Do you practice potential questions before you sit down for a job interview? One author suggests you might want to — and even details what the answers should be.
Peter K. Studner is author of Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers & Career Changers, which was published last month. Studner says, “I never saw a resume — and only a resume –get a job. That’s why you should put more effort into preparing for interviews than you do into any other part of your job search campaign.”
Here are some of the questions he proposes you should work on before the interview. But before you practice, consider this advice from the University of Minnesota Career Center: It’s important to consider the perspective of the person asking the questions before answering them. Sure, you want to practice, but be prepared to improvise when necessary. Otherwise, your interviewer might know you’re talking from rote.
1. Have You Ever Been Fired?
Studner says if the answer is yes, have a good explanation worked out and tested with friends. For instance: “We had a change in general managers, and although I had been doing a great job as you can see from my accomplishments, I was let go for one of his former associates.”
There’s also the opportunity to turn this negative into a positive if the firing happened a while ago. Were you at fault? Be candid and demonstrate how you learned from the experience and made it an accomplishment — as long as it wasn’t for criminal or unethical behavior. Insubordination? Turn it into a story of how you became a team player.
2. Can You Work Under Pressure?
Studner has some good advice here: have the interviewer define pressure. But don’t just say yes — demonstrate how you have worked well under pressure in the past. Detail how you respond to pressure. Proving your ability to avoid high-pressure situations with strong preparation could be a plus in a job interview.
3. You’ve Moved Around a Lot. How Long Would You Stay With Us?
Studner says to make sure that your answer doesn’t make you seem indecisive, fickle, or uncommitted. A good answer might be, “I’m seeking a long-term opportunity where I can learn and grow. Does this come with the position we are discussing?” Again, avoid the rote reply. Use that general tone but not the exact words.
By the way, as you practice your responses, also ponder how many questions you should ask of the interviewer. It can be a difficult balance to achieve. CampusExplorer.com has this tidbit to share: “Ideally, you should wait to ask questions until your interviewer prompts you. Otherwise, ask questions when the opportunity arises organically in the conversation. It’s important to appear curious without bombarding the interviewer with questions.” Sure, it’s a website on getting into college, but it’s still relevant advice.
4. What Did You Think of Your Last Supervisor?
Studner can’t emphasize enough how much of a bombshell this can be. He rightly says to stay positive and suggests responses like “She was the kind of person I could learn from” or “We were able to communicate well and things got done quickly.” Remember that whatever you say about your past supervisor is what your hiring supervisor thinks you might say about them in the future.
5. What Do You Not Like to Do?
As Studner observes, this is a loaded question. A positive reply might be, “I’m the kind of person who does whatever is necessary to get the job done. When I do run into something disagreeable, I try to do it first and get it behind me. I have no particular dislikes.”
Resist the temptation to make a joke response to this question, like “I don’t like to do the dishes.” You don’t need to be a stick in the mud, but humor can backfire. As Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career coach with SixFigureStart, tells CBS Money Watch, “If you are naturally funny and can infuse this into your responses, then it could be worth the risk. But it is a risk. A job interview is a professional situation.”
“You may not be asked these specific questions in your interview, but knowing how you want to answer them will ensure that you’re prepared to discuss a wide variety of topics that might come up,” Studner says. “You don’t want to have to formulate a complicated answer in the midst of an already nerve-wracking situation.”
For more interview question best practices, check out our special interviewing tips and tricks series on YouTube: