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10 Interview Questions to Prepare For
Half the challenge of going for a job interview is not knowing what to expect. Many otherwise highly qualified candidates may be caught off-guard by questions they don’t know how to answer. So, to help you prepare, here are the top 10 interview questions you could be asked — along with some excellent answers.
Tell Me About Yourself.
You’ll probably be asked this at the outset. It’s kind of meant as an ice-breaker, even if the thought of it makes you shudder. Don’t be afraid to be personal. Talk about your hobbies and motivations, and feel free to showcase your personality. But don’t go on too long. And try to relate what you say to the job.
Why Do You Want This Job?
No, the answer is not “for the money.” Even if it is. Interviewers expect candidates to show off their knowledge of the company, and what appeals to them about the position they’ve applied for. So you should really know the ins and outs of the role and why you (might) want to work for that particular company.
What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
There’s an art to answering this question; it involves spinning your weakness as a strength. You might say, for example, that you can be a bit of a perfectionist. But if you do, it’s sensible to add that your drive to meet deadlines helps you to manage your time.
What Is Your Greatest Strength?
You might be proud of your crocheting skills, but is it relevant to the job? Always remember that you’re (probably) not the only shortlisted candidate. So if your greatest strength is swimming 50 lengths in a lunch break and another’s being a “people person,” who’s going to get the job in HR?
How Do You Handle Stress?
Bearing in mind that a smoke and a drink probably isn’t an acceptable answer, try to come up with a concrete example of how you’ve dealt with pressure in the workplace in the past. Telling them you never get stressed isn’t necessarily a good idea. Even if they believe you, they might just assume you’ve only worked in cushy environments.
Why Should I Hire You?
They’re asking for your sales pitch with this one. Don’t be modest. But don’t be arrogant either. Recap the highlights of your resume and emphasize any qualifications and experience that meet the requirements for the job. And finish with your own USP.
Where Do You See Yourself Five Years From Now?
Maybe this job is just a stopgap. Maybe in five years’ time, you won’t want anything to do with this company. But whatever you do, don’t tell them that. Instead, talk about your career progression goals and how your advancement will also be theirs. They might like to hear that you want to specialize and take on more responsibilities.
What Are Your Salary Expectations?
This is a horrible question. Not only can it knock you out of the contest if you quote a figure that’s a little too high; but employers can also hold candidates to a figure that’s well below average. Prior research is key. Find out the industry standard. And give a salary range instead of an exact sum — or, if possible, defer the question to your second interview.
Why Did You (or Will You) Leave Your Last (or Current) Job?
This isn’t an opportunity to rail against another employer. That would just seem disloyal. Even if you’re leaving under negative circumstances, focus your answer on the future. Talk about new opportunities. But also be factual and pragmatic.
Do You Have Any Questions for Me?
No, the interview hasn’t ended. This question is just as important. Many employers ask this to gauge how interested you really are in their company. So you might want to ask about the management style, or what your predecessor went on to do. You could also ask about the prospects for career advancement.
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Example Academic Interview Questions
- What government agencies would you target for funding your research?
- What companies would use your research? Any small companies?
- In what conferences/journals would you publish your work? How do these conferences/journals differ in the type of papers they publish?
- Who are your "competitors" at other schools?
- Is it possible for academic researchers to make significant contributions to your field, or are industrial technology and resources necessary?
- What would you consider as the weaknesses in our department?
- Who here would you consider as potential collaborators?
- Who would you consider as potential mentors in the department?
- Which of our courses are you qualified to teach?
- Which of our courses are you most interested in teaching?
- Given that existing technologies and tools will be obsolete in a few years, what should we teach our students?
- How would you approach developing a curriculum from scratch?
- What is your teaching philosophy?
- What do you think about having undergraduates serve as TAs?
- If an undergraduate wanted to work with you, what type of project would you give them?
- What start-up funds/facilities would you need to establish your research?
- How would you organize/manage your research group?
- How many graduate students would you like to have in your group?
- Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
- What would be possible titles for the first three PhD thesis projects in your research group?
- What new courses would you create on your research area?
- How did you decide what school to attend for your PhD?
- How did you choose your thesis topic?
- What would you consider as your biggest weakness in starting a faculty position?
- If you start having difficulty juggling the combination of research, teaching, advising, and proposal-writing, what would you do to fix the problem?
- Do you have entrepreneurial aspirations?
- Who would you most like to emulate?
- What are your non-technical interests?
- What factors will determine which academic/research position is most attractive to you?
Lominger interview questions typically ask job applicants to discuss obstacles they have overcome or to tell stories in which they made business decisions and took specific actions.
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