Written on September 5th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
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What motivates you the most in your current role?
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Situations that keep you motivated at work could include:
-Learning new skills
-Troubleshooting complex problems
-Coming up with creative solutions
Talk to the interviewer about what keeps you excited about your job, and then provide a specific example of this motivation in action. The interviewer needs to see your enthusiasm for what you do. Then, be sure to tie in your motivating factors with the job for which you are interviewing. Where do you see an opportunity for motivation in this new role?
"I find motivation through helping others. This year, I was asked to assist in a new training program for our outside sales reps. I helped these new hires to feel comfortable, learn about our products, taught them how to cold call, and how to prospect effectively. It felt wonderful to see these new hires flourish in their training, and find great success in the weeks after their training was complete. When I saw this job posting for assistant manager, and read that much of the role is helping to train and coach new hires, I knew I needed to apply."
Second Answer Example
"When I meet and exceed my goals and targets, I feel incredibly motivated. It feels amazing to take a plan, put it into action, and then reap the rewards. For instance, this month, I exceeded my sales goals by 25%, earning a spot with our company's top three customer service representatives. The feeling is so rewarding that it motivates me to do even better next month. I appreciate that your organization offers clear performance targets and then incentives based on exceeding them."
Do you consider yourself an overachiever? Why or why not?
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It's important first to define what you believe to be overachieving. By definition, overachievers 'perform better or achieve more success than expected.' There are a variety of indicators that you are an overachiever. These include:
-You judge your worthiness on how well to perform a task or complete a goal
-You are hyper-focused on avoiding failure
-You often overcommit and stay late to achieve more at work
-You struggle with taking feedback or criticism because it feels like a failure
-You are always focusing on what's next
-Your friends and family often refer to you as a perfectionist
It may seem now that it isn't a great thing to be considered an overachiever. If you do resonate with being an overachiever, this is entirely okay! It's essential, however, that you express to the interviewer that you are still a team player who can accept feedback and avoid burnout.
"I like to take my goals and targets and achieve more than expected. With that said, I do not struggle with feelings of perfectionism. I like to gain feedback from my managers so that I can improve. It's important to me that I achieve and not fail; however, I still understand that failure is a part of life. When I do not achieve a goal, I can easily pick myself back up and try again."
Second Answer Example
"I was most certainly a perfectionist when attending university. I was the first in my family to attend post-secondary schooling, and thus, I put a great deal of pressure on myself to achieve perfect grades. This overachieving led to burnout quickly! Although I am proud of my GPA, I did spend a lot of time finding a good balance between achieving my goals and making myself happy. Today, I will do my best at work without displaying the typical negative traits of an overachiever, such as fear of failure trouble accepting feedback."
It may seem odd for a potential employer to want to track your happiness. However, all smart hiring authorities know that happy people adjust to their work better, are more productive, and stay in their jobs longer. This tenure is because they feel connected and fulfilled. Talk to the interviewer about what makes you happy, being sure to address the 1-5 scale. Be ready to discuss what is making you feel most satisfied and most fulfilled at the moment! This question is not an opportunity for you to dive into the negative or explain what you dislike about your current job or situation. If there is room for improvement, you can be honest; however, take the time to discuss what you are doing to make yourself happier.
"There is always room for improvement; however, I do consider myself as fulfilled. This fulfillment is why I would rank myself as a 4 out of 5 on the happiness scale. I make sure to look at the positive side of a situation as often as possible. I take the time to give back to myself through exercise and good nutrition. I have meaningful relationships outside and inside work, which is important to me."
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"I would rank my level of happiness as a 3.5 out of 5 right now. I am loving life; however, have a healthy level of discontent as I continue to find the best career path for myself since graduating university. I have plenty of things to be thankful for and make a habit of practicing gratitude daily."
When you think about joining a new company, are you nervous about meeting new people or is this an exciting thought for you?
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This question is an opportunity to reflect on your personality. How willing are you to approach change in your career? Your answer will also let the interviewer know how they may best approach your onboarding, should you be the successful candidate. Joining a new company can be scary. Some of the biggest hesitations surround giving notice to your current employer, failing at your new job, or feeling alone and uncomfortable at first. If you are a highly outgoing person, you may not feel these hesitations as strongly as someone shy or more introverted. Be honest and give a response that is true to you.
"I am outgoing, a natural leader, and am one to embrace change. For this reason, I am not nervous when I think about joining a new company. I like to meet new people, learn about their strengths, and how we can begin a great collaboration."
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"I have had similar experiences in the past like joining a new high school, my first day in university, and even the first day of my internship. I tend to be a touch shy at first but am usually able to push through it and make meaningful connections quite quickly. I know that this company would take measures to make me feel comfortable on my first day. You have already shown a friendly and relaxed vibe throughout the interview process."
Do you have a best friend at work? Is it important for you to have close friendships within the workplace?
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Studies show that having friends at work is critical to the overall success of you as an employee and the company as a whole. Having a friend at work can significantly reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness, which, in turn, boosts employee tenure. Reportedly, more than half of all men and women have workplace friendships. If you do not see the need for this type of close connection at work, be sure to have a compelling reason why you feel this way. Still, be sure to express your ability to be friendly with your coworkers.
"I do have a handful of wonderful friendships at work. I believe in the importance of making meaningful connections in the workplace because this can boost morale and reduce stress. When I experience an event in the workplace; be it a challenge, a promotion, or a notable win, I love the fact that I can share the news with someone else who understands what I am going through. There is something different about this type of connection versus going home to family or my spouse and trying to explain the ins and outs of the situation."
Second Answer Example
"Although I have not made a best-friend connection at work, I am very open to the idea. I can see how it would be a significant benefit to an employee and the company alike. I am always very friendly with my coworkers and open to sharing ideas, wins, and even attending activities such as after-work drinks. It is important to make connections to boost mood and morale."
6. How do you gain buy-in from your coworkers when it comes to delivering quality work? It's often said that we are only as strong as the weakest members of our team. Do you agree? With this question, the interviewer would like to know what action you would take if one of your coworkers were failing to carry their weight on a project. Talk about the importance of getting the job done right, setting a good example, and encouraging your teammates along the way. Your answer should showcase your work ethic as well as your leadership skills. Here is an answer example: "If I have a coworker who is not performing to a high standard, I will approach them on the subject; however, gently and with respect and empathy. Everyone has their reason for having an 'off' day, and I do not need to cross over any personal lines. I do have expectations for the people that I work with to put in their best, as I do the same. Sometimes, when a person feels unmotivated to deliver quality work, it's because they have not been tasked with items that play to their strengths. If this is the case, I will work to ensure that the coworker is set up for success and motivated to achieve by doing what they are best at." Here is an answer example: "I will always ask for feedback on my own performance before judging the performance of my coworker. This step is because there may need to be corrections on my end for my coworker to deliver their best work, in return. I will ask if there is any need to clarify expectations or what the mission is, for the project. I find that, by looking internally first, this shows a willingness to lead by example before I judge the work of someone else."7. Do the values of our company align with what you view as important? One purpose of this question is for the interviewer to see how much research you have done on their organization. Most companies will have their core values or mission statement provided on their website. You must know the mission and values of the company so that you can make a strong case when it comes to matching your own values with that of the company. Here is an answer example: "I conducted a great deal of research on your company before coming here today. I appreciate that your values include excellence in customer service, diversity, and inclusion, and transparency in pricing. I was very impressed after reading the letter from your CEO, published on the company website. Her words felt genuine. I consider myself a sincere person who is welcoming of those who are different from me. I take every new experience and treat it as an opportunity to learn and make new connections." Here is an answer example: "Your company values are posted around the website, and I appreciate how proud this organization is of these values. To treat everyone with kindness, to deliver above customer expectations, and to be first to market with new solutions are all values and goals that I have set for myself in my professional career. There is a lot of overlap between the company values and my own, which makes me very excited to work and grow here."8. How often do you give yourself challenges outside of your comfort zone? Your response to this question will show the interviewer how eager you are to grow in your career, and how invested you are in your current job. When we sit content with our tasks, day in and day out, life can begin to feel mundane, and we often become unhappy with our work. Employees who often face challenges in the workplace tend to be happier and stay in their jobs longer. Think about the last time you performed a task that was outside of your comfort zone. Perhaps you helped a coworker reach a deadline, but it required you to learn a new skill. Maybe you volunteered to lead a project when you typically do not take on a team lead position. Whatever your example is, be sure to show enthusiasm for growth within your company. Here is an answer example: "I always welcome new challenges; whether I give them to myself or my boss presents me with them. The last time I gave myself a challenge outside of my comfort zone was when I committed to doubling my cold calls for an entire month. I wanted to see how the increase in activity could boost my sales numbers. So, rather than making 50 cold calls per week, I made 100 calls, for a total of 400 for the month. My sales numbers nearly doubled, which I found to be very exciting and rewarding. Although this increase meant that I worked late a few days, and came into the office early on others, the reward was well worth the sacrifice in the end." Here is an answer example: "Facing challenges head-on is the fastest way to grow in the workplace so, although it can be uncomfortable at times, I believe that it's always a rewarding move. Recently, I volunteered to take on a client who most of my coworkers find very difficult to appease. I decided to do this because I knew it would allow me to learn more about overcoming objections and creating meaningful rapport through solution-based approaches. So far, I was right! I have learned a lot about myself in the process."9. What steps have you taken this year to encourage your professional development? The interviewer would like to see that you have taken your career path into your own hands, becoming responsible for your personal and professional development. There are many ways to take professional development steps.
These steps include:
-Reading books and articles from influencers in your industry
-Taking coursework to gain new skills
-Attending industry conferences to network and learn
-Listening to podcasts, and more
Show the interviewer that you are active in your professional growth by walking them through the steps you have actively taken this year. Here is an answer example: "At the beginning of each year I make a plan for what I would like to accomplish in my personal and professional life. This year, my plan included attending two industry conferences. I also decided to expand my network locally by attending more business commerce meetings, and through the use of my LinkedIn profile. I also enrolled in a course on leadership in the hopes of learning new ways of leading and boosting productivity." Here is an answer example: "This year, I have been asking for more responsibilities at work while also taking on more tasks without being asked. I committed to attempt perfect attendance at work this year, and have been reading more in my personal time. I have a list of the top 25 leadership books and plan to get through it before the end of the year. So far, I have completed the first eight books and have noticed a boost in my professional performance, already!"10. How can we encourage your professional development? Professional development opportunities can present themselves in the form of courses, workshops, gaining new credentials, collaboration with your superiors, or attending industry-related conferences. These opportunities help you to improve your job performance and can often lead to higher duties and responsibilities. The interviewer would like to know what type of professional development activities you value the most. Discuss what you want to learn in this role, and where you would like to see these opportunities take you in your career. Here is an answer example: "I value the opportunity to grow in my education and industry-based knowledge. For this reason, the best ways to encourage my professional development could be to offer continuing education, meaningful coursework, or even tuition reimbursement opportunities based on my work performance. I appreciate that your company values growth and development, and I am eager to improve my work performance here." Here is an answer example: "I appreciate the fact that your company encourages professional development. I am eager to learn and grow through a steady increase in duties and responsibilities. I also value skills-based training opportunities that are followed up with related job assignments, which allow me to apply my new skills immediately."11. How do you know if you're doing a good job? There are many ways to measure how you are performing at work, outside of direct feedback from your boss. The interviewer would like to know how active you are when it comes to monitoring your work performance. Common indicators of a job well done include being given promotions or more responsibility at work. Maybe you are offered more room to move and more autonomy than you were when you first started your job. Perhaps you are offered more visibility in your role, and your company is giving you opportunities to meet with clients or attend relevant industry events. Here is an answer example: "My current boss is great at giving me praise and feedback regularly. The other indicators that I look for are when my company offers me more exposure to our high-profile clients. Only those who put their best foot forward get opportunities to represent the company. When offered a chance to present to a large client, I appreciated the trust my boss extended to me. It made me want to shine, and do my very best work." Here is an answer example: "I know that I am doing my best work when I am offered more autonomy, and when my boss offers me more significant projects. If I were drowning in my responsibilities, my manager would not give me more tasks. By expanding my responsibilities and giving me more room to work, they are showing me that they trust my work ethic and the quality of what I deliver."12. Would this job give you the opportunity to do what you do best, every day? This query can uncover if this is the best job for you, at this time in your career. People change jobs for a wide variety of reasons, and it's essential to the interviewer that this move would be a long term fit versus a short blip on your resume. This question also shows how much research you have done on the role and your understanding of the position. Other ways of asking this question could include 'What is your interest in applying for this role?' and 'Why is this job a good fit for you at this point in your career?' Be honest with the interviewer about the ways that this job will fulfill you. Name specific tasks and responsibilities that you look forward to performing, and also which parts of the role will be an exciting challenge for you. Here is an answer example: "From the role description, I feel that there are many opportunities for me to utilize my stand-out skills. I look forward to fulfilling tasks in Software XYZ while also addressing user needs. My excellence in communication will be well-utilized as a significant portion of my time will be spent troubleshooting over the phone and by email. I am eager to gain more experience in Software ABC as well, which is a positive challenge that this role will provide me." Here is an answer example: "Yes, I wholeheartedly believe this position will allow me to let my competencies shine while also learning important new skills. I have expertise in inventory management, vendor relationships, and warehouse operations. These skills are most important in this role, and the tasks that I enjoy the most."13. How do you react when you do not have the materials or equipment needed to perform your work? In your career, you may face the challenge of completing a task or project when you are short on resources. The interviewer wants to know how you go about meeting expectations, regardless of your resources falling short. Do you panic and blame the company for your frustrations? Or, do you become creative and resourceful, chasing down answers and using the tools available to you? Show the interviewer that you are capable of figuring things out independently and with a positive mindset. Here is an answer example: "When I am tasked with something new and do not have the resources I need, I will become creative, and work through the issue from the bottom up. I am sure to keep my outlook positive and begin with what I do have versus what I do not have. I begin with completing the parts that I can, breaking down the task bit by bit. I have leaned on more seasoned coworkers in the past, asking for suggestions or assistance when appropriate. Overall, I am a resourceful person and can work independently to figure out a situation even when I may not have a full range of tools or resources." Here is an answer example: "When I feel short on resources, I begin by gathering what I have. I dig in, discover where the holes are in my project, and then work to track down what I need to make it happen. I look to resources online, internal company processes, or more experienced coworkers to help when needed. I am sure to exude confidence in myself and also rely on my knowledge. It's important to me that, even though I may face a small failure, I go for it and do the best that I can with what I have."14. Do you understand what is expected of you in your current role? The interviewer would like for you to take some time describing your current role and the expectations you face regularly. A sign of a mature and self-aware employee is knowing precisely what is expected of you in your job. If you show little direction or awareness of the impact you make on your company, the interviewer will see this as a red flag. There is no need to take 10 minutes walking the interviewer through your day; however, you should take a bit of time discussing your key responsibilities. Here is an answer example: "I perform a huge variety of tasks in my current role. My key responsibilities include keeping our 15 customer service reps on track, training, and onboarding new hires, and taking accountability for the store's sales performance. I am the one who answers to corporate regarding our stores' sales, customer returns, stock levels, and inventory discrepancies. My job requires a great deal of attention to detail, and I juggle many moving parts at the same time." Here is an answer example: "Yes, I do understand what is expected of me as an administrative assistant. First, I am expected to be reliable and enthusiastic about the company's mission. I am the first face that our customers see when they come into the office, so I am to smile, greet, and make them feel comfortable. I keep the office running smoothly every day, which includes answering the phone promptly, communicating with the executives whom I support, and answering inquiries that come in through our general admin email."15. Name for me one task in your current job that you wish you could perform more often. Chances are, the task that you discuss is one that you perform the best. Because we all prefer to do the things we are good at! The purpose of this question is for the interviewer to uncover some of your greatest strengths. Think about your favorite days at work at what they entail. Maybe you love being on the phone with customers, helping them solve product-related issues. Perhaps you most enjoy training a coworker on the company's new software update. Or, maybe giving outstanding stakeholder presentations brings you to life! Whatever your answer, be sure to show enthusiasm for what you do. Here is an answer example: "I thoroughly enjoy many tasks in my current role; especially making client site visits. I like to see my clients in person so that I can learn how their business operates and make more targeted product and service recommendations. I feel I can be more hands-on and helpful this way." Here is an answer example: "I love to learn and conduct research. If I could perform one task more often, it would be the database searches and analysis that my boss has me perform in Salesforce. I like taking our client information and breaking down trends in their buying patterns and then presenting the sales teams with targeted opportunities. Most businesses thrive when they can better understand their customer data and trends, and I enjoy being a part of that research."16. Do you think a chain of command is essential in the workplace? The interviewer would like to know when it comes to organizational effectiveness if you believe that a chain of command is necessary. How you answer this query can impact the way the interviewer sees your willingness to be a good team player who respects the organizational makeup of the company. Understanding the importance of a chain of command shows maturity and the fact that you recognize that great businesses require a precise distribution of power and tasks. Here is an answer example: "I believe that a chain of command is important in most business situations. For instance, when it comes to employee issue resolution, or helping clients understand where they should direct their queries and needs. I believe in the importance of everyone understanding their responsibilities with boundaries at the same time. The depth of this chain of command, of course, varies depending on the size of the company. Could you share with me a bit more about the chain of command within this organization?" Here is an answer example: "A chain of command is important and best when it does not interfere with a company's ability to pivot quickly and function in a smooth and disciplined manner. I have always been one to respect the chain of command, whether that be at work or school. I like to have a clear idea of who to turn to when I have needs, who to ask when I have questions, and what to strive for as I gain momentum in my career."17. When a leadership opportunity presents itself, are you excited to jump in, or do you feel nervous? Tell me about a time you acted as a leader without first being asked. It takes courage to volunteer yourself into a leadership role. This statement is especially true if you are newer to your career or have not reached a formal leadership position. However, the fact is that most hiring authorities look for leadership competency in their hires, no matter the role. Take a moment to discuss a time when you took on a leadership role, and what you learned from the situation. You can also talk about ways that you develop your leadership skills such as through books, podcasts, and articles. Here is an answer example: "I enjoy acting as a leader, whether it be formally or unexpectedly. I am an outgoing and confident person, and leadership comes naturally to me. I listen to the podcasts of great business leaders such as Ed Mylett and Gary Vee, where I learn a great deal about active leadership and integrity. When I worked for Company ABC, my manager would travel a lot as she was responsible for the operations of three business units across North America. I became the unofficial manager when she was away. Team members would come to me when a customer issue needed resolving when a sale needed closing, and even when a piece of tech needed troubleshooting. I enjoyed taking on the responsibility as it taught me more about teamwork, communication, and prioritization." Here is an answer example: "While attending university, I had many group projects. I found that more than half the time I would naturally fall into a leadership role within the group. I believe this is because I am an active listener, I am highly organized and easy to approach. I enjoyed being viewed as a leader and look forward to more opportunities for leadership in the future. To prepare, I have been reading leadership books such as 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins."18. Walk me through your morning routine. Much can be said about your work style, leadership approach, and level of accountability by learning your daily habits and routine! In your response, the interviewer would like to see structure, some creativity, eagerness to learn and grow, and a certain level of self-awareness. Take a couple of minutes to walk the interviewer through your morning routine, showing a substantial degree of maturity and structure. The last thing you would want to say is that you do not have a structure to your day! Here is an answer example: "I begin mapping out my day the night before, ensuring that I have my suit pressed and ready for the workday. I also like to make sure my house is clean before going to bed. This way, I feel fresh and never overwhelmed when I wake up. I love listening to podcasts on life, business, and finance, so I will listen to a podcast while I shower and get ready. During my commute, I take in a book on Audible or listen to music that will put me in a great mood for the day. Once I arrive at the office, I take about 30 minutes to plan my tasks and set a couple of intentions for my day. These intentions could be to do 50 cold calls that day, or completing a new module if I am training on a new skill, for instance. As you can see, I am a very structured individual, and I value having a plan for each day." Here is an answer example: "I like to get up at the same time every day, and it's always before the sun is up. I feel that if I rise after the sun, I am already behind the 8-ball. I will review what needs accomplishing for the day, have a quick workout, and then begin getting ready for work. I like to listen to energetic music or listen to a podcast or documentary while I get ready. I take transit to work, so I am sure to arrive early to avoid any hiccups when it comes to my arrival."19. Give an example of a time when you showed integrity on the job, and in your personal life. You know having integrity means possessing 'the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.' Now, the interviewer wants to see how you have exercised integrity in your work and personal life. Give a brief example of a time when you may have been tempted to do the wrong thing when nobody was looking. What made you choose to do the right thing in the end, and how did it make you feel? Here is an answer example: "I aim to have integrity in all that I do, whether anyone sees me make the right decision or not. For instance, I had a client who had double charges for their order for the past six months. Before me, nobody seemed to have noticed the error. I could have let it go and kept collecting a commission on all of it; however, that is not an act of integrity. I brought the matter to our accounting department, and we credited my clients' account with the overage. In my personal life, it's the same thing. I don't keep money that I find on the ground. I return it to security if possible, or at least give it to someone in need. My integrity is important to me, especially as I expect those around me to be honest and trustworthy." Here is an answer example: "To have integrity is to do the right thing, even when nobody is watching. When I was in university, I received a higher grade on my transcript than I earned. I brought the typo to the attention of my administrator, who then had the grade reversed. I could have taken credit, but in the end, I didn't earn that grade. I was determined to start my career off on the right foot, which is through complete honesty."20. What does integrity mean to you? The formal meaning of integrity is 'the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.' The interviewer would like to know what it means to you, to have integrity in your work and even your personal life. Include a time when a situation challenged your integrity, and discuss how you stood up to the situation. Here is an answer example: "As a leader, I believe that my team only works as hard as I do. For this reason, I set the greatest example at work. I arrive on time, I stay late, and I am reliable. Integrity means standing above the rest in actions, words, and example." Here is an answer example: "I am loyal to my career and my job. When it comes to having integrity in the workplace, this means being honest, transparent, dedicated to my work, and upholding the core values of my company at all times."21. Would you prefer to earn a set salary or be offered an uncapped pay based on performance? This question may not seem like a behavioral-based inquiry, but it sure is! If you have worked in a highly commission-based role in the past, you know that it takes a considerable amount of focus, dedication, and methodology to succeed. Often, commission-based positions do not cap your pay, meaning the reward can be much higher than an opportunity with a set salary. There is no right or wrong answer so, be true to your preference, properly backing your position and reinforcing your strong work ethic. Here is an answer example: "I have worked in commission-based roles in the past with no base salary, but my potential commission earnings were uncapped. I loved it! With this pay structure, I felt very in control of my earnings and found it to be not only exciting but motivating at the same time. I thrived in this environment and would certainly do it again." Here is an answer example: "I am a very structured and analytical personality, and I do best when I know what to expect. I prefer a set salary so that I can focus on doing my job very well rather than continually tracking my commissions and earnings."22. How do you keep track of your day-to-day tasks and activities? This question is an excellent opportunity for you to discuss the tools that you use to keep your day on track. Some of the most common tools used in the workplace include CRMs like Salesforce. Also, project management tools like Trello, Wrike, or Slack. Perhaps you use an app like Evernote or pay for a service such as Monday. Do you take an old-school approach and keep notes and to-do lists in a notebook that you carry with you everywhere? Whatever your method, be ready to walk the interviewer through your strategy for maximizing time and keeping yourself organized. Here is an answer example: "I have always been a highly organized person, and I like to keep track of my tasks in a variety of ways. Once I have decided which tasks are most urgent, I will break them down into micro-tasks into a project management application called Asana. As I complete each task, I gain the satisfaction of crossing them off the app like a to-do list. I do not consider my day complete until all of my tasks are complete for that day." Here is an answer example: "Traditionally, I am a paper and pen person, which means that I keep nearly everything I need to know and do, in my notebook. To become more up-to-date with the software and other systems available to me to maximize organization and time management, I have started to use a service called Monday. It's a more visual tool, which I appreciate. It's been wonderful so far, and I haven't missed a deadline or a task since I started using it!"23. Have you ever put your professional work ahead of your personal life? Putting your work life ahead of your personal life seems to go against all human instincts. But don't fret! There are ways to put your work-life first without losing an ounce of yourself in the process.
Putting work first could mean giving pure attention to your job when you are in the office. This approach could mean putting your cell phone away when you're at work or taking action to make sure that your workspace allows for unadulterated focus. Discuss the ways that you have put your professional work ahead of your personal life. You want to seem dedicated to your job but also capable of managing a healthy balance to avoid burnout. Here is an answer example: "When I am at work, I take concentrated efforts to put my work before all else. I remain distraction-free in meetings by leaving my cell phone out of the room. When on my computer, I never surf for personal reasons and remove as many distractions as possible, such as unnecessary tabs." Here is an answer example: "Being new to my career, I am fully prepared to put my work ahead of my personal life. I want to build a stellar career and be a reliable and dedicated employee. I will work late or take work home when needed. I will keep my device on silent during the day so that personal matters do not distract me at work. Most of all, I will remain organized in both my personal and professional life so that personal issues do not creep it my workday."24. Tell me about a time when you provided honest feedback to a coworker. There is an art to giving honest feedback, and the interviewer would like to know that you are capable of this tedious task. Great feedback means that you are specific, you make the feedback actionable, and you have a clear timeline for change. Discuss any formal training you have received on giving feedback, or a book you have read on the topic. Perhaps you use a particular methodology that works every time! Here is an answer example: "When providing feedback, I like to use the 3x3 method, which I was trained on in my first management position. With this method, I offer up three strengths and three potential areas for development. I had a team member who was often late to work, or would call in sick. I let her know that she was well-liked by her coworkers. I told her that our clients complimented her customer service skills. I said I appreciated her willingness to help new hires. Then, I proceeded to let her know that her team felt disappointed, hurt, and lost trust in her whenever she would call in sick, leave early, or show up late to her shift. Together we worked on a 30-day perfect attendance plan. In the end, she did much better and, although her attendance was not perfect, it significantly improved." Here is an answer example: "I had a coworker who made me feel uncomfortable by rushing my work, looking over my shoulder, and criticizing the speed at which I worked. I approached him privately and reminded him that this was my first office job out of university and that I was still learning the role. I told him that his micromanaging made me feel uncomfortable and only worsened the issue. He apologized and committed to helping me by showing me his methods for time management. Because I was honest and forward with him, we were able to find a much more harmonious way of working together."25. Do you consider yourself someone direct and forthright with others? As a direct individual, you are honest, and to the point. You do not leave people hanging when it comes to answering, direction on a project, or necessary feedback. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you were candid with a coworker, customer, or boss, ensuring that they had the direct information that they needed from you. Here is an answer example: "Yes, I do consider myself to be direct with others. The most professional and respectful thing to do is to get to the point in a considerate way. I never sugar coat a situation; however, I do assume that everyone had the best of intentions. One example of my being direct is when one of my employees delivers a report with errors. I will approach them and say, 'There are errors in your report. Are you able to fix these by the end of the day?' By doing so, I point out the issue while being transparent and direct on what the deadlines are for resubmission." Here is an answer example: "I believe that part of being direct is sticking to the facts when discussing a workplace situation. If there is a concern with my work, I appreciate my boss approaching me promptly while outlining what needs repair. As a recent university graduate, I had many opportunities to be direct and give feedback to fellow students during group projects. I would state where I saw the issue and then offered up clear recommendations on how we could fix the situation before the assignments' due date."26. Do you consider yourself a quick thinker? Tell me about a time when your quick thinking saved the day. Someone who is a quick thinker will:
-Quickly pick up on new ideas
-Be fast and more natural to train
-Be able to process large amounts of information more rapidly than most.
-Look at potential solutions rather than dwelling on the problem or roadblocks.
Does this sound like you? The interviewer would like to know if you consider yourself to have these qualities. Think about a time when you showcased your ability to think quickly and on the spot. Walk the interviewer through the situation, the action you took, and the impact your solution made. Here is an answer example: "I consider myself a quick thinker because I can process information quickly while reverse engineering a problem; getting straight to a few potential solutions. I do not like to dwell on problems so I have trained myself to focus on what I can do right now, and at the moment, to solve a problem. One example of my quick thinking was when a customer called in to cancel their order. I am not in sales, but the sales rep was out for the day, and I knew the customer needed saving. I started a conversation with them and asked what we could have done differently. Through a series of questions and getting to know them, I was able to smooth over the miscommunication. I uncovered a way that we could solve another one of their pain points. Although I am not in sales, my quick thinking saved the client from canceling and ensured that we maintained their valuable account for another year." Here is an answer example: "I recently read 'Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking' by Malcolm Gladwell. I learned a lot of amazing techniques and skills to help boost my ability to think on my feet. While in school, I had many instances where assignments were due on the same day, amid exams to boot. This book helped me learn to adapt my unconscious, using mental processes that help me to think rapidly without storing unnecessary information."27. What is the kindest thing a boss has ever said to you? How did the compliment make you feel, and did you agree with the praise? This question is another version of 'What is your biggest strength,' since the basis of the inquiry is to find out the best qualities that others see in you. The final part of this question is to know if you are the type to accept compliments and if you are capable of seeing your strengths and greatness! It's always good to be a humble person, but are you able to take it graciously when people say kind things about your work ethic? Here is an answer example: "It can be hard for me to accept compliments at times. I am a naturally humble person; however, it does feel nice to earn verbal recognition for a job well done. Recently, I completed a client project one week ahead of schedule. My client was so impressed that they called and gave me a rave review. The review touched on my prompt communication, my phone and email etiquette, and my strong level of organization and time management. It felt so good to have my hard work recognized that I couldn't help but smile ear to ear. I then used this positive feedback as a basis for my pitch to take on larger clients with more significant project budgets." Here is an answer example: "The nicest thing a boss has ever said to me was that they could wholeheartedly trust me to do my work. I am a very focused individual, and I take pride in everything that I do; whether the task is large or small. This compliment meant a lot to me and motivated me to continue delivering my utmost work, even when nobody was around to see the effort."28. Tell me about a time when you felt uncomfortable or unprepared in your job. This question is meant to address how you react when outside of your comfort zone. When feeling unprepared or uncomfortable, some people tend to point fingers and blame others. Others may become shy and unwilling to speak up for themselves or ask for what they need. And, there is a smaller percentage of people who will take the bull by the horns and get what they need by being their own biggest strength. Discuss with the interviewer how you would react if put into an uncomfortable situation on the job. Here is an answer example: "A few years ago, I joined a new company, very excited to be on board as their newest inside sales rep. I quickly realized on my first day that they had not prepared for me. I did not yet have an assigned desk, an email address, or even a full set of training manuals. Rather than panic and quit, I decided to take control of the situation. I took the training manuals that I did have and made a place for myself in the employee lounge. I let my supervisor know that I would do what I could from there until my space was ready for me. I made the best of an awkward situation! Because of my willingness to take control of my onboarding, I had a very successful start. I even earned top rep status within my first 60 days." Here is an answer example: "I felt very uncomfortable in my first internship. I was new, nervous, and pretty green when it came to the industry jargon. This newness made me an outsider in the office pretty quickly. Rather than keeping my head down, I decided to make the best of the situation and learn everything that I could. I asked a senior member of the team to mentor me, and I asked if I could job shadow them for my first two weeks. I wrote down pages and pages of notes, soaking in literally everything this person said and did. By the final week of my internship, I had a newfound confidence and many strengths that I carried with me into my final year of university."29. Tell me about a time when you felt successful. The first purpose of this question is for the interviewer to discover how you define success. The second purpose of this question is for the interviewer to hear about the proudest moment in your career.
Times when we feel most successful, are usually attached to our most significant accomplishments; however, everyone defines success differently. Your example does not need to be a grand 'I saved the world' moment.
You may feel most successful when you help someone else achieve a goal they thought would never be possible. Perhaps you finished your post-secondary education top in your class despite struggling with a learning disability. Or, maybe you were promoted after working tirelessly for months to gain career advancement. Here is an answer example: "I feel the most successful at work when I exceed the goals given to me by my corporate head office. As a territory sales rep, I am competitive and always want to do better than the expectations put on me. This year I made Presidents' Club and was in the top 10 for sales revenue. I felt a lot of pride in my work and was thrilled with my accomplishment." Here is an answer example: "For me, success is not so much what I do, but how people feel when they are around me. I earned recognition in my last position for being a helpful coworker and a resource for many new trainees who were getting their footing in the industry. I felt so wonderful when they recognized me for being a kind person who was willing to lend a hand."30. What does being competitive mean to you? How competitive are you? A person who understands the true meaning of competition knows that a consistent and robust level of competition will help them to improve personally and professionally. They do not see competition as an intimidating factor but rather an opportunity to become better. Be prepared to talk about a time when you were placed in a competitive situation and thrived. Your example should be work-related. Here is an answer example: "On a scale of 1-10, I would rank my competitiveness as an 8. I like to compete internally, and I will create small milestones for myself at work, attaching them to a time limit. For instance, if I complete the data entry for 50 new customers in under 3 hours, then I can reward myself with a quick coffee break. I like to beat my time limits and will play small games like this with myself throughout the day until all of my tasks are complete. When it comes to being competitive in a team setting, I like to rise above the rest by being the hardest worker and the fastest to respond when a customer is in need. With that said, I spend most of my time uplifting my coworkers and helping them to succeed." Here is an answer example: "I have a competitive personality that stems from my years in competitive sports as a child and young adult. I learned to be competitive with myself, while also valuing teamwork and the importance of pushing others to be their best. I never stop striving to be better, which means that in any given situation, I've always viewed my last performance as the biggest point of competition."
Author of Gallup Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
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