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Interview Questions

When you do get an interview you should be prepared to answer the following typical questions:

1. "Tell me about yourself."
You will want to get the interviewer to narrow this down by asking, "What area of my background is most interesting to you?" Be careful not to start selling yourself until you know what the client is particularly interested in. An interview occupies a finite period of time and any extraneous information you volunteer may take away from the time you need to sell your most pertinent skills. If the question is about your personal life, mention something that shows you like people and possess determination.

2. "What salary do you want?"
If questioned about salary, try to turn the question around by asking: "What do you generally pay someone with my type of education and experience?" In this way, you let the interviewer set a salary range for your consideration. You, however, should not bring up the matter of salary or benefits until you're at the offer stage of the process.

4. "Why do you want to leave your current job?"
The interviewer is searching for possible personality flaws which may have caused friction on former jobs. Never speak negatively about a former employer. If you do, the interviewer will have reason to anticipate the same friction if you were hired by his company. Rather, suggest that you had an excellent relationship with your former supervisors and coworkers. Give the reasons why you want to change i.e. to go to a firm with better financial status or one that would give you wider experience in your field.

5. "What are your greatest strengths (weaknesses)?"
Employers tend to look for excellent skills in communication and analysis, as well as, energy, determination and confidence. A laudable weakness could be "I get frustrated with those who don't put forth their best effort." For strengths, say not just "I am a good salesperson" but, "I am a good salesperson, in fact, I exceeded my quota last year by 25 percent." Its always best to quantify your accomplishments.

6. "What are your career goals?" or "What do you hope to be doing 5- 10 years from now?"
Try to indicate confidence and drive, but don't appear to be threatening the interviewer's own job. Example: "I would hope to be moving up the career ladder from this job, perhaps to a supervisory or lead capacity."

7. "Why are you interested in our company?"
Here is where your research on the company will pay off. You might mention that you had worked for a competitor and that this company had an even better reputation. An interviewer will be impressed with your genuine enthusiasm for the company.

8. "Can you work under pressure?"
Just briefly state that you can work well under pressure, but that you prefer to manage your time.

9. "Describe your education for me."
Describe your major course of study, your extracurricular activities, or special honors as they relate to the job. You might want to explain why you chose a particular area of study or training program and how it prepared you for this job.

In some cases an employer may ask the following pointed questions:

Q. "You are too young to have any experience in this field. Why should I hire you?"

A. "My teachers will tell you that I learn quickly and I am not satisfied until the job is done right. I have a genuine love for the publishing industry, and I am always looking at other's writing as a carpenter looks at a house."

Q. "I see you have held a lot of different jobs for several employers."

A. "Yes, that's true, before I was married, I was a little carefree. I was doing some career experimentation until I found my niche but am now looking to secure a long lasting relationship.

Q. "After free lancing for so long, why would you now consider an office job?"

A. "I miss the camaraderie of an office environment. I also miss the resources to more easily do the things that I chose this career in the first place for."

Here are some suggestions on how to answer some personally difficult questions.

Q: "Are you married?"

A: Generally asked if a relocation is involved. A spouse with a local career is the biggest hurdle for a candidate to realize an opportunity elsewhere. If you're serious about the job you should be able to state that you've already discussed the possibility with your spouse and they are prepared to move.

Q: "Do you have children?"

A: The employer is obviously interested in whether your child care responsibilities will conflict with job duties. Reassure him or her that you have a reliable child care arrangement or that your children are very self-sufficient, independent teenagers.