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Preparing for Work

Interviews – What Employers Want to Know

There are three fundamental factors at the root of every question the employer asks:

Can you do the job?

If you have been invited to an interview, the assumption is that you are able to do the job. However, too often job seekers exaggerate their skills, making it necessary for employers to ask a few questions that will confirm or elaborate on your experience, and your ability to do the job.

Will you do the job?

This may seem obvious, but, highly qualified employees often do not show initiative, enthusiasm, or creativity when faced with problems to solve or routine tasks to perform. Your use of examples when answering questions helps your previous experience come alive, and demonstrates that you take pride in your work and will take responsibility to increase quality, ensure customer satisfaction, meet deadlines, etc.

Do you want to do the job?

No matter how technically qualified you may be for a position, fitting in to the organization’s culture is even more important. Employers will take a chance on a less qualified candidate, overlooking someone who “can do the job” in favour of someone who demonstrates enthusiasm for learning – “will do the job” – and who is excited about the opportunity and will fit with the team – “want to do the job”.

Below you will find samples of common interview questions that seek to answer these 3 questions.

"Can you do the job?" relates to relevant knowledge and experience

1. Tell me about yourself.

2. Walk me through your portfolio. Which pieces are you most proud of, and why?

3. What experience do you have with this type of work?

4. What equipment or technology, relevant to this position, do you have experience with?

5. What would you do in this situation…? What would you do if…? Give me an example of when you… (This is because past experience is the best predictor of future performance)

6. What are your greatest strengths? What are your limitations?

7. What do you do to remain current in your field?

8. Describe your creative process. What are the major steps?

"Will you do the job?" relates to motivation

1. How long have you been out of work?

2. How often have you changed jobs?

3. When are you available for work?

4. Would you be willing to travel or relocate?

5. What are your career objectives? What are your long-range goals?

6. Can you work under pressure and tight deadlines?

7. Are you thinking about going back to school?

8. How would you describe your personality?

9. Why did you leave your last job?

"Do you want to do the job?" relates to fit

1. Why do you want to work here?

2. What do you know about our company?

3. What is your greatest achievement? Can you tell me an example of an accomplishment that gave you a sense of satisfaction?

4. What brands/companies/artists do you most admire and how do they influence your work?

5. Why should we hire you?

6. What do you look for in a job?

7. What kind of management style (or culture) are you looking for?

8. What have you learned from participating in extra-curricular activities?

9. Describe a situation when your work was criticized. How did you handle it?

10. What would your last employer (or co-workers) say about you?

11. Do you have any questions for us?