Most interview questions revolve around your resume: What education and skills do you bring? What have you accomplished? How did you achieve results? Those are questions you can easily prepare for because you can easily recall your past performance.
The most difficult questions are non-resume questions that force you to be more reflective and respond more thoughtfully with insight and substance. Here are few of them:
- Why are you looking for a new job? This is a reasonable question. How you answer should also be reasonable. Be careful not to denigrate your boss or company. Solution: Talk about the results you’ve gotten and now you’re looking for the next challenge. Be ready for the follow-up question as to why. Talk about the lack of opportunity, the economy, or the business climate.
- Brief me on your background – First off, don’t give them your life’s story. They want two things: How you think, organize information and deliver it in a cogent way. Second, how your experiences transfer to solve their issues. Solution: Provide progressive experiences and solutions that match the position description of the open job. What did you do in past jobs where you solved a similar issue somewhere else and can do it again for them?
- How did your handle an issue/solution that you and your supervisor disagreed? If you’re not prepared for this question you may come up blank. The interviewer is looking for your “people skills” and your ability to help the boss when you may disagree. Solution: Show that you supported the boss as best you can with alternative solutions to produce a better outcome.
- How are you different or better than all other candidates? Be modest but positive about your contributions in your current job. Solution: Parallel your past achievements with the key requirements outlined in the position description.
- What do you do well or not so well? The “do well’s” are easy. The “not so well’s” are more difficult. You don’t want a long list of failures. Solution: Prepare one or two examples where you overcame a fault and performed at a higher level, or where you didn’t initially recognize how to assist a co-worker but eventually figured it out.
- What compensation are you looking for? Don’t give a specific number as you’ll probably be too high or too low. Research what others are paid through Salary.com or Glassdoor.com. Solution: Two potential strategies: If your “forced” to give a number, provide a range, “Between x and y” based on your research. Or you can say, “I prefer not to provide you with a number until I better understand the parameters and complexity of the position, along with information about incentives, bonuses, benefits and their cost to me, 401K matches, and other contributory programs”
You need to ascertain your potential to the organization. Do you have value that few others can provide based on your prior experiences, or is your function viewed as a commodity that many others can fill?
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