TRAPS: Beware, about 80% of all interviews begin with this "innocent" question. Many candidates, unprepared for the question, skewer themselves by rambling, recapping their life story, delving into ancient work history or personal matters.
Start with the present and tell why you are well qualified for the position. Remember that the key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the single most important strategy in job hunting.
So, before you answer this or any question it's imperative that you try to uncover your interviewer' s greatest need, want, problem or goal.
To do so, make you take these two steps:
1. Do all the homework you can before the interview to uncover this person's wants and needs (not the generalized needs of the industry or company)
2. As early as you can in the interview, ask for a more complete description of what the position entails. You might say: "I have a number of accomplishments I'd like to tell you about, but I want to make the best use of our time together and talk directly to your needs. To help me do, that, could you tell me more about the most important priorities of this position? All I know is what I (heard from the recruiter, read in the classified ad, etc.)"
Then, ALWAYS follow-up with a second and possibly, third question, to draw out his needs even more. Surprisingly, it's usually this second or third question that unearths what the interviewer is most looking for.
You might ask simply, "And in addition to that?..." or, "Is there anything else you see as essential to success in this position?:
This process will not feel easy or natural at first, because it is easier simply to answer questions, but only if you uncover the employer's wants and needs will your answers make the most sense. Practice asking these key questions before giving your answers, the process will feel more natural and you will be light years ahead of the other job candidates you're competing with.
After uncovering what the employer is looking for, describe why the needs of this job bear striking parallels to tasks you've succeeded at before. Be sure to illustrate with specific examples of your responsibilities and especially your achievements, all of which are geared to present yourself as a perfect match for the needs he has just described.
Question 2What are your greatest strengths?
TRAPS:This question seems like a softball lob, but be prepared. You don't want to come across as egotistical or arrogant. Neither is this a time to be humble.
BEST ANSWER:You know that your key strategy is to first uncover your interviewer' s greatest wants and needs before you answer questions. And from Question 1, you know how to do this.
Prior to any interview, you should have a list mentally prepared of your greatest strengths. You should also have, a specific example or two, which illustrates each strength, an example chosen from your most recent and most impressive achievements.
You should, have this list of your greatest strengths and corresponding examples from your achievements so well committed to memory that you can recite them cold after being shaken awake at 2:30AM.
Then, once you uncover your interviewer' s greatest wants and needs, you can choose those achievements from your list that best match up.
As a general guideline, the 10 most desirable traits that all employers love to see in their employees are:
1. A proven track record as an achiever...especial ly if your achievements match up with the employer's greatest wants and needs.
2. Intelligence. ..management "savvy".
3. Honesty...integrity ...a decent human being.
4. Good fit with corporate culture...someone to feel comfortable with...a team player who meshes well with interviewer' s team.
5. Likeability. ..positive attitude...sense of humor.
6. Good communication skills.
7. Dedication.. .willingness to walk the extra mile to achieve excellence.
8. Definiteness of purpose...clear goals.
9. Enthusiasm.. .high level of motivation.
10. Confident... healthy.. .a leader.
Instead of confessing a weakness, describe what you like most and like least, making sure that what you like most matches up with the most important qualification for success in the position, and what you like least is not essential.
If you're not yet 100% committed to leaving your present post, don't be afraid to say so. Since you have a job, you are in a stronger position than someone who does not. But don't be coy either. State honestly what you'd be hoping to find in a new spot. Of course, as stated often before, you answer will all the stronger if you have already uncovered what this position is all about and you match your desires to it.
Never lie about having been fired. It's unethical - and too easily checked. But do try to deflect the reason from you personally. If your firing was the result of a takeover, merger, division wide layoff, etc., so much the better.
Make sure you've prepared a brief reason for leaving. Best reasons: more money, opportunity, responsibility or growth.
Describer a situation that didn't suffer because of you but from external conditions beyond your control.
4/1983 - 12/1983, Position B;
1/1984 - 8/1987, Position C;
1984 - 1987 Position C.
…a good (job title you're seeking);
…a good manager;
…an executive in serving the community;
…a leading company in our industry; etc.