5 common interview questions

1.Tell me about yourself.

Since this is often the opening question in an interview, be extra careful that you don’t

run off at the mouth. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics:

early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last

subject. Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question. Don’t waste your best

points on it.

2. What do you know about our organization?

You should be able to discuss products or services, revenues, reputation, image, goals,

problems, management style, people, history and philosophy. But don’t act as if you

know everything about the place. Let your answer show that you have taken the time to

do some research, but don’t overwhelm the interviewer, and make it clear that you wish

to learn more.

You might start your answer in this manner: “In my job search, I’ve investigated a

number of companies.

Yours is one of the few that interests me, for these reasons…”

Give your answer a positive tone. Don’t say, “Well, everyone tells me that you’re in all

sorts of trouble, and that’s why I’m here”, even if that is why you’re there.

3. Why do you want to work for us?

The deadliest answer you can give is “Because I like people.” What else would you likeanimals?

Here, and throughout the interview, a good answer comes from having done your

homework so that you can speak in terms of the company’s needs. You might say that

your research has shown that the company is doing things you would like to be involved

with, and that it’s doing them in ways that greatly interest you. For example, if the

organization is known for strong management, your answer should mention that fact and

show that you would like to be a part of that team. If the company places a great deal of

emphasis on research and development, emphasize the fact that you want to create new

things and that you know this is a place in which such activity is encouraged. If the

organization stresses financial controls, your answer should mention a reverence for


If you feel that you have to concoct an answer to this question – if, for example, the

company stresses research, and you feel that you should mention it even though it really

doesn’t interest you- then you probably should not be taking that interview, because you

probably shouldn’t be considering a job with that organization.

Your homework should include learning enough about the company to avoid

approaching places where you wouldn’t be able -or wouldn’t want- to function. Since

most of us are poor liars, it’s difficult to con anyone in an interview. But even if you

should succeed at it, your prize is a job you don’t really want.

4. What can you do for us that someone else can’t?

Here you have every right, and perhaps an obligation, to toot your own horn and be a bit

egotistical. Talk about your record of getting things done, and mention specifics from

your resume or list of career accomplishments. Say that your skills and interests,

combined with this history of getting results, make you valuable. Mention your ability to

set priorities, identify problems, and use your experience and energy to solve them.

5. What do you find most attractive about this position? What seems least

attractive about it?

List three or four attractive factors of the job, and mention a single, minor, unattractive


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