Answering Key Interview Questions Like A Pro

Robin Schwartz

Answering Key Interview Questions Like A Pro

Interviewing can be a stressful time for a job seeker. No matter how much researching and preparing you do for an interview, we’ve all had those moments where we wish we knew the exact questions interviewers intended to ask.

Instead of stressing over what is going to be asked, what you think they want to hear or who else they might be interviewing, focus on identifying the type of question being asked and how to best provide an answer.

Interview questions are often one of two types:

  • Questions directly related to a candidate’s skill set.
  • Questions which attempt to asses a candidate’s overall personality and fit for the company.

A company wants to make sure you not only have the right skills to do the job but also the right demeanor. Part of the assessment may include questions which ensure you have the proper amount of manufacturing industry knowledge as well.

You should be well prepared to talk about your skills and how they relate to the position you’re applying to. It’s recommended to spend most of your time preparing for the interview by considering how you would answer some of the top personality and behavioral questions interviewers ask.

What work-related achievement are you most proud of?

What they’re really asking: Potential employers want to hear you give yourself credit where credit is due. Many people have difficulty talking about themselves positively in an interview. Interviewers are also trying to determine your engagement in previous jobs. If there is nothing you have to be proud of from past employment, it may signal to interviewers that you don’t aim high or invest yourself in your work.

How you should answer: Always have multiple examples at the ready which highlight your work achievements. These don’t have to be revolutionary occurrences in your work history but should highlight actual achievements. For example, if you’re applying to be a production supervisor, you might discuss how you successfully reduced overtime costs by implementing a new end-of-shift procedure.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to implement new policies or procedures in previous roles, think about a few times where you have personally overachieved – maybe you received recognition for meeting or exceeding a quota. Even if you weren’t formally recognized by an employer, your former achievements are valid answers if they’re important to you. Remember that the company is likely trying to determine what you consider to be an achievement more than trying to determine how many formal recognitions you’ve received.

Discuss a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker or supervisor. How did you resolve it?

What they’re really asking: How does the candidate handle conflict? Is the candidate someone who can responsibly navigate personal and professional issues or is he/she fearful of stressful situations?

How you should answer: It’s probably not best to use an example that shows less than adult-like behavior on your end. Avoid telling stories about workplace fights or screaming matches. There’s a way to talk about conflict without placing blame immediately on one party.

Everyone has had conflicting situations with co-workers or supervisors in the past. You should spend more time discussing how you resolved it rather than what the problem or conflict was. Your interviewers aren’t as interested in the actual issue as they are in hearing how you handle solving problems in a professional capacity. Be prepared to always have a response for this question as it’s a favorite of interviewers to ask!

Why Should We Hire You?

What they’re really asking: What makes you better than the next candidate? What will you bring to their company that warrants the investment they’ll make in you?

How you should answer: Never answer this question with “the job aligns with my career plans” or something similar. You should be telling the company what you can do for them.

Make your interviewers aware of two or three additional abilities that aren’t listed as requirements for the position. Indicate how these skills can meet not only their needs now, but also in the future. As the company or role grow and expand, they’re going to want their employees to grow with them.

Highlight a unique trait or skill you have that will positively contribute to the company and position, even if it’s not a listed requirement for the position. Researching other job openings the company has may help you decide what to focus on. For example, if you’re interviewing for a Manufacturing Engineer position and see the company is also seeking a CAD Drafter, you might bring up your past experience in CAD which will lend to your working successfully with their incoming CAD Drafter.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

What they’re really asking: How long can we expect you to stay?

How you should answer: Focus your answer on the company and how you intend to make an impact with them in the next 5 years. You might be interested in moving into a management position or make a significant impact to process improvements. Whether or not you feel you can do that at the company you’re currently interviewing with is nearly impossible to tell at this point.

The company wants to hear that you’re focused on building your career with them for more than a few years. It’s difficult to be used as a stepping stone for employees considering the high cost of training and turnover. An employer wants to hire someone who is truly excited about the job opportunity and the company.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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