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Interview Preparation

Interview Preparation

There are three steps to good interview preparation.  One is to develop your C.A.R. stories as described below.  Even better, have someone videotape your answers to make sure you sound confident and appear relaxed.  Finally, before you leave for the interview, familiarize yourself with our list of do's and don'ts.  It's easy to forget the most obvious when we are under stress!

C.A.R. Stories

You will be better prepared for your interview if you develop mini-stories about your accomplishments.  This will help you answer interviewer questions by providing examples. It will also make it easier to remember your accomplishments under stressful situations.  Begin by describing an accomplishment and the skills that were used in that situation.   See if you can break it down into a 5 or 6 sentence "story" describing the challenge, action, and result.

C. Challenge or problem that you encountered.

  • What needed to be done?
  • Where did you start?
  • Describe your specific assignments, responsibilities or duties.
  • Describe the situation, project, or task.
  • Emphasize the non-routine challenging problems.
  • How and why did the situation arise?
  • Did you notice or discover it yourself?
  • Did you suggest or initiate the action?

A. Action that you took to resolve the problem or situation.

  • What did you do?
  • How did you proceed?
  • Describe your goals, plans, and procedures.
  • Emphasize your creative and innovative approach.
  • Describe what you actually did and how you did it.
  • Emphasize what others did under your supervision.
  • Describe the difficulties that you encountered and overcame.

R. Result that was achieved for you or the company. Be specific and use measurable examples whenever possible.

  • How well did you do it?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • State how well you carried out your responsibilities.
  • Describe your contributions and achievements.
  • Quantify your results and specify them in concrete language.
  • Describe how completely your plans were realized.
  • Emphasize who (Company? Department? Boss? Other?) benefited.
  • Exactly how did they benefit and how much did they benefit?

Interview Questions

Many of the questions asked by employers are designed to determine "chemistry" or "fit".  You can demonstrate these to an employer by answering with examples and behaviors through your C.A.R. stories, as described above.  You also need to be prepared to answer specific technical questions about your areas of expertise.  The information below will help you understand the different types of questions you may be asked.

Positive/Negative and Neutral Questions

  • What are your strengths?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you contribute?
  • What are you most significant accomplishments?
  • Why do you think you are qualified for this position?
  • Why have you been successful?
  • Tell me about the things you enjoy.
  • Describe the ideal position to you.
  • Tell me about the situation in which you felt very effective on the job.
  • In what type of business environment do you function best?

Negative Questions

  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Tell me about a work situation where you felt ineffective?
  • What didn't you like about your last position (boss, company, etc.)?
  • What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career?
  • Tell me how you have handled a difficult peer (boss, subordinate, etc.).
  • What limitations have you had identified in yourself as a manager?
  • What criticism have supervisors had about your work style?
  • What type of business environment makes it most difficult for you to function?
  • Why did you leave your last position? (Be brief, consistent, and stick to a pre-determined, positive reason for leaving statement.)

Neutral Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What will references (former bosses, former colleagues, etc.) say about you? (Stress the positive; do not volunteer the negative; use their actual words where possible.)
  • How do you communicate with bosses (peers, subordinates, etc.)?
  • How did you spend time on your last job?
  • How do you handle pressure?
  • What are your salary requirements and expectations? (Never give an amount. If you do you are setting the trap, turn it into a question, "What are you willing to pay me?"  Let them provide the figure)
  • What is your management style? (Avoid buzzwords; give examples.)
  • What qualities do you look for in people you hire?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • What is important for me to know about you?
  • What is the key thing you have learned in your management career?
  • How do you set priorities?
  • How do you and your family feel about relocation?
  • What do you want to be doing in five years? (Remember, you have to get this position and perform well in it before you move up.)