Friday, August 28, 2015

Interview Like a Pro Series - Answering the typical interview questions the RIGHT way

"Interview Like a Pro" is an ongoing series written by Tatiyana Cure, Executive Recruiter, CFS New York

Typically, an interview begins with the simple Walk me through your background,” so you should prepare a 90 second elevator pitch that highlights your specific accomplishments from each position. You may not be prepared for all the questions that come up, but there are those typical interview questions that you can be prepared for.

“What attracted you to our company?” This answer should be derived from your research of the company, culture, team, and growth of the firm. Be honest when you respond!

“Why should we hire you?” Based on your research, you should have an idea of what you can bring to the table that may currently be lacking at the company. If you are asked this question, it gives you an amazing opportunity to really sell yourself for the job!

“What are your strengths?” Limit this to 3- you’re not a Superman/ Superwoman. Your strengths should be targeted directly to the role you are applying for, and make sure to tie in specific examples.

“What are your weaknesses?” Please do not be one of those people who say, “I’m such a hard worker that I tend to work so hard and so late that I end up missing most dinners with my family.” Answer this question honestly and state, “I have recognized this as an area of improvement and have taken these steps to develop it.”

“What are your goals?” It’s best to specify something short-term, and as far as long-term, it would depend on how much you know about the future goals of the firm.

“Why are you leaving your current job?” Be honest, but do NOT say anything negative about your current or past employers.

“Where else are you interviewing?” It’s best to say something along the lines of “I’m exploring several opportunities within…”

“How would others describe you?” Your answer should be something that your current or former boss would say about you. The Hiring Manager will most likely call your references to verify.

“What are your salary expectations?” I hope this doesn’t come up (especially if you are working with a recruiter), but you should still be prepared. It’s best to reiterate that you are more interested in the role than compensation. However, if the Hiring Manager persists, state what you are currently earning and that although you had not thought about a specific compensation range, you would like to ultimately see an increase from your current compensation. Some studies suggest that at this point, you may want to turn the question around to the Hiring Manager and ask, “In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?”

There are some questions that are impossible to prepare for. For example, I recently had a candidate who was asked, “If you had to figure out how many gas stations there are in New Jersey, how would you go about figuring that out?” The Hiring Manager was not concerned about the answer but how the candidate got to that answer. The point was to gauge the thinking process and see if the candidate can think on their feet while under the high pressure of an interview environment.

If you are asked a question that you have not been asked before and did not prepare for, try to remain calm, answer it to your best ability, and move on. The worst thing you can do is not answer it at all!

Have more questions about interviewing? Please comment below, or contact a CFS office located near you to speak with a recruiter. 


  1. Regarding compensation, has any one asked, "What is the budgeted pay range for the position?" When the employer found a business need to hire someone, certainly they considered the budget.

    1. I personally have not, but that's another great example of turning the question around!


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