Interviewing Interviewers’ Favorite Questions
Use the following two pages to prepare for interviews by reviewing interviewers’ favorite questions with recommended content and sample answers.
“Tell me a little bit about yourself.” This is a standard ice-breaker in most interviews. Don’t tell the interviewer your life story—offer a brief answer
that relates to the job you’re seeking. “When I began my studies at USU, it took a couple of semesters completing my general education requirements before I really found my place in the Political Science Department. Since then, I’ve done three different survey research projects for Utah State’s Admissions Office regarding the needs and perceptions of incoming freshman. I love the combination of working with data and making solid recommendations to administrators based on my work. This position at D.J. Research will allow me to provide quality research to clients that they can use to make strategic decisions about their campaigns or businesses.”
“What do you see yourself doing in five years?” Your response should include something related to the job you are interviewing for (i.e., retail, construction management). You don’t want to say you see yourself in a completely different industry or field than the one
you’re interviewing for. “While I have really enjoyed working towards a BS degree in civil engineering, it wasn’t until my internship with UDOT that I really found what I’m good at. I excel at solving problems in the field with data, crews, and subcontractors. I know I have the technical knowledge and interpersonal skills to be a project manager with Bechtel and would really like to be in your San Francisco office in 5 years.”
“Tell me about a time when you were participating in a team project and somebody dropped the ball. What did you do to help the team finish the project on time?” This question gives you an opportunity to highlight a number of skills, including time management, leadership,
and commitment to a task. “When working on a fundraising auction for the American Society of Women Engineers, one of our team members missed a key deadline early in the project.
I resisted my initial temptation to dive in
and get the work done myself, and after talking with her, realized she didn’t have the skills in web design the team thought she had due to a misunderstanding. She did say how much she’d like to talk with businesses and wanted to switch to a sales role that resulted in over $2,000 in donations from local business owners. We found someone else on the team who could design our registration page for the chapter’s website and the
event raised $5,500 in scholarships for our chapter.“
“How do you make yourself indispensable to a company?” Employers are looking for both technical and interpersonal competence. Students who have related work experience generally answer this question best
because they know what working for a company entails. “As our office event planning intern, I work really closely with the fair/expo coordinator at Career Services. I email employers, update registration information on the website using ezPlug, answer phone calls from employers, as well as address any foot traffic that walks into the Center. My supervisor told me she can’t see anyone else doing this job because I do it with enthusiasm and still maintain professional communications with all types of students, staff, and employers.”
“What’s your greatest strength?” Don’t just talk about your strength—relate it to the position. Let the employer know you are a qualified
candidate and why. “I know how to work on a team doing effective research. I can research a problem, in the area of bioinformatics, by accessing web and print resources and have additional experience in preparing and presenting research at a state-wide poster session in Salt Lake City. These experiences will allow me to contribute my writing and research skills with immediate impact and little training time. I am very familiar with the projects I would be working on, having talked with Dr. Albrecht, a researcher in your Idaho Falls office, whom I met at Utah State’s Tech Expo.”
“What’s your greatest weakness?” The key to a successful answer is to not only discuss a weakness (nothing too negative), but more importantly,
how you compensated for this weakness. “While working as an inventory clerk at a sock manufacturer who shipped specialty socks all over the world, I really had to improve my organizational skills to get everything finished each shift.
I had to
do inventory, oversee shipping orders, and answer approximately 30 emails each day from vendors. After the first week of having to work overtime, I started to answer emails at the beginning and end of each shift, instead of throughout the day, so I could focus on the tasks I needed to complete while ensuring my emails were accurate. This really worked and I was more productive. After the second week, I never missed answering an email in the 24-hour guideline set by customer service.”
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