Sample Job Interview Questions

Typical Interview Questions and Answers
  • Why do you want to work for this company? Why are you interested in this job?
    The interviewer is trying to determine what you know and like about the company, whether you will be willing to make a commitment to the job, and if your skills match the job requirements. Your research will be a big help in formulating your answer to this question. Say as many positive things about the company as possible, show your interest in whatever products/services they sell and explain why the position fits with your career goals.
  • Have you done this kind of work before?
    The interviewer wants to know if you can learn to do the job in a reasonable time and how much training you will need. Never say "no" to this question. Instead, stress the experience you do have that will assist you in learning the new job quickly and efficiently. No two jobs are alike and you never do exactly the same work. In all jobs, new skills, rules and details have to be learned. Be sure to mention the following:
    • Your past work experience.
    • Your education and training related to the job.
    • Volunteer work that might relate to the job.
    • Any transferable skills - e.g. organizational skills, people skills.
    • Your ability to learn quickly and how quickly you learned that type of work in the past.
  • What kind of training or qualifications do you have?
    The interviewer is trying to find out what school credentials you have. If you have no formal school qualifications but have a lot of experience, you might say:
    • I didn't get formal school training for this job but I have (number) of years of experience in the field. I'm willing to learn new skills or go to school to get further training if I am offered the job. I learn quickly and I like to keep upgrading my skills.
    If you have just completed a training course but have little work experience, you mightsay:
    • I took a one year training program in (name of program) at (name of school) which is related to the job I'm applying for. I look forward to working in the field and putting into practice what I learned. I don't have a lot of work experience in this area but I learn quickly. I know you will be happy with my work.
  • Tell me about yourself. Why should we hire you?
    The interviewer is trying to find out about you, your job skills and how well you express yourself. Do not dwell on personal issues. State your best qualifications for the job. Be specific and include examples to support your statements. Try to show that you meet the employer's expectations. For example:
    • I am punctual, dependable and can be counted upon to finish what I start. I get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that I have done something well and on time. For example, at my present job, I was given different work orders every day. It was my responsibility to finish the orders and make sure they all met quality and safety standards within a specific deadline. On occasion, I had to familiarize myself with the product and the production process. I was always able to learn quickly and carry out my job responsibilities. Our company was known for making excellent processed food products. In 1990, it received an award for being on of Canada's top companies in the field. I feel I can use the same skills and hard work to do well on this job too.
  • What do you do in your spare time?
    Interviewers ask this question to see if your activities and hobbies might help the company and to get an idea of what kind of person you are outside your work life. Describe any volunteer work you do and any hobbies or interests that might relate to the job in some way. Stick to active hobbies, such as playing sports, carpentry,gardening, etc. Avoid mentioning inactive and non-creative activities such as watching television.
  • What do you think of working in a group?
    The interviewer is trying to find out about your ability to get along with others.Focus on the following:
    • The advantages of working in a group. Explain how the various individuals in a group complement one another in carrying out certain tasks.
    • Give specific examples of your personal experience in a group
  • How do you react to instruction and criticism?
    The interviewer is trying to find out how you get along with Supervisors and how you feel about authority. You might say:
    • I appreciate getting instruction and criticism when it is done fairly and constructively.
  • With the kind of work experience you have had, do you think this job would bore you?
    The interviewer may think you are over-qualified and want this job only until something better comes along. Stress that no job is ever boring because you always learn new skills. Mention how you would benefit by working for the company and vice versa.
  • Why did you choose this line of work?
    The interviewer is trying to find out about your commitment to your career choice. In other words do you do it because you love the work or just take any job you can get for the money. If you did this work for many years and stopped due to a layoff,you might say:
    • I have done this for (number) of years. I like my work. The only reason I left my last workplace was because I was laid off.
  • How well do you work under pressure or tight deadlines?
    This question indicates that the job you're applying for will involve working under pressure. Give examples of volunteer and paid work that involved pressure and deadlines. You could mention that we are always faced with pressure and deadlines in our lives and you do not mind the stress. Stressful situations are a learning and challenging experience. You might mention the following:
    • How you handled large rush orders at your last workplace.
    • How you prepared for exams and homework assignments while working full-time and attending school part-time.
    • How you managed a crisis situation. (For example: a car accident)
  • How often were you absent from work in your last job? Have you every had any serious illness or injuries? Do you have any health problems?
    The interviewer is trying to find out if you have any health issues which will cause you to take a lot of sick days. You do not have to go into your health history for the interviewer. If you have health problems that do not interfere with your work performance, do not give the interviewer details about them. If you had a previous health problem that interfered with your work in the past, but is no longer a problem, do not volunteer this information. It no longer affects your work, therefore the employer does not have to know.
    If you have a health problem that will affect your work performance, explain your situation briefly and stress the positive points. I will be helpful to have a positive reference letter from your previous employer. This letter should explain the type of duties you did and stress that you are a steady worker who is responsible, hardworking and punctual.
  • Are you bondable?
    This question indicates that the job involves working with money or valuable merchandise. Very likely the employer's insurance company requires that only bondable people be hired as a condition of their insurance policy.As long as you do not have a criminal record, and you have not previously been denied a bond, you should answer "yes" to this question. Caution: If you answer yes when you are not legally bondable it is very likely that the employer will discover this.
  • Have you ever been fired or quit a job?
    The interviewer is looking for clues to any problems you have had in previous jobs and if you may have the same problems in a new job. Try to:
    • Avoid saying anything negative about yourself or your previous employer. If you had problems, explain them without being negative.
    • Be careful not the use the word "fired" or "quit". Instead use words such as: "I changed jobs", "I was laid off", or "I needed a more challenging job".
    • If you were fired and are not on good terms with your previous employer, explain the reason why you were fired. Stress that you learned something from the previous situation.
  • Why haven't you worked recently?
    The interviewer is looking for clues to serious problems or job difficulties that could carry over to a new job. You might say:
    • Since I was laid off from my previous employer, I have been actively looking for a job. However, as you know, there are many people looking for work and applying for the same jobs. I have always worked steadily but I haven't been able to find a job in the present job market.
    • After I got laid off from my previous employer, I decided to go back to school to upgrade my skills so I can get a better, more secure job.
  • What are your long-term goals or career plans?
    The interviewer may want to know if you are ambitious, plan ahead, or if you set goals for yourself. The interviewer may also want to know what expectation you have of the company. You might say:
    • I hope to become very good at my job and perhaps take some chooling to become more skilled in my field of work.
    • I intend to learn (name of area or skills) very well so that I can be promoted to a higher position in (name skill or department).
  • What do you feel are your greatest strengths?
    This is your opportunity to brag a little bit. It is important that you have done your research about the type of work that you are applying for. For example if you are applying as a production labourer and from your research you understand that this type of work required people that have the ability to meet quotas, work as a team and make improvement suggestions, then it is important for you to incorporate this into your strengths.
    • Example:
      My greatest strength is that I have a lot of initiative. I am always looking for a better way to do things at work that I feel would save the company money and I can always achieve my production quotas. For example one time I was working at my station and I felt that I was wasting time by always having to walk to the other side of my station to get some parts. So I reorganized the station and my supervisor was really impressed as it increased my quota.
  • What do you feel are your weaknesses?
    You never want to give any indication of any weaknesses that you have. Turn you weaknesses into strengths by working it to the employer's advantage.
    • Example:
      I am the type of person or is very hard on myself. I am always expecting myself to do a little bit more. However, I guess this works out well for my employer.
      Or I never like to leave work until I have every thing finished completely. Sometimes this bothers me but I feel inside that it is important.
      OrI am the type of person who always takes my work home with me. This sometimes interferes with my personal life but I feel that work comes first.
  • How would you describe your last employer?
    Never run down or say anything negative about anybody or anyone. The employer will feel that you will do it to them. You should state the positive things such as he had high expectations and I really respected him for that. He was down to earth and really knew the job I was doing, if I had any problems he was approachable and would always give me suggestion or he gave the responsibility to do a good job.
    • Example:I liked my employer. He/she treated me fairly and respected my work
      Or:I appreciated my previous employer having given me the opportunity to acquire a lot of skills and experiences in (name area of work skill).
  • What five words would be describe you?
    These should be your transferrable skills such as reliable, punctual, organized,friendly, honest, cooperative, outgoing, easy to get along with, hardworking,energetic, take pride in my work, responsible, respected,dedicated.
  • What did you like about your last job?
    Say only positive things that you feel could transfer across to the position your are applying for.
    • Example:I liked my last job because I got along well with my co-workers and the work was challenging, fast paced and I was given a lot of responsibility to do a good job.
  • Why did you leave your last position?
    Keep this answer simple. If you were laid off simply say so, If your company downsized, simply say so. Do not go into a lot of detail. If you were terminated you will have to say you were let go but always follow up that as a result you have learned how to overcome this and feel it will not affect you in the future.
  • What are your long range goals? The interviewer is trying to figure out whether or not you are going to be a long term employee or whether or not you will be using this job as a stepping stone to another objective. So, you should try to assure him/her that your intention is to stay with the company and to grow in your career within the company. You should respond "I am looking for a position with a company where I can stay and grow with and I feel this position would give me this opportunity."
  • What kind of machines or equipment have you worked with?
    This is your opportunity to give some detail of what actual work skills you have. Don't be vague, supply all of the information that you have to offer.
  • What type of salary are you looking for? Do not get into this subject unless you are forced to. Even then you want to leave an impression that you are flexible in this area.
  • What do you know about our company?
    This is your opportunity to show them that you have taken the time to research their company in particular.
  • Do you have any other skills of experiences that we have not discussed?
    List any other skills that you have that are related to the position. You can also discuss any hobbies or volunteer experience you have and discuss any interest courses or educational upgrading you have.

    Behavioral Interview Questions

    Behavioral interviewing is a relatively new mode of job interviewing developed in the 1970's.
    The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations. Behavioral interviewing, in fact,is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing only 10 percent predictive.
    Behavioral-based interviewing is touted as providing a more objective set of facts to makeemployment decisions than other interviewing methods. Traditional interview questions ask you general questions such as "Tell me about yourself". The process of behavioral interviewing is much more probing and works very differently. (Employers use the behavioral interview technique to evaluate a candidate's experiences and behaviors so they can determine the applicant's potential for success.) The interviewer identified job-related experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that the company has decided are desirable in a particular position.
    How Can I Best Answer Behavior-Based Questions? Think of "PAR for the Course". A complete answer to a behavior-based question must explain the task or problem for which you were responsible, the specific action you took and the results of your actions. Your answer must contain all of these components to be a PAR answer. Tell the interviewer a "story" (with a beginning, a middle and an end) about how you used a practical skill.
    Problem (P) - Advertising revenue was falling off for the Daily News and large numbers of long-term advertisers were not renewing contracts.
    Action (A) - I designed a new promotional packet to go with the rate sheet and compared the benefits of DN circulation with other ad media in the area. I also set-up a special training session for the account executives with a College of Business professor who discussed competitive selling strategies.
    Result(R) - We signed contracts with fifteen former advertisers for daily ads and five for special supplements. We increased our new advertisers by twenty percent (quantities are always good) over the same period last year.
    How Can I Prepare for a Behavioral Interview? Analyze the type of positions for which you're applying. Try to get an actual job description. What skills are required by employers?
    Analyze your own background. What skills do you have (content, functional and adaptive) that relate to your job objective?
    Identify examples from your past experience where you demonstrated those skills. How can you "tell a story" about your use of particular skills or knowledge? Concentrate on developing complete PAR answers and remember that a good story has a beginning, middle and end.
    Whenever possible, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility.
    Be prepared to provide examples of when results didn't turn out as you planned. What did you do then?
    Before starting the interview process, identify 2 to 3 of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points (with demonstrated PAR stories) during the interview.
    Once employed, keep a personal achievement diary to help document demonstrated performance (PAR stories).

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