Five Top Job Interview Questions
Look Out for These Five Interview Questions!
The most important interview strategy to remember is to keep your
answers positive and honest. To prepare, think about the truthful
answer to a question, and look at it from the interviewer’s point of
view. Ask yourself how the information can be framed so it remains
truthful but also validates your professionalism and insight into a
Here are five examples of tough interview questions the “right” answers, and the strategies behind them.
1. What would your previous employers want to change about you?
When presented with this question, some people may want to deny that
anyone would want to change anything about them. After all, it’s
everyone else who has annoying habits, not you. Right? Wrong. Speak
about something that is credible and sincere, but also mention how you
have learned from the situation. Be sure that your topic is not a skill
directly related to your position but rather something that you can
work around. For example:
“I was once made aware of how poor my handwriting is; my boss was
concerned handwritten notes to other staffers would be misread. With
that in mind I developed a strict policy of typing all notes to my
teammates, even if it is just a quick message.”
Alternatively, you could talk about a situation that has created a side benefit for others, like so:
“One of my previous employers thought I could speed up progress on
projects. After some reflection, I realized I was getting distracted
during projects by doing tasks that could be delegated to my quite
capable assistant. Now, when starting a project I make a list of tasks
that can be done by my support staff. I also find now that my staff
members stay productive and learn more about their jobs.”
2. What do you think management should do to allow you to function more effectively?
Your response to this question should reveal your attitude toward
work and management. Again, keep your answer positive! Think about your
response and frame it in a constructive, yet effective way.
“I’ve found that the more management shares their ideas and vision, the
better I can function in my position. When they clearly communicate the
organization’s goals and the reasons behind some of the actions they
take, I’m ultimately better able to buy into those ideas and represent
the company in the best way possible.”
You might also share an example of a time that this worked very well
for you. Be sure to give the interviewer some background on the
situation, including management’s approach, your actions, and the
3. What has prevented you from progressing as fast as you would have liked?
This is a tough question; it implies that you are not where you
should be in your career and that, possibly, it is someone else’s
fault. Don’t fall into this trap by blaming any lack of success on
anyone or any company. Your response should be something like:
“Some circumstances within my current position have limited my upward
mobility; it’s a small company with a loyal staff. Since there’s not a
lot of turnover, it makes advancing difficult. That being the case, I
always make sure I take on as many new projects as time allows. I have
always wanted to continue to learn and grow, even if my title wasn’t
Again, continue your answer with an example or two that demonstrates
your philosophy. Whatever your response, think about what it will sound
like to an employer. Does your answer present you as someone focused on
achievements and goals or as someone who is “entitled” to recognition
for doing the basics?
4. Tell me about the best and worst boss you’ve ever had? What was his or her management style?
Approach each part of this question with an overview, then use
examples and insight to give definition to your thoughts. Moreover,
especially with a question like this, keep in mind even your worst boss
has desirable characteristics and skills that got them where they are.
“The best boss I had would have to be Jane Jeffries, the CEO at Octagon
Financial. She was a skillful leader, an excellent communicator,
proactive and involved in the company. She knew our products well and
made sure the staff did also through quarterly educational seminars and
motivating team meetings. She and I are still in touch.”
“The worst boss, wow that is a tough one, I think there is something
to learn from everyone. At Junior Films, the President of the company
could have been more communicative. I found him to be stoic, and he
often held information within a close-knit circle of upper management.
Because of this, it was sometimes hard to deliver what the company was
looking for on a project. On the other hand, the company was very
successful because he was also skillful at keeping information away
from our competitors; the company was often first to market, with the
competition lagging a bit behind.”
5. What have you been doing since you left your last position?
If you’ve been out of a traditional paying job for quite some time,
it’s smart to develop hobbies and activities that you can discuss
during an interview.
In your answer to this question talk about your continued research
to show you still have industry knowledge. Discuss your volunteer work
and how the skills you apply there relate to the job at hand.
“I have spent a great deal of time furthering my education and keeping my credentials intact with continuing education courses at Albertville
Community College. I also stay in touch with industry trends by reading
the New York Times and Accountants World Weekly. In addition, I
volunteer my accounting services at the local youth community center.”
Maybe you were trying a new career but decided you didn’t like it —
that is OK as long as you frame the experience in a positive light and
explain you are now “returning to your first passion: the (fill in the
blank) field or industry.”
Throughout your interview preparation, follow these strategies to
formulate your ideas. When working on answers to a question, make
connections between these questions and others. For example, in
question #1 above, the answer could also be given to a question
relating to your weaknesses. In #2, a similar answer could be given to
a question about your learning style. In #5, a similar answer can be
given for a question relating to professional development pursuits.
And remember, practice! Be very familiar with the information you want to share in an interview.
The more prepared you are and the better you know yourself and your
career, the easier it will be to answer questions and create a dialogue
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