Interview Q&A – Part 1: Basic Questions

**By Mike Rollins, vice president of sales at RecruitMilitary and a veterans of the United States Navy.** *This is the first of a series of articles in which I will provide questions that are typical of job interviews, along with answers of the kind that veterans should provide. Between each question and its answer, I will make a comment or two.* ******************************************************************************* ###BACKGROUND Margaret is interviewing for a job with a company that manufactures rugs and carpets. The employer’s human resources department has selected her for an interview based on her resume. The interviewer, Charles, has studied Margaret’s resume thoroughly. **************************************************************************** ###THE INTERVIEW **Charles:** Tell me about yourself. *Margaret must assume that Charles has done more than skim her resume. So she should not waste valuable time reciting its contents. But virtually any employer is interested in how a prospective employee balances his or her work with other aspects of life, so she should address that matter. She should also bring her veteran status into play immediately.* **Margaret:** I like to do things that require me to think as well as act; and, when I work, I put everything into it. My family life is very fulfilling, and I always make time to stay in good shape physically. During my time in the Navy, I developed the ability to perform critical tasks in a short period of time; and so I can work under pressure. I have studied your website and the posting for this job, and I would like to do the work. **Charles:** Why do you want to work for our company? *Charles wants to hear something specific about Margaret’s interest in the company, and not so much her interest in the job. At this point, Margaret should not talk about money, opportunity for advancement, etc.* **Margaret:** I have actually been interested in your products for a long time. When I was a child, I helped pick out the carpets and rugs for a house my parents bought. I could barely read, but I looked through more than a dozen catalogs, including yours. Now, of course, people all over the country see your products in the home improvement magazines, and they are ideal for that market. I know the company is doing well, and I would like to contribute to it through my work. **Charles:** Why should we hire you? *Margaret should bring her veteran status back into play.* **Margaret:** My background matches the qualifications in the job posting, I am very interested in your products, and many of the traits that I developed in the Navy are also very desirable in the civilian world. Those include leadership, concentration on the task at hand, self-discipline, and an eagerness to learn. **Charles:** What do you know about us? *Margaret should have memorized some facts and figures on the company, especially those related to the job for which she is interviewing. She should not hesitate to recite those, even though her recitation may sound exactly like what it is – a memorized piece. Being able to come up with this kind of answer is often essential to getting a second interview.* **Margaret:** The company was founded here in Macon in 1928. You made it through the Depression by mass-producing a very limited variety of very low-cost products, and that has been your approach ever since. Now the company has manufacturing plants in three states and does business almost entirely in the eastern part of the country. The company payroll is approximately 900. Your top line is around $40 million. You plan to establish operations west of the Mississippi, and I would like to contribute to that effort. **Charles:** Why are you considering leaving your present job? *Margaret should not strongly criticize her present employer. However, it is all right to criticize aspects of her present job, especially if she contrasts those with the opportunities associated with the job for which she is interviewing.* **Margaret:** I like my job, and the company is a good one. I would really like more of a chance to learn more about the other departments so I could contribute more. Your company deliberately moves new mid-level employees from department to department for the first nine months. I think that’s great. **Charles:** What is important about your military experience, as it applies to this job? *Margaret should have a polished answer ready for this kind of question. She should explain by example how her service was a time of learning and personal growth. She should then describe specifically how those examples would apply to the job for which she is being interviewed.* **Margaret:** I developed personally, gaining self-confidence by working harder than I ever had – at jobs that were completely new to me. I gained a deep respect for all kinds of people by working with them on missions that required close cooperation and teamwork – and just by seeing how hard and how well they worked. On the job-specific side, in my last assignment, I did a great deal of troubleshooting – coordinating receiving, storage, and shipment as well as financial accounting. Most of that experience would apply to the job with your company. I also developed some diplomatic skills in that assignment, and those would be useful. *. . . to be continued in Part 2.*