Interview Questions

I often get questions from readers on the best way to answer interview questions. The following are common and challenging questions you may be asked:

Q: How should a job seeker respond to the question about the reason for leaving a job when the reason is dismissal?

A: You want your answer to be brief and positive. Describe your job loss as something you were proactive about – as if you had some say, and are also glad about.  Do not describe your job loss as having to do with your own performance. Here are a few examples of positive responses:

“I realized that I needed to move my career along because I was not growing as much as I would have liked.”


“My company has been great for me, but the career possibilities in the areas that interest me are extremely limited.”


“Perhaps you heard that ____ company or industry has been going through a major restructuring. I was caught along with three thousand others.”


“I want to move my career in a different direction.”

If you had been working long hours:

“I decided I couldn’t work 75 hours a week and also look for a job. I couldn’t do justice to my position so I left the company to conduct a proper search.”

Q: What are your greatest strengths?

Don’t simply say, “I’m organized, dependable, and honest.” Be specific with an example so that they will remember you.

For example, “I’m very organized. I was asked to straighten out a closet of 10,000 files. Within one month, everyone could find whatever they needed.”

Q: What are your greatest weaknesses?

Don’t rush to answer the question. After taking time to think it over, you can say, for example:

“Actually I can’t think of any work related weakness. I not only do my job, but I try to help other people as well.”

Or you can name a weakness but indicate how you have dealt with it, such as: “Sometimes I get impatient with people because I want the job to get done, but I try to offer to help them in any way possible.”

Q: What is your current or desired salary?

The most important strategy is to delay answering and discussing salary until you get an offer.  The reason for this is that the one who names a number first is in the weaker position.

Try the following four-step salary negotiation strategy:

Step 1: Negotiate the job.  If a job is too low-level, try to upgrade the job. 

Step 2: Outshine and outlast the competition. You have outshined your competition and kept in the running by offering to do more than your competitors.  It is best to postpone the discussion of salary until all your competitors are gone.

Step 3: Get the offer. Once a manager has decided that you are the right person, you are in a better position to negotiate a package that is appropriate for you. 

Step 4: Negotiate your compensation package.  Most job hunters hear the offer and then either accept or reject it. This is not negotiating. In order to negotiate well you will need to know the company’s and the industry’s pay scales, know what you want, and what you are willing to do without.  Try to get them to state the first bid. If they say, “How much do you want”? You say: “How much are you offering”? If pressed about your prior salary, instead say what you are looking for, including bonus and perks.  Remember to never accept a position based on bonus pay.  Bonuses are rarely, if ever, guaranteed.

By: Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work

© 2018, Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work

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