Inside a Job Interview: Answers to the 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions – Part 2

7) Why are you interested in this position?

When you are an accountant and you are applying at an accounting firm, it is pretty obvious why you are interested; you are interested in using your acquired education, skills, and knowledge in your career field.

However, maybe the position is a cashier for a store and you just want a job; you do not have a brilliant answer to offer. Not to worry. Do not discount very basic answers such as “I need to earn money to support myself and/or my family,” or “I want more out of life, and I need to work if I am going to have a better lifestyle for my family.” Employers like employees who need to work; such employees are more apt to be dependable, responsible and productive.

8) Why do you want to work for us?

Here you should be specific in your answer. There may be thousands of accounting firms with positions to offer, but it is now a question of “why us”?

Research the firm as best you can. Phone book ads often contain great information, such as how long a firm has been in business, what it specializes in, who are the key members of the firm, and whom they hope to serve.

Depending upon what you learn at the library, and from other local sources, possible answers might be:

“You have an expanding firm, and I believe there will be opportunities for me to prove myself and grow with you,” or

“Your firm is one of the oldest and most respected in our community, and I want to learn from, and be associated with one of the best,” or

“I believe you will reward people according to their value to the firm, and I am willing to prove my value to you,” or finally

“Your specialty happens to be my area of career interest.”

9) Why should we hire you?

Here you must be straightforward and confident about your ability and what you have to offer. Say, “I believe I am qualified and can do the job.”

Amplify this answer by stressing your strong points, such as your appropriate education, specialized training, proven experience, skills and abilities.

Do not say you can do any job. You do not know that for a fact, and, more important, the person interviewing you—no matter how good you look on paper or act in person—does not really know if you can do it either until you start having to perform on the job.

This is why you should qualify your answers with “I believe . . . ,” or “Based on my performance in similar positions in the past, I have no reason to think I will not be able to do the job for you.”

10) What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Good strengths include some very basic character traits, such as determination, honesty, responsibility, dependability, inquisitiveness, willingness to learn, openness to new ideas, stability, and humor. Pick traits that you are confident and comfortable with.

In approaching the question of your weaknesses, rule one is to have some. The worst answer you could give is “I do not have any weaknesses.” We all have weaknesses, and if we are unwilling to talk about them, it is a big red flag that there are some definite personality problems.

Never let your lack of confidence, or overdeveloped ego, prevent you from showing your weaknesses. Handle the challenge by taking your weaknesses (whatever they may be) and turning them into strengths. If you are a workaholic, say “Sometimes I do not know when to stop working on a project. I can get so involved I may work 16 hours straight. This may upset other employees who quit at the normal time.”

11) What are your career goals?

Your objectives or goals are very important. You do not want to be a wandering generality; you want to be a meaningful specific.

People want to know if you have thought about your future, and have a plan to get where you want to go. You should have both short and long range goals. A good short range goal might be to secure a position in your career field, develop more experience in an area of interest, or position yourself with a firm or organization that is growing.

Long range goals require you to picture yourself, and where you would like to be, 10 or 20 years from now.

12) Why did you leave your last position?

This question can be asked because they are testing your reaction, or if your resume gives the impression you have been “job-hopping”.

If there was a problem with leaving your last position (you were fired, encountered a personality conflict, or got mad and quit), be careful not to speak ill of the position you held, the organization you held it with, or members of the organization. Put downs score no points and reflect poorly on you, regardless of the challenges you may have had.

Good reasons to leave jobs are: 1) an opportunity for advancement, 2) an opportunity to make more money, 3) an opportunity to secure more or better benefits, 4) to gain more job satisfaction, 5) a better career opportunity, 6) a more challenging position, or 7) an opportunity to work with better people.

While all of these are legitimate reasons, none of them is the best answer to the question. It is best to simply say, “I am looking for a better opportunity.” The better opportunity could be any of the above seven answers without actually saying so.