F.A.Q. Interview

This is the CV Tips super Interview Frequently asked questions click on the type of problem you have and you will be presented with a list of freqeuntly asked questions on the topic.
  1. After the interview
    1. Should I send a thank you letter after the second interview as well?

      Yes, it a courtesy letter to thank the employer for taking the time to meet with you. Don't use the same stationery as with the first thank you letter.

    2. What should I include in the interview thank you letter?

      Start by thanking the employer or interviewer for the meeting and thereafter indicate your interest again in the position and company. Tactfully state how your skills and qualifications are relevant to the position and remind the interviewer how you will be able to contribute to reaching the company goals.

    3. If I met with more than one person, should I send a thank you letter to each?

      Yes, address each one individually.

    4. What format should the thank you letter letter be?

      Always write the thank you letter in business style and make sure that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes.

    5. Can I call after I have sent the thank you letter?

      Yes you can to enquire what the interviewer thinks.

    6. If I reject the job offer, should I write a letter to the effect?

      It is not compulsory, but shows that you are professional. You thank the employer and state your reason for rejecting the job offer. Keep in mind that you don't want to burn your bridges when you choose your wording.

  2. Thank You letters
    1. Won't it appear as if I am trying just a little too hard if I send a thank you letter after an interview?

      No, it will show that you have professional courtesy and will make you stand out from the rest who never took the time to thank the interviewer. It also indicates that you are serious and if written well, shows that you have good communication, writing and people skills.

    2. How much weight does the thank you letter carry in the interviewer's hiring decision?

      Overall it doesn't carry all that much weight, but if the interviewer needs to decide between two employees, he will be more positive towards the one who wrote a thank you letter.

    3. Should the thank you letter be handwritten or typed?

      It doesn't really matter whether it is handwritten, typed, formal or informal. Do take note that it should be neat and without spelling mistakes. Address it to the interviewer. If the corporate setting is very formal, then type the letter. If you don't have access to a word processor then a handwritten note will do just fine.

    4. Can I just send an email thank you note or should it be a hard copy?

      This depends entirely on the company's use of technology. The more modern enterprises accept email correspondence in the same way as paper based communication. It is much faster, but as a rule of thumb, you can mail a hard copy as well.

    5. Can I make use of a sample thank you letter?

      You can, we have several samples that you can use. You should however, adapt it to your situation and personalize it. If you use a generic letter without changing the information to reflect your personality, style and position, it can come across as plagiarism. Instead of making a good impression, you will find yourself without a chance of getting the job.

    6. If I had a panel interview, should I send a personalized thank you note to each one?

      Yes, if you have all the names it will be to your advantage. You can have the same structure and basic information for all of them, but include at least one sentence that indicates that you are addressing that specific interviewer.

    7. How long after an interview should I send the thank you note?

      Try to send it within one day after the interview.

    8. If I know my thank you note will only reach the interviewer after a decision has been made, should I still send one?

      The idea of the thank you letter is to reach the interviewer before a hiring decision can be made because it is your way of highlighting that you are the ideal candidate for the job. Make use of fax, hand delivery or email to get the message to the interviewer and follow up with a hard copy if necessary.

    9. How can I make my thank you note stand out?
  3. Body Language
    1. What type of handshake is appropriate when I go for the job interview?
    2. Should I greet a woman interviewer with a handshake?

      Normally women don't shake hands, a courteous greeting is enough. If the female interviewer offers a handshake, then by all means return the greeting.

    3. What do I do when the interviewer stands too close for comfort?

      If you back of the person will just move forward. Stand your ground and don't show that you are uncomfortable

    4. How should I sit?

      Sit upright and more to the front of your seat. If you need to lean forward, do so slightly.

    5. What should I do with my hands?

      Don't play with pens or any items and don't toggle with you fingers. Refrain from biting your nails or clasping your hands. Keep your hands relaxed. If you are very nervous, place your hands on your lap underneath the table. Always use open gestures with your palms facing up and never point your finger - use your whole hand if you have to point to something.

    6. Should I accept drinks offered?

      Politely decline if you can since you don't want any accidental spills.

    7. How can I read the interviewer's Body Language?

      Look out for frowns, toggling of fingers and signs of irritability when you speak. If the interviewer speaks fast, you should adapt your pace, if he speaks slowly, do the same. If he smiles, give a small smile in return.

    8. How can I use my Body Language to my advantage?

      Speak clearly and don't touch your hair, nose or any facial part every now and then. Use open gestures and keep hand movements to a minimum. Don't frown and keep a friendly face. Sit and stand upright. Don't chew or put your hands in your pocket. Don't kick anything.

  4. Questions to ask
    1. If given the opportunity to ask questions, what type of questions can I ask?

      Ask questions about the company plans for the future and questions you have wanted to ask. Prepare a list of questions before the interview. Ask at least one question that will make the interviewer think. Some samples include:

      • What type of person would you like to see in this position?
      • Does the company provide in-house training and opportunities for further studies?
      • Are there opportunities for promotion?
      • When do you want the candidate to start?
      • When do you expect to have decided on the right candidate?
      • Please describe the corporate culture of the enterprise.
      • I've read that you face extreme competition from (Name of competitor); 'how do you see the role of the candidate for this position in dealing with this type of competition or threat?'

    2. What type of questions should I avoid?

      Never ask:

      • When will I get my first paycheck or leave?
      • What type of vehicle will I get?
      • When will I get a rise?
      • What are the pension plans and other benefits?
      • How many hours a day should I work?
    3. Can I ask for the position or to be on the shortlist?

      If you are sure that you want the job, you can ask at the end of the interview. It will however, have a negative effect on salary negotiation and some interviewers may see it as very forward. If you use tact, it can definitely be to your advantage. You can state that you are really interested in this job and would consider an offer if made.

    4. What type of questions can I ask a startup company?

      Apart from the normal questions you can ask the following:

      • How much financial backing do you have?
      • What is your 5 year plan?
      • Who are your competitors and how much of the market have you already secured?
  5. Personality
    1. What is a good answer when asked how my colleagues would describe me?

      Answer in a positive way. Every job situation differs and your personality will determine the answer. Make sure your answer doesn't highlight any negative aspects of your personality.

    2. What should I answer on the question when asked to tell something about myself?

      They are not looking for the same information that is in your CV. Focus on something that makes you special or show that you are the ideal person for the job. Give one example of a talent or skill that most of the other candidates most probably won't have.

    3. How do I answer when asked what I will do if I have all the funds and time that I could ask for?

      It can be a trick question. The aim is to establish if your dreams are related to the job that you apply for. Make sure that you answer states that you will still take the job and use the income to improve people's lives etc.

    4. What type of books do you read and name a few of your favorite movies? How do I answer this type of question?

      Don't lie! The interviewer wants to establish your interests, knowledge and dedication to your profession. Answer honestly. Make sure you read at least one or two trade magazines relevant to your job before you go for the interview. Find a book about your job industry and study it. This will help you to list at least one profession related book or article.

    5. I need tips on the best answer when asked what motivates me.

      Answer honestly, but relate your answer to the specific job.

    6. If asked how I would interview the interviewer, what would be a good answer?

      This type of question is normally asked when you apply for a job in human resources. Stay away from illegal questions about race, religion, sexual orientation etc. and focus on the same type of questions asked by the interviewer.

    7. What should I answer when asked what my weakness is?

      Indicate a positive attribute as a weakness, for instance your constant drive for the best quality work can sometimes be interpreted as perfectionism. You can state that you are particularly hard on yourself to be the best you can be.

    8. If asked what my strengths are, should I list all of them?

      No, only three that is relevant to the job that you apply for.

    9. Why do they ask questions such as 'If you were a car, what color do you think would suit you or what kind of animal would you be if you could choose?

      There is no right or wrong answer. The interviewer just wants to gain insight into your personality and perception of you.

    10. Is it a trap when they ask what annoys me?

      No, but they want to establish what will trigger a negative response from you. Don't admit that you have a short temper or have lost control in any situation. You can mention something unrelated to the job for instance people parking in the disabled parking spot without consideration for the disabled people. Make sure that you say it irritates rather than annoys you.

    11. If asked what do I hate, can I be honest?

      Honesty is always good, but only if it doesn't reflect on a prejudice against anyone. It is safe to answer that you hate a certain type of food, if you have to think of something, but in general you cannot say that you hate anything.

    12. If asked what kind of person I get along with the best, what should I answer?

      It is best to answer that you get on well with everyone. You can go on to say that you enjoy the company of friendly and honest people the most and prefer not to spend time with people who lie, steal and cheat if you are pressed for more information.

    13. What is the best answer for the question 'How do you measure your work effectiveness?

      A good answer is to say that you measure it by the results that you get.

  6. Behavior
    1. Will they ask me examples of how I handled difficult situations or customers?

      Yes, it is aimed to get insight into your reaction to a crisis. Answer with examples, but make sure that they illustrate your diplomacy, discretion, clear headedness and good people management skills.

    2. Why do they ask: 'How do you take criticism?

      They want to establish your professional conduct and whether you will use criticism to improve your work or relationships. Your answer should reflect that you appreciate constructive criticism. Provide an example of how you handled criticism in a positive way.

    3. When asked to sell a product to the interviewer, what tactic should I use?

      This question is normally posed to applicants for selling, marketing and negotiating types of jobs. Focus on the best features of the item and how it would benefit the interviewer when he buys it.

    4. If asked for an example of how I resolved a dispute between two persons, what should I answer?

      If you have never had to resolve a dispute, say so, but try to think of at least one situation at your previous employer where you resolved and issue before you go to the interview. Good steps in dispute resolution include to first get the individuals to calm down, and then to arrange a meeting where you can act as facilitator with the aim of reaching a compromise.

    5. Should I say how I like not to be managed when asked how do you prefer to be supervised or managed or not to be?

      No, answer in the positive for example: 'I normally adapt to the management style of my superior. I prefer to take some of the responsibilities and workload from my manager to free up more of his or her time.

  7. References
    1. Will they ask me whether they can call my references?

      Yes, but explain that you don't want them to call your current employer until a job offer has been received. You should inform your references that they will be called and for what purpose.

    2. Will they ask me how I know the references and what my current relationship with them entails?

      Yes, be prepared to provide a short background on your relationship and their position. The purpose of the question is to establish what the credibility of the references is.

    3. How many references should I give?

      As many as is needed to cover all the areas of responsibility. Normally three references are enough, but if you need someone to confirm your qualifications or character then list them as well. Try to get senior references or people with authority.

    4. Do I provide originals of recommendation letters or references?

      Keep the originals with you and hand the copies to the interviewer.

    5. Do I need to ask permission before I list someone as a reference?

      Yes, never list a person without his or her knowledge.

  8. Dress Code
    1. What should I wear to an interview?

      Your clothing depends on the job role and corporate environment. You will for instance, not wear a suit if you apply for an adventure job. Your attire should reflect that you understand what the job environment entails.

    2. What should I not wear for a normal corporate interview?

      Avoid any heavy jewelry and casual or bright clothing and open shoulders or shirts. Don't show too much skin. Your hair must be cut if you are a male and you must be clean shaven. Ladies must not wear bright lipsticks and too much make-up. Use a neutral color nail polish and avoid the summer holiday dress look.

  9. Trap questions
    1. What are the main questions used to create stress or pressure on a job candidate during an interview?

      The three main types of stress related questions are:

      • Competency
      • Proof
      • Blaming
    2. On what do they focus with blaming questions?

      The idea is to get you to blame someone for your mistakes or bad-mouth your previous employer. An example is 'Why did you leave your previous employer?' Always focus on the positive and never answer any negative stated questions. Turn them into positive answers. Another example is 'Why did you change jobs so often?' Take responsibility for your decisions.

    3. What are proof related questions about?

      The idea of this type of question is to trap you in a close question, for example: 'Do you have experience with FrontPage?' You have to answer yes or no to the question. If you answer yes, you have to give an example, because that is what the interviewer will ask next. Don't make claims on knowledge or experience you don't have. Prepare answers for every type of application or job duty that you have done. Also do this for all the job requirements listed for the prospective job. If you don't know or have no experience in a particular area answer 'No, however' and continue to explain that you have experience in a similar area (if you do) and provide details or otherwise say that you are a fast learner and welcome the challenge. Give an example where you had no experience and how you mastered the skill or task in a short time.

    4. I need an example of a competency question.

      The aim is to establish how you would handle or approach a particular situation for example 'How will you deal with an angry customer?' or 'How will you complete a particular task?

  10. Employment questions
    1. Will they ask why I left my previous employer and how should I answer?

      Yes, it is one of the frequently asked questions and is asked to determine your attitude towards the employer. Refrain from complaining about the previous employer. Don't say anything bad about the employer even when deserved, rather focus on positive aspects. Some of the examples of a save answer includes: 'I had outgrown the position and feel that I need a job where my skills and experience can be used more effectively.' 'I reached a ceiling in my position and decided to explore positions that offer more scope for growth.' Once you have answered with a short explanation, turn the attention to what you can offer the employer.

    2. How should you answer 'What part of your previous job did you like the least?'

      The question can be a trap. Choose your words well since the main duties of the prospective job may include some of the things that you liked least at your previous job. The ideal answer includes a task that will only form a small part of the prospective job or will not feature at all and doesnït indicate any lack of competency on your part.

    3. If the corporate culture at my current or previous employer is less than perfect, should I say so when asked about the company culture at the employer?

      Never say anything bad about your previous or current employer. Find the positive aspects in the corporate culture such as freedom in choice, growth opportunities, transparency in decision making etc.

    4. Will they ask why I want to be part of their team?

      Yes, and you can answer it in the following way: 'I have always wanted to be part of a company that I know has a good reputation and whose services and products I can recommend.' or 'I have used several of your products and services and have always wanted to work for a company that stands for quality.'

    5. How should I answer the question about where I see myself in 5 year's time?

      A sample answer can be: 'Given the opportunity to grow, I believe that I will be the best I can be in my current or any future position in this company.' Avoid specific positions or titles as you cannot see the future.

    6. Why do they ask how many hours a week I prefer to work and what is the best answer? They are trying to establish your availability and whether you are prone to overworking or are perhaps lacking motivation. The best answer will indicate that you are able to keep a good balance between family life, work, friends and interests. People who overwork can burn out and don't have enough free time to recharge their creativity. People who only work to get an income are not committed. An example of a good answer will be:'I try to keep a good balance between work and my family life. I believe that if I do my best while at work, the normal hours should be enough to complete most projects. That being said, I don't hesitate to put in extra time to get a job done in time and to ensure a high standard. I prefer to start earlier than my colleagues since it provides me with enough time to take care of the administration and planning of the day so that I can perform at my best.'
    7. What should be mentioned as my priority when asked how I balance my work and personal life?

      A well adapted person will keep a good balance between work and personal life, but work comes first.

    8. On the question of what distinguishes me from the other applicants, what should I answer?

      State that you don't know the other applicants and can thus only speak of your own attributes. Also state your skills that are most relevant to the job, as well as specific strengths that would benefit the company if they were to hire you.

    9. If asked how I got to apply for the job, what should I answer?

      Answer very specific about where you saw the ad or heard about the position.

    10. How should I answer if the interviewer asks me if I don't think that I might be over qualified for the position?

      You can indicate that your experience and qualifications will be an advantage for you in the position and help you to comply with their requirements of high standards.

    11. What is a good answer when asked if I would consider working for the company's largest competitor when they offer me a job?

      Always say that you would decline the offer and emphasize that the excellent qualities of the interviewing employer are more than enough reason to be loyal to the company.

    12. If asked what my salary expectations are, should I aim high?

      No, always research the current salary range for people with your experience, qualifications and for the specific type of job before you go to the interview. If your expectations are too low, it shows that you are either desperate for the job or have no idea what the current market is. If you aim too high, you may not get the job. A safe answer will be to ask what their budget range is for the position and then adapt your answer accordingly.

    13. What should I answer if asked what I see as the dream or ideal job?

      Your answer should be focused on the job that you apply for. Indicate how your skills and experience fit the position and how your objectives are in line with the company's long term goals.

    14. How should I answer when asked how many days I have been absent from my previous job?

      Provide a specific answer and explanation for any days absent from the job.

    15. If asked what interests me about the position, what should my answer be?

      Relate your experience, qualifications and skills to the job. State how your abilities fit the job description.

    16. How can I relate my experience to the job?

      Illustrate the relevancy of your experience through examples at your previous job.

    17. How should I answer when asked why they must hire me?

      Don't repeat information already stated in your cover letter or CV, including your experience. Focus on the positive aspects of your personality and how you would fit in the specific job and corporate culture. Indicate your sincere interest in the company.

    18. Can you provide a few questions normally asked during the first job interview?
      • Why are you interested in this job?
      • Why do you think you are the best candidate for the job?
      • What can you tell us about yourself?
      • Can you tell us what you know about our company?
      • Please provide a few examples of skills that you have
      • What are your strengths?
      • What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
      • Give us an indication of your salary expectations
      • Why do you want to leave your current employer?
    19. Can they ask what my current remuneration is? Yes they can. When you answer, also include benefits and job level. Don't inflate the figures.
    20. When asked how do you meet deadlines, what should my answer be?

      Be specific in your answer. Provide details about planning, research and contingency plans as well as the time that you allocate to each section of the work process to meet deadlines.

    21. How do I explain frequent job changes?

      Don't try to hide the truth. They want assurance that you will stay at the prospective job for a while. Assure them that you have longed for a job where you can build a long term career.

    22. Are there any types of questions that are illegal?

      Yes, and although some are not illegal, they are considered unethical. Examples of these types of questions include anything about race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, number of dependants, weight and personal finances. If you feel uncomfortable with answering any of these questions, state so in a tactful manner.

    23. What if salary isn't mentioned during the interview at all?

      It will only happen in very rare occasions and if the interviewer doesn't mention it at all, you may enquire at the end if you are comfortable with the question. You may ask what the salary range for the position is.

    24. When asked how I would respond if I receive the job, should I indicate that I am happy?

      To answer the question, you need to ask and answer the question before you go to the interview. If you would be delighted, say so. If however, you will need to end a current project or employment elsewhere or have to relocate, state these responsibilities.

    25. How should I answer if asked to provide an example of one time when I performed bad or did poor work and how I handled it?

      Beware this is a trap question. Don't admit that you have performed poor or did bad work. State that you have made one or two mistakes, but since you believe in high quality work, you took responsibility and rectified the mistake as soon as it came to your attention.

  11. Preparation
    1. How can I prepare for the interview?
      • Research the job, company and industry.
      • Research the company's products, services and public image.
      • List possible questions that can be asked about the company and industry.
      • List questions that you want to ask about the company and its products or services.
      • Use questions as set out in the FAQ to prepare for all types of interviews.
    2. How to get past an initial screening with your resume?

      Your resume should include information that is not only of quality but also that tells in measurable language what kind of a performer you are and what kinds of skills you possess. Fancy language is not a substitute for putting content into a resume, and using the fancy stuff can have the opposite effect: it can confuse a lower level resume screener who may wind up tossing your resume instead of passing it on to higher authority. Make your information as clear as possible, so that anyone who reads it will understand your credentials and achievements. Save the dazzling vocabulary for in person.

    3. How to win interviews with your cover letter?

      Resumes are important to any job search, but it is typically the cover letter and its content that can land a job interview for a job seeker. The cover letter should be used as a marketing tool to relay your assets and skills in a way that the competition may not do.

  12. Documents
    1. Should I provide a cover letter at an interview?

      The purpose of the cover letter is to highlight your suitability for a job and to get the interview. You therefore don't need a cover letter when you already have the interview since it implies that they have already read your CV.

  13. Interview Mistakes
    1. What are the most common interview mistakes?
  14. Types of interviews
    1. What is a stress interview?

      The purpose of the stress interview is to determine how you would react to stressful situations and pressure. Most of the questions are aimed at creating confusion, fear and feelings of inadequacy. You should react in a calm manner and under no circumstances break down during the interview.

    2. What is the screening interview?

      It is a groundwork interview and most often starts in the HR department. Interview questions are focused on your education, years experience, availability, job hours, traveling capacity and relocation possibilities. The purpose of this type of interview is to get to a smaller number of candidates to interview and many of the screening interviews are now conducted via the telephone.

    3. What is a panel interview?

      Several members of your future department mixed with employees from related departments will pose questions to you. Although this may feel a bit intimidating, it also means that you are judged by more than one person and may stand a better chance of getting the job with this type of interview. It is however more difficult to maintain eye contact with each interviewer.

    4. What types of questions will I get in a technical interview that I will not get in a normal interview?

      Technical interview questions frequently include some types of brainteasers, puzzles or problem solving questions to assess your analytical thinking abilities. An example of such a question is: 'How will you redesign this program?'

    5. What is a lunch interview and how do I handle it?

      It is an interview over lunch and under more relaxed circumstances. The interviewee doesn't face formal interview questions and as such the interviewer gets the opportunity to get more insight into the character, work ethics and goals of the individual. Your confidence is measured when you eat. A person who is confident will be able to eat and have a discussion. When you mess on your clothes, just take a napkin and wipe it. Don't focus on the mess.

    6. What are the basic table ethics for a lunch interview?
      • Break your bread, don't cut it
      • Don't order drinks or food that can spill on the table
      • Never order alcohol
      • Don't wipe your mouth with your hand
      • If you need to pick your teeth, do it in the bathroom
      • Don't eat with your hands or use your fingers, unless it is a finger snack
    7. Who pays the bill with a lunch interview?

      The company normally pays, but ensure that you have enough money with you to pay the bill and the tip.

    8. What is a behavioral interview?

      The behavioral interview has the purpose to establish what your past reactions on specific situations were and how you would react to certain situations in the future. You will face several theoretical questions to help determine whether you will react in the preferred ways.

    9. How should I handle the telephone interview?

      Treat it the same as a face to face interview. Don't think too long before you answer questions, keep a professional telephone manner and prepare your answers in the same way as for a normal interview.

      • Don't yell, but speak loud enough to be heard.
      • Smile when you answer questions as it will help you to stay relaxed and portray a friendly tone in your voice.
      • Have a list of important skills and points you need to discuss in front of you. Try to get to at least three of those during the interview.
      • Keep your CV together with your cover letter in front of you. Most of the questions will be based on them and you should be able to recall dates of employment, position held etc. with ease.
      • As soon as you have applied for a job, you should start your research about the company as they will also ask questions to determine your knowledge about them.
    10. What is the main aim of the second interview?

      The idea is to establish what the candidate's approach is to the work and how the candidate will be able to handle certain situations. The questions are probing and you may face some tests or assessments. Many of the questions will focus on your personality. They want to know if you will fit in the specific department and if you are compatible with the rest of the employees. You may be asked to make a presentation or complete a specific task as proof of your claims. They can also invite you to lunch to assess how you act in a more relaxed environment.

    11. What is the group selection strategy, used during the second interview?

      This method allows several persons in one company to observe a number of job candidates perform certain tasks. Real job scenarios are invented to test team work abilities, leadership qualities, communication and management styles, stress or pressure handling, planning and coordination etc.