by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Thanks again for participating in our Job Interviewing Quiz.
Job Interview Quiz Answers Explained
Here are our detailed explanations to each question in the quiz. Once you’ve read each explanation, total up your correct responses and go to the scoring section below to see where you stand in your understanding of job interviewing.
1. Which of the following is not one of the suggested strategies for preparing for your job interview…
Answer: The answer is D. We don’t mean to imply that you should not do any research on salaries; of course you should! But raising the issue of money and benefits early in a first interview is seen as premature and presumptuous; wait for the offer.
A critical factor leading to interview success is preparation. You need to do research on the company and industry so that you can show off your knowledge in the interview. You should also spend some time prepping for the interview by preparing answers to typical interview questions — and practicing those answers in a mock situation, if possible. Finally, you should also go into an interview with resources the employer may want, such as extra resumes, a list of references, work samples, etc.
2. True or false: wearing a formal suit is always the safest “dress for success” attire.
Answer: The answer is A. While there have been many companies and industries that have become known for their informality, it is still safer to dress on the side of conservatism than informality. Remember that first impressions are quite important and a positive first impression can get the interview off to a good start.
What’s the real answer? Call the company and ask about the expected dress at interviews. If you know someone who works at the company, ask her. Otherwise, someone in the human resources department would be more than happy to tell you.
What is dressing for success? Read our article, When Job-Hunting: Dress for Success.
3. True or false: being the most qualified candidate for the position just about guarantees you will get the job.
Answer: The answer is B. We have been in so many situations where the person who looked best on paper fell flat in the interview and was not offered the job. Being the most qualified gets you the interview; you need to do the rest once you’re there. Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t need to prepare for an interview because you are the perfect candidate or it will only lead to disappointment.
Remember that the goal of the interview is to sell the employer on the vision of your impact to the organization and the job at hand.
4. The STAR (situation, task, action, results) Technique refers to a tool you should consider using for developing answers to what type of interview questions?
Answer: The answer is C. The behavioral job interview is based on the theory that past performance is the best indicator of future behavior, and uses questions that probe specific past behaviors, such as: “tell me about a time where you confronted an unexpected problem,” “tell me about an experience when you failed to achieve a goal,” and “give me a specific example of a time when you managed several projects at once.” Job-seekers need to prepare for these interviews by recalling scenarios that fit the various types of behavioral interviewing questions.
The STAR Technique is a tool that help your organize and plan your responses to these types of questions. See an example of the STAR Technique here.
Read more about the STAR Technique and other behavioral interview techniques in our article, Behavioral Interviewing Strategies.
5. True or false: greeting the receptionist/assistant when you arrive and treating him or her with respect is an important key to your success.
Answer: The answer is A. This gesture is so small, yet we cannot stress this point often enough: receptionists and assistants are key people within organizations and many employers will ask them about the manners of the candidates — so make sure you introduce yourself in a professional and friendly manner. Those candidates who think a little too highly of themselves may ignore — or even be rude to — the “little people.” And candidates who have that behavior in an interviewing situation would only be worse if they were to become employees, so employers tend to shy away from candidates with these attitudes.
6. Which part of the interview is the most important?
Answer: The answer is D. You need to stay focused on the entire interview in order to move to the next step — either more interviews or the job offer.
Of course, all these elements are important. The first minute of an interview is critical; interviewers often make first and lasting impressions on how you are dressed, on the firmness of your handshake, on your confidence, and on all elements in that initial few minutes.
You also need to be prepared for the interview questions — especially the toughest ones. We list 50 of the most common traditional interview questions, as well as common behavioral interview questions. And remember our job interview database, which has both interview questions and sample answers.
Finally, don’t ignore the final minute. Always remember that the interview is like a sales call, where you are selling the employer on hiring you. In sales lingo, we call it closing the deal. Make sure you use that final minute to restate your interest in the job (possibly even asking for the job), as well as determine the next step in the process.
7. What are three most important keys to success in interviews?
Answer: The answer is B. All of the answers contain good ideas. You certainly want to smell good (or at least not smell bad) and have fresh breath, and we discuss these and other preparation issues in our Dress for Success article.
Employers rate showing enthusiasm (for the job, company, industry) and making eye contact as the most important keys to success at interviews. Since interviews are a conversation between the potential employee and the employer, speaking clearly (and loud enough) is also vital.
8. It’s best to arrive how early before an interview?
Answer: The answer is C. If you said an hour, you must be one of those people that arrive at airports hours before your plane is scheduled to take-off. And if you said one minute, you must be one of those “last minute” kind of people. These two answers are extremes, but they happen all the time.
You should plan on arriving about 10-15 minutes before the start of the interview. This amount of time gives you a little slack for unexpected events (such as the elevators not working), a chance to calm your nerves, and time to complete an employment application or other paperwork before the interview. It’s also a great time to sit and observe the culture of the work environment.
Before we leave this subject, one more tip: plan ahead! Make sure you know the exact location of the interview — and even take a practice run if you’re not sure about it. We know one job candidate who was going to her most important interview — the job and company of her dreams — but the night before the interview she realized she wasn’t really sure where the office was located and instead of doing something about it, she just “winged it” the next day and showed up about 30 minutes late and did not even get an interview, let alone the job.
9. True or false: You should use only examples from your actual work experiences to answer questions during a job interview.
Answer: The answer is B. Ideally, most of your answers will relate to experiences you had on the job, but we can learn valuable lessons about work-related issues (leadership, teamwork, etc.) from areas outside the office, such as with volunteering, community work, sports, and personal relationships.
For recent college grads especially, employers are not going to expect that all your responses will be related to work experiences. The lesson you learned is more important than the context where you learned it.
Read about the value and importance of transferrable skills.
10. The best thing to do in an interview when you get a question that stumps you temporarily is…
Answer: The correct answer is D. Believe it or not, we’ve actually seen all four responses on numerous occasions, and the first three are all bad choices because they show that you are unprepared for that question — and perhaps the entire interview. You need to respond, and you need to do so in a positive and constructive manner. Another way to buy a bit of time is to simply ask the interviewer to restate the question.
Does even the most experienced interviewee get stumped? Of course, and that’s where you need to have a strategy to gain a little more time to compose an answer. You don’t have to paraphrase the question — brief periods of silence are okay — just make sure to give yourself some time to compose an answer.
11. True or false: Taking detailed notes in an interview is an accepted practice.
Answer: The answer is B. Experts disagree on this subject a bit, but the majority feel that it’s just not a wise idea to spend the entire interview taking notes because you need to use that time to be thinking and responding and selling yourself, not passively taking notes. If you have serious memory issues, you could also record the interview — but only with the interviewer’s permission first.
The key issue here is that you want to retain some key information from the interview… so take a notepad or paper with you, and as soon as the interview is over, spend a few minutes writing down the key points made during the interview — so you can use some of those points in your thank you letter.
12. When the interviewer asks you the question, “tell me about yourself,” she really wants what in response?
Answer: The answer is B. This question is one of the more common ones in interviews and a good way for the interviewer to get some insight into the candidate, but you might be surprised to learn how many people answer this question incorrectly. This question gives you the chance to sell yourself specifically to the position.
The interviewer wants a snapshot of you — as described by you — in about two minutes or less. The interviewer does not want to really know about you, s/he wants to know the part about you that makes you an ideal candidate for the job at hand, so be prepared to discuss how your education, skills, and experience relate to the job opening.
13. How should you respond to the question, “where do you see yourself in five years?”
Answer: The answer is C. Believe it or not, all these answers are fairly common responses. Perhaps some of these applicants forget that while honesty is important in an interview, you do not need to discuss all the truth — even if you really do see yourself running your own business in five years.
Once again, we cannot stress enough that while your responses need to be based on facts, when you are asked about a hypothetical situation set in the future, it’s best to respond in a way that inspires confidence that you are the right person for the job — selling the employer on your potential.
14. The best way to answer the question, “Why do you want to work for our company,” is by saying…”
Answer: The answer is A. This question is another one you should anticipate because it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company. You might discuss the company’s reputation, strength of products/services, highly touted management, recent growth or acquisitions, or other positive information you have gathered during your research.
Always avoid answers that focus on the benefits to you of working for the company and, instead, focus on what you can do for the company.
15. True or false: If you’re asked to discuss your current boss, whom you dislike, you should tell the truth about him.
Answer: The answer is B. It is never a good idea to badmouth a current or former boss or company. Always speak positively about your current and former employers. Remember that the point of an interview is selling yourself to the employer and what do you think it says about yourself if you are willing to say negative things about your boss or company?
If you’re asked about your current boss, it’s probably a question about the type of management style you prefer, so you should probably direct your answer there.
16. If you are returning to the workforce or have gaps in your employment history and are asked about what you were doing during that time, you should…
Answer: The answer is A. Believe it or not, lots of people end up having employment gaps on their resumes — for all sorts of reasons. Your goal is to put the best spin on the gap. If you did, in fact, work as a volunteer or consultant, or if you went back to school for additional training relevant to the position, use these reasons to explain the gap(s).
And remember — never raise the issue yourself. In fact, make sure you never raise any negative issues during an interview.
17. True or false: No matter what, you should always ask at least one question when the interviewer asks if you have any questions about the job or the company.
Answer: The answer is A. This question is one of those heuristics (rule of thumb) employers use to make a quick judgment about a candidate, thus a person who does not have any questions equates to a person who really is not interested in working for the company.
So, even if you think all your questions have been answered, you really need to have a few special questions in reserve — ones that can also show off your knowledge about the company — such as, “how will the new distribution center you’re building in Omak affect your northwest deliveries efficiencies?”
Here’s a list of possible questions you could ask during an interview.
18. Which of the following is not one of the most common mistakes job-seekers make during job interviews?
Answer: The answer is D. Can you ever really have too much information about a company?
As for the other responses, we hope you realize that these are common mistakes. A firm handshake makes a great first impression. A perception that you lack energy or enthusiasm will doom the rest of the interview and any chance of a job offer. And an over-emphasis on money shows that your priorities may be skewed.
19. True or false: at the end of the interview, you should always ask bout the next step in the process.
Answer: The answer is A. You might say something ch as, “M . J