Don’t Have a Panic Attack over Interview Questions

Many people feel interview questions are like taking an exam; they have a panic attack, they get all nervous, tongue tied and stumble over the answers to the questions asked. The good news, when was the last time you took an exam and knew the subject matter better than any topic you ever studied; the topic is “you” and the interviewer just wants to know more about “you” and what “you” can do for them. It sounds simple and it really is; the more you believe in “you” the better the interview will go. The main issue is that people have a hard time articulating the answers when they speak, resulting in poorly explained answers.

The Interviewer

You never know what type of interviewer you will get and what type of approach they will take when interviewing you. The interviewer can be; friendly or mean, nice or nasty, professional or unprofessional, or seem intelligent or a jerk. The one thing they all have in common is that they are testing your confidence and communication skills and they are evaluating you as an investment. On the average an employer expects at least 4 years of service from a new hire. Example if your salary is 60K @ 4 Years + benefits = over 250K investment the company will make in this example; so you need to convince them your worth every penny and more.

Relax; do your homework, know your resume, dress to get hired and review the most common types of questions and you should be fine. Never speak negatively about anyone, any company or experiences you have had. Don’t embellish to the point of “no way” and never lie during the interview.
Don’t get not lying mixed up with common sense, Make sure you choose what and how you share your information.

  • If the interviewer ask “what do you like to do on your free time”, don’t reply “I like to hang at my favorite pub all night until I am totally wasted” it might be the truth but probably won’t get you hired. You could answer “I simply enjoy spending time with my small group of good friends”.
  • If the interviewer asks “how was it to work for your last boss”, don’t reply “my last boss was overbearing, very demanding and never gave a crap about anyone on her team” might be true but probably won’t get your hired. Perhaps this answer would sound better “my last boss was very driven and demanding but that’s what made her successful in her position”

Common Sample Questions

It would be impossible to review every possible question that can be asked on an interview since it’s limitless, but there are some common questions and types of questions that will most likely be asked in one form or another with the addition of questions the interviewer feels are important. Stay focused on the question being asked and don’t go rambling on or not give the answer to the question. If for some reason you did not hear or understand the question it is OK to ask the interviewer to repeat the question, but this can’t constantly happen.

Basic Questions – The interviewer wants to know more about you in your career.

  • What can you tell me about yourself that I can’t read on your resume?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What made you apply to this company?
  • Describe your responsibilities at your last job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why did you choose your current career direction?
  • What would be the first thing I notice about you if you started working for us?
  • What parts of your experience do you see relevant to the position and why?
  • Why are you the best person for the job?
  • What skills and expertise do you bring to this job and how will you use them?
  • What is your definition of customer service?
  • How would your last boss describe you as an employee?
  • If I asked your last boss to give me one thing you needed improvement on, what would they say?

Behavioral Questions – The interviewer wants to know how you handled situations in the past to predict how you would behave in the future.

  • What is the most competitive work situation you have experienced? How did you handle it and what was the outcome?
  • What was the biggest mistake you ever made at work and how was it handled?
  • What do you do when someone opposes your point of view?
  • What type of challenges did you face at your last job and how did you overcome them?
  • What sorts of things have you done to become better qualified at your career?
  • What was the riskiest decision you made and what were the results of your decision?
  • When you disagree with your manager, what do you do? Give me an example.
  • Can you give me an example of a completely irate person you needed to deal with and how you handled and solved their issue?
  • What new business opportunities did you recognize at your last job?
  • Have you ever had a situation where you needed to go against company policy or rules?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a “big picture” person or a “detailed person”?
  • How do you handle when your boss is not clear on what he/she wants?
  • When was the last time you had a disagreement with a peer?
  • Have you ever worked with a colleague to solve a problem? Explain the problem, your role and the outcome.
  • What are some of your most creative ideas?
  • Tell me a time when you borrowed an idea from elsewhere and applied it in a new setting?
  • How do you involve your manager and/or others when you make a decision?
  • Do you consider yourself a macro or micro manager? How do you delegate?
  • How do you handle meeting numerous deadlines simultaneously?
  • Can you give me an example of working as part of a team to reach a common goal?
  • Have you ever been caught unaware by a problem or obstacle that you had not foreseen? Explain what happened.

More Questions About You – The interviewer is trying to get a better read on the type of person you are and if you will fit into the company and their culture. Be careful some of these questions can lead to negative answers, answer them in the most positive way you can.

  • Growing up who was your mentor and why?
  • What do you think makes an ideal boss?
  • What do you think makes an ideal employee?
  • What New Year’s resolution have you made more than once?
  • Give me examples of three things that piss you off?
  • What is your biggest strength and weakness?
  • Who was your favorite manager and why?
  • How do you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What type of personality do you work best with and why?
  • What was your biggest regret and why?
  • Who impacted you most in your career and why?
  • How do you stay organized?
  • How would you rate me as an interviewer?
  • How many hours in a week do you normally work?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What are the biggest misconception people have about you when they first meet you?
  • What is your favorite movie of all time and why?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be?
  • Tell me one thing about yourself you would want me to know?
  • Do you think a leader should be feared or liked?
  • When given an important assignment how do you approach it?
  • What kinds of events cause you stress at work?

The Test/Brainteaser Questions – These are the questions an interviewee dislikes the most and yes some interviewers might ask one or two questions like these; it depends on the position and interviewer. The interviewer is trying to determine how well you think on your feet, handle pressure and solve problems. Most likely you won’t get questions like these but some interviewers take it this far to see reactions. Many of these types of questions are asked in positions of management and sales. When answering these types of questions give them thought and use a pen and paper if needed, always give it a shot.

  • I’m a Coke drinker convince me to purchase Pepsi.
  • If you had to get rid of one of the US states, which one would you get rid of and why?
  • If Donald Trump gave you a blank check to start your own business, what business would you start and why?
  • If you could choose one super power what would it be and why?
  • There’s a penny in a bottle, you can’t pull the cork out or break the bottle. How do you get the penny out? (Jam the cork into the bottle and shake the penny out)
  • While sitting idle can you tell me the color of the wall behind you?
  • You have a 5 liter and a 3 liter jars. You can use any amount of water; but you can’t use any other jars or containers. How can you get exactly 4 liters of water in the 5 liter jar?
  1. Fill 3L jar
  2. Empty it into 5L jar
  3. Fill 3L jar
  4. Empty it into 5L jar (you will be left with 1liter in the 3L jar)
  5. Empty 5L jar
  6. Pour the 1liter from the 3L jar into 5L jar
  7. Fill 3L jar and empty it into 5L jar.
  8. 5 L jar will now contain 4 Liters

As you can see the range of questions is massive but outside of any brain teaser questions it should be a breeze. It is very important to do your homework and know your resume so the interview answers will flow easily.