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Job interview questions you need to know

More than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals surveyed in February 2014 told CareerBuilder traits like work ethic, dependability and attitude are just as important as job knowledge.
More than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals surveyed in February 2014 told CareerBuilder traits like work ethic, dependability and attitude are just as important as job knowledge.
Photo by Darren McCollester

It turns out that personality is every bit as important to getting a job as technical competence. A 2014 Career Builder survey shows 77 percent of employers believe traits like work ethic, dependability and attitude are just as important as job knowledge. Surprisingly, 16 percent say these “soft” skills are more important than “hard” skills such as knowing how to operate a computer.

Know these top ten questions

More than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals surveyed in February 2014 shared with CareerBuilder what they believe are the most important skills to look for when hiring. The parenthesis after each skill indicates the percentage of managers and professionals agreeing that this skill is important. An interview question is tied to each top ten skill. Anyone preparing for an interview should develop solid answers these questions before going into a job interview.

Many employers interview for soft skills

A recent Society for Human Resource Management survey shows more than half of employers (55 percent) said they interview candidates with behavioral-based questions, which are designed for evaluating candidates’ soft skills.

Sell your soft skills

Whether you are interviewing for a new job or you are the person interviewing others for a new job, you need to review these personality traits, rehearse questions related to those competencies and find a way to describe your positive attributes in each area. Interviewers should go one step further and develop a method to score applicant responses.
Recall specific instances when you demonstrated the skills

Use one or more of these traits when describing your accomplishments during the interview. Recall a specific situation and explain how you accomplished your task while employing the skill. For example, emphasize work ethic or dependability by describing how you stayed on task to finish a difficult assignment, prove your self-motivation with how you took on challenging assignments or your team orientation by how you collaborated on a team with a successful outcome.

Survey methodology

Harris Poll conducted this online survey on behalf of CareerBuilder between February 10 and March 4, 2014. They asked 2,138 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals from a variety of organizations about their hiring practices. The writer of this article cross-referenced those survey competencies to the Department of Labor O*Net Content Model to give the reader full, complete and more useful descriptions in order to build a better resume.

Strong work ethic (73 percent)

Question: “Tell me about a time when you had to work very hard to reach your goals.”

Answer: Describe how you were diligent and worked hard on a project to achieve success. Give a number for the outcome, such as increased sales by 50 percent. That will get their attention.

Dependable (73 percent)

Question: “Take us through a complicated project you were responsible for planning. How did you define and measure success? What obstacles did you encounter? Which ones were anticipated and which were unanticipated? What did you learn that you could, or have, applied to other projects?

Answer: Tell about how you were reliable, responsible, and dependable and fulfilled obligations. Using the above work ethic example may suffice. Simply describe the obstacles you encountered on a project and how your organization depended on you to see it through to a successful outcome.

Positive attitude (72 percent)

Question: Tell me about a high stress situation when it was desirable for you to keep a positive attitude.

Answer: Speak in a pleasant and good-natured tone and show a cooperative attitude. It can be especially effective to think of an example how you kept a positive attitude in a high stress situation.

Self-motivated (66 percent)

Question: Tell me about a time in your background when you were a driving, highly motivated worker. (Don't be too modest-give yourself due credit for getting the job done.) Describe some projects or ideas (not necessarily your own) that were implemented, or carried out successfully primarily because of your efforts.

Answer: Think of a time when you were willing to take on responsibilities, strive to be competent and exert effort toward mastering those tasks. Also, show that you set personal goals and try to succeed at those goals. The goals should be personally challenging and high-achieving. Describe obstacles you have faced and your persistence to overcome them.

Team-oriented (60 percent)Question: What did you do in your last job to contribute toward a teamwork environment? Or, when have you been a part of a team that drove an important business change? What was your role?

Answer: Give examples of how you enjoy working in an organization together with a group of people. Describe your interpersonal orientation as pleasant, cooperative, and sensitive to others and being easy to get along with.

Organized, can manage multiple priorities (57 percent)

Question: Tell me about a time you had to handle multiple responsibilities. How did you organize the work you needed to do?

Answer: Offer examples of how you manage your time and the time of others well.

Works well under pressure (57 percent)

Question: Tell me about a time when you had to cope with strict deadlines or time demands.

Answer: Display maturity, poise, flexibility, and restraint in coping with pressure, stress, criticism, setbacks, personal and work-related problems. Describe how you were flexible in a fast-paced workplace or undergoing substantial change.

Effective communicator (56 percent)

Question: Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate.

Answer: Your well-written resume will help but you really want to give an example of influencing others orally and in writing. Try to think of a time when you were able to communicate information and ideas in writing and in speaking that others understood as important.

Flexible (51 percent)

Question: Describe a time when you felt it was necessary to modify or change your actions to adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.

Answer: Describe how you responded positively to change in the workplace.

Confident (46 percent)

Question: Describe the last time you were criticized by a peer or supervisor. How did you handle it?

Answer: Maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem can be tricky. Too much bravado can torpedo your interview. It is important to show self control, maintain composure, keep emotions in check, control anger, and avoid aggressive behavior when faced with criticism. Think of a time you accepted criticism and dealt with it calmly and effectively. Trust in yourself and your performance.

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