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Tough Interview

Question - Tell me
about yourself

pause and/or nod as an indicator for you to


continue. If that happens, start drilling into the
details and examples. Also, be prepared for
potential interruptions along the way, as many
interviewers use this question as a way to bring up
areas of interest where they can drill down further.

Following is a tough interview question:

An example of how to best answer this


question for experienced candidates:
"I've worked hard in my education and career to
prepare myself to become a world class
accountant. I received my BBA in Accounting from
the University of Illinois and then went to work for
KPMG after graduation. I passed the CPA exam on
my first try and have progressed well in my career.
I was recently promoted from Staff Auditor to
Senior Auditor and was selected to train new hires
in our region on recent GAAP accounting
changes"

Tell me about yourself


Similar interview questions:
I've read your resume, tell me more about who you
are.
Who is [your name]?
How would other people describe you?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
First of all, this isn't even a question. Yet it is the
most commonly asked interview "question," so you
need to be ready for it. Most interviewers who ask
this question are not practiced interviewers, so this
question serves as a softball way to start out the
interview. And often, sadly, it serves as a delay
question to give an unprepared interviewer time to
quickly scan your resume for the first time. It is an
open-ended question, so it gives the interviewee
the opportunity to go in any of several directions.
From there, the interviewer can drill down into
specifics. The interviewer does not want to know
all the details about you from birth forward. They
are specifically focused on who you are in relation
to the specific job for which you are applying. The
interviewer is effectively asking: "Tell me about
your background on your resume in more detail."
The best approach to answering this question:
Focus on the part of you which makes you the best
candidate for the position. Talk first about your
preparation for the role and then focus in tightly on
what makes you the best candidate for the role.
Use a quick overall summary, then use laser focus
on the role itself. Keep your initial answer short,
about 2-3 minutes at most, then pause to give the
interviewer the opportunity to either: a) ask a
different question; or b) ask a clarifying or detail
question drilling into specifics around your answer.
When you pause, some interviewers will simply

An example of how to best answer this


question for entry level candidates:
"I've worked hard in my education and my
internships to prepare myself to become a world
class accountant. I will be receiving my BBA in
Accounting from the University of Illinois and have
already completed two internships with large public
accounting firms the past two summers. I worked
for KPMG last summer in tax accounting and Ernst
and Young the summer before in audit. I have
already taken the prep exams for the CPA and am
ready to sit for the CPA exam in the spring. I
earned the Intern of the Year Award for the
Chicago branch of KPMG this past summer"
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"Wow, well let's seeI was born in 1992 in
Chicago, Illinois. I was the second boy in a family
of four boys. We got along OK, except for my older
brother, especially when he got older and joined a
gang. My parents were Catholic, so it was a pretty
strict upbringing. I made my first communion in
second grade and was confirmed in seventh grade.
I was even an altar boy, can you believe that! I had
a pretty rough childhood and I spent some time at
reform school"

Remember to answer each interview question


behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or
not. The easiest way to do this is to use an
example from your background and experience.
Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the
answer a STAR: talk about

Tough Interview
Question - Why
should I hire you?
Why should I hire you?
Similar interview questions:
Sell me on yourself.
What makes you different from others we are
interviewing?
Should we take a chance on you?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is asking you directly to come up
with points of differentiation in your background.
S/he is seeking giving you the open opportunity to
sell yourself. Yet doing it in a way that puts you into
the hot seat of talking about yourself in a very open
and direct manner. So s/he wants to know what
you consider to be the defining aspects of your
background that sets you apart. Yet it is openended, so you can go in multiple directions.
The best approach to answering this question:
Focus on your education, work experience, skills,
aptitudes and abilities which differentiate you from
your competition. Make no mistake about it, this is
a competitive posturing question. So any
statements you might make need to be backed up
with examples that show how you try are the best
person for the position. Your answer should be
geared toward meeting the employer's needs, not
your personal needs.
An example of how to best answer this
question for experienced candidates:
"Because I'm the best person for the job. Here's

why: I have all of the required qualifications that


you are asking for in this job. The education, the
experience, the industry experience. But I also
bring a passion to the job that makes me the best
person for the job. Why? Because that passion
translates into results. I really love what I do. Let
me give you an example"
An example of how to best answer this
question for entry level candidates:
"Because I'm the best person for the job. I know
you are interviewing other students with similar
qualifications in terms of my degree and my
internship. Yet I was awarded the Employee of the
Month award as an intern this past summer and
was the first intern ever to receive that award. I
was given that award over all other nominations of
their full-time staff. That award was given due to
my delivery on a project that no one else had been
able to successfully complete. I not only delivered
the project, but I did it while also working on two
other projects, both of which were completed
during job one summer as an intern. Let me tell
you about the project where I won the award"
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"Well, I really need this job and it would be
awesome to work here! I've been unemployed for a
while and my Mom is starting to get on my case
about it. And, y'know, I really don't like living in the
basement anymore. I want to get out on my own
and be independent. So if you hire me, I would be
able to get out of the house and be off on my own.
Life would be good."

Remember to answer each interview question


behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or
not. The easiest way to do this is to use an
example from your background and experience.
Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the
answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (ST), the Action you took (A) and the Results
achieved (R). This is what makes your interview
answer uniquely yours and will make your answer
a star!

Tough Interview
Question - What is
your long-range
objective?
What is your long-range objective?
Similar interview questions:
What are your long-term goals?
Where would you like to be in 5 years? 10 years?
20 years?
What is your end goal in your career?
Where do you see yourself progressing in your
job?
What do you think will be your last job before
retirement?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is asking to align expectations for
the role with your long-term expectations. While
interviewers typically want solid alignment on near
term (i.e. under 5 years) expectations, more
latitude can and will be given for longer term goals.
However, this question is often asked to explore
whether the candidate has long-term goals which
cannot be met by the employer. It is also used as a
reality check to see if the candidate has realistic
goals. Finally, it is also used as a measure of the
ambition of the candidate. How much ambition is
wanted/needed is dependent upon the role.
The best approach to answering this question:
If the short-term/near-term question has not yet
been asked, start by briefly addressing the nearterm goals. Then focus on your career direction
and trajectory based upon being successful in the
role during that period of time, yet showing
flexibility for taking on a variety of roles over the
course of your career to broaden your knowledge
and exposure. You want to be ambitious, yet not
overly ambitious.

An example of how to best answer this


question for an experienced candidate:
"In the near term, I am focused on becoming a
subject matter expert in my field. I do want to
prepare myself for future promotional opportunities,
if they come about. I am working to prepare myself
for managerial opportunities in the future by taking
on the lead role on project teams such as my
current network integration project. Yet I am also
flexible to take on roles which will broaden my
exposure, which is why I have become involved in
two cross-functional team projects, one with the
finance group and one with the marketing group.
This not only strengthens my relationships with
other teams, but also broadens my knowledge
base for interacting at a higher level."
An example of how to best answer this
question for an entry level candidate:
"In the near term, I am focused on coming up to
speed quickly in my new role. My longer range
goal is to become a subject matter expert in my
field. I want to become the person others seek out
for the answers to their most difficult problems. As
an example of this, in my recent internship I took
over management of the internal collaboration site
for the project managers. The site had not been
updated in over a year, so I took responsibility for
making the updates and incorporating current
material that would be of benefit to everyone. My
work in this area won a departmental award, would
you like to see a copy?"
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"My long term goal is to have your job. Actually,
that's more my mid-term goal. My long term goal is
to become the CEO. So I want to put myself on
that path and continue to make course corrections
along the way until I finally achieve that goal. So
I'm pretty ambitious in what I want to do, I guess
the real question is whether you can provide me
with the roadmap for getting to the corner office?"

Tough Interview
Question - What is
your greatest
accomplishment?
What is your greatest
accomplishment?
Similar interview questions:
What is your proudest accomplishment?
What is the biggest achievement in your life?
What is the single most important result in your
life?
At your retirement party, what will you look back on
as being the most important project or deliverable
of your career?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
This is perhaps the best interview question of all
time. Why? Because it provides a behavioral
foundation for focusing specifically on the #1 result
of the candidate's career. And it allows the
interviewer to drill into detail about each of the
behavioral S-T-A-R components: the Situation or
Task, the Action you took and the Results
achieved. While many candidates answer this
question backward (starting with the achievement
and/or result and working backward to explain how
it was achieved), it allows the interviewer to dig
deep into how much of that accomplishment was
actually due to the actions of the candidate and
how much was from the actions of others.
The best approach to answering this question:
Most candidates have difficulty with this question,
especially if they have not thought it through in
advance. The best approach is to think about your
top three accomplishments. Two reasons for this:
1) it will help you to compare your top
accomplishments to decide which is the best to
present; and 2) a practiced interviewer may follow
this question with: "What is your second greatest
accomplishment?" and "What is your third greatest

accomplishment?" So having three significant


accomplishments will help you answer following
questions, even if they aren't specifically about
accomplishments (since these make the best
examples for all interview questions). Then work
on building out the supporting examples for these
accomplishments. This question essentially forces
a full S-T-A-R behavioral answer, since it puts the
"R" (results achieved) first, which makes it easy to
trace the trail that got you there. Do not, under any
circumstances, use a personal accomplishment as
your response. Even though you may consider
your marriage or your spiritual conversion or the
birth of a child or something else in your personal
life to be your greatest accomplishment in life,
that's not what the interviewer is seeking. This is a
career question, not a life question. It is acceptable
to talk about a shared deliverable which was
achieved by a team, but be careful to select one
where you were a key member for delivery, not
simply successful by being part of the team that
delivered. You will need to talk specifically about
your role in the delivery.
An example of how to best answer this
question for an experienced candidate:
"I have several notable accomplishments in my
career. Probably the most notable accomplishment
was the delivery of the most recent version update
to one of our core products for customer payments.
This was a 12-month project and I was one of 8
team members. What made it notable for me was
that my role expanded from being one of the tech
team members to taking the lead on building the
mobile components of the product. In order to
deliver this aspect of the product, I pulled in three
new project resources with specific skills in each of
the mobile technology platforms we targeted and
cross-trained all project resources to support each
platform. In the end, we delivered the product on
time and have received numerous accolades, both
internal and external. The mobile component was
specifically identified to be world class and
distinguished the product at its release. Our CEO
spent time showing the mobile components to the
press and industry and it has since met with
excellent reviews. Would you like to see the
Android version of the product?"

An example of how to best answer this


question for an entry level candidate:
"I have several notable accomplishments in both
my education and my work experience. Probably
the most notable accomplishment was delivery of
the mobile apps project during my internship this
past summer. I joined the tech development team
at a time when they were in the process of losing a
team member due to relocation. That team
member was the lead for the iOS version of the
mobile app under development. Since I had
already developed two iOS apps and no one else
on the team had worked with iOS, I was asked to
take the lead for the iOS development and
deployment, effectively half of the project. This was
outside the original scope of my internship, but
definitely mission critical. I was able to deliver the
app on time before completion of my internship
and have deployed it to the iTunes store. It has
already received over 100 positive reviews from
customers. Would you like to see it?"
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"Hmmmgreatest accomplishment? I'm not sure I
have a greatest accomplishment. Most of the
projects I have been working with have been
canceled, but no fault of my own. We usually get
ready to deliver something and then the project
funding gets pulled and we are never able to
actually deliver. So then we all scramble to get
moved to another project before we get targeted
for layoffs. Some people at our company aren't as
good at that as me and they've ended up being laid
off. But I'm a survivor and I've been able to avoid
the layoff ax all these years. So that's probably my
greatest accomplishment is that I haven't been laid
off in spite of all of the projects being canceled. I'm
pretty good at laying low and staying out of the
spotlight."

Tough Interview
Question - How has
your education
prepared you for
your career?
How has your education prepared you
for your career?
Similar interview questions:
Why did you choose to attend _____?
Why did you select _____ major?
Why didn't you attend _____?
Where were you accepted for college?
Tell me about a classroom project with real-world
application.
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is probing for both why you
attended college at _____ as well as whether you
made practical, real world connections between
your academic studies and the world of work. If the
interviewer is not familiar with your college, it may
be a way to better understand the academic
programs. The interviewer may also want to know
why you attended one college over another.
The best approach to answering this question:
Focus on the real world applications of your
education. If you had classroom projects that tied
to real world examples, use them. If you had any
type of case studies class, this is usually a good
example to use. If you have had work experience
and/or internships, this is an opportunity to talk
specifically about what you learned in the
classroom that helped you in your work.
An example of how to best answer this
question for an experienced candidate:
"Several of my capstone courses for my major tied
directly into the work I've been doing on the job.
For example, my Algorithms class has tied in
directly into my current project, as we're seeking to
optimize the code for presenting user results. I was

able to apply a unique algorithm that greatly


increased the user interaction with the results on
that particular page. Would you like me to show it
to you?"
An example of how to best answer this
question for an entry level candidate:
"Several of my classes have tied into real world
examples for my career. A recent example is with
our case study class, where we reviewed a recent
case of the merger between a large national bank
and a smaller regional bank. Even though the case
was interesting and highly relevant, it was two
years old by the time we reviewed it in class. With
guidance from our professor, I reached out to one
of the Vice Presidents at the regional bank to
assess the impact of the merger. It provided
valuable insight not only into the financial models
used for making the merger at the time, but also
how they played out in the merger itself. My final
paper ended up winning an award within my
department. Would you like me to show it to you?"
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"Well, I learned how to hold my beer, that's for
sure. When I arrived on campus as a Freshman, I
was a real lightweight. But over time, I learned to
drink with the best of them. I know it's important to
be able to hold your liquor in a work setting so that
you don't do or say something stupid when you're
out drinking with your co-workers. Most of my
classes weren't really tied to work and the ones
that were tied to my career were just plain boring.
So I've been working just to get my degree and get
out of here so that I can start doing real work. The
partying has been fun, but it's time to get on with
my life."

Tough Interview
Question - Are you
a team player?
Are you a team player?
Similar interview questions:
Do you like working in a team?
Are you better on a team or working by yourself?
Tell me about a team project and your contribution.
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer wants to know how well you will
perform in a team environment. This is a closedend question which could be answered yes/no, but
the interviewer will typically probe further for
specifics. This can be a difficult question for an
interviewer to probe, since almost everyone
answers yes to the question and then tries to back
it up with team results. One of the most difficult
aspects of interviewing is understanding what the
candidate accomplished vs. what the candidate's
team accomplished. And did the team accomplish
the results because of the candidate or in spite of
the candidate. It's common for a high performing
team to have one (or two or three) team members
who are not producing like the other members of
the team. So a good interviewer will seek to probe
into your specific role, interaction within the team
and contributions to the results.
The best approach to answering this question:
Give an example of how you have worked in a
positive way with your team. For managers, this
can take on a second dimension of managing a
team. For most, however, it should be focused on
how we interact with and communicate with others
at a peer level on a work team and the results
achieved, making note of outstanding contributions
to the team. Final note: in spite of the temptation,
do not answer with sports analogies or sports
cliches.
An example of how to best answer this
question for experienced candidates:
"Yes I am. An example of this is my current team,

the Global Standards Project, where we are all


working together with a variety of background and
skills to produce a result which none of us could
have achieved individually. So it's important that
we all communicate well with each other on an
ongoing basis. Some of this takes place in our
weekly status meeting, where we get together to
update on our progress toward the goal. But I think
the most important aspect is the ad hoc meetings
that take place during the week between different
team members. One of the members of our team
taught us how to scrum on problems and now we
are all using it as a way to both communicate and
involve others to move the project forward. These
scrum sessions are usually impromptu and might
only last for 10-15 minutes, but they help to get
team members unstuck on problems they are
facing so that they don't have to wait until the
Friday status meeting to discuss. So we are all
staying in constant communication with each other
to not only reach our own goals, but also to help
others in reaching their project goals. Net result is
that we already have four distinct deliverables and
have already recorded more than $350,000 in cost
savings in just the past two months. And, based on
my interaction with the team, I am currently being
trained as a Scrum Master to lead future scrum
sessions."
An example of how to best answer this
question for entry level candidates:
"Yes I am. An example of this was with my summer
internship team, the Global Standards Project,
where we were all working together with a variety
of background and skills to produce a result which
none of us could have achieved individually. It's
important to note that I joined an already
established team, so it was important to me to
communicate with others and make sure I was on
track for delivering my part of the project. Although
my deliverable was a small part of the overall
project, there were several team dependencies
based on my ability to deliver. So I not only kept
everyone current during the weekly meetings, I
also worked closely with several key team
members throughout the week to make sure I kept
my portion of the project on track. The end result is
that I delivered on time and within budget. The

entire project met its deliverables and they are now


on to the next phase of the project."
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"You bet I am! That is, if I'm on the right team. If I'm
not on the right team, and that's happened to me, I
will work to get moved to a different team. Just like
LeBron James had to make the move to Miami,
I've had to move around teams to get on the right
one. Although I guess wouldn't move back to
Cleveland, but you get the idea. If someone can
get me the ball when I'm hot, hey I'm smoking hot.
Surround me with other superstars and I'll be a
superstar, too! So now I'm looking to get off my
team and join another team so that I can be my
best. My current team was good for a while, but
now they kinda suck and I'm doing all the work. I
want to move to a team where everyone plays their
best and we can win a championship."

Tough Interview
Question - Have
you ever had a
conflict with a boss
or professor? How
was it resolved?
Have you ever had a conflict with a
boss or professor? How was it
resolved?
Similar interview questions:
How are you at dealing with conflict?
What do you do when you disagree with others?
Do you open up or close down in conflict
situations?
How do you handle disagreements?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is looking for information that
normally would not be offered on the resume or as

part of the standard interview response--how the


candidate deals with conflict. Many otherwise
excellent employees have seen their downfall in
how they handled (or didn't handle) conflict. The
interviewer knows that most candidates will not
offer up true conflict situations, so the practiced
interviewer will continue to drill until a real example
is provided.
The best approach to answering this question:
Talk briefly about the conflict, but focus on the
resolution of the conflict. Give an actual example of
a resolved conflict, walking through the situation
which brought up the conflict, what actions you
took to resolve the conflict and the end result.
An example of how to best answer this
question for an experienced candidate:
"I recently had a conflict with an employee in
another department who had a project which was
dependent on work being done by myself and two
other members of our team. He had sent a rather
urgent e-mail acusing us of derailing his project. I
had never met him before, so I asked to get
together with him for coffee. I asked him to walk
me through his project and the interdependency of
his project with our project. I then walked him
through our project and timelines. Once we had the
opportunity to communicate our independent
priorities, we could begin talking about our shared
priorities. We agreed to a timeline that would help
us both meet our goals and the conflict was
resolved before it became a major incident."
An example of how to best answer this
question for an entry level candidate:
"I recently had a disagreement with one of my
professors over the wording of a question on one
of the key exams, which was missed by several
members of the class due to the ambiguity. I
brought it up to the professor privately and
personally, but he was dismissive of my request.
After discussing it with several classmates, we
went to him together to discuss it further. At that
point, he agreed that there was a level of ambiguity
in the question, but still would not change the
grade of the test. However, he did appreciate us
bringing it to his attention and gave us the
opportunity to work on a separate project for extra

credit to make up for the shortfall on the test. We


completed the extra credit and we were all happy
with the end result. It wasn't necessarily the
solution we were seeking, but it was a compromise
that was acceptable."
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"I've always found that I need to show the other
person, in detail, the error of their ways, then they
will eventually come around to seeing my way
being the best way to do things. Do I have conflict?
Sure. But having conflict is a healthy thing. I
actually welcome conflict. In fact, I grew up in a
family where conflict was a way of life. I got
battered and bruised growing up that way, but I
learned how to come out swinging and make my
way in the world."

Tough Interview
Question - What is
your greatest
strength?
What is your greatest strength?
Similar interview questions:
What do you do best?
What is an area where you are considered to be
an expert?
Is there an area where you are the go-to person on
your team?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is attempting to identify your core
competencies and whether they align with the
needs of the role. The interviewer is also
attempting to find out if you have an accurate view
of self in relation to what is truly your greatest
strength. Most practiced interviewers are aware
that candidates often present false strengths in
hopes of falsely aligning with the position, so a
typical behavioral follow-on question is: "Can you
give me an example of how you've used that
strength in your job?" Or an even tougher question

is to time-bound the behavioral question: "Can you


give me an example of how you've used that
strength in your job in the past week?" So don't try
to fake your way through the answer. Another
experienced interviewer method to get past your
practiced answer is to ask: "What is your second
greatest strength?" and "What is your third greatest
strength?"
The best approach to answering this question:
We all have multiple areas of strength, so the key
is to select behavioral traits which align with the
needs of the role and have examples to show
these traits as strengths. Do your research in
advance of the interview to know what the core
competencies are for the role. Give an example of
applying your strength in your current role.
An example of how to best answer this
question:
"I have quite a few strengths(pause to think)
probably my greatest strength is my reliability. Part
of my reliability is consistently being there, I have a
100% on time record at work and have had it for
the last three years. But it's more than that. People
know that they can trust me to do what I say I will
do, they trust me to deliver. For example, my boss
had a difficult project that needed to be completed
in a short amount of time. He asked me in a
meeting with the rest of our team to take on this
project. After the meeting, he told me that he gave
me the project because he knows that I will deliver
on time. He's right. I just delivered the project
yesterday, a day ahead of schedule. And it was
right the first time, no corrections needed."
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"Well, I think I'm pretty much awesome in any and
every area you can think of. You name it, I have it
covered. In fact, I really don't have any
weaknesses, pretty much everything is my
strength. So if you were going to ask that question
about what is my greatest weakness, don't,
because I don't really have any. That really bugs
me when people ask that question, because it
assumes that I have a weakness of some sort and
I don't. If you look up "awesome" in the dictionary,
my name will be there."

Tough Interview
Question - What is
your greatest
weakness?
What is your greatest weakness?
Similar interview questions:
What areas are your weakest?
What are the areas where you need to improve
your skills?
Are there areas where you need to develop your
skills further?
What would your boss say is the area where you
need improvement?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is exploring three things: 1)
whether you are self-aware; 2) whether you are
honest; and 3) whether you seek to improve. This
is the question where many interviewees somehow
think it is permissible to lie, yet an experienced
interviewer can nail someone in their lie pretty
quickly. Most interview books say to give a
strength, but present it as a weakness, such as: "I
work too much. I just work and work and work and
don't know when to stop." Here's how a practiced
interviewer will pierce through that lie: "So you
think working too much is a weakness? So you
want to be working less?" There is no good
response when you are caught in a lie.
The best approach to answering this question:
Be truthful. That doesn't mean you need to present
your greatest life weakness or something personal
about you. Keep the interview focused on your
education and experience. Choose a true
weakness, yet choose one which you are actively
working to change and improve.
An example of how to best answer this
question for experienced candidates:
"I have had problems in the past with taking on too

much work and then not delivering a quality and


timely product because I was stretched too thin in
too many areas. I know it's a weakness, because it
reflects negatively on my end deliverables. I want
to deliver quality in everything I do, but I have not
always been able to do so when multiple priorities
stack up. Part of the difficulty is that work was
coming from outside groups and my boss did not
have visibility into the requests being made. So I
developed a project prioritization spreadsheet that I
would review with my boss whenever a new
request came in for additional work. My boss would
review and approve moving projects up and down
in priority based on the new requests. That way it
allowed me to focus on completing what is most
important to my boss with the highest quality, while
moving the less important projects off to the side
until time is available for completion. This is still a
work in progress for me and I still need to get
better at this, but it's an area where I am focused
on continuously improving."
An example of how to best answer this
question for entry level candidates:
"I have had problems in the past with taking on too
many projects and then not delivering quality and,
in some cases, not delivering on time. I was simply
stretched too thin in too many areas with not
enough time to deliver in a quality manner. I think
that's the opportunity that is there as a new college
student, you want to do everything and be involved
in everything. However, I've learned that I'm not at
my best when I have too many conflicting priorities.
I've had to cut back on some of the less important
extracurricular activities to focus on delivering my
academic projects with the highest quality. This
prioritization of my work has carried over to my
work life with my recent internship. I had several
key deliverables that were due the same week, so I
met with my boss to prioritize the delivery
schedule. She helped me focus on both the timing
and the quality of the delivery. In the end, all three
projects were delivered with high quality results.
Would you like me to tell you more about them?"
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"My greatest weakness is that I'm a workaholic. I

don't have any balance in my life and tend to stay


late at work to complete all of my projects, often
until 3 in the morning. I'm usually the first one in
and the last one to leave. I know I should probably
address my workaholic tendencies, but I know they
help me to get everything completed. So I just
keep on working, even when I'm not at work. As a
result, my personal life has suffered, I'm recently
divorced, my kids say they never get to see me,
which is true. My life is a train wreck due to
working all of these crazy hours. I just keep
working and working."

Tough Interview
Question - If I were
to ask your
professors or boss
to describe you,
what would they
say?
If I were to ask your professors or
boss to describe you, what would
they say?
Similar interview questions:
If I were to ask your professors to describe you,
what would they say?
If I were to ask your former boss to describe you,
what he/she say?
How would other people describe you?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is looking for two things: 1) your
ability to view yourself from an external
perspective; and 2) potential insights from others
who know you well as a third party objective
opinion. In asking the question, the interviewer will
likely also probe the source of the answer. So be

ready to answer the follow-up question of "Why do


you think they would say that?"
The best approach to answering this question:
This is where having written letters of
recommendation can help you in the interview.
Most people ask for letters of recommendation
after the interviews are over, when references are
being checked in prep for a potential offer.
However, if you do your homework in advance, this
is something you should be doing before you
interview. It is also the best way to bulletproof your
references in advance. If you have a professor with
whom you've had a close relationship, ask for a
letter of recommendation to be used with future
employers. If you have had an internship, ask for a
letter of recommendation from your boss and/or
others with whom you have worked. If you have
work experience that has generated a performance
review, this may also be used as your
documentation. Work awards can also be used.
The best approach to answering this question is to
be able to back it up with a written letter of
recommendation, awards or other performance
documentation. Answer the second question
before it is asked.
An example of how to best answer this
question for experienced candidates:
"My boss would say that I was one of the most
productive individuals on the team and that I was
key to helping our team achieve our goals for the
year. We not only met our key goals for the year,
we also delivered on two additional projects, one of

which won the President's Award for outstanding


achievement. I know she would say that, because
that's what she wrote in my performance appraisal.
I have a copy of it for your review, along with a
copy of the President's Award that I received for
the Afterburner Project. Would you like to see
them?"
An example of how to best answer this
question for entry level candidates:
"I have received personal feedback from several of
my professors, who refer to me as one of the most
dedicated students they have worked with along
with recommending me for the Outstanding
Student in Accounting Award. I won that award my
Senior year and had been recommended by the
Department Chair. I have his letter or
recommendation along with the copy of the award,
would you like to see them?"
An example of how you should not answer this
question:
"Well, I'm not quite sure, since I really didn't have
much of a relationship with any of my professors. I
doubt any of them actually knew who I was. You
see, I went to a public university and most of the
classes were in big lecture halls. So it was really
difficult to get to know a professor on a personal
level. I met some of the TA's when I went in for
help and tutoring and they would probably say I
was a little bit slow to learn the material, but
eventually got it."