One way that a potential employer will gauge 'fit' is by ensuring that you are passionate about your particular industry. The best way to show your natural interest in your role is to study up on industry trends, newsworthy events, and policy changes. Show the interviewer that you are still excited about your industry by openly discussing how you stay on top of industry trends.
"I keep up to date on new technologies and trends in the accounting industry through a variety of sources. I follow three different blogs, Accounting Coach, The Accounting Onion, and the Bloomberg BNA Accounting Blog. I also read multiple articles online per week."
"My current employer sends a daily email regarding the company and industry updates. This email is helpful, and I am sure to read it thoroughly every day. I also have Google alerts set up so that I am up to date on new trends and happenings in the industry."
"I follow several blogs on the topic of effective leadership, am a member of the XYZ association. I also follow some industry leaders on LinkedIn. I am fascinated with technological change and will always strive to stay on top of the latest advancements in our industry."
"In the marketing world, there are always news-worthy changes and events taking place. I am a member of a few marketing and communications related associations in our city. I also write a blog of my own, focused on marketing trends and algorithm changes, so I do a lot of research for each blog post."
"I read a lot of fashion magazines and tune into channels such as "E!" that focus on the latest and greatest happening in design. Fashion is a genuine passion for me, so you will never find me out of touch with what's happening in the fashion world."
"Being in software sales, I know that the biggest mistake a person can make is getting too comfortable. This industry changes overnight, as soon as there are new breakthroughs in technology. I have some alerts set up and am part of a few LinkedIn networks that discuss up and coming trends in SaaS."
"Teaching methods are always changing, whether formally or informally. I am part of a few teachers forums and also started a teachers club in our city where like-minded educators meet on a monthly basis to discuss challenges and policies related to the public school system."
Being experienced, and in a senior role means that you will face significant dilemmas in your career that could potentially affect many employees or the company as a whole. Some crisis you may have faced could include: - The bankruptcy of your organization - Major Layoffs - Significant budget cuts - Negative Press - A major product recall - Cybersecurity hacks - Natural disasters - Senior level misconduct Give an overview of the situation, ensuring that you do not breach any NDA or confidentiality agreements surrounding the issue. Highlight the part that you played in recovering from the crisis and your overall attitude and mentality through the situation.
"In a previous company, when I was the VP, our President and CEO was publicly accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. Our board went into action mode immediately asking him to step down until the investigation was complete. I was acting President, taking on his responsibilities in the meantime. Our responsibilities were quite fluid and intertwined already so taking on his workload was not the issue. The challenge was not commenting on the situation as it seemed everyone I came across wanted to know. I maintained confidentiality and did not speak about the situation until given the green-light by our legal team."
"My current organization began major layoffs about six months ago. I have made it past three rounds so far, but am unsure of the future. Being an executive member of the administration team, I must remain positive at all times. I encourage our more junior administrators and take the opportunity to coach them to help improve their work performance, hopefully increasing their chance of keeping their job. For myself, I am actively searching, but quietly. I am seeking a stable opportunity where I know my job is safe."
"I was a club manager at a high-end yacht club in Hong Kong when the SARS crisis began. It was an incredibly challenging time for our club members in a panic and tourism dropping nearly 85% overnight. I worked closely with the Marketing Director of the club, and we put out a public statement outlining the actions that we were taking to ensure the safety of our club members and tourists. The release improved our situation, and we were able to break even at least until the crisis was over."
"I was part of an agency that went bankrupt in the middle of some major campaigns. The chaos was something I had never experienced before. There were multitudes of angry clients and unpaid bills. I quickly found a new agency to work for, and they agreed to take on the clients from the dissolved agency, at a discounted service rate. I successfully brought over 45% of the accounts that I had prior."
"I worked for Company ABC when our systems were hacked, resulting in the exposure of over 1 million customer credit card numbers. I traveled from store-to-store, putting out fires, as I was the regional manager at the time. It was pure chaos with employees quitting, customers showing up to demand if they were exposed, and even the local news showing up. I coped by following the direction of our hired PR agency, to a tee. Luckily I made it through in one piece!"
"We had a major airbag recall when I was the Sales Director for Company XYZ. The damage control was something that I have never experienced before, and hope never to experience again. Luckily I had some strong Marketing and PR departments to rely upon through the crisis. I followed their lead, and the recommendations from our legal team of course."
"Last year our district had significant budget cuts. These cuts meant that we were no longer eligible for a pay raise, we experienced the skimming of our benefits package, had zero budget for classroom materials and the inability to attend professional development courses. Luckily, our parent community and the city were incredibly passionate, and they helped us to raise enough funds to help with the cost of new materials and in-class technology. It was truly heartwarming to see what could happen when the community came together."
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.' If you do not have the experience, here is an example answer: "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."
"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."
"I do have some experience with terminations. At my last position, our HR department took the lead on terminations, but I was in the room for every one of them to manage the paperwork involved. I did also handle the communication for all small employee disciplinary actions. The HR department assisted on every issue."
"As a seasoned manager, I have performed many employee terminations and led numerous performance reviews. So long as I have the data to back the conversation, I am comfortable in these situations."
"I have not been in a management role within marketing so no, I do not have experience with the termination of employees. With that said, I have had to fire a couple of clients in my career. I imagine the conversations are very similar. When this happens, I review expectations, explain how they are not realistic, and then express my concern that we may not be the best collaboration."
"Retail, as you know, is a high-turnover industry. I have been involved in more terminations than I would like in the past; however, it's the name of the game as a retail sales manager. I have come up with a powerful interview process recently which has eliminated many poor hiring choices. I would love to share my strategy with you sometime."
"Recently I read the book 'Fix Them or Fire Them' by Steven J. Shaer. The premise of the book is how to manage under-performing employees, offering practical help and strategies for real-life situations. The book made me much more comfortable with employee terminations and performance reviews. Have you read it?"
"I have experience with disciplinary action regarding students but of course, not with fellow teachers. When it comes to students, I will typically involve the Principal and the parents of the student. I prefer a conversation vs. hammering down on the student. I will ask questions like 'How can we better support your learning?', for example."
Sometimes, hiring an overqualified individual can mean that they will leave when a better opportunity arises. Hiring managers become especially wary of hiring over-qualified staff during times of recession or low employment rates when many people apply for jobs for which they are much too qualified. Talk to the interviewer about why this position would be satisfying for you, long-term, despite you appearing to be overqualified. Assure the interviewer that, even if you are overqualified, you will still find an opportunity to learn and grow.
"I do have more years' experience than what you have outlined in your job posting; however, there are aspects of this position that would be new and exciting for me as well. For example, I would enjoy the exposure to more public accounting and government-related accounts. Despite my level of experience, there would be much for me to learn here."
"The job titles in my last two roles make it appear that I am overqualified for this administrative assistant role. They were big titles but, rest assured, this position is very much in line with my current skill level."
"I do not think that I am overqualified for this role. I do believe that I bring a lot to the table, but my last few roles were with smaller companies where everyone wore many hats and had time to handle more responsibility. I like the idea of focusing on one department and leading a slightly larger team but with more of a laser focus when it comes to the scope of work."
"I did have some significant accounts in my last marketing position; however, we were a very niche agency and did not tackle all aspects of marketing. In your role, I will learn a broader scope when it comes to client strategy, which excites me."
"My most recent role was a big one, in the job title at least. I was the Regional Manager for all stores; however, there was only three stores total. By joining your company as the manager for your multi-million dollar store, I will be very much in line with my experience and the types of budgets that I have worked with previously."
"I did have a larger territory in my previous role; however, the total number of accounts will be greater in your position. I look forward to handling a larger amount of accounts while having fewer travel expectations."
"In my current role, my class size is larger. With that said, I do not believe that this means a more robust experience, though. In a smaller school like yours, I will need to be extra aware and focused on my small group of students which I believe will be an even greater challenge than handling a class of 35 students."
Perhaps you started working at an early age, allowing you to learn valuable lessons sooner than most. Maybe you have held some tough jobs while putting yourself through University. Many hiring managers agree that the best employees are ones with 'grit,' who have held a 'dirty job' or two in their lives. Talk to the interviewer about your early work experience and how it will benefit you in this specific role.
"I have been working since I was just 14 years old. My first job was as a shop hand for my father who was a mechanic. I had to sweep, clean, greet customers and order parts. It was a great way for me to get my hands dirty and I was taught excellent customer service skills from an early age. Everything that I learned during that time has helped me to stay grounded and humble in my executive career."
"My early career as a server taught me great work ethic, the importance of active listening, memorization, and positively shaped my communication skills. I look forward to applying these skills to this role with your company."
"Every position that I have held has built upon the previous, in the form of bigger responsibilities and also more significant problems to solve. My first job was as a dishwasher where I thought up a system that made my dishwashing 30% faster, causing less stress on the kitchen and of course - making my job easier. As a Production Manager, I still look for ways to increase productivity."
"My very first job was a paper route when I was just ten years old. I would get up at 6 AM, rain or shine, and deliver my papers. My end goal was to buy a new bike for myself. I reached my goal and quit my job immediately after, funny enough. The idea of it all is that I, already at the age of 10, understood goal setting. I still set timed goals for myself on projects and am very headstrong when it comes to meeting those goals."
"Early in my career, I was a bartender at a busy club. I had to ensure that customers were taken care of promptly, given the right amount of change, handed the correct drink order - all with a smile on my face! That lesson in multi-tasking, while maintaining a positive attitude, has remained with me all through my retail sales career. Boxing Day, Black Friday, and Door Crashers? No problem!"
"My first sales job was a door-to-door position selling novelty items to offices. Yes, it was as awful as it sounds. We would meet as a group, and the team lead would cram us all into the company car, drive us to a heavily saturated business park, and we would split up, going door-to-door. Most of the time I was yelled at and rejected, but then the odd sale would save my day. This position taught me grit and courage - two characteristics that I still bring to work with me every day."
"The most memorable early work experience that I have was the summer, between my Grade 10 and 11 years, working as a camp counselor for my church's summer camp. The kids were so out of control, and I just wanted to go home. I remember calling my dad, telling him I couldn't do it. He told me that I needed to finish what I started and that the kids were counting on me to make their week great. He was right! I made the best of it and still keep his wise words in mind, even on the toughest days as a teacher. These kids count on me to deliver my best, every day."
Of course, you plan to make an immediate impact on the organization when they hire you! Talk to the interviewer about the contribution that you are going to make should you be the successful candidate. As an experienced professional, you know that the more tangible, the better so - if you have the time to prepare an actionable report, that is even better. Discuss what you plan to do in the first 30-90 days of being hired.
"After meeting with you, and getting to know your organization on a deeper level, I am confident that I will make a strong contribution to this years' sales goals. I understand that you have set ambitious goals for the company and I can get you there through my existing network and a strong portfolio. With a budget of $4M per year, I expect to reach that goal and exceed it by 15%, realistically."
"Earlier in our interview, you mentioned that the precious administration lead left the digital files in disarray. My plan will including tacking this issue right away. I also plan to contribute by soaking in all of the training that I receive so I can be a solid resource to your team right away."
"I understand that employee retention is of concern to you. With the high expense associated with hiring, training and the like, I plan to take an immediate look at your onboarding strategy and suggest changes as I see fit. In my current position, I have increased the average employee tenure by four years, and I plan to bring those same significant improvements to your organization."
"I have a unique background as both an agency based Marketing Director and a Professor at the local college. My mix of agency work and exposure to an educational setting will prove very helpful in training your existing marketing team and attracting new talent."
"I feel like my experience on the customer side of this equation will help me build a strong rapport with your customers from the start. I have walked a mile in their shoes, and I do understand the dilemmas that you have described for me today. My first plan of action would be to address any outstanding customer disputes and put them to rest."
"I have earned President's Club for six years running in my previous organization. From those efforts, I learned a great deal about building a pipeline of business, and cold calling far above the standard expectations. I will bring that same level of tenacity here and assure you that I will be a solid example to your junior associates at the same time."
"My years of experience as a Spanish and French teacher will bring fresh course options to your students wishing to learn a second or third language. I also have resources and connections related to the implementation of high school exchange programs which could prove beneficial to your high-achievement students."
Moral dilemmas do not disappear as you climb the ranks of an organization or your industry. In fact, they can become even more complicated. This hypothetical question is a blend of behavioral and honesty based. If you have ever been asked by your board, or senior leadership team, to take part in something that you were not comfortable with, you can use this real-life example. Be sure to avoid speaking poorly of anyone, or naming names. You want to remain professional and trustworthy.
"In a previous role I was asked to fabricate some numbers for a stakeholder meeting. As an accountant that is entirely against my code. I expressed my disinterest in doing so, but remained professional, hoping that I had somehow misinterpreted the ask. I left the organization shortly after. It's important to me that I fully trust the company for which I am working."
"I was often asked to cancel and reschedule appointments on behalf of the executive who I supported. This request came to me often, and to the point where the executive appeared very unprofessional and disorganized. I did as I was asked, of course, but I also asked the executive at one point what I could do to support him better to avoid the reschedules."
"My reaction would depend on my reason for disagreeing, I suppose. If I were asked to do something illegal I would certainly not comply. If I were simply uncomfortable with the task, due to lack of knowledge, I would take the time to learn what I needed to, to deliver on expectations."
"I will never sacrifice my integrity for the sake of a job but, at the same time, I realize that I may not always agree with the direction that my company is taking, and that is completely okay. Let's say that I receive direction from a client account that I do not particularly like. I will challenge the thought process appropriately while hoping to find a middle ground. I want to deliver work that I am proud of but also understand that I am not the owner of the company."
"I receive direction from my corporate head office quite often with which I do not necessarily agree. This instruction may include the new direction of a collection, merchandising suggestions, or the termination of an employee. I do my job well and do not make a fuss unless there is a good reason. In those instances, I ask the right questions and never make accusations. I seek to understand before concluding."
"Communication, in my opinion, drives the difference between a great negotiation and making a fool of yourself. I am wise enough to know that the leaders of my company have a good reason for their decisions. If I do not agree, I am perhaps misunderstanding. I always go for clarification first."
"As an educator, it can be very frustrating to see decisions made based on money, and not necessarily in the best interest of your students. When these circumstances arise, I will naturally comply and then make the best of the situation in my classroom setting, where I may have more control."