|Standard Questions |
by ResumeEdge.com - The Net's Premier Resume Writing and
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. What did you most enjoy about your last job?
3. How would your colleagues or supervisor describe you?
4. What can you offer us that other people cannot?
5. What about this job attracts you? What is unattractive?
6. How long do you see yourself with us?
7. How would you describe an ideal working environment?
Standard interview questions might not seem difficult, but your answer to each should be polished
and sharp. Craft responses and practice them before your interview so that they roll off your tongue
when you face the interviewer. Effective responses answer questions honestly, positively, and briefly,
highlighting important qualities and accomplishments that are relevant to the position at hand. Give
examples to illustrate and corroborate your statements when possible. Your responses should work
together, making connections between what you have previously done, the available position, and your
Mark is preparing for an important interview. He is a recent graduate from law school who wishes to
become a financial planner at a mid-sized firm that deals with families who have a minimum account of
twenty-five million dollars. Before he went to law school, he was a financial analyst for three years
and passed two levels of testing toward a CFA certification. He decided not to complete the CFA
His company promoted him twice during his time there, once into a management position that suited him
only fairly well. He did not get the kind of training from his company that he felt he needed in order
to manage people effectively. Still, he likes to help people make good decisions and he effectively led
his team to create a clearer strategy for approaching new accounts. Mark seems to have a sixth sense
for how to compound wealth. He knows how to spot trends and retreat from them just as they crest in
profitability. He thinks he might one day become an estate planning attorney in a financial planning
firm. Of course, he does not know what life will bring him. Mark does not want to constrict his options
unnecessarily, and he certainly is not ready to settle down into a firm for the next ten years.
Consider how Mark might answer standard questions effectively and ineffectively.
Tell me about yourself.
Ineffective: I am a hard-worker who is good with numbers. After I worked as a financial analyst
for a few years, I decided to go to law school. I just finished and now am looking for a new
Effective: I began developing skills relevant to financial planning when I worked as a financial
analyst for three years. In that role, I succeeded in multiplying the wealth of my clients by
carefully analyzing the market for trends. The return on the portfolios I managed was generally 2%
more than most of the portfolios managed by my company. My initiative, planning, and analytic
skills were rewarded by two promotions. As the manager of a team, I successfully led them to
develop a more efficient and profitable strategy for dealing with new accounts. My subsequent
training in the law, including tax law and estate law, gives me an informed view of what types of
investments and charitable gifts would be most advantageous for your clients.
What did you most enjoy about your last job?
Ineffective: I liked lots of things-the people, the challenge, the rewards. Sometimes we had to
work long hours, but it always seemed to pay off.
Effective: Of the many things that I enjoyed, I would say that the strategic aspects of my job most
energized me. I liked setting concrete performance goals for myself and finding ways to meet them.
I similarly enjoyed analyzing markets for trends and identifying when would be the most beneficial
time to enter or withdraw from certain funds. When I was a manager, my team and I developed a new
approach to accounts that became a standard for the company. Strategizing gave my work a sense of
tangible direction and accomplishment.
How would your colleagues or supervisor describe you?
Ineffective: I guess they would say that I am a hard worker who is successful.
Effective: My supervisor and colleagues have described me as a dependable worker. My supervisor has
appreciated that I prioritize tasks and manage my responsibilities so that she can rely on me. My
bosses tell me I have a sixth sense for markets and I learn new information and procedures quickly.
These skills account for my two promotions in three years. My boss was also impressed by how I was
able to lead my team.
What can you offer us that other people cannot?
Ineffective: I have a unique combination of skills. I also really want the job.
Effective: I have a track-record of multiplying wealth through investments and developing
strategies with teams. Since I have a JD, I also know what legal parameters and loopholes affect
families and individuals planning their finances. My CFA training not only shows that I will
succeed in the CFP courses, but also gives me a broader view of why financial plans work as they
do. Since I am organized and self-motivated, I will add value to the company without requiring much
tending and supervision.
What about this job attracts you? What is unattractive?
Ineffective: I like that it is in the field I am targeting. I don't like the commute that it
Effective: As I evaluate my skills and goals, this job maximizes on both. I will be able to merge
my knowledge of law and markets while strategizing for the sound financial future of clients. Since
this is a small company, I imagine that there will be opportunity for increased responsibilities
and challenges. I share the values of the company. I am not eager to do much data processing, but
the position is very attractive.
How long do you see yourself with us?
Ineffective: I don't want to make any hasty commitments, and I like to keep my options open.
Maybe I will be here for one year, maybe for five. It depends.
Effective: I see myself here as long as we both think that I am contributing to the vitality of the
company while still being grown through challenges.
How would you describe an ideal working environment?
Ineffective: A laptop and cell phone on a beach sound ideal to me. Short of that, I would like
an environment in which I am able to work as I please, without much supervision.
Effective: It is important to me that my company has clear objectives and strives for success.
Similarly, I like having colleagues whom I admire for their skills and perspectives. When
communication is clear between colleagues, our energy becomes synergy. In addition, I find that I
flourish when given discretion after having gained the trust of my supervisor.