Ace that Interview

Part 2: The next 15 Interview questions to prepare for

Career Insights by Gary Markell

16578220-sketch-of-job-interview-illustrationWhat questions should I prepare to answer prior to my interview? Here are a variety of questions commonly asked at interviews including the corresponding preparation advice.

16)  What are your future plans and goals?

You need to think this one through and be ready to talk about your career progression objectives, leadership goals, and further educational plans. Be sure to tell how you plan on attaining these goals.

17)  What are your strengths?

Write your strengths list down during your preparation time, and read them to yourself. Pick your best strength, and elaborate citing a concise tangible event where your strength proved to be a benefit to your employer, client, project, etc.

What are some strengths IBM managers look for?

18)  What are your weaknesses?

We all have weaknesses. You do as well. If you fail to answer this question head-on, you will leave yourself suspect regarding openness, honesty and humility. Stating a weakness is not admitting failure. Most often it is simply an area that you have yet to develop. Always follow up your weakness answer with what you are doing to improve.

19)  Tell me about a conflict you had with a boss.

Talk about a conflict and what you did to work it out. Hiring managers are looking for problem solvers. If you have not had any real conflicts think of a time where you had to sell them on an idea that he/she was at first opposed to.

20)  Tell me about a conflict you had with a subordinate.

Companies want to have employee’s who can manage conflict. It is not the conflict that counts; it is your testimony of how you improved the situation and how you countered the conflict. Talk about the outcome and what you accomplished to bring about the best resolution. If you do not legitimately have a true-life example, affirm what steps you would take if hypothetically you had a conflict with a subordinate.

21)  The Management style Questions

This can be answered from two viewpoints; 1) Your particular management style. 2) What management style you prefer to work under. When answering the first, site how you communicate, how your extend support, how you go about structuring your teams. Also show an example story of how a subordinate responded under your guidance which improved performance, project results, helped them to get promoted, etc. When answering the second, site what style works best for you to be productive.

22)  How much training have you had?

In some cases specific degrees or certifications are required. If you lack the formal training, you can certainly talk about your pertinent experience that relates to the job requirements. Talk about your particular philosophy regarding learning new things, and how you would embrace training.

23)  Tell me about your University GPA?

If you did not have a significant GPA, as many do not, please refrain from making excuses. If this question comes up, simply be honest. When you get pulled over for speeding you never win the argument by saying, “I did not know I was going that fast”. In contrast, you are at least respected by the officer, if you admit, “I know I was going about 10 over right officer? Although past education achievements are valued highly, most of the time employers are also genuinely encouraged by sincere statements of future goals and honest intentions. An average GPA may not always be a deal breaker.

24)  Tell me about your decision-making skills.

Never simply say, “I have very good decision making skills”, or “I have been told that I do”. Instead be ready to site a specific example from a past experience where you had multiple choices and how you resolved to make a good decision and what the resulting outcome was.

25)  If you could be an animal which one would you choose and why?

The only wrong answer here would be, “I never really thought about that.” This question comes up from time to time and is normally used to check to see how quickly you can think on your feet. Consider a way you can tie your strengths and personality with an animal in a positive way.

26)  If you asked your boss what 2 or 3 things they liked best about you, what would they say?

This question comes up often. Be ready to answer. You might even be proactive and go back and take a look at past reviews. Also you can call a past employer and simple ask the question and take notes. The key is to be prepared to answer with real life testimonials.

27)  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This question basically is asked to find out if you have even thought about taking on new responsibilities, and what they might be. Prepare to answer this with the actual next step or steps you would like to see happen, and why you feel you would be effective in that scenario.

28)  Are you interviewing with any other companies? Who are they?

Please do not second guess this question. Hiring authorities just want to know if they have any competition. If so, who it is, and how soon are you going to get an offer from another company? It is okay if you are not currently interviewing. Simply explain why this is the only company which has garnered your attention.

29)  What are the 2 or 3 most important criteria are you looking for in your next position?

This is an important question to think about. This shows why you are truly motivated and if you have clear-cut career goals or if you are just looking for another job. I am always impressed with answers that are well defined, that directly reveal initiative and a focus upon either contributory attributes or learning.

30)  What makes you a good leader? How do you stimulate people to get behind you and to get them to “buy-in”?

There are managers and then there are leaders. There is a difference. There is a wide range of techniques people use. Tell why you can have a motivating effect on people and what steps you take to provide effective leadership while managing your projects. You could also take the time to ask current or past subordinates why they respond to you.

NOTE: How many times have candidates been potentially just right for a position, however the truth of whom they were slipped through the cracks because of the lack of being prepared to present themselves?

Our goal as IBM recruiters is not to coach you on how to answer questions. Our intention is for you to prepare yourself to answer questions candidly in order to best present who you genuinely are. This will directly result in giving us the best opportunity to find a choice candidate and you best opportunity to align yourself with the appropriate position based upon your work history, skills and abilities. Preparation will always increase your odds to get hired. Regardless of the specific outcome, when you prepare for an interview cradled within integrity it is always a win/win scenario.

Thinking about a career with IBM? Which IBM jobs fits for you?  Use the IBM Career Decoder before you apply to explore exciting career opportunities and find your perfect fit at IBM.

For the Part 1 Ace that Interview Article:


Gary L. Markell

IBM Global Business Services

Check out our careers page: Work for the world. START@IBM


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