The Fish – Swimming Through The Interview Questions

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 20, 2010 in Interviewing Skills |

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Interviewing Questions Series: 1-2 of 29

Answers to popular (and sometimes tricky) questions you might hear in your next interview. Suggestions and requests are welcome in the comments. If you are currently a job seeker, a great way to help you prepare for the interview is to prepare a brief answer to all of the questions here. Download all of the questions here: Interview Prep Guide.

“Tell me about yourself.”

This is a very common ice breaker. An interviewer that starts off with this question is trying to buy time and get focused. This is your time to shine and help them feel comfortable with you. Smile, and ask politely, “Where would you like me to start?” They might ask why you chose your college, or why you want to leave your current role. Move into your best 2 or 3 sentence summary going forwards or backwards from where they asked you to begin. Think TVGUIDE version…only give the basics so you can get more detailed in your next answers after they are ready to focus on YOU.

You SHOULD NOT launch into a 5 minute discussion about your entire life’s story. Keep it professional, focused and thank them for inviting you in should it be appropriate. Avoid personal topics like family, religion, personal beliefs, and hobbies. Also avoid topics that might be negative like why you want to leave your current job. It’s more important why you’re there and where you’re trying to go, not what you want to avoid and/or what you’re trying to escape. Keep the conversation moving forward, you are trying to swim up to the job offer, not let your self fall back with the current.

“What are you looking for in your next position?”

If you are interviewing for a specific job, make sure you talk about things that are obviously included in the position you are interviewing for and the company. Be honest, but don’t make it all about you, and don’t focus on only soft skills (i.e. reliability, personable, flexibility, etc.). Discuss measurable, content related work (i.e. software, how many people you have managed, money you have saved the company, projects you’ve worked on and the monetary outcome, etc.)

AVOID talking about things that have gone awry in the past or that may obviously not involve the type of job you are interviewing for. Boasting about skills that you probably don’t even need in the position won’t make you sound more qualified. Keep your conversation focused on the work, the opportunity at the company, and what you will do for them; not what they will do for you. You should never ask about benefits in the interview or demand them as part of your compensation before you have been offered the job. (such as fully paid health insurance or work from home flexibility, etc).

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