most frequently asked interview questions
* ACTION WORDS: These are words that you should use in your answers that would prove that you would never be satisfied with being a spectator at your job.
Planned Implemented Formulated
Created Conceived Initiated
* LEADERSHIP WORDS: These are words that should be used throughout the interview to prove that you would rather be a leader than a follower.
Organized Built Presided Over
Coordinated Responsible For Guided
Supervised Directed Gave Direction To
* RESULT WORDS: The use of these words should help to prove that you wanted results and you got them.
Contributed To Reduced Provided For
Evaluated Demonstrated That Collected
Saved Achieved Increased
Dan Johnston from PPR Career shared the following list of frequently asked questions on a job interview, as well as advice on what to be prepared for.
1. Tell me about yourself. Use “Picture Frame Approach”
My name is John Shi. I have been working on web application since 1998, using ASP, JSP, and PHP, in different universities and organization. Currently I am an analyst at AutoZone, responsible of collecting and analyzing business performance data for 130 hub stores. Before that, I spent one and half years of web site development of engineering college at UM. I love the job as a web specialist. I believe my skills in web site, computer programs, and data analyst will help me fit into this challenging job.
Right now I am the hub analyst at supply chain group. In the last 1.5 years at AutoZone, I had worked beyond the expectation from my manager to develop the hub network and improve the hub performance. When I join this position, I was just expected to run a weekly performance reports for these 130 hub stores. However, with my initiatives, I developed numerous tools using SAS, VB/VBA and Web for hub operations. These tools help me make effective job at my position. Extraordinary KPI improvement was observed with my contribution. Moreover, I also took over eCommerce, Vendor, and VDP. With such a rich experience of collaborating with Merch, StDev, StOps, LP, Comm, DI, and ECom, I am ready to join one of the most important departments to carry out a data driven product and price optimization. Actually, I had spent 3 whole years at UC focusing on data driven engineering system. With my degree of IE, I would love to join this excellent group to continue my career at AutoZone.
- Hub analyst - Various department involvements
- 3 years of data driven engineering system research
- PhD of IE in web product optimization
- 10 years of VB/VC/Web programming
- 6 years of SAS development
Now I have been in this department for one year. I once worked under Maren and recently under Gurcan. I demonstrated a high skill in leading projects such as fog synchronization, store product assortment tool, and demand forecasting. I am energetic and outgoing. In a group, I am cable of getting support from people. I am excited to take this leadership position. I am ready to develop an even stronger team and to provide product assortment decision support tools for the company.
2. Did you bring your resume?
Yes. Be prepared with two or three extra copies. Do not offer them unless you’re asked.
3. What do you know about our organization?
UM is one of the best universities in Mid-South USA. It grows fast in recent years. The Academic Affair Technology office will be a core element to support the whole university to make sure we get best students and faculties and develop the best programs. A web site of AAT will be a portal application for the whole integration. I am sure you are in need of the assistance on architecture and contents organization. I would love to use my skills in web application, data processing and software tools to help you. I am confident to develop a best platform to support the university.
Because of its direct impact on profits, pricing is one of the most important activities in business. Understanding, managing and improving pricing processes and outcomes is sure to increase margins and revenue.
- Price segmentation / Discrimination
- Lookup and Sales forecasting
- Price impact – Elasticity
- Product assortment MAP
The MAP team is responsible for the processes of MAP product assortment, DNR, and harmonizing with store refresh. We have a powerful forecasting tool, automated assortment decision process, and knowledgeable members to support MAP and DNR processes. The opportunities for this group are to enhance communications between our groups and associated departments in the company, to integrate more between store decisions and category decisions, and mostly importantly, to provide better and more graphically tools for managers.
4. What experience do you have?
Overall I have about 10 years of working on web and software development and programming. Specifically, first, I am familiar with web applications, including ASP, JSP, and PHP and associated DB technologies. I have been managing several active web sites. Second, I am experienced in data manipulations with real applications. So I am familiar with optimization and mathematical programming in real applications. I am able to develop and use statistical models for your academic analysis, migrating the academic results into dynamic web pages.
IE, data driven engineering applications;
5 years of industrial research projects;
10 years of programming in VB/VC/Web;
6 years of SAS development;
one year at AZ.
I had 2 years in AutoZone and 1 year in merchandising. Before coming to
Memphis, I led a research team in Cincinnati for industrial and manufacturing optimization projects for 3 years. I am experienced programmer myself. In previous about 10 years, I coordinated and supervised many successful projects. I am ready to lead the team, train subordinates, and develop stronger group, so that we could provide better and more tools for CMs, store operations, supply chain, and VPs.
5. According to your definition of success, how successful have you been so far?
Success is to become expert in the area you like to do.
I have been very successful in schools, as an outstanding research fellow, and as a top ranking student.
Success is to like what you are doing and do an outstanding job.
6. In your current or last position, what were your most significant accomplishments?
My most significant achievement in my previous job is to combine the data analysis and processing methods with computer technologies. More than 10 engineering data processing projects were accomplished in 3 years. Each of them increases the manufacturing process and system’s performance.
The significance of my current job is I would be able to use various programming tools such as Visual Basic and MapPoint to save time in the assignments. I enjoy being at AutoZone and my manager is very satisfied with my work there.
However, based on my previous experience of graduate RA at UT, I really love working at UT campus as an analyst, so I would be able make full use my education and skills.
However, based on my previous experience of GA at UM, I really love working at UM campus as a web specialist, so I could make full use of my potential and skills.
QOH checking at 9801
10-20% picking save
VB, Telnet; Java
VDP one time fill rate
80% to 90% increase
50% to 75-80% increase
SPARk (store operations, merchandising, national sales, IT, etc), led to SynchUp
SynchUp (conflict resolution between decisions)
MAP forecast (stabilize it and predict better) and MAP 2.0
7. Had you thought of leaving your present position before? If yes, what do you think held you there?
Each job gains me experience and help me approach my final goal.
I already reached beyond the expectation; and I am ready for next level of analyst.
8. Would you describe a few situations in which your work was criticized?
First time in MIS job, customer requirement analysis was not enough.
I once had difficult to understand what the customer really wanted.
Years of experience trained me very well.
When I first joined company, I lack some knowledge to gut checking some reports before we could send out. I kept it in my mind, I should continue learning and practicing.
9. If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
I am real goods at research and software.
Weak: ambitious to do more jobs.
Outstanding job – DJ
Go beyond expectation; get job done. – Maren & Gurcan
10. How would you describe your personality?
Active and positive; good with different people
11. What are your strong points?
Web development, Programming, Problem analysis, reporting
Project management, People coordination, Get-job-done; and Problem solver
12. What are your weak points?
When the time is limited, I once became impatient to finish the work myself to meet the tight deadlines.
Push others to meet the deadline
13. How did you do in school?
I study many courses in statistics and engineering courses. I am also actively involved in societies in our subject, including industrial engineering, healthcare, and biomedical.
14. In your current or last position, what features did you like most? Least?
Most: a very nice manager and a very good working environment.
I like everything about my current position and have acquired and developed a great many skills, but I’m now ready for new challenges and greater responsibilities.”
The current position in a very low grade and salary level; the group didn’t initially expect to do such high level job I did. This MA position needs higher level skills and will mostly use my knowledge and experience.
15. What do you look for in a job?
A job can use my skills in programming. A job is related to education. A job I will be able to contribute and improve. A job is of team environment.
By going to school in this topic helped me catch up with the new technology, including the statistic methods, computing algorithms, and management skills too.
Competing with all excellent students and working with knowledge professor helped me learn a lot.
An analyst job can use my skills and experience in data driven system. This MA position is the very one can utilize my experience of 10 years in programming, 6 years of SAS, 5 years of data driven applications, and especially one year at the hub group.
A management position to develop and achieve my potential. My goal is to develop, train and guide a strong MAP team to provide useful assortment decision support tools.
16. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
Not long, because of my experience, transferable skills and ability to learn.
I like to take a short time to get familiar with your models and problems.
After that, I will be able to work together with other team members to solve the real cases and improve the work performance.
17. How long would you stay with us?
As long as I feel that I’m contributing, and that my contribution is recognized. I’m looking to make a long term commitment.
18. If you have never supervised, how do you feel about assuming those responsibilities?
If you want to supervise, say so, and be enthusiastic.
A team will be working like a complicated computer program. Each part in it has different functions and has to be working in a workflow manner.
I used to manage many different projects and coordinate various people.
19. Why do you want to become a supervisor?
“To grow and develop professionally, to help others develop, to build a team and to share what I have learned.”
20. What do you see as the most difficult task in being a supervisor?
“Getting things planned and done through others and dealing with different personalities.” Show how you have done this in the past. The habit of time management is different among people.
21. You’ve been with your current employer quite a while. Why haven’t you advanced with him?
“What I like about my present position is that it’s both stable and challenging. But it’s true that I’ve grown about as much as I can in my current position.
22. Why are you leaving your present position?
I am eager to take on more challenges, and I believe I will find them at [hiring company].
I’m not unhappy (at my present employer). However, this opportunity seems to be particularly interesting and I am interested in pursuing it further.
Our office is closing; the whole organization is being reduced in size.
I was not on the market when PPR Career contacted me and explained what you are doing, it peaked my interest.
23. Describe what would be an ideal working environment?
Team work is the key.
24. How would you evaluate your present firm?
Be positive. Refer to the valuable experience you have gained. Don’t mention negatives.
25. Do you prefer working with figures, or with words?
Be aware of what the job requires and position your answer in that context. In many cases it would be both.
Balance between figures and words
I love working with data. Data driven approach was my main job in previous 5-6 years. I developed numerous tools in this area.
Our main aim is to provide clear and meaningful data and figures to CMs, directors, VPs to help them make right decisions. Best parts at Right price.
26. What kinds of people do you find difficult to work with?
I would prefer working with persons who are motivated, team-working, and tend to listen.
27. How would your co-workers describe you?
Refer to your strengths and skills.
Programming + Data processing skills
Like to communicate with people
Have clear schedules
28. What do you think of your boss?
If you like him or her, say so and tell why. If you don’t like him or her, find something positive to say.
29. Why do you want to work in a company of this size? Or this type?
Explain how this size or type of company works well for you, using examples from the past if possible.
PPO (Product and Price Optimization) group’s size is bigger than my current one. I will enjoy team working here.
30. If you had your choice of jobs and companies, where would you go?
This job and this company are very close to what best suits you.
31. Why do you want to work for us?
You feel you can help achieve the company’s objectives, especially in the short run. You like what you’ve learned about the company, its policies, goals and management: “I’ve researched the company and people tell me it’s a good place to work.”
I can help the group maintain the data driven approach. I will help develop more effective tools to enable and implement product assortment and price optimization.
32. What was the last book you read? Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended?
Think this through. Your answer should be compatible with accepted norms.
Book: Prey; Timeline - Michael Crichton
Movie: Cars; Star Gate
Sports: Federer’s tennis
33. What are you doing, or what have you done to reach your career objectives?
Talk about formal courses and training programs.
I took a lot of statistic and software courses.
I was involved in many chances, even including some volunteer opportunities.
I kept building web sites
Know people in AZ and ask
34. What was wrong with your last company?
No company is perfect; it had both strengths and weaknesses.
35. What kind of hours are you used to working?
(Does the person match job and criteria?)
I will say, as many hours as it takes to get the job done.
36. What would you do for us?
Relate past success in accomplishing the objectives which are similar to those of the prospective employer.
- Know data sources – Hub analyst
- Programming – VB/VC/Java
- Data driven optimization – IE post-doc and PhD
- Team working; Inspiring and motivating
I can lead the team
- Support them, Train them and Guide them
- Integrate MAP, store, and forecast
- MAP 2.0 upgrade – close connected with CMs
37. What has your experience been in supervising people?
Give examples from accomplishments.
Find the problem in the manufacturing system
Collected the data / Analyze the data / Statistical testing / Manage 1 master student
Increase the productivity
Projects – SPARk, SynchUp, Demand forecast
38. Are you a good supervisor?
Yes, my people like and respect me personally and professionally. They often comment on how much they learn and develop under my supervision. For example, a dozen of students even wrote letters to thank me for instructing their programming.
39. Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what were the reasons and how did you handle it?
If you haven’t, say so, but add that you could do it, if necessary.
40. How have you helped your company?
Finished X projects; X applications.
22 projects since December
41. What is the most money you ever accounted for? Largest budget responsibility?
Refer to accomplishments. If you haven’t had budget responsibility, say so, but refer to an accomplishment that demonstrates the same skill.
42. What’s the most difficult situation you ever faced on the job?
MPI techniques à computing load
Order fill rates – Call the stores
DAD forecast stabilization
43. Describe some situations in which you have worked under pressure or met deadlines?
Detailed and systematical project plans; Organized teams
SynchUp – pressure from other department, IT, and technical issues
44. How do you handle rejection?
I see rejection as an opportunity. I learn from it. When a customer takes a pass, I ask him what we could do to the product, price or service to make it possible for him to say yes. Don’t get me wrong: You’ve got to makes sales. But rejection is valuable, too. It’s a good teacher.”
45. In your present position, what problems have you identified that had previously been overlooked?
Load force profile – Nonlinar; Dbl-exponential curve
Curve fitting – Polynomial functions
VDP ontime (delay)
Hub driver hours
New hub proforma
A cople of projects I am working on will be the future development of the group: SynchUp, Forecast, MAP 2.0
46. Give an example of your creativity.
Human lung simulation
Statistical – Save huge computing load
Route analysis – MapPoint VB programming
Hub Report – Macro SAS programming
VDP DVP Report – Excel charts
Hub test – VBA
Include web into MAP
47. Give examples of your leadership abilities.
Research project of neural fuzzy tool development at
48. What are your career goals?
Talk first about doing the job for which you are applying.
Your career goals should mesh with the hiring company goals.
Hub network performance <- Hub weekly report
Product Assortment (Fast and Accurate) and Price Optimization (Profit and Stable)
49. What position do you expect to have in two years?
Just say you wish to exceed objectives so well that you will be on a promotable track.
50. What are your objectives?
(How does the person handle stress? What is their confidence level?)
51. Why should we hire you?
This may sound suspicious, negative, or just plain harsh. Actually, it’s a call for help. The employer wants you to help him/her hire you. Keep your response brief. Recap any job requirements the interviewer may have mentioned earlier in the interview, then, point by point, match your skills, abilities and qualifications to those items. Relate a past experience which represents success in achieving objectives which may be similar to those of the prospective employer.
I possess the skills required for this job. And I am ready to start the work.
Data driven application, VB/VBA, Programming, Web = I have all of these with outstanding records.
Because I am the right person you are looking for.
52. You may be over-qualified or too experienced for the position we have to offer.
“A strong company needs a strong person.” An employer will get faster return on investment because you have more experience than required.
When I joined the hub analyst, I was told as over qualified too. But they are so happy now.
I am sure you will find it too if I take this MA position.
Great people generate great service.
53. Why haven’t you found a new position before now?
“Finding the right job takes time. I’m not looking for just any job.”
54. If you could start again, what would you do differently?
No need to be self-revealing. “Hindsight is 20/20; everyone would make some changes, but I’ve learned and grown from all my decisions.”
I am quite satisfied with my records.
55. How much do you expect if we offer this position to you?
I would expect a fair salary based on the job responsibilities, my experience and skills and the market value of the job.
I am just expecting to get a fair salary. I know this PPO group requires the most high level skills and knowledge. I would love to join your extraordinary work and make outstanding contribution like I did before. I am sure in a short time, I will be a key assert in your group.
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