A Google search on “interview questions” will result in hundreds of hits, and most are actually quite helpful. But a common mistake that most candidates make is to quickly review the questions and mentally develop a picture of how you would answer them. Our minds work at blazing speeds compared to our mouths! Instead of just reading and “knowing” how you will answer the questions, say your answers out loud – preferably while standing in front of a full-length mirror. After you have stumbled with your first few answers, you will quickly realize you need to prepare and practice.
Here are three questions you will likely be asked and require your careful preparation ahead of time:
Question 1: “If I could ask your last boss what your most outstanding characteristic is, what would she/he say?”
Although you may exemplify all 12 Points of the Boy Scout Law (Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent), answer this question in terms of a characteristic that is meaningful to your prospective new employer. Follow up your answer with an example of how that characteristic helped you be successful in the past. You need to say more than “I am a team player,” or “I am reliable,” or “I always delivered results on time”. Make your response factual and memorable.
Question 2: “If I could ask your last boss, what one thing that would like to change about you was, what would they say?”
Note the similarity of this question to the first question. Again, answer this question with something that is relevant to your potential employer. Obviously, do not highlight any character flaws – such as falling short of some of the Boy Scout Law 12 Points! Many times, these negative answers are a result of overly positive intentions such as “too much of a perfectionist,” or “not decisive enough – wanting to gather too much information,” or “moving too fast.” Identify something; none of us are perfect.
Question 3: “Looking back over your professional career, what was a situation that you wish you could “do-over” and what were the consequences that occurred?”
We all make mistakes. Admit it. Be honest and explain what you learned from the situation and how you have avoided making similar missteps since then. This is probably the most important answer that you will give to any interviewer. It demonstrates that your ego is in check, you can objectively reflect on your work efforts, and are not afraid to show your vulnerability.
The goal in answering these questions is to demonstrate that you are a thoughtful and objective person – someone who the interviewer can relate to positively.