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Career Action Center

How to Answer Interview Questions

Question: Tell me about yourself.

Ideas to use:

Example:
  • I just received my Associate Degree in _________. Through my classes at Edmonds Community College I gained a variety of skills including______. During my internship at_________ I gained practical experience by_____. (Describe what you did and the experience you gained.) Before returning to school, I________. (Talk about your earlier work history briefly, emphasizing the skills you can transfer to this job).
     
  • I’ve just graduated from Edmonds Community College with my Associate of Technical Arts in Computer Information Systems. The skills I acquired include programming with Visual Basic, designing and managing databases, using Access and Structured Query Language, plus using Word and Excel. I was interested in computers even before I returned to school and have had my own computer at home for several years. My earlier experience was as an Office Assistant in a manufacturing environment. That job allowed me to use my skills as a natural problem solver and taught me how to work in a team environment.
     
  • I recently graduated from the Edmonds Community College Chemical Laboratory Technician program. During my two years in college I maintained an excellent grade point average and became proficient in all facets of general and organic chemistry. I excelled in the areas of identification and calibration of tools and machines found in most labs. Through my internship I gained hands-on experience in a lab environment. To pay my way through college, I worked in a restaurant. That job taught me how to relate well with a wide variety of personality types. So, part of what I bring to my work is an unusual combination of a science background and great people skills.

Question: What are your weaknesses?

Ideas to use:

Example:

# 1: Be Brief

I have very high standards for my work and tend to get caught up with making sure even the smallest details are perfect. Of course, that takes a lot of time and can keep me from focusing my attention on other priorities.

Turn it into a Positive

I remedy the situation by creating a schedule for the project I am addressing. I am careful to prioritize each task by level of importance and then do the top items first. This way the main tasks are handled, and as time allows, each descending level of priority is addressed. (Then stop talking about it).

# 2: Be Brief

I used to struggle with time management and getting everything done.

Turn it into a positive

However, I took several classes in time management. They taught me how to get organized. After those classes I started using what I learned. I began to set priorities every day and since then I have consistently completed my work on time. (Then stop talking about it.)

  • Even if the interviewer asks for your greatest strength, always name at least TWO, and preferably, THREE strengths.
  • Give two examples of times you have used each strength.
  • Another technique is to relate ONE compelling story that shows several of your strengths in action.
  • Let your enthusiasm show. This is your opportunity to sell the employer on what you can do for them. You are not bragging; you’re telling the truth about your talents and skills.

Question:What is your greatest strength?

Ideas to use:

Example:
  • I have several strengths that I’ve used repeatedly during my life. I’ve always been very good at________(fixing things) and at_______(building relationships with all types of people). Even as a kid, I used to____(fix broken clocks and repair my bike). In my work as a_____, I did_____.While a student, I again used my talent by______. Working as a ______ will give me the opportunity to continue using my strength in______. In the area of building relationships…. (Then go on with more examples.)
     
  • My greatest strength is imaginative creativity. Whether dealing with a programming challenge or a design challenge, I have the skills to think outside the box. I like to consider both linear and unexpected approaches to any situation. For example, when I was working on an interactive educational piece, the client wanted some very specific information that the code in the program was unable to handle. I developed a creative way to reprogram a set of buttons and solve the problem.
     
  • I am hardworking, persistent, and well organized. I have created web sites that required organizing more than 100 pages and working with them from start to finish. I am also quite tenacious and do not give up on a problem if the solution is not readily apparent.
     

Tips for Answering Behavior Based Questions

Example:

Tell me about a time you achieved a great deal in a short amount of time.

Last year I created a complicated project within a short timeline of two and a half weeks. I used Macromedia Director to create a complex presentation for a staff member. It contained over thirty screens of graphics, with music and animation accompanying the graphics. The graphics were all individually created and customized, a time-consuming process. By working efficiently and putting in extra time, I was able to digitize and edit the music, program the code, create the application and supervise the testing. I got it done on time and the staff member was ecstatic.

Tell me about a time you were highly motivated and your example inspired others.

One of my co-workers kept asking me how I could work full time and go to school at the same time. I told her that I’m doing this because I don’t want to have a low-paying job the rest of my life, and the best way to get a better job is to get an education. I explained that knowing what I want to achieve keeps me motivated when I get tired of staying up late to study. Finally, she began to understand and now she is taking classes toward her A.T.A.

Tell me about a time when you really had to remain flexible.

My college job has been working at an espresso bar. I had to remain flexible all the time! I could never plan very far in advance because it was impossible to know if I’d be able to get the day off. We also had employees who would arrive late for work and that meant I needed to stay until my replacement showed up. After my first month there, I realized it was not a good idea to plan on being someplace right after work. I’ve always been a fairly flexible person, but that job helped me become even more adaptable.