Crappy Answer: "I saw your ad on Craigslist, Monster.com, the newspaper, or I walk past your building on the way home."
This question seems perfectly straightforward. As if the recruiter wanted to see if their ads were working, but at the end of the day, I would love to hear that you have been watching the company and waiting for an opening to come up. As happy as I am I have a candidate, this is one of the worst answers I could hear. Basically, you told me you "stumbled" into this opportunity or it fell into your lap.
This is an opportunity to show real interest in the company, use it. Explain how your friend is always talking about how much he likes the company. You asked a friend that works for the company about the position because of your research, a recent article you read, or you really like their product. You really like the industry and looked at the major players. Explain how you have an interest in the company or what they stand for.
Great Answer: Well, I have been a fan of your company and your products for a long time now. My family has used your products. I have your X, Y, and Z. I use your Z, A, and B and love them. I saw your company at a charity event and the guys that were at the event really seemed energetic and were all volunteering. I went home and did some research.
This is a great answer because it lets the interviewer know that this job opportunity didn't just fall in your lap, even if it did.
Crappy answer: "I usually avoid it. I don't like conflict so I can find a way to stay away from it."
I don't want to hire someone that walks away from problems; I am looking for a problem solver. Better yet, I am looking for someone who will not only take care of their conflicts but others as well.
Answer with example: "First I usually try to figure out what is causing the conflict. There is usually a reason. Most people don't want to argue or disagree so there is usually something else that is going on. I am on a soccer team and there is someone on the team that recently has been very difficult to deal with. He wasn't always like this. It wasn't just me that was getting this treatment it was the entire team. One day after practice, I asked him out for a beer and got him into a setting that was neutral for both of us and just asked him "what's going on with you? You aren't your normal self, is everything OK?" It turned out that his company was going through some tough times and he was worried about having to let some folks go. We talked for a while, and things got better at practices. I always made it a point to greet him personally when I saw him and let him know he had an ally and was watching out for him. I usually try to find out what is behind the conflict."
Great answer. Enough detail to explain what is going on, but also kept brief. I have an answer that is believable and I also found out that this candidate is pretty active outside of work.
The recruiter didn't hear what they were looking for, so more detail. OR: use yet another example in a totally different context. Both of the prior examples were physical. Use an example where another skill set is involved like public speaking, learning how to use Outlook.
Answer with Example: "You know, 3 years ago, I didn't know how to use Outlook. The job I was working wasn't technology dependent, but I knew I needed to learn this skill if I wanted to get ahead. I literally laid out a plan. I was going to learn how to use AOL mail because it was free. I created two accounts and just practiced back and forth. Then I signed up for a course at the community center, which was only 25.00 for Outlook. They had 3 classes and my ultimate goal was to get through all three. Turns out that the AOL mail pretty much got me through the first class and I wasn't until the 2nd class that I was introduced to new topics. By the third class, I was thinking about Excel. I am proud of what I accomplished. It might not be much to some, but for me, I view it as an investment."
Crappy and Unacceptable unless you are interviewing for the COO position: I want to be the CEO of this company. I know that by starting in the entry level and working hard, I can someday be the CEO.
As great as this sounds, it just isn't realistic or believable for any company. It may be believable in your reality, but at the end of the day we are working with the recruiter's and the hiring manager's reality. If they don't see them becoming the CEO (and they don't) why should they think you have a shot?
Answer with Example: My long-term goal is to be an expert in my discipline. I would like to be the "go to" person for what I do. When there is a problem, people think of me when it comes to solving that. I don't worry about the title so much as having a rounded skill set. I want to be effective not only internally within the company but also externally with clients both large and small. I know it will take a lot of work, but if it was easy, everyone would do it.
Crappy and Unacceptable Answer: "I haven't run into this problem. I get along with everyone and everyone gets along with me."
As great as this sounds, the recruiter isn't going to believe it or going to think you aren't paying attention to your co-workers enough. No emotional intelligence. You haven't answered the question.
A zero impact answer: "I usually get along with everyone. When I haven't gotten along with people I make an effort to be straightforward with them and talk the problem through."
Sounds good, but this is just theory. I hear this 10 times a day. Give me a specific example so I have a better chance of believing you.
Answer with Example: "I am pretty easy going, and I usually get along with everyone. That being said, at my last job, there was a co-worker that I didn't care for. They were pretty negative towards my new ideas in meetings and publicly put my ideas down on a pretty regular basis. I was the new guy and didn't have much credibility." His name was Jake and everyone knew that Jake was a huge sports fan. I am pretty into baseball, so when everyone went to lunch, I made it a point to pick his brain on what he thought about different players and different teams. I never contradicted his opinions, just got him talking to me, and getting to know me. It was just a matter of us finding something in common. I believe that when people get to know you, they tend be nicer to you. I have found that when I am not getting along with someone, we don't know each other enough and we need to find common ground."
Crappy and unacceptable: "I have always been very happy with my performance. I work hard, prepare, and it pays off. This is why I had the highest sales last quarter."
This sounds great in theory, and I know the candidate feels like they nailed the question, but unfortunately this fails. It doesn't answer the question and doesn't give me the example of when someone worked hard to improve.
Answer with Example: "it is actually rare when I am really happy with my performance. I feel like I am always trying to improve. In my personal life I really like to golf / bowl / fish /knit/ you fill in the blank. When I first started 4 years ago, I shot a 100. I knew that this wasn't going to be acceptable so initially I just made it a point to practice at the golf range 3 times a week. As I progressed and watched others, I got videos, read magazines and asked my friends for help. About a year in, I signed up for some lessons. They were expensive but they were the best investment I could make. I now have a much better score and am really proud of what I have accomplished. At my last job, I wasn't very good at running the forklift. I cleared it with the manager if I could get my good friend to work with me after work and just practice lifting pallets. For about a week, we worked on different things. Backing around a corner, stacking pallets so they are straight. Moving one pile to another spot backwards for an hour a day after work. It paid off. I am now one of the most efficient operators of the forklift and my shift supervisor has me train everyone. I am proud of this."
Crappy and Unacceptable. "I am a team player. I have always worked on teams. Played basketball in high school. I have never understood people who played golf. That is such an individual effort. I really like to be on a team."
Pretty much a trick question: given a choice, most people will pick one or the other. If the job hasn't specified a choice, and even if it has, I as the recruiter, am hoping you mention you can work in both. There may be times where I need to ask you to work individually. Even if the job says looking for a team player, you may work alone at times.
Crappy: "I work well on both. At my last job, we had to do some things as a team, and then there would be other days where I would be asked to do something on my own.
Sounds good, but I don't have much to take back to my hiring manager. No story to tell. I have heard this same answer twice this past week. It doesn't separate you from the rest of the pack.
► What skills do you have that apply to this position?
► How long have you been operating a forklift and what types are you certified to operate?
► What types of environments have you operated a forklift in and what shifts have you worked in other positions?
Most employers will need to know your job history before offering you a new position at their company. You'll need to be ready to discuss your last job and even the ones before that one if you've had several. These questions are mostly factual and you should keep your answers short and to the point.
► How do you show an interest in what another person is saying?
► What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?
► When you achieved a great deal in a short amount of time.
► Are you willing to work overtime?
► Do your skills match Forklift Operator job or another job more closely?
► What problems have you encountered at work?
► Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job.
Think of recent strong strategic examples of work you've done. Present a positive and confident picture of yourself, but don't overstate your case. Remember, when you're interviewing, you are being screened for a certain skill set and cultural fit.
Crappy answer: "I am currently a fork lift operator, developer, insurance adjuster, etc. I left because my manager wouldn't give me a raise. I had the most seniority and I hadn't had a raise in 2 years. I always showed up on time. The company didn't treat it's employees right. I saw lay off after lay off."
Any variation of the above is off limits. I don't want to hear you complain or make excuses. Under the premise of Behavioral Interviewing, examples of prior behavior are an indicator of future behavior. This isn't a good sign.
Good answer: There are a couple of directions you can take here, any version of the below is cool with me as long as you don't have any resentment in your answer.
I have been at this company for 3, 5, 15 years and am looking for a change. I like the company a lot, and I like my manager, but I have gotten to the top of my discipline there and the company / department is of the size that I am not learning any more. This is a company that specializes in "your discipline here" or is larger so there would be more opportunity to grow my skill set.
The company just had a lay off and I am still employed and am confident that they will have another lay off within 3 months, so I just want to see what other options are out there. I am talking with my manager to see if there is anything I can do to expand my skill set and make myself more valuable to the company, but even my manager is suggesting that we all look for new jobs.
I was just laid off from my company and took a break for the last few months. I figured I wouldn't have a chance to take a long break till I retire so I made it a conscious decision to spend more time with my family, remodel the kitchen, learn a new skill set, do something you always wanted to do and have a passion for.
Being unemployed doesn't sound good. Being unemployed by choice sounds much better. It gives the impression that you have options and won't take the first thing that comes along.