• Ask Matt: How to respond to the 5 most basic interview questions

    May 11, 2017 by

     

    Dear Matt: I recently completed an interview, and realized, I wasn’t prepared to answer the most basic interview questions. I spent more time preparing for that odd, or unique question that may come up, and not enough time on the basics. What are some answers or responses to the most basic interview questions every recent job seeker should be sure to master before the next interview? 

    Preparation is key to a successful job interview. But when preparing for a job interview, many recent college grads focus on how they will answer the tough interview questions, instead of mastering how they will answer the most basic interview questions. While the former is important, the latter is crucial to a successful entry-level job interview.

    “As you prepare yourself for interviews, you may find yourself focusing solely on prep for the more complex interview questions,” says Jill O’Connell, VP of Talent Management at Cengage, an education and technology company that provides resources for the higher education, K12, professional, library, and workforce training markets worldwide. “You don’t want to be caught unprepared to answer the most basic questions.”

    What are the most basic job interview questions and what responses do employers want to hear? O’Connell and Michael Steinitz, Executive Director of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, provide a list of five basic interview questions every recent college grad should master for interview success:

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  • Ask Matt: The best job interview questions to ask employers

    April 13, 2017 by

     

    Dear Matt: Do you have any interview tips? I always read about how important it is for recent college grads to ask the right interview questions during a job interview, but, I never know what job interview questions to ask. Can you provide a list of these interview questions and what employers want recent college grads and entry-level job seekers to ask?

    Matt: I will say this, I wish I had a list of job interview questions to ask when I was interviewing for entry-level jobs. Because it certainly would have not only helped me ask the right interview questions, it would have also helped with interview preparation, and confidence.

    Good news! There is a great, extended list of the best job interview questions to ask employers listed below, featuring outstanding advice from recruiters from corporate America, and career management leaders from two of the top business schools in the country.

    The reality is, if you are confident, and prepared, going into an interview, you can relax, be yourself, and shine.

    But many job seekers, especially recent college grads, are shy or timid when going into those first job interviews. I was one of them, and looking back at those early interviews, I never did ask the right questions, because I wasn’t prepared to ask the right questions. That makes a huge difference in how employers view you, and your potential to succeed in the job and fit in with the team.

    “Not asking questions can signal lack of interest, and a missed opportunity to sell yourself,” says Susie Clarke, director of Undergraduate Career Services at Indiana’s Kelley School of Business. “It is important to remember that an interview is a two way street and they expect you will have questions, so show them you are prepared and interested in their position.”

    Corinne M. Snell, Ed.D., the Assistant Dean of Student Professional Development at Fox School of Business at Temple University, agrees. Prior to her current role, Snell worked in corporate America, working in college relations roles for Campbell’s Soup Company, Siemens Health Services, and Lutron Electronics.

    “A certain level of spontaneity is expected in any job interview, but candidates should have a list of questions prepared in advance,” said Snell. “The worst thing one can do is indicate he/she has no questions or say something like, “Um, I think we already covered everything.”

    One of the biggest things a college student or recent graduate needs to remember is that just as much as the recruiter or hiring manager is interviewing them, they are also interviewing the potential employer, says Justin Bischoff, Talent Acquisition Advisor at Buffalo Wild Wings, a casual dining restaurant and sports bar franchise.

    “Ask questions about the things that matter to you,” says Bischoff. “These should be things that you feel will make you stay with an employer long term.”

    Try to keep it conversational, says Bischoff. For example, if you’re interested in sales, ask something such as “earlier in our interview you mentioned that one of the main focuses of this role is to drive sales in the restaurant, can you tell me a little more about that?”

    Asking about the culture of the organization and development programs also impresses employers, says Bischoff.

    “I am also impressed by a candidate who has done their research on the organization and the position prior to the interview,” says Bischoff. “By asking questions on matters that are truly important to you about what you have learned, you are able to showcase the time and effort you’re putting into joining the organization’s team.”

    Snell puts it bluntly, saying “Job seekers need to prepare for that moment when the employer turns the table and asks ‘what questions do you have for me?'”

    That’s what impresses today’s corporate recruiter, says Asma Anees, a Talent Advisor with Blue Cross, a Minnesota healthcare provider. She leads college relations at Blue Cross and is one of the first persons to interview/phone screen recent college grads and entry-level employees who interview with the company.

    Anees suggest job seekers break down interview questions into four categories, focusing on asking about:

    • The position/job
    • Evaluation
    • Training
    • About the company

    Anees provides these job interview question and answer tips:

    The position/job
    Job seekers who ask about the challenges of the position stand out, says Anees. Employers like candidates who want to be challenged, and who want to know about what it takes to succeed in that role. “It helps me understand their willingness to take on certain duties,” says Anees.

    Evaluation
    Anees likes it when job seekers ask job interview questions such as “What are the performance expectations or how will I be evaluated?”

    “These students have received grades for everything they do for the last however many years,” says Anees. “These Millennials want to know where they stand, and I can appreciate that. It tells me they want to perform well and be rewarded for it.”

    Training
    Good question to ask: Will there be any training or mentorship for this role? Anees says job seekers who want to pursue professional development opportunities stand out to her.

    Company
    Job seekers who are curious about the business, strategic plan, how the company makes a difference, and if the company is growing, are “all great questions,” says Anees. “It tells me they care for the well-being of the organization and their future.”

    Snell provides these sample job interview questions to ask employers:

    1. Questions related to the position:

    • What are the key qualities necessary for someone to excel in this role?
    • What are your expectations for this role during the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
    • What is the typical career path for someone in this position?

    2. Questions related to the company?

    • How would you describe the company culture (or values)?
    • What do you like best about working for this company?

    3. Questions related to the industry (these should vary from industry to industry):

    • What recent changes has the company made to product packaging?
    • How has industry consolidation affected the company?
    • How does the economy affect company sales?
    • What percentage of revenues does the company invest in R&D?
    • How is the company challenged by government regulations?

    4. Questions related to the hiring process:

    • What are the next steps in the interview process?
    • When do you expect to make a decision?

    “The likelihood of having sufficient time to ask a multitude of questions is slim, so the candidate needs to be prepared and have several questions ready,” says Snell. “Interviewing is a two-way street and employers do expect job seekers to be prepared with thoughtful, insightful questions.”

    Remember this though – thoughtful and insightful do not revolve around asking how much vacation time one gets, salary, or benefits. In time, that information will be discussed.

    Some of the best job interview questions to ask employers, says Clarke, include:

    1. Would you please tell me about yourself and your career path?
    Yes – job seekers should ask the person conducting the interview this. This will allow you to learn more about the employer, what this person likes about the company, and could create a common interest to make the follow-up connection stronger. “It is all about building relationships and showing genuine interest is important,” says Clarke.

    2. What are the reasons you stay with this company, or why did you recently join the company?
    Their response will typically tell you a lot about the work environment/culture of the company. “For many college students and recent college grads, the company culture is an important criteria when making their decision,” says Clarke.

    3. What skills or characteristics have led to your success here?
    This is an opportunity for you then to highlight your strength that relates to one of these skills if you have not already.

    4. I have learned a lot today and even more excited about this opportunity, so is there anything else I could provide or questions I can address about my ability to do this job?
    “This shows that you want the job and want to eliminate any concern that they might still have,” says Clarke.

    When the interview is near completion, and if the employer has not covered this already, Clarke says you should always ask: What are the next steps in the interview process?

    “This is important, so you know what to expect and when to follow-up if you have not heard back from them,” says Clarke.

    Asking the right questions during your interview can impact your chances of landing the job, says Bischoff.

    “When a candidate asks thought-provoking questions, it shows that they have solid communication skills, are genuinely interested in the opportunity, and are looking to make a long-term investment,” says Bischoff. Ultimately, asking the right questions makes that interview and the candidate memorable when it comes time for a hiring decision.”

    Dara Warn, Chief Outcomes Officer, Penn Foster Education Group, says that asking questions about how the company onboards new employees can impress employers:

    How does the company onboard new employees? Can you talk about what that process looks like?
    Why this question: By asking this question, the job candidate is demonstrating their interest in the company culture and its commitment to employees and their career path and setting them up for success from the outset. “The first several months in a new job are a key period in building the relationship between employee and employer, and the candidate wants to know that the company is a place they can grow and mature,” says Warn. “In our work with employer partners, we’ve helped design mentor programs, where new employees develop and strengthen workplace and interpersonal skills.”

    Another good question, says Warn, is asking “How does your company encourage its employees to collaborate/work as a team, and demonstrate integrity and initiative?”   
    Why this question: This question coming from a candidate demonstrates that he/she already possesses some “soft skills” that are typically learned and honed once in the workforce. This student may have graduated from an institution that offers soft skills (or “power skills”) training in the form of a standalone program and is already ahead of the curve when it comes to developing these critical work/life skills.

    Good questions will show that you have researched the position, company, and even highlight some of your strengths. “This signals to the employer that you are very interested and enthusiastic about the opportunity,” says Clarke.

    Show enthusiasm and interest when wrapping up the interview.

    “I appreciate when candidates take the last couple of minutes to reiterate their interest and why their skills and abilities would make an impact to the team,” says Anees. “Don’t forget to smile and a firm handshake.”

    Want more career and job search advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

    Matt Krumrie CollegeRecruiter.com

    Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for CollegeRecruiter.com

    About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
    Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.

  • 6 Interview Questions a Job Candidate Should Ask

    July 01, 2015 by

    Okay, it is almost time for your job interview, and you are prepared for the big day, right?  However, did you remember to create a list of interview questions?  If not, then it is a good idea to do so.  If your interview goes well and there is time, you may be able to ask some questions.  As a job candidate, this is your chance to impress the interviewer and show more interest in a particular job, as well as the company itself.  Here are some questions to consider asking for your interview. Continue Reading

  • 4 Interview Questions to Impress Recruiters

    December 22, 2014 by

    Going into an interview, you probably won’t know exactly what questions will be asked, but you know you will be asked questions.  One thing you should remember as a job seeker, though, is that an interview is a two-way street.  Just like you will be asked questions by the interviewer, he or she may ask if you have any questions.  If you are asked this question, you wanted to be prepared with your own set of questions.  Here are some interview questions that can impress recruiters. Continue Reading

  • Do Your Interviews for Entry Level Jobs Consist of Unique Questions? Here is Why

    May 21, 2014 by

    During interviews for entry level jobs, you may be asked some unique questions that don’t necessary relate to the job you’ve applied for.  If you’re wondering why, the following post explains.

    You may have heard some of the strange questions top employers ask candidates during job interviews. And when you hear these questions, you most likely think, “What do these questions have to do with your ability to be a Social Media Manager… or an Accountant?” The simple answer, of course,

    View this article:

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  • Don’t Know What to Ask Following Your Interview for an Entry Level Job? 4 Types of Questions that are Necessary

    March 03, 2014 by

    After interviewing for an entry level job, you may be offered the chance to ask some questions.  The following post has four types of questions that are necessary for you to ask as a job seeker.

    Every part of the hiring process counts, but a face-to-face interview is the best opportunity to dazzle the boss and land a coveted offer. To maximize those precious moments, here are the four types of interview questions every Millennial should ask an employer. Each one demonstrates critical thinking and declares: I’m in

    Excerpt from:

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  • Interviewing for Recent College Graduate Jobs? How to Answer 7 Cliched Questions

    December 02, 2013 by

    When interviewing for recent college graduate jobs, there is a chance you will be asked some cliched questions.  Learn seven of these questions and how to answer them in the following post.

    Throughout your career, you’ll have many job interviews. And there are a few questions you will hear in every one of them. What are your strengths? Why should we hire you? Although these questions are incredibly cliché, so many interviewers rely on them. Your answers to the cliché questions can make or break

    Continue reading here:

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  • 10 Job Interview Questions Not to Be Tricked By

    January 25, 2012 by

    With an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, there are a lot of job seekers out there, and they all come from very different walks of life. There are experienced workers who’ve just been laid off from the job they’ve had for 25 years. There are college grads seeking their first “real” job. There are still-employed workers seeking greener pastures. There are white collar workers and blue collar workers. There are folks seeking professional and managerial positions and those seeking less traditional opportunities.

    But despite all these differences and despite the drastic changes the job market has undergone over the past few years, the way these potential employees will get hired hasn’t changed much at all. It still starts with the dreaded job interview, says Joyce Lain Kennedy. Continue Reading

  • Celebrate the Holidays With a Job-Winning Interview!

    December 05, 2011 by

    Whether you light a pine tree for Christmas, a Menorah for Hanukkah, or kinara candles for Kwanzaa, the holiday season for each of us can be a bit overwhelming. Shopping, decorating, gift-wrapping, cooking, baking, and entertaining consume our time and thoughts.

    This year, however, you may want to consider taking the following three steps to achieve a happy and restful season: Continue Reading

  • Properly Preparing For an Interview Makes You Feel Brand New!

    July 16, 2008 by

    Poorly prepared job interviews spell bad news!

    Not preparing for an interview is probably the number one mistake most job interviewees make! As a job applicant, you must learn the answers to job interview questions the employer may ask. “What are your goals?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “Why are you the best person for the job?” These are some of the most frequent and tough interview questions asked. Preparing for interview questions is important but preparing for the interview process is critical to the applicants’ chances of getting the job.

    However, before I offer my opinion on what the appropriate job seeker response to these three questions could be, my experience shows it is just as important to ask like kind questions of the employer. Would you like to know one of the most important of all job interview tips? The interview questions to ask the employer! This is another major consideration that many job seekers fail to properly plan for. Preparing for job interviews without asking the interviewer the appropriate questions tell him/her getting the job is not important. Another serious mistake job seekers make is assuming the interviewer is competent or properly trained in how to conduct job interviews!

    The one thing that has been consistent is the inconsistency of job interview questions. Job seekers should understand that the person doing the interview may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer. He or she may not have been adequately trained. Job interviewers routinely ask illegal or improper questions either out of ignorance or deliberately with the intent to discriminate against certain groups. That makes learning to give good job interview answers and asking good job interview questions so important. The questions asked at job interviews often hide what the job interviewer really wants or needs to know! One of the things in the job interview process for the applicant involves discovering what that is. As a job seeker, why am I being asked these interview questions?

    For example, the interviewer asks, “Have you had challenges working in various cultural workplace settings?” From my experience, here is what the job interviewer is really asking. “Have you had trouble dealing with different racial groups?” When preparing for a job interview spend time investigating the business. You should learn about the company’s history and what it does for the industry. Review the company’s website and its about us page. I would be looking at how well it treated its employees with things like salaries, benefits and promotional opportunities. Ask the interviewer questions such as:

    “What are the company’s goals?”
    “Where does the company see itself in five, ten years?”
    “Why is the company a good fit for you?”
    “Why will the company be a good fit for me?”

    Try to find out how well the company is doing financially. It would be to the job interviewee’s advantage to know if the company is going to be around for a while. You could do some research with the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau. I would make inquiries with local, state and federal consumer advocacy groups for any complaints filed against the employer.

    Is it on the verge of layoffs that could include the position applied for?
    Is the business going to be sold in the near future?
    Are their any bankruptcy issues?
    Does the organization have a history of employment complaints on file with state and federal agencies?
    Are there any employees that you know personally, who could give some insight into the “culture” of the organization and its management?

    Interviewees are not just interviewing to get a job; they should interview the company and job to get them!

    Now back to three of the most “infamous” job interview questions of all time!

    Where do you see yourself in five years?
    This is another one of my favorites. Personally, I think it is idiotic. However, many employers place a lot of importance on this question. They use it to judge whether this job is just a stepping-stone and a measure your level of commitment to it.
    It is like guaranteeing the future. Who knows where they will be in five years. Again, stay focused on the qualifications you have for the job and your willingness to stay.

    What are your goals?
    This is another one of my favorites. I told the interviewer who was also the department director, “My goal is to end up on a beach in Tahiti” to which he laughed. After I was hired, the director told me that was the most honest answer he had heard in all the interviews for the position.
    I am not recommending you respond with an answer like that. That answer could have just as easily backfired on me. Nevertheless, I remained focused on showing why my qualifications were the best match for the position based on my knowledge and experience.
    Many employers put heavy emphasis on setting goals. So be prepared to demonstrate your goals for your job, life, family, etc. Remember, stay focused and tailor your answers to show you and your skills are the solution to the needs of the interviewer.

    Why are you the best candidate for the position?
    I always resist the temptation to say I’m the best of all candidates because I have no way of knowing the qualifications of the other job applicants. Instead, I focus on the specific requirements of the position. I then restate why my qualifications are an excellent fit for the needs of the interviewer.

    In my opinion, there are no “right” answers to these three and many other job interview questions. However, there are proper answers that should address the job interviewers most wanted result. I believe that result is the path of least resistance. In my own experience as a manager, interviewing applicants has been quite stressful at times. Many managers and interviewers do not look forward to the job interview process. Most job interviewers want and need to hire the individual who is the best fit as quickly as possible.

    Nevertheless, they may not always have the stamina and patience to reach that goal. For example, I know of an interviewer who met with a little over 200 hundred applicants for the same position over a period of about 2 months! Each one of the job interviews lasted on average about 45 minutes. The interviewer told me that she mentioned to an interviewee, “you are the last of over 200 hundred interviewed for this position.” Now imagine yourself as that last interviewee, here are some questions you may want to ask. This assuming the individual is competently trained and experienced of course!

    How focused do you think the interviewer is going to be?
    Will the interviewer be “desensitized”, looking through jaded filters from all the “noise” of the previous 200 hundred interviewees?
    What effect could this have if you are in fact the best candidate for the position?
    Will the evaluative skills of the interviewer be as precise and focused as when the first job applicant walked into the meeting room?

    The sheer volume of 200 job applicants being interviewed by one person in a short period of time is probably the exception. However, interviewers do frequently meet with numerous applicants in a short period. Here is another often overlooked interview tip? The most qualified are not always the ones hired. I have been involved with job interviews where I knew I was not only overqualified but the most qualified. Yet I received the dreaded “Thanks but no thanks letter”. It would be interesting to see what statistical data there is to show the percentage of bad interview hires versus good hires.

    The employment market is ever changing and becoming more competitive. For college graduates and job seekers starting a successful and rewarding employment experience begins with properly preparing for an interview and learning your basic employee rights.