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The Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions... And Why Employers Are Asking Them

The time to think about answering interview questions is before you're in the hot seat.
Here are some common interview questions and what the interviewer is looking for. You may not get asked all or even any of these but thinking about them in advance will make you a better prospect.

Tell me about yourself . . . or, I'm listening . . . or a long silence.
The goal: to see whether you make the connection between your skills and training and the job offer; and also to find out why they should hire you.

Have you already done this kind of work before . . . Talk to me about your experience in this type of work .
The goal: to make sure you actually know what job you're applying for; and to see whether you have the training and knowledge to carry out the work.

Why do you want to work for us?
The goal: to see what you know about the company and how interested you are in it. The goal is also to establish what your motives are.

Why did you leave your last job?
The goal: to judge your attitude toward employers; to check whether you switch jobs frequently; to uncover any problems which would mean they shouldn't hire you.

What are your strengths?
The goal: to determine your strengths and your personal characteristics; to see whether you believe in yourself and if you're confident that you're the right person for the job.

What are your weak points . . . your greatest weakness?
The goal: to see whether the job doesn't suit you for various reasons - for example: poor attitude, immaturity, refusal to follow orders, laziness, etc.

What are your goals, in the short-, medium- and long-term?
The goal: to see whether you plan to stay with the company; also to find out about your career plan and see whether it matches the company's goals.

What do you expect to be paid?
The goal: to see whether you know the market value of your professional skills; to find out whether your expectations correspond to the company's salary scale.

Why should we hire you and not someone else?
The goal: to determine why in fact they should hire you; to judge your ability to talk about yourself and highlight your skills and abilities.

Do you have any questions?
The goal: to indicate that the interview is nearly over; to offer the possibility of clearing up any small points you might not have understood.

Sources: Martine Lemonde and Nathalie Fortin, career counselors with Brisson, Legris and Associates of Montreal.
Montreal Gazette
Oct. 12, 2000