Job Interviewing 101

Are you graduating soon or currently job searching? If you’re new to interviews or haven’t had one in a while, you might be stumped by some new, commonly asked questions. This week I talked with Erica Fox, Career Services Facilitator/Evening Counselor at CCBC, from CCBC’s Career Services Center about how to handle those tough questions.


On a larger scope, what’s an interview like in today’s job market?

A lot of the time, I think employers ask questions about the future to try to find out if the candidate is looking for a long-term job commitment and they also look for signs that indicate a person may be a job-hopper.  They want to know if the company is a part of the candidate’s plan for the future. The best way to find out if a candidate is going to work out long-term is to make sure they choose someone who aligns with the company’s mission and values. That is why it is so critical for a candidate to research the company, and have good questions prepared to ask the interviewer.


So, what about those bizarre questions I hear companies are asking? Do employers really ask about your “spirit animal” or something general like “what’s your story?”

(You can find a list in this article from Huffington Post.)

Yes, they do. Interview questions are chosen for a variety of reasons, and each interviewer has their own preferred style.  In my opinion, the “spirit animal” and “what’s your story” questions are just to see how someone reacts to the question. Those types of questions aim to catch a glimpse into someone’s personality. The secret is to keep cool and not get flustered, and to reveal some aspects of your personality without going overboard.  Because it is illegal for an employer to ask about the marital and family status directly, the “what’s your story” question can be a way to find out that information. It really is just a different way to say “tell me about yourself” which is a classic and typical interview question.  It’s always best to talk about your career and how you got to where you are in life from an educational or career aspect, rather than accidentally revealing information that could possibly lead them to believe you may need a lot of vacation time and sick time because you are very family oriented. As far as the spirit animal question goes, it’s ok to be honest and open and show some humor, because a recruiter would not ask such a silly question if they did not expect a somewhat silly answer.


Can you provide some not-so-silly questions employers might ask?

Today’s interview questions are aimed to get the candidate to talk in a contextual way about their reasoning skills, problem solving ability, how they react under pressure, and how they resolved and processed a mistake or sticky situation. Below are some good examples of these types of questions.

  • Sometimes it’s easy to get in “over your head.” Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a project or assignment.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with an irate person/customer/client.  How did you handle the situation and what was the eventual outcome?
  • Sometimes it’s important to disagree with others to keep a mistake from being made.  Tell me about a time when you were willing to disagree with another person in order to build a positive outcome.
  • Why do you think you would be a good candidate for this position?  Why should we hire you?
  • Describe the system you use for keeping track of multiple projects.  How do you track your progress so that you can meet deadlines?  How do you stay focused?


Are you ready to test your skills? Make an appointment for a mock interview with a member of our Career Services Staff. Contact them at 724-480-3413 or

Then come to CCBC’s Job and Career Fair on April 17 to network with employers looking to hire.


– Amy McKissic, CCBC Publications Coordinator

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One thought on “Job Interviewing 101

  1. Very interesting and helpful blog post!

    I am a 3rd year about to finish University and am unsure of what to expect in a job interview.

    Similar to your blog post, I have written a short blog post on negotitation in a job interview for ggraduates. Please could you have a read and leave a comment on:

    I would very much like to hear your views,


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