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How to Answer Interview Questions, Then and Now
Acing an interview isn’t as easy as it used to be. Look back 60 years ago, and you’ll find interview questions with clear black-and-white answers. But in today’s rapidly changing marketplace, that’s not enough, according to Bentley University career advisor Amanda Helfand.
“Accountants are building their competitive edge through cloud computing, while marketers are realizing they must infuse user experience and customer service into the mix to successfully engage their target markets,” Helfand says.
How to get a competitive edge in your next #job #interview from @bentleyu #career advisorTWEET THIS
That means that you can forget clear-cut questions like these found in the Bentley archives circa 1949 (before internships were the norm!):
Q: Why are you seeking a position in Chicago?
A: I have pondered for some time where I should locate permanently, and my first choice is Chicago because I believe it offers excellent opportunities for both business and cultural advancement.
Q: I see that you have no practical experience.
A: I cannot offer experience but I can offer a broad, thorough preparation for a junior position. I will bring to bear upon any task I undertake a full measure of interest and intelligent effort. I have the faculty of getting along well with others, and if given an opportunity to demonstrate my ability, I feel positive that I can make good.
Possibly you can recall you first position, and your eagerness to get over the hurdle of no experience. That is what I am now attempting to do.
Q: How much salary do you expect?
A: Beginning salary is secondary to opportunities for advancement. Therefore, I would prefer to have you offer whatever you would care to pay for my services.
What Today’s Recruiters and Hiring Managers Want to Hear
Today, expect employers to dig deeper into your ability to problem solve, lead, adapt, communicate and collaborate. And be ready to share details and get your hands dirty.
During interviews, employers look for examples that you can adapt, lead and communicate. #careertipsTWEET THIS
Helfand says behavioral questions requiring specific examples of a candidate’s experience are commonplace, and case interviews that put the candidate in role-simulations are growing in popularity.
“The key to navigating these kinds of interviews is to internally note what skills the employer might be seeking (found in the job description) and remember a few hints when answering,” Helfand says. She recommends preparing by having concrete examples in the following areas, as it relates to the required skill set:
- Describe a specific, recent situation
- Detail your behavior or actions you took to resolve the situation (your role must be clear and significant)
- Share the outcome of the situation
Helfand presents four common interview questions asked in today’s market, followed by answers using this process:
Q: What is an example of a time in which you felt you were able to motivate a group?
A: As a member of my college’s football team, I know what it means to motivate a group. For example, last October, our team was experiencing a losing season. Many of my teammates had become frustrated with our poor results and were on the verge of giving up. I knew we could turn things around if we were a bit more focused. I called an impromptu team meeting and spoke to the group about all the various things we could do to begin to make a difference. Together we came up with a plan; we would extend our practices by a half hour every evening in order to improve our conditioning. The results were amazing; it really made a difference. We never lost a game after that meeting!
Q: When you are not studying or working, what types of activities do you enjoy?
A: As a child, I started taking ballet lessons. Since then, I have tried many forms of dance and have ultimately settled on hip-hop. I am an active member of my school’s dance team and practice at least five hours every week for a dozen performances throughout the year. Leading up to a recent performance on campus, our typical choreographer was sick. I stood in for her, managing the choreography and working with individual teammates until they understood the routine. The performance was flawless — after it, my teammates thanked me for spending so much time perfecting it.
Q: Describe a time when you put the needs of a group before your own when completing a task.
A: My sophomore year, I was in an international marketing course where I was grouped with two other students to complete a marketing simulation project. My teammates were both international students and did not speak English very well, which made the course extremely difficult for them. I was doing fine in the class, and it would have been easy to coast while still receiving a good grade. Seeing them struggle, though, I realized I wanted to help. We started meeting three to four times per week often totaling over 18 hours in any given week. As we continued to get to know one another, they began to understand the concepts and feel more comfortable in the course. By the end of the semester, we not only became friends, but also won the marketing simulation by having the highest brand awareness.
Q: Tell me about a time when you were able to use persuasion to convince someone to see things your way.
A: In one of my courses, I am working with a group of five other students to develop a business plan for a local non-profit organization. As part of the project, we research the industry; dig into the organization’s existing financial statements, operations plans, and marketing collateral; and then present recommendations for the organization moving forward. After our research, each of my group members created our own list of recommendations. At first, I was the only one not recommending an increase in staff. My team members felt that the organization needed additional headcount in order to support the increased fundraising goal and support the development staff. Based on my previous internship experience, I was able to recommend some relatively inexpensive tools that would automate the process of analyzing donor data to determine the warmest leads. This would allow the development team to work more efficiently without increasing the number of salaries for support staff. After presenting my case, the team agreed to proceed with my recommendation.
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