Will You Fit the Culture and Style of the Organization?

1. Tell me about yourself

[This open-ended question is difficult for just about everyone. Plan ahead for the points you want to make about yourself and keep the statement brief. Think about it as an opportunity to present your personal commercial.]

What the employer really wants to know:

The employer probably wants to get a sense about who you are as a person, beyond the job skills and work experience. It is still good to link your answer to this job in some way.

What you want to say:

Say a few personal things about yourself and what you enjoy doing. Reading, health-related activities, social and family activities, and sports are good topics.

“I have been interested in health care [for example] for as long as I can remember. I did volunteer work as a candy striper when I was young, and I read every magazine article I see about health topics.”

Build a bridge between your personal statement and this job.

“Because of my interest in health, I take good care of myself. I make time to exercise at least five times a week, even if it is just doing a regular work out at home. When I have the chance, I like to play volleyball at our community center with neighbors. Working in a health care organization like this would be my dream job.”

2. Why did you leave your last job?

What the employer really wants to know:

The employer is looking for warning signs that could make you a problem employee.

What you want to say:

Try to answer this question in terms of positive growth and skill development.

“I wanted an opportunity to get into a kind of work where I could learn and use new skills.”

Then, build a positive bridge to this job.

“The job with your company is of interest to me partly because of the chance to work with more advanced computer programs and to apply what I am learning in classes.”

3. How do you measure success in a job?

What the employer really wants to know:

Employer wants to know whether you think in terms of job-related measures or in terms of external rewards such as pay raises.

What you want to say:

Give one job-related measure that shows you want to do a good job.

“It’s important for me to feel like I am contributing to others in some way. Even if I’m serving food in a fast food restaurant, I like to serve each customer in a way that makes their visit pleasant.”

Next, add one measure that has to do with your personal career growth.

“In the long term, I will hope to do this job so successfully that I will be given more responsibility and be promoted.”

4. Describe your ideal work environment. What things make you most uncomfortable in a work environment?

What the employer really wants to know:

The employer wants to know whether there is a good match to the actual work environment.

What you want to say:

Describe your ideal environment in realistic terms that show you want to perform well.

“I like a work environment where people are treated fairly and are given a chance to do their best work. I like to be able to make suggestions, and to feel like I am appreciated.”

Next, give a real example of something that makes you uncomfortable, but don’t ramble on and on.

“Things that would make me uncomfortable include being treated as an outsider, and not being treated with respect.”