Interviewing is less stressful when you’re prepared. It’s that simple. But how do you get ready? Here are 10 types of interview questions and how to prepare for each.
#1: The Resume Problem Question
Almost every resume shows problems. Perhaps you were laid off and you were out of work for a period of time. Or you’ve changed companies often. Know that it will come up and start right now to prepare for it.
Jim dealt being fired by saying that he learned a great lesson from the experience. He explained that he and his less experienced boss got on the wrong page about the best way to approach a problem. His heart wasn’t in her approach and it showed. Then he explained how he’d approach the same issue differently.
Whatever your resume gap, write out a response and practice with someone who’s been a hiring manager. Listen to their feedback and adjust.
#2: The Collaboration Question
“Tell me about a time when you had to work across departments to get something done.” If you don’t have actual work experience yet, identify a collaboration opportunity from a school project or volunteer situation. If you do have work experience, identify the situation, the actions you took, and the results you got. Then when you are asked, you will be ready to share your story powerfully.
#3: The Interpersonal Conflict Question
“Tell me about a time when you didn’t get along with someone on your team. How did you handle it?” Again, draw from your experience be it in a work environment or other situation. Explain the situation, your actions, and the result you got.
Remember to never disparage others but take full responsibility for your reaction in the situation. In a subtle way, let them know that you take full responsibility for your response to difficult people.
#4: The Unreasonable Manager Question
“Tell me about a time when you had a difficult manager. How did you deal with him or her?” Again, be ready with a situation where you took productive action and were able to create a productive relationship with a demanding, demeaning, or erratic Manager. Again, don’t cast them in a poor light other than to call out their behaviors and how you took responsibility for making the relationship as productive as possible.
#5: The Persistence Question
Studies show that winners persist when the odds are against them. Be ready to tell about a time when you persisted in the face of opposition. What they’re really asking is if you’re a complain, part of the problem, or a have a great attitude and are part of the solution.
A word of caution; don’t overdo it. If you do, your story may not be believable. Keep it real with a situation they would relate to such as a difficult IT project or new product rollout. The best answers are those that showed how you kept your eye on the goal rather than allowed doubt and fear to rule.
#6: The Ethics Questions
Often interviews will ask about a time when someone at work was compromising their ethics. The idea is to see what you consider to be unethical, but also know how you handle delicate situations like this. The best answers are those that show how you struggled with a course of action, did all you could to honor both the guilty person, deal with it without telling “mom,” unless the infraction was something serious. And if you don’t have a situation to share, don’t invent one. If they allow you to, talk through how you might handle such a situation.
#7: The Deadline Pressure Question
Every work environment deals with a level of time and deadline pressure. The best answers to this question are those that highlight ways you found efficiencies rather than heroics. Let me explain. Heroics are expected by most employers. You need to stay late or work weekends to get something done? Of course! But the most impressive answers are those that show how you changed the process or found ways to make it better for you and others that followed you.
#8: The Teamwork Question
What every hiring manager wants to know is if you’re going to be the problem child in the group or if you play well with others. Companies need people who are flexible and work well with others, otherwise you might think you’re a potential problem.
The best teamwork responses are those where you took a proactive approach to making a relationship work across departments or when a history of conflict existed. I know you’re not Gandhi, but be ready to share a story about how you bring a deeply-held value for teamwork and how that’s played out in your work career.
#9: The Quick Learner Question
Especially in entry-level career opportunities, they want to know if you’re a quick study and can learn independently. Be ready with examples of times when you learned a lot in a short period of time. This should include the time when you had to drink from the proverbial firehouse of information and hit the ground running. No hiring manager wants to bring a slow learner into their team. There’s simply too much change and information coming at all of us to take on someone who needs a lot of hand holding before they can master a concept.
#10: The “Why Should I Hire You” Question
I don’t see this in every interview, but more often than not, someone will ask you, “why should I hire you?” They’re asking you to summarize the key reasons why you are the best person for the job.
Have you thought enough about your unique skills, talents, and what you bring to a work opportunity to answer this question? Pick those things that both engage your heart and the things you’re really good at. Where passion meets talent is exactly the place to take them to as you summarize the reason to hire you.
Don’t be shy on this question. Put yourself in their place and know why they must hire you. If you don’t know, then don’t show up. Your doubt and double-mindedness will show. Work through this and you’ll be ready to interview.