If you want to be cool,
calm and collected in your next interview, you might be looking
for the right "answers" to the most frequently asked
interview questions. That is not what you need. Your
answers must reflect your words, feelings and rationale.
Prepare, yes. But memorize pat answers? Nothing doing if you’re
intent on making a good impression and getting the job you want.
Instead, here are subjects and questions
interviewers tend to ask and techniques to help you prepare.
Interviewers ask questions to determine three
1. Your skills and work experience
2. Your knowledge
3. Your personal characteristics
When asking about skills and experience they
want to know what you can do, where you’ve done it and why. They
also want to know how you’ve progressed, whether you’re
results-oriented, as well as how well you get along with others,
communicate and resolve conflicts.
They may say:
Tell me about yourself. What do you like about this field? What
are you most proud of? What are your strengths or weaknesses? Why
are you job hunting? Tell me about your responsibilities and how
you handled a particular situation.
To prepare, think of examples with lots of juicy
particulars that illustrate how you applied a skill and solved a
problem. Don’t just say, "I’m a good communicator."
Give an example of how good communications skills resolved a
When they ask about your knowledge, they’re
looking for what you know, how that will make a difference,
whether you have the expertise to do the job and how you’ll stay
They may say:
Tell me about your education. How do you stay updated? What have
your learned from past jobs? What kinds of projects did you work
on? What publications do you read? How will you make a difference
To prepare, think of how to give an overview of
courses you’ve taken to stay technically up-to-date and
well-rounded, overall, and where that has made an impact. Don’t
be tempted to bring up what you lack. If they bring it up,
acknowledge it, then mention the expertise you have to equip you
for the job and your plans to develop in that area.
When asking about personal characteristics,
they want to know what kind of person you are, how you handle
situations, how you think and your overall style.
They may ask:
How would you describe yourself? What’s made you successful?
What’s important to you? What do you do when you’re not at
work? How do you feel about working overtime? What’s your
Prepare by thinking through how to demonstrate
your willingness to do what it takes to get the job done and show
you have balance in your life. Think of examples that illustrate
how your leadership style and personal approach to situations have
With any of these questions, always take the high
road and end on a positive note. Practice with someone. Ask if you
sound defensive. Think through what you’d say. You’ll get to
know yourself better and give authentic responses that help both
you and the interviewer decide if the job is a good match.
© 2001 by Andrea
Kay. All Rights Reserved. Copyrighted work used with permission.
consultant Andrea Kay is the author of:
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Andrea’s articles at www.andreakay.com.