1. "Tell me about yourself."
Don't tell them about your favorite hobbies, health issues, or how much you enjoy playing video games. This is your cue to provide a brief overview (no more than one or two minutes) of the aspects of your experience and background that relate to the position. Tell them about some accomplishments you felt really good about, and how you think they prepared you for the position you're interviewing for.
Example: "I have six years of advertising industry experience, and spent the past three years as the Assistant Production Manager at ABC Corp. overseeing production schedules, staff hiring, and deadlines. During that time, I streamlined the workflow so that we were able to meet the deadline for every monthly print project, and in many cases we went to print well before the actual deadlines. Our efficiency saved the company two weeks worth of staff overtime and expenses. Time management is one of my greatest skills, and I'm sure it that would easily transfer to the Production Manager position you're offering here."
2. "What do you think is your greatest weakness?"
Don't say anything that could eliminate you from consideration for the job. For instance, "I'm slow in adapting to change" is not a wise answer, since change is par for the course in most work environments. Avoid calling attention to any weakness that's one of the critical qualities the hiring manager is looking for. And don't try the old "I'm a workaholic," or "I'm a perfectionist."
The best way to answer this question is honestly--mention a real weakness that won't affect your ability to do the job, or address a skill that you are just learning and want to develop.
Example: "I'm not as strong as I'd like to be on social media, so I'm spending about three hours a week blogging on topics I'm interested in, and reading some perspectives on the business-to-business value of social media. I'm already learning some things I can bring here, and hope to find more ideas on how to use social media as a customer relationship tool."
3. "What did you like least about your last (or current) job?"
Don't vent or focus on the negative with brutally honest answers such as "My boss was a jerk," or "The company culture was too politically correct," or "They just weren't giving me the opportunity to take my career to the next level." Instead, keep the emphasis on the positive, even though there are sure to be things you weren't happy about.
Example: "That's a tough question to answer. I've had lots of opportunity at ABC Company and I work with some outstanding people. I guess if I had to pick one thing, it would be the occasional meeting that goes an hour longer than normal. I like to get stuff done and work with people and that extra hour could have let me to get back to a client more quickly."
4. "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
Believe it or not, this question is really disguised as: "Could I count on you to stay with this company long term?"
Since no one knows exactly where they'll be five years from now, the best way to answer this is with a reply that says you hope to be well established as someone who is helping that company succeed. You can also turn the question back to the interviewer, and ask where they see the company in five years. You might not know on a personal level where you'll be, but most companies have goals and plans that look ahead two to five years. Their answer might give you a good idea if it's a company worth sticking around that long for.
5. "Tell me about a time you failed."
Everyone has failed, so don't play dumb or claim you've never messed up. Think of a time when a work-related situation didn't turn out quite as you had hoped. An interviewer is interested in seeing how you took responsibility for your failure, what you learned from it, and how you would prevent similar failures from happening again.
"I once rushed a project to make a shipping deadline but inadvertently skipped a couple of critical steps. Fortunately we discovered the mistake before the customer installed the products, but they weren't pleased. I never made that mistake again."
"I thought my aggressive sales tactics were a great quality until I lost a client for being too pushy. I've since learned to tone things down and really listen to my clients and understand their needs before determining how to help them."
Looking for answers to other common interview questions? Ask them in the comments below.
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