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Focus on: Interview questions

Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Updated: Thursday, September 15, 2011 09:09

"Practice makes perfect!" That old adage applies to rehearsing for plays and recitals, and also to practicing for employment interviews. Are you prepared to answer these common types of interview questions? If you need more information or would like a free list of 50 commonly asked questions, visit the Career Development Center, Room 232 Wise Campus Center.

Commonly asked interview questions tend to fall into one of seven categories:

1) Personal assessment and career direction - includes questions such as, "What specific goals, other than those related to your occupation, have you set for yourself for the next 10 years?"

2) Work attitudes - includes questions such as, "What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?"

3) Academic assessment questions include examples like, "What changes would you make in your university and why?" (Be careful to keep your answer positive - there is no room in an interview for deriding anything or anyone.)

4) Questions about knowledge of the employer are also common, such as; "What contributions do you think you could make to this organization and why?"

5) Sensitive issues can also crop up, such as, "How did you get along with your last boss?" The interviewer may probe deeper and ask how a conflict between you and someone else was resolved.

6) There are situational questions, those that describe a situation and ask you to project how you would handle it. For example, "How would you handle a situation where your supervisor asked you to do something inconsistent with your professional judgment?"

7) Lastly, analytical questions are most often asked during case interviews. The question might be something like, "How many ping pong balls can you put inside an airplane?" The interviewer is not looking for the right answer. She is looking for you to ask questions and show how you would analyze the situation, apply knowledge you have, and then solve the problem.

In most interviews you have 30 - 60 minutes to exchange information and make a lasting, positive impression. Rehearsing your answers to potential questions will provide you the opportunity to "steer" your answers to highlight your specific skills, strengths and potential. Practice makes perfect!

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