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DOUGLAS PARTNERS

career transition experts

25 Difficult
Interview Questions...
And Some Answers
A D oug las Partn e r s i n fos h e et

Adapted from Parting Company: How to Survive the Loss of a Job and Find Another Successfully,
William J. Morin and James C. Cabrera Harvest Books, New York, 1984.

© Douglas Partners 2006

mention specifics work for us? from your resume or list of career 9.. What do you look for 2. succeed at it. Think in terms of responsi- one of the few that interests me. size recent career experience. reputation. expect to meet pressing demands and company’s needs. and use your expe. and that’s why Here’s where you can toot your own an answer. pull your own weight from the first your research has shown that the com. Make sure these reasons. you probably should not be taking the Stress opportunity rather than personal However.) on it. style. Don’t you would not be able to or would not 8. your least attractive about it? answer should mention that fact and List three or four attractive factors of show that you would like to be a part the job. rience and energy to solve them. and your energy. make you valuable. 3.Douglas-Partners. and mention a single. Say that while you would work so that you can talk about the Mention your ability to set priorities. it is difficult to deceive any.”—even if that is true. oriented. horn and brag about your accomplish. Talk about your rec­ord of get. How long would it take The deadliest answer you can give is accomplishments. Why Since this is often the opening ques.1. Even if you should interviewed). know this is a place of your ability. 4. work history. and that it’s doing 5. don’t act as if you know interview. What can you 6. say that you want should we tion in an interview. Remem.” A good answer and interests.. of that team. combined with this history contribution to our firm? comes from having done your home. history and philosophy. example. he or she may answer ments. Cover your things and that you do for us that Answer in terms education. it might a few months before you pany is doing things you would like to could expect to know the organization be involved with. way: “In my job search. goals. Talk or services. If you are not certain. You should learn enough security.” Give your answer a 4. Why do you want to ting things done. minor. management that really does not interest you—then recognized for your contributions. Say that your skills you to make a meaningful “Because I like people. Don’t waste your best points If the organization (See question 4. What can you do for us that you really do understand what the positive tone. if the organization is position? What seems known for strong management. your prize is a job you Keep your answer brief and results- ed a number of companies. question. and development. You might say that identify problems. day. somene else can’t? your experience. the company stresses an area about your desire to perform and be image.for which you are being You might start your answer this one in an interview.com 2 . ask I’m here. If the company places a unattractive item. Be realistic. in which such activ­ ber that this is likely to be a warm-up ity is encouraged. revenues. For example. for nities within the organization. Let your answer show that about a company to avoid firms where you have done some research. your answer should mention 7. make it want to work. everything. people. of getting results. the interviewer. I’ve investigat. attractive about this major contribution. Do not say. Since most of us are definition of (the position clear that you wish to learn more. problems. What do you find most and its needs well enough to make a them in ways that greatly interest you. the question for you. “Everyone that someone else can’t? position involves before you attempt says you’re in trouble. stresses financial controls. and empha. Tell me about yourself. Please give me your overwhelm the interviewer. What do you know about a reverence for numbers. in a job? our organization? If you feel that you have to concoct Keep your answer related to opportu- You should be able to discuss products an answer to this question—if. poor liars. Yours is don’t really want. for bilities and accountability. great deal of emphasis on research 25DIQ1107 Douglas Partners (925) 200-9702 www. keep your answer to create new hire you? to a minute or two at most.

tress your argument. never have too much talent. Have you ever economic condi- Rely on examples tions. and cost- ple and delegating responsibility. results-oriented (“Every one else. You are will- line”). What do you look for (did you leave) your oppor­tunities will open up for you. and how did you larly if it is clear that you were termi- management style? handle the situation? nated. popular. but admit that feel that you have top that illustrate how well you understand you would have to continue to feel managerial potential? the industry. you think. You’re over-qualified for this position. the adaptability to be able to work as you can without hurting yourself. The most difficult task is to As you consider this question. What do you think is security might interest you more than A participative style is currently the most difficult thing getting the job done successfully. ing to accept some risk to find the right taking care of my subordinates and job for yourself. styles include: task oriented (“I’ll enjoy not easy. and tell stories from had to fire people? ulatory demands your career to but. Show that. a long-term association with the orga- Stress your experience and your energy. The “we agreed to disagree” You should know enough about the Provide enough broad information to approach is useful. You might consider tech- challenged to remain with any organi­ Keep your answer nological challenges za­tion. Remember that company to know that your manage. otherwise. the result of your action. like any. energetic company can tion personality conflicts. 16. and imple. and as honest a strong staff. and solving problems. as you collect your Emphasize your interest in establishing thoughts. What is your reasons. explain the situation but don’t go into your references will be checked. when you hire people? present (last) job? Mention that a strong company needs Think in terms of skills. you don’t enjoy unpleasant find a new job? management decision I make is deter. for the individual. so do ment style will complement it. control. particu- 12. 25DIQ1107 Douglas Partners (925) 200-9702 www. and Be brief. enced employees are always at a pre.10. Say that you assume that if 18. say that it worked out well problem-solving: identifying what’s both for the company and. fast return on his investment. nat- mined by how it will affect the bottom efficiently and—in the case of firing urally. 19. nization. 15. but not panicked. How long would you 13. the employer will get a who appear capable of moving up in cate that the move was your decision.com 3 . Don’t suggest that pointing them in the right direction”). achievement and ­results-oriented. Have you ever had to The interviewer may spend some fire people? What were the time probing you on this issue. Mention planning.Douglas-Partners. Why are you leaving you perform well in this job. or parental (“I’m committed to someone—humanely. How do you feel about wrong. Observe that experi. say so. What important trends stay with us? manager? Can you give me do you see in our industry? Say that you are interested in a career some examples? Do you Be prepared with two or three trends with the organization. Say that the organization. initiative. Do not men- a growing. Suggest that since you are so Mention that you like to hire people board cutback. motivate and manage employees to get think about whether your style will something planned and completed on let you work happily and effectively time and within the budget. If you were laid off in an across-the- mium. indi- well qualified. Possible details. within the organization. this is an open-door method about being a manager or of managing in which you get things executive? done by coaching and motivating peo. choosing a solution. leaving all your benefits to menting it”). new 14. execution. 15. Think in terms achieving results or opportunities. comfortably and effectively with others. Are you a good 17. Admit that the situation was not concoct a story. tasks but that you can resolve them Mention that you are concerned. to the point. or even reg- 11.

Or you can ask if she is offering ture of yourself. If a search firm is involved. make you worth more money. but con. the final stage of the interview process. What are your long- ble. What do you think of that you are earning that amount now your goals to the company you are your boss? and expect to do better. Quiet say that you need to know more about Don’t sell yourself short. trying to fool him or yourself.” boss is likely to wonder if you might you be offered 25. How talk about him/her in similar terms. the position pays. If. “I take this job. If no price range 24. 25DIQ1107 Douglas Partners (925) 200-9702 www. for instance. It pays to to determine just how much you want you here at this firm!” be prepared. A potential back to the employer and propose that would like to. an interviewer may wonder why the salary question.20. you can point out you’re happy with that the person seems concerned the way your career has progressed so 23. your contact there may be able to help with 24. say as little position. What are your successful 22. proceed your case. it’s premature to talk about pay until well and have no complaints. The interviewer may be trying on my successes with a career with recruiter (if one is involved). but don’t overstate job. Don’t leave the impression an interview. more. An answer like. You do pay market rate. In your current (last) don’t you?” Remember that the act But whenever possible. He or she may range goals? you remained there so long or how you’ll even be able to run interference for Refer back to the planning phase of feel about his/her organization if you you. negotiations. thing’s wonderful! I can’t think of a me on this one. Link questions of grade attached to the job. Don’t answer. Why aren’t you earning is attached to the do you feel more at your age? job and the inter. the position.com 4 . that relates to the market value of that it is likely to be flexible in salary liked. “I expect to be paid market rate for the quality work I’ll do for you. in and of as you can about salary until you reach (did) you like the most? itself. If you make your last job sound terri. If the interviewer continues to probe. Don’t cite personality problems. Given the normal ups and downs position should pay? you’ve always accepted a fair deal. You cannot time when things were going better! this job in your organization?” leave the impression that it does not I’m overjoyed!” is likely to make an If you are asked the question during really matter. If at all pos. and you tell him want the job you’ve advertised. sible. “Every- with a question: “Perhaps you can help with the salary negotiation. Do not be press the subject. I Be as positive as you can. he tells you what your job search. do some research to that money is the only thing that is determine whether there is a salary important to you. You job responsibilities before you could tinue to stress the fact that the job it. You can ask self is the most important thing in your as “And I’d love to continue building the interviewer or search executive/ mind. salary to the work itself.Douglas-Partners. interviewer wonder whether you’re an initial screening interview.” Relate 21.. defer tying yourself to a precise it’s clear exactly what the full job will Present a positive and confident pic- figure or range until you are offered the entail. experience. but of life. defensive. and amount At that point. What’s the range for stand your ground politely. you’ve been Say that this is one reason that you are viewer continues to long-range goals? so far? conducting this job search. What do you feel this about money. you can ever is offered. what features do of taking a new job does not. If not. before you participate in the job. confidence is the most convincing. Describe of responsibility you’ll be handling pany is genuinely interested in you and more features that you liked than dis. you might say. you feel that you’ve done quite Salary is a delicate topic.can add a forward-looking ending such give a meaningful answer. Reassure him or her that far. You might answer the question you the job. he might go interview­ing: ‘in a firm like yours. If this is an offer. all-in-all. you know that the com- Be careful and stay positive.. Say that. that you’ll accept what. The least? It’s the skills.

labor economics. Get the edge that true She’ll match talent with need. •N  eed to re-align your staff for the and job search skills. cover letters process. We can also Business Owners. future? Our consultants assess She’s a member of Women in Consult. the National Association of Women skill sets with positions. raise your We can help with coaching and designed and implemented allowed each earnings. transform potential into production. internal ability to quickly assess critical issues. and the state government on topics that include economic trends. • Interview skills coaching •A  re your managers giving employ- sionals crafting resumes and coaching • 21st century job-search strategies ees the information they need to them on job search strategies. and custom. She has earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Fairleigh Dick- inson University and a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Rutgers College. and the Northern prepare terminated employees for California Human Resources Association their upcoming job hunt. maintain your reputation worked with major businesses through Get one-to-one expertise crafting and keep morale and focus up.S e e k e r s S e rv i ce s f or E m p loye r s Her business experience is global in Interested in making a mark rather Our services help you hire and retain scope and practical in execution. expertise. staffing needs and match individual ing. • Want to hire . tive performance evaluations. workshops that sharpen interviewers’ organization to transition successfully • Professional resumes. industry associations. Neat. DOUGLAS PARTNERS career transition experts MB Deans. and skills and improve the selection and move forward.Douglas-Partners.300 hitters consistently? rapid growth challenges. recruiters and external recruiters. insight and leadership deliver. Douglas Partners: The Clear Choice in a Murky World principal of Douglas Partners. reorganizing. Douglas Partners is a global specialty firm with a 21st-century is a workforce worldview of economics and work. Solutions she’s Shorten your job search. Simple. CVs. interviewing achieve peak performance? We can and negotiating. We’re talent matchmakers matchmaker and optimizer. merging and your resume and career strategy.com 5 . She’s than marking time? top talent. hone managers’ feedback skills and MB speaks to packed rooms of pro- teach them how to deliver produc- fessional groups. ize solutions to individual situations. She’s worked with individual profes. and staffing optimizers with deep experience working from both She has an acute sides of the desk: job-seeking professionals and employers. downsizing. 25DIQ1107 Douglas Partners (925) 200-9702 www. S e r v i ce s f or Job.