Q: I have been in the market for a job for about six months. I don’t have a problem getting to the interview, (I have had six in the last 2 months). But I NEVER get the job offer. I am convinced that I am doing something wrong in the interview. I know that the questions are trying to get answers to something other than the question being asked. Can you offer any tips to get past the interviewers?
A : Behind every interview question there is a concern or another question. Your job is to process the question thinking about what the interviewer’s concern might be. In other words, why is the interviewer asking you this question? Below is a list of some of my favorite questions and what I am thinking when I ask the question. I also have included some answers to use as a GUIDE. I admonish you to not duplicate the answers, verbatim, especially when the answer does not apply to your situation. AND if you are saying that you did/or do something, make sure that it’s true! It would be horrible to breeze through the interview only to be released when you are not a good fit for the job!
How long have you been looking for a job? (Concern – is there something wrong with you that other employers have picked up?)
“After I was laid off from my last job, I took the opportunity to take some time out to examine my career goals and where I was going with my life. I have just begun my search in the last few weeks. I have a definite goal in mind and have been selective about the positions I consider. Your company and this position are of great interest to me.”
How did you prepare for this interview? (Concern – are you interested enough to do some research, or are you going to “wing it”?)
“When I found this position posted on the internet (monster.com) I was immediately interested. I checked out the company website and mission statement, looked at the bios of company founders and executives, and was impressed. Once I had the interview appointment, I talked with friends and acquaintances in the industry. And, I’m sure I’ll find out a lot more in today’s meetings.”
What is your salary expectation for this job? (Concern – Can we afford you? Can we get you for less than budgeted?)
“I’ll need more information about the job and the responsibilities involved before we can begin to discuss salary. Can you give me an idea of the range budgeted for this position?”
How do you keep current and informed about your job and the industries that you have worked in? (Concern – Once you get the job do you continue to learn and grow – stay challenged and motivated?)
“I pride myself on my ability to stay on top of what is happening in my industry. I do a lot of reading – the business section of the newspapers and magazines. I belong to a couple of professional organizations and network with colleagues at the meetings. I take classes and seminars whenever they are of interest, or offer new information or technology.”
Tell me about a time when you had to plan and coordinate a project from start to finish. (Concern – behavioral questions – seeking an example of specific past behavior)
“I headed up a project which involved customer service personnel and technicians. I organized a meeting to get everyone together to brainstorm and get his or her input. From this meeting I drew up a plan, taking the best of the ideas. I organized teams, balancing the mixture of technical and non-technical people. We had a deadline to meet, so I did periodic checks with the teams. After three weeks, we were exceeding expectations, and were able to begin implementation of the plan. It was a great team effort, and a big success. I was commended by management for my leadership, but I was most proud of the team spirit and cooperation which it took to pull it off.”
What kinds of people do you have difficulties working with? (Concern – ability to be flexible and work in a diverse environment?)
“In my last three jobs I have worked with men and women from very diverse backgrounds and cultures. The only time I had difficulty was with people who were dishonest about work issues. I worked with one woman who was taking credit for work that her team accomplished. I had an opportunity to talk with her one day and explained how she was affecting the morale. She became very upset that others saw her that way, and said she was unaware of her behavior or the reactions of others. Her behavior changed after our talk. What I learned from that experience is that sometimes what we perceive about others is not always the case if we check it out.”
We expect managers to work more than 8 hours a day. Do you have a problem with that? (Concern – are you a workaholic or a person who requires balance?)
“I have no problem working long hours. I have worked 12 or 14 hour days. What I have found works for me is to work smarter, not necessarily longer. My goal is to get the job done, whatever that takes, in the most efficient manner.”
There is no way you can accurately predict the questions that will be asked in an interview, but you can be ready and prepared by thinking about the factors that might concern an interviewer or employer before the interview. I also would recommend the book, “Easy Answers to the Toughest Job Interview Questions” by Mosis Willett. Further, I suggest you do a mock interview and record yourself. You may find that you are giving off subtle signals that you are not aware of. Happy Job Hunting!