|Posted by Krista Mitchell on July 21, 2012 at 9:20 AM|
Here are 5 more interview questions, the strategy to use when answering, and an example answer for each question.
1. What skills do you have that make you a valuable member of a team?
Strategy: Think about your best strengths in a group setting. Are you an organizer good at keeping members on tasks, creative wonder, technologically savvy, good at negotiating among members for a compromise? What have been your historical team member strengths? Give an example or two of how you have used your team strengths.
Bomb: "I always do whatever role I’m given and I give it 100%."
Example: “I’m good at finding and using online technologies that assist in accomplishing the group’s goals. I once used a new technology at Prezi.com for creating presentations in a unique way that is more interesting viewing than a PowerPoint slideshow. I also identified a new way for the group to have access to all the new technologies I found through an online website bookmarking system at Symbaloo.com.”
2. How do you handle stress? /How well do you work under pressure?
Strategy: Employers want to know that you can deal with stress on the job in healthy or productive ways. Discuss ways you have learned to deal with stress and say that you enjoy challenges.
Bomb: Discussing relieving stress by ranting, drinking, complaining, or any other unprofessional behavior. Conveying little tolerance for stress on the job.
Example: “I believe stress management is vital in today’s world and have learned various ways of relieving stress that work for me. I use several techniques to relieve stress at work such as deep breathing exercises, stretching, or taking a jog around the building. After work, I do things like exercising, listening to music, and taking long hot baths. I work well under pressure and find challenges to be motivating.”
3. How do you overcome obstacles during important projects or assignments?
Strategy: Tell how you use a process analyzing the obstacle to determine what to do and how to do it. Interviewers are looking at your ability to solve problems in a strategic manner.
Bomb: Stating it depends on the situation or giving a vague answer such as, “I just deal with it the best that I can.”
Example: “I use a process analyzing the obstacle to determine: why it is there, why it is an obstacle, whether it can be worked around or must be removed, how to go about working around it or removing it, and identifying people who can assist in that. Then I work based on the analysis.”
4. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
Strategy: Interviewers are looking for return on their investment in you. They want to know whether you are ready to jump right in and have the ambition to achieve success quickly. Acknowledge that you will have to learn some new things in the beginning but that you plan to make meaningful contributions as soon as possible.
Bomb: Ignoring the fact that there is new information you will need to learn, failing to recognize that you have skills and experience to do the job, and failing to give any sort of timeline on accomplishment.
Example: “As with any new job, there is a learning curve involved; however, once I added the necessary training or learning to my current knowledge and experience, I see no reason why it should take longer than a few months to begin making positive contributions to your organization.”
5. Your resume suggests you may be over-qualified for this position. What is your opinion?
Strategy: Employers want to know why you are willing to accept a lower position than a higher one for which you qualify. They are gauging whether you plan to stay long-term or will be taking off as soon as you find a better position. Play up how you will need less training than other less experienced candidates and that your track record of success means you already know how to make things happen. Also, indicate this particular position is a conscious choice for you.
Bomb: You can’t find anything else in the current economy. You admit to being older than other candidates are. You concede that over-qualification is a weakness in any way.
Example: “I believe my skills and level of experience reduce the amount of training I will need compared with other candidates and that my long history of successes shows that I know how to get the results your company needs. I also actually prefer a position ‘in the trenches’ where the action is rather than one in management.”
6. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the past year?
Strategy: Interviewers are gauging your initiative for personal development. Come up with something, whether it’s volunteering to contribute to the community, taking a course to improve your job-related skills, internet research to learn about social networks and the role they play in organizational change, or simply reading books to improve your knowledge about conducting an effective job search.
Example: “There has been a lot of buzz lately about using social media to promote company and product awareness, so I have been reading articles and learning about various social media networks in order to understand how this information may make me more effective in my job.”
7. What were you doing during the time gap on your resume between jobs?
Strategy: You were doing something whether it was furthering your education, volunteer work, a planned career break to raise children, or conducting an organized job search in your chosen career.
Bomb: “Nothing really. Just trying to find a job.”
Example: “After my previous company downsized, resulting in me being laid off, I began conducting an organized job search in my career field and networking with other professionals in the industry to learn about various companies and their opportunities. I have also been keeping up with industry trends and new technologies in the field through Internet research.”
8. Describe for me how you have “made your own luck”.
Strategy: Luck is the collision of preparation and opportunity. Describe specifically how your preparation for a career in your field opened specific doors for you.
Bomb: No description of preparation efforts.
Example: “My dream was to play football for a big league college after high school. However, I didn’t get any football scholarship offers from large colleges, but I did receive some from a few small colleges. I compiled a video of my best game and mailed to the football coaches of a bunch of colleges where I wanted to play. One college contacted me and said they would take me on their back-up team but that I would have to pay my own way. I took the deal. My goal was still to actually play for a large college, so I worked longer and harder than other players did in practice. I got there early every day and stayed late every day. Even though our scrimmages weren’t actual games, I played as if they were with all my heart even though other players played half-heartedly. My junior year, my work began to pay off. The coach moved me to special teams and started me as a wide receiver. I played all through my junior and senior years. I could have taken one of those scholarships to a small college, but I wouldn’t have achieved the dream I had.”
9. How do you plan your day?
Strategy: Describe the elements that go into planning your day and what the priorities are. Include mention of any organizational tools you use.
Bomb: Playing your days by ear with lack of planning, prioritizing, or organization.
Example: “I have a day planner that I carry with me everywhere. Each morning when I open it, I review anything written in for the day such as meetings, webinars, or special events taking place. Usually, I already several prearranged appointments with employers written down as well. I set my phone alarm to notify me of each meeting so that I am never late to an appointment and never forget a meeting. I use the time between meetings and appointments first to contact new employers to arrange meetings. Once I have a relatively full schedule for the next several days, I use the remaining downtime to document results of meetings in the company database. Once in awhile, I set aside a full day just for catching up on documentation.”
10. How do you go about influencing someone to accept your ideas?
Strategy: Persuasive skills and negotiation skills are important in jobs like sales, marketing, public relations, and management. The ability to avoid conflict during persuasion is key as well. Use a logical thought process, outlining the steps you take.
Bomb: Using aggressive or forceful tactics to persuade others, bringing conflict into your answer, or not knowling how to use persuasion.
Example: “I first research similar ideas to determine whether they are sound, viable ideas. I then decide the strongest selling points of the idea and base my introduction and initial delivery on those. I then address objections tactfully, outlining why the objections are either minimal or not relevant using examples from research about similar ideas. Most often, I am able to win acceptance of the idea.”
Remember, preparation and knowledge of your skills and experience and how they bring value to a new company are key. And practice, practice, practice!