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Finding a Job - Answering the questions you didn't want asked

Updated on December 2, 2010

Confidence is Key

There are two main ways to handle an interview.  With confidence or without and really there is no middle ground.  To have any chance of "landing" the role, you need to proceed with confidence and to do that, you need to be able to answer the following questions without hesitation.  Know these questions, study them, learn them, research them, and your answers to them.  Do not hum and haw your way through them - if you can answer these questions you will definitely have made a good first impression.

1) What do you know about us/about our company?

- as a Manager and someone that has been on both sides of the chair, I get extremely frustrated with prospective candidates that cannot answer this question.  Once it was difficult to know information about a company without going to a library and doing extensive research.  That excuse no longer exists and with the plethora of information available online in today's world this should be an easy answer.  Not knowing this shows that you have no real enthusiasm or passion and is always a strike in most hiring managers books.  Some simple areas to focus are on what the company does, what products does it sell, who are its customers and where is its primary market.  Find out whatever you can with regards to the future direction of the company and also where it came from.

2) Know your Resume/CV.

Your resume is your introduction to the company and the reason that you are sitting down in front of that hiring manager.  If you are not able to tell him about the gap between jobs - why not?  If you are not able to explain why you are not at your previous employer and are now looking for work - WHY not?  If you are not able to tell him why you are in the market at all - WHY NOT???  It is essential that you are comfortable with the facts and details on your resume.  You should be able to speak cogently to the projects you've accomplished and also about any terminations with honesty.

3) How was your previous boss/company? What do you look for in a boss?

- Here you need to be careful. Make sure that you are honest but you have to ensure that you are not in any way derogatory especially if there were any issues of note with a previous employer. If you did have a significant personal issue with a previous supervisor, explain the situation and do not resort to name calling. When discussing your ideal boss, give an explanation that ties into work, for example - "my ideal boss is someone who listens". Simple but effective.

4) What was your biggest success/failure?

Generally asked as two part question, the hiring manager is looking for you to explain something in your work life that applies. Specifically when they are asking for your biggest failure, they are not only looking for an explanation of what failed and went wrong but rather - WHAT DID YOU DO NEXT?? How did you overcome this failure and still achieve success? What did you learn from this lesson? You should always have a story prepared and in mind that addresses this.

5) Why should I hire you/what can you bring to this company?

- In today's economy there are always more applicants for any given role than there are vacancies to fill.  As such you are going to need to sell yourself - what special skills and knowledge can you bring to the table?  How do your personal plans and ideas tie into the companies future growth (notice how the research you should have already done in (1) will really help you here)?  To answer this question you need to know yourself, your resume and the company that you are interviewing with.  Be confident and strong.

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