Some More Questions ...

Can you work under pressure?

TRAPS:  An easy question, but you want to make your answer believable.

BEST ANSWER:  Absolutely…(then prove it with a vivid example or two of a goal or project accomplished under severe pressure.)

Who has inspired you in your life and why?

TRAPS:  The two traps here are unpreparedness and irrelevance.  If you grope for an answer, it seems you’ve never been inspired.  If you ramble about your high school basketball coach, you’ve wasted an opportunity to present qualities of great value to the company.

BEST ANSWER:  Have a few heroes in mind, from your mental “Board of Directors” – Leaders in your industry, from history or anyone else who has been your mentor.

Be prepared to give examples of how their words, actions or teachings have helped inspire your achievements.  As always, prepare an answer which highlights qualities that would be highly valuable in the position you are seeking.

What was the toughest decision you ever had to make?

TRAPS:  Giving an unprepared or irrelevant answer.

BEST ANSWER:  Be prepared with a good example, explaining why the decision was difficult…the process you followed in reaching it…the courageous or effective way you carried it out…and the beneficial results.

Tell me about the most boring job you’ve ever had.

TRAPS:  You give a very memorable description of a very boring job.  Result?  You become associated with this boring job in the interviewer’s mind.

BEST ANSWER:  You have never allowed yourself to grow bored with a job and you can’t understand it when others let themselves fall into that rut.
Example:  “Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, but that I’ve never found myself bored with any job I have ever held.  I’ve always enjoyed hard work.  As with actors who feel there are no small parts, I also believe that in every company or department there are exciting challenges and intriguing problems crying out for energetic and enthusiastic solutions.  If you’re bored, it’s probably because you’re not challenging yourself to tackle those problems right under your nose.”

How could you have improved your career progress?

TRAPS:  This is another variation on the question, “If you could, how would you live your life over?”  Remember, you’re not going to fall for any such invitations to rewrite person history. You can’t win if you do.

BEST ANSWER:  You’re generally quite happy with your career progress.  Maybe, if you had known something earlier in life (impossible to know at the time, such as the booming growth in a branch in your industry…or the corporate downsizing that would phase out your last job), you might have moved in a certain direction sooner.

But all things considered, you take responsibility for where you are, how you’ve gotten there, where you are going…and you harbor no regrets.

May I contact your present employer for a reference?

TRAPS:  If you’re trying to keep your job search private, this is the last thing you want.  But if you don’t cooperate, won’t you seem as if you’re trying to hide something?

BEST ANSWER:  Express your concern that you’d like to keep your job search private, but that in time, it will be perfectly okay.

Example:  “My present employer is not aware of my job search and, for obvious reasons; I’d prefer to keep it that way.  I’d be most appreciative if we kept our discussion confidential right now.  Of course, when we both agree the time is right, then by all means you should contact them.  I’m very proud of my record there.

Where could you use some improvement?

TRAPS:  Another tricky way to get you to admit weaknesses.  Don’t fall for it.

BEST ANSWER:  Keep this answer, like all your answers, positive.  A good way to answer this question is to identify a cutting-edge branch of your profession (one that’s not essential to your employer’s needs) as an area you’re very excited about and want to explore more fully over the next six months.

What do you worry about?

TRAPS:  Admit to worrying and you could sound like a loser.  Saying you never worry doesn’t sound credible.

BEST ANSWER:  Redefine the word ‘worry’ so that it does not reflect negatively on you.

Example:  “I wouldn’t call it worry, but I am a strongly goal-oriented person.  So I keep turning over in my mind anything that seems to be keeping me from achieving those goals, until I find a solution.  That’s part of my tenacity, I suppose.”

How many hours a week do you normally work?

TRAPS:  You don’t want to give a specific number.  Make it to low, and you may not measure up.  Too high, and you’ll forever feel guilty about sneaking out the door at 5:15.

BEST ANSWER:  If you are in fact a workaholic and you sense this company would like that:  Say you are a confirmed workaholic, that you often work nights and weekends.  Your family accepts this because it makes you fulfilled.
If you are not a workaholic:  Say you have always worked hard and put in long hours.  It goes with the territory.  It one sense, it’s hard to keep track of the hours because your work is a labor of love, you enjoy nothing more than solving problems.  So you’re almost always thinking about your work, including times when you’re home, while shaving in the morning, while commuting, etc.

The “Hypothetical Problem”

TRAPS:  Sometimes an interviewer will describe a difficult situation and ask, “How would you handle this?”  Since it is virtually impossible to have all the facts in front of you from such a short presentation, don’t fall into the trap of trying to solve this problem and giving your verdict on the spot. It will make your decision-making process seem woefully inadequate.

BEST ANSWER:  Instead, describe the rational, methodical process you would follow in analyzing this problem, who you would consult with, generating possible solutions, choosing the best course of action, and monitoring the results.

Remember, in all such, “What would you do?” questions, always describe your process or working methods, and you’ll never go wrong.

What do you for when you hire people?

TRAPS:  Being unprepared for the question.

BEST ANSWER:  Speak your own thoughts here, but for the best answer weave them around the three most important qualifications for any position.
1.    Can the person do the work (qualifications)?
2.    Will the person do the work (motivation)?
3.    Will the person fit in (“our kind of team player”)?


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