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How To Decipher The Meaning Of Interview Questions

How To Decipher The Meaning Of Interview Questions

Interviewers ask certain questions for a reason. Some good...and some not so good. Like it or not, the same questions are asked just about every day during each and every interview in every company around the country. So if you understand the information an interviewer is trying to obtain from you, answering them will be all the easier.

Many, but not all, human resources personnel and hiring managers are experienced interviewers, so they typically know the "right" and "wrong" answers to questions. They also know what your answers say about YOU, both personally and professionally.


For example, if an interviewer asks you to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, do you know what he or she is looking for in your answer?


While experts disagree on the usefulness of these types of questions, you need to be prepared to respond appropriately. You alone know your true strengths and weaknesses, but the manner in which you answer will determine your fate. The following table shows some of the most commonly asked questions and their "secret" meanings.




What was your class standing?

How smart are you?

Which supervisors have you found it easiest or most difficult to work with, and why?

Are you adaptable?

Tell me about your extra-curricular activities. Give me an example of a time when you had to do more than what was required in your job. Did you work on any special projects?

Do you have initiative?

What hobbies do you have?

Are you creative?

Do you ever find that you need to make exceptions to certain rules or policies? Give me an example of when you had to do this, and why.

Do you have integrity?

What classes did you start and later drop? What are some of the tougher problems you faced in previous jobs? At what point did you ask for assistance? To whom did you go?

Can you persevere in hard times?

In school or in a previous job, how did you convince other people to accept your ideas?

How persuasive are you?

Do you consider yourself successful? What makes you think you can sell successfully? How do you feel when you get rejected?

Are you self-confident?

Can you give me a recent example of a time when you had to get your point across to different people? What approach did you take? Can you give me an example of a time when you had to convince your manager or co-worker about a new idea?

How well can you communicate?

Describe a typical day on your job.

Level and complexity of work assignments.

Explain how you fit into your department. To whom did you report?

Extent of responsibility.

What other departments did you work with in your previous job? Tell me about those relationships.

Organizational cooperation.

How hard or easy is it for you to handle multiple priorities simultaneously? Tell me how you accomplish this.

How organized are you?


Once you've reviewed these questions and meanings, do a bit of soul searching to decide how you will answer these questions during your interview-AND how your answers will be conveyed on your RESUME. Chances are, at least one or two of your responses may change. Changing your answers, or at least understanding what an interviewer expecting to hear in your answers, will dramatically increase your successes and opportunities in the job market.