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Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Don't get complacent with frequently asked interview questions! It's important to listen to the questions that are being asked by the interviewer. So often, candidates will be so busy thinking about their interview answers that they fail to really hear the question. Don't fall into this trap.

Here's the next installment of frequently asked interview questions you need to be prepared to answer.


Major challenges...this is not about accomplishments, and it's not about small obstacles that you've successfully overcome. This is about major hurdles you've dealt with successfully. Some examples to illustrate the point...

I was given management responsibility at a very young age, with a team that was considerably older and more experienced. Proving myself in that environment was a significant challenge. Go on to explain how you succeeded in this role.
I came into ABC Widget as the National Sales Manager, and while I knew that I was walking into a turn around situation, I had no idea how bad it really was. I inherited a dysfunctional team who had been through three managers in two years. I was able to turn things around by...
I joined an internet start up before anyone new that the dot com frenzy was about to come to a screeching halt. I got the entrepreneurial bug and had to follow it, which required me to leave a really great position with an industry leader. Keeping this small company afloat at a time when the market around us was disintegrating was a huge challenge. My ability to make things happen from a sales standpoint - getting in the door, getting in front of the right people - kept us from going out of business. Since I was the sales strategist, the pressure was really on me to get results.

Pick challenges that had a successful outcome! You need to speak to your specific role in overcoming the challenge.


This is another frequently asked interview question that can be tricky! If you describe someone who is the exact opposite of the hiring manager, you're going to be history! I would preface my response to this question with a broad brush statement about how you've worked successfully with all types of bosses, and have the ability to adjust to anyone's style.

But then, you're going to have to answer the question. Things that come to mind when thinking about a good manager include some of the following characteristics:

  • Fair
  • Supportive of his/her people
  • Willingness to delegate -- both responsibility and authority
  • Respect for team members
  • Coach/mentor
  • Technically competent
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills (a place where many managers fail miserably!)
  • Good listener
  • Holds people accountable

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Talk about things that are important to you, choosing things that are fairly hard to argue with. It's hard to disagree with the traits listed above. Chances are, if the hiring manager is asking this question, he/she will find it hard to find fault with your answer!


This is really another way to ask the "ideal boss" question. By speaking about the boss that you liked best, you'll be revealing traits about that person that are important to you. The difference here is that you can refer to a specific person and a specific company experience in your response.

If I was answering this frequently asked interview question, I could tell you about a boss I had very early in my career, who gave me far more responsibility and authority than a recent college grad should ever have. He was a mentor and coach, who taught me everything I know about project management. The lessons he taught me years ago became the foundation of my work ethic and my strong follow through skills.

He taught me not to take "no" for an answer. To this day, when someone in a work situation says that something can't be done, I don't believe it. I need to ask the same question in several different ways and probe for alternatives. Inevitably, problems that seem insurmountable can ultimately be solved. He embodied the traits that I think all good managers possess - and I would walk through the list provided above.

Additional frequently asked interview questions can be found in these sections:

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