Job Search Tips: Q1-Questions About You

Intro | Q1: You | Q2: Company | Q3: Interviewer

1. Describing your qualifications

  • Tell me about yourself, your background.
  • What are you qualifications for the position?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your greatest accomplishments?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you think that you will be successful in your field?
  • What personal characteristics are necessary for success in your chosen field?
  • Based on your resume and what you’ve told me, I think you’re overqualified/underqualified for this position. What do you think?

The interviewer wants to know how well your qualifications match the requirements of the job and what sets you apart from other applicants.

To answer these questions well, you have to be able to describe your education, skills and abilities and how they relate to this particular job.

Emphasize the most relevant aspects of your background, experience, accomplishments, and characteristics. For example, if you know the job requires patience to deal with dissatisfied customers or persistence and analytical skills to solve problems, focus on those characteristics and describe situations (from school, work or life) in which you have demonstrated them.

2. Describing your work experience

  • What experience do you have in this area?
  • Describe your previous jobs.
  • What jobs have you held? How were they obtained and why did you leave? Why have you held so many jobs?
  • What did you like best/least about your other jobs?
  • What have you learned from your past jobs?

The interviewer wants to know how well and in what ways your previous work experience have prepared you for the current position in their company.

To best answer these questions, you have to be able to describe the specific skills, knowledge and experience of your past related jobs and how they directly prepare you to successfully fill the available position.

Emphasize the goals or parts of your past work experience that are most related to the company and position. For example, if one of your major responsibilities in working at McDonald’s was working at the till taking customer orders, you should highlight your interpersonal and customer service skills and responsibility in handling cash for a job waiting on tables. A more general example would be if you worked in a corporate office or factory setting, your adjustment into a position in a similar setting will be smooth as you’ll already have learned the appropriate etiquette for those settings.

3. Describing your past behaviours

  • Tell me about a time when you… or Describe a situation where you…
    • Delegated a project or job effectively
    • Adapted to a new and difficult situation
    • Had to make an unpopular decision
    • Handled a difficult situation with a co-worker
    • Made a bad decision
    • Overcame what seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle
    • Persuaded others to follow your suggestion
    • Showed creativity in solving a problem
    • Were disappointed by the way you handled a situation
    • Worked effectively under pressure
    • Anticipated potential problems and developed preventative measures
    • Had to deal with an irate customer
    • Prioritized the elements of a complicated project

These are called behavioural interview questions and the interview is looking to your past behaviour to be an indicator of future behaviour and how you might act in a similar situation in the available position. Or you may be asked similar role playing questions in future format asking you what you think you might do in a certain situation.

When answering this type of question, be sure to:

  • Describe the situation.
  • Describe how you reacted in the situation or how you might go about working in the given situation.
  • Describe the end result of your action and the resolution of the situation.

To determine which types of situations they may ask you to describe so you can practice and think of examples, take the skills or tasks you think are required for the position or those that are listed in the job posting.

4. Describing your education

  • Why did you choose your course of study?
  • What courses did you like best? Least? Why?
  • Why did you choose your university/college?
  • What are your educational goals?
  • In what school activities have you participated? Why? Which did you enjoy the most?
  • Have you ever changed your major field of interest while in college? Why?

The interviewer wants to know how you became interested and decided on your field of interest.

To best answer these questions, describe how your skills, talents and interests make you an ideal person for a career in your chosen field.

Emphasize the skills and interests that are most beneficial to success in the field or most related to the company. For example, explain how your love of writing and extreme curiosity made you study journalism or how your natural tendency to want to organize things and your analytical mind led you to study Management Information Systems or Computing Science.

5. Describing your career goals

  • What are your career goals? What are your future vocational plans?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
  • Why have you chosen this career path? Why do you want to work in this field/industry?
  • How can this position help you achieve your goals?
  • In what type of position are you most interested?
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • What do you know about opportunities in the field in which you were trained? What are the disadvantages of your chosen field?
  • If given this position, how long do you plan to stay?

The interviewer wants to know how well your career goals match the position and the company/organization. They also want to know if you have an idea where you are headed.

To best answer these questions, you have to be able to describe your career goals and how they best align with the job and the company’s mission and objectives.

Emphasize the goals or parts of your goals that are most related to the company and position.

6. Assessing personal suitability

  • How would your friends (colleague, professor, supervisor) describe you?
  • Do you prefer independence or a team structure?
  • What kind of supervision do you prefer? What qualities in a supervisor do you like most?
  • How do you handle instructions and criticism?
  • Would you prefer a large or small organization? Why?
  • Do you prefer any specific geographic location? What size city do you prefer? Why?
  • Are you willing to relocate for the job?

The interviewer is trying to determine your personal character and preferences and see if you best match the job position, environment and organization.

The best way to answer these questions is to think about your preferences and answer as honestly as you can. Remember to keep it related to the position and company. Telling them that your friends think you are caring and talkative might not be the most relevant or appropriate to a data entry position, for example.

Tailoring your answer to what you think they want to hear could be detrimental. For example, if you told them you love to work independently just because you know the position involves working on your own at home, if you’re hired for the job, you may find yourself miserable because you know you’re much more of a people person needing team interaction.

Be honest, but do express your willingness to adjust or describe how you would deal with one element of the job environment that doesn’t quite match your preferences directly.

Continue reading Job Search Tips…  Intro | Q1 | Q2 | Q3

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