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Hirewell's VP of Recruiting Shares His Interview Tips & the Best Questions to Prep and Practice (Part 2)

Bill Gates - Vice President of Recruiting

Congratulations! You've made it to the interview, a time when you and the hiring company have the opportunity for mutual assessment. The key ingredients for a successful interview are preparation and performance.  Boost your confidence before your next interview by reviewing the preparation tips below and rehearsing the sample questions out loud.

Preparation

Do your homework. Research the company, the opportunity and the interviewer.  Review your work experience objectively and highlight your skills that are most critical for success. During the interview, make certain that you express the following qualities, with brief examples to support each trait.

  • Strong work ethic
  • Flexibility
  • Dependability
  • Capability
  • Resourcefulness
  • Confidence
  • Enthusiasm
  • Pleasant Nature

Generally, the candidate who shows the most enthusiasm for the opportunity and the company is the one who gets the offer. Express your genuine interest, convey your positive attitude, maintain good eye contact and smile.

Be prepared to answer specific questions regarding your skills, knowledge, and experience. You can be persuasive as to why the employer should hire you by creating a vivid and detailed image of your achievements with supporting examples.

The following are a few examples of common questions you could be asked during the interview.  It’s a good idea to practice your answers to these questions out loud.

For each situational question, answer with the STAR Approach:

S: Situation – Describe a specific situation that applies to the question – do not generalize.

T: Task – Describe the task at hand, again, do not generalize – be specific.

A: Action – Describe the actions you took to resolve the situation and/or complete the task.

R: Result – Describe the final result of the situation – and MAKE SURE it is a POSITIVE result!

Note: If you are nervous about “recalling” your answers to each of these questions, think of a few stories that may be used to answer a range of questions they could ask.  You will feel more comfortable going into the interview, and have good, well thought-out illustrations of a variety of scenarios.

Example Questions:

  • Tell me about yourself. (Focus on recent events and hold your response to less than 2 minutes.)
  • What do you know about our organization (its history)? What do you know about our products and services?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you do for us (that someone else can't is implied here)?
  • What are you looking for in a job?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What skills and qualifications do you believe are essential for success in this position?
  • How long would it take for you to make a meaningful contribution?
  • How does this assignment fit into your overall career plan?
  • How do you feel about working for a company of this size? What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks?
  • Why did you choose this particular career?
  • Describe your management style.
  • What, in your opinion, is the most difficult thing about managing others?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • How would your boss describe you?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How do you feel about your present (or past) boss?
  • What are the three most significant accomplishments in your last assignment?
  • What are the three most significant accomplishments in your career so far?
  • Do you work well under deadlines and pressure?
  • What are your salary requirements?  My advice here is to state your current salary and say you are open based on the opportunity. Do not state ranges, nor say you are open to the same/lessor salary or shoot out numbers higher then your current salary. The safest response to this question is, “My current salary is X, my target bonus is X and I received a total package of X last year. However, I am completely open based on the right opportunity. I am looking for the best fit for my career.”
  • Have you kept up in your field with additional training?
  • What other positions are you considering?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What position do you expect to have in two to five years?
  • What are your key strengths?
  • What are your weak points?
  • How did you do in school?
  • If you take this job, what will you accomplish in the first year?
  • What was wrong with your last position? (Or, what is wrong with your current position?)
  • What hours are you used to working? What hours would you like to work?
  • How do you deal with difficult people? (Provide an example and explain.)
  • What are some of the best ideas you have initiated and sold to a superior? What was your approach?
  • Describe any significant project ideas you have initiated or thought of in the past year. Were they used? Did they work?
  • What are the most difficult decisions you have made in the last six months? How did you formulate these decisions?
  • Give me an example of when you have worked the hardest, and felt the greatest sense of achievement.
  • What are your standards for success in your job (or school)? What have you done to meet these standards?
  • We have all had occasions when we were working on something that "just slipped through the cracks." Can you give me some examples of when this happened to you? What happened?
  • In order to survive in the world, people have to bend a little. What is the farthest you have had to bend your standards in order to succeed?
  • What do you do to manage stress? (Don’t say running…How do you resolve stress directly?)
  • What were your objectives for last year? Were they achieved? How?
  • What is the greatest influence in your self-development?
  • Describe the ideal organization for which you would like to work.
  • How do you schedule your time? How far ahead can you schedule? Can you walk me through the last week and tell me how you planned the week's activities and how the schedule worked out?
  • What do you do for fun?

After the Interview

Always ask the interviewer for his/her business card. Send a thank you note immediately following the interview (e-mail is perfectly acceptable). Reiterate your interest in the opportunity and briefly state how you think you could contribute to the team.

Remember, preparation, research and practice are the keys to having a successful job interview. With them, you’ll have an excellent chance at landing a great job opportunity.

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