Getting Down to Business
Once the pleasant beginnings have finished, it’s time to begin the real interview. Here are a number of the most common questions that are asked during the interview. There are two examples of excellent replies given for each question. Following the examples, you will find a comment describing the type of question and important things to remember when answering that type of question.
Interviewer: Tell me about yourself.
Candidate: I was born and raised in Milan, Italy. I attended the University of Milan and received my master’s degree in Economics. I have worked for 12 years as a financial consultant in Milan for various companies including Rossi Consultants, Quasar Insurance and Sardi and Sons. I enjoy playing tennis in my free time and learning languages.
Candidate: I’ve just graduated from the University of Singapore with a degree in Computers. During the summers, I worked as a systems administrator for a small company to help pay for my education.
Comment: This question is meant as an introduction. Do not focus too specifically on any one area. The above question will often be used to help the interviewer choose what h/she would like to ask next. While it is important to give an overall impression of who you are, make sure to concentrate on work related experience. Work related experience should always be the central focus of any interview (work experience is more important than education in most English speaking countries).
Interviewer: What type of position are you looking for?
Candidate: I’m interested in an entry level (beginning) position.
Candidate: I’m looking for a position in which I can utilize my experience.
Candidate: I would like any position for which I qualify.
Comment:You should be willing to take an entry level position in an English speaking company as most of these companies expect non-nationals to begin with such a position.
In the United States, most companies provide many opportunities for growth, so don’t be afraid to start from the beginning!
Interviewer: Are you interested in a full-time or part-time position?
Candidate: I am more interested in a full-time position. However, I would also consider a part-time position.
Comment: Make sure to leave open as many possibilities as possible. Say you are willing to take any job, once the job has been offered you can always refuse if the job does not appeal (not interest) to you.
Interviewer: Can you tell me about your responsibilities at your last job?
Candidate: I advised customers on financial matters. After I consulted the customer, I completed a customer inquiry form and catalogued the information in our database. I then collaborated with colleagues to prepare the best possible package for the client. The clients were then presented with a summarized report on their financial activities that I formulated on a quarterly basis.
Comment: Notice the amount of detail necessary when you are talking about your experience. One of the most common mistakes made by foreigners when discussing their former employment is to speak too generally. The employer wants to know exactly what you did and how you did it; the more detail you can give the more the interviewer knows that you understand the type of work. Remember to vary your vocabulary when talking about your responsibilities. Also, do not begin every sentence with “I”. Use the passive voice, or an introductory clause to help you add variety to your presentation
Interviewer: What is your greatest strength?
Candidate: I work well under pressure.