The types of questions you are most likely to
encounter in this style of interviewing include:
"Tell me about yourself."
The perfect opening for your two-minute presentation! Describe your
educational and work background, identify your key strengths and provide
a couple of illustrations, and state your intended career direction.
Usually, this is the first question asked. If it isn't, you can usually
defer answering a different question by saying "It may help if I start
by providing a bit of background" and following with your presentation.
Then you can return to the interviewer's question.
"Why would you like to work here?"
Explain what you have learned about the company, highlighting what you
find appealing or admirable. Try to be specific-broad generalities sound
Good answer: "I've researched the
leading companies in this industry, and yours seems to be the one that
does the best job in terms of customer relations, encouraging risk
taking, and setting tough goals while giving people an idea of how
they're doing. That appeals to me." (Shows that you've done some
research and are basing your decision on specific criteria.)
Bad answer: "I've heard it's a good
company, and I have friends here." (You don't appear to have done any
serious research, and the interviewer may wonder if you're more
interested in socializing than in working.)
"What are your career goals?"
Focus on the idea that you want to grow professionally, but realize that
there may be a variety of opportunities in the company as time goes on.
Avoid naming titles-you may shoot too high or too low.
Good answer: "I've learned from the
experiences I described earlier that I enjoy leadership, communication,
and negotiation. I'm interested in learning to manage projects, people,
and business situations. My goals are to work for a manager I can learn
from, to develop on-the-job experience, and to achieve or surpass the
goals that are set." (Ties together the past and future and shows
business awareness and achievement orientation.)
Bad answer: "I haven't set any specific
goals, but I know I want to work here." (If you don't have any goals,
how do you know you want to work here? Are you focused on learning, or
have you already completed all the learning you intend to do?)
"Who is your hero?"
Pick someone-don't answer that you don't have a hero or heroine, because
the question is about the traits you value. (If you don't want the job,
you might say that no one lives up to your standards.) This should be
someone you genuinely admire, and you should make sure to name the
traits that give rise to your admiration. Also consider whether the
values these traits represent will seem positive to the company. If you
say, for example, "I've always admired my Uncle Al because he did
whatever it took to pile up a fortune," you'll come off as greedy and
Good answers: "I've always admired a
guy I went to high school with named Joe Curates. He was a paraplegic,
injured in an accident when he was 12. He could have been bitter, but he
decided that wasn't the kind of life he wanted. He became a fine chess
player and trumpet player and was very popular. He taught me the value
of managing your attitude and using what resources are available to
"The person who taught me the most was my graduate
school mentor. By working with her, I learned how to research and debate
scientific questions, work collaboratively, and share the credit. I
admire her for her tactfulness, her trusting management style, and her
generous recognition of good work."
"Why should I hire you?"
Be prepared to cite the key strengths that you see as necessary to do
the job, relating them to your own demonstrated skills, as illustrated
in stories you've already told. Then try to name one desirable extra
that you provide, such as your enthusiasm, your ability to work long
hours when necessary, or your love of learning.
"What are some of your values?"
You can answer this as you would the hero question, if that question
hasn't already been asked. Or just name some things you genuinely admire
or desire. Examples: a collegial environment, good teamwork, honesty,
fairness, willingness to help, trust.
"Do you set goals for yourself?"
Do not say no. Name a situation where you did and tell what you did to
be sure you met them.
Good answer: "I knew I had to earn at
least $4,000 during the summer to pay for my final year at college. My
work as an interior decorator's assistant was contingent on her having
extra work for me to help with-primarily ordering, sending and paying
bills, and other clerical work. By the end of June I had only earned
about $1,000. So I got busy and put together a brochure for her that she
was able to use at her booth during the begonia festival. So much
business came in that soon she was sending me out to make sketches and
sign up new customers, for which I was paid a bonus. I surpassed my goal
on August 10, and earned an extra $1,400."
"What characteristics would you look for in a good
Select the elements that are most important to you from the range of
traits considered desirable in a manager: honesty, providing clear
goals, encouraging resourcefulness, challenging employees, respect,
giving feedback, offering recognition, inspiring, caring, being
available. Don't give the whole list, or you'll seem impossible to
"What are your limitations on travel?"
If you have limitations, think about these beforehand and come up with
ways to work around them as far as possible. And before you jump into
telling the interviewer all your limitations (no flying, no trips of
more than two days, claustrophobia, vegetarian meals only, and so on),
find out what the person has in mind in the way of travel. If you can
handle the requirements, say so with enthusiasm.
"Tell me about your greatest challenge and how you
dealt with it."
The is the perfect entre for telling another of the accomplishment
stories you developed when you were preparing your two-minute
"Do you have any more questions?"
Never say no! Keep several good questions in reserve for just this
request (more than one, because over the course of the interview the
manager may address one or more of them).
Some good questions:
- "Can you give me an example or two of teamwork in action here?"
- "How can I learn what I need to know about the organization's
- "Assuming you hire me, how would you like me to spend my first
- "Have I said anything that causes you concern about my fitting
And to cap it off, make a final presentation of what
you feel you have to offer, then inquire about how the decision-making
process is expected to proceed. A good closing statement will reiterate
the strengths you have that would be most valuable on the job; your
enthusiasm for the work; and your desire to become a member of the team.
It should go something like this:
"From our discussion, it appears that I could be an
excellent sales representative for you. I understand the technology of
your product and your competitors' products; I'm good at helping
customers find solutions to their systems problems; and people seem to
like doing business with me. For my part, I've been impressed with what
you've had to say about the organization and your management style. I'd
very much like to become a contributing member of your group."
This statement is another thing you should prepare