1. Tell me about yourself. Be brief! Keep this answer to 30-45 seconds max or you will lose the employers attention very quickly. Remember, ‘tell me about yourself’ doesn’t mean they want your life story. Summarize your skills and experience in a way that make you stand out and show why you are the best person for the job.
Sample Answer: “Hello, my name is Brian Murphy. I am a law enforcement professional with a degree in criminal justice and active Top Secret security clearance. My qualifications include fifteen years of experience in international and homeland security and outstanding leadership capability managing large security teams. My experience also includes knowledge of patrol, search and rescue and investigative and criminal procedures. I am a sharpshooter with expert marksman qualifications as well. I would like to discuss how I can bring these skills and experience to your company.”
2. What about this job interests you? The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. Be clear about why you are interested in the job and the value you can bring to their organization.
Sample Answer: “I’ve applied to companies where I know I can get excited about what the company does. Your company is one of my top choices. This job is really attractive to me because it combines my interest and experience in logistics and security with work in a more global business environment.”
3. What are your career goals and where do you see yourself five years from now? The key here is to focus on your achievable objectives and what you are doing to reach those objectives.
Sample Answer: “Within 5 years, I would like to become the very best mechanic your company has on staff. I want to work toward becoming the expert that others rely on. Hopefully, this will allow me to take on greater responsibilities with the company if the opportunity arises. I am also working towards additional certifications in the field to enhance my career potential.”
4. Why are you leaving the military? or Why are you leaving your current job? When answering this question, always focus on the positive: You are looking for a new challenge, more responsibility, more experience or a change of environment. Never be negative about your former or current employers or talk about negative experiences you had there.
Sample Answer: “I feel that the time is right for me to transition the outstanding skills and experience I obtained during my last four years in the military to the civilian job market. I received great training and/or education in the Army and have been given job assignments that have enhanced my technical skills, leadership ability and taught me how to meet deadlines and multi-task in a very fast-paced and often stressful environment. I can bring these same skills to your organization.”
5. What are your strengths? This is one question that you know you are going to be asked so be prepared! Concentrate on discussing your main strengths. List three or four proficiencies such as your ability to learn quickly, determination to succeed, positive attitude, your ability to relate to people and achieve a common goal, etc.
Sample Answer: “I have very good organizational and time management skills, but my greatest strength is my ability to effectively handle multiple projects and deadlines.”
Sample Answer: “My strength is my flexibility to handle change. As a front line manager at my last job, I was able to turn around a negative working environment and develop a very supportive and productive team.”
6. What are your weaknesses or areas you would like to improve? This is another frequently asked question. Everyone has weaknesses, but when answering this question in a job interview, stay away from personal qualities and focus on professional traits. Describe what steps you taken to overcome your weaknesses so that you can demonstrate areas of improvement.
Sample Answer: “I am always working on improving my communications skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters which I find very helpful.”
Sample Answer: “Sometimes I have trouble delegating duties to others. This has sometimes backfired because I’d end up with more work than I could handle. I’ve since taken courses in time management and learned more effective delegation techniques and I’m happy to say that my last several team projects were a great success.”
7. What are your salary expectations? Do your research and know your bottom line. Research the industry standard for the positions you are applying for in your geographic area. Whenever possible, try to defer the salary question on the first interview so that you don’t under or over sell yourself. If pressured, be prepared to give the employer a salary range.
Sample Answer: “I’m sure that your company offers a fair, competitive salary for someone with my education / training, skills and experience. I am also willing to negotiate for the right position.”
Sample Answer: “I will need more information about the job and the responsibilities before we can discuss salary, but it would be great if you could give me an idea of the salary range you have budgeted for this position.”
8. Have you ever had a conflict with a superior or colleague? How did you handle it? Almost everyone has been in this situation. If you say no, intervieweres will usually dig deeper until you can give then an answer. The key is to show how you reacted to the conflict and what you did to resolve it.
Sample Answer: “I think that everyone at some point has had a conflict at work whether it’s with a supervisor or co-worker. I’ve found that when I’m in a difficult situation, it helps to communicate with the other person, understand their perspective and try to work out a collaborative solution whenever possible.”
9. Why should we hire you? Be prepared for this question because this answer will sell your story. Know clearly what you bring to the organization such as your knowledge, skills, experience, education/training and personal qualities that demonstrate why you are the best person for the job. Be able to show how you add value to the company. Always qualify your answers with quantifiable results you have achieved in previous jobs or assignments. This will add tremendous credibility!
Sample Answer: “I think I am a great match for this position. My degree in management coupled with more than 10 years of experience managing 100+ employees and delivering top notch training, helped me to improve staff productivity by 30% and reduce employee turnover. I believe that I can do the same for your organization and would be a great addition to your team.”
10. Do you have any questions? Always be prepared to ask the interviewer a few questions as well. This helps to demonstrate your preparation and interest.
Sample questions might include:
How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?
How would you describe the company’s management style?
Who does this position report to? If I am offered the position, can I meet him/her?
How many people work in this office/department?
Is travel expected in this position? If so, how much?
What are the prospects for growth and advancement?
What would you say are the best things about working here?
Would you like a list of references?
If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?
At the end of an interview, thank the interviewer for their time and ask them about next steps and when you can expect to hear back from them.