Software Job Interview Questions and Answers

1: Tell me about yourself.

This is usually the first question asked because it is a good icebreaker. You should not use this open-ended question to offer useless information about your hobbies and home life. Many people will make the mistake of saying, "I'm 32 years old, married, and the mother of three children aged 5, 7 and 9. My hobbies are knitting, cycling, reading and . . . blah blah blah." This is not a good answer.

A good answer to this question is about two minutes long and focuses on work-related skills and accomplishments. Tell the interviewer why you think your work-related skills and accomplishments would be an asset to the company. You could describe your education and work history (be brief) and then mention one or two personal character traits and tell the interviewer how the traits helped you accomplish a task at school or work. Do not describe yourself with tired old clich├ęs such as "I'm a team player," "I have excellent communication skills," unless you can prove it with an illustration. For example, one might say "I would describe myself as a self-starter. At Acme Corporation, there was a problem with . . . so I created a new inventory system (give details) that reduced expenses 30 percent.

"Someone with a new degree in an IT field might answer this question as follows: "I have enjoyed working with computers since I was eight years old and have always been adept as using them. Throughout junior high and high school, friends and relatives were always asking me for help with their computer problems, so no one was surprised when I chose to major in IT at college. I spent hundreds of hours at the computer learning everything I could about them and how they worked. A few years ago I became particularly interested in software development and began formulating ideas for new software that would really help consumers. I even developed plans for a few applications on my own. [Discuss the plans briefly.] I've also worked on several college teams and as an intern at Acme developing software. [Offer highlights of work experience in software development.] I would like to continue working in this particular area very much. That's why I applied for a position with your company. You're one of the leaders in software development and I want to work in a company where I can really be challenged and make a difference. I also really like the products you've developed. I think they're some of the best on the market and I would very much enjoy working to improve and enhance these products even further and create new software as well."

Question 2: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Assume that you will be promoted two or three times in five years, so your answer should state that you see yourself working at whatever job is two or three levels above the job in which you are applying. Do not claim that you will be "running the company" in five years. You might want to add that you understand your promotions will be earned through hard work and that you do not assume you will be promoted just because you stayed with the company. Good answer: "I see myself as head of the Sales Department in five years. I've already proven that I have the ability to manage a large sales staff at Acme, and I expect that I will be promoted to a senior management position in the future provided that I work very hard at my job and earn the promotions, which I expect to do."

Question 3: Are you willing to relocate?

If relocating were not an issue, the interviewer would not be asking the question. Therefore, the only acceptable answer is "Yes." If you answer in the negative, you will not get the job. If you really do not want to relocate, then perhaps you should not accept the job if it is subsequently offered to you. If you are not sure, then ask questions about relocation, such as when it is likely to occur, where you will relocate to, and would it involve a promotion.

Question 4: Are you willing to travel?

If traveling were not part of the job, the interviewer would not be asking this question. Therefore, the only acceptable answer is "yes". If you are willing to travel, answer yes and give some illustrations of work-related travel you have done. However, if you do not want to travel, you should find out more about this aspect of the job before accepting the position, such as how much travel will be involved, where will you be traveling to and for how long.

Question 5: Are you willing to work overtime?

If this wasn't an aspect of the job, the interviewer wouldn't be asking this question. Therefore, the only acceptable answer is "yes" if you want to be considered for the job. If your past jobs involved overtime, now would be the time to tell this to the interviewer. "Yes, I am willing to work over time. I have no family or personal obligations that would prevent me from working at night and on weekends. I don't mind working over time at all."

Question 6: What book are you currently reading?

The only correct answer is to offer the title of a nonfiction book, preferably one that is on a subject related to your career or business in general. For example, if you are a sales person, tell the reader you're currently in the middle of "Selling for Dummies" or the title of a book on improving your time management, personality, efficiency, etc. As part of your job search, you will have to start reading one or two acceptable books so that you can intelligently discuss them if the subject is brought up during an interview. Some interviewers will try to determine if you regularly read by asking you for titles of 3-5 books you've read this year, so be ready.

Question 7: What is the last movie that you saw?

Replying that you "don't have time to watch movies as you are completely devoted to your job" is not a good answer and will not win you any points, even if the interviewer was dumb enough to believe you. Interviewers are looking for well-rounded people who enjoy healthy activities, such as relaxation and entertainment, and will expect you to state the name of a movie. The movie title that you give in reply to this question should always be one that is popular with the general public, but uncontroversial, meaning that it doesn't have any negative or zealous political or religious overtones. Don't reveal the fact that you spend way too much time watching movies by stating you have seen a particular movie 15 times or that you spend too much time watching movies. A well-known uncontroversial movie, popular with the general public, and one that the interviewer is likely to have seen, is always a good choice.

Question 8: What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

The interviewer is trying to find out (1) more about whom you are and (2) if you maintain an interest in a particular subject for a long period. You should not indicate that you change hobbies frequently or have a problem maintaining an interest in one subject over a long period. A good answer might be, "I have been interested in genealogy for the past five years. I am currently the President of the Adams County Genealogical Society and we meet once a month to exchange research tips. So far, I have discovered that I am the descendent of two civil war generals and Thomas Edison as well. It's very interesting, but I don't have much time with my busy schedule to do much research now, but I plan to spend much more time doing research after I retire." Answers that reveal participation in sports are also good: "For the past five years I have been an avid racquetball player. I've competed in a dozen or so competitions and I've won a few." Of course, you do not want to reveal any hobby or activity that most people would consider strange, such as "I collect potato chips that look like celebrities" or "I collect the autographs of convicted serial killers."

Question 9: What do you like to watch on television?

In answering this question, one should not appear too silly or too arrogant. Therefore, avoid revealing the fact that you have seen every episode of the Brady Bunch 200 times or that you race home from work everyday to hear the Gilligan's Island theme song. Don't swing the other way and claim that you never watch television or only watch PBS and C-SPAN because they will know you're lying or think you are weird or boring. The best answer reveals that you do watch television, but you watch respectable, very popular programs such as "Law and Order" or "CSI." Never admit to being a coach potato who sits in front of the TV five hours every day.Good answer 1: "I don't watch that much television. I try to catch the news everyday, I like to watch the political programs on Sunday mornings, and football in the fall. "60 Minutes" is probably my favorite program. My family and I usually find a movie to watch on Saturday and Sunday nights. Sometimes we rent a few movies on weekends, but I don't really have any favorite programs I watch consistently every week."Good answer 2: "I enjoy watching "Friends" just like millions of other Americans. I get together with six or so friends at a pizza place on Thursday nights and we watch it together. I rent a few movies on most weekends, and I do try to catch the news every morning when I'm getting ready for work. I don't have that much time for television because I work and go to school full time. And the last thing I want to do after sitting all day in class and at work is to come home and sit some more in front of a television. In my free time, I usually go to the gym, walk my dog and spend time with my friends and family rather than watch television."
Question 10: What jobs did you have as a teenager?Answer this question honestly. Either you had jobs or you didn't. Household chores, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and lemonade stands all count as jobs. Good answer 1: "I worked part-time at both Burger King and McDonalds between the ages of 16 and 20 in order to earn money to buy my first car and help my parents pay for my college education. I was able to handle both work and school without my grades suffering. And when I was younger, around 13 to 16 years old, I babysat for families in the neighborhood on weekends."Good answer 2: "I didn't have any jobs as a child other than chores I was expected to do around the house such as helping my parents with housekeeping, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, and babysitting my younger sister and brother. My parents placed tremendous emphasis on academics and extracurricular activities, and would not allow me to work."

Question 11: Who are your references?

It is a good idea to type up the names and contact information of your references on a sheet of paper and present it to the interviewer when the topic comes up. Ideally, one should provide the names of current and former supervisors as references since these are the people prospective employers most want to speak with about your work performance. Giving the names of others as references -- such as co-workers, friends, family members, etc. -- might be an indication that you do not want the interviewer to contact your supervisor. If you do not have any work history, use teachers, professors, or business people you or your family knows as references.

A good answer to this question:

"I have prepared a list of references here I would like you to have. I have selected my current supervisor, Jane Doe, as my major reference since she can speak about my most recent work performance and accomplishments. I also list the names of my previous two supervisors at Acme, Jack Wilson and Norma Smith." If one does not have any work references, a good answer might be, "I asked two of my engineering professors to be references for me and they agreed to do so. I typed up their names, phone numbers and contact information on this sheet of paper. They can attest to the work I completed as an intern over the past two years. I also list Mrs. Sally Wilson, who is a prominent attorney and a friend of the family. She has known me since I was a child and can attest to my character."

Question 12: Do you mind if I contact your references?

You should always inform your present employer that you are looking for a new position and someone will be contacting them to discuss your work history. If you don't want your current boss to know you're searching for a new job, then tell the interviewer that: "I would prefer that you not contact my current employer as she is not aware that I am looking for another position, but you may contact Mr. Jack Smith, my former supervisor at Acme. He supervised me for four years and agreed to be a reference for me. Of course, if you decide to offer me this position, please let me know so that I can inform my current employer, and then, yes, you may contact her once I have received an offer of employment and given notice."On the other hand, you might have already informed your current employer that you're interviewing for other jobs. In this case, your answer might be, "Yes, you may contact my present supervisor, Mrs. Smith. She is well aware of the fact that I am searching for a new position and knows that you will be calling her in the near future."

Question 13: Will you take a lie-detector test?

The interviewer is asking this question (1) because it is a requirement to get the job, or (2) to find out if you are afraid of the prospect of taking such a test. Therefore, the only correct answer to this question is "Yes, I would be willing to take a lie detector test." You don't need to say anything else.

Question 14: How do you feel about air travel?

Obviously, the interviewer wouldn't be asking this question if traveling by air wasn't an important component of the job, so the only correct way to answer this question is "No, I have no problem with air travel." You might want to expand your answer by telling the interviewer that you traveled a lot in a previous job or in your personal life. If you tell the interviewer you are afraid of flying or cannot do so for some other reason, such as a medical condition, you will not get the job offer.

Question 15: Have you ever owned your own business?

The best answer to this question is yes since it shows initiative and that you have had some experience marketing services or products.

Good answer: "Yes, I ran my own business while in high school. I went door-to-door asking people if they needed their lawns mowed. I earned quite a sum of money in just a few months, enough to pay for a car and my first year of college."

Question 16: Are you in good health?

The interviewer is asking this question because providing health insurance to employees costs employers a small fortune. Consequently, many employers prefer to hire those who try to maintain their health to keep the number of claims down and insurance rates as low as possible. Keep in mind that employers can find out your medical history and many of them make the job offer contingent upon your passing a physical examination, therefore, it wouldn't be a good idea to blatantly lie about your medical history. That doesn't mean you should offer information you don't have to, such as "I smoked cigarettes for thirty years, but gave them up last year" or "I've had two heart attacks and a stroke". If your health is generally good, then answer this question briefly: "Yes, I'm in good health" or "I have no health problems that would prevent me from doing this job" and don't elaborate further.

Question 17: What do you do to maintain your health?

Obviously, if you're in good shape, answering this question is easy: "I jog two or three nights a week and lift weights at the Acme Gym three times a week. I try to eat a balanced diet; I eat lots of salads and try to maintain my weight." If you're overweight or obese (as are 65% of adult Americans) answering this question isn't going to be easy. Sample answer: "Well, obviously I'm overweight, so I can't tell you that I get up and jog for an hour every day, but I do walk my dogs for 45 minutes every night. I recently started the Atkins program and have already lost seven pounds. It's a diet I can live with, so I know this time I'll be able to lose all the weight and start taking better care of my health."

Question 18: Do you have any physical problems that would limit your ability to perform this job?

Employers have to be very careful about asking this question as too much prying can violate your civil rights. Therefore, they won't ask too many prying questions and you don't need to offer them very much information. The best way to answer this question is to keep it short and simple: "No, I don't have any physical problems that would affect my ability to perform this job."

Question 19: What organizations are you a member of?

The interviewer is interested in work-related memberships, not personal ones. The fact that you are a member of the American Business Association is more important than the fact you participate in your local PTA (which reveals the fact that you have children). It is also a good idea not to reveal religious and political affiliations, such as memberships in the Christian Business Association or the Republican Party or ethnic and cultural affiliations.

Question 20: How do you balance career and family?

On the surface this questions appears to be an illegal job interview question, but it isn't the way that it's worded. The interviewer is hoping you will reveal information about things he isn't allowed to ask, such as if you are married, single, divorced, have children, or are straight or gay. If you don't want to reveal information about your personal life, offer a vague simple answer: "I haven't had a problem balancing my work and private life. One has never interfered with the other. I am capable of getting the work I need to get done without it interfering with my personal life." On the other hand, you might want to reveal a great deal of information if you think it will help you get the job offer: "I can easily balance my career and family life as my children are now in college and my wife is starting a new career as a real estate agent. We both work hard and have flexible schedules to work when we need to, but we still have a good personal life, spending time with friends and family every week."

Question 21: What is your greatest strength (or strengths)?

Provide one or two strengths that are work-related and give the interviewer an example that proves you have that strength. Sample answer: "I have the ability to train and motivate people. For example, at Acme Corporation, employee turnover was sixty percent. To try to find out why, I interviewed more than 200 employees. I discovered that a major reason for the high turnover was lack of proper training and low morale. To try to resolve the problem, I developed a training program that helped workers perform their jobs better and got them motivated to do a better job. Each training session lasted only two days, but the results were very impressiveproductivity improved 30 percent and employee turnover dropped by more than half."

Question 22: What is your greatest weakness (or weaknesses)?

Don't answer this question by claiming that you have no weaknesses. Confess a real weakness that you have, but choose one that isn't particularly relevant to the job you're seeking if you can. Do not answer with phony weaknesses such as "I'm a slave to my job." Just state the weakness, tell the interview how it has harmed you in your work life, and what steps you have taken to improve it. A good step one can take to improve a weakness is to read self-help books on the subject. You might offer the title of a book you've read that helped you improve your weakness.

Sample answer 1: "A major weakness I had in the past was delegating work to others and trusting them to do it correctly. In my early career, this caused some problems for me in that my subordinates were unhappy because they felt I lacked confidence in them. I would try to do the work myself or look over their shoulders while they were doing the work. This problem was brought to my attention by my supervisor in a performance review. I agreed with her on this point and admitted I needed to change so I read a few self-help books that helped me change my thinking and let go of the idea that I needed to micromanage my work environment in order to get the job done. Now, I have no problem delegating work to subordinates."

Sample answer 2: "I'm a very shy person until I get to know a person. Being shy has cost me a great deal in my career as it has prevented me from getting promotions and jobs I've wanted. A few years ago, I realized I would have to change or I wasn't going to achieve my career goals. I read several self-help books on the subject, "Getting Over Your Shyness" was one, and I summoned up the courage to take a speech class at night. The teacher was excellent and was able to convince me how shyness is just an irrational fear. Although I'll always be shy, I'm not nearly as shy as I used to be and I've greatly improved my ability to communicate with others by taking several more speech classes. Now, I can get up in front of a large group of people and give a lengthy presentation without a problem."Bad answer: "I have a major weakness for chocolate." Although this is a weakness, to offer this as an answer is to sidestep the question and will turn off the interviewer.

Question 23: Do you work better alone or as part of a team?

If the position you're applying for requires you to spend lots of time alone, then of course, you should state that you like to work alone and vice versa. Never sound too extreme one way or another. Don't say that you hate people and would "die if you had to work with others" and don't state that you "will go crazy if you're left alone for five minutes". A healthy balance between the two is always the best choice. If you have previous experience illustrating the fact that you can work alone or with others, then offer it. For example, you might state that in your previous job you spent a significant amount of time alone while traveling, or that you have learned how to get alone well with people in the workplace by working on numerous team projects.

Question 24: Do you consider yourself to be organized?

The interviewer wants to hear about your work skills concerning time and task management, not that you have neatly separated the paperclips in your desk drawer into different trays based on size. A model answer might be "I manage my time very well. I routinely complete tasks ahead of schedule. For example, . . . (offer the interviewer proof of your organizational skills by telling him about a major project that you organized and completed on time or mention the fact that you consistently received an outstanding grade on previous performance reviews regarding your time management). Do not reveal to the interviewer that you are habitually late or that you complete tasks at the very last minute.

Question 25: Do you consider yourself to be a risk-taker?

How you answer this question depends on the type of company it is. If it is a start-up company or within a highly-competitive industry, then they are probably looking for those more willing to take risks. If you believe the company is this type, then offer an example of a risk you've taken in business. If the company is a well-established industry leader, risk takers are not as highly valued. Of course, no company is looking for employees who are foolish in their risk-taking behavior, so a good rule of thumb is to place yourself somewhere in the middle -- you are neither too foolish nor overly cautious.

Question 26: Are you a self-starter?

The correct answer to this question is always "yes", and the ideal answer includes an example of how you are able to work with minimal supervision, keep your skills current without being told, or a time when you took it upon yourself to be more efficient, accurate or productive.

Example 1: "Yes, I am definitely a self-starter. When I worked at Acme Corporation, I was positive that the firm would be adopting a new operating system within a year, so I started taking classes at the local university at night in order to prepare myself. I was the only one in the office that knew how to operate the equipment when it was installed, so I was appointed trainer and subsequently trained 200 co-workers. I did receive a reward for my work on that project."

Example 2: "Yes, I am a self-starter. I am always thinking of ways I can improve office efficiency and help the company be more profitable. For example, a few years ago I noticed that the sales reps were having a very difficult time finding client files when they called. The sales reps would put clients on hold and spend sometimes as much as five minutes frantically trying to locate a file. I took it upon myself to design a file management system that enabled the sales reps to locate client files on their desktops in less than 15 seconds. This has made the office much more efficient and, of course, made both the sales reps and our clients much happier."

Question 27: How do you react to criticism from supervisors that you consider to be unjust?

The only correct way to answer this question is to present yourself as a person who can handle criticism without becoming angry, defensive, vengeful or arrogant, yet, not let others intimidate or blame you when you don't deserve it.

Example: "There was a time when I was deeply hurt when a supervisor pointed out a mistake I made or an area in which I needed to improve and felt somewhat defensive. However, through the years, I have learned that no one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes and needs to improve in certain areas, so I shouldn't take criticism so personally. Therefore, I have learned to take it on the chin without becoming defensive or feeling hurt. I just take a few days to think about what was said and if I feel the criticism is warranted, I take steps to improve my performance. If I feel the criticism was unjustified, I will sit down with my supervisor and calmly discuss the reasons why I feel the criticism was unjustified."

Question 28: How well do you handle change?

The only acceptable answer is one stating you handle change very well. Don't just make this claim; offer an example of how well you coped with a major change that took place in your work environment. A common shakeup occurs when your employer brings in new automation or changes its culture. In any event, tell the interviewer what you did to cope or adapt to a change that occurred with a previous employer -- and this should be a major change, not a minor one.

Question 29: Are you opposed to doing a lot of routine work? Don't answer with, "Oh yes, I will enjoy filing eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year!" Instead, try to assure the interviewer you aren't going to go mad doing your boring job.

For example, "I know this position requires a lot of routine work, but I don't expect to start at the top. I'm willing to start at the bottom and prove myself. Eventually, I will be assigned tasks that require more brain power."

Question 30: How do you resolve disputes with co-workers and handle conflicts?

Don't claim that you have never had a dispute with a co-worker. The interviewer will know you are fibbing, since getting along with all co-workers is unusual -- there's always at least one person you can stand. The best answer to this question tells the interviewer about a dispute you had with a co-worker and how you resolved it so that the outcome was positive. Your answer should tell the interviewer how you resolved it on your own, and hopefully, that you and this other person are now friends, or at least are able to work together productively. Also, concentrate on offering an example of how you resolved a work-related conflict rather than disclosing a personal feud over some petty subject. For example, telling the interviewer about your problems getting a co-worker to take your suggestions on a specific project seriously is a much better topic than telling the interviewer about your feud with another over a parking space. In addition, don't tell the interviewer that you resolved a dispute by tattling to the boss or trying to get the other person fired. Employers are sick of dealing with employee conflicts and they want a mature person who can resolve conflicts on her own without tattling or complaining to the boss.

Question 31. What would you do if a supervisor asked you to do something the wrong way?

The interviewer is testing how insubordinate you might be. Never answer this question by claiming you would refuse to do something the way the supervisor told you to do it unless you are required by your company or by law to follow certain procedures. Instead, tell the interviewer you would tell the supervisor you think it should be done another way, but if the supervisor insisted you do it his way, you would do so.

Good answer: "If I was aware that there was a more efficient or better way to perform a task, I would tactfully point this out to the supervisor. However, if she still wanted me to do it her way, I would do so."

Question 32. What types of people do you have trouble getting along with?

You don't want to answer this question with "Hard-working people who make lazy people like me look bad." You want to be the hard-working, nice person who doesn't like lazy or difficult people. However, be careful, the position you're interviewing for might come with an unpleasant, difficult supervisor and the interviewer is asking you this question for that reason.

Good answer 1: "I don't get along well with people who don't hold up their end of the job, who are constantly coming in late or calling in sick. They don't really respect their co-workers and bring the whole organization down."

Good answer 2: "I don't get along well with people who are opinionated and close-minded. They always seem to be complaining about one thing or another and they're depressing to be around."

Question 33. Why should we hire you?

Take several minutes to answer this question, incorporating your personality traits, strengths, and experience in to the job you're applying for. A good answer is to focus on how you can benefit the company. You can best do this by matching your skills and qualifications to those needed for the job and be ready with examples of how your skills, talents, etc., mesh with the needs of that particular company.

Sample answer 1: "You should hire me because I have considerable experience and success in marketing software products to small companies. I know that your organization has not done well serving the small business sector and would like to greatly expand sales in this segment. At Acme, I was able to increase small business accounts 60 percent in just two years. At XYZ Corporation, I single-handedly brought in 260 new small business accounts in just three years, which was a company record. Currently, your company has a very high turnover rate among sales recruits, approximately 60 percent. I succeeded in reducing employee turnover by more than 30% at both Acme and XYZ. I also had great success in leading and motivating new sales recruits. A large percentage of those I have trained have gone on to be stellar performers. This is why you should hire me. I can make a positive impact on sales and help reduce your labor costs, making this company more competitive and profitable."

Sample answer 2: "I believe I am the best person for this position because you need an office manager who can work effectively with diverse employees in a very fast-paced hectic environment. I have more than a decade of experience supervising clerical workers from diverse cultures, helping them to become more productive and efficient. I have reduced employee turnover by more than 20% in the past three years, which saved my employer more than $1 million in related hiring and training costs each of those three years. I also eliminated the need for 10% of the office staff by automating several processes, saving my employer a small fortune in labor costs. I am confident that I can resolve your current labor problems, reduce your labor costs significantly while improving worker morale and productivity."

Question 34. What reference books do you use at work?

One should not answer this question, "I don't have any reference books." A good, safe answer is to state that you use a dictionary on a regular basis and one or two other books that are relevant to your field.

For example, if you are a sales person you might respond, "I keep a dictionary handy and the book that helped me succeed in sales, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." If your work involves accounting, then mention a few accounting reference books; if your work involves computer programming, and then mention a few relevant books, etc.

Question 35. Have you ever held a position that wasn't right for you?

One can answer this question either yes or no, but answering "no" would be better. If you answer yes, then you need to explain the mistake you made in exercising good judgment, and a good reason is always the lure of more money.

For example, one might answer: "A good friend of mine convinced me that I could make six figures quite easily selling real estate, so I gave up my job as an office manager and jumped right in. I soon realized I wasn't cut out for that world because there were too many players and I didn't have the necessary connections. Had I known that fewer than 10% of real estate agents manage to make a decent living, I never would have entered the field. I stayed in real estate for a year before I realized I was not going to make a six figure income, so I quit and found another position as an office manager, which is work that I am good at and like doing."

Question 36. What is your most significant career accomplishment?

Just answer this question honestly. You don't have to be Albert Einstein and say "I discovered the theory of relativity."

A good answer: "I think my most significant career accomplishment is rising from a receptionist to a district manager at Acme in just five years. I started there with no education and no training, and I worked hard all day and went to school at night until I earned a master's degree in management."

Another good answer: "I think my most significant career accomplishment was winning the XYZ account at Acme, which brought my employer $30 million in sales and help establish the company as an international player. It wasn't easy winning that account because we were competing with a dozen or so competitors who could offer a more high-tech product at a lower price, but I was able to put together a package that convinced the management at XYZ that our company was better for them in the long-term."

Question 37. Are you comfortable working for a large company?

The interviewer might be asking this question because your employment history shows you've always worked for smaller companies. Always answer this question in the positive, "Yes, I would be very comfortable working for a large company. I believe that working for a large company would not only provide more opportunities for advancement and growth, but would also expose me to more areas in my field."

Question 38. Are you comfortable working for a small company?

The interviewer might be asking this question because your employment history shows you've always worked for larger companies and doubts you will be able to fit in to a new environment. Always answer this question in the positive, "Yes, after working for a large corporation the past five years, I look forward to working for a small company where employees work more closely with one another and there is more of an informal team-effort rather than the cold, impersonal corporate atmosphere. I did work for smaller companies at the start of my career and have always missed that atmosphere and look forward to it again."

Question 39: Why have you changed jobs so frequently?

Reasons for job-hopping should be based on your past employers' failure to challenge you, failure to give you enough opportunity for advancement, because you needed more money, or for family reasons, and never on the fact that your past employers were incompetent, dumb, or unfair. Do not indicate in any way that you are hard to get along with or get bored and leave at the drop of a hat, and make sure you point out any jobs you did hold for a long time. Mention that your current goal is long-term employment and back that up with any proof you have to want job stability such as a new baby, new marriage, new home, etc. If the job you're applying for offers you the challenges and environment you were always looking for, make sure you point out this fact.

Good answer 1: "Well, at ABC Corporation, I was hired as an entry level salesman with the promise of rapid promotion to management within one year. After a year and a half, I realized that I wasn't going to be promoted as promised and took a position elsewhere because I could not support my family without the commissions that were promised. At Acme, I was told that the job was very challenging and exciting with significant opportunities for advancement within one year, but this did not materialize. The job was very unchallenging and the company seemed to be failing. I felt like I was capable of doing much more than sitting around with little to do, so I left. I admit that my resume shows some job hopping of late, but this is why I am so interested in the position with your company. I feel certain that this position offers very challenging and interesting work, as well as opportunities for advancement for those willing to work hard. Your company is very profitable and stable and has a good reputation in the industry. I know that this will be a position I will stay with a very long time."

Good answer 2: "I do not believe that my work history is an accurate reflection of who I am. I am actually a very stable person who would enjoy very much working for the same employer for a long period. Note that on my resume, it indicates that I worked for XYZ Company for five years in the early 1990s. I admit that my resume indicates some job hopping in the late 1990s, but this was because I was caring for my elderly, sick mother between 1995 and 2001. Caring for her required being available nights and on weekends, so I was not able to work overtime as the job at Acme required. I had to resign after working there for only a year. At XYZ Industries, I had to resign after only one year because they insisted on transferring me to the west coast. I simply could not move away from my mother who was too elderly and ill to make such a move. My mother passed away in 2001, I got married a year later and had a child. Now, I have a wife and child to support and a mortgage to pay. I am eager to settle down and work for a company like yours for a long period of time."

Question 40: Tell me what you do on a typical day at work.

The interviewer is trying to discover (1) if you exaggerated the job duties listed on your resume and/or (2) if you have the necessary experience to do the job for them. Therefore, your answer should emphasize duties one would perform in the job you're trying to get. If you can, reread the job description and emphasize the job duties listed there.

Good answer: "On a typical day, I arrive at work around 7:30 and look over various departmental reports in order to prepare myself for the morning meeting with the sales staff. From 8:30 to 10:00, I meet with a 30 member sales staff. We have training sessions, motivational sessions; we discuss problems and try to resolve them. From 10:00 to noon, I'm on the phone, chatting with various, clients, department heads, and government agencies. In the afternoon, I'm either out in the field, visiting various stores in the area or attending meetings with clients."

Question 41: Why do you want to leave your present employer?

You could state that you want a more challenging position, higher salary, or more responsibility. Don't mention personal conflicts with your present boss or bad- mouth your current employer or co-workers as this will harm your chances of being offered the job. Keep in mind that interviewers love people who are looking for more challenging positions or responsibility because it shows drive, ambition and motivation.


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