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Interviewers' Favorite Q&As

What kind of questions do recruiters ask? The following are common interview questions and feedback on how to answer with the kind of competencies the interviewer is seeking, courtesy of Jonathan Ferguson, Assistant Director of Career Services at George Washington University, and three experienced recruiters.

  • Tell me about yourself

    Don’t tell me where you were born and raised,” says Jonathan Ferguson, a veteran of countless mock interviews with students. “Don’t tell me you were a cheerleader. Focus on your academics and experience. Ask yourself, ‘What are the top five things I want this person to know about me?’”

  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

    “I want to hear something related to retail,” says Haley Peoples, college relations manager for JC Penny Co., Inc. in Dallas, Texas. “I don’t want to hear ‘I want to be an astronaut’ or ‘I want to win an Academy Award.” Make sure the response fits with the job/area you are interviewing for now.


  • How do you make yourself indispensable to an employer?
    “We are looking for both technical and interpersonal competence,” says Doris J. Smith-Brooks, Recruiting and Advertising Manager for Boeing Co. in Seattle, WA. Smith-Brooks explains that students who have interned or completed cooperative education assignments generally answer this question best because they know what working for a company entails.

  • What is your greatest strength?
    “Don’t just talk about your strength — relate it to the position,” Ferguson says. “Let them know you are a qualified candidate.”


  • What is your greatest weakness?
    “Say something along the lines of, ‘I have difficulty with this thing, and these are the strategies I used to get around it," Ferguson says. “For example, you could say, ‘I’m not the most organized of individuals, so I always answer my e-mails and phone calls right away. I’m aware of the problem and I have strategies to deal with it.'"


  • Tell me about a time when your course load was heavy. How did you complete all your work?
    “We generally are looking for an answer like, ‘Last semester I was taking 21 credits, so I made sure I had a day planner and mapped out all my assignments.’” Says Felix J. Martinex, Senior Staff Recruiter at Abbott Laboratories in Abbot Park, Illinois.

    “We’re looking for a plan-ahead kind of individual, not someone who just flies by the seat of their pants.” Martinez says recruiters at Abbot Laboratories use the STAR method of interviewing.