No two situations are ever exactly the same, but as a general guide, these are the types of questions that could come up in a typical interview.
1. Why don’t you tell me about yourself?
This question, often the interview opener, has a crucial objective: to see how you handle yourself in unstructured situations. The recruiter wants to see how articulate you are, how conﬁdent you are, and generally what type of impression you would make on the people with whom you come into contact on the job. The recruiter also wants to learn about the trajectory of your career and to get a sense of what you think is important and what has caused you to perform well.
Most candidates ﬁnd this question a difﬁcult one to answer. However, the upside is that this question offers an opportunity to describe yourself positively and focus the interview on your strengths. Be prepared to deal with it.
There are many ways to respond to this question correctly and just one wrong way: by asking, “What do you want to know?” You need to develop a good answer to this question, practice it, and be able to deliver it with poise and conﬁdence.
The right response is twofold: focus on what interests the interviewer, and highlight your most important accomplishments.
Focus on what interests the interviewer
Do not dwell on your personal history–that is not why you are there. Start with your most recent employment and explain why you are well qualiﬁed for the position. The key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualiﬁcations to what the interviewer is looking for. You want to be selling what the buyer is buying.
Highlight Important Accomplishments
Have a story ready that illustrates your best professional qualities. For example, if you tell an interviewer that people describe you as creative, provide a brief story that shows how you have been creative in achieving your goals.
Stories are powerful and are what people remember most.
A good interviewee will memorize a 60-second commercial that clearly demonstrates why he or she is the best person for the job.
2. How long have you been with your current (or former) employer?
This is a hot-button question if your résumé reﬂects considerable job-hopping. Excellent performers tend to stay in their jobs at least three to ﬁve years. They implement course corrections, bring in new resources, and, in general, learn how to survive–that’s why they are valued by prospective employers.
If your résumé reﬂects jobs with companies that were acquired, moved, closed, or downsized, it is still viewed as a job-hopper’s history. Volunteer and go to events where hiring authorities may be found. Ratchet up your networking to include anything that exposes you to hiring authorities who can get past your tenure issue because now they know you. Your networking efforts have never been so important.