The Professional Interview: Get Ready!
You will answer these tricky questions –
Questions a Candidate Should be Prepared to Answer
by: Sharon LeBlanc
Consultant: Training and Research
The Professional Interview – Get Ready! You will answer these tricky questions.Interviewers need to be sure that you have the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude needed to fit into their corporate culture. Amaze them by having your answers well thought out ahead of time.
1. Why did you apply for this position?
Your company has an excellent reputation in the industry as having: the cutting edge of leading technology; a positive synergy of corporate culture; and employee retention and job satisfaction. I’d love to be part of a team that has a business model like yours. My background is in marketing, and my strength is internet and media marketing. I think I have the skills necessary to make a significant contribution to your company.
This answer shows a keen interest in why the company is successful. It shows that you have done your research, and you are taking control of your future. Passion and excitement are evident.
2. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
My strengths are my organizational skills, my ability to achieve both company and personal goals, and my enthusiasm. A weakness is I sometimes get so involved in my assignments that I work long hours. One of my goals is to worker smarter instead of harder. Time management, good organizational skills, and relying on team members to work with me, will help to achieve that goal.
This is a great answer because it provides specific examples of skill set and strengths. Employers are looking for people who are energetic, show leadership qualities, and have great communication skills. The weakness answer ends on a positive note. It shows that you are flexible, address your weaknesses, and are willing to grow and be a life-long learner.
3. Give five adjectives that would best describe your personality.
- I am versatile and flexible in many areas. My experiences cover both corporate and retail, and sales and marketing.
- I rise to a challenge. New ventures excite me. They are an opportunity to learn. I am computer literate with a solid knowledge of e-commerce, Internet marketing, media, and analytical skills.
- I am a team player. Working with people to share knowledge and expertise is not only self- fulfilling, but also good for the company!
- I have leadership and people management qualities. I have been responsible or leading a team of 30 individuals to achieving a successful launch of a new e-commerce product for a major client. Our company received excellent press for our accomplishments.
- I am resourceful and self motivated. I know where and how to get information. I know who to contact and who to work with to get a job done.
You have not only highlighted personal character traits, but you have given specific examples of them in your expert knowledge-based and transferable skills.
4. How will you be remembered when you leave your current position?
First, my co-workers would say I am conscientious. I have extensive industry knowledge. I ensure that I am constantly learning everything possible about the product and the business philosophy and culture. Secondly, they’d say I have great people skills. I really enjoy working with people. I’m a listener, a planner, and motivator. That’s why I’m a reliable team player. Customer service is a priority for me. Finally, they’d say I am energetic and enthusiastic. I love what I do and I take pride in doing it well.
You gave three positive character traits, and demonstrated them with specific examples. Interviewers love detail because they can capture a better profile of who you are and what skills you will be bringing to the company.
5. How are you preparing yourself to achieve your goals?
I generally follow this pattern in both my personal and business life:
- develop a strategy
- establish a critical path
- set realistic time commitments
- follow regularly and modify where necessary
- always plan ahead
- achieve your goal and move forward on your next objective
This answer proves that you are a forward thinker. You are constantly stretching yourself to achieve your personal best. You are goal oriented, and with a strategy like this in place, you are likely to reach your goals.
6. In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
For the past four years, I have been immersed in a public relations/marketing segment of the automotive industry. I have been instrumental in the development and implementation of several industry-leading, award-winning programs in support of a “customers for life” strategy. I’m very energetic and feel I have a lot to offer as a part of your team.
This answer outlines the experiences and skills you will bring to the position. Enthusiasm, oral and written communication skills, confidence, and industry knowledge are essential qualities for the public relations/marketing/advertising industries.
7. What professional accomplishment has given you great satisfaction?
With my last promotion, I was asked to run a department where there was low staff morale. The problem was downsizing in the company, creating new job descriptions. The retained workers found this very stressful. I held informal staff meetings to understand their concerns. After demonstrating the professional support and development the company had in place to help them in their transition, they eventually became more comfortable and began to realize the goals were realistic and achievable.
Your answer shows leadership qualities, people management, and excellent communication skills.
8. How would you describe yourself as a team player?
I was asked to help initiate a marketing program for a new product. After completing the marketing research and compiling it on Lotus, I met with the creative, media and copywriter people to plan our strategy which included: internet marketing, email blasts, radio, TV, magazine, newspaper and direct mail campaign. It was a lot of fun interacting with such talented people; we shared our creativity and knowledge and learned from each other.
Whether you are applying for a sales or marketing job, try to give a specific example. It demonstrates a successful experience in marketing research, critical thinking, oral and written communication skills, teamwork, and industry knowledge.
9. How have you developed your leadership skills?
I am constantly looking for opportunities to become proficient in the leadership skills. Accepting responsibilities for extra assignments, where group dynamics are critical, are commonplace in my overall portfolio. I have attended many leadership workshops and seminars to keep myself current in modern leadership philosophies, completed computer courses so I may use modern technology, shared information with my co-workers so they may learn and implement that knowledge, and led office staff meetings with presentations of staff development, to name a few.
This answer indicates that you consider yourself upwardly mobile, a leader and a doer. Employers like that. Leadership is something that can be learned, and you have pulled out all the stops to accomplish that goal. It says a lot about your character.
10. What have you learned from your mistakes?
I have learned that it’s OK to make mistakes, as long as you don’t make the same one twice. If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never be a risk taker. That means you won’t grow. People skills are critical and add strength to an organization.
Employers want people who are confident enough to be a risk taker. They often are capable of leading a company in a new direction, and can conceive ideas even their boss hasn’t considered. These are employees who are often difficult to keep because they are ambitious and creative, and are always moving in higher and different directions.
11. Why are you leaving your last position?
Professional growth is important to me. I have accomplished all the goals I have set out for myself in my current position and there are no opportunities to advance. I need to explore new opportunities and career choices.
Personal and professional goal setting are important traits employers want and demand. People who empower their own future by being proactive in planning are usually happier in their career choices.
12. What are your salary expectations?
I’m not really sure what the job description is yet. I need more information before we discuss salary. Perhaps you could explain the parameters of what is budgeted for the position, how your commission structure works, bonuses, stock options, RRSP’S and benefits.
Don’t engage in a discussion about salary, particularly in the first interview, until you have all the information necessary. Remember that it is important to look at the entire compensation package and not just the base salary.