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Learning How to Read an Interviewer's Mind
1997, July (September 22, 2008)
By Julie Davis, a member of the Job Bank

Have you ever wondered what was going on in the mind of someone interviewing you for a job? Did you wish you could have had a "cheat sheet" to prepare for the kinds of questions she might ask?

Thanks to Lori Lathrop, a freelance indexer of technical manuals, we have a "Cliffs' Notes" for job interviews. Lori Lathrop is the principal of Lathrop Media Services. Her experience includes more than sixteen years as a technical writer, editor, and professional indexer. (Lori's book, An Indexer's Guide to the Internet, is available from the American Society of Indexers, P.O. Box 48267, Seattle, WA 98148. Contact Lori at P.O. Box 3065, Idaho Springs, CO 80452; e-mail: 76620-456 at compuserve dot com.)

Lori has generously shared a set of questions, based on her experiences interviewing interns who come to work with her at Lathrop Media; she also drew on her own previous experiences as an interviewee. While most of us aren't looking for internship positions, we can still gain some insight from considering these questions. If you've got a job interview coming up, sit down and role play with a friend who'll take the role of Interviewer and throw some of these questions at you. Think that sounds silly? It's surprising how nervous you can get in the real situation, so take every opportunity to practice (My husband, who used to hire for a small consulting firm, swears by this technique!).

Here is the list of interview questions:
  1. How would you describe yourself?
  2. What are your own special abilities?
  3. What kind of work interests you most?
  4. How would you describe your ideal work environment?
  5. Are you a team player, or do you prefer to work alone? Why?
  6. Do you have plans for continued study or an advanced degree?
  7. What do you know about this company?
  8. Why are you interested in this company?
    Note: I've been asked this one a lot. Most of you have probably heard this before, but it bears repeating: Do your homework on the company before you go on an interview!
  9. What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work hard?
  10. What do you feel are your greatest strengths?
  11. What do you feel are your greatest weaknesses?
  12. How do you react to working under pressure?
  13. What kinds of things frustrate you most?
  14. What types of people rub you the wrong way?
  15. What qualities do you value most in people?
  16. Are you analytical? (Give an example.)
  17. Are you creative? (Give an example.)
  18. What qualifications do you have that have made you think you would be successful in business?
  19. What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
  20. If I were to call your past employer or one of your professors, what would they say about you?
  21. What important lessons have you learned from jobs you have held?
  22. What goals do you have for yourself three to five years from now?
  23. What are your criteria for success?
  24. Do you have any questions?

Note: Make sure you ask something about the company (business plans, vision, etc.). Do not ask about benefits, vacation time, or any topic that makes you sound like you're only interested in what the company can give you. End of article.

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