Congratulations, you’ve landed that big interview. You haven’t sought for new employment for years but you were fortunate and we’re scheduled for the interview you wanted. Now, what can you expect and what should you do? There is no end to the many questions any interviewer could ask you; they could go any one of a dozen different directions with their queries. Some suggestions may include the following:
1) What do you do in your free time?
This is a very soft question, usually used just to break the ice. Just tell the interviewer exactly what you do when you are not working. Your free time activities have very little impact to the job, but your answer will give him/her some insight to your way of thinking.
2) How did you get your last job?
I have been asked this one several times. It kind of surprised me but I realized what they really wanted to know. They just wanted to know how serious I was about my job search. Did I wait for someone to contact me or did I pursue the new position?
3) Why did you leave?
Of course your new employer wants to know if you left your last job of your own free will or if you were terminated. If you are still employed be direct about telling them. Request them to be discreet about your search however.
4) Complete resume hierarchy.
You will most likely be asked to, in your own words, tell the interviewer what you have been doing. Be sure to have yourself a copy of your resume and know what is on it. If you could relate your last 20 years to the interviewer without looking you will leave a more positive impression. Just walk through your career explaining where, what business was it, your position, your primary duties / successes, how long were you there, why did you leave? Don’t be concerned, if your resume is truthful it will be difficult to go wrong.
5) What did you like best / least about your last job?
Be prepared with these; they can catch you off guard. You do not want to be in front of interviewers rolling your eyes and looking up at the ceiling as you scour your memory trying to find that one thing you liked least/best. Discover it before the interview.
6) Tell me about a problem you solved?
The interviewer just wants to know how you approach problems. Do you run? Do you react without reviewing the facts? Best answer is to recite a problem and say you looked at all the evidence and made the best decision.
7) How do you get people to cooperate?
They are looking for your people skills. How do you work with or manage someone who is a problem to everyone else? Can you control people like that? Think about telling them you bring the problem child into the fold as an integral member of the problem-solving group. You assigned him / her specific duties to keep them busy.
8) Tell me about a time when you went beyond the call of duty.
Your interviewer wants to know if you are willing to go above and beyond. If you were, how would you do it? Look back through your career and find that one instance where you put much more than was expected into a particular project. You spent extra hours, came in on the weekend, did someone else’s job, anything that was above and beyond.
9) Tell me about a time when you were swamped. How did you handle it?
The interviewer is searching to see how you handle yourself at times of stress. This question can often be a sign that whatever job you are applying for is going to be a fast paced, heavy assignment job. You may even re-consider your application. A suggested approach to answer this one would be to proclaim your delegation skills. Make it clear you surround yourself with people who are capable and if things get out of hand you share the demand. You might also add that you typically take work home.
10) How do you plan effectively?
This is another question designed to see how you would operate under a great deal of stress and schedule problems. They want to make certain you can effectively handle multi-tasking and varying responsibilities. Answers like Gantt charts, daily calendar, lists of tasks to do, project folders, all contribute to building your answer for this one. Whatever you do, don’t leave the impression that you are easily overwhelmed. Make them believe that you are very capable of stepping up and handling everything at once.
Who knows what questions you will be asked but these have been a few that I have seen used more than once in the past. I have used them myself when I interview. I don’t think you can ever be totally prepared, neither do I think you can over prepare. You just need to consider the characteristics of the position you are applying for and try to anticipate whatever they plan on asking you. Key to remember is have your answers prepared.