Questions Candidates Should Know

One of the most powerful resources available is knowing the right questions to ask and how to effectively answer questions posed to you.
Ask questions you have already researched the answers to (e.g. what was your annual sales volume last year?).
When answering questions, do so in a way that emphasizes your key strengths (which you have rehearsed) and remember to keep your answers brief.
There are many resources available on the Internet, in bookstores or in local libraries that can provide you with examples of interviewing questions and answers. You might consider The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book published by John Wiley & Sons, and written by Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D.

Here are typical interview questions you should use in practice:

1. Questions You May Be Asked By An Employer:

1. Please describe your present job responsibilities. Which do you find most enjoyable? Which are most difficult, and why?

2. What was the best idea and the greatest accomplishment you contributed to your present employer? To previous employers?

3. What would you like to have accomplished in your present job that you have not? What interfered with this accomplishment?

4. What do you know about our company and the position we offer?

5. What particular strengths and weaknesses do you feel you would bring to the job? What would others say?

6. What do you think it takes to be successful in this job?

7. What elements are important to you and to your subordinates in attaining job satisfaction?

8. How does your previous experience relate to the job you are applying for?

9. What are your short- and long-term objectives for your career?

10. What have been your biggest frustrations in your career?

11. What are some things your present company and department might do to become more successful?

12. What are your hobbies and interests? How do they contribute to, or balance, the work you do professionally?

13. Tell me something about yourself.

14. How would you describe your personality to me? How do most of your friends and associates describe you?

15. Where do you see yourself with your career in 5 years?

16. How would your current employer feel, and what could you expect from him or her?

17. What distinguishes you from other applicants; why should we hire you?

18. What is it that you would like to do here at our company?

19. What is your current annual compensation?

20. What did you dislike at your last job?

21. Why are you considering leaving your present job?

22. Are you in a position to accept this job immediately? What would be involved in your accepting this position?

23. What sort of pay do you expect?

24. Why should I hire you?

25. What are your plans for the future?

26. Describe the characteristics that you feel would make for an ideal boss over our open position? Over you in particular?

2. Questions You May Wish To Ask The Employer:

1. What would you like to see in your ideal candidate? What do you think it takes to be successful in this position?

2. What are the responsibilities of this position, and which do you regard as most important?

3. Describe a typical day for someone holding this position.

4. What are the results expected of this position? What accomplishments will be expected?

5. What are the limits of my responsibility and authority?

6. What problems/opportunities exist with this position?

7. What make me right (or wrong) for this position?

8. What support will I receive to help me fulfill my responsibilities?

9. What are the strengths and weaknesses of my subordinates? What guidance and support do they expect of me?

10. Who will be my superior and what are his or her strengths and weaknesses? How does he/she manage people? What type of individual works best under this manager? Who else within the company may I speak to about this manager?

11. Are there any current projects in progress for which I will be responsible? If so, what is their status?

12. What criteria will be used to evaluate my performance? When are performance reviews scheduled?

13. What are the goals of the corporation? What are the goals of my department? What are the goals of this job?

14. Tell me about the department. Who are my peers? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What is the company culture or atmosphere?

15. What are the best and worst aspects of this job and this company?

16. How do you rate your competition?

17. Why did my predecessor leave this position?

18. Why did you come to work here and why have you stayed?

19. Where is a person likely to advance after performing this job well?

3. Illegal Hiring Questions

There are many questions employers cannot ask an employee. If confronted with any of these, or if you simply do not want to answer a personal or awkward question simply say, “Please explain to me how this question applies to the position.” Usually the interviewer will change the question. However you do not have to answer any questions that make you uncomfortable.

Strong federal legislation bars employers from discriminating against any person on the basis of sex, race, age, national origin, or religion, or disability, or against workers age 40 or older. (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 Title I)

Typical illegal questions include:

  • How old are you?
  • Where were you born?
  • Do you hold a citizenship in other countries?
  • What is your medical history?
  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Do you have children?
  • Have you ever changed your name?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • What holidays to you celebrate?
  • Do you have a disability?
  • Do you have a history of substance or alcohol abuse?
  • Does your spouse work and where?
  • Have you ever declared bankruptcy?