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The Interview
Be Prepared to Answer
and Ask These Questions

First impressions are often lasting impressions, and the interview is

usually the first opportunity to make a positive impression on a
potential employer. Make sure you're prepared for interviews by

practicing your responses to some of the most commonly asked

interview questions. At the same time, don't forget that you are, in a
way, interviewing the employer as well to learn more about the
position and organization. The interview should flow as a
conversation, where both parties are trying to learn if the other is a
good fit.

Sample Questions to Answer:

1. Tell me about yourself.
The employer is looking for a brief summary about you and is more
interested in hearing about your educational and professional
background than your hobbies and favorite foods. See if you can sum
up your educational and professional background in about 60 seconds
and ensure that you make connections between your background and
the position for which you are interviewing.
2. Why do you want to intern/train here?
Focus on a few of the key responsibilities that are especially
interesting to you or highlight aspects of the company that you find
appealing or beneficial to your professional development. Be sure to
include what you hope to learn from the position, but also explain what
you would like to contribute to the organization as well. Absolutely
avoid mentioning you want the position solely because of its location
or because it is a requirement for your degree.
3. What do you know about this industry?
You may not have a lot of experience in the field yet, but make sure
you have researched and are ready to discuss current trends
particularly what's happening in the U.S. and in your home country. It's
also extremely important to refer to specifics from internships or work

experience you've had in the past or topics you've recently studied in

4. What do you know about our company?
A potential employer wants to know that you have researched their
company. You don't need to know everything about the company, but
you should be able to discuss the basics. Find out what the company's
mission statement is, who the biggest clients are, etc. Research
recent news articles about them. The company's website, blog, and
social media is also a great place to start.
5. What specific skills do you have that would relate to this
Make sure you've thoroughly read the requirements for the position
and confirm that you meet them. Refer to specific responsibilities of
the position and tie them to your educational and/or professional
experience. If you aren't applying to a specific internship/training
opening and are proposing the program to the employer, be sure to
explain that you have a strong foundation for training in this industry.
They will understand that they will need to teach and train you, but
they will also want to know you have sufficient preparation to be
6. What makes you a good candidate for the position?
Discuss your qualifications, including your educational background
(include specific coursework or projects), internships and professional
work experience. You may also want to include some personal
characteristics (e.g. motivated, hardworking, getting along with many
different types of people, etc.), but do not simply list positive attributes.
The interviewer is more interested in how you demonstrate these skills
or attributes.

For example, instead of saying you are motivated, provide an example

of how you proactively identified a need at a previous company and
subsequently led a project to meet that need. This will prove that you
are motivated without you just saying, "I'm highly motivated." If an
employer ever asks you to "tell me about a time" this is the type of
response they are seeking. They don't want to hear that you are good
at time managementthey want you to provide actual examples of
your time management skills.
7. Tell me about your strengths.
Many people are inclined to recite a list of traits such as "dependable"
or "creative", but it's especially effective to discuss experience or skills
that are directly related to the internship/training program to which
you're applying. For example, if you're applying to intern/train in Sales
but have no previous sales experience; highlighting your presentation
skills might really impress an employer. Or you may want to provide
an example of how you were able to persuade someone to do
something since that is the foundation of the sales industry. Again,
provide actual examples rather than a list of attributes.
8. What is your biggest weakness?
This is one of the most challenging questions to answer. You
obviously don't want to say something negative about yourself to a
potential employer, so the trick here is to turn a negative into a
positive. For example: "Staying organized used to be a challenge, but
I developed a time management system that works for me and that
has really helped keep me organized."
9. Why should I hire you for the position?
Give specific examples of your accomplishments and why you are the
best person for the position. Talk about the responsibilities of the

position and the skills you possess to fulfill them. Be sure to restate
your interest in the position!
10. What are your goals for the future?
An employer wants to know that the position relates to what you hope
to do in the future because it's a sign that you will be motivated to
learn and work hard in the position. Talk about your goals and explain
how the position would help you achieve those goals.

Sample Questions to Ask:

1. What is the overall structure of the company and how does
your department fit within that structure?
This is a good way to get a sense of the how the company operates
and what each department does so that you can see how your role as
an intern/trainee would fit into this organization.
2. What will be my day-to-day responsibilities? Can you give me
an example of a project on which I would be working?
You should ideally know the major responsibilities of the position
before interviewing, but this question will help you get a better sense
of the more specific types of tasks you would be doing and the
anticipated level of your involvement within the organization.
3. Can you describe the work environment/office culture?
Is it casual? More corporate/formal? You will want to know the office
dynamic before accepting an internship position with the company.
Can you see yourself training in a similar environment? How does this
office compare to offices in your home country or previous positions
you've held?
4. What do you like about working here?
Be curious and inquisitive! Show that you are interested in the
interviewer's background and experience at the company. You will

learn about the advantages of having an internship with them and get
some firsthand insight.
5. Why are you interested in hiring an intern?
This is a great way to gauge the employer's motivation for having an
intern in the first place. You can better understand what they might
have you working on and what type of role they envision you having.
6. What is the typical career path for interns or employees in this
You can relate this question to your long-term career aspirations by
mentioning where you see yourself in a few years and how this
position ties into those future professional goals. Maybe the employer
will mention a previous intern. Do you share a similar background with
that intern? This is a great way to learn about what a typical or
potential career track might be.
7. What would you consider to be the most important aspects of
this internship role?
You can use this question to really emphasize your strengths and
draw on your education and/or previous experience. The better you
are at understanding the expectations for the position, the better you
can show them how you will meet those expectations and be an
exceptional intern/trainee.
8. What do you think is the most challenging aspect of this
This interview is an opportunity to really learn about your employer's
expectations for the position. You can also turn this into a
conversation about challenges you've faced in your previous positions
and how you have overcome them. (Hopefully very well!)
9. Does the company participate in any team-building activities,
traditions or events?

The purpose of the Career Training USA program is cultural

exchange. The program is a really great way to learn more about U.S.
culture and to share your culture with Americans. This question allows
you to learn about opportunities or activities for you to get involved in
with the company.
10. What are the next steps in the interview process?
You don't want to be pushy about when you will find out if they have
offered you the internship, so this is a good way of asking what
happens next.

What NOT to ask:

1. What does this company do?
Show that you have done your homework! The interviewer will think
you are wasting their time if you ask questions that you can easily find
the answer to yourself, such as on their website.
2. Can I change my schedule? What salary, vacation time and
benefits do I get?
Wait until you are offered the internship before negotiating things like
salary and vacation time (if applicable). You certainly want to have
these things agreed upon before accepting an offer, however you
don't want to give them the impression that you only care about the
perks of position instead of the position itself.
3. Did I get the position?
Be patient! You can follow up with them via email after the interview,
perhaps a few days later, to inquire about next steps.
Also, don't forget to send a separate thank you email to each person
who interviewed you within 24 hours of your interview. It sounds
simple, but it often goes a long way. It's also another way to reiterate
your strong interest in the position. Did you think of another question
you didn't get a chance to ask? Include it in your follow-up email!

Youve applied for a trainee management scheme and theyve

called you to interview. What questions might they ask and how
should you prepare?

Interviewers need to know that you have an

accurate understanding of what being a
trainee manager in their employ involves.
Interview questions for aspiring trainee managers vary considerably from sector to sector. However,
its likely that your face-to-face interviews will involve a mix of CV-based questions, competency
questions that test your suitability for the role and hypothetical questions that assess your
management style and your ability to think on your feet. Heres some advice for dealing with these
different question types.
Questions about: Your CV | Your motivation | Your understanding of the role| Your
skills | Hypothetical situations

CV-based interview questions

CVs should be short and concise. Its impossible to cram everything into two sides of A4, so
interviewers will ask you to expand on what youve written. If they find a project that youve led
particularly interesting, they will ask you to give more details. Conversely, if youve written anything
that sounds a bit vague or ambiguous, they may ask some searching questions. The best way to
prepare for these questions is to practise explaining items on your CV, stressing what you contributed
and what the results were in each case. For advice on writing management CVs read our handy

Questions on your motivation for applying

Answering Why this industry?
What is it about the work environment that appeals to you? Perhaps youre applying to be a retail
manager because you particularly like the idea of working in a store. Or maybe youre applying to be
a construction site manager and youve always been an outdoors type. It will be particularly
impressive if you can talk about the challenges and developments facing the industry.
If youre applying for role in transport you could talk about rising fuel costs, for retail you could talk
about the role of online shopping and for construction you could talk about sustainability, for
example. That would show that youve got business sense and are commercially aware, a crucial skill
for a manager.
Answering Why this company and why this job?
The interviewers want to feel special. Things to talk about could include the training scheme
structure, opportunities to take on early responsibility, support for taking professional qualifications
or the companys policy on sustainability and social responsibility. You probably shouldnt say that
the salary is one of your biggest motivations for applying, even if that is in fact the case.
The best way to prepare for these types of question is, of course, to read up about the company and
the wider industry. But you should also consider where you fit in; how will this particular training
scheme help you develop as a leader?

Questions assessing your understanding of the managerial role

Interviewers need to know that you have an accurate understanding of what being a trainee manager
in their company involves the day-to-day work, your responsibilities, the hours and the
opportunities for career progression. Going straight into a management role after university is no
mean feat you need to convince the recruiter that you truly understand what youre letting yourself
in for. You might be asked questions along the lines of:

Explain what youll be doing on a day-to-day basis. What do you think your objectives will be?
What do you think youll be doing in six months/a year/five years?
What do you think the biggest challenge of the job will be?
What will you find most satisfying?
Prepare for these types of questions by first researching the specific role thoroughly. Look at
the Inside Buzz reports on TARGETjobs if the company has one, other online resources such as
employee videos on the company's website and, if possible, use LinkedIn or your network to talk to
people in the role. Then relate what you know to your own strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and
preferred ways of working.

Management-focused competency questions: Tell us about a time when you

Your interviewers will want to find evidence that you have the necessary skills to be a manager.
Attributes that theyll be looking for include:

people skills
time management
decision making
problem solving
They will probably ask you to provide examples of a time when youve demonstrated these
managerial skills. You could be asked to talk about your experiences of working to a budget,
working to tight deadlines, influencing and persuading people or dealing with conflict. Youll
probably also be asked to describe successful projects youve managed. If you cant think of a time
when you managed an entire project, you can talk about your experiences of leading part of a larger
The best way to prepare for these questions is to look at the skills on the job description and to think
of examples to talk about before you go to interview. A good technique to use is the CAR method
(Circumstances, Action, Results). What were the CIRCUMSTANCES for your project or task? What
was your end goal? What ACTION did you take to achieve your goal? What was the RESULT? Did
you achieve or exceed your targets?
As youre applying for a managerial role, it is particularly important to focus on the results that
youve achieved. Be as specific as possible if you raised funds for a charity, how much did you
make and was that over and above your target? If you led a team, what positive feedback did you get
at the end?

Job-focused hypothetical questions: What if? How would you?

These questions are designed to work out how well you think on your feet and whether you can
improvise solutions to problems. They have no set answer, and they will cover the types of situations
that you will come across if you get the management job. Although theres no way of preparing
answers in advance, which you can do to an extent with most of the other questions, youll be less
likely to get caught out if youve read up on the organisation and the role.

You could be asked something along the lines of the following:

What would you do if one of your team members were underperforming?
This question assesses your ability to manage people. How do you react when people fail to meet
their targets? It may help to break it into smaller questions. You could start by asking yourself why
your team member might be missing their targets. Is it because their training was inadequate, is it
because theyre struggling with the workload, or is it simply because theyre demotivated? How
would you find out? What would you do once youd got to the root of the problem and why?
A key contractor has told you that they are going to be late filling your order, but your client wants
to speed up the project. How do you resolve the situation?
This question is about your ability to negotiate, a key managerial skill. Can you balance competing
demands and engineer a compromise? How would you manage your clients expectations and what
would you say to the contractor? Perhaps you could ask them to deliver the goods in smaller
installments. In what circumstances would you look for a new supplier, and what complications
could arise if you took this route?
Answers to hypothetical questions should consider a range of possibilities and outcomes. Two
different candidates could respond to the same question very differently but still come out with good
answers. A bad response would be a brief, one sentence answer that doesnt address the potential
complexities of the situation.

Reaching the end

At the end of the interview the roles will be reversed and you will be given the chance to ask the
questions. While you shouldnt ask something that could easily found out from their website, you
could ask for more detail about:

a big project that the company has recently completed

the structure of the business
how the interviewers got into the industry
what they like about their job and the company
industry trends