already hired one!) Once the second manager is hired, Step One of the Three-Step Program will provide 24/7 availability to take incoming crises communication calls. Step Two: To respond to all new incoming calls within three hours of receipt. Step Three: After the source has been confirmed and the initial course of resolution has been discussed with the executive of the organization in question, a formal response will be issued.”

Moving Up the Career Ladder

There are many jobs, especially entry-level jobs, in which you're expected to move on after a couple of years, including some analyst positions in investment banking and consulting, as well as legal assistants and scientific research assistants (for new college grads).

  • Establish how the job at hand makes sense given the skills and interests you would bring to the employer and how you want to continue to learn and develop your skills in A, B, & C areas, as you feel this will provide a strong foundation for your ultimate or next career goal.
  • For example, if you were interviewing for a sales job, a good answer would be:
    • "Within 5 years I would like to be recognized as an expert in product knowledge, have developed very close relationships with clients, have significantly expanded the client base in my region, and perhaps have been assigned some major national clients."
  • Stating your goals in terms of the results which you would like to produce is another angle for responding. Use the job description and the goals noted for this role (shared by the hiring manager during the initial phone interviews) to help guide your answer.

No.4     What Qualities do You Feel Make a Successful Manager or Leader?

Focus on two qualities that you feel a successful leader should embody. 

  • For example, you could say: 'the ability to inspire, motivate, and lead teams' or 'be visionary or strategic.'
  • For example, you could respond: ‘I feel that strong leadership skills are one of the key qualities of a successful manager -- the ability to lead others and be the visionary for the team that you lead. A leader should be able to clearly set the course and direction for his or her team, keeping them focused on what is most important for delivering the highest priority results. A great leader will empower and inspire others to reach their highest potential."
    • Then give an example of someone who has touched your life and how their impact has helped in your personal development.
    • Alternatively, if you are a manager or team leader today, share an example of when you had the opportunity to lead, inspire, or motivate your team to reach their goals and deliver the desired results.

No.5     If I Asked Your Current/Past Boss to Describe You, What Would They Say?

This question is posed to see how self-aware you are with regard to how others see you in the workplace. If you don’t know what a current or pass boss would say about you, then connect with a prior boss in advance of an interview and ask them the above question. You can also refer to your LinkedIn recommendations that prior bosses and colleagues have written.

  • For example, you could say to the interviewer: "I actually have a number of recommendations on my LinkedIn profile that you can review, but from memory, my last boss shared that: “I'm a very energetic person, highly motivated, results-oriented, and one of the best people with whom she has ever worked.”
  • You can always have a list of your LinkedIn recommendations printed out to share or leave with the interviewer. You can also use the job description as a guide as you choose what to share.

A final tip for success when interviewing.

If you find you're talking more than 80% of the time, STOP! Make sure your audience is engaged. This is not a presentation, it is an interview, where there should be a back and forth of questions and answers.

If you are ready to ACE your next interview, then enroll in the 1:1 coaching program - Ace the Interview today!  (includes a one-hour mock interview!)


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