Job Interview Q&A's: Introducing yourself

Job Interview Q&A's: Introducing yourself

Welcome to the new feature of Fearless Woman: Job Interview Questions & Answers! In the first post, we’ll go through some of the first job interview questions that’ll cover your reasons for being unemployed.


Job Interview Questions & Answers

In this post, let’s review the possible answers to the following job interview questions:

  1. Why are you in the job market?
  2. Why do you have to leave your current employer?
  3. Describe your duties and responsibilities held at each of your employers
  4. What are your strengths? + How you’ve applied them?
  5. What are your weaknesses? + How have they affected your work?


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Job Interview Questions & Answers;  5 intro questions in a job interview


Job Interview Question #1: Why are you in the Job Market?

Never put down your current firm – a new company does not need to know that you hate your boss or that you are not happy at your job. Saying this to a new potential employer will make them think that soon you’ll hate your new job or hate your new boss.

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when answering this job interview question:

  • Answer should match closely to the current job opportunity for which you are interviewing
  • Career Driven Reasons: Looking for a better opportunity; Ready for the next challenge; Plateaued at my current firm
  • Personal Reasons: Relocation; Getting married and moving to new city; Graduated from college
  • Business Reasons: Firm shutting down; Firm is moving to another city and you can’t move with them although offered a transfer; Department being outsourced; Firm lost money and they are cutting back 20% of staff

Job Interview Secrets Revealed

The reason behind this question: Are you looking for a job because you are about to get fired?

Make sure to eliminate any concerns as to poor work performance and potential termination.

The Answer

I am actually very happy with my current role and firm, but in the last few months, I have felt that I am capable of doing more. A friend forwarded this job opportunity to me. When I reviewed it I became very excited as I felt this was an ideal opportunity, as it embraced my background and skillset, adding tremendous value to you, while at the same time, I would feel challenged with new responsibilities, providing me with new learning opportunities and career satisfaction.


Job Interview Question #2: Why do you want to leave your current employer?

Employers are always looking as to why they should NOT hire you. This question digs deep into your reasons behind looking for a new role.

Make sure to not give anything negative or disconcerting to a potential employer. An employer wants to know that all is fine and there are no red flags – so don’t give them any to think about. If you have several firms in your career history, practice how to answer this question for each specific firm (relocation; resigning for a better career opportunity, etc.). This question can be applied to not just your current firm but also why you left your previous firms.

The answer to this delicate question depends on your situation:

  • Currently Employed
  • Laid Off
  • Termination
  • Resignation / Quitting
  • Relocation
  • School Graduation

If you are currently employed…

This is the most common situation – that you are currently employed but looking for a job.

Answers must be focused on duties, responsibilities, career growth, location and/or anything specific that may be going on with the firm.

Job Interview Secrets Revealed

Firms just want to make sure you are not leaving for performance issues.

Make sure to also focus on the job of today they are offering and not of the job of tomorrow – you want to show interest in the current role not in a role that may develop 5 years from now.

The Answer

I am happy at my current firm and have learned a great deal. I just feel that at this point in my career I have reached a plateau where I am at, and based on discussions with mentors in our industry, I was encouraged to see what else is out in the market. I very much want to continue in the path I am on, but am looking to add to my duties and responsibilities. I feel this opportunity would enable me to add value to your firm based on my knowledge and expertise while allowing me to continue to grow, learn and be challenged.


If you are laid off…

Companies have to downsize, technology takes over jobs, firms outsource, departments move to cheaper cities, the lists can be endless. Being Laid Off is not a big deal, so don’t worry about it. The key is to clearly state that you were let go for cost-cutting / business reasons, and not due to poor performance.

Job Interview Secrets Revealed

Firms want to make sure you were not laid off due to performance, but rather due to cost-cutting initiatives. Imperative you clearly communicate this.

Show that even knowing you were going to be laid off, you didn’t leave beforehand, and showed commitment to your role until the very last day. This shows loyalty and commitment.

The Answer

Unfortunately, due to market conditions beyond anyone’s control, revenues were down considerably for our company, and my firm was forced to let our entire department go. Although I had a feeling this would happen, I am a very loyal and dedicated individual. I did not interview until I was officially laid off. I wanted to make sure that all loose ends were resolved and that any pending projects or cases I was in handling were transferred over smoothly to the new team taking over.


If you are terminated/fired…

This is the hardest situation to overcome. No easy way out of this but just being honest.

Honesty and integrity at most times can be sufficient to overcome a termination.

Job Interview Secrets Revealed

  • Don’t cover up that you were fired – own it and state the facts.
  • Don’t blame the other firm but instead show the facts as they occurred, take ownership and state how you learned from it.
  • If you suspect you may be fired, try to quit or resign first. Always easier to explain why you quit versus justifying a termination.

The Answer

Unfortunately, I made an error and I took full responsibility for it, although, between you and me, I think that the amount of workload and responsibility given to me at the time was just way beyond my skill set and expertise, which led to the error that caused my termination. As a team player, I never say no to additional work. Unfortunately, this one project I handled backfired; I made an error, and due to this mistake, I was fired. I can assure you that I learned a great deal from this unfortunate situation, and know from now on, if I have too much on my plate, or if I am given something that is beyond my scope, I will immediately go to my supervisor and communicate my concern.


If you have resigned/quit…

Quitting or Resigning from a job without having a new job in place can always be a concern to a new employer.

Most job seekers still work while looking for a job and new employers like to see that.

Job Interview Secrets Revealed

When a job seeker quits a job without having a new one lined up, an employer may think he doesn’t plan or think ahead and this can be a red flag.

Key is to right away communicate to an employer that you are a planner and you took precaution and serious thought before quitting your job.

The Answer

In order for me to dedicate myself to looking for a new job, I felt the best way was to resign from my current position, take some time off, and then focus full time on a new search. This way I would have no conflict of interest with my current firm and could be flexible with interview schedules with potential employers. I am financially secure and planned this process through very well before resigning from my role. I took this matter very seriously.


If you’ve relocated/moved…

This is one of the best reasons for leaving or wanting to leave a job – you are moving (or have moved already).

Common moves can be NYC to LA, or Dallas to Austin, or San Francisco to LA, Chicago to Miami, etc.

This can be moving cities, moving locally (in LA moving from Santa Monica to Pasadena forces you to find a new job as the traffic can be 3 hours one way!)

Interview Secrets Revealed

  • Many firms are wary to interview people who have never lived or visited the city where the job is.
  • Show you have ties to the city other than just the new job.
  • This creates not just a professional connection but also an emotional or personal one as well. Nothing more serious than you making the move and living in the new city already.

The Answer

(assuming you lived in NY and now have moved to LA) I have always wanted to move to Los Angeles. I have a lot of friends who live here and have visited often. The weather is so cold in NY and I just love the quality of life LA has to offer with the ocean and warm weather. Therefore I decided to resign from my job and make the move to LA. Now that I have settled into my new home I am ready to secure a new position. Also, interviewing for positions in LA while living in NY is challenging and by being physically in LA I can dedicate my full attention to a role here and show that I already reside here as well.


If you’re a college graduate…

A legitimate and clear reason for being in the job market – you got a degree! Congrats! So, of course, you are in the job market.

Make sure to put your graduation from the school at the top of your Resume, this way firms right away know why you are looking – the date is within a few weeks or months of receiving your degree.

Job Interview Secrets

If you majored in Music and are applying for a job as a financial analyst, you are wasting everyone’s time. Be consistent with your degree and the types of roles for which you are applying.

The Answer

I have recently graduated from college and am now in the job market to secure a full-time position in the financial industry (or whatever industry you want to pursue, and hopefully in line with your degree).


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Job Interview Question #3: Describe your duties and responsibilities held at each of your employers

A potential employer is looking for a similar experience you held as it compares to their current job opening – so make sure to point those out.

This is not the time for you to highlight how good your typing skills are when all the job calls for is answering phones.

  • If the job requires heavy Excel – point out your Excel experience.
  • If the job requires data research and PowerPoint presentations, point out your data research and PowerPoint presentation experience.
  • If the job requires heavy customer service, point out your customer service.

Get it? That’s how you make an interview successful and turn it into a job offer!

The more your answers mimic the job description the more likely the employer will feel confident you can do the job.

If you have worked 10 years, it’s next to impossible to highlight all you have done – that’s why you stick to highlighting the relevant information as it pertains to the job opening.

Although you may be looking for a job as you want to do something different, employers like that you have the skill set they need as it means you can hit the ground running with minimal training.

Job Interview Secrets Revealed

  • This question is a trick question. Many job seekers think it’s about showing how much work they have done and how great they are. All firms want to hear is how your roles and responsibilities basically are identical to the job at hand.
  • Firms need a role filled now – can you do the job now? That’s what they want to know!

The Answer

(assuming role is for Trader) My background is heavily focused on trading. It’s my passion as well as my career and that makes me very lucky indeed. I have traded numerous securities including foreign exchange and stocks, which I noted is what you are seeking in your current opening. I have around 3 years of heavy trading with stocks and was in charge of over 100 companies to cover. The foreign exchange trading was to hedge ourselves against any fluctuations in the international markets, especially that of the Asian market. That is all I focused on in my last role was trading foreign currencies in the Asian Markets.


Job Interview Question #4: What are your strengths? + How you’ve applied them

Focus on the job at hand – and make sure your “strength” answers work well with the job opening. This is a really easy question and you should nail it.

  • If you are applying for a financial analyst job, make sure you say you are strong with numbers, highly analytical, detail orientated.
  • If you are applying for a sales position state how you are a team player, highly motivated, don’t take no for an answer and you are outgoing.

The idea here is to make sure the strengths make sense with the job opening.

Job Interview Secrets Revealed

Nothing more irritating when you talk about how good your people management and supervision skills are, yet the role does not require you to manage staff.

Pay attention to the job description and highlight your skillset as it relates to the job, NOT as it relates to YOU!

Don’t cite an example that has nothing to do with the job at hand. That turns off an employer real fast! Focus on the job and focus on strengths and stories that make you the perfect hire!

The Answer

(assume the role is for a teacher) I have always enjoyed leading and making a difference to people. That’s why teaching is my passion and my life’s work. I lead the classroom with new material but at the same time, I am able to engage the students with hands-on examples, small group discussions, and open questions and answers. It’s a balance of both leading yet listening and I am strong in both of those skill sets.

(Scientist job) Ever since I was little my mom would come home and find leftover experiments throughout the house. I was always curious and inquisitive growing up and that is why becoming a Scientist was a natural progression of my skills and talents. I find these two qualities are so important in the field of Science as we always have to rule out any other answers to prove our theory, and my curiosity and inquisitive mind have helped me push the limits in my field.


Job Interview Question #5: What are your weaknesses? + How has it affected you?

Careful here – they are asking in plural – you just answer ONE weakness, if they ask you for a second one be prepared – but this is not the time to go on and on!! Make sure your weakness answer does not go against the nature of the job. Example: if you are applying for a marketing sales position but tell them your weakness is that you are an introvert and are super shy – well, there goes the job!

Weakness should actually be construed as strengths. Good examples include:

  • I am passionate about my work and some have even told me I am a workaholic (shows you are loyal and dedicated)
  • I ask a lot of questions as I am naturally curious and highly inquisitive (shows you think things through the entire pipeline and by asking questions “now” you avoid issues “later”)
  • I don’t know how to say no to others (shows you are team orientated)
  • Sometimes people think I am slow in completing my work; the reason though is that I am highly detail orientated and almost a perfectionist and always dot my I’s twice and cross my T’s three times. I always make my deadlines, and most often with no mistakes, compared to others who have to redo their work.

Job Interview Secrets Revealed

This is a trick question – the firm wants you to tell them where there are concerns about you. But you are smarter than that! You instead will share a weakness which will actually end up being a strength and a quality that the firm wants you to have.

The Answer

I don’t know how to say no. In fact, just the other day I was at work and my colleague came up to me at 2pm on a Friday and asked me to help her with her work. Well, of course, I said yes, as at the end of the day it’s not about me completing my work but our whole department completing our work. She was so relieved and thankful that she has someone to help her out and it was my pleasure. The same thing happens at home that I may already be ready to go to sleep and if my mom calls me because she can’t find her glasses, I will hop in my car and drive to her and help her find it. It’s just who I am – both professionally and personally.


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Revi Goldwasser, Founder of Fearless Woman




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