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Interview Guide for Job Applicants

Updated on Jun 23, 2017 196179 views
Interview Guide for Job Applicants

The job market is fraught with competition and landing a job can sometimes be difficult. Creating an impressive resume to grab the attention of your prospective employer is just the beginning. However, with a lot of formalities and procedures underway, it might take some time for the “you’re hired” letter to find its way into your hands.

When you get a call for an interview, you don’t want to seem uncomfortable, unprepared or embarrassed. It’s important to have verifiable information on your resume from top to bottom. Most GOOD Recruiters and Hiring Managers can smell a lie or misinterpretation a mile away.


What is an Interview?

The word interview comes from Latin and Middle French words meaning to “see between” or “see each other”. Generally, an interview means a private meeting between people when questions are asked and answered. The person who answers the questions in an interview is called an interviewee. The person who asks the questions in an interview is called an interviewer. When we normally think of a job interview, we think a setting in which an employer tries to size up an applicant for a job. The interview is an artful conversation designed to help both parties learn more about each other in an effort to decide if the candidate and the position are a good match. It is used as an opportunity to spotlight if a job seeker is a good fit for a job by cross-checking the qualities he/she displays in alongside the skills that he/she possesses.

So many candidates dread interviews, yet job interviews are key to your job search success. They are your greatest opportunity to prove to the interviewer that you are the best person for the job. The key is to give better answers than anyone else. To do this, you must:

  • Anticipate likely questions
  • Develop excellent answers
  • Practice


Common Interview Questions and Answers

Wouldn't it be great if you knew exactly what a hiring manager would be asking you in your next job interview? Knowing how to answer interview questions is obviously key to landing a job. The art and science of creating great answers involve being strategic in crafting your responses as well as practising till you’re as strong a possible.

The best job candidates are not lucky. They spend a ton of time on preparation because they know how important that 30-60 minute interview can be to their entire career.

Overall, what the interview questions are trying to do is a few things:

  • See if you have the skills and experience to conduct the job on offer
  • Check your enthusiasm, motivation, and interest for the job
  • See whether you will blend in with the working environment, style and teams

So, to help you prepare for your next interview here are 30 FAQ for interview you need to know:

1.  Tell me a little about yourself?

When responding to this request, you should focus on both your personal and professional values. Always be honest, but talk about your best traits only, especially those that relate to the position for which you are applying. Highlight experiences and accomplishments you are most proud of. Here’s an example: “I’m an experienced communications specialist with extensive knowledge of public information tools and techniques. I’ve developed comprehensive communication plans for major public events, written dozens of articles accepted by worldwide publications, and created specialized educational programs for adults and students. I am eager to learn new methods and procedures, and have implemented continuous improvement techniques in my past positions that saved money and increased productivity. I like working with people and enjoy group projects, but am also a self-starter who doesn’t mind working alone. My goals are to complete my Master’s Degree and broaden my experiences with community relations.”

Remember to tailor your response to the specific job. Consider this question as your own personal commercial. If your interview consisted of only this ONE chance to sell yourself, what would you say?

NOTE: the interviewer is not interested in your family challenges. Mention nothing personal or not related to the job.

2.  Do you have the qualifications and personal characters necessary for the success in your chosen career?

Give the best adjectives that are not exaggerative of your personality and achievements.

Talk about things you have done and jobs you have held that relate to your qualifications and personal characteristics that have given you success in your career. 

3.  Would you describe yourself as goal driven?

Give a sincere answer to this, the one that best describes you

4.  How did you learn about the opening?

Job boards, general postings, online listings, job fairs ... most people find their first few jobs that way, so that's certainly not a red flag.
But a candidate who continues to find each successive job from general postings probably hasn't figured out what he or she wants to do -- and where he or she would like to do it.
He or she is just looking for a job; often, any job.

So don't just explain how you heard about the opening. Show that you heard about the job through a colleague, a current employer, by following the company ... show that you know about the job because you want to work there.
Employers don't want to hire people who just want a job; they want to hire people who want a job with their company.

5.  Are you applying for other jobs

Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus on this job and what you can do for the organization. Anything else is a distraction.

6.  Why do you want this position?

Here is where your research about the company will help you stand out among the other candidates. Explain how you have always wanted to work with a company that provides a vital… leads the industry in innovative products etc. Find something specific about that company that you can tie in with your answer.  Explain how your qualifications and goals complement the company’s mission, vision and values (use specific examples). If you are applying for a position in a company for which you already work, explain how you’ll be able to apply and expand on the knowledge and experience you’ve gained from your current position, and will be able to increase your contributions and value to the company through your new responsibilities. ”

7.  Why are you the best person for the job?

As with all other questions, be confident and enthusiastic when you answer this. Don’t try to say you are the best-qualified person because you don’t know the qualification of other applicants. Instead, emphasize on several reasons why you should be hired. For example:  “I’ve got extensive experience (name the appropriate field) and have the specific skills you are looking for. I am a fast learner who adapts quickly to changes and will hit the ground running. I am dedicated and enthusiastic about helping your company meet its goals, and will provide top-quality results with minimal supervision. I am an outstanding performer who takes pride in my work. You won’t have any regret when you hire me."

8.  Why do you think you will do well in this job?

Give reasons and include skills, experience and interest.

9.  What are you looking for in a job?

Satisfaction, Fulfillment and Joy.

10.  Tell me about your dream job?

Stay away from specific jobs. You cannot win. If you say the job you are contending for is It, you strain credibility. If you say another job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with this job if hired. The best is to stay generic and say something like: “A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and can’t wait to get to work.”

11.  How long would you expect to work for us if hired?

Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I'd like to be a long time. Or As long as we both feel I’m doing a good job.

12.  What do you know about us?

This question is one reason you should do your research on the organization before the interview. Find out where have been and where they are going. What are their issues and who are their major players?

A wide variety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement. Have some good ones handy to mention.

13.  What kind of person would you refuse to work with?

Don’t be trivial. It would take disloyalty to the organization, violence or lawbreaking to get you to object. Minor objections will label you as a whiner.

14.  What is your greatest strength?

This is a chance to highlight your best skills. Don’t pick just one, focus on your top three or four and stay positive. Some examples are leadership skills, team building skills, organizational skills, ability to prioritize, problem-solving skills, ability to work under pressure, ability to focus on projects and professional expertise.

Determine which strength would fit best with the position for which you are applying, For example, If the job advert stresses on the ability to multi-task, you could say:  “I am good at organizational skills, prioritization and time management. But my greatest strength is my ability to effectively handle multiple projects and deadlines.”

15.  What is your greatest weakness

Be careful with this one. It is advisable to answer this with a positive trait disguised as a weakness. For example, “I tend to expect others to work as I do” or “I am a little bit of a perfectionist.” Interviewers have heard these canned answers over and over again.
To stand out, be more original and state a weakness, but emphasize what you have done to overcome it. For example, “I have had trouble delegating duties to others because I felt I could do things better myself. This has sometimes backfired because I’d end up with more than I could handle and the quality of work will suffer. But I have taken courses in time management and learned effective delegation techniques, and I feel I’ve overcome this weakness.”

Another example, “I’ve had trouble in the past with planning and prioritization. However, I’m now taking steps to correct this. I just started using a pocket planner…” then show them your planner and how you are using it.

IMPORTANT: Be sure the weakness you talk about is NOT a key element of the position!

 16.  What particular skills and qualities do you bring to the workforce? What other skills would you like to develop in the future?

This is talking about your strengths and weaknesses

17.  Are you a team player?

The question is asking “Will you fit in?”
The interviewer wants to determine if you will be a good team player, someone who may be able to absorb into the organization without disruption into the exciting team dynamics.
Almost everyone says yes to this question. But it is not just a yes or no question. You need to provide behavioural examples to backup your answer.
A sample answer: “Yes I am very much a team player. In fact, I have opportunities in my work, school and…to develop my skills as a team player.

For example, on a recent project….”

Emphasize teamwork behavioural examples and focus on your openness to diversity of backgrounds. Talk about the strength of the team above the individual. And note that this question may be used, as a lead-in to questions around how you handle conflict within a team, so be prepared.

18.  How has your education prepared you for your career?

This is a broad question and you need to focus on the behavioural examples in your educational background their specifically align to the required competencies for the career.

An example:  “My education has not only focused on learning the fundamentals, but also on the practical application of the information learned within those classes. For example, I played a lead role in a class project where we gathered and analyzed best practice data from this industry. Let me tell you more about the result...”

Focus on the behavioural examples supporting the key competencies for the career. Then ask if they would like to hear more examples.

19.  What is more important to you: the money or the work?

Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is no better answer.

20.  Where do you see yourself in five years?

Answers to this question go one of two basic ways. Candidates try to show their incredible ambition (because that's what they think you want) by providing an extremely optimistic answer: "I want your job!" Or they try to show their humility (because that's what they think you want) by providing a meek, self-deprecating answer: "There are so many talented people here. I just want to do a great job and see where my talents take me."

In either case you learn nothing, other than possibly how well candidates can sell themselves.
For interviewers, here's a better question: "What business would you love to start?"

That question applies to any organization, because every employee at every company should have an entrepreneurial mind-set.
The business a candidate would love to start tells you about her hopes and dreams, her interests and passions, the work she likes to do, the people she likes to work with ... so just sit back and listen.

21.  What experience do you have in this field?

Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for. If you do not have specific experience, get as dose as you can. First of all, many people already have experience without realizing it.
It might be volunteer work, certain extracurricular activity, or personally completed projects.
These may not seem like much, be confident and enthusiastic. Show interest in the specifics of the position and of the company which offers it.

Demonstrate that you are talented, active and already familiar with some relevant technology and technique.
Above all – You are capable of learning.
If you do that, it is likely a company will prefer a young applicant with little experience, but who is enthusiastic and able to learn, to an experienced, expensive, less enthusiastic, and – in the long run – much less efficient “veteran.”

22.  Tell me how you think other people would describe you?

I hate this question. It's a total throwaway. But I did ask it once, and got an answer I really liked.
"I think people would say that what you see is what you get," the candidate said. "If I say I will do something, I do it. If I say I will help, I help. I'm not sure that everyone likes me, but they all know they can count on what I say and how hard I work."

23.  What can we expect from you in your first three months?

Ideally, the answer to this should come from the employer: They should have plans and expectations for you.
But if you're asked, use this general framework:

  • You'll work hard to determine how your job creates value -- you won't just stay busy, you'll stay busy doing the right things.
  • You'll learn how to serve all your constituents -- your boss, your employees, your peers, your customers, and your suppliers and vendors.
  • You'll focus on doing what you do best -- you'll be hired because you bring certain skills, and you'll apply those skills to make things happen.
  • You'll make a difference -- with customers, with other employees, to bring enthusiasm and focus and a sense of commitment and teamwork.

Then just layer in specifics that are applicable to you and the job.

24.  If I were to ask your former employer to describe you, what would they say?

This is a threat of threat of reference check question. Do not wait for the interview to know the answer. Ask any prior bosses or professors in advance. And if they are willing to provide a positive reference, ask them for a letter of recommendation.

Then you can answer the question like this:

"I believe she would say I am a very energetic person, that I am result oriented and one of the best people she has ever worked with. Actually, I know she would say that because those are very words. May I show you her letter of recommendation?"
So be prepared in advance with your letter of recommendation."

25.  Questions regarding "Previous Bosses" There will be times in an interview where questions about past co-workers and old bosses will pop up.

Telling them how pathetic and bad they are generally a bad career move.
Sample Questions: "Tell me your relationship with your previous bosses?"
Answer: "My bosses would tell you have been a sounding board for them. With all of my bosses. I develop a close rapport."
Advice: The interviewer is looking for the fit between two of you. As you describe each previous boss, the interviewer will be making mental comparisons between your old bosses and themselves. Be honest but never sound too negative as the interviewer may consider you as a hard person to work with.

26.  Why did you leave your last job?

Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-looking reasons.

27.  Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.

You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an example that relates to the type of position you applied for.

28.  Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?

This is up to you. Be totally honest.

29.  Will you be willing to relocate if required?

You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to get the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself future grief.

30.  What is your philosophy towards work

The interviewer is not looking for a long flowery dissertation here. Do you have the job gets done? Yes. That’s the type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a benefit to the organization.

Questions to ask in an interview

Do you have any questions for me?

Don't waste this opportunity. This is your opportunity to find out more about the job, the company, and the industry. Ask smart questions, not just as a way to show you're a great candidate but also to see if the company is a good fit for you -- after all, you're being interviewed, but you're also interviewing the company. Avoid asking questions about salary and conditions of employment such as holidays.

You could ask questions like:

1.  Is there anything I have mentioned that makes you think I am not the best for this job?

If they do mention something that is bothering them about you, such as lack of specific experience, this gives you a last-ditch effort to change their opinion about you. If you have thought about your possible weakness in advance, you should have a prepared answer to those weaknesses. For example, "I know I have limited experience in this field, but what I lack in specific experience I make up in enthusiasm and desire to excel. I am a fast learner and I will work harder than anyone else to be a top producer on your team. "

2.  What are the two to three task you want the candidate to perform after being hired?

This gives you a concrete idea of the projects you will be working on if hired. Often job advertisement list general qualities and capabilities the position requires, but the answer to this question will lay out the actual specifics of the job.

3.  How do you see me benefiting the company?

This tells you exactly what they are looking for in a candidate and where they see your strength.

4.  Is there any room for growth and advancement? What are the career prospects within your company?

This points to your drive and initiative and emphasizes your intention to secure a career, not just a job.

5.  Are there opportunities for professional training or further education? OR What staff training and development opportunities are available?

This shows a willingness to learn and adapt as changes in the position or industry occur. Adaptability is very important in today's fickle employment market and may make you very valuable to the company should reorganization occur.

6.  How will I be evaluated and by whom? OR "Who would I be reporting to?”

This provides insight into the company's corporate culture, organizational and the department structures in which you will be working.

7.  What is the general culture of the company

This can tell you if you will fit into the organization. If they are  "strictly a suit and tie" operation and you are all about comfort clothes, you may want to rethink the position.

8.  Are there other responsibilities not mentioned in the advertisement?

This reveals exactly what the advertisement meant when it said: " …and other duties as assigned. " Will you be helping other departments in a pinch? Making coffee?. These are things you should know before going any further in the candidate selection process.

9.  When will you be making a decision on the successful candidate?

Be sure to ask that! Failure to do so may give the impression that you are not that interested, and you need to know when to follow up. Knowing this help you gauge when to follow up on the interview.

10.  May I call you if other questions arise?

This keeps the door open for further communication.




Interview Tips

How to prepare for an interview

Do you have a job interview on your schedule? Review this advice on how to prepare for an interview beforehand. That way, you can ace it and make a terrific impression on the interviewer.

Here are tips on analyzing the job and making sure the hiring manager knows why you're a good match, researching the company, practice interviewing, what to wear and what to bring to the interview, how to impress during the interview, and how to follow up. Regardless of the type of interview you're preparing for, doing plenty of research and planning is key. Generally, you should:


  • Consider how you'll explain problematic aspects of your career, such as gaps in your work history.
  • Identify the skills, interests and experiences that the organization is looking for by looking at its website and social media channels.
  • Plan your journey in advance, aiming to arrive ten minutes before your interview is scheduled and ideally completing a 'dry run' beforehand.
  • Prepare answers to common interview questions, as well as your own questions to ask at the interview.
  • Find out about the people who'll interview you.
  • Research the issues, trends and opportunities affecting the organization and the wider job sector.
  • On the night before your interview, avoid alcohol, prepare your outfit and get plenty of sleep.
  • On the morning of your interview, eat a healthy breakfast and don't consume too much caffeine. You can combat nerves by exercising - if you have time, of course - as this creates feelings of well being.

What to take

  • a bottle of water
  • a pen and notepad
  • money
  • photo ID (e.g. your passport or driving licence)
  • the job description and person specification
  • your academic certificates and work examples
  • your CV, application form and interview invitation.

During an interview tips (Interview do's and dont’s)

This article deals with interview tips –the more general arts of conducting yourself at the interview
Interview Tip 1: Be polite and manage your nerves
No power on earth can prevent you from feeling what you feel but if you have a framework of good manners, if you look good and are well-prepared, if you know how to behave and have practiced this situation, then all you need to do manage your physical and emotional feeling is to calm yourself down a little by breathing a little more deeply and getting your attention off your mind, through your body and out into the room.

  • Consciously slow your speech and deepen voice tone early in the interview at the more formal art, you can lighten up later when rapport has been established
  • Follow their lead on matters of etiquette, don’t rush into the coffee, be sure to acknowledge everyone in the room, no need to be obsequious

Interview Tip 2 : Be prepared and stay professional

Depending on the skills of the interviewer the warm period may be just the passing time you may get some trivial but unexpected questions. As things proceed there could be any number of interviewing styles deployed and whatever happens your best strategy is to remain resolutely the professional that you are.

  • Be ready for relative trivia like what is your idea of a great weekend or unexpected openers: why do you like the look of this jobs
  • Prepare answers to any trick questions you could think of thinks like why do your present job and what are your worst weaknesses
  • Respond with questions of your own, based on the research you have done in advance, giving them a chance to talk about the company
  • In moments of temporary confusion you can ask them what is behind a particular question, could you clarify what you would like to learn here
  • Aggressive interviewers are probably just acting and looking for your response, staying calm and professional will impress them the most and if they really do try to belittle you take the initiative with a counter question of your own
  • Watch out for really indulgent interviewer who encourages your negative traits and gives you enough rope to tie yourself, never start swearing, criticizing or giving away secrets of your present employer.
  • ALWAYS stay with this truth: It is not the question that matters, nor is it your answer. It is what is behind the question and the answer reveals about you
  • Do not try out any manipulation techniques you have learned in sales training or elsewhere, many interviewers have been trained to notice and counter these and some organizations will immediately reject you.

Interview Tip 3: Leave a positive final impression.

The way you say goodbye can leave a good impression for when they talk about you afterward. Make sure that your handshake and smile are really warm and say something about how stimulating you found the interview. You might briefly gauge their feeling by asking what happens next (without being at all pushy).

If in these final words you can include some brilliant some brilliant phrase that summarizes the path of the interview, again without leaning too hard on their patience, then that would be in your favour too. Maybe something such as “I really like your plan for the new product roll- out strategy; it’s just the kind of thing I have been working towards in the last two year…"

They might, after you leave be scoring the interview to help them distinguish each candidate. A memorable moment or comment helps them to do that and doesn’t have to be spectacular.


Dressing for the interview

Your appearance speaks a volume about you and you will not have a second opportunity to make a first impression. Man looks on the outside. Dresses well, possibly wear your birthday best. Wear clothing that indicates that you are ready to work.

The guidelines given here are commonly accepted as appropriate for interviewing. Every company has a different dress code; how you dress at the job may have very little to do with how you dress for an interview.

Men and Women

  • All clothes should be neatly pressed.
  • Conservative two-piece business suite (olid dark blue or grey is best)
  • Conservative long-sleeved shirt /blouse (white is best, a pastel is next best)
  • Clean, polished, conservative shoes
  • Clean and well-groomed hairstyles
  • Clean, trimmed fingernails
  • Minimal cologne or perfume
  • Empty pocket no noisy coins/keys
  • No gum, candy or cigarettes


  • Necktie should be neat with a conservative a pattern
  • Dark shoes (black lace-ups are best) clean  and polished
  • Dark sock (black is best)
  • Short hair always fairs best in interviews
  • No beard mustaches are acceptable (keep neat and trimmed)
  • No earrings
  • No heavy cologne


  • Always wear a suit jacket or a sheath dress with a jacket
  • Do not wear extremely high-heeled or platform shoes or mules
  • Do not wear open toes shoes or mules (they are more casual)
  • If you wear nail polish (not required), use clear or a conservative colour
  • One set of earrings only
  • Conservative makeup
  • No heavy perfume
Use your next interview as an opportunity to spotlight your accomplishments and determine if the job is right for you. Don't just read this article, practice and rehearse. Don't let the employer interview be the first time you actually formulate an answer in spoken words. it is not enough to think about them in your head.

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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