How to Be Successful in a Job Interview Continued - Career Guide Series - Part Eight

In continuation of our comprehensive career guide series, today we will continue our discussion on how to be successful in a job interview. In the previous part of the series we started discussions on how to be successful in a job interview where we noted that the major styles of interviews included; Behavioral, Technical and Case Interviews. Today we would be exploring some other types of interview, strategies and success tips you need to know in being successful in a job interview.

On-Site Interviews

Another type of interview is the On-site Interview. Lead candidates are usually invited for an on-site interview. The following are some success tips for On-Site Interviews.

Set Up Your Travel Plan
  • Familiarize yourself with the location; determine travel times and plan for unforeseen circumstances so that you arrive 10-15 minutes early.
  • If you plan the trip yourself, keep ALL receipts for reimbursement.
  • If the employer plans the trip, get a detailed itinerary with the contact info of the person who made the arrangements.
Mentally Prepare
  • Plan for a long day of interviews. When you arrive you will likely be given your interview schedule with the names and titles of individuals. Keep this agenda because you will want to send each interviewer a thank-you note.
  • Be prepared for your interview schedule to change even last minute. Graciously accommodate any changes that occur.
Bring What You Need
  • Copies of your resume
  • A leather folder with a notepad, a good pen
  • Tissues
Interviewing (also while eating)
  • Make sure to use proper dining etiquette! Choose something easy to eat and do not order alcohol, even if over 21.
  • Keep smiling and keep your energy and enthusiasm up. It is a long day but it is important to make a great impression throughout the day.
  • Be sure to thank each interviewer for his/her time.
Human Resources Department Interview
  • Ask final questions; they will let you know next steps.
  • Do not expect an offer at this time. If you do receive a verbal offer, you do not have to accept it then. Thank them and let them know that you are not prepared to make a decision. Ask for a written offer and the time frame for a response.

Sample Interview Questions

As a way of practice, it is necessary for a candidate to be conversant with some frequently occuring questions during an interview. Some sample interview questions include:

Personal Assessment Interview Questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • Define success. Define failure.
  • What can you offer us?
  • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  • Tell me about a leadership role you have had. What makes a good leader?
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years? Ten years?
Education and Experience Interview Questions
  • Describe your most rewarding accomplishment since you’ve started college
  • Tell me about the most satisfying job you ever held. The least?
  • What kind of boss do you prefer?
  • What frustrates you on the job?
  • How would a former supervisor describe your work?
Career Ambition and Plans Interview Questions
  • What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives?
  • What qualities does a successful manager possess?
  • What qualities does a successful team player possess?
  • What kind of challenge are you looking for?
  • What do you think determines a person’s progress in a good company?
  • What are your ideas on salary?
  • What personal characteristics are necessary for success in your field?
  • Do you prefer to work on your own or under a supervisor?
Behavioral Interview Questions
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with someone whose personality was different from yours.
  • Give me a time where you had to carry out a directive with which you did not agree.
  • Describe a time when you saw a problem and took action to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do so.
  • Tell me about your most successful presentation and what made it so.
  • Tell me about a meeting where you provided technical expertise. How did you ensure that everyone understood?
  • Tell me about a time when there was a conflict in a job/lab/class project. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a time when you took a risk. What were the biggest challenges/problems you encountered in college? How did you handle them?
  • Talk about a time when you had trouble getting along with a professor/team member/supervisor?
  • How are you conducting your job search and how will you go about making your decision?
  • Describe a situation in which you used persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
  • Give me an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
Company or Organization Interview Questions
  • Why do you want to work for this organization?
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • What section (service or product) are you most interested in?
  • How do you feel about working in a structured environment? A non-structured environment?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in a company such as ours?
  • In what ways do you think you can contribute to our company?
  • How long would you expect to work here?
  • Are you willing to work overtime?
  • Are you willing to go where the company sends you?
  • What type of environment are you most comfortable with?
  • Why do you think you might like to live in the community in which our company is located?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What makes you the best person for this job?
  • When could you start work?
  • Is there anything else I should know about you?
  • Do you have any other questions?
Unexpected Interview Questions
You may get an unusual question. Stay cool, think, and give an honest answer. The question is intended to force you to react under some stress and pressure. Samples of unexpected interview questions include:
  • If you could be a superhero, which would you be and why?
  • Do you prefer cats or dogs?
  • Name five uses for a stapler without staples.
  • How would you describe making an omelet to someone who has never made one before?

Questions to Ask an Interviewer

It is expected that a serious candidate would have several questions to ask the interviewer(s) when they give the opportunity, usually towards the end of the interview. Make sure your questions are respectful and reflect well upon you as a candidate. Below are some possible questions you could ask. Remember that the interviewer is the driver of the interview so you should not dominate it; however, a few well-thought-out questions lets the interviewer know you are fully engaged and interested in the role.

Questions About The Position
  • Would you describe the duties of the position for me, please?
  • Can you tell me about the primary people with whom I would be working?
  • What skills do you see as most important in order to be successful in this position?
  • To whom would I be reporting?
  • What kinds of assignments might I expect the first six months on the job?
  • How and when would my performance be evaluated?
  • Can you tell me about the people who would be reporting to me?
  • Is this a new position or am I replacing someone?
  • May I talk with the last person who held this position?
Questions About Career Paths
  • Can you tell me about the career path this position offers?
  • What is the growth potential in this position? Where does this role fit in the growth strategy of the company?
  • About the people who have preceded me in this position and in the department, where are they now and what are they doing?
  • Is it your usual policy to promote from within?
  • How are promotions or transfers determined within the company?
  • Does advancement to upper management usually require an advanced degree?
  • Have you cut your staff in the last three years?
Questions About Education and Training
  • What additional training might be necessary for this position?
  • Is training done in a classroom/group session or is it handled on an individual basis?
  • Are there training programs available to me so that I can learn and grow professionally?
  • What type of on-the-job training programs do you offer?
  • Does the firm support further college education for its employees?
Assessment Questions for Interviewer
  • What kind of personal attributes and qualifications does your company value?
  • What characteristics are important for this position?
  • What is the most significant challenge facing your staff now?
  • What have been some of the best results produced by people in this position?
  • What are your projections for this department/position for the next year? (specify type of projections e.g. sales, production, products, profits)
  • What do you see ahead for your company in the next five years?
  • What are your plans for expanding the (sales, audit, research, etc.) department?
General Questions for Interviewer
  • Can you tell me a little about your own experience with the company?
  • What do you like best about your job/company?
  • Are you happy here?
  • If you could change one thing about the company, whatwould it be and why?
  • When do you expect to make a hiring decision for this position?
  • Could you describe the hiring process?
  • Is there anything that we have discussed today that would give you concern regarding my candidacy?
  • In what ways is a career with your company better than one with your competitors?
  • What is the largest single problem facing your staff (department) now?

Interviewing Etiquette

1. Make a Great First Impression
  • You only get one chance
  • If you attend an info session, plan on staying the entire time; it is rude and unprofessional to walk out on a presentation
  • Know the appropriate attire and be 5 minutes early for interviews
  • Be respectful and polite to everyone, not just the interviewers
2. Know the Recruiting Policies
  • Know recruiting timelines, deadlines, and norms of behavior; see
  • Behave within those guidelines; the employer should do the same
3. Communicate Promptly and Respectfully
  • Respond within a couple of days to employers
  • A lack of rapid response reads as disinterest or rudeness
  • Always use a professional tone with employers
4. Advocate for Yourself
  • Ask questions if you are confused
  • Ask for: more time to make a decision, request a new interview date, or to negotiate
5. Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say!
  • Saying yes verbally or in an email is a commitment with or without a contract
  • Do not accept unless you are confident in your decision
  • Reneging is not an option


In today’s economy, the job market is very competitive. A job seeker needs to set themselves apart from the crowd. Research the company, know what you’re interviewing for, ask yourself the tough questions, and be prepared to answer them. You must have a full understanding of where the position you are interviewing for fits into the company’s value stream, and be prepared to offer insight into how you will help to accomplish the overall goals of the company.

In this part of our Career Guide Series we have equipped our-self with the necessary knowledge of some interview types, etiquette and success tips. In our next part of the series our topic of discussion shall be Negotiating a Job Offer and tips to be successful in it.

Feel free to make your contributions, observations or ask questions on this topic of how to be successful in a job interview or any part of our Career Guide Series using the comment form below and we will be more than happy to add to our data base of knowledge because nobody knows it all.  

No comments