How would you describe yourself?
When you respond, keep in mind the type of position you are interviewing for and the work environment. Your answer should help show the interviewer why you’re a match for the job and for the company.
I’m a people person. I really enjoy meeting and working with a lot of different people.
I’m a perfectionist. I pay attention to all the details, and like to be sure that everything is just right.
I’m a creative thinker. I like to explore alternative solutions to problems and have an open mind about what will work best.
I’m efficient and highly organized. This enables me to be as productive as possible on the job.
I enjoy solving problems, troubleshooting issues, and coming up with solutions in a timely manner.
Describe your work style.
When you are asked about how you work during an interview, it’s important to impress the interviewer with your competency and accuracy, rather than just your speed.
I am very focused on my work, and consequently, am able to work quickly.
I keep a steady pace, and check my work as I go along, to prevent mistakes from snowballing.
Because I am very organized, I am able to accomplish a lot in a limited amount of time.
I’m organized and efficient and I’m able to multi-task very well.
I’m always on top of my projects, but I do welcome input and will consult with team members to ensure we’re all on the same track.
Do you work well with other people?
Keys to Responding to Questions:
The first key is to specify the types of interactions with people which are attractive to you or at which you are particularly adept. In addition to specifying how you work well with managers, co-workers, customers, vendors and others, you should also speak to what you accomplish during those interactions. Here are some examples:
Assessing the skills, personality traits and work ethic of candidates by applying behavioral interviewing techniques.
Motivating subordinates to improve performance.
Leading group discussions in a way that incorporates diverse views and draws consensus.
Developing a comfortable rapport with clients and determining their preferences for products and services.
Listening actively and emphatically to encourage clients to share their feelings and problems.
Creating and delivering training sessions which engage the audience in active learning.
Providing difficult news to employees targeted for layoffs.
Mediating conflicts between employees or with clients.
Resolving customer complaints with patience and creativity.
The next key to interview success is to give examples of situations at work where you have used these people skills. Prepare concrete examples to convince employers that you actually possess those strengths.
Your examples should convey how, when, and where you applied your skills or interests and the outcomes. Personalize your examples so they reflect your skills and experience as they relate to the job for which you are applying.
Do you take work home with you?
Do you take work home with you is a tricky question, be ready. The longer the answer, the bigger the hole you’ve dug. Don’t waffle and don’t give an overly detailed answer with lots of ifs, ands, or buts.
When I need to, no problem. I realize the importance of meeting deadlines and getting work done on time.
How are you different from the competition?
It’s not uncommon for employers to receive hundreds of applications from eager job seekers. Employers make hiring decisions by comparing these various candidates who are applying for a position, and sometimes they will ask you to help them to assess what is distinctive or advantageous about hiring you.
Separate Yourself from the Other Applicants
In most cases, you will have no idea who you are competing with for a particular job, so this type of question is really an invitation to summarize your strengths as a candidate with an emphasis on any assets which might separate you from the typical applicant.
Be prepared to reference each asset and to describe a situation where you used that strength and any results you helped generate or how your organization has benefited from your actions.
For example, your answer might begin with an acknowledgement like “Of course, I am not aware of the other candidates in the applicant pool, but I can say that my skills in Excel are quite advanced. I have created complex macros to track seasonal variations in sales and expenses which have helped my department to save money.”
In addition to addressing the standard job requirements, try to add a strength that is relatively unique, and would add value. For example, although foreign language skills might not be listed in the job advertisement, you might mention that your native language skills would enable you to establish rapport with your home country clients.
How many hours do you normally work?
Be careful before you answer questions about how many hours a week you work. You don’t want to be construed as a slacker or as someone who works too many hours. At some companies (as our employer), the norm is a 40 hour week and everyone goes home on time. At others, everyone might work 50 or 60 hours a week.
However, working a lot of hours isn’t necessarily a good thing – it could mean you’re not productive enough to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time.
Your response will show the employer that you’re willing to work hard, without committing to an exact number of hours per week.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
A typical interview question, asked to get a sense of how you handle on-the-job stress, is “How do you handle pressure?” Examples of good responses include:
Stress is very important to me. With stress, I do the best possible job. The appropriate way to deal with stress is to make sure I have the correct balance between good stress and bad stress. I need good stress to stay motivated and productive.
I react to situations, rather than to stress. That way, the situation is handled and doesn’t become stressful.
I actually work better under pressure and I’ve found that I enjoy working in a challenging environment.
From a personal perspective, I manage stress by visiting the gym every evening. It’s a great stress reducer.
Prioritizing my responsibilities so I have a clear idea of what needs to be done when, has helped me effectively manage pressure on the job.
If the people I am managing are contributing to my stress level, I discuss options for better handling difficult situations with them.
I find that when I’m under the pressure of a deadline, I can do some of my most creative work.
I’m not a person who has a difficult time with stress. When I’m under pressure, I focus, and get the job done.
I find it exhilarating to be in a dynamic environment where the pressure is on.
I find a past pace to be invigorating, and thrive when the pressure is on.
I’ve done some of my best work under tight deadlines, where the atmosphere was very stressful.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
One of the interview questions typically asked at the end of a job interview is whether there is anything else that you would like to share or that the interviewer should know about you. Make sure you don’t pass up this opportunity to close the interview in a strong fashion.
Make a List of What You Have to Offer
The first step to preparing for this type of question is to go into the interview with a clear understanding of what you have to offer. Prepare a list of 8 – 10 assets which would enable you to excel in the job if it is offered.
Review the job description and itemize a list of your skills, accomplishments, areas of knowledge, experiences and/or personal qualities which would help you to meet the qualifications for this particular job. Be ready to supply examples from your work, volunteer or academic history which prove that you have added value by applying those assets in the past.
How to Answer
Start your closing statement with a summary of some of the key strengths which you have already shared and then add any items from your list which haven’t been covered. Here’s an example of an effective answer a candidate could give for a public relations position:
“You have done a very thorough job of getting at my strengths. We have discussed my writing, presentation and computer skills, but I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you about my persuasive abilities. I was able to convince seven local businesses to sponsor the charity run which I organized for my fraternity, and I successfully placed several stories in the local media about a client during my public relations internship.”
Summarize Your Qualifications
In the unlikely scenario where your interviewer has touched on all the assets on your list, then take the opportunity to thank them, mention your strong interest in the job and summarize your most compelling qualifications.
For example, you might say:
“I think that you have been incredibly thorough and we have discussed my key strengths like my writing, presentation, computer and persuasive skills. I would just like to assure you that I am very excited by the opportunity here. I am extremely motivated to pursue this job and will devote maximum energy to succeeding if I am hired.”