Preparing for The Interview

addressing the interview questions most likely to be asked

The S.T.A.R. method depicted above is the ideal structure to use when formulating and expressing statements or answers that involve some depth, and/or stories or historical examples.  Utilizing this method ensures that you have provided an outline, the background, the challenge, the what's and how's, and have given closure via the results.  This formula ensures no structural elements are missing, so the challenge becomes training yourself to use the above method when telling your stories or making your points in everyday life, so that it becomes second nature during interviews, vs something uncomfortable and unnatural.

Popular Interview Questions

Can you tell me a little about yourself?   Start out giving a pitch-one that’s concise and compelling and that shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job.

How did you hear about the position?  Stand out and show your passion for and connection to the company.  Share what, specifically, caught your eye about the role.

What do you know about the company?  Start with one line that shows you understand the company's goals, using a couple key words and phrases from the website, or from your knowledge of the industry.  Do your homework if you really want the job.

Why do you want this job?  Start out by identifying a couple of key factors that make the role a great fit for you.

Why should we hire you?  Your job here is to create an answer that covers three things: that you can not only do the work, but you can deliver great results; that you'll really fit in with the team; and that you'd be a better hire than any of the other candidates for a variety of reasons.

What are your greatest professional strengths?  Choose your strengths that are most targeted to this particular position, and be specific by giving some examples.

What do you consider to be your weaknesses?  Start by thinking of something that you struggle with, but that you’re working to improve.  Show that even though it's a weakness, its days are numbered.  This illustrates that you can both identify weakness, and overcome it.

What is your greatest professional achievement?  Utilize the S.T.A.R method here (Situation, Task/Target, Action, Results).  Use this structure to illustrate some of your top professional achievements.

Have you had a challenge or conflict that you have faced at work, and if so, how did you overcome it?  Again, use the S.T.A.R method to illustrate a historical example that you successfully navigated.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  The answer here varies to the degree that this particular job fits into your 5 year plan.  If it does not then you might want to consider some other options.  If it does, then you should illustrate how this role is a perfect fit, and seems meant to be.

What is your dream job?  Talk about your goals and ambitions, and why this job will get you closer to them; if you believe it this job will get you closer to your dream job, then expand on that (especially if your dream job potentially exists within this company).

What other companies are you interviewing with?  Mention that you are exploring a number of other similar options in the company's industry (have names ready for the "like who" question).  Also explain how the role you are after is similar as it is what you are best suited for.

Why are you leaving your current job?  Consider your reasons: maybe a shorter commute,  better hours, more opportunity,or industry constriction... just think through your reason and be prepared for follow-up questions related to your answer.

Why were you fired?  This is a tough one, especially if you are not on good terms with your previous employer.  Ideally, you would be able to tell the truth, however sometimes the truth might come across in too much of a detrimental or negative manner.   If this it the case, the better approach is the truth melded with some lesson learned, new insight, or reason as to why it worked out to your favor in the end.

What are you looking for in a new position?  Ideally you have a list of reasons why you want this job, and specifically what excites you about this new position.

What is your management style? Are you a leader, a coach, a mentor, or an encourager, and when and how do these leadership styles appear?   It might be wise to reference some leadership coaches and mentors that you have had, or currently utilize, as this will show your resolve for consistent growth, be it:  Anthony Robbins, Jim Rohn, or John Maxwell.  If you don't know these guys, maybe its time you should.

When is a time you disagreed with a decision made at work?  You don't want to paint the picture of your boss being an idiot, or of yourself being wrong, rather, try to illustrate how you respect the chain of command, but are also assertive when you need to be.  Be sure to mention that disagreements are always handled in private, and not in public.  It is good to clearly define your position on things, but at the same time you must balance that with your place in the organizational chart.

How would your boss and coworkers describe you?   Ideally these are your natural strength traits, and they should be something obvious to others, not something you try or hope to be, because there is a good chance your interviewer might check out your story and your references.

What are your salary requirements?  Come up with a range, and state the highest number in that range that applies, based on your experience, education, and skills. Then, make sure the hiring manager knows that you're flexible.  This way you have a chance at the top end, but might end up somewhere in the middle.

Know what you want, do your homework, Be Prepared 

As you know, the interviewer typically deems themselves in a position of superiority regarding this interaction, so be respectful of that.  Be early, be prepared, know why it is you are there and what it is that you want.  You can be assured that the interviewer already knows what they want, they already know what they would like to pay for the role, and they already have in mind the ideal type of candidate.  The interview is a game, and its success is grounded in mutual interest and negotiation.  If you gauge you want higher pay then they are likely willing to pay, then you need to factor that into your interview, and then your value needs to project beyond the role they are currently offering.  If you have gaps in your record, or possible un-provable talents/skills and experience, then these need to be elaborated on during the interview.  Most of us are more than we appear on paper, so the only way to get this info to a 3rd party is to share it.  We share it by using the S.T.A.R. method depicted near the top of this page. 

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