Prosperous Cheaters — Know the Interview Questions Before You Go

Posted October 9, 2012 by Danielle Bilbruck in Career Moves

In high school, I was an officer in our NHS chapter. We had planned this incredible pep rally: complete with relay races, blindfolds, class competition, and teachers getting creamed in the face with pies (or something). Thinking this was a no-brainer, we pitched it to our advisor, who turned us down. She gave us a piece of advice that I teach to all of my students and trainees: You need to think like your principal. Think about what they are going to prioritize — safety concerns, parental complaints, etc. Once you’ve identified these concerns, you can address them and have a much better chance of your idea sailing through.

It ‘s so easy, it seems almost elementary. If you want to move ahead in (insert field here), you have to know what the people in charge are looking for. But how do we figure that out? One way to go about it is by reading and familiarizing yourself with the material that hiring managers read. I’m here to begin your journey by bringing you an article from Ilya Pozin of Inc., “Weed Out the Wrong Hires Fast: 7 Interview Questions.” Let’s examine some of them:

1. What did you initially find interesting about this job?

In this hiring climate, no candidate can afford to walk into an interview without knowing exactly who they are talking to. I used to ask this question as a hiring manager and hear all kinds of ridiculous answers: “I’m not actually sure what you do, I just found you on Craigslist,” or “All I really know is what I read in the ad on CareerBuilder.”

Never go into an interview without having done extensive research on the company on their website. For that matter, never apply for a job without knowing these things either: you deserve to be in a place you enjoy that will be a good fit for you as well! Not only should you do your research on their website, but you should also Google them to take a look at consumer — and sometimes former/current employee — reviews. Having information at your hands about the company’s goals, mission statement, strengths, and weaknesses will make you a much better candidate.

3. What salary do you need?

Look — I know you need a job. I know that you may be willing to take any form of income that’s written on the paper napkin coming across the table. I get how badly you need to be able to pay your rent and buy the occasional cheap bottle of Malbec. But let’s be honest: you need to know the economic value of your skill set.

Take a look at your resume and work experience. Look at the job description and see how the two compare. Do you have a skill set much more or less vast than the description calls for? Does it match perfectly? These are questions you need to ask yourself — and answer honestly — before going in. You should be looking for something that is a good match for you. Then, take a look at a salary calculator to figure out what other people in this profession are earning — and are great resources to draw from.

Once you’ve figured out the worth of your skill set, decide on a number. If you decide to think of a range that you’ll accept, do not just give the employer the minimum number of that range — have a solid number in mind within that range to throw out, and never give out the range itself. If you’re truly honest with yourself, this number should be representative of what you believe your skill set is worth — the interview should be representative of your desire to have this job.

5. Has there ever been a time when your workday was over but your tasks weren’t finished? What did you do?

This is not the time to talk about your personal theories on work-life balance. While you should not allow yourself to be used and abused by an employer, any good candidate knows that sometimes extra work needs to be done and they will have to stay late to help out the team as a whole. Any Career Girl that wants to move forward up the job ladder knows that sometimes, you have to work both smarter and harder. Let your potential employer know that you’re ready and willing to pay your dues and help the company reach its bottom line.

7. Can you solve this problem?

Don’t be afraid of giving a right or wrong answer — this question is designed to understand your personal approach to problem-solving. There are no patently false approaches, but understand that some approaches may be better fits for employers than others. Don’t feel the need to begin talking right away to answer the question — it’s okay to take a moment to think about the problem, analyze the data, and even take notes on your padfolio that you bought after reading our article on being organized. Then speak calmly, clearly, and concisely, understanding that you’ve never worked there before — there is plenty of training to be given once you receive the job.

I know it feels a little bit like cheating — reading the test questions before the test happens. In the business world, it’s called understanding the people in charge. My hope is that you not only know how to answer these questions, but that you are also able to evaluate yourself as a candidate as well. Never lie in an interview to get the job, as it will not help you in the long run if the company is not a good fit for you or vice versa. If you know these questions beforehand, you can be honest with the employer and with yourself about how well you will fit in their environment.

Tell us what you think: what other good questions have you been asked in an interview? What questions have you asked or read about?

About the Author

Danielle Bilbruck

Danielle Bilbruck is an achievement-oriented and energetic professional in the sales world. She is dedicated to increasing efficiency and productivity in order to maximize profitability. Known for her ability to master a position quickly, Danielle has moved up the ladder several times in each company she has worked with. She is a direct and clear communicator, both in written and oral disciplines, and is excited about being a contributor to CGN. She is dedicated to motivating women of all ages around her toward excellence - simply because she expects it from herself.