Updated on August 17th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 25
How do you handle communicating bad news to a fellow worker or subordinate?
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One of the toughest parts of communication can be delivering bad news to people that you work with and care about. Whether it is delivering a less than positive work review or terminating someone - it doesn't come easy. Assure the interviewer that you can handle this type of task in a transparent, concise, and professional manner.
"I certainly do not enjoy communicating bad news to a co-worker, but I do have experience in doing so. When this type of task is required of me, I make sure to practice empathy. Truth is always key, so I will be honest and clear when communicating the news. For instance, if I am to terminate someone's employment I will not sugar coat the reasons why. It's best they know so that they can learn from the experience."
Entry Level Example
"I have found that communicating with respect and the intent to support the associate is the best approach. It is important to communicate what behaviors are off track and what resources are available to the associate to get back on track."
"I am very to-the-point when it comes to my communication skills. Good or bad news, there is always a way to improve the situation and create something good from it. After delivering bad news, I will work with my coworker to find a viable solution."
Before your interview, make sure you conduct research on the company and thoroughly review the job description for any clarification you may need on the position. Asking intelligent questions demonstrates to the interviewer your level of interest in their company, and the position. Typically, pay is not discussed during phone interviews, so avoid asking any compensation related questions in the phone interview.
"Absolutely! What are you looking for in an ideal candidate? What type of pain points is your organization currently experiencing? What is the last successful practice your team implemented and how is it going?"
Entry Level Example
"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 of 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 most significant change in this industry over the past three years?
- Is there any reason why you would not move me to the next stage of interviews?"
"I do have a couple of questions for you. My first would be, where is the person who you last hired for this role? Second, what is the typical time for promotion in this role?"
Do you feel that you are currently paid what you are worth?
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Many employees will look for new work if they feel that they are underpaid and underappreciated. Talk to the interviewer about your current compensation and whether or not you think it is fair.
If you feel you are currently paid what you are worth: "I feel that my current employer pays me fairly; however, I would like to see an increase in pay with an increase in responsibilities."
"I feel that my current employer pays me fairly; however, I would like to see an increase in pay with an increase in responsibilities."
Entry Level Example
"If you do not feel you are currently paid what you are worth: "I know that I am underpaid compared to my industry colleagues. My company is small, and they do what they can, but this is part of why I am seeking a new position."
"Yes, I am always striving to add value to an organization. I feel this is the best way to ensure that I am being compensated fairly."
How would you rate your performance in this interview so far?
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This question is meant to put the pressure on, and to see if you indeed are happy with your performance in this interview. Answer this question honestly and confidently.
If you feel that your performance in the interview is going well: "I believe that this interview has been quite informative and I am happy with my performance. Is there anything that I can clarify for you from this conversation?"
"I believe that this interview has been quite informative and I am happy with my performance. Is there anything that I can clarify for you from this conversation?"
Entry Level Example
"If you feel that your performance in the interview is not going well: "I am not sure if I have been able to portray myself 100% accurately in this interview; although, I am trying my best. If there is anything more that I can clarify for you, I would be happy to do so."
"I feel confident about our discussion today and am looking forward to the next steps in the interview process."
6. What excites you the most about this benefits management position? Tell the interviewer the aspects of the job that excites you the most, and why. Link your answer with some of your qualifications to demonstrate you are suited for this role. Here is an answer example: "Being the main point of contact for all matters related to benefits management is very exciting because I love being responsible for the management and success of projects of all kinds - and have strong project management skills." Here is an entry level answer example: "I am so excited for the opportunity to utilize my recent education in human resources. My time is university has prepared me for this role and will help me be a highly successful benefits manager." Here is an experienced answer example: "I am thrilled with the idea of joining your organization and continuing as a benefits manager with a larger organization, such as yours. I know I am ready to make an impact on a larger scale."7. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure and handle stressful situations. 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 always remain calm and look for ways to be more efficient. For instance, if there is an unexpected deadline, I will determine what can be done to ensure the deadline can be met. I will write down the steps to take to ensure successful completion and will delegate a few tasks if necessary. In brief, I am always ready to adjust my approach because stressful situations are bound to occur in a professional environment." Here is an entry level 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." Here is an experienced 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."8. How often do you take work home with you? The majority of people will work overtime hours or take work home with them on occasion. Talk to the interviewer about how frequently to take your work home. Here is an answer example: "I make sure to utilize my work hours very efficiently, so the only time that I take my work home is when there is an extremely stringent deadline. I would say that, overall, I take my work home maybe twice per month. It's all about being diligent with your time in the office!" Here is an entry level answer example: "I try not to take my work home with me. Everyone needs downtime. However, if something needs to get done, I will get it done, even from home." Here is an experienced answer example: "I take my work home with me whenever it is necessary. Some positions I have held, I work from home nearly every day. Other roles, such as my current position, I work from home just a couple of times per month."9. Do you always double check or proofread your work? Double checking and proofreading are essential parts of a job well done, primarily when you are working with employee benefits. Assure the interviewer that you are diligent when it comes to submitting good, clean, work. Here is an answer example: "Spelling and grammatical errors are a pet peeve of mine. I will triple check my work if there is time! I feel that, within benefits management, it is critical to be submitting error-free work." Here is an entry level answer example: "I try to, but in today's quick response age, I know that I send emails with mistypes. I concentrate very well on reports and presentations, and I do ask other people to review important letters or emails before sending them." Here is an experienced answer example: "I am so accustomed to working under pressure and tight deadlines that I do forget to double check my work at times. Double checking my work is a habit that I have consciously been working on to improve."10. Tell me about your relationship with your previous boss. Remain positive, when answering this question, even if the experience wasn't. Avoid talking about any previous drama and do not speak poorly of your employer. Keep your answer short and respectful.
If you had a good relationship with your previous boss: "I had a very healthy relationship with my previous employer. She was easy to approach, and we would bounce ideas off of each other quite often. I would sum it up as a relationship lead by strong mutual respect."
If you did not have a good relationship with your previous boss: "I have had healthier relationships in the past with previous employers, but we did the best that we could. Our communication styles were very different which made it challenging at times." Here is an answer example: "I had a very healthy relationship with my previous employer. She was easy to approach, and we would bounce ideas off of each other quite often. I would sum it up as a relationship lead by strong mutual respect." Here is an entry level answer example: "My previous boss and I got along well. We had very different interests, so we did not spend a lot of time chatting, but our work interests were aligned, and we respected each other." Here is an experienced answer example: "My previous boss and I had a great working relationship. We were in sync when it came to accomplishing things we needed to do in our department. We scheduled weekly touch base meetings to stay current on our progress and address any issues that came up along the way. I learned a lot from them on leadership while adding great value to the team."11. How do you handle a larger than average workload? The interviewer wants to know that you can handle the workload required of you in this position and that you will not become overwhelmed if/when workloads unexpectedly increase. When workloads increase, stress levels do too. How do you react? 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 lower 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 entry level answer example: "Here are some suggestions on how to handle a large workload:
- List your tasks and prioritize them
- Think of which tasks add to the company's bottom line, and start there (Closest to the money!)
- Exhale. Relax for a minute and collect yourself
- Organize your tasks by which ones you can complete independently and which ones you need help with
- Take sufficient breaks, so you do not exhaust yourself
- Communicate your struggles with your leadership or team" Here is an experienced answer example: "I first take a step back and make a list of all the deliverable work that I have. Then, I prioritize the list by deadline and ease of completion. I always try to hit the easy tasks first and get them off my to-do list. Feeling like I am making progress keeps me motivated."12. When have you worked among a diverse group of people? Are you accustomed to working with a very large or diverse team of individuals? Assure the interviewer that you can handle an environment that offers diversity. Here is an answer example: "I have worked with diverse groups of people most of my career, including my time in University. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers a great learning opportunity." Here is an entry level answer example: "In my current role, I work alongside cross-functional teams regularly. There is a lot of diversity present, and I appreciate that immensely." Here is an experienced answer example: "I would say that pretty much every company I have worked for has valued diversity. Working with people from all walks of life help shed different perspectives and identify potential problems faster."13. What do you know about our company culture? Company culture and fit is a significant factor when considering a career move. Assure the interviewer that you have put thought, research, and consideration into how the company culture will work for you. Here is an answer example: "I have researched your company through your social media channels and on glassdoor.com. Your employees have great things to say, and overall it seems that you have fun while you work. I am looking forward to joining an organization, like yours, that is upbeat and thoughtful with an eye on helping the community at the same time." Here is an entry level answer example: "I read many positive reviews online about your organization and company culture. You offer great incentives to keep people motivated, and it seems to be the type of fast-paced environment that values innovation and performance. My type of place!" Here is an experienced answer example: "Your website information was very appealing, but there were mixed reviews online. I do not put a lot of emphasis on reviews, as I know that most people only take the time to leave a review if they are upset. There was only a handful total, and I see that you have hundreds of employees."14. Why did you decide to pursue a career in benefits management? Briefly discuss with the interviewer your reason behind specializing in benefits management. Perhaps you have a related degree, ended up falling into the work earlier in your career, or are just starting your path into benefits management. Here is an answer example: "I started my career in human resources, and after about three years into my career, my employer asked me to step into a role that focused on employee benefits management. I can make benefits seem simple, which is why they wanted me in the role. I haven't looked back since!" Here is an entry level answer example: "I am now graduating with my degree in Human Resources with a focus on benefits management. I purposefully chose this specialty because so many employers and employees are unclear on the details of their benefits packages. I love to take complicated topics and make them simple for others to learn." Here is an experienced answer example: "I have been a benefits manager for the past ten years. As a benefits manager, I have found that I love to help others simplify their benefits packages. They can be confusing!"15. How would you describe your written communication skills? Being a bright communicator, in written form, is an essential skill to master. Have you taken any courses in communication and writing? Are you confident in your written communication skills? Talk to the interviewer about your written communication abilities and support your answer with a brief example or story. Here is an answer example: "I would describe my written communication skills as very strong and would rate myself as a 9/10. I have always had a penchant for writing and have taken university courses related to communication, writing, and business administration." Here is an entry level answer example: "My written communication skills are powerful. I often utilize written communications as a follow up to verbal communications. They provide a great resource for associates to go back to, and reference, plus they might answer any questions that come up along the way." Here is an experienced answer example: "I have above average written communication skills. I am an experienced writer and have also written many successful quotes and RFP's in my career. I would describe my written communication skills as clear, concise, and thorough."16. Tell me about yourself. When an interviewer asks an open-ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in-depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in this career path and what you enjoy about it. This question is an excellent opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring. Here is an answer example: "I am a competitive individual who is driven and likes to win. In addition to my successful career in human resources, I also spend time playing competitive sports. I give back by volunteering at the local animal shelter and working for a variety of annual fundraisers in our community." Here is an entry level answer example: "I pursued a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration at UCLA, and upon graduation, I worked as a Benefits Intern for where I was responsible for filing, reviewing documents, and data entry. Since this internship, I have gained considerable benefits management experience working for [companyame ] where I managed [benefits management duties]. These are some of the reasons I believe I am a perfect fit for your position." Here is an experienced answer example: "I have been a benefits manager since 2011 after graduating with my degree in human resources. I am a very active individual who loves to workout and go to the mountains on the weekend. I feel that my level of activity on my off time greatly improves my work during the week. I have a high amount of energy to offer!"17. What are your weaknesses? Pick weaknesses that are not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness.
Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours! Here is an answer example: "I believe I could improve on some technical skills including Excel and PowerPoint. Currently I am at a beginner to intermediate level; however, I would be more comfortable at an advanced level. I have enrolled myself in an evening/weekend workshop for the next six weeks. We will see how stellar my skills are after that course!" Here is an entry level answer example: "Everyone has weaknesses. I tend to be too nice sometimes. When vendors are not fulfilling their requirements, I tend to believe there must be a logical and understandable reason. I have to remind myself that we are paying for a service and they must meet our expectations." Here is an experienced answer example: "I know this will come off as cliche, but it's truthful. My weakness is not delegating. I know what I want and how I want it done, so it's often easier to do it myself. However, it can inhibit my ability to grow. I cannot take on every step of a project; I need to be able to give the task or a portion of it to another team member or direct report, let go of the control and know it will be taken care of. I've spoken with my current manager about it, and we've developed a system where he can call me out on the behavior since often I'm not aware of it. By bringing awareness to it at the moment, I find my propensity to hold onto control has decreased, so I'm certainly moving in the right direction."18. What do you feel is the most important skill a benefits manager should possess? Always review the job description before the interview to familiarize yourself with the preferred skills required from the successful incumbent. Answer this question by mentioning a requested ability from the job posting. Alternatively, provide your top talent, which you believe will highly benefit you in this role. Here is an answer example: "The top skill a benefits manager should have is time management, which I possess. This skill particularly served me well in my last position where I was employed as a benefits specialist. I was always able to deliver my work on time and ended up helping my colleagues with their overflow work quite often." Here is an entry level answer example: "I believe that all benefits managers should be highly organized. Benefits can come with a great deal of paperwork, so it's important to keep the paperwork in good order." Here is an experienced answer example: "The one skill that has helped me immensely is the ability to take a complicated concept, and explain it in layman's terms. Benefits packages can be exceptionally complicated, and I can simplify them which people seem to appreciate."19. What do you see as the most difficult task in being a manager? Being in a management role is always a significant challenge. Share with the interviewer what you feel is the most challenging part of being a manager, and why. Also, discuss what you are currently doing to make this task less difficult in the future. Here is an answer example: "As a manager, the most difficult task for me is to delegate the work evenly. You will always have team members who are absolute rock-stars, then some who are a bit less enthusiastic or are lower producers. I have to remind myself to distribute the work and responsibilities evenly despite my natural inclination to give more work to the high performers. I am currently working with my underperforming team members to prepare them for a larger workload." Here is an entry level answer example: "I would think the most difficult part of managing people will be being both their friend and earning their respect while being new on the team. To balance all of these roles, I will make sure to be approachable and genuinely interested in them as humans, but also make sure they know that it's a place of business and that meeting or exceeding expectations is the name of the game." Here is an experienced answer example: "I think the most challenging task is to come into a preexisting, cohesive team and to be taken seriously to get them to rise to the occasion under my leadership. This aspect may be the hardest, but I enjoy a professional challenge. "20. When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work? Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with delays in the workplace. Here is an answer example: "Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be a bit disheartening, but I understand that it happens from time to time. If I experience a major setback, I will take a few moments to debrief with my manager and discuss what I could have done differently. Then, I move on!" Here is an entry level answer example: "Setbacks happen for a reason, and they do not affect me emotionally in the least. I am a very pragmatic thinker and stay focused despite the challenges that come my way." Here is an experienced answer example: "Setbacks can be trying, but I find that you have to learn how to lose before you learn how to win. While I never enjoy a setback, I use them as a stepping off point to something even better."21. Where do you see yourself five years from now? Tell the interviewer about your career goals in the next five years or so. Ensure to link your career goals to the company you are applying for to show the interviewer you can be a long-term asset for the company and that you are looking for stability. Here is an answer example: "Ideally, five years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within your organization, such as a director level position. My career interests align very nicely with your company's goals which helps me to see a great long-term fit here." Here is an entry level answer example: "In five years from now, I would like to have grown within the same company I started off with, having acquired skills enabling me to establish myself as an expert in my field. I would love to be responsible for more managerial duties and ultimately lead a team of professionals." Here is an experienced answer example: "In five years I would like to be seen as an authority in our industry. I would like to be well-connected and trusted when it comes to my work here."22. How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments? We all like recognition in some way for our accomplishments in the workplace. Share with the interviewer how you would want credit for your hard work. Through gifts? Financial perks? Public recognition? Kind words? Title promotions? Here is an answer example: "I am very much an over-achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is to be given words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged, and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work is being noticed." Here is an entry level answer example: "I am a highly competitive person who is compensation driven. I like to be recognized for my accomplishments through monetary bonus' or contests where the stakes are high." Here is an experienced answer example: "I am very simple. I do not require any formal recognition, but kind words from my coworkers and superiors will keep me motivated and working hard."23. If you could start your career over again, what direction would you take? A hiring manager will be able to tell a lot about your personality by learning of your other career interests. If you could do anything over, what would you do, and why? Here is an answer example: "I certainly do not regret the direction I have taken my career; however, if I had to start over in a new direction I would likely pursue my Degree in Education and become a teacher. Both of my parents were teachers, and they seemed to have a very fulfilling career. I enjoy coaching and leading others so, any tasks in my current career that related to these skills, are very welcome." Here is an entry level answer example: "I am passionate about benefits management work. Hence I see myself in this field for the long term. However, I hope to acquire sufficient knowledge and experience that I will one day be able to become a lead manager. I hope to move up the ladder and grow within the same company I originally started off with." Here is an experienced answer example: "I am delighted with the direction my career has taken. If I could change anything I would perhaps have furthered my education to include additional specialties; however, I have no regrets!"24. Why are you considering leaving your current employer? The interviewer wants to know that you are not leaving your job for reasons that will not be soothed by joining their organization. Tell the interviewer about your long-term professional goals and how they relate to the position for which you are applying. Perhaps you are looking for growth, or maybe your current company is going through a merger and you're unsure of your future stability there. Add reasons why your goals cannot be met at your current company. Here is an answer example: "I have enjoyed my time with my current employer; however I have not been given the opportunity to grow in the last three years because it is a small, family-owned organization. I have tried to grow in other ways such as continued education and taking benefits workshops; however, it has not been enough to satisfy my career goals." Here is an entry level answer example: "My current position started as a practicum while completing my degree in human resources. As lovely as my time has been there, my employer still views me as the student they initially hired. It's made any growth very challenging. I would love the opportunity to be seen as a solid and contributing member of the benefits team." Here is an experienced answer example: "I have strong tenure in my work history, and as you can see- have been with my current organization for the past twelve years. Unfortunately, we are being acquired by a larger branch, and I am unsure of the stability of my future. For this reason, I am putting the feelers out for new opportunities within benefits management."25. Why should we hire you? If you can't think of ways that you are unique, ask a few friends or family members what they feel sets you apart from other people. Their observations may help you understand how you are perceived.
Perhaps you already know what sets you apart! Your answer could include any industry accolades, exceptional achievements, additional industry related training, a second language, or how involved you are in the community. Don't be afraid to brag about yourself a bit. In an interview, you are your most influential advocate. Here is an answer example: "You should hire me because I am unlike anyone else you have interviewed before. When I started my current company, I was the youngest human resources professional they had ever hired. That didn't stop me from becoming benefits manager within six months. I am dedicated to my craft, and engaged in this industry to the point where I commit myself to taking at least one business development or leadership related workshop every business quarter. You won't be disappointed when you hire me." Here is an answer example: "In addition to my related degree in human resources and business administration, I bring eight years experience which I believe prepared me for this role. I am a hard-worker, a team player, and work tirelessly to get the job done. I thrive on challenges and always remain extremely committed to the success of any project." Here is an entry level answer example: "I'm qualified and passionate about your cause. I am excited about the idea of delivering value to your organization and will hustle for the opportunity to go above and beyond for your organization."
Author of Benefits Manager 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.
First written on: 06/12/2013 Last modified on: 08/17/2018
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