Top Ten Interview Questions

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Tell Me About Yourself?

Among the top ten interview questions will always be the "tell me about yourself" question. The main purpose of this question is to get you talking. Your interviewers want to get an overall feel for you and your personality.

They want to know how you express yourself, your choice of words, and observe your body language.

They may be asking themselves as they pose these top ten interview questions:

  • Are you confident?
  • Are you open and straightforward?
  • Do you look them in the eye?
  • What is important to you?
  • Are you likable and enjoyable to be around?

Believe it or not, 60% of the decision to make you a job offer will be based on whether or not the interviewer likes you.

Fact: Managers hire job seekers they like.


Special Tip: Make sure your answer to this top ten interview question is no less than 30 seconds, and no longer than 60 seconds. One of the main reasons job seekers are rejected is because they talk too much. Keep your responses short and sweet.

Impressive answers to top ten interview questions occur when you are prepared, and have rehearsed out loud your answers.

You've been invited to this interview because the company has already determined from your well written resume that you have the skills, experience, and education to do the job.

You've made the first cut.

Now they want to know if you will fit into their company culture. All companies have their own unique culture.

Some organizations are hard-charging and all business. Others are more laid back and team oriented.

Some companies are flexible and have a good work-life balance. Others expect your life to revolve around them.

By asking you a few of the top ten interview questions, a company can quickly determine if you are a good fit for them.


Pearl of Wisdom: Always trust your instincts and first impressions. More often than not, they are right. Your interview experience is similar to a first date. You either click with someone or you don't.

OK--so just what do you tell them about yourself?

It's important to tell them something personal about yourself, but mostly focus on your career progression and what makes you stand out from any other person in your field.

In short, share with them a 30-60 second commercial about you. Everyone loves to hear a good story.

True Story 1

In my role as an executive recruiter, here is how one of my candidates responded to the top ten interview question, Tell me about yourself.

He shared with the hiring manager that he grew up on a farm and learned from an early age the value of a strong work ethic.

When I debriefed the hiring manager he told me he was impressed with my candidate and liked the fact that he had been a farm hand.

Shortly thereafter my candidate was extended an offer and accepted.

If you were conducting a job interview with someone, which candidate below would stand out to you?

Candidate 1: I'm a hard worker and have a strong work ethic. You can depend on me to get the job done.

Candidate 2: I grew up on a farm and learned from my father the value of hard work. I'm punctual and like to start my day early. I'm more than willing to work long hours to get a job done on time.

Fact: One of the biggest problems companies face today is missed deadlines because someone isn't pulling their weight.

True Story 2

Here is how another one of my candidates responded to the top ten interview question, Tell me about yourself.

He shared with a hiring manager that he liked to work on cars.

My candidate owned a 1968 muscle car that he rebuilt in his spare time. He made brief mention of this in the interview and then went on to share other work related strengths and accomplishments.

The manager later told me that this one tidbit of information convinced him to offer this candidate the job.

His reasoning: Some of the best engineers I know like to work with their hands and get dirt under their fingernails. I've come to realize there is no substitute for practical hands-on experience. These type of people always seem to over-deliver for me.

True Story 3

Here is how yet another one of my candidates responded to the top ten interview question, Tell me about yourself.

She told the hiring manager that she paid for 100% of her college education from her savings earned from part time jobs while she was in high school and college.

That's it. That's all she said. She then went on to share other strengths about herself.

What did this one 5 second sentence tell you about this person's work ethic and priorities?


Special Tip: A short personal insight into yourself can have a powerful impact on a hiring manager. It immediately builds trust and shines a positive light on you.

Top ten interview questions example answer to:

Tell me about yourself

I grew up in the Midwest. My parents taught me the value of hard work. I was expected to have a part time job in high school and save towards my college education.

I graduated from Indiana University with a bachelors degree in economics. I paid for 80% of my college education and graduated in the top 25% of my class.

I chose economics as my major because I've always had a fascination about how world economies work and their impact on business. I participated in several on-campus economic forums and wrote 2 articles that were published in our college newspaper.

After college I was one of 20 applicants who interviewed with XYZ company in Chicago for a key bookkeeping position in their operations department. I was hired for the position.

After 18 months on the job I was promoted to the top bookkeeping position in the department and handled large complex accounts. I really enjoy interacting with my leaders and co-workers.

Despite my success and job enjoyment, my company recently announced they are going to outsource most of our jobs overseas. Many of us, including myself, could be laid off.

Your company has a great reputation and is well known for it's stability and growth. I believe my strengths and abilities would contribute to your company's growing success.

Avoid:

  • Giving them specific dates when you graduated from high school or college unless you're in your early career and it can work to your advantage. Reason: Unfortunately, age discrimination is alive and well. In fact it's rampant. Keep them guessing about your age.
  • Talking longer than 90 seconds. Sixty seconds is better. Remember, this is an ice-breaker question. They're not interested in your life story.
  • Being too scripted, dramatic, or over-the-top. I am TOTALLY passionate about customer service. I L-O-V-E to solve customer's problems and will go to the ends of the earth and back to make customers happy.

Be real and believable.

  • Avoid saying a lot of ahs and ums during your presentation
  • Avoid overused buzz words or phrases like: I'm a change agent. I have a PASSION for excellence. I'm an out-of-the-box thinker.
  • Avoid religious or political topics. These topics are too high risk and have nothing to do with your job, but could screen you out. You don't want to be stereotyped as a do-gooder, a righteous dude, or a crusader.

If a company suspects you could be over-the-top on religion or politics, it's much easier to simply not hire you than to try and get rid of you after you're working there.


Pearl of Wisdom: There is absolutely nothing wrong with being spiritual; however, sometimes people with deeply held convictions have problems setting boundaries and will parade their beliefs into the workplace.

True story: A few years a job seeker interviewed for a project engineer position with a major corporation.

When he arrived for his interview he was wearing a suit and tie...AND a large, hand-carved, wooden cross dangling around his neck suspended by a thick leather cord.

Our client decided not to hire this individual because, in their words...he seemed just a bit too esoteric for them.


Check Out: My Job Interview Skills Quiz + a 6 page bonus report on the 10 biggest mistakes job seekers make when they resign and why it often results in a bad reference.




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