General Question

chelle21689's avatar

How would you answer these common interview questions?

Asked by chelle21689 (6831points) August 14th, 2012

I haven’t had too many interviews in my life. I’m graduating from college soon and I have been applying for jobs. I’m excited to start a new chapter in my life but also nervous. I don’t know what to wear or what to expect! I’ve been googling the common question asked in the interview and here are some that has me stumped. How should I answer this, what would you answer?

What motivates you to perform?

Tell me about a time that you have failed (and what you learned from this experience)?
I can think of a lot of school related topics for this and life lessons but NOT work.

Will you make sacrifices for our company?

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25 Answers

RandomMrAdam's avatar

What kind of jobs have you been applying for? The answers can definitely vary based on the role – but as far as what motivates you?

Typically what motivates me is staying competitive in the work environment. Keeping at the top of your game by learning the latest trends. (I’m in the technology field, so I will have lab set up at home whenever I’m interested in new technology – particularly if its a trend that the company is looking at moving toward). Doing the research ahead of time can give you the competative edge when the company is looking for someone to spearhead a project with a new technology or product.

Sacrifices to me mean being dedicated to accomplish tasks and projects even if it means sacrificing personal time to stay late at work. This can also mean working on days off (weekends, holidays, etc) to meet deadlines. Employers will notice those who go the extra mile (while not bitching or bragging about it).

Failure is always a tricky one. Everyone fails at points. The lessons learned are more important than the failures though. This can apply to any job. Early in my career, I had made a mistake and asked for advice from a senior how to fix or resolve the issue. They replied “How many times do I have to explain this” (Though it wasn’t necessarily reffering to me, I took that as an opportunity to NEVER forget the lessons learned in that situation and can honestly say that I will never again ask the question that I had to ask him that day)

chelle21689's avatar

It is in office administration.

I don’t know if I should lie about the sacrifice part. I’m willing to take some work home if needed. I can work weekends if it is a must. I don’t know about the holiday parts LOL

RandomMrAdam's avatar

Ah – I gotcha. Well Office Administration work can really vary. I think as long as you prove you have excellent communication skills and a good head on your shoulders, then you should have a good shot at getting a position somewhere. Especially with a college degree, it shows you have patience and dedication to stick it out. Don’t be nervous when going to your interview, but don’t be too arrogant as you haven’t yet acquired the resume to be “the best”. Maintain great eye contact with the person(s) interviewing you. Use their names when addressing them… Pretty much the socially acceptable and professional behavior that you would use in the work place.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

Good Luck btw!

chelle21689's avatar

Thanks. Luckily it is an entry level job and accepting those with no experience because they are willing to train. I am doing research on the company, interview questions, and will buy some “work” clothes….I hope I get it. Thank you so much.

I am still open to advice, everyone!

gailcalled's avatar

@chelle21689: Don’t work yourself into a swivet trying to write the script beforehand for both you and the interviewer. The event will never go as you imagined.

Wear attractive but comfortable clothes, learn as much as you can about the company, sit up straight and smile, project energy and enthusiasm. Every one had a first job at some point.

If a question throws you for a loop or catches you off-guard, you can say that.
“That question caught me off-guard. Can I think about it and drop you a note later?”

chelle21689's avatar

Oh, no I’m not trying to make a script to memorize in my head. I’m just exposing myself to some common questions so I’ll know how to answer and not be stumped. :)

gailcalled's avatar

You will be fine. If you’re stumped, simply say that. It is disarming and allows for future learning. If you were the CEO, you would not need the job.

What specifically do you mean by Office Administration? That is a very broad job description. I would certainly make sure I was comfortable with their computers and the programs they use.

chelle21689's avatar

Well they said they will be cross training in a mix of HR, marketing, finance, admin.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

The only one of the questions I will address for you is the one about failure. I was coached to prepare a story beforehand of a time I took a failure and turned it into a success. You might think of a class assignment or a club activity that seemed to be going poorly, but you were able to make work well.

Don’t leave the interviewer with the impression that you absolutely failed to deliver on a particular point.

noraasnave's avatar

1. What motivates me to perform? My reputation and my legacy.

2. Mistake: As Middle Management, I failed to double check that a certain task was done. It was done, but not to the standards I expected. I learned that spot checks are valuable in assessing how complete tasks are, and that lunch time is a good time for these spot checks, because no one is around.

3. I am willing to sacrifice the temptation to take from this company what I have not earned, but am also willing to invest myself fully with faith that my sacrificial efforts will be rewarded.

Judi's avatar

It’s kind of expensive, but my daughter has gotten every job she ever applied for when she watched this DVD a couple of times befre the interview. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Dale (who did the DVD) before she died. She was a high powered recruiter in LA. I learned a lot from this DVD as well.

prasad's avatar

What motivates you to work? If you like the work, you can always say so. You may also add that you like being appreciated or praised for work. A little praise is a better expectation over monetary awards.

About failures, if you have failed and turned it into a success, as @Hawaii_Jake said, I would prefer that. If you do not have such turned out successes, like me, you can give examples of failures that did not end up catastrophically. Minor failures that caused small losses, or think about failures that do not interfere with the functional part of your work. Some other examples could be, communication failures (everyone does fail some time), light failures at parties or gatherings, or personal failures like you could not attend your child’s performance since you got late, probably because of working late or some meeting, etc.

Will you make sacrifices for our company? I suggest you answer this question diplomatically. A positive answer may really push you to make some sacrifices in future, and unwillingness to do any sacrifice also may make them think you as obstinate person. So, answer carefully. You might answer something like this: “Everyone makes sacrifices at some time or the other. So, I am no exception. However, in exigencies I would cooperate.”

All the best!

chelle21689's avatar

Thank you everyone. Wish me luck for tomorrow :)

gailcalled's avatar

Good luck. Good night’s sleep, sensible breakfast, comfortable but attractive outfit, good posture, bright smile.

Report back.

keobooks's avatar

I know this isn’t very helpful, but i just wanted to say that I think these old school interview questions suck. I don’t think they give you any clue of how good a candidate may or may not be as a candidate. They really only show you how good a person is at answering these stupid questions.

I think while it may take longer, a more informal style of interview may be better. Talk to someone a little bit to get them less nervous and more feeling like themselves, And then just talk to them about what is actually expected of a person who had the job and have them talk about what they expect from an employer.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Don’t worry about the questions thrown at you. Just be honest in answering them. If you need more time to contemplate one, then just ask for it. The most important factor to remember is that you are interviewing the company as well.

Another thing to keep in mind is that someone more qualified may be in the candidate pool. Making the decision on who to hire isn’t always based upon interviews but on qualifications. If this turns out to be the case, then take the opportunity to ask what would make you more qualified for future job postings.

Please keep us posted for how it goes. I’m rooting for you.

chelle21689's avatar

Wow I suck at interviews and I need more practice. I wasn’t nervous until I got there! The guy asked, “So how was the drive here, did you get here okay?” I was STUPID and blurted out “I actually got lost and missed the exit! Good thing I came here an hour ahead of time.” with a nervous chuckle.

He only asked me TWO questions
“Where do you see yourself in 3–5 years?”
I know how to answer this but being asked this in person is different! I kind of drew a blank and I said, “I don’t really have a specific goal of where I want to be at because as you go on things change. I just want to be happy with my job and successful. Make enough money to not worry about bills and my life”. Something along those lines. Ugh.


“Tell me about yourself and your interests.” Since he said “interest” I said, “Professionally speaking or my personal life?” He said, “Personal, I want to get to know you.”

I mentioned that I like trying new things being adventurous, told him I went sky diving…I liked traveling to different countries, and that I liked learning languages and I knew Thai and Spanish conversationally but not fluent.

Then he talked mostly about the company and said he would call between 5pm-7-pm if I made it to the second interview process. I hate their hours though…12pm-8pm.

Did my answers suck bad? Also, is it bad if I asked him to repeat his question? lol

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I can only speak to my point-of-view as someone who has interviewed numerous people over the years.

You did just fine. Personally, I’d rather interview someone who was nervous than someone trying to sell how brilliantly wonderful they are and it would be our loss if they weren’t offered the job. The fact that you wanted to be on time for the interview, even if it meant getting their early, speaks volumes about your level of responsibility. Answering honestly about getting lost and being able to show a level of humility are also qualities I would want in a co-worker.

The “Where do you want to be in 3–5 years?” question never helped me get a grasp on a candidate’s personality and if they are the right fit. I would much rather hire a person who answered as you did than someone who gives the cliche response of, “I want to have your job.”

And no, it isn’t bad that you asked him to repeat the question. Some candidates launch off into a diatribe that has nothing to do with the question. Asking for clarification says that you want to answer properly. It’s a measurement of attention to detail and getting the job (or question, in this case) right the first time and not waste anyone’s time.

Please let us know once you hear back.

P.S. We once had a candidate that, during the interview with the dept. VP, threw up in a trash can. What can be more embarrassing then that? Oh, and he got the job.

Judi's avatar

@chelle21689 , it sounded like you answered the 5 years question great. You didn’t say you wanted to be president of the company. They want to know that you will be happy with the job you are applying for and not just using it as a stepping stone for something more. Sounds like you pretty much nailed it.

chelle21689's avatar

Okay. I’m willing to work with this company because the team seems like a positive group, good pay, and they are willing to train me the skills I want. I am waiting to see if I get a call for a 2nd interview somewhere between 5pm-7pm.

Although I hate the hours, I’m willing to go with the job if they offer me it. At least I can stay up late like I usually do and don’t have to deal with traffic lol. I hope I don’t have to work on weekends all the time.

chelle21689's avatar

Oh and wow about the person that threw up! Were they that nervous or were they hung over? lol

My sister had an interview that she thought went terrible last week. She wanted to cry. She said they asked her “How do you like to be managed?” and she got caught off guard because she never been asked that. They laughed at her answer..

Turns out she got the job though! She turned it down though because it wasn’t what she was looking for.

food's avatar

What motivates you to perform?—Some possible answers would include mentioning what you’re passionate about (if it coincides with the job you are applying for), if you’re achievement-driven, definitely mention that, you could also mention a dream goal you have…
They want to know if you’re motivated ENOUGH.
So if there’s a person that motivates you or makes you “hungry to perform” for their sake (such as children that need to be fed), if you were applying for a salesperson’s job, that might convince them that you will definitely work hard to sell their products.
As far as the second question, you can still use experiences that are not work-related. They still apply. Of course it’s better if they are work-related, but if they aren’t, the interviewer is able to work with it too. In fact, sometimes they will be able to know you a bit better that way.
As for making sacrifices, again they want to know how driven you are. They want to know you’re going to give your all, put almost all your energy into your job, etc. It’s good to read about the organizational culture on their website to make sure you don’t go overboard either one way or the other (too little or too much). You can also ask someone who works there a bit about the culture as well especially if you don’t find it on their website. The “values” section is what will give you the clues here.

food's avatar

As for the “failure” question, they want to know that you’re able to learn from your mistakes, that you have a certain level of humility, that you accept feedback…

PullMyFinger's avatar

A good attitude and honesty are the best tools you can take with you to any job interview, (or to the job itself after you’ve gotten it). My answer to those cliche’ “goals” and “see yourself in five years” questions has always been the same, because it is true:

I learned at a very young age that your reputation is everything, and that there is no better goal to work towards than to begin each work day knowing that your employer is very glad that you’re on your way there.

During my first ‘real job’ at a large corporation (Motorola), one of my annual job performance reviews actually went like this…..

My boss kind of sighed and said, “Listen, let’s save ourselves some time here….I love you, you love me, and I hope that a 10% salary increase will be OK to you, because department policy kind of limits me to that. If it is, thank you, and please keep doing what you’re doing. Anything you are unhappy about ??......No ??......Great”.

“OK, are we done here ?..............Yes ??

…...Thank you…, please get back to work…..”

My point here is, I am no smarter than anyone else, but am smart enough to always work a little harder than I am expected to, be happy that I have a pretty good job (which many other people would love to have), to keep a good attitude, and to keep professional difficulty in perspective (and try to laugh at it, whenever possible…... )

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