We know the interview is your opportunity to “sell yourself” and each element of the interview process is important. However, as you probably guessed, significant weight is placed on your responses to interview questions and there are some questions that are more frequently asked than others.
Why are they Asked?
It is an interviewer’s job to determine if you’re the best candidate for the job. To accomplish this, he or she will ask you questions that bring out your personality traits, ability to communicate, and skill level. The interview is an opportunity for a company to see how you might handle things as a potential employee while gathering more information about you. It’s important to remember that the information the interviewer is gathering about you goes beyond your accomplishments listed on your resume.
Every Question is Important
It’s possible that you may be interviewed by someone who will not make the final hiring decision, however, that person’s opinion of you still may be very influential. It’s important to remember that no matter who you are interviewing with or how many times you interview with a given company, you must be at your best every time. Always answer every question seriously.
When You Don’t Know the Answer
Generally, the questions you will be asked in an interview are ones you should be able to answer.. However, if you are questioned by a technical person concerning detailed information specific to your field, you must remember the one key trick – rely on your education for the answer. If for any reason, you do not know the answer to the question, BE HONEST! Simply tell the interviewer that you don’t know the answer. If you’re familiar with the subject matter, tell him or her BRIEFLY that you’re familiar with the material, but not that specific topic or question.
Since most companies use interviews as a tool for hiring, the types of questions asked are often similar from company to company. Although they may be worded differently, they generally address the same issues.
For example; although phrased differently, the two questions below are focused on the same topic– what is your interest level in the company?
Question 1: What do you know about our company?
Question 2: Why do you want to work here?
There are a number of questions that, in one form or another, are frequently asked during an interview. When grouped together, these questions can help you recognize what an interviewer is looking for. Most questions fall into one of the following groups:
• Personality Traits
• Communications Skills
• Interest Level in the Company
• Ability to Handle Authority and Get Along with Others
• Technical Ability and Problem-Solving
• Company Policy
It might all sound scary. Don’t get nervous. Just like any material you’ve studied in school, interview questions can also be studied and appropriate responses can be learned.
Let’s look at some common interview questions from these categories and my recommended responses. By the way, do you know what the most frequently asked interview question is?
If you guessed “Tell me a little about yourself”, you’re right! This question is a great example of a common question that covers two categories, Personality Traits and Communication Skills. Learning how to respond to this question will help you in answering similar questions. Let’s start with five common questions from these categories.
1.) Tell me about yourself.
Purpose is to find out about your qualifications and personality traits. Do not to tell your life story. Start with traits and accomplishments that are relevant and give brief responses focusing on your best qualifications for the job. Use your school experiences, as well as, any other recent positive education or work experiences.
Recommended Response: As my resume indicates, I graduated from American Institute with a Medical Assistant Certificate. My grade point average was 3.6 and I received honors when I graduated. In addition, I had excellent attendance. I’m well trained in administrative and clinical medical assisting and I’m a hard worker and dependable. I work well with other people and I am anxious to start my new career as a Medical Assistant.
2.) Why should I hire you instead of somebody else?
Purpose is to give the interviewer a reason to hire you when compared to the other candidates and how confident you are about yourself and your skills. Don’t be afraid to ask for the job.
Recommended Response: I have the skills and training to be an excellent Medical Assistant; I learn quickly and really want this job; I’m hard working and dependable; I work well with people and I am dedicated to being one of the best in my field.
The work experience that I gained on my clinical externship and my thorough administrative and clinical training should allow me to become oriented to the work environment quickly allowing me to assume all of the job responsibilities in a short period of time.
3.) What is your major strength?
Purpose is to give the interviewer insight into your personality and how your personality will fit the position. Try to match your strength to the position.
Recommended Responses: My major strength is my motivation to do an excellent job and become one of the best in my field.
One of my major strengths is my energy. I enjoy working hard and getting the job done quickly as well as doing an excellent job.
I believe my people skills are one of my major strengths. I get along well with my supervisors, coworkers and clients. This helps me in getting the job accomplished by having everyone’s cooperation.
4.) What is your one major weakness?
Purpose of this question is for the interviewer is trying to find out your weak spot or any negative personality trait you might have. Turn your weakness into a positive characteristic.
Recommended Responses: I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. I want things to be done correctly. At times this can be frustrating because many people will only do a good enough job to get by. But, I like my work to be done very well. Therefore, I might spend time after work to get the job done to my satisfaction.
I am very time oriented. I am never late for meetings and always meet project deadlines. This is sometimes frustrating to other people because they do not share my concern with time, as well as frustrating for me because many times people are late for meetings or wait until the last minute to finish their part of the project.
I work very hard and when other employees don’t share that point of view and don’t do their best I find it frustrating. I know that I can’t change everyone’s attitude about work, but many times people will do a better job if you keep a positive attitude.
5.) What are your qualifications?
Purpose is to identify how your qualifications as well as personality traits will match the position. Match your response to the needs of the position. If you were applying for a position in a blood bank or physician’s office you would stress your clinical training, good communication skills, compassion, honesty, dedication, efficiency, and energy.
Recommended Responses: I have been well trained in the administrative and clinical duties of medical assisting and gained actual work experience through a clinical internship in a physician’s office. I am skilled in vital signs, OB/GYN procedures, EKG’s, patient scheduling, charting, claims processing, and various other medical assisting procedures, as well as, being familiar with the use of the computer. I enjoy working with people and believe that my strong communication skills along with my dedication and compassion will make me an effective Medical Assistant.
As I’m sure you noticed by now, there is a common thread throughout these questions that give you an opportunity to present your strengths – even when you asked about your major weakness! As you continue to practice your responses don’t be afraid to try using different variations of responses that highlight you’re strengths/qualifications with different questions or try swapping response within questions.
On my next post, we’ll cover some more of the most frequently asked questions and again you’ll see they fall into common categories.