These non-technical interview prep questions may seem easy (or even unimportant for Virtualization Engineers or Admins), but you’d be surprised how many people blow an interview because they are not prepared to answer them without setting off warning flares.
Rehearse Until You Don’t Ramble
Don’t end up rambling on and on during an interview and giving the interviewer(s) the ammunition they need to dig deeper into a bad answer.
A good interview answer may have 1 or 2 follow-up questions, but a bad or open-ended answer may have 5 or more follow-up questions and will lead the interviewer down a path you don’t want them going.
When this happens the interviewers are no longer concerned with completing their interview because NOW they are making sure the wrong person doesn’t end up hired.
If you have given the interviewer something in your first few answers that has already set off warning flares, you can bet from there on the interview will not follow the prepared set of questions.
Most interviews are done to ‘filter you out’ so be ready to answer the following three questions with clear and concise responses that are not open-ended.
BTW – This is important when interviewing for any JOB!
Most of the panel interviews I’ve participated in have included one or more of these questions.
Don’t be caught off guard by not being ready for them, if you don’t get asked – then nothing is lost…
…but if you do get asked you can score points by having good answers.
BIG 3 Interview Prep Questions and Answers
Rehearse these three interview Prep questions until you can answer any combination of follow-up questions that come to mind during your practice (you might want to write out your answers).
1. What would you say are your weaknesses?
First let’s dissect this question about weaknesses. Do you really want to tell your potential new BOSS you have any weaknesses?
Let’s say your answer is you have a tendency to get angry over petty stuff, or you are a control freak…
Both of these answers will get you scratched off the list because managers want people who are safe to work with.
People that are moody and controlling will cause conflict.
Even if you are moody and controlling, never admit to it in an interview.
You can say you are passionate about your work and you tend to take ownership of duties that are assigned to you very serious, or you tend to be anal about getting things done right the first time.
Both of these answers are saying the same thing, but they close the loop on completing tasks and that is what managers want.
Also, if you give an example make sure it doesn’t include a scenario that included conflict with anyone.
You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you are airing your dirty laundry about an argument, even if you won!
A bad answers will most likely lead to follow-up questions about dealing with conflict.
Steer clear of conflict (be safe)!
2. What would you say are your strengths?
This question gives you an opportunity to sell your best qualities but is a trap waiting to be sprung!
First, remember you are not PERFECT…
…and second, always lead with customer service qualities and talents that are value-add.
Most people who are technical minded can learn to do complex technical processes, but people who are not customer friendly are challenged to change their spots when a customer complains about something (Customer being whomever you are servicing).
Cold and condescending answers from a technical person are the worst!
You may be telling the customer the right thing…
… but if it’s coming out sounding like you are calling them STUPID it will come back to bite you and the manager.
A good answer would be:
I am very good at designing solutions that are tailored to the customer’s request. Blah, Blah, Blah!
Managers want people who add value and solve problems.
On a related topic, do not sound like a COWBOY who operates on their own agenda.
Never boast about an accomplishment you did alone.
Moreover, talk about your strengths getting people to work together, or how you facilitated getting other people to collaborate on a tough problem until it was solved.
You never want to sound like a one man band unless it is for a position that expects you to always work alone, and then it’s OK.
3. If you could do anything you want what would you do?
Remember this tip! The job and the company you are interviewing for is the most important job to want during an interview (keep your dream job to yourself).
No manager wants to hire someone who sees their position as a stepping stone to get to another job.
Even a help desk position, which could be considered an entry-level technical job, should sound like the last job you want to have.
As I see it, the help desk is on the front line and is very important. There are so many opportunities for someone who wants to add value and be creative. For now, I would be very interested in helping your team deliver great customer service to your clients.
Managers want people who are safe, but they are also looking for people who are productive and can think outside the box to solve problems (this adds value).
Never Ignore First Impressions
Finally – If you did your best and made it through these interview questions with good answers, the next thing is to sum-up how you felt about the hiring manager (and team).
Did he or she seem like a micro-manager who wants absolute control over everything you do and how you do it?
In this case warning bells should sound for you, and you should be aware that this manager is a control freak.
If you are given the opportunity to ask questions, you should ask them what their managing style is like.
Real Life Example
I once interviewed with a manager who did not like anyone to make a sound while he was talking (I was warned by the recruiter prior to the interview to wait for his cue).
When he was finished talking he would say, “Would you like to respond?”
Regardless how good you answered his question – if you cut him off, he would scratch you off his list. Needless to say, I intentionally cut him off!
Most managers are limited on time available to interview a lot of candidates so leaving the BEST impression by not setting off warning flares is important.
Managers can overlook wrong technical answers (or even hearing you say I don’t know the answer), because they know smart people can Google stuff or figure it out…
…but what we cannot overlook is personality, egos, arrogance and ignorance that will get us in trouble or causes silly conflict.
Remember to keep your answers safe, customer oriented, and team engaging with NO open-ends.
You worked hard on your resume, now rehearsing these Prep questions should help you be ready when your called in for a job interview.
Other related articles I’ve written are :
DevOps Interview Questions (Engineer, Admin, ETC) & 5 Insider Tips To Help Start a Career in Virtualization
Job Hunting Tip:
Did you know 80% of jobs aren’t publicly advertised?
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