Ace The Interview
Tell Me About Yourself
Let’s say it’s a retail sales position. Your response may be, “I’ve spent the last six years in retail sales. Before that, I worked in call center customer service, and I found that what I liked most — and where I really excelled — was in working face to face with customers. I’m an exceptional communicator, I connect well with the people I’m serving, and I’m very goal-oriented so I thrive on meeting and, many times exceeding, sales targets. In fact, in my last position, I was the top salesperson at my location for 10 out of 12 months.” And then, if possible, end on a smart question: “I’m curious how sales excellence is measured here?”
What is your greatest weakness?
Another example: “I’ve had trouble in the past with managing e-mail — instead of allowing it to manage me and monopolize my time. It’s so easy to get distracted by the pressure to respond instantly when e-mails pop into your inbox, but I’m learning that the best time management rules dictate that it’s best to check and respond to e-mail at designated times instead of every minute of the day. That’s helped me to be far more productive than ever before, and it’s a work in progress that I’m constantly aware of.” Maybe there’s a technical skill you need improvement with. Just be sure to show how you’re working on this objective.
What do you know about us?
What is your five-year plan?
If it’s a small company, you may try: “I’d very much like to help build this company’s bottom line so I’m able to take advantage of the great opportunities that a growing company has to offer.”
How do you handle high-pressure moments?
We all face challenges on the job and in life, but we don’t all handle them the same way. Questions like this one are looking for specific anecdotes and situations, not hypotheticals. What you did in the past, not what you might do in the future.
If the question specifies six months and you’ve been out of work during that time, then your answer will reflect a personal challenge. Did you have to make a big decision about the medical care of a family member? How did you go about weighing the options before making a decision? Have you faced a financial challenge? Without divulging information that’s too personal — and may reflect poorly on your candidacy — think about how to best answer. Recently a job seeker told me that her most intense moment came at Christmas time.
Since both she and her husband have been out of work, they didn’t want to splurge on their annual holiday vacation, yet they also wanted to shield their kids from any kind of financial burden. They weighed the options and realized financial responsibility takes precedent–and they wound up planning an exciting holiday at home. Everyone was happy.
That shows she made a logical decision, not one rooted in emotions of guilt — and not one where she threw caution to the wind. And she was careful to weigh the feelings and opinions of everyone involved, not just herself. Furthermore, she’s not crying woe is me, which is important. She’s showing that she’s a real problem solver.