Simple interview questions part 2

Part 2

Question 9          Where do you see yourself five years from now?
TRAPS:  One reason interviewers ask this question is
to see if you’re settling for this position, using it merely as a stopover
until something better comes along.  Or
they could be trying to gauge your level of ambition.
If you’re too specific, i.e., naming the promotions you
someday hope to win, you’ll sound presumptuous. 
If you’re too vague, you’ll seem rudderless.
BEST ANSWER:   Reassure your interviewer that you’re looking
to make a long-term commitment…that this position entails exactly what you’re
looking to do and what you do extremely well. 
As for your future, you believe that if you perform each job at hand
with excellence, future opportunities will take care of themselves.
Example:  “I am definitely interested in making a
long-term commitment to my next position. 
Judging by what you’ve told me about this position, it’s exactly what
I’m looking for and what I am very well qualified to do.  In terms of my future career path, I’m
confident that if I do my work with excellence, opportunities will inevitable
open up for me.  It’s always been that
way in my career, and I’m confident I’ll have similar opportunities here.”
Question 10        Describe your ideal company, location and job.
TRAPS:  This is often asked by an experienced
interviewer who thinks you may be overqualified, but knows better than to show
his hand by posing his objection directly. 
So he’ll use this question instead, which often gets a candidate to
reveal that, indeed, he or she is looking for something other than the position
at hand.
BEST ANSWER:  The only right answer is to describe what
this company is offering, being sure to make your answer believable with
specific reasons, stated with sincerity, why each quality represented by this
opportunity is attractive to you.
Remember that if you’re coming from a company that’s the
leader in its field or from a glamorous or much admired company, industry, city
or position, your interviewer and his company may well have an “Avis”
complex.  That is, they may feel a bit
defensive about being “second best” to the place you’re coming from, worried
that you may consider them bush league.
This anxiety could well be there even though you’ve done
nothing to inspire it. You must go out of your way to assuage such anxiety,
even if it’s not expressed, by putting their
virtues high on the list of exactly what you’re looking for, providing credible
reason for wanting these qualities.
If you do not express genuine enthusiasm for the firm, its
culture, location, industry, etc., you may fail to answer this “Avis” complex
objection and, as a result, leave the interviewer suspecting that a hot shot
like you, coming from a Fortune 500 company in New York, just wouldn’t be happy at an
unknown manufacturer based in Topeka,
Question 11        Why do you want to work at our company?
TRAPS:  This question tests whether you’ve done any
homework about the firm.  If you haven’t,
you lose.  If you have, you win big.
BEST ANSWER:   This question is your opportunity to hit the
ball out of the park, thanks to the in-depth research you should do before any
Best sources for researching your target company:  annual reports, the corporate newsletter,
contacts you know at the company or its suppliers, advertisements, articles
about the company in the trade press.
Question 12        What are your career options right now?
TRAPS:  The interviewer is trying to find out, “How desperate are you?”
BEST ANSWER:  Prepare for this question by thinking of
how you can position yourself as a desired commodity.  If you are still working, describe the
possibilities at your present firm and why, though you’re greatly appreciated
there, you’re looking for something more (challenge, money, responsibility,
etc.).  Also mention that you’re
seriously exploring opportunities with one or two other firms.
If you’re not working, you can talk about other employment
possibilities you’re actually exploring. 
But do this with a light touch, speaking only in general terms.  You don’t want to seem manipulative or coy.
Question 13        Why have you been out of work so long?
TRAPS:  A tough question if you’ve been on the beach
a long time.  You don’t want to seem like
damaged goods.
BEST ANSWER:  You want to emphasize factors which have
prolonged your job search by your own choice.
Example: “After my
job was terminated, I made a conscious decision not to jump on the first
opportunities to come along.  In my life,
I’ve found out that you can always turn a negative into a positive IF you try
hard enough. This is what I determined to do. 
I decided to take whatever time I needed to think through what I do
best, what I most want to do, where I’d like to do it…and then identify those
companies that could offer such an opportunity.”
“Also, in all honesty, you have to factor in the recession
(consolidation, stabilization, etc.) in the (banking, financial services,
manufacturing, advertising, etc.) industry.”
“So between my being selective and the companies in our
industry downsizing, the process has taken time.  But in the end, I’m convinced that when I do
find the right match, all that careful evaluation from both sides of the desk
will have been well worthwhile for both the company that hires me and myself.
Question 14        Tell me honestly about the strong points and weak points of your boss
(company, management team, etc.)…
TRAPS:  Skillfull interviewers sometimes make it almost
irresistible to open up and air a little dirty laundry from your previous
position.  DON’T
BEST ANSWER:  Remember the rule:  Never be negative.  Stress only the good points, no matter how
charmingly you’re invited to be critical.
Your interviewer doesn’t care a whit about your previous
boss.  He wants to find out how loyal and
positive you are, and whether you’ll criticize him behind his back if pressed
to do so by someone in this own company. 
This question is your opportunity to demonstrate your loyalty to those
you work with.
Question 15        What good books have you read lately?
TRAPS:  As in all matters of your interview, never
fake familiarity you don’t have.  Yet you
don’t want to seem like a dullard who hasn’t read a book since Tom Sawyer.
BEST ANSWER:  Unless you’re up for a position in academia
or as book critic for The New York Times,
you’re not expected to be a literary lion. 
But it wouldn’t hurt to have read a handful of the most recent and
influential books in your profession and on management.
Consider it part of the work of your job search to read up
on a few of these leading books.  But
make sure they are quality books that
reflect favorably upon you, nothing that could even remotely be considered
superficial.  Finally, add a recently
published bestselling work of fiction by a world-class author and you’ll pass
this question with flying colors.
Question 16        Tell me about a situation when your work was criticized.
TRAPS:  This is a tough question because it’s a more
clever and subtle way to get you to admit to a weakness.  You can’t dodge it by pretending you’ve never
been criticized.  Everybody has
been.  Yet it can be quite damaging to
start admitting potential faults and failures that you’d just as soon leave
This question is also intended to probe how well you accept
criticism and direction.
BEST ANSWERS:  Begin by emphasizing the extremely positive
feedback you’ve gotten throughout your career and (if it’s true) that your
performance reviews have been uniformly excellent.
Of course, no one is perfect and you always welcome
suggestions on how to improve your performance. 
Then, give an example of a not-too-damaging learning experience from early in your career and relate the ways
this lesson has since helped you.  This
demonstrates that you learned from the experience and the lesson is now one of
the strongest breastplates in your suit of armor.
If you are pressed for a criticism from a recent position, choose something fairly
trivial that in no way is essential to your successful performance.  Add that you’ve learned from this, too, and
over the past several years/months, it’s no longer an area of concern because
you now make it a regular practice to…etc.
Another way to answer this question would be to describe
your intention to broaden your master of an area of growing importance in your
field.  For example, this might be a
computer program you’ve been meaning to sit down and learn… a new management
technique you’ve read about…or perhaps attending a seminar on some cutting-edge
branch of your profession.
Again, the key is to focus on something not essential to your brilliant performance but which adds yet
another dimension to your already impressive knowledge base.

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