Lack of interview preparation loses a lot of jobs. People study the company's website, but often fail to study themselves. How many times has it occurred to you to plan your answers in advance? After you've blown a few interviews?
Here are a few typical interview questions that you're likely to encounter and what the interviewer is looking for when he or she asks them.
Tell Me About Yourself
This is not an invitation to talk for 15 minutes about your entire career since college. Nor is it the time to give an unplanned, one-sentence answer. Some who haven't prepared find themselves rambling. Put together a two- to three-minute verbal bio about your career, your qualifications, and why you are interested in the job.
What Are Your Strengths?
Do you know? Have you ever given any thought to this? What do you feel you excel at? What have your supervisors mentioned are your strong points? What projects or tasks have you performed for a company that have resulted in an increase in sales or more effective production or a decreased bottom line? What about non-quantifiable strengths such as low turnover in your department, which displays the strength of your management capabilities?
In What Area Do You Feel You Need the Most Improvement?
Put a positive spin on this one. Saying that you are working on how to delegate sounds much better than saying you are a control freak. Admitting that you have a tendency to want things done the right way and are somewhat of a perfectionist has a much better spin than "I get really angry when my staff doesn't do something exactly the way I told them to."
Tell Me About Some of Your Most Significant Accomplishments?
You'll make an infinitely better impression if you can give a list without having to sit there and think about it for five minutes before coming up with the first lame thing that comes to mind.
What Motivates You?
As a recruiter, I found a significant number of people who had never given this question any thought. The answer to this question is a primary determining factor in whether you are happy in your job... or not. The interviewer is looking to see if you will be happy within their environment. There is no right or wrong answer here. Be honest. If you need to be motivated by sales contests and they don't run many, then how effective will you be in their work environment vs. another environment that suits you?
You can see why going into an interview cold can land you in hot water. Yet an amazing amount of people continue to wing it then wonder why they didn't get the job. To find your perfect job takes work. It takes time, focus, and dedication.
I've always advocated role playing with a fellow business professional. It can feel ridiculous. But when you do it, and bomb a few practice questions, you'll find yourself feeling a little less ridiculous and a lot more comfortable with the exercise.