Interview Tips | Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet

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Job interviews are designed to assess:

(1) Your professionalism (courteous, honest, no exaggerations or half‐truths)

(2) Your fit for the job (applicable skills/personality fit into the firm’s culture)

(3) Your interest in the job

 

Preparation is an important part of the interview process. The time you spend preparing prior to the interview will be time well spent in your job search process. The following are some tips on what you can do to prepare yourself before, during, and after a job interview.

Before the Interview

(1) Prepare

  1. Research the company and role you are interviewing for
  2. KNOW YOUR RESUME: dates, qualifications, experiences, and achievements. Practice out loud walking someone through your resume: the sequence of jobs/internships with relevant dates.
  3. Plan out your outfit a week in advance d. Plan the route to the interview and insure timeliness e. Bring several copies of your resume and a notepad IN A LEATHER FOLIO to the interview

(2) Dress for success

  1. Dress in a suit even if the dress code is business casual
  2. Wear professional accessories, not big jewelry or showy clothes
  3. Focus on hygiene: clean nails, neat hair, shower, not too much perfume/cologne, deodorant, and makeup that is appropriate

(3) Punctuality

  1. Be 5‐10 minutes early (park 15 minutes before so you have time to go up the elevator, etc.)
  2. Timeliness for the interview is a predictor of timeliness for the job
  3. Stand up and greet the interviewer when you first meet (in the lobby)

During the Interview

  • Relax! Think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation.
  • Be enthusiastic, confident, courteous, and honest.
  • Listen to the questions carefully and give clear, concise, and thoughtful answers.
  • Convey interest in the organization and knowledge of the position.
  • Ask relevant questions about the job or department.
  • Present a list of your references and any letters of recommendation or reference that you may have to offer.
  • End the interview with a firm handshake and thank the interview panel for their time and consideration.

After the Interview

  • Send a concise 1 – 3 paragraph thank-you letter within 24 to 48 hours of the interview. Reiterate your interest in the position, mention anything you know reinforces you as a good fit for the job, and your contact information.
  • If you are not selected for the job, it is OK to politely ask an interviewer which area(s) you could improve on in the future!

Questions to ask yourself

To help you develop information about “you,” ask yourself these questions:

Your Qualifications

  • What qualifications do you have that relate to the position?
  • What skills or abilities have you developed recently?
  • What are some examples from a previous job where you’ve shown initiative?
  • What have been your greatest accomplishments?
  • What is important to you in a job?
  • What motivates you in your work?
  • What qualities do you find important in a manager or a coworker?

Your Career Goals

  • What would you like to be doing five years from now?
  • How will you judge yourself to be a success? How will you achieve success?
  • What type of position are you interested in?
  • How will this job fit in your career plans?
  • What do you expect from this job?
  • When can you start?

Your Work Experience

  • What have you learned from your past jobs?
  • What are/were your major responsibilities?
  • What specific skills used in previous jobs relate to this position?
  • How does your previous experience relate to this position?
  • What did you like most/least about your last job?

Your Education

  • How has your education prepared you for this position?
  • What were your favorite classes/activities at school?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • Do you plan to continue your education?

 

Prepare for Difficult Interview Questions

Sample Interview Questions with Suggested Ways of Answering

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. This is the dreaded, classic, open-ended interview question and likely to be among the first. It’s your chance to introduce your qualifications, good work habits, etc. Keep it mostly work and career related.
  3. Why do you want to leave your current job? (Why did you leave your last job?)
  4. Be careful with this. Avoid trashing other employers and making statements like, “I need more money.” Instead, make generic statements such as, “It’s a career move.”
  5. What are your strengths?
  6. Point out your positive attributes related to the job.
  7. What are your weaknesses?
  8. Everybody has weaknesses, but don’t spend too much time on this one and keep it work related. Along with a minor weakness or two, try to point out a couple of weaknesses that the interviewer might see as strengths, such as sometimes being a little too meticulous about the quality of your work. (Avoid saying “I work too hard.” It’s a predictable, common answer.) For every weakness, offer a strength that compensates for it.
  9. Which adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
  10. Answer with positive, work-oriented adjectives, such as conscientious, hard-working, honest and courteous, plus a brief description or example of why each fits you well
  11. What do you know about our company?
  12. To answer this one, research the company before you interview.
  13. Why do you want to work for us?
  14. Same as above. Research the company before you interview. Avoid the predictable, such as, “Because it’s a great company.” Say why you think it’s a great company.
  15. Why should I hire you?
  16. Point out your positive attributes related to the job, and the good job you’ve done in the past. Include any compliments you’ve received from management.
  17. What past accomplishments gave you satisfaction?
  18. Briefly describe one to three work projects that made you proud or earned you pats on the back, promotions, raises, etc. Focus more on achievement than reward.
  19. What makes you want to work hard?
  20. Naturally, material rewards such as perks, salary and benefits come into play. But again, focus more on achievement and the satisfaction you derive from it.
  21. What type of work environment do you like best?
  22. Tailor your answer to the job. For example, if in doing your job you’re required to lock the lab doors and work alone, then indicate that you enjoy being a team player when needed, but also enjoy working independently. If you’re required to attend regular project planning and status meetings, then indicate that you’re a strong team player and like being part of a team.
  23. Why do you want this job?
  24. To help you answer this and related questions, study the job ad in advance. But a job ad alone may not be enough, so it’s okay to ask questions about the job while you’re answering. Say what attracts you to the job. Avoid the obvious and meaningless, such as, “I need a job.”
  25. How do you handle pressure and stress?
  26. This is sort of a double whammy, because you’re likely already stressed from the interview and the interviewer can see if you’re handling it well or not. Everybody feels stress, but the degree varies. Saying that you whine to your shrink, kick your dog or slam down a fifth of Jack Daniels are not good answers. Exercising, relaxing with a good book, socializing with friends or turning stress into productive energy are more along the lines of the “correct” answers.
  27. Explain how you overcame a major obstacle.
  28. The interviewer is likely looking for a particular example of your problem-solving skills and the pride you show for solving it.
  29. Where do you see yourself five (ten or fifteen) years from now?
  30. Explain your career-advancement goals that are in line with the job for which you are interviewing. Your interviewer is likely more interested in how he, she or the company will benefit from you achieving your goals than what you’ll get from it, but it goes hand in hand to a large degree. It’s not a good idea to tell your potential new boss that you’ll be going after his or her job, but it’s okay to mention that you’d like to earn a senior or management position.

 

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