Seven key interview questions job seekers should expect - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Seven key interview questions job seekers should expect

Posted: Updated:
(ARA) - Many Americans are living a harsh economic reality. Everybody knows somebody who is looking for a job. As a result, people of all ages and vast differences in job experience are out there trying to get noticed and land an interview. Those who succeed are sometimes not prepared to answer questions from prospective employers.

Two specialists from Brown Mackie College - Miami have teamed up to offer insight into questions interviewees are likely to hear. Human Resources Generalist Beverly Smith is responsible for hiring qualified professionals at Brown Mackie College - Miami. Gizelle Ortiz-Velazquez, director of Career Services at the same Brown Mackie College campus, works daily coaching students and graduates on interview preparedness.

Together, they outline seven key interview questions to expect.

What do you know about us? "I usually begin with this question," says Smith. "This lets me know how well a candidate researched the company. When applicants know the company and understand the position, they are able to talk about their marketable skills and how they relate to the job. The answer tells me a lot about how qualified they are to be here."

Tell me about yourself as it relates to the position. "This is a broad question that lets the interviewer know if you have a good sense of the position and the company," says Ortiz-Velazquez. "I coach students to stay away from personal information and focus on skill sets and how they relate to the position. It also opens the door for students who don't have much experience to sell themselves to an employer. This is a good time to remind an employer that your training is strong and included an internship or externship where you gained a real world view of the work. The great thing about hiring someone out of school is they don't come with bad work habits. The employer gets the opportunity to train a new hire the way he or she wants them to be trained."

What are your strengths and weaknesses? "A standard question that people many people dread, but it's asked often. Employers are tying to find out how you see yourself," Smith says. "The answer can demonstrate how you approach a challenge, and maybe help identify areas for improvement."

What changes will impact your industry in next three years? "Everyone should expect at least one question specific to the industry," Smith says. "It's important for an applicant to demonstrate involvement in professional associations and awareness of industry issues and changes."

What skills and abilities make you an ideal candidate for the position? "This is an opportunity to market yourself. You can talk about your skills and knowledge and detail how they match the position," Ortiz-Velazquez says. "The interviewer discovers how well you understand the position. It's especially important for someone who is changing careers and seeking employment in a different direction than previous experience demonstrates. The candidate must be able to articulate transferable skills that relate to the new position."

What do you like most and least about your current or last job? "Employers will ask this question to discover your mindset. You don't ever want to talk negatively about another company during an interview. It's a red flag for an employer," Ortiz-Velazquez says. "If someone is willing to share negative comments about a current or previous position, the next negative comments may be said about the position sought now. You can point out past responsibilities you didn't care for, but always keep your answer positive."

Tell me one thing we should know about you. "It's always a surprise where they'll go with this one," says Smith. "If the answer is 'I love motorcycles,' I know this person knows how to shut work off on the weekends. Others keep the focus on business and speak of commitment to success or being a team player."

"Interviewers tend to begin with general questions and drill down deeper to ascertain problem-solving abilities," says Ortiz-Velazquez. "It's important to keep answers specific to the question without rambling." Smith says she now schedules longer periods of time for interviews. "The economy is driving people to cast a wider net and explore options they wouldn't have before. The questions are designed to find the right match for the position."