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The Life/Career Success System - Practice Makes Perfect


A variety of jobs related questions are listed below. You may find some of these questions, (or variations of them) helpful in preparation for your interview.

Questions to learn how you regard your current or past positions.

Would you tell me about your present (last) position?

1.   How would you describe a typical workday? What activities did you enjoy most at your last job?
2.   What do you consider the most critical elements in the successful performance of your present (last) position?
3.   What do you feel you do best? Why?
4.   What job functions are the most difficult for you? Why?
5.   What problems do you encounter on the job? Which frustrates you the most?
6.   Why? How do you deal with them?
7.   What was your greatest contribution in your present (past) position?
8.   Have you improved on the position you originally accepted? Describe what improvements you have made.
9.   What are the reasons you left your last job?
10.   To what extent do you feel your job progress in the past has been in keeping with your ability?

Questions to probe your relationship with people.

11.   How would you describe your supervisor?
12.   What do you feel are your supervisor’s greatest strengths? Why? Weakness? Why?
13.   In what ways has your supervisor supported your performance?
14.   For what kinds of things have you been praised? Criticised?
15.   How would you characterise your coworkers?
16.   How would you describe your relationships with people in other departments?
17.   What kind of people do you enjoy working with? What kind do you find difficult?
18.   What do you consider essential in the management of people?
19.   What type of committees have you worked on? What did you contribute?

Questions to explore aspirations.

20.   What is important to you in a job? What would you like to avoid?
21.   What do you want from this job that is lacking in your present (past) one?
22.   What position do you expect to hold five years from now?
23.   What are you doing to achieve your career goals?
24.   What are your salary expectations? On what do you base this?

Questions to stimulate self-assessment.

25.   As an employee, what do you consider your greatest strengths?
26.   In what areas would you most like to improve? Why?
27.   What motivates you?
28.   Why did you select this particular field of work?

Questions to determine how you would apply skills, experience and knowledge to the vacant position.

29.   What attracts you to the job for which you are applying?
30.   What do you believe qualifies you for this position?
31.   What elements of this job would be new to you?
32.   What additional training do you feel is required to achieve full proficiency?


These positive factors in the course of an interview will often be the reason for you being selected for further interview and for getting the job offer.

  ·  Business-like personal appearance.
  ·  Positive enthusiastic manner the ‘What I would be able to do for your company attitude’.
  ·  Ability to express thoughts clearly -good diction and grammar being able to communicate intelligently.
  ·  Proven ability to plan your career - clearly defined career purpose and goals.
  ·  Exceptional interest and enthusiasm - genuine excitement about the role.
  ·  Quiet confidence and belief in your ability to do the job well.
  ·  Interested in benefits and remuneration but clearly demonstrating your value-add to the organisation and how you will justify this for them.
  ·  Confidently answering all questions and being honest about any mistakes you have made. Clearly showing maturity and responsibility for unfavourable factors in work history.
  ·  Showing tact/maturity/courtesy.
  ·  Not being quick to condemn past employers.
  ·  Steady confident gaze able to look the interviewer in the eye.
  ·  Confident handshake and posture.
  ·  Appreciation of the value of experience.
  ·  Able to ask good questions about the job and company - being knowledgeable about their products and services, annual turnover, last years profit, value of the shares.
  ·  Persistent attitude of “What I would like to do for your company?”
  ·  Demonstrated preparation for the interview - have done my homework able to get information about the company, resulting in asking intelligent questions.


Find out specific facts about the company - where its plants, offices, or stores are located, what its products and services are; what its growth has been and what its growth potential is for the future. There are a number of research publications providing this kind of information.


Everyday accomplish the following because there will come a time when a prospective employer will ask your referee these questions.

It is at interview that they will seriously think of hiring you; it is at the point of the reference check that they will know that you are hired!

An employer will check your referees before making the decision to hire you. It will no doubt be the very final check that they will make. Employers are aware that some candidates who are eagerly vying for a limited number of jobs with fierce competition may knowingly exaggerate their credentials and experience in their effort to stand out above their competition.

Reference checking gives an added assurance to the employer who has intuitively sensed throughout the rest of the selection process an understanding of the truthfulness of your information. They will have ascertained your abilities to successfully perform in the position you have applied to. Often the reference checking very quickly verifies what they already know.

Reference checking is absolutely essential to verify your background! Combined with proper interviewing techniques, reference checking should give them an added assurance that the intuitive sense that they have about your abilities to successfully perform in the position is well founded.

The checking of your references should, at a minimum, involve a factual investigation of education and employment. When checking with educational institutions they will ask for the records department. They will request the year that you attended classes the graduation date to verify your claim of being awarded your qualification from that educational authority.

The verification of your employment dates and job titles will be obtained by contacting the HR department of your previous employers. An employer will view that your referees and their statements will be based on the former employers past perception of your performance in the role that you had. Generally the employer will use this to predict how you will perform for them in their role. Employers will have a preference for selecting referees from your former supervisors, not friends or co-workers. The employer will need to receive permission from you to contact these referees. Courtesy demands that you should contact your referee initially to make then aware that they will be receiving a telephone call, they do need to be prepared and should be happy to act as a referee for you.

The ten critical questions that will be asked when checking references

When beginning to prepare for the reference check the employer will have the following list of questions and will either modify or add other pertinent questions as they relate to the particular position they are recruiting for. It is recommended that the employer will follow the same procedure for every candidate. In order for the hiring manager to obtain an objective reference, they should keep their perceptions to themselves.

When the hiring manager contacts the referee they will advise the person from whom the reference is sought of their objectives. They will identify themselves and their company. They will state that they are seriously considering the candidate for employment and that they would like to ask a few questions to validate their perceptions about the candidate’s qualifications. Courtesy should prevail and they should ascertain on commencement of the reference check that it is a convenient time to do this.

· What were the responsibilities of the position the candidate had while working at your company?

This question helps to compare and verify the position that the referee is describing, with the description that was given to them by the candidate. The hiring manager will often offer a brief but specific description of the position that the candidate is being considered for. The manager should focus on the three top-priority responsibilities to enable the referee to provide specific feedback on each.

· Do you think the candidate is qualified to assume these responsibilities? Why or why not?

At this point the referee will probably offer specific characteristics about the candidate that will lead them to believe that the candidate could assume the role. If the referee simply responds by affirming that, in his or her opinion, the candidate is qualified, the hiring manager will probe by asking, “What specific qualities or personal characteristics cause you to feel this way?”

Prior to asking the next question the hiring manager will advise the referee that they would be responsible for managing and supporting the candidate in the position. The hiring manager will then ask questions that will relate to the management style that the candidate best responds to.

· How would you describe your management style?

The hiring manager will probe what specific management behaviors the candidate responds well to - and compare differences in their management style from the one being described that may make a difference in how they will interact with this employee.

· How did the candidate perform with regard to______________________________?

Whatever dimensions of job performance the hiring manager feels are important will be discussed. These questions will relate to the quality of work, the ability to handle pressure or willingness to take the initiative or skill-related questions such as organisational or communication skills should be asked at this time.

· Is this person a team player or does he or she excel by working alone?

This allows the hiring manager the opportunity to understand where the candidate will fit. Teamwork is highly regarded by most companies however; a person who is more independently directed may be what the role calls for. The assessment of the job, whether interactive or independent in work style is important for success - regardless of the answer the hiring manager will probe to determine whether the candidate demonstrated respect for other employees’ contributions and a willingness to consider others’ opinions.

· What was the candidate’s attendance record? Was the candidate on time and dependable?

What is appropriate attendance at one company may be cause for dismissal at another. The hiring manager should be sensitive to extenuating circumstances that may have contributed to poor work attendance, such as illness or family problems. What they are attempting to determine by asking this question is whether this candidate assumed responsibility to show up to work and on time.

· What areas of development were communicated to the candidate and how did he or she respond?

This question is a good way to get information regarding performance weaknesses that may not have otherwise been volunteered by the referee. The hiring manager will listen carefully as the referee describes how the candidate responded to performance improvement needs and direction.

· What are the candidate’s three strongest qualities?

The hiring manager may have received various direct and indirect responses to this question but by asking it at the end of the conversation, they provide the referee with an opportunity to highlight the characteristics that stand out in terms of the candidate’s past performance.

· What was the candidate’s reason for leaving the position?

This question should verify the reasons that the candidate provided for leaving his or her past job during the interview. The reason a candidate leaves a position can also help the hiring manager in determining whether their position will give the candidate what he or she is looking for in a new role.

· Would you rehire this candidate?

This final question is a defining one. Based upon the response and the hiring manager’s evaluation of the other information provided by the referee, this helps them answer their most critical question,

Should I hire this candidate?

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