What Did That Job Interview Question Really Mean?

By: Jobspeed

This article covers many job interview questions and gives you general guidelines as to how best go about answering the questions. This is only intended as a guide and each interview is unique and you should tailor each response to suit.

Tell me about yourself?
This is a classic open-ended question. It is a chance for you to divulge your qualifications, skills and background. Do not waffle - keep it to one or two minutes and keep it mostly career and work orientated.
How would you describe your own personality? What adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
Again relate your personality to the job at hand, and the skills you bring to the position. Examples include - hardworking, honest and courteous. Expand why these qualities are relevant to the position.
What do you know about our organisation?
Make sure you research the company prior to the interview. Know the history, philosophy, products, size, turnover, image, goals and management style. Be sure to ask open ended questions in order for the interviewer to tell you about the company in their own words.
Why do you want to work for us?
Be careful with this one. This is a chance for you to show that you can make a difference to their needs. Show them that your skills and experience can help them reach their objectives. This is also your chance to sell yourself - show that you can make a difference. You should also say why you think it's a great company.
Why do you want this job?
Again, research the company and say what attracts you to the job.
What about our position do you find the most attractive and the least attractive?
Ideally you should be able to list four qualities that are attractive and only a minor one that is not.
What do you look for in a job?
Something along the lines of: "the ability to use my skills, to exceed expectations and to be recognised".
Why should I hire you?
You should clarify your positive attributes that are related to the job and draw on past achievements including compliments from previous managers etc.
What would you do for us that someone else couldn't?
Again relate your past achievements in solving problems and producing results that are similar to the job at hand.
What qualifies you for this job?
Again, same as above. Remember to go into depth and explain why.
What makes you want to work hard?
Ideally you should discuss achievement and the satisfaction you get from it. Of course in human nature material rewards are a mitigating factor, but generally should not be volunteered first.
Where do you see yourself to be x years from now?
Be honest and trust your instincts. Think about what they really want to know.

Suggestions include senior management positions, but it is not a good idea to tell them you want their job unless they are obviously on the verge of retirement.
How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
Explain that you feel you would make a significant contribution as soon as you complete the learning curve. As you're a quick learner, this should be brief.
You may be over qualified for the position we have on offer, what are your thoughts?
An answer emphasising that they will get a faster return on their investment since you have more experience than is needed is along the right lines. You could also explain what other benefits you could bring to the organisation that they might not have thought of.
What other jobs or companies are you considering?
Again, be honest and keep the answer specific to the respective employers industry.
What is your management style?
We would recommend open door management policy, but each case is different.
In your last position, what were your five most significant accomplishments?
You should refer to the key achievements in your resume, and expand on them.
What are your greatest strengths?
List at least three or four, but keep them job related.
Explain how you overcame a major obstacle.
Give an example to highlight your problem solving skills, and the satisfaction you derived from it.
What are your weaknesses?
If you say you have none, it seems a bit arrogant. It is always good to have a minor one, that others may see as a strength such as meticulousness. Again, keep it work related and remember to offer a strength that negates your weakness.
If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Again, as above - make sure to be honest as this is more than likely to be checked.
Describe a situation in which your work was criticised.
Be specific, but try and be positive as much as possible. Draw on the knowledge that was gained, and how you benefited from the criticism.
How many people did you supervise?
Be precise with your answer.
What do you look for when you hire people?
An example could be skills, initiative and adaptability. Make sure to expand.
What do your subordinates think of you?
Your prospective employer could find out very easily - so be sure to be honest and truthful and as positive as possible.
What do you see as the most difficult task in being a manager?
An example answer could be: "planning, budgeting and time management."
What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make?
Again, be honest and try to correlate as much as possible to the position in question.
How do you resolve conflict?
Suggested answer would be: "discuss it privately".
How do you handle pressure and stress?
Explain that you can work under pressure and meet deadlines by turning stress into positive energy. Examples include relaxing with a good book, socialising with friends etc. which help you to be more focused at work. A good balance is essential.
Are you a good manager? Why do you feel you have managerial potential?
Again, talk about your achievements and place emphasis on management skills such as planning, delegating, controlling, interpersonal, communication, motivating skills etc.
What past accomplishments have given you satisfaction?
Describe workplace achievements that have been acknowledged, Try to focus more on achievement than financial gain.
Why are you leaving your present job?
Generic statements are recommended, such as: "a career move", "department was made redundant".
Why haven't you found a new position yet?
Answer along the lines that you're being selective, and that it is easy to find a job, but much more difficult to find the right job. Be prepared to then answer, why you think this is the right job (see above).
What do you think of your current employer?
Never speak poorly about employers, always be as positive as you can.
In your current position, what do you like the most or least?
Be honest, but be as positive as you can.
What was the last book you read? What was the last movie you saw? What sporting events do you enjoy? What are your hobbies? What type of music do you like? What do you do in your spare time, or on weekends?
All of these questions are to simply find out if you are a well-rounded person. Answer honestly.
How much are you looking for?
We at Jobspeed recommend you not to discuss salary, and to leave it to the recruitment consultants as they have experience in salary negotiations every day. However, if you do have to answer, answer with a question such as: "what is the salary range of similar jobs within your organisation?" If there is no response, then indicate what you think you are worth in the market place. Be aware this puts you into a trap of being offered the lowest end of the scale. Other answers include: "I am seeking the right organisation, and if you think that I am the best candidate for the position, you will tender me with your best and fairest offer.
What is your current salary?
Again, try to let your recruitment consultants deal with this, but if you have to answer - be truthful. If you're expecting a raise soon, be truthful about the approximate amount that you expect.

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