Ace that Interview

The 15 most common Interview questions to prepare for

By Gary Markell

InterviewWhat questions should I prepare to answer prior to my interview?  Here are a variety of questions commonly asked at interviews and the corresponding preparation advice.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Your resume has already been reviewed prior to you arriving.  Do not go into your whole background as shown on your resume. Start out something like this: “Allow me to expand upon a couple of things which I have accomplished in the past that made an impact regarding, (my company, a client, my project, etc)” Keep it concise. State what you did, and how it benefited your company, client or project.

2. Describe your ideal job.

Be sincere, and talk about the positive aspects of your own career goals that will convey positive information about how you can contribute or make an impact.

3. What was your greatest achievement?

Do not ramble.  I recommend the topic to be job related if possible.  You need to have the subject well rehearsed and ready to present.  Keep it simple:  Answer it in 3 simple steps: 1) What you did. 2) How you did it 3) How it benefited your Client, your Company, your Department, or the Project.

4. Why should we hire you?

Please do not stumble on this question.  You need to be prepared to answer this.  Prior to the interview, write out why you have been a good employee in the past including your best accomplishments.  If you are new to the workforce, answer based upon personal, and school accomplishments.  What drives you to do well?  Think about it.

5. Can you travel without restriction?

If you do not plan to travel, be honest.  Do not say what the interviewer wants to hear just so you can get to the next step. That is a lack of integrity and you are just wasting time for everyone.  Decide if travel can be part of your job, and then stick to it.  Be intentional about the non-travel time to plan quality time with your family/friends.

6. What do you like/hate about your current job?

It is beneficial to have thought this one through again prior to going into the interview.  What motivates you reflects upon how you work in a team, how you perform under pressure, how you set goals, your passion, how you face challenges, and how you can meet expectations.

7. What would your “First 30, 60, 90 days” look like?

You need to really understand the job, so do your homework. Then think about how you would plan to execute during your first 3 months. This will typically reveal initiative, organizational skills, and how to set priorities.  Be sure to include how you would gather information in the first 30, 60, 90 days in order to perform at your peak for the long-term.  I recommend writing out a precursor “first 30, 60, 90 days” outline beforehand.

8. Why do you want this job?

Keep in mind why they are asking this.  They usually emphatically want to know if you have serious interest in the company and position or are you half-heartedly looking around and just kicking tires?  Tell exactly why you find this opportunity attractive and why you are eager to pursue it.  Do your research ahead of time.

9. What do you know about us?

I have had hiring managers tell me that if a candidate knows very little about our company in the first interview, it is pretty disappointing and they are certainly not impressed.  This lack of knowledge also reduces the chance of a second interview.  Take the time to research before you go in.  There are no excuses these days with all the detailed company information on the internet.

10. The money/salary Questions

Contrary to widespread suggestions, you should simply be open about your current comp, and have some legitimate idea of a range for expectations.  Do not play too cool or posture too hard about the compensation topic.  Most companies will carry out background and employment checks at the end of the process anyway.

11. Why would you consider leaving your current job?

If you have proactive reasons, state those reasons.  If you were let go, simple answer, “I was let go”.  Most everyone has had this happen to them including the interviewer.  Be direct and honest.  Don’t try to mask it.

12.Tell me about your technical expertise.

You need to be ready to give a concise rundown on your technical skills that are pertinent to the role you have applied to.  Prepare ahead of time to give brief details of how you have applied these skills in projects.

13. The Counteroffer Questions

You might be asked, “If we give you an offer to come to work for us, how would you respond to a counteroffer from your current boss?” This is an important subject that can have a dramatic affect on you and your future.  See this link for a complete summary regarding the controversial subject of considering counter-offers.

14. How did you hear about this position?

Turn this into a positive stimulating answer, and once you share the source, move your answer to tell exactly why you find this position and the company attractive and if so, why you are eager to pursue it.

15. Do you have any questions for me?

I recommend having some pre-written questions.  Take them with you to the interview.  You can ask questions about the company, the position, the projects and the career path.

NOTE: How many times have candidates been potentially just right for an opening, however the truth of whom they were slipped through the cracks because of the lack of being prepared to present themselves?

Our goal as IBM recruiters is not to coach you on how to answer questions. Our intention is for you to prepare yourself to answer questions candidly in order to best present who you genuinely are. Preparation will always increase your odds to get hired. Regardless of the specific outcome, when you prepare for an interview cradled within integrity it is always a win/win scenario.

Thinking about a career with IBM? Which IBM jobs fits for you?  Use the IBM Career Decoder before you apply to explore exciting career opportunities and find your perfect fit at IBM.

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About the Author

gary-markellGary Markell is a senior recruiter with IBM working within GBS, Global Business Services division. With over 20 years experience starting his recruiting career in 1993, Gary Markell has been a full life cycle recruiter, Account Manager, Director of financial Services Recruiting, and in past owned his own recruiting agency for over six years. Gary Markell has served as trainer, mentor many times. Father of eight, he resides in Southeast Michigan with his wife Cristita and three youngest children, C.J., Anna and Timothy. He is active in church, as part of the choir and worship team, and has served in mission work in his past. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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