30 Questions and Answers Written by Professional Interviewers
Question 1 of 30
The utilities industry is highly regulated. How do you stay on top of policy changes and trends related to our business?
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The interviewer wants to see that you have a keen and sincere interest in the utility industry. Show that you see this as more than 'just a job.' Talk to the interviewer about a couple of ways that you stay in touch regarding industry trends and policy changes. It's also a great idea to ask the interviewer about their favorite industry resources. This question can start an informative conversation and potentially give you new resources for industry based knowledge.
"My go-to resources for industry related news would be utilitydive.com as well as waterworld.com. I prefer these resources because I can subscribe to daily inbox updates as well as their monthly newsletter. Their sources are strong, and the content is always fresh. What are your favorite resources for industry trends and related news?"
"It is tough to keep up on the ever-changing policies in this industry. I have set up google alerts for particular keywords. Also, I meet with a mentor once a month who had a long-time career in the utility industry. During our meetings, we discuss the industry in great detail. I look forward to these meetings because I learn so much!"
Our industry is highly competitive. In your opinion, what are we doing right at Company ABC? What could we be doing better?
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Although the interviewer would like to know what they could be doing better, this is indeed not an invitation to do a deep dive into the things you do not like about Company ABC. Keep your answer firmly focused on what Company ABC is doing right. Offer a lighthearted suggestion for improvement. This suggestion could be mentioning a small change in their online job portal, or perhaps a stronger social media presence. Be sure to complete your answer on a positive note by complimenting Company ABC and affirming that you want to work for them.
"I understand that this industry is very competitive; however, I have always seen Company ABC as the industry leader. I enjoy how you relate to your customers through your marketing and branding efforts. It's all very relate-able content. If I could make one suggestion, I would comment on the user interface for your online job portal. I noticed that it isn't mobile friendly. With 67% of job seekers being mobile users, you would likely see a strong increase in applicants by making your job portal mobile friendly. Other than that, I like what I have experienced so far. I'm excited to have the opportunity to work at Company ABC!"
"Company ABC is doing so many things right, which is why I am so excited to be meeting with you today! I like the fact that your employees are so happy to work here. Your online reviews are solid. If I could make a suggestion, I would recommend a more robust website as so many customers are on mobile."
Have you personally used the services of Company ABC? If so, what was your overall experience?
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The interviewer would like to know if you have had the pleasure of experiencing the products/services of Company ABC first hand. You should always have some personal experience with the company before going to your first interview. If you are not a customer of Company ABC then perhaps you could call their office to inquire about their utility services. This way, you can comment on the customer service that you received. Big or small, be prepared to say YES - you have experienced Company ABC first hand.
"I have been a customer of Company ABC for three years now. My experience has been a positive one. I specifically recall last year when my invoice was incorrect. I called the customer service line, and the representative was helpful and friendly. I have recommended Company ABC to my friends and family in the past."
"I have not been a direct customer of Company ABC; however, I did call into your customer service department a couple of weeks ago to discuss the possibility of changing my services over to you. Unfortunately, I am on a contract with one of your competitors until the end of November. My experience with Company ABC was great so I will be switching over to you as soon as I am able."
Company ABC has many different departments and growth opportunities. Where would you like to see your career go with us in the next couple of years?
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Company ABC wants to know that you think about the future and are actively working towards your career goals. Better yet, they want to know how working for them will help you to accomplish those goals! Take a look at the job postings available with Company ABC. Perhaps there is a particular location or department to which you would like to transition. Talk to the interviewer about the ways you could see your career flourishing with Company ABC.
"I noticed that Company ABC has opportunities for management and new employee training. My goal would be to become a corporate trainer with Company ABC because I know the industry well and have been told that I am a talented mentor and teacher. I believe there are many great opportunities for my career to flourish with Company ABC and I look forward to spending many years with your company."
"I have some pretty lofty career aspirations, and after researching your organization and learning more about this position, I feel that this role fits with my future aspirations. I would love to see myself promoted based on my hard work and results, eventually managing my team."
Interviewing, hiring and onboarding are expensive and time-consuming tasks for a company. Assure the interviewer that you have a specific interest in working for Company ABC. Come prepared with examples of why Company ABC is your top choice. This example could include commenting on individual industry awards and accolades that Company ABC has achieved in the past. Perhaps they are well known for their community outreach efforts or their strong workplace culture. Make your answer engaging and genuine.
"It's important to me that I work for a socially responsible organization. I like that Company ABC has implemented a new water conservation program as well as the fact that you donate many dollars and volunteer hours to local charities. You are a company with heart, and I put a great deal of value on that."
"The primary reasons your company stands out to me include your focus on employee development and continued education. You have a strong reputation for nurturing the human resources that you have. I would be so grateful to work here."
6. What are your greatest strengths? How will these skills benefit Company ABC, if hired? Reviewing the job description and the company website will give you some direction on which qualities Company ABC values most. Share your most valuable strengths. You can refer to the list of responsibilities within the job description to gain a better understanding of what strengths Company ABC will value most from you.
Explain how your strengths will help you to accomplish the job-related tasks and, better yet, help you to exceed company expectations. Try to offer unique advantages that will set you apart from other candidates. Avoid generic terms. Here is an answer example: "I have exceptional loyalty when it comes to my clients and employer. I am also quick to solve problems, which helps me handle customer issues with ease. These strengths will help me to build exceptional relationships and maintain customer satisfaction." Here is an answer example: Some great strengths to mention are:
- Tech Savvy
- Flexible in Schedule/Availability
- Persistent and Determined
- Eager for Knowledge/New Skills7. At Company ABC we believe in continued education opportunities. What course or workshop would you take, if given the opportunity? The interviewer would like to know that you have a keen interest in gaining new skills by continuing your education when the opportunity arises.
Tell the interviewer about any course that you would like to take, but be sure to keep your answer industry related. You should avoid saying that you want to attend a class on dog grooming if you are interviewing for a career in the utility industry.
It's also a great idea to ask the interviewer if, after reviewing your resume, they would suggest a particular course to fill any potential gaps in your skill set. Here is an answer example: "I agree that continued education is essential. If given the opportunity to take any coursework, I would like to complete my Project Manager certificate. Being PM certified would help me to manage the aspects of our commercial utility projects more efficiently. Do you have a recommendation for any courses I could be taking to strengthen my skill set?" Here is an answer example: "That is a great question, and I appreciate that you consider continued education options for your employees. If I could take any related coursework, I would choose to learn more about the future of electric utilities and organizational behavior. Are there any particular courses you recommend that I take?"8. Why do you want to pursue a career opportunity in the utilities industry? Company ABC is looking for motivated individuals who want to grow with them. Before your interview, take some time to think through your career goals. Share your career plans with the interviewer, while remaining focused on the utility industry.
The last thing the interviewer wants to hear is that you want to become a police officer but the utility industry pays too much for you to walk away quite yet. Talk about how this position will help you achieve industry-related career goals. Here is an answer example: "I am passionate about the utility industry because these are essential services for any well-developed community. The utility industry allows me to tap into multiple career paths if desired. The diversity it offers is significant and exciting." Here is an answer example: "My formal education and previous work history are related to the utility industry. I am excited to be considered for this position so that I can further grow my experience in this industry."9. Tell me about the most important skill you have gained in the past year. How will that skill help you succeed in this role with Company ABC? The interviewer wants to know that you continue to better yourself by gaining new skills and strengthening your existing skills. Discuss what you believe to be the most valuable skill acquired in the past year. Explain to the interviewer that you are excited for the opportunity to grow yourself, professionally. Here is an answer example: "I think it is imperative to introduce new skills to my repertoire continually. This year, I am most excited about the coding knowledge I have gained. This knowledge has helped me to expand my abilities in more areas than I initially expected, and I hope to utilize my coding skills in this position with Company ABC." Here is an answer example: Here is a list of transferable skills that you may have gained in your most recent work history:
- Writing new procedures
- Ability to quickly take and understand instruction
- Professional written communication
- Learning a new industry or trade
- Public speaking or presenting
- Delegating tasks
- Hiring, terminating, and on-boarding10. If we hire you at Company ABC, how will you make an impact in the first 90 days? The interviewer wants to know that you already have a plan of action in place for your success with Company ABC, should you be the chosen candidate. Show your initiative by preparing a 90-day success plan. If you are applying for a sales position, discuss how you plan to resuscitate dormant accounts, for example.
Be sure to address the needs that the company has outlined in the job posting or job description. For instance, if the job description mentions a "must-have" of strong communication skills, be sure to comment on how you plan to utilize your exceptional communication skills to see success in a short amount of time. Here is an answer example: "must-have" Here is an answer example: "In my first 90 days with Company ABC, I would like to make an impact by excelling in my training and learning all that I can about the processes here. I want to develop strong relationships with my new coworkers and customers."11. Sometimes our customers do not understand their bill and they will reach us with questions. Tell me about your communication skills and how you would respond to an irate customer. Keeping a customer calm when they do not understand their bill can be a challenging task. The interviewer wants to hear about a situation where you used your customer service skills to handle an irate customer. Highlight your ability to maintain a relaxed demeanor, and your ability to empathize with the customer, while coming to a smart solution that works for both parties. Here is an answer example: "I had a customer call last week because her bill was twice the amount of what she was expecting. She was distraught because her bill has always consistently been the same. I listened and let her know I understood where she was coming from, ensuring her I would move as quickly as I could to find a solution. Listening and empathizing helped her to calm down and ease the tension during the call. My manager agreed that we would, one time only, discount her bill by half. She was happy, and we kept a customer complaint from blowing out of proportion." Here is an answer example: "Irate customers are usually just wishing to be heard. If I am to come across a customer who is unhappy, I would ask them to tell me more about what was bothering them. Once I have a clear understanding of the true problem, I can then ask the customer to tell me what a viable solution would be for them."12. Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond. Display to the interviewer that you can do more than the bare minimum. Show that you can react appropriately when you see that your employer has a need that goes beyond your usual day-to-day expectations. Here is an answer example: "Last week I noticed that my manager had not completed the schedule for the following week. Some of the staff were complaining that they didn't have their work schedule yet. Rather than going to my manager with the complaint, I offered to take on some of her workload so that she would have the time to complete the schedule. We worked together for a couple of overtime hours that day and were able to catch her up on everything. It felt good to help but also benefited me by way of organization." Here is an answer example: "I often go above and beyond when it comes to helping new employees to feel comfortable and welcomed. In my current position, I like to take them under my wing and show them the ropes in our organization, and industry."13. Have you progressed in your career as you have expected? Career progression can be a touchy subject, especially if you feel that your career hasn't progressed as well as you would have liked. Talk to the interviewer about your career progression and what you would like to see in the future. Here is an answer example: "Overall, my career has progressed a touch slower than I would have liked. I have held a couple of positions that didn't offer the growth and learning that I was expecting; however, I have bounced back nicely. I feel that this particular position would take my career exactly where it should be." Here is an answer example: "I have been cautious when paving my career path. Things have gone very well for me so far, and I am thankful for that. This position with Company ABC will be a perfect compliment to both my short and long-term career plan."14. Describe your leadership skills. If the position you are interviewing for requires leadership skills, you need to come prepared with examples of when you have been an active leader.
If this is an entry-level role without a leadership component, the interviewer wants to see that you can take the initiative when there is an opportunity. What type of keywords best describe your leadership style? Here is an answer example: "In previous employer reviews I have had my leadership style described as attentive, open, and confident. I will always listen to my team and give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their performance. An example of this would be with my current sales team. When one of my team members is not hitting their quota, that is when I will step in and begin coaching. I want to believe they know their job unless they show me otherwise. This type of leadership has worked well with my team, and we are the #1 sales team in our region." Here is an answer example: "I have taken many workshops and courses to improve my leadership skills over the years. My leadership qualities are best summed as dedicated, attentive, and motivating. I like to recognize my employees' small wins because that motivates them to continue achieving."15. Would you be willing to work over 40 hours a week? Before answering scheduling questions, it's important to be clear on expectations. If you haven't had a chance to clarify their scheduling needs, now would be the perfect time to ask!
If it turns out their schedule expectations won't work for you, think about what you can offer and see if you can meet in the middle. It's much better to discuss these things in an interview than for you to commit to a schedule that won't work for you. Here is an answer example: "I am available for full-time work which is preferably 8-5 Monday to Friday. I am happy to be a team player and work some overtime, as required. Will these hours be enough to meet your expectations?" Here is an answer example: Consider asking, "What are the scheduling expectations for this position?" If they expect you to work 12 hour days, it would be important for you to know that before you respond with, "Absolutely! No problem!" You want to be sure that you can meet their expectations.16. Would you say you are a better verbal or written communicator? In which manner do you prefer to communicate - written or verbal? Discuss your preference with the interviewer and support your answer. Here is an answer example: "I prefer verbal communication because I feel that with written communication, miscommunication can happen due to lack of tone, fluctuation, expression and body language. I will always choose a face to face conversation whenever possible." Here is an answer example: "I like to leverage both methods of communications when dealing in business. Sometimes, situations call for verbal communications and other times, written. As a rule of thumb, I tend to practice verbal communications, with written follow up or vice versa. Utilizing multiple methods creates repetition and therefore, change."17. Looking at your resume, it seems there are certain skills necessary for this position that do not stand out. How do you think you will be able to compensate for these missing skills? Most job descriptions will have a long list of requirements. Hiring managers are aware that, to find a candidate that checks ALL of the boxes, can sometimes be impossible. Do not fret if you are missing some of the "nice to have" or even a couple of "must have" skills listed in the job description. Be open about your shortcomings and discuss with the interviewer how you plan to compensate for those. Here is an answer example: "nice to have" Here is an answer example: "Could you share with me which specific skills you feel are not standing out? I would be happy to give any clarification on those skills. If there are gaps that need filling, I am very willing to take additional coursework or training."18. How do you manage a large workload? Start your answer by clarifying with the interviewer that you never let a large workload stress you out. For instance, you can tell that interviewer that, each morning, you review your tasks using a task manager application. (If you do not have one, just Google search 'task manager application' and giving one a try). Discuss how you complete each task by priority level. Before you know it, your large workload is complete! Here is an answer example: "When I have a large workload, I do not stress over the tasks that are in front of me. Rather, I make a simple plan of which tasks are a high priority and which tasks are a low priority. The higher priority tasks, I complete first. Through this system, I can focus on my tasks individually, rather than stress out by the multitude of tasks ahead of me." Here is an answer example: "When I have a large workload on my plate, I do not stress over the tasks that are in front of me. Rather, I make a simple plan of which tasks are a high priority and which tasks are a low priority. The higher priority tasks, I complete first. Through this system, I can focus on my tasks individually, rather than stress out by the multitude of tasks ahead of me."19. How do you determine priorities when you have multiple projects due? When you feel torn between multiple projects or tasks, how do you decide which one needs your attention the most? Assure the interviewer that you can be diligent when it comes to assessing your priorities. Here is an answer example: "I will determine which project requires my attention by the number of hours we are behind and then the project size. I am comfortable delegating tasks when needed, but I am also aware that these times will require an additional commitment of hours from me. Never have I under delivered on a deadline." Here is an answer example: "Assuming that the projects have different stakeholders, I interview each to determine the value of increased productivity, morale or revenue, decreased costs, and the overall impact."20. How do you handle stress? Are you someone who can handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to control pressure in the workplace. Here is an answer example: "I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful, and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress." Here is an answer example: "Stress is part of any demanding job, and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."21. Do you have experience in corrective discipline and terminations? Terminations and corrective discipline measures can be very difficult to do but, with experience, they do get more comfortable. Talk to the interviewer about the extent of your experience with terminations and discipline.
If you do have the experience: "I have been a part of individual terminations and group lay-offs throughout my career. I am comfortable with these types of tasks." Here is an answer example: "I have been a part of individual terminations and group lay-offs throughout my career. I am comfortable with these types of tasks." Here is an answer example: If you do not have the experience: "I have not been in a position to perform terminations or hold corrective discipline meetings; however, I would be willing to perform these types of tasks with a small amount of training and research."22. On a scale from 1 to 10, how honest are you? Do you feel that you are a sincere person or do you have room for growth? This question could be a tricky question as nobody is always 100% honest. Answer to the best of your ability and back your reply by speaking about your ethics. Here is an answer example: "I would love to give myself a 10/10 for honesty but truthfully - nobody is 100% honest all of the time. I will give myself an nine because I always do my best to be as honest as possible." Here is an answer example: "I put a heavy focus on honesty and trustworthiness in the workplace, as well as in my personal life. Because I strive for complete honesty, I will rate myself as a 10/10. My values are solid."23. How can we motivate you on the job? Every employer should know how each staff member is best motivated. Talk to the interviewer about the variety of ways in which you receive motivation on the job. Here is an answer example: "I am best motivated through words of praise and recognition for a job well done. I do like to know that my efforts are noticed. In my current position, we have a leaderboard and I do like that concept because it creates a healthy bit of competition for me." Here is an answer example: Here are some ways that an employer may try to motivate you. Which ones resonate most with you?
- Incentive programs where points are earned
- Showing complete trust in your work and performance
- Setting smaller, more achievable goals
- Helping you to find your greater career purpose
- Being a positive example to you
- Maintaining an open and transparent workplace
- Personalized incentives vs. Team driven incentives
- Getting to know you on a personal level
- Positive feedback based rewards system
- Offering a stable work/life balance by encouraging time off
- Letting you know your voice matters
- Allowing you to take the lead on projects that excite you
- Handing out big-picture projects, so you feel that you are contributing to the company's future
- Public recognition24. How do you respond to feedback? Receiving feedback from a manager or supervisor can be tough. You can't always predict what they may say, and you also can't always predict how you might feel in response. Learning how to respond when given a performance review or negative feedback is essential. Here is an answer example: "Even though it can be difficult to hear criticism, I always pause before I respond and take time to think about it first. If it's something that catches me by surprise, I usually ask for clarification. I want to grow and improve. The more specific my supervisor can be in their feedback, the more helpful it is." Here is an answer example: "I have worked hard on learning to graciously accept all forms of feedback, even when it comes unsolicited. I feel that I can accept feedback very well and, in the process of growing, I have also taught myself how to give great feedback to my team."25. When do you best demonstrate yourself as a leader? The interviewer wants to know that you are confident about your leadership abilities and that you understand when your leadership abilities have been most useful.
Perhaps you best demonstrate yourself as a leader when your manager is away. Maybe you often jump into a leadership mindset when a co-worker is struggling. Think about a recent time when an employee on your team was successful at something because of your leadership skills. Discuss the scenario and how your leadership skills made the difference. Here is an answer example: "I best demonstrate myself as a leader when I know that a coworker could use my assistance. I seem to be a natural teacher and mentor which means that when someone is struggling, my first instinct is to train them. Just recently, I coached a new employee on a sales technique that helped her to achieve her quota for the first time. I look forward to working in this role with you because it will allow me to take on further leadership opportunities." Here is an answer example: "In my current position, every time my current manager is away, I take on the role of leader for our team. This situation usually occurs one day per week. When you call him for a reference, he will be able to tell you that I have naturally stepped into the responsibilities associated with being a leader."26. Do you have reliable transportation? Even if you're not expected to drive for the job, you will need to have some form of reliable transportation. If you take the bus or ride a bike, that works too! Merely share that you have the means to get to work consistently and on time. Here is an answer example: "I have reliable transportation. I have a well-maintained vehicle, and I am comfortable with the amount of travel required to get to your office every day." Here is an answer example: "I take public transit; however, I find it to be very reliable. I was late to work only once last year, and that was due to a snowstorm which stalled all of our employee's commute - including those with personal vehicles. Rest assured, I am reliable and will always come to work on time."27. Tell me about yourself. Take a few minutes to tell the interviewer a few things about yourself. You can begin with your recent education, volunteer work, or talk about your travels. Bring up anything that is interesting and highlights your ability to be a responsible, reliable, and bright individual. Here is an answer example: "A bit about me - I love to travel, read, and conduct research. I am a recent grad from Columbia University and have spent the past 12 months traveling the world. It was the best experience that I could have given myself as I was able to learn so much from seeing how the rest of the world lives. I returned to the US just last month and have been actively looking for work the past couple of weeks. I am looking forward to getting into the routine of a career again." Here is an answer example: "With pleasure! I have over ten years of experience in the utility industry and am interested in growing my career to the next level. On a more personal note, I love to read, go hiking and spend a lot of my extra time volunteering with the humane society."28. What are your salary expectations? The best way to discuss your salary expectations is to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise. Here is an answer example: "Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year plus a potential 20% annual bonus. Last year my earnings were $52,000, and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher." Here is an answer example: "I am currently making $100,000 per year with two bonus opportunities. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the role and provides an opportunity for growth."29. What would you do if a client asked you about a product or service and you were unsure of the answer? The interviewer wants to know if you are an independent thinker. Explain that you would take the time to try and figure out the answer, but you are not afraid to ask questions if you need to. Here is an answer example: "If I had a client ask me about something that I didn't know enough about, I would find the answer for them before giving a potentially false answer. I am okay with admitting when I don't know something, and I love to learn new things. Of course, I would find the answer quickly by asking the appropriate person or finding it within the company's internal resources." Here is an answer example: "I am accustomed to having to think on my feet and come up with a creative answer based on the information I have at hand. With that said, I'm not going to tell a client something that is untrue or could potentially create a long-term issue. I'm not afraid of putting myself in a position where I don't know everything or am not the expert. I am happy to get out of my comfort zone to grow, learn, and help a customer. I will not hesitate to involve the appropriate parties, do my research, and work collaboratively to solve the situation."30. What questions do you have for me? It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of items you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their company site!
Here are some sample questions:
- When would you like to have this position filled?
- How long has this role been vacant?
- Is this a replacement search or a newly created role?
- What is your favorite part about working here?
- What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months?
- Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you?
- What do you see as the biggest change in this industry over the past 3 years?
- Is there any reason why you would not hire me? Here is an answer example: Here is an answer example: "Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? Also, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"
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