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4/17/2001

Practice Before You Interview

Kate Traynor

Stage fright isn’t just for actors. Anyone facing a job interview can have that queasy feeling of apprehension.

Taking the time to rehearse your answers to likely interview questions can calm your butterflies and help you make a good impression on the interviewer.

There is no single correct answer to the interview questions listed below, but your responses will help the interviewer understand how you think and what you expect from the job. So think carefully before you speak.

What can you tell me about yourself? The interviewer is trying to figure out how your personal characteristics and accomplishments might fit you to the job. The query is not a request to hear your life story or personal details unrelated to the job.

What is your greatest weakness? Turn this question around to show how you recognized and overcame a personal limitation. For example, you may have had trouble keeping track of your projects and deadlines but dealt with the problem by buying and faithfully using a personal organizer or digital assistant.

What do you expect to be doing five years from now? Acknowledge that you hope to advance your career, but don’t give the impression that you view the job for which you are interviewing as a short-term assignment.

What was your favorite college class? Tell the interviewer how your academic background sparked your interest in pharmacy practice. Try to relate the knowledge you gained from a specific class or residency program to the position you are seeking.

Why do you want to work here? Research the employer before you set up the interview. Give specific examples of why the organization is an exciting place to work. Tell the interviewer how your training and interests have prepared you to learn from and contribute to the organization—not just to do the job.

What salary do you expect? Instead of providing a specific figure, you should tell the interviewer that if you seem to be a good match for the job and vice versa, you know the organization will make its best possible offer. Read the local paper or search the Internet to find out what a comparable job pays in the geographic area. If the interviewer insists on a number, try to give a reasonable salary range instead of a specific figure.

These are just a handful of the questions you may need to answer during a job interview. Longer lists of typical interview questions are found at Internet sources such as About.com Inc. and CareerBuilder Inc.

An interviewer cannot legally ask you certain questions related to your finances, disabilities, and family life. CareerBuilder’s Evan Harvey advises job seekers to keep alert to these illegal questions during interviews.