"An In-Depth Look At Knowing Yourself And The Job"


TEACHER: Maria McKinney-Heath

CLASS: Various Business Courses (High School Level)

NOTE: This lesson is usually taught in Office Occupations and Business English courses but could be incorporated into most Business courses.



The following Lesson material was taken from sections of two websites:

(1) CC Career Center, Job Interview skills and (2) Interview Power: Effective Interviewing

SEE WEBSITE LINKS on special Links Page.


Effective interviewing technique is the key to getting the job you want. Perhaps you are trying to land your first job or are rejoining the workforce? Maybe you are a seasoned executive taking another step up the ladder of success?

Whoever you are, this workshop is designed for you, because it will show you how to master any interview and succeed with any interviewer. Interviewers seek to pin down attributes such as communication skills, leadership ability or self management and personal development. You will learn how to demonstrate your superiority in each of the areas under all interview conditions. A job interview is similar, in many ways, to good social conversation, but it requires more than just conversational skills. Job offers always go to the interviewee who can turn a one-sided examination of skills into a dynamic exchange of ideas. In this workshop you will learn the required techniques to promote yourself while you keep your interviewer interested and intellectually challenged.

Effective interviewing is an art which can be learned and the payoffs can be tremendous. You work so hard to get each interview so why not make the most of it by being prepared. To be effective in interviewing you not only need to know what to say or do, but also what not to say or do.



Before you interview there are two major areas of research that you will need to conduct:

(1) Information about you: your skills, interests, values, goals, experience, education etc.

(2) Information about them: the organization, the departments, the personnel, products, services etc.

The interviewer knows the needs of his/her organization coming into the organization. It is his/her task to determine if you are the "right person for the job." It is your responsibility to present your skills and qualifications to a potential employer in such a way that they will feel that you are a good match for the position. In order to effectively "sell" yourself, you need to organize your thoughts in advance. Preparation is the key! You need to understand what the needs of their organization are, what the qualifications of the position are, and most importantly, why do think you are the "right person for the job?"

(1) Self Knowledge

To help you develop information about "you," begin by asking yourself these questions:

Self-knowledge is the most essential aspect of an interview. Close to 70% of an interview will be devoted to you talking about you. No matter how personable you are or how well you communicate, you can not anticipate some of the intricate, probing questions which may be asked. Experienced interviewers can spot an unprepared interviewee very quickly. It is critical to know yourself well before the interview begins.

(2) Knowledge About the Organization

Interviewers are continually amazed at the large number of candidates who come into job interviews without any apparent preparation and only the vaguest understanding of the organization or field. This lack of preparation guarantees that the interview will go poorly and decreases the likelihood of receiving a job offer. Remember that the needs of the organization and not the needs of the candidate are the most important factor. The interviewer is trying to determine if you can become part of their organization and do a specific job. How can this be determined if you know nothing about them?

a. Researching an organization

To help you research an organization for an interview, here are some areas to research:

1. Non-Profit Organization:

2. Company/Corporation:

3. College/University:

4. Elementary or Secondary School:

b. Where to find information about an employer organization:



Self Awareness

1. How would you describe yourself?

2. Tell me about yourself?

3. How do you think a friend or a professor who knows you well would describe you?

4. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?

5. How do you determine or evaluate success?

6. What academic subjects did you like best? Least?

7. What led you to choose the career for which you are preparing?

8. What personal characteristics are necessary for success in your chosen field?

9. What is your philosophy of life?

10. Why have you switched career fields?


1. What major problems have you encountered and how did you deal with them?

2. What have you learned from your mistakes?

3. What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?

4. Did you ever have problems with your supervisor?


1. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?

2. Are you creative? Give an example.

3. What qualifications do you have that makes you think you will be successful?

4. In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?

5. Why should I hire you?

6. Why do you feel qualified for this job?

7. What are your own special abilities?

8. Why should we hire you over another candidate?

9. What is your managing style?

10. Why do you want this job?

Knowledge of the Organization

1. Why do you want to work for us?

2. Why did you decide to seek a position with this organization?

3. What do you know about our organization?

4. What job in our organization do you want to work toward


1. What is your attitude toward working on weekends?

2. What part does your family play in your life?

3. What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?

4. Which is more important to you; the money or type of job?

5. Do you enjoy independent research?

6. In what kind of a work environment are you most comfortable?

7. How do you work under pressure?

8. How would you describe the ideal job for you?

9. What two or three things are most important to you in your job?

10. Are you seeking employment in an organization of a certain size?

11. What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?

12. Do you have a geographical preference?

13. Will you relocate?

14. Are you willing to travel?

15. Are you willing to spend six months as a trainee?

16. Describe your idea of an ideal job?

17. Do you prefer working with others or by yourself?

18. How do you like to work?

19. Under what conditions do you work best?

20. What is the highest form of praise?


1. In what part-time or summer jobs have you been most interested?

2. Tell me about your experience?

3. What jobs have you held?

4. How did your previous employer treat you?

5. What have you learned from some jobs you have held?

6. What jobs have you enjoyed most? Least? Why?

7. What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work?

8. Describe your current job.

9. What did you like least about your last job?

10. What did you like most about your last job?


1. What are your short range and long range goals and objectives?

2. What specific goals other than those related to your occupation have you established for yourself for the next 10 years?

3. What do you see yourself doing in five years?

4. What do you really want to do in life?

5. How do you plan to achieve your career goals?


1. How has your education prepared you for a career?

2. Describe your most rewarding college experience.

3. Why did you select your college or university?

4. If you could, would you plan your academic study differently?

5. Do you think your grades are a good indication of your academic achievement?

6. What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities?

7. Do you have plans for continued study?

8. Why did you pick your program or concentration?

9. What courses did you like best and why?

10. What courses did you like least and why?

11. How has your college experience prepared you for this job?

12. How did you pick your dissertation?

13. Describe your dissertation process.


1. What do you expect to earn in five years?

2. What are your salary demands?

3. What did you earn in your last job?


1. What are your outside interests?

2. What do you do with your free time?

3. What are your hobbies?

4. What types of books do you read?

5. How interested are you in sports?

6. How did you spend your vacations in school?


1. What do you think it takes to be successful in a company like ours?

2. What qualities should a successful manager possess?

3. Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and subordinates.

4. What 2 or 3 accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?

5. If you were hiring a graduate for this position what qualities would you look for?

6. What can I do for you?

7. Tell me a story.

8. Define cooperation.

Stress Questions

1. What causes you to lose your temper?

2. How often have you been absent from work, school, or training?

3. Have you ever had trouble with other people on the job?

4. Can you take instructions without getting upset?

5. Don't you feel you're a little too old/young for this job?

6. How does your family like you being away on business trips?

7. With your background, we believe that you are overqualified for this position.

8. You haven't had sufficient experience in this field.

9. Our experience with women on this job has not been good.

10. What would irritate you most if I as a manager did it?



Remember that you have as much right to evaluate an employer as an employer has to evaluate you. One way to ensure that you have adequate information to make a sound judgment is to ask questions. You may do so at any point in the interview: at the beginning--to clarify the job description so that you can relate your experience and skills adequately; in the middle--to clarify a question you do not understand; at the end-- to show your interest in the organization and to fill in points which are as yet unanswered. Below are some possible questions for you to ask:

1. What specific tasks does the position require?

2. Where does this job fit into the organizational structure?

3. How will the work be evaluated?

4. What kind of supervision will there be?

5. Whom would I be working for and with?

6. Where is the organization going?

7. What opportunities for advancement are there?

8. What kind of orientation and training are available to new employees?

9. Are there any long range plans for the office or department?

10. What is a typical day like?

11. How do you encourage innovation?

12. What is the financial health of the organization?

13. Can schedules vary?

14. Is there opportunity for geographic transfers?

15. What is the safety record of the organization (if applicable)?

16. Will I work independently or with others?

17. What are the reasons some people choose to leave this program?

18. Are there any questions you have that I could answer about my background?

19. If someone had this position before, why did he/she leave?

20. How is the department perceived internally?

21. What are the major issues that this organization will be facing in the near future? What role do you see my department (my job) playing in these issues?

22. Who are the other people in the department? What are their roles and how long have they been here?

23. What directions is the organization taking and why? Is growth projected?

24. How does this organization compare with others like it in the field?

25. What do you see as the biggest challenge for the person taking this job?

26. What happens next? (Before leaving the interview be sure to know what the timetable for the selection process will be and how soon you can expect to hear from them. Find out what your next steps should be and who should initiate them.

* Note: Don't be overly curious about salary or fringe benefits after a first interview except to get a ballpark figure to make sure that it is within your range of acceptability.



Go to Related Lesson page to learn more about Job Interview Skills.

Go to the TITLE PAGE.



"The views expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the University of South Carolina."

http://rpsec.usca.sc.edu//Classwork/731Sp99/Lesson/mckinney-heathth2.html (February, 1999)