This post is a continuation of a Previous Post discussing the best ways to respond to some of the most common interview questions that my clients and I regularly use when assessing a candidate’s suitability for a role.

As before I will give some pointers on just how to answer these questions, as well as the responses I gave to land the career I have today.

Tell me about a time when you encountered a business challenge

I love this question because preparing for this forces you to think about your successes and achievements.

What have you done that helped solve a problem?

What are some challenges you’ve faced that you managed to solve?

As I’ve stressed numerous times, remain honest and realistic.

Your prospective employer WILL discuss your answer with your references to verify.

Speaking of your references, these are the perfect people to ask this question to.

Many of us suffer from imposter syndrome where we undervalue ourselves.

We have difficulty saying good things about ourselves.

One of the best ways to get over this is to ask people close to you professionally such as your co-workers and supervisors “tell me of a time when I encountered a challenge here at work that I was able to solve”.

This will help you start getting ideas about what to talk about.

Remember, it’s not bragging if it’s true.

The interviewer is literally asking you to say good things about yourself.

Quick tip: I’ve noted before about how many of us, military veterans especially, want to answer these types of questions with a “we” and “us” approach, emphasizing the team: “This one time, WE faced X issue and WE used Y methods to achieve Z result.”

Don’t do it.

The interviewer is asking you this question, not your team!

What did you do to solve the problem?

Again, feel free to ask this question to your peers and supervisors.

It’s often much easier for our colleagues to say good things about us than it is for ourselves. 


My answer: Honestly, I wasn’t asked this specific question when interviewing for my current position, but this is how I WOULD have answered it:

“While training at the International Air Land Emergency Resource Team (ALERT) Academy, our training staff was suddenly deployed to Haiti to assist in response to a hurricane that year.

“My dormitory mates being without leadership I quickly stepped up and led the 10+ other men assigned to my dorm, overseeing training, inspections, and ensuring each man made it to class on time and with the appropriate materials.”

What are the most important things you are looking for in your next role?

Again, remain honest.

The last thing you want is to land a job in an industry or company you have no desire to work in.

You know the answer better than anyone else, but try answering THIS question: “What are some things you would regret if you didn’t accomplish within the next 5 years?”

A mentor of mine once told me, “Paul, sales is not about what you want to DO, but about who you want to BE.”

I believe one can apply the same logic to any profession.

Who do you want to become? What goals do you have? Do you want to work remotely? Do you want to manage a team? What do you feel is lacking about your CURRENT situation?


My answer: I’m looking for a role that will provide for my and my family’s financial stability and the ability to travel and work from anywhere.

Why are you leaving your current job?

Many times, it helps to write down a list of the pros & cons of your current job.

Remember, every day you show up to work, you accept a job offer: you offer you have in front of you of returning to work. What will change with this new job? 

Now is not the time to vent.

Do not vent about your current employer, colleagues, or subordinates.

Quick note: never complain about the conditions of your current job in a job interview.

There are many ways to rephrase your answers into a more positive light. For example:

  • “I want to get paid more” 

Doesn’t sound as good as:

  • “I’m currently undervalued in my current role”.

Brainstorm a bit.

A great way to approach this question is to return to your previous list you made of the pros & cons of your current role, and then write down your answers to the question: “Why are you leaving your current job?”

After that, try going over your answers to see how rephrasing them might make them sound better.

  • “I’m looking for a more involved leadership” sounds better than “My boss doesn’t provide any coaching”
  • “I seek a work environment & culture that will allow me to grow and mature” sounds better than “My boss micromanages me”

My answer: I don’t see myself stacking boxes in a warehouse for the next 5 years. I’m ready for something to challenge me.

What are your salary expectations?

Ah, yes, the dreaded question.

Aim too low, and you risk shooting yourself in the foot.

Aim too high, and you might alienate your potential future employer before they have a chance to see what you can bring to the table.

I’m going to give you the same advice I give to all of my candidates:

First off, do NOT be the one to bring up compensation, especially on a first interview.

No one should bring up compensation on a first interview, whether interviewer or interviewee.

The first interview is there to get to know one another and see if the skillsets and company cultures align. 

IF the subject of money comes up, there exist 2 answers:

The PREFERRED answer is to say “Well, sir/ma’am, I’m open to any fair offer, and I’m sure we can come to an agreement on what that looks like.”

If they press it, you can simply put the ball back in their court by saying “well, what were you thinking of offering?”

The other way to answer is to simply tell them what you’re making and what you’d like to make, but the first method is a better choice.

An interview is a two-way conversation between two interested parties.

Also, don’t ask about benefits, bonus, insurance, etc., as that opens the door for the salary talk.

My answer: While this question didn’t come up in my interview due to the commission-nature of the job, my go-to answer is always “I’m open to any fair offer, and I’m sure we can come to an agreement on what that looks like.”

Do you have any questions for me?

ALWAYS have questions, otherwise you come across as disinterested, or uninterested, or both. 

I’ve written Here about how to prepare questions for an interview, but the long and short of it is: there should be no unanswered questions.

What do you want to know about the company? 

Here briefly are some common questions to ask a potential employer during the interview:

  • Why is this position open?
  • Company growth plans?
  • What type of growth and advancement opportunities does this position and the company offer?
  • How do you see me benefiting the company?
  • What would my first project be if I’m hired?
  • Are continuing education and professional training stressed?
  • Why did you (the hiring executive) choose this company?
  • What exactly are the job responsibilities?”

Make sure you write down/print out these questions on a sheet of paper and bring to the interview (or have in front of you for a phone/Zoom interview). 


My answer: Realistically, what can someone with my background expect to earn in their first year?

Conclusion

I hope this helps in your interview preparation.

Also, be sure to check out my other article Here for 5 other common interview questions you definitely should prepare for.

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