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There is no substitute for preparation.

10 Common Interview Questions

Preparing for an interview can be stressful, but it is well worth the effort.  One of the best ways to prepare is to ask an associate to perform a mock interview in which he or she takes on the role of the interviewer and asks you questions just as the real interviewer will. 

The Advanced Personnel Business Edge Tip of the Week is brought to you this week by Leo Sheridan, President & CEO.  If you have questions or comments on this week's tip, please contact us via email.

While you don't need a rehearsed response to most questions, it helps to know what information you want to convey.  Just what are some of the most common interview questions? Over the years, we've assisted hundreds of companies with their hiring process.  Here are some of the most commonly asked interview questions and some guidelines on answering them:

What is your most significant accomplishment?
This is an opportunity to make a great impression!  Be sure to review your experience and select a significant accomplishment that is meaningful to you. Telling a two-minute story including details and personal involvement can paint an impressive picture of your accomplishment.  Discuss any sacrifices you had to make to achieve this accomplishment and why it was important to the company.

Why do you believe you are qualified for the position?
Focus!  Pick two or three main factors about the job and your corresponding characteristics that are most relevant.  Provide specific examples from your experience that illustrate why you are qualified.  It helps to select a technical skill, a specific management skill (organizing, staffing, planning), and a personal success attribute to mention.

Have you ever accomplished something you did not think you could?
This question addresses your goal orientation, work ethic, personal commitment and integrity.  Provide a good example that illustrates a time when you overcame numerous difficulties to succeed.  Prove you are not a quitter and that you will ``get going when the going gets tough."

Describe a time where your performance went above and beyond expectations.
Use an example; i.e., handling an irate customer or a time where an associate needed assistance with an urgent project that may or may not have had anything to do with your responsibilities.  Be sure to demonstrate a ``whatever it takes" attitude.

What do you like/dislike most about your current position?
This question helps identify your compatibility with the open position.  If you enjoy challenges, pressure situations, and opportunity, or dislike bureaucracy and frustrating situations, you may want to share that in your response.

What are your career goals?  Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?  10?
Many people don't know exactly where they will be in 5 or 10 years and it's fine to express that you may not have an exact position in mind.  What you should convey, however, is how much additional responsibility you want to take on or whether or not a clear career path is important to you.  You should be able to elaborate on how you will be an asset to the company in the future.

What are your most significant strengths?
Know your four or five key strengths.  Be able to discuss each with a specific example.  Select those attributes that are most compatible with the job opening.  If you choose ``management" or ``interpersonal skills" as strengths be prepared to describe the specific characteristics of management (planning, organizing, results, staffing, etc.) or how your relationship skills have proven critical to your success.

What are your most significant weaknesses?

This is an opportunity to discuss skills that you are working towards improving.  You can use specific examples to show how you've improved over time or, better still, how a weakness can be turned into strength.  For example, how concentration on the details results in higher quality work, even though it may require more time.

Why should we hire you for the position?  What kind of contribution would you make?
This is a good chance to summarize.  Re-state and show how you would address the primary responsibilities of the position.  Relate to specific attributes and specific accomplishments.  Demonstrate a thoughtful, organized attitude.

Why do you want to work here?
Make sure to do some research on the company and the position so that you can answer this question with confidence.  Do you like the opportunity for growth or feel that the industry is appealing?  Will the position allow you to contribute immediately and also learn more about your area of interest?

Articulating your answers to these questions before the interview will help you be at your best when it comes time for the real thing.

For more information on this article or if you have a staffing question, please email us.

Advanced Personnel: One of Chicagoland's top 20 staffing firms (Crain's).

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