And it all begins with your interview!

Here are the most common questions for which you need ready answers, along with a little bit about why some of them are asked. For specialty occupations and professions such as law, medicine, and technologies, there are additional questions as well, tailored to the particular profession.


Job interviews are designed to bring out information about your background, skills, personality, and character; especially as these aspects relate to the world of work. Twenty specific qualities that will be examined during most of your job interviews will include:

  1. Ability to Take Direction
  2. Positive, Proactive Attitude
  3. Productivity
  4. Flexibility
  5. Integrity and Honesty
  6. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  7. Teamwork Style
  8. Loyalty
  9. Willingness to Learn
  10. Initiative
  11. Willingness to Help
  12. Time Management Skills
  13. Problem Solving Skills
  14. Planning and Organizational Skills
  15. Decision Making
  16. Goal Setting
  17. Motivation Level and Energy
  18. Stress Management
  19. Creativity
  20. Leadership Abilities and Style

The following questions can reveal information about you in these 20 categories:

Tell me a little about yourself.

This is really one of the more difficult questions to answer, because it is not specific. Do not be tempted to tell your life story, but concentrate on your education and work experience. Especially highlight your accomplishments with hard data whenever possible. For example,” I increased the customer base by 10% in the first 6 months of my employment with XYZ Company.” End your summary of yourself by stating that you are interested in this new company and really want to be part of its success.

a) How did you find out about this job? b) What do you know about the job?

a) What do you know about this company? b) This department?

a) Why did you choose this particular career? b) Your major in college or tech school?

Why do you want to work here?

What interests you most about this position?

What is your personal mission statement?

Does your boss know you’re here today?

Are you a Type A, B or C personality?

Be careful in answering this question! Types A and C both have disadvantages. To employers, Type A means heart disease and C means cancer-and-depression-prone in terms of insurance, medical, and disability costs to the company and the costs of training your replacement if you are out sick or disabled. However, Type A can be very productive and accurate. Type B is generally less stressed, but still productive, so you might describe yourself as Type B, but able to access Type A qualities when extra energy and drive are needed.

What are your strengths?

Have a list of 5 personal job-related strengths ready to name them and explain how you have used them.

What are your weaknesses?

Be ready to describe how you have turned one or two weaknesses into strengths. This will show that you know yourself and that you regularly examine your skills and improve them. You might describe how you have improved your organization skills and/or your communication skills. Many companies are on a system of what is called “continuous improvement.” They are looking to improve their employees as well as their products and services and they like employees that improve themselves and are therefore more productive.

a) What is your idea of a strong work ethic? b) Does it mean working long hours?

Tell me about a time that you went “above and beyond the call of duty” on the job.

How do you define success? Failure?


Thomas Edison is to have said that he discovered 5000 ways a light bulb does NOT work.

Failure is not learning from a mistake.

Failure is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

What are your goals for the next five years?

Why did you leave (or, are you leaving) your previous job?

What have you done to save your employer expenses and increase income?

a) What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in school? b) In work? c) In life?

a) What does leadership mean to you? b) How does one become a leader?

How is it evident that take pride in your work?

a) How good are your communication skills? b) Do you prefer oral or written communications?

Rate your vocabulary and grammar skills for me.

Describe some of your latest written communications and how effective they have been.

Describe for me two situations in which you were proactive.

Are you competitive? Give me an example.

Why is there a gap in your resume?

If you show any period of unemployment on your resume, prepare to explain honestly. Layoffs are a very common in this century, so do not say that you were a self-employed consultant if you were laid off and working on temp jobs. Temporary employment or an intense job search of several months are both fine. If you took time off to care for a sick family member, state this very briefly and do not dwell on it.

How do you take “No” for an answer?

What is the difference between a big ego and a healthy ego?

Describe a time when you had to help a coworker out that did not directly benefit you?

a) Do you have good manners? b) What types of people need to be treated with good manners?

a) How do you continue learning on a daily basis? b) Why is continuous improvement necessary?

What is thinking outside the box to you?

How do you rate yourself in computer skills? Please describe the programs and software that you can use well.

Can you perform Internet research? Please describe to me your steps in doing so.

How would you handle a client coming in to town from a foreign country, say Thailand?

Do you work better on a team, with just one partner, or alone?

Make sure that you demonstrate that you know there are at least two types of teams: 1) the vertical team and 2) the horizontal team. The vertical team is a hierarchy with a leader at the top. The person at the top of the hierarchy gives the word and everyone below the leader does their part so that the goal is met. The horizontal team is a group of peers that work together on a project, each fulfilling a part that is important; members are all interdependent.

What role do you usually take in a team project?

a) Who are your heroes — living and dead, real or fictional? b) Why?

Name one world leader that you admire and why.

What would you do about the War in Iraq?

Tell me a joke.

With which character on the TV series Boston Legal (or Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Star Trek, or any popular TV show or movie series) do you identify?

a) Have you ever been fired? b) If so, what did you learn from it?

Describe a time when you stood up for something you believed in and were met with resistance?

What is intelligence?

A good answer to this is that intelligence is the ability to enter into a new situation and function well, whether it is in a new company or it is being dropped into a foreign land where you don’t yet know the language.

Describe the characteristics and working style of supervisors you like to work and for whom you have given the best results.

Tell me about your proudest achievement.

If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a steak cooked rare and they brought it to you well done, how would you react and what would you do about it?

Make no mistake! This is going to tell the interviewer how you handle problems on the job. How do you correct unacceptable work?

If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be?

Tell me about a person in your career field that helped make you a success.

Describe the ideal company for you.

What are your plans for career development?

a) Do you prefer structured or unstructured activities? b) Why?

a) Give examples of ideas you have originated and implemented. b) What were the results?

What is your dream job?

How would you describe your work style?

Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job.

What is the last book you read?

What magazines do you subscribe to?

What one thing would you change about your last job?

What do you think of your previous boss?

How do you think I rate as an interviewer?

How would you react if you knew that everyone in your department was going to be let go except for one person?

What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?

What were your responsibilities in your last position?

How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution here?

Are you willing to relocate?

What was the last project you headed up, and what was its outcome?

How do you usually deal with conflict? Give me an example.

What goals do you have in mind for this job if we hire you?

Why Should I Hire You?

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?

a) Have you ever been on a team (school or work or elsewhere) where someone was not pulling their own weight? b) How did you handle it?

Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback and how you managed it.

What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?

What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?

What is your greatest fear?

Tell me about a problem you solved in a unique way. What was the outcome?

Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed.

What do you see yourself doing within the first 30 days of this job?

What is the first thing you would change, if you were to start work here?

How do you handle change?

What will you miss about your current or last job?

What is your greatest achievement?

If I were your supervisor and asked you to do something you disagreed with, what would you do?

Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.

What’s the most difficult decision you’ve made in the last year?

What do you do in your spare time?

Why are you leaving your present job?

Tell me the difference between good and superior.

Tell me about the last time you took a risk and how it turned out.

a) What is your biggest regret, and why? b) What can be done about it?

If you found out your company was participating in illegal activity, what would you do?

What are your salary requirements?

Ask questions, such as what the salary range of the position actually is. Before you interview, make sure that you research the salary range for the job, appropriate to your area of the country.

Is there anything that will prevent you from getting to work on time?

If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?

What is the last movie you saw?

Describe how you would handle a situation wherein you must finish multiple assignments by the end of the day, but there is no way physically possible to do so.

Why should we hire you?

This is the time to strongly sell yourself to the interviewer without sounding desperate. Concisely summarize your strengths, qualifications, and assets. Be specific and don’t just say you are hardworking and motivated. Tell the interviewer why you are different from al the rest of the applicants.


1) What do you believe will be the greatest challenge for the new employee in this job position in the first 30 days and the first year?

2) How did this vacancy occur?

3) How do you see this position developing over time?

4) How does your company plan to expand in the next five years?

5) What are the chances for advancement with your company?

6) What is a typical workday in this position like?