8. “What does success mean to you?”
There are many things you can say. This type of question doesn’t have a wrong answer. All answers will be correct. So the best answer is how good you can make the answer. A mediocre answer will be something like completing a project on time. You can say this, but add another twist to make the answer a little better. Here is an example.
“To me, success means to have a goal, plan the steps to achieve the goal, implement the plan, and finally achieve the goal.”
“Success means to achieve a goal I have set for myself.”
“Success means to produce high quality work before the deadline.”
“Success to me is knowing that my contributions positively impacted my company.”
“Success to me means completing a task and when looking back, thinking I couldn’t have done it better. To succeed is to complete a task or assignment on time in an excellent manner. But that’s only half of it. The results should be good and the people involved should gain a valuable lesson or experience. For example, if it was a group project, and only two people out of four really did the work, I wouldn’t call that success. If everyone participated and worked together providing a valuable deliverable then it’s a success. So I think both the result and the process should be great to call something a success.”
This answer is showing that you believe in delivering great quality work. Moreover, it is implying how much you value team work. If you value teamwork highly, then it is safe to assume that you would make a great team player.
9. “What does failure mean to you?”
This is quite simple. I don’t see many right answers so this is what I suggest. You can believe in two of the following. One, you believe that failure is not achieving your goal no matter what. Or two, you can believe failure is only when nothing is learned from the failure. I believe in the latter, but you don’t have to agree with me.
“Failure is when I do not reach my goal.”
“I think to fail at something is making a mistake and not learning anything from it.”
“To me, failure means to have a goal and not do anything about it.”
“I think failure is not reaching your potential. If you do not use the resources you have and the resources around you, that’s failure because the work or goal could have been done better.”
“I think it’s harder to fail than it is to succeed. The reason is, if you fail in a project, you can learn a valuable lesson from your mistake. Learning from the mistake will allow you to improve future projects, or to simply not repeat them. Just because I believe this, doesn’t mean I believe it’s acceptable to fail at a project, but just in case, I would try to learn everything I can… even when the end result wasn’t that good. So, failure to me means making a mistake and having learned nothing from it.”
Nobody wants a failure. So you can feel that answering like this will be risky. However, this is a solid answer that most people agree with. If the person doesn’t like this answer, then you might not want to work for this person. Everyone fails and if you work for someone who doesn’t tolerate failure, then you will be in a difficult situation. Even vice presidents of large corporations will believe that learning from mistakes is a valuable lesson. This answer also states that you will do you best not to fail, but just in case, you want to gain something from your experience.
10.”Are you an organized person?”
You can think that this question is stupid. Actually, I do. Everyone will say they are organized. Who will admit otherwise? You should know that everyone will say similar things. Take this time to be creative with your answer. You can use these types of questions to leave a strong impression with a creative answer. Or, if you are not creative, then the best way to answer this question is with an example. Using a story is more believable and easier to remember. Feel free to mix in a little humor to make it more memorable.
“I’m a very organized person. I like to know exactly what I’m going to do for the day and the week. So I outline my tasks and organize my work load. By doing so, I can organize my time and work better.”
“I believe I’m very organized. I like to organize my work by priority and deadlines. I do this so I can produce the highest quality work in the amount of time I have.”
“I think I’m quite organized. I like my documents and papers in a way where I can retrieve them quickly. I also organize my work in a way where it’s easy to see exactly what I’m doing.”
“Organization has always come easy to me. I naturally organize things like my desk, time, assignments, and work without thinking about them. This helps me tremendously during times when I’m approaching a deadline.”
“I’m actually a very organized person. It’s funny that you mention this because just the other day, my roommate wanted to borrow my suitcase and saw my closet. He made fun of me for organizing my clothes by length and color. I’m like that with everything. It’s just so much easier to manage things. However, I’m not picky and don’t need to have things in a certain way. I just want things to be organized. So yes, I consider myself organized.”
This example should only be done if you are confident with your communication abilities. If you appear awkward or if you sound like you are reading this type of answer, it could have a negative effect. Instead, you should make a generic answer if you are uncomfortable with this type of answer.
11.”In what ways are you organized and disorganized?”
This is another variation to the previous question. This question is a little better because the question wants you to identify an area you are disorganized. Make sure to emphasize the organized portion of the answer. If you are truly an organized person, then it is really tough thinking about an area you are disorganized. So thinking ahead of time will allow you to make a good impression with a solid answer.
“I’m very organized with my time and work, but my desk is a little disorganized.”
“Since I work with many files, I like to keep my desk organized. I always have everything in a certain place so I can find things easier. The area I’m disorganized is probably my computer desktop. I usually have so many icons everywhere. I should organize it a little, but I’ve never needed to.”
“I organize my schedule the best. I’m used to many meetings so it’s important for me to be organized with my schedule and time. The area I need to improve is probably my file cabinet. I started to sort things alphabetically, but when I’m busy, I start putting things in there. It started getting hard to find things, but this is something I’m going to fix.”
“Oh… that’s a good question. Well, I’m organized in almost everything I do. I’m very organized with my schedule and time. I like to work efficiently, and being organized with my time helps me. The area I feel I’m disorganized is probably my desk. I like to work fast and don’t keep my desk area as tidy as some people I know. This however doesn’t prevent me from doing my job well. You know some people can have files and paper all over their desk but some how know exactly where everything is located. I think I’m one of those people. However, if I know I’m having a client or a guest, then I would definitely make things more tidy.”
This answer brings a little humor to the question. It lightens the mood and makes a person seem real instead of appearing to be perfect. However, if the job you are applying for requires constant customer interaction, then this answer will not be good. This answer would be better for an office job where not many people will see your desk.
12.”Do you manage your time well?”
“In what ways do you manage your time well?”
The first question is a little easier. The second question is more difficult because it requires an example. I’m going to give an example for the second question and you should be able to use it for the first question as well.
“I know I manage my time well because I’m never late to work, and I’ve never missed a deadline.”
“I’m good at managing my time. I stay busy both at home and at work and being able to manage my time is necessary for me to do everything that I want to do.”
“I manage my time well by planning out what I have to do for the whole week. It keeps me on track and evens helps me to be more efficient.”
“Managing my time is one of my strong traits. I prioritize my tasks and this allows me to stay ahead of schedule. Each day I manage my time so I can achieve more than I set out to do. So managing my time in a goal oriented way is what I feel very comfortable doing.”
13.”How do you handle change?”
“Are you good at dealing with change?”
Dealing with change is common in the work place. A simple yes will not be sufficient to impress the interviewer. This is another type of question where everyone will have similar answers. Of course everyone is going to claim being excellent dealing with change. You got to communicate that you are really good at dealing with change. Here are some examples for you.
“I’m good at dealing with change because I’m a quick thinker. If new information makes us change our marketing strategy for example, I’ll be quick to analyze the information and create a plan to make the changes.”
“I’ve experienced many changes previously. I handle the situation by quickly coming up to speed on the changes and applying myself to make them a success.”
“I’m good at dealing with change because I’m flexible with my work and abilities. I’m not afraid of learning new and difficult things. Whenever I’m faced with a change, I’ll put in extra effort to make the change a smooth transition.”
“I handle changes smoothly. Whenever there’s a change of any sort, I analyze the situation and I always try to find ways I can contribute to the change in a positive way.”
“I believe dealing with change is a requirement in the workplace. The mission statement can change to introduce a new market segment, or the company might need to change direction. Whatever it is, as a member of this team, I would be expected to do my share by absorbing the new information, analyzing it thoroughly, sharing my ideas, and really being a valued team member. Dealing with change is a necessary trait. I think I’m also good at anticipating change by being attentive and observant.”
Overall, this is a good answer. The last statement is a bold statement of being able to anticipate change. If the interviewer is impressed, they might follow up by asking for an example of how you anticipate change. If you use an answer like I provided, make sure you have an example. If you don’t have one, then the answer you gave will be seen as a lie and you probably failed.
14.”How do you make important decisions?”
There are many ways to answer this question, and if you have a reasonable method of making decisions, it will probably be sufficient. One answer I thought of included not being afraid of asking your manager. You can follow up by saying even the best needs mentoring, and you always want to improve. So basically, this could work as an answer, but depending on the job, you might have a better shot with an answer like my example.
“I make important decisions by examining all the details and then weighing the pro’s and con’s for each decision.”
“I gather all the information I can find and based on the information, I’ll come to the best decision I can. If I know a coworker was in a similar situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to find out the results to make sure my decision is the best one.”
“I believe all decisions should be made by having all the information. If you are missing an important detail, it’s easy to make a bad decision. So I make important decisions by having all of the information.”
“Important decisions are made by knowledge through information and wisdom through experience. I’ll gather all the information I can find and then apply my experience while analyzing the information. With this combination, I’m confident I’ll make the correct important decisions.”
“I think all decisions are important, and having as much information about the decision is one of the most important aspects. After examining all the facts, I would think about the outcome and consequences of each action and after weighing the pro’s and con’s, I would come to the best decision possible. However, I’m aware that some decisions are not as black and white. In this situation, I would rely on my experience, or even work with my team members to come up with the best decision.”
This is a decent answer, but I think you might be able to think of a better one. Feel free to be creative with your answers because those are the answers the interviewer will remember the most.
15.”Do you work well under pressure?”
In most cases, the best answer to this question is answering yes. Working well under pressure is a good trait to have. However, I think if you answer that you work the same with pressure and without pressure, the interviewer will be more impressed. However, you will need to explain in words why this is better. Here are some of my answers.
“I work well under pressure because I use the pressure to help me work more efficiently.”
“I enjoy working under pressure because I believe it helps me grow. In my previous experience, I always worked well during deadlines, and I always learned how to work more efficiently afterwards.”
“I work well under pressure because I don’t panic. I maintain self control and work as efficiently as possible. In all my experiences, I did well and I always enjoyed the experience.”
“During times of pressure, I try to prioritize and plan as much as I can. After I’m organized, I really just put my head down and work hard in a smart way. I don’t let the pressure affect me. So I believe I work well under pressure.”
“To tell you the truth, I think I work the same if there’s pressure or if there’s no pressure. I try and take out negative emotional factors and work hard regardless of down time or busy time. I always prioritize and organize my work, and from there, work efficiently. If the situation involved pressure due to a lack of time, then the only difference in my work would be the extra time I would need to put in to meet the deadline on time. Since I believe my normal work is great work, then I suppose I work well under pressure.”
I like this answer because it is different than the standard answer. If you are not comfortable with this answer, then you can use the next one.
“I have a couple of friends who hate working under pressure. I don’t know if it’s odd, but I really enjoy working under pressure. I use the feelings of pressure as a tool to motivate me to work harder and more efficiently. In my last job, I remember we had a project to complete in 4 days where it usually took 10 days. There was a lot of panic by some team members, but I ensured everyone that if we concentrate on the task and work real hard, we can complete the project. It took a lot of overtime, and the last day we were in the office until two AM, but we managed to finish. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed that experience.”
You might not have experienced this example before, but what is preventing you from making something up? To tell you the truth, I never experienced it before either. There are some things you shouldn’t lie about because they can find out about it such as your GPA or what school you attended, but a story such as the one I included above cannot be verified by the interviewer. The only thing you have to be careful about is being able to answer follow up questions.
(To be continued)
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