Resources and Perspectives
Tips and knowledge based on the lessons we have learned through decades of recruiting in the building materials and construction industries at your disposal.
Potential Questions – Clients
1. Exploring your Background Questions
Tell me about yourself.
Answer these questions in terms of the qualifications required of the position. Keep responses concise and brief and avoid being derogatory or negative about previous jobs and bosses. “Tell-me-about-yourself” means, “Tell me about your qualifications.” Prepare a one to two minute discussion of your qualifications. Start with education and discuss your experiences. Describe your performance (in raises, promotions, innovation designs, sales volume, increased profits, etc.) What are your greatest strengths? Interviewers like to hear abstract qualities. Loyalty, willingness to work hard, eagerness, fast-learner, technical skills, politeness, and promptness, expressed in concrete terms are good examples. Avoid the simple generalization “I like people”. It’s not a good answer.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
Don’t be intimidated. The interviewer probably wants reassurance that hiring you won’t be a mistake. This is not the time to confess all of your imperfections. (Do not state “not being able to go to work on Mondays”, or “coming in late”, etc.). Present your weakness as professional strengths, (i.e., “Sometimes work too hard to make sure things are done accurately”). 2. Personality Questions
What do you do in your spare time?
Workaholics are not always the best employees. Present yourself as a well-rounded person. Your answer gives you dimension. Name some hobbies.
3. Motive Questions
Answer motive questions enthusiastically. Show the interviewer that you are interested in the position and that you want the job. Remember to maintain eye contact and be sincere.
How can you contribute to this company?
Be positive and sell! Bring strong technical skills, enthusiasm, and desire to complete projects correctly and efficiently are good responses.
Why should I hire you for this position?
Explain your qualifications and how they “fit” the available position. Address your interest in the job and the field and why its work that you enjoy. Emphasize your ability to successfully perform the duties required.
Why do you want to work for our firm?
Make a compliment about what the company does, it’s location, or it’s people. Other positive remarks might be about the company’s product or service, content of the position or possibilities for growth or advancement. Research about the company is important here.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
Use conservative growth positions that clearly show you plan to be there in five years, and that their investment in you will pay. Be sure that you know what can and cannot be achieved by the ideal candidate in the position. Never tell the interviewer that you feel you’ll be more successful than they are. But do show a strong desire for promotions.
What interests you most about this position?
Testing the interviewer with a truthful one or two-word answer such as “the challenge” or “the opportunity”, will force them to ask you to explain. Here again, you have a choice to demonstrate your knowledge of the company.
How long do you plan to be with this company?
As with marriage, most employers expect a till-death-do-us-part attitude, but they can be equally attracted to the candidate with ambition and candor. “As long as I continue to learn and grow in my field”, is a reasonable response.
What are your career goals?
Your answer should depend on a specific time frame:
Short term “I want to be the best in my current position, while learning additional responsibilities. This, in itself, will assure my commitment to the firm and raise me to the next level of responsibility and promotion. I see myself wanting to stay technical but learn the necessary skills to lead people and projects.” Long term “After proving my abilities, I see myself in a firm with the possibility of moving into a level of management that allows me to keep my skills sharp.”
What are you doing to achieve your goals?
“I look at continued learning as the key to success. I continue my education, as you see from my resume, by taking company educational courses, when offered, and college courses. I also read trade publications and magazines to keep me informed about the current and future directions in my field. When possible, I participate in professional organizations in my field.”
4. Job Satisfaction Questions
Why did you leave your previous employer?
Never speak poorly about a former employer. Be pleasant, be positive and be honest. Your answer will probably be checked. Mention your desire to work for a more progressive company that offers more growth opportunities and recognition.
What did you like most about your previous job?
What did you like least about your previous job?
An employer can evaluate the type of worker you will be by the items you choose. Cite specifics. You are also providing clues about the environment you seek. What you like most can include a strong teamwork atmosphere, high-level of creativity, attainable deadlines. What you liked least should include any situations that you are unlikely to encounter in your new position.
Why are you looking for another job?
Again, be positive. I have to say that I have really enjoyed by years at ___________ Corporation. There are a lot of good people over there. But I am looking for a more progressive organization with greater opportunities for growth, and recognition. I am looking for a team to join where I can make real contributions and advance my career.
What do you think your employers obligations are to you?
Interviewers listen for employees who want a positive, enthusiastic, company atmosphere, with the opportunity to advance. Such a person, they surmise, has motivation and staying power.
Are you applying for any other jobs?
In your answer, show that your search is geared for similar positions. This demonstrates a well-defined, focused objective. Make it known that your talents are applicable to other businesses and that you have explored ways to maximize your potential and are serious about finding the perfect opportunity. Don’t give an indication that you are just shopping.
5. Past Performance Questions
(To determine behavior based on past examples)
What kind of decisions are most difficult for you?
Again, be truthful and admit not everything comes easily. Be careful what you do admit so as not to instantly disqualify yourself. Explain that you try to gather as much information and advice as you can to make the best decision possible.
What causes you to lose your temper?
Everybody has a low boiling point on some particular issue. Pick one of yours; something safe and reasonable. People who are late to meetings, blame shifting, broken appointments and office “back stabbing” are suitable responses. Don’t say that you never fly off the handle. You won’t be believed.
What are your greatest accomplishments?
Be ready to recite one or two stories that demonstrate strong capabilities or achievements that will make you attractive to your new employer. A special project that you pioneered at your previous job, cutting department expenses, increasing productivity or receiving frequent promotions are a few examples.
How do you feel about a younger male / female boss?
A question like this usually means that your boss will either be younger or of the opposite sex or both. Be certain that if you register any concern, you will probably not be hired. Explain that their age or sex is of no importance to you. You are only interested in their capability and what you can learn from them.
What kind of worker are you?
Again, no one is perfect. Showing that you tackle every assignment with all of your energy and talents is admirable but mention that you also learn from your mistakes.
6. Salary Questions
Salary discussions should be avoided, if possible.
What type of salary do you have in mind?
Do not state a starting figure. A suitable reply: “I am looking for the right opportunity and I am confident that if you find me the best candidate for this position, you will extend me your best and most fair offer.”
What is your current salary?
Answer truthfully. Remember that “salary” includes base, bonuses, commissions, benefits, and vacations as well as sick and personal days. Also, if you are due a raise in the next three months, state the approximate percentage you expect.
7. Other questions you should be prepared to answer truthfully:
Are you willing to relocate?
May we check your references?
May we verify your income?
Answer a question to the best of you ability and then relax. If there is a period of silence before the interviewer asks the next question, stay calm. Interviewers often use silence to see if you can handle stress and maintain poise.
Your interviews, however, should be a two-way conversation. You must ask questions and take an active role is the interview. This demonstrates the importance you place on your work and career. Asking questions gives you a chance to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in the field as well as to establish an easy flow of conversation and relaxed atmosphere between you and the interviewer. Building this kind of rapport is always a plus in an interview.
Remember, you are not just there for the interviewer to determine if you are right for the position but your questions can help you determine if this job is right for you. Some of your questions should evolve from research you’ve done on the company in preparing for the interview. Following are some guidelines for your questions as well as some examples.
Don’t cross examine the employer.
Ask questions requiring an explanation. Questions which can be answered with a “yes” or “no” are conversation stoppers.
Don’t interrupt when the employer is answering YOUR question.
Ask job-relevant questions. Focus on the job-the company, products, services, people.
Prior to the interview, write your list of Interest Questions and take them with you.
Ask about your potential peers, subordinates, and superiors. Take notes.
Ask the employer how he / she got where they are today.
8. Here is one list of sample behavioral-based job interview questions:
- Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
- Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
- Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
- Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
- Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
- What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
- Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
- Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
- Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
- Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
- Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
- Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
- Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
- Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
- Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
- Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
- Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
- Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).