Non-Damaging Responses to Interview Questions

“Why did you leave your last position?”

Answers:

  • Looking for a position that is closely related to my educational experience.
  • Seasonal, temporary, contract
  • School schedule changed/ conflicted with business needs
  • To concentrate on school full-time
  • To take care of a family member in need
  • Commute and lack of hours (be careful when using “commute,” only use it if the job you are applying to is closer to where you live. This answer works if you have a commute like I did once, 30 miles each way to work at Disneyland but only 10-15 hours a week).

Avoid these answers: Office politics, I didn’t like it, and I was passed up on a promotion.

 

“What are three of your strengths?”

Answers:

  • Flexible
  • Detail-oriented
  • Multi-tasker
  • Meets deadlines on time or early
  • Good attendance
  • Goes beyond the regular job duties, takes initiative

 

“What are three of your weaknesses?”

Answers:

  • Perfectionist
  • Taking exams (you can say you are better at essay topics)
  • Visual learner (you can say you are working on developing multiple learning techniques).

As you can see, these are non-damaging answers that are more personal and aren’t directly related to the job duties.

Avoid these: Being late a lot, occasionally missing important deadlines and, people-skills

 

“Describe a time when you encountered an irate customer, how did you handle it?”

Managers are looking for a brief but concise answer. The purpose of this is to see if you can explain your ability to turn a bad situation into a good one.

Answers:

  • Explain the situation, (i.e., customer was unhappy due to a long wait time or errors someone else made)
  • Describe the steps you took to resolve the situation (i.e., apologized for the long wait and/or inconvenience, offer to help them fix the error)
  • Discuss what happened after. Was the customer satisfied? Did you get a good survey score?

 

“What would you do if a customer asked you something about a product you had no knowledge of?”

Answers:

  • Explain to the customer that I wasn’t sure on the answer and asked a coworker/ supervisor for their opinion. Then clarified that the customer understood and asked if there was anything else I could help them with.

 

“Describe a time where you were responsible for multiple projects and meeting strict deadlines, how did you handle it?”

Answers:

  • Staying organized, making a list of priorities according to deadlines.
  • Being honest with the supervisor, updating them on work progress and asking questions if needed.

Avoid:

“I delegated the projects to someone else because they owed me.” Although it may be funny, that shows you don’t take your job seriously or your work responsibilities.

 

“How do you handle constructive feedback?”

Answers:

  • Listen to the areas I need to improve on, ask questions for clarification and work on applying suggestions in my job.

 

“What is your expected wage?”

This can be a tricky question and the one that can easily lose your chance at getting the job. Sometimes the wage is already posted on the job description; in that case just say the number that was posted. If not, look online for the average salary expectation for that job.

Fortunately, sites like Glassdoor can help you with this.

 

“Why should we hire you over another candidate?”

Answer:

  • Briefly reiterate your qualifications (i.e., work experience and degrees) and mention additional skills or knowledge that you may have which can make you an asset to their company.

Avoid:

“My resume speaks for itself.” This makes you sound cocky. And, yes I have seen a manager’s reaction to this exact answer… *eye roll*

Most importantly:

“I don’t know,” is worse than taking a good guess. Take a deep breathe, ask them to repeat the question if needed. Take a moment to think about the keywords and give it your best shot. Don’t overthink it. Most of the time, the answer is fairly simple.

 

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