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20 Questions to Land You the Job You Want

By pam

A few key words to remember:

  • Radiate enthusiasm
  • Link your qualifications and experience with the requirements of the prospective job. Make it clear why you are the right person for the job.
  • Never speak poorly about your current boss.
  • Stress your ability to work with others.
  • Keep your answers work related and give examples that illustrate how you have grown on the job in quantifiable ways.
  • Speak of your accomplishments with modesty and discuss your career dispassionately and objectively.
  • If asked an inappropriate question, sidestep it with a gracious response.
  • Ask closing questions, and as the interview ends, repeat the eye contact, smile and handshake.

The correct answers are included under each question.

1. Why do you want to leave your current job?

I was originally interested in a position very much like this one, but I did not know when an ideal job would be available, so I started work at another, smaller company that had many of the opportunities I was looking for. I’ve spent the last two years getting up to speed on the industry and now feel confident that I have the skills and experience to work for you.

2. This job involves some foreign travel and experience. So tell me, how did you come to speak Mandarin?

I’ve always been interested in China. I see it as one of the most important markets in the emerging global economy. So in college, I minored in Chinese studies and was an exchange student for one year in Taipei.

3. Describe a tough problem you’ve had to deal with.

One Friday evening I had to get a package out by air courier and our printer froze up at the office. I didn’t know how I was going to make it. But two of my colleagues in another department heard about my predicament, and they offered to drive the files over to a quick-copy place to print them out. I had helped them out of a similar bind the month before, and they wanted to return the favor.

4. What is your typical workday like?

I have several goals that I try to reach each day. One is to clean out my in box. The second is to return all my phone calls from the previous day. The third is to make progress on a least two of the five projects we have pending, even if it’s only having a meeting to decide our next step. And when I’m ready to leave in the evening, I make sure to answer two more pieces of mail and make one last phone call before calling it quits.

5. What kind of decisions are most difficult for you?

It’s difficult for me to decide how to divide my workday so that I give all my projects equal attention. But I’ve enrolled in a time management program that our company offers, and it’s helped me organize my day.

6. Tell me about yourself.

I am goal-oriented and flexible, traits that were instilled in me from a young age. These qualities have helped me succeed in trying circumstances, especially after my father died while I was in college and I had to work to support myself and my younger siblings.

7. Do you prefer working with others or alone?

In my previous jobs, I have always had to consult with a coworker in some measure, and I have really enjoyed sharing tasks with others and combining our efforts.

8. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

When an employee I was supervising was having personal problems that affected his work, I helped him find assistance for the problem and improved his job performance.

9. Would you be willing to relocate?

Yes, my husband and I have already discussed that possibility and we agree that we’re willing to relocate, provided that we can find decently priced housing and good schools in the new locations.

10. Why were you laid off from your last job?

My department was downsized, and I had little seniority.

11. What is your favorite, out of all the jobs you’ve held?

Two years ago, I spent a year designing an interactive video game for an East coast company. I worked on a team with other creative types, marketing managers, accountants and lawyers, sopping up every aspect of the business. I’ve built on those skills since then, which is why I think my combination of experience and talent will work well with your company.

12. Why do you want to work here?

In my last job, I spent two years developing my expertise as a telecommunications engineer with applications in Latin America. I’ve read a lot about your company and know this one field you’re expanding into. I think that my mix of skills and experience would fit in with your overall plans for growth, and I’d like to be a part of your future.

13. How have you developed in your current job?

When I investigated our company’s employee training and development programs, I learned that I could be reimbursed at 80% for college classes. So in the last three years, I’ve earned an MBA, going to school at night and taking Internet classes.

14. How do you feel about the progress you are making at your current job?

I’ve received one promotion since coming on board two years ago, which challenged my abilities for about a year, but I feel it’s time to move on. I’m not learning anymore, and I feel that my personality and mix of skills would be much better suited to a large company such as yours that is an industry leader.

15. Why aren’t you married?

I haven’t found the right person.

16. What traits do you feel you can improve on?

I’ve been a workaholic for several years now, ever since my marriage broke up. I realize that’s not healthy, but it’s just a pattern I slipped into with all that extra time on my hands. However, I’ve recently joined a softball team and am taking a marketing class one night a week. I believe I’m on the road to a more balanced life.

17. What are some of the things that motivate you?

I’m motivated by the challenge of a new assignment, the awareness that I’m going to be thrust together with a team of like minded people who will be bringing different talents to the task, and the opportunity to contribute what I know and to learn new skills along the way as we assemble the best new product in the marketplace.

18. How do you feel about overtime?

For me, the most important thing is making sure that the job gets done right. If that involves working overtime, and I know that is unavoidable at most jobs, I’m willing to work some evenings or weekends.

19. What kind of people do you like to work with?

I’m an administrator, and that’s what they pay me for, but whenever I can I like to work with members of our creative team, because I find that I always learn something from the artists. Their input stretches my knowledge and I find myself thinking in ways that I never considered before, which helps me in my overall job.

20. Do you have any more questions?

Yes, as a matter of fact, Can you tell me more about your employee training and development opportunities? Also, I’d like to know what else I can do to prepare for this position as I await your answer. Are there any books or articles I should be looking at?

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