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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are you prepared? Tough Interview Questions

Like every good girl scout or boy scout you need to be prepared for your interview.  The typical questions that you are asked about your previous employment are a cinch. But some of the following may take some thought and preparation.
  • Tell me about yourself - prepare a few sentences that gives employers a rounded look at you and your personality.  Don't get too personal or talk on and on.
  • Companies want to know if you have done your research about them, so you may end up with questions like: Why do you want to work here; how can you help our company; or why do want to work in _____ field?
  • Questions often come up about your weaknesses or your strengths, achievements or disappointments, biggest mistake - prepare one or two for each and how you are coping or overcoming them.
  • Often interviewers will ask about previous positions, bosses or co-workers, what you liked or disliked, pet peeves - be very careful to be as positive as possible.  Do not bash, but if there were challenges between you and something at a previous job, make a simple statement and move on.
  • What will your references, co-workers, subordinates, or supervisors say about you? With social media, the "checking references" and only getting dates of employment is now secondary.  The savvy employer will know how to search you on the internet and find out what they want to know about you.
  • Knowing about your goals and plans are important to employers so asking about where you see yourself in x years or will you be pursuing further education or what do you really want to do in life? How have you improved yourself over the last year? What has kept you from progressing as fast as you would like?
  • Then may come the thought process development questions - how would you handle x? What does success mean to you? What motivates you? How do you motivate others? Your philosophy of life, work or your field?
  • Knowing how you work is important to employers - whether you are a team player or work alone, help others succeed, offer suggestions to management, lead or motivate others, or how you deal with stressful situations.
  • Why did you leave your last position? This isn't a big deal if it was to take an advancement or because the company closed, but if you were fired, you need a diplomatic, yet truthful response.
  • How long have you been out of work?  What have you been doing since? Are two questions that a few years ago would not have come into play.  If you have been volunteering, working with a temporary agency, or taken on more domestic engineer responsibilities yet kept active with industry organizations, this will be a bit easier to offer a response. Employers want to know that your skills are still current.
  • How do you spend your spare time? They can't ask if you smoke or drink or are involved in illegal activities, but they can  often deduce from your answers whether you might fit within their corporate culture.
  • Additional questions may include whether you are willing to relocate or travel, work extra hours, or considering other positions and if your employer knows you are planning to leave.
  • Employers cannot ask you:
  1. Marital status
  2. Sexual orientation
  3. If you belong to a union
  4. If you are on public assistance
  5. When did you graduate from (high school or college)
  6. Do you have a heart condition? Do you have asthma or any other difficulties breathing?
  7. Do you have a disability which would interfere with your ability to perform the job?
  8. How many days were you sick last year?
  9. Have you ever filed for workers' compensation? Have you ever been injured on the job?
  10. Have you ever been treated for mental health problems?
  11. What prescription drugs are you currently taking?
If you are prepared, you can answer any question and hopefully, find your way into a new position.

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