Be Prepared for the Questions Employers ALWAYS Ask at Interviews
Why Employers Almost Always Ask Certain Interview Questions
While specific interview questions can vary widely depending on an industry, type of position, and job title, most employers have a menu of standard questions asked of every candidate. One or two 45 minute interviews may reveal valuable information about your experience and qualifications.
However, how can a prospective employer discover insight as to who you are personally? Combined with federally-mandated restrictions prohibiting many “personal questions," inquiries designed to display your professional personality, motivation, and suitability must be carefully worded and constructed.
It is easier to use proven behavioral questions to avoid misunderstandings or regulation violations than to risk individually targeted inquiries. Consequently, most employers use a rather standard list of certain open-ended (you cannot use a yes or no answer) interview questions designed to show your professional behavioral traits.
Therefore, regardless of your industry or desired position, you should prepare for some form of the questions noted herein. While it’s impossible to prepare for every possible dialogue or nuance of a job interview, these questions will most surely be asked. You should carefully prepare thoughtful, effective answers.
Employers feel a strong need to hire candidates that “fit” their corporate culture and team objectives. Even if you possess the highest level technical qualifications for a position, should you project to be a poor fit for the company, you typically will not receive an offer. Use these questions to your advantage, not your detriment.
Some Questions to Carefully Consider Before Interviewing
Depending on your interviewer, these questions may be asked verbatim or thinly disguised in a slightly different fashion. These are, however, regular “staples” of all job interviews, regardless of position or industry.
- What can you tell me about yourself and your prior jobs? First, do not assume or believe the interviewer is interested in your personal life or anecdotes. He/she wants to learn about your workplace behavior and attitudes. Offer one or more examples of things you’ve accomplished in the past for former employers.
- Why do you want to work for this company? Carefully construct an answer that speaks well of your ability and concern for this potential employer. Stress areas such as your ability to assist company growth, improving corporate culture, and admiration for the company’s management and operational philosophy. This shows you have thought about this, done your company research, and displays reasons why you will “fit” into this employer’s team.
- Why did you leave your last employer? Be sure to stress only positive reasons for your current availability. The only acceptable negative reasons include company closure, downsizing, merger, or acquisition. Otherwise, concentrate on the subjects related to seeking out new challenges, using or acquiring more skills to become more valuable, and desire to contribute to another organization that you admire.
- How might your former employer or co-workers describe you? At first glance, this question may inspire a creative work of fiction. Resist the temptation. Once again, stress the positives using words like “helpful,” “supportive,” “willingness,” and “cooperative.” Offer examples that visually portray your advantages and behavior.
- Where do you picture yourself and your career in five years? This question attempts to learn of your ambition, plans, career goals, and educational objectives. While the least risky of the standard menu of behavioral questions, you must understand that this question is critical to the interviewer’s perception of your potential “fit” for the company.
- What are your compensation objectives and expectations? If this appears to be a “minefield” type of question, you’re correct. While you must be careful, you can diffuse the potential explosion and display positive aspects of your candidacy. First, be realistic. Research the prospective employer and similar companies in the industry. Combine this data with research into similar positions and the average salaries they command in your geographical area. You’ll then have a good idea of the compensation range at your interview company. Consider quoting at least 25 percent more than your last job’s salary, unless this interview represents a major career change for you. Being realistic displays that you’ve considered and researched this subject extensively.
If you associate with a top employment firm, like Kelly Services, you can also ask your representative about other questions often asked by your future interviewer. They may have some valuable inside information to help you further prepare.
Be aware that these questions (or variations thereof) are always asked at job interviews. Most companies have now adopted behavioral interview formats designed to evaluate both your technical qualifications and professional personality. While technical questions are specific to your specialty, experience, and skill level, these are designed to open the window of learning about your behavior, motivation, and commitment to excel.