When telling a prospective employer about yourself, avoid the chronological approach and try this.
For many people, job interviews are the most stressful part of the job-search process. And it’s true that an interview is often a make-or-break moment: If you flub the interview in a big way, you probably won’t make the cut–no matter how good your resum is, or how excellent your qualifications are.
You can combat nerves and increase your chances of success by practicing your answers to difficult interview questions. Here are some of the toughest, with suggested answers:
1. Why do you want to work in this industry?
“I love to shop. Even as a kid, I spent hours flipping through catalogs.”
Don’t just say you like it. Anyone can do that. Focus instead on your history with that particular industry, and if you can, tell a success story.
“I’ve always loved shopping, but my interest in retail marketing really started when I worked at a neighborhood boutique. I knew that our clothes were amazing, but that we weren’t marketing them properly. So I worked with management to come up with a marketing strategy that increased our sales by 25 percent in a year. It was great to be able to contribute positively to an industry I feel so passionate about, and to help promote a product I really believed in.”
2. Tell us about yourself.
“I graduated four years ago from the University of Michigan, with a bachelor’s in biology–but I decided that wasn’t the right path for me. So I switched gears and got my first job, working in sales for a startup. Then I went on to work in marketing for a law firm. After that, I took a few months off to travel. Finally, I came back and worked in marketing again. And now, here I am, looking for a more challenging marketing role.”
Instead of giving a chronological work history, focus on your strengths and how they pertain to the role. If possible, illustrate with examples.
“I’m really energetic, and I’m a great communicator. Working in sales for two years helped me build confidence and taught me the importance of customer loyalty. I’ve also got a track record of success. In my last role, I launched a company newsletter, which helped us build on our existing relationships and create new ones. Because of this, we ended up seeing a revenue increase of 10 percent over two years. I’m also very interested in how companies can use web tools to better market themselves, and would be committed to building on your existing platform.”
3. What do you think of your previous boss?
“He was completely incompetent, and a nightmare to work with, which is why I’ve moved on.”
Remember that if you get the job, many of the people interviewing you will someday be your previous bosses. The last thing they want is to hire someone they know will badmouth them. Instead of trashing your former employer, stay positive, and focus on what you learned from him (no matter how awful he really was).
“My last boss taught me the importance of time management, didn’t pull any punches, and was extremely deadline-driven. His no-nonsense attitude pushed me to work harder, and to meet deadlines I never even thought were possible.”
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