Questions at Sotheby's interviews

We analyzed 171 interview reviews for Sotheby's from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

16 frequent non-technical questions at Sotheby's:

What is your greatest weakness?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Walk me through your resume
Tell me about yourself
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
Do you prefer working in a team or working alone?
Why did you choose your major?
What skills are you looking to develop on your next job? Why?
What did you like or dislike about your last job?
What are your top 3 skills?
What are your strengths? Give an example
What are your long-term goals?
Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?
Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer
Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or disruptive person. It may be a client, manager, or coworker. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
Tell me about a time how you worked effectively under pressure

According to our research, hiring managers at Sotheby's ask soft skills interview questions 2.2x more than at other companies.

Sotheby's interview question statistics

1. What is your greatest weakness?top question

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.6x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Which of the following would be the best answer:

ASometimes I just work too hard

BI have trouble saying “no” when a colleague asks for help and I have my own work to finish

CI am a perfectionist

DI cannot think of a single thing

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

Statistics

This question is asked 59% more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

3. Walk me through your resume

How to answer

This question is often asked at the beginning of the interview.

The interviewer wants to hear a brief overview, a summary of your professional experience, in order to have a starting point from which they can dig deeper.

Structuring your answer wisely gives you a good chance to emphasize your Key Selling Points and to channel the conversation in the direction you want.

  1. About Yourself

    Print out your resume. For each of your recent job experiences (at this point do not go back more than 5 years), write down 3-5 key points at which you feel you are strong.

    For example, for your current (or previous) job, you may want to list skills like “Excellent presentation skills,” “Employee Engagement guru,” “Analytical skills,” “Attention to detail” (they don’t have to be all soft skills, but being aware of at least a few of your strong soft skills is important). Make sure you have examples for each of your statements.

    If you have difficulties to think of these points, search online for job descriptions for similar job roles, and figure out which of those keywords appeal to you. Look for people on LinkedIn that have jobs similar to the one you are applying for. Their profiles often contain many keywords that you can use in response to this question.

    Now that you’ve gone through all your recent experiences, are there any points that repeat more often than others, or are especially important to you? These are candidates to be your Key Selling Points -highlight 3-5 of them.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and the role for which you're being interviewed. When researching the company, find out what skills and qualities they value the most. Carefully consider the job requirements. What is it that you will be responsible for?

    Now, write down 3-5 keywords from the job description that you find of utmost importance for this job role.

  3. About The Fit

    Try to establish the match between your own highlighted keywords, and those of the job description. These are your Key Selling Points! You should normally limit yourself by 3-5 such keywords or phrases.

    Now, craft a story based on your career history. You don’t have to go in chronological order - you can start with your current or last job experience, and then go back to your previous ones, or focus on just the experiences that are relevant to your story, and only briefly mention the less relevant ones and only if needed.

    Select one point to highlight for each phase of your career. Make sure you ingrain your Key Selling Points in the interviewer’s memory - after the interview is over, you want them to remember you as someone who is strong at XYZ, or experienced in A, B and C.

    It's okay to focus more on stellar achievements and brag a little bit about them.

Pro Tip

Don't bore the interviewer by going through your resume line-by-line.

Instead, WOW them by succinctly (keep it within 2 minutes) telling a story of how your career path has brought you to this point and how you are the best candidate for this role.

Super tip: The more you practice with Mr. Simon, the better you'll be at telling WOW-worthy succinct stories!

Statistics

This question is asked 4.3x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

Now that you have read some of our recommendations, you may wonder: “Ok, so what’s next? I seem to understand these concepts quite well and they kind of make sense to me, but how do I make sure my answers are actually in accordance with these recommendations, and I will stand out as a strong candidate in my upcoming interview?”

Good question. Assuming you are indeed qualified and fit for the position you are interviewing for, the best thing you can do is make sure the interviewer sees this fit.

There are two ways how you can leverage Mr. Simon’s expertise to help you shine your best:

  1. Go ahead and practice with the Mr. Simon app - it is a completely free, fun and helpful experience!
  2. Request a mock interview with a real human career mentor. During the session we will help you identify your Key Selling Points to emphasize in the interview, and to present them in a way that strongly communicates your value to the company. The 1-hour session costs USD 79.99 and is supplemented by 2 weeks of support via email, free of additional charge.

To request the session, shoot us an email to coaching@mrsimon.ai and attach your resume and job description to expedite the process.

Here’s what our customers are saying.

Anna, Director of Brand and Marketing Strategy:

I had you on the list to reach out since it was your advice that helped me prep differently for my interviews. Thank you for your support and friendship while I was transitioning. It had an impact! I appreciate it and mean it.

Claudia, Project Manager:

I used Mr. Simon to prepare for a job interview, and it helped me re-think my responses and gain confidence. Also, the questions were not very far from real life interview questions. In addition, having the opportunity to hear my own answers and read the recommendations on how to respond concisely was really helpful. I enjoyed using Mr. Simon and would use it again!

4. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Statistics

This question is asked 51% less frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AMy name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

BHello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

CHi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

DHi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

5. How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in every company, and even so much more so in a company that deals with difficult customers occasionally. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember how you diffused the situation and how you turned things around.

    • Do you have certain principles, or methodology, to deal with difficult people?
    • Do you have strong people skills, are you good at conflict resolution?
    • Are you high on emotional intelligence? Can you give an example?
  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Knowing their line of business or industry, what can be some examples of difficult customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    A question like this asked in an interview, may be an indication that difficult customers, or other difficult stakeholders, may indeed be something that you will probably encounter in this company, and it is important for the interviewer to know that you will be able to handle this challenge with good grace.

    If you can give an example of how you handled a difficult person in the past in a situation similar to what this company may require from you, this will strongly increase your chances of showing yourself as a good fit.

Pro Tip

One methodology for diffusing a difficult situation is called “the triple A” approach:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you added another "A" to your approach by Asking for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 23% more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AIf the customer is rude and obnoxious, answer in kind and show him that he cannot push you around.

BListen carefully to what the customer is saying to really understand their concerns then repeat back to them what you heard to be sure you have it right, before attempting to help them with the problem.

CTell the customer that he should have known that the sale is final and there is nothing he can do to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

6. Do you prefer working in a team or working alone?

How to answer

When the interviewers ask this question, they want an insight into your personality, how well you work independently and how well you work with others.

Generally, there's no right or wrong answer to this question, unless the company specifically prefers that you work only in a team or only by yourself.

Luckily, Mr. Simon is here to provide you guidance.

  1. About Yourself

    To prepare for this question, try to think of your previous experiences. Which type of work suited you best and why?

    For instance, someone who prefers working by themselves may be able to focus better on the problem and a person who prefers a team approach may like having others to help figure out problems.

    If you're a fresh graduate or someone that does not have much work experience, you can think of schoolwork or the times that you worked with others in an organization.

  2. About The Company

    Review the job description as it may give you clues to whether the job focuses on teams, independence or both.

    Try to expand your search into social media posts at Glassdoor or others where employees/former employees may have posted about working conditions you would be working under.

    Remember: knowledge is the key! The more you know about the company, the better prepared you will be to answer questions like this.

  3. About The Fit

    Based on your research, what did you find is the company's preference?

    • What type of workplace does the company appear to have?
    • What kind of challenges could you help the company/department resolve by working as part of a team?
    • What about the challenges that can be resolved by working independently?

    Emphasize both independent successes as well as group successes (be sure to mention actions you took to help the team).

Pro Tip

Talk about the benefits of each working style and add to your story by telling them in terms of your STARs:

  1. what was the Situation/Task you needed to address?

  2. what Actions/Approach did you take?

  3. what were the Results? What did you do differently that made you successful?

Statistics

This question is asked 8.5x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

7. Why did you choose your major?

How to answer

Everyone has his/her reasons to pick a major.

There are hundreds and hundreds of careers to choose from and most people pick a major that will give them a background in the career they want to pursue.

When you come to a job interview you will be definitely asked this question.

The interviewers are seeking to understand your underlying motivations for selecting this career.

It is also a good question for them to learn how much planning and thought actually went into your career selection. It is a window into your personality and interests.

  1. About Yourself

    This is your chance to highlight your strengths and how your major prepared you for your future plans.

    Your answer to this question should reflect your passion and interest in the field you chose. Be genuine.

    There’s every reason to display your passions and interest in your major. They will give interviewers a sense of who you really are.

    Think about who or what influenced your career choice and include the positive influences, not the negative ones.

    • How does this tie into your major?
    • How will you bring your passion and unique knowledge to the new company?

    Emphasize your strong people skills and excellent communication skills, allowing you to connect with others.

    Think of the skills and experiences you gained through your major, think back to assignments and projects from your studies, internships and previous jobs. Consider the skills you developed working on those projects.

  2. About The Company

    Write down a list of skills and experiences you gained through your major studies.

    Then, look at the job listing itself.

    Match up any of your skills and experiences that relate to the requirements of the job. How can you apply them to your new position, as well as the future?

  3. About The Fit

    Use this question as an opportunity to mention a few skills related to your chosen major that would also be relevant in the workplace.

    Point to a good culture fit.

    Be positive, showing your enthusiasm. Let them know you're excited to be where you are.

    Discuss what you enjoy about the industry you’re considering and why you could see yourself working in it. Even if your major is not directly related to the job, you can likely find connections between the two.

    This is also a chance to explain other ways you have developed skills that will fulfill the role you're applying for.

    For example, perhaps you were a biology major who is applying for a job in computer programming. You might explain that you took a number of online and extracurricular classes on programming to develop the skills needed for the job.

Pro Tip

Let your past decisions and accomplishments shine through. Once you nail your interview, you'll be on your way to a successful career path.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.9x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

8. What skills are you looking to develop on your next job? Why?

How to answer

When employers ask you about skills you would like to develop, they are looking for honesty in the way you answer.

A common target of the question is to discover how motivated you are to extend yourself. If you are willing to learn, then you are probably more motivated to do the job well.

They might also be trying to determine whether you’ll be a good long-term fit for the company. Are you looking for an opportunity to grow with an organization – or will your plans take you to another employer before long?

  1. About Yourself

    Answering the question, reflect on yourself. Show that you are concerned and active about your own evolution.

    You can indicate how development has worked for you in the past, give examples.

    • What qualities do you wish to develop in yourself both professionally and personally?
    • What kind of culture do you want to work in?
    • What motivates you?
    • What qualities do you feel make strong, healthy relationships?
    • What skills do you admire most in your role models?

    And probably the most important is: What will help you to achieve your future goals?

    Choose something you’re already pretty good at, but still trying to improve even more. Maybe it is something that you learned a long time ago but haven’t used in recent jobs very often?

  2. About The Company

    Do your research and learn as much as possible about the organization and the career path you might forge there. Read the company’s story on their website, review their LinkedIn page, explore their blog.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value and what can you learn if they hire you?

  3. About The Fit

    No matter what skills you say you want to improve, however, make sure that you follow it up with what you’re doing about it.

    Focus on a work skill that may not be critical to your industry or job level and demonstrate how you would like to develop this skill further, implying you already have a level of competency. This way you won't be sounding negative about yourself.

    You could say something like “Coworkers often come to me for advice on how to write or format a document they are working on. I know that I am good at this (that’s why they come to me in the first place), but I have no formal training on mentoring others. I would like to take a course or two on mentoring others that would help them while also improving my own skills in this area.”

    Say you are willing to learn new things and take on new challenges. Show employers that you’re self-motivated and actively looking for ways to improve your skills and value in your career.

Pro Tip

If you choose one of the more common working skills such as networking, presentation, mediation, technical, coaching or mentoring, make sure that they are not anything that’s vital or crucial to the job you’re interviewing for.

For example, if you are applying for a manager position, you don’t want to say that you need to work on developing your supervisory skills.

Statistics

This question is asked 3.0x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

9. What did you like or dislike about your last job?

How to answer

Your answer to this question will show the interviewer your overall perspective (positive or negative) of your prior role and your approach to what you liked (or didn’t like) about that aspect of your work. While answering such a question remember that diplomacy is the key to corporate success.

The answer you give to this question can say a lot about you, for example:

  • Can you handle situations professionally when you deal with pressure?
  • What strong qualities (your Key Selling Points) can you emphasize answering the question?
  • Are you a positive person, and not someone who complains, holds grudges or badmouths their co-workers or boss?
  • Do you exhibit loyalty, enthusiasm, dedication, and energy?
  • Are you easy to work with?
  1. About Yourself

    Reflect on yourself; stick to the facts and don’t go into emotions.

    List the things you were responsible for in your last job.

    • Which of them did you like most? Why?
    • What were the responsibilities you liked less? Why?
    • Was there anything you consider completely unacceptable?

    If you feel that your answer will not be complete without a nod toward the negative aspects, then keep it focused on tasks, situations, or company structure, and not on people. The overall tone must be positive and friendly.

  2. About The Company

    • What does your research tell you about the company you are applying to?
    • Will there be situations like those in your former job you don't want to get into again?
    • What are the requirements for the position?
    • What challenges will you face there?
    • What responsibilities will you be tasked with?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of the responsibilities you liked will also be part of your future responsibilities in your new role? Don’t forget to show your excitement while telling about these.

    If there were responsibilities you disliked that are not part of the job description, don’t bring them up.

    By asking about your feelings toward a previous job the interviewers often aren’t that interested in the list of actual likes or dislikes you can provide. Rather, they’re trying to judge your character by listening to the tone and attitude with which you respond to a tricky question.

    However, details of your likes and dislikes can also reveal whether you'll be a good fit culturally at the company at hand. Showing excitement about responsibilities that will most likely be included in the role you are applying for can help strengthen your position as a fit.

    Mentioning that you are ready for more challenges and opportunities, that the position you are applying for is a great match for your skillset and that you feel you would be an asset to the company or department is often a safe way to show your excitement.

Pro Tip

Telling your stories, use the “sandwich method”: start off by mentioning a positive, then mention the negative, and try to pivot back around to something positive.

You can do that by talking about how you managed the aspect you disliked, or by making a connection to the job you're interviewing for.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.3x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

10. What are your top 3 skills?

How to answer

This is one of the best questions you can expect!

If you are prepared for it, this question allows you to take full control of the conversation by communicating exactly what you want the interviewer to know about you. This is your time to showcase the best of you!

  1. About Yourself

    First, come up with a list of skills that you know you are good at – as many as you can think of. If you find this exercise difficult, use the helpful questions below:

    • What skills are you better at than your peer X? Your peer Y? Your boss Z?
    • What positive feedback could your manager, colleagues, clients, or even friends give about working with you?
    • What positive points were made about you in your last review(s) that involve the skills you demonstrated?
    • In which areas do you have professional knowledge and/or experience?
    • What records of achievement do you have?
    • What was the most impressive recent achievement you can think of? Which skills of yours made this success possible?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company to help identify the kinds of skills needed. Also, carefully review the job description, this should detail the types of skills required for the job.

  3. About The Fit

    Highlight the skills from your list that match the list from the job description.

    Pick 3 top skills. These are your Key Selling Points!

    Be sure to communicate them to your interviewer when asked this question and at other points during the interview.

    Think of an example that can demonstrate some of your Key Selling Points. It is usually a good idea to support your example with the description of impact you made and, ideally, numbers (e.g. how this impacted the profits, how many customers provided positive reviews etc.)

Pro Tip

Optionally, you can end with a question like “And do you know what are the current challenges where my skills can be helpful for the company?", or “I see from the job description that you are looking for someone with the skills X and Y. Could you elaborate on this a little further?”.

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Statistics

This question is asked 3.5x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

11. What are your strengths? Give an example

How to answer

Many people think they know their personal strengths and consider this question simple. However, to impress your interviewer you must be ready to turn your response into a meaningful and insightful answer.

It’s an open invitation to talk about your Key Selling Points, your accomplishments and to show how you match the employer’s values and requirements.

You must be ready to stand out and demonstrate your unique value as a candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Reflect on your best professional qualities. What are they? Are you dependable, flexible, friendly, hardworking, a strong leader, formal, punctual, good team player?

    Pick at least three personal strengths that will help you at your new workplace, and make sure you can give specific examples to demonstrate why you say these are your strengths.

    If no key strengths spring to mind, ask your friends or colleagues what they think your greatest strengths are. What examples can demonstrate your success due to these qualities?

  2. About The Company

    Make sure to research the company and read the job description thoroughly in order to identify the key strengths required for the role.

  3. About The Fit

    Recruiters and hiring managers want to know how your strength relates to the job you’re applying for.

    Match the skills required by the position with your list of strengths. Choose up to 5 top skills. These are your Key Selling Points! Prove your point by providing examples.

    Craft your stories using the STAR method.

Pro Tip

Tip 1: Aim to strike a balance between over-confidence and underselling yourself. If you list too many strengths, you risk sounding arrogant. Listing too few implies a lack of confidence or even a lack of skills.

Tip 2: One of the most in-demand skills nowadays is being adaptive. In order to emphasize your adaptiveness, try to think of an example when you had to quickly learn something new, or quickly become a team member with a completely new group of people, or started contributing quickly in a new environment or project.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.6x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

12. What are your long-term goals?

How to answer

Even in this age of the so-called Gig Economy, employers are always looking for people who can become their strong and loyal “soldiers,” a part of their “army” to help them conquer their market share against their competitors.

So, even if at this moment this job may be a temporary contract, you never know what opportunities may present themselves to you in this company.

Trust me, your hiring manager doesn’t know either!

So, be open to opportunities and use this question to emphasize how your personal goals correspond with those of the company.

  1. About Yourself

    Start with honestly assessing yourself. (At this moment, you are not sharing these thoughts with anyone, so be as open as you can).

    Imagine that you have all the resources in the world and that all roads are open for you.

    • How would you use them?
    • Which road(s) would you choose?
    • What do you see on the horizon in that direction?

    Be audacious and don’t limit yourself. There is no longer a perspective than “long-term,” so be as futuristic as you possibly can.

    List a few “road” options that you would be enthusiastic about going down.

    For example, this list may be as broad as the following:

    • writer
    • choir director
    • software engineer and architect
    • CEO of a unicorn startup company,
    • entrepreneur.

    As William Shakespeare once said, “We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.”

  2. About The Company

    Now, look at the company.

    • What is the industry they operate in?
    • What is the position you are applying for, and what are potential career growth possibilities within the department, company, and industry?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of your “road” options correspond best with the opportunities presented by this company?

    Highlight this option and focus on it. Imagine, in as much detail as you can, going down this road.

    What would be the major milestones for you, in order to move towards your goal?

    Describe the chosen option by focusing on the first 1-2 milestones, and by presenting it in light of company goals and current initiatives.

    For example, if you are applying for a project manager position in a corporation engaged in the education industry, and your “road” option is “CEO,” your next career step may be a program manager, or an innovations and research manager.

    Explain why you are enthusiastic about reaching these goals, and what makes you think you have the necessary traits and skills to reach them.

    How can the company benefit from these traits and skills of yours already today, in the current role you are applying for?

Pro Tip

Framing your answer in the same terms used by the company will help ensure the interviewer can easily understand your language and help both of you to be “on the same page.”

The easier you make it for the interviewer, the better are your chances they will “vote” for you over other candidates.

Statistics

This question is asked 15% more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

13. Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?

How to answer

This question lets an interviewer gauge what makes you tick and whether the job you are applying for corresponds with your areas of excitement and enthusiasm. Such a fit will earn you important points for being a viable candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Review the details that you shared in your resume. Select the three to five best points to highlight and relate to the position to which you're applying.

  2. About The Company

    Carefully research the company and the job description.

    Find out what duties you'll be taking on to determine which of your top skills to emphasize. Try to find out what current challenges they are trying to solve by opening this vacancy.

  3. About The Fit

    Knowing the duties for which you will be responsible will help you identify which prior experiences to highlight.

    How well you connect your previous experiences with the job requirements can tell the interviewer how prepared you are for this role and how enthusiastic you will be about your job.

Pro Tip

Do not start your answer with "as you can see from my resume," even if you have listed those skills and qualities.

Instead, tell a story showing that you can solve problems similar to their current challenges and that you are enthusiastic about this.

You can best do this through constant practice of your STARs.

Statistics

This question is asked 43% more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

14. Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer

How to answer

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. How you handle a disgruntled customer can make the difference between closing a sale and failing to do so. It takes good people skills to handle such situations, and this question is a good opportunity to demonstrate your people skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a time when, as a customer, you had a problem with a company.

    • How did you feel?
    • How did you want to be treated?
    • How would the situation ideally be resolved?
    • If it were you on the serving side of the table, what would you do differently? Have you had such experiences in the past where you helped a frustrated customer?
    • What was the critical factor in a successful resolution of the situation?

    Try to define your principles or approach.

    For example, I know that people tend to be frustrated when they feel neglected and unimportant.

    Whenever possible, I try to meet in person and establish face-to-face contact with someone who feels disgruntled, so that I can fully focus on the situation. (And believe me, checking your phone while speaking with such a customer is definitely NOT a good idea).

    Of course, this may not always be possible in your line of business or profession, but I guess you see what I mean - showing full attention greatly improves your chances of mitigating the situation.

  2. About The Company

    Every company relies on customers.

    Research the company you are applying to and try to find out what their standards of customer relationship or service are, as well as try to find out some real cases where the customers complained about the company, and what the company did to mitigate the situations (a possible source might be Yelp! or another social media platform).

    Based on your research, how does the company treat customers? How do they resolve customer issues?

  3. About The Fit

    How can you make things better and WOW the customer? Give an example that demonstrates that your approach to resolving customer frustrations is in line with the company policies.

Pro Tip

A disgruntled customer generally just needs someone to listen to them.

The three A’s of customer service can help diffuse the difficult situation:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

Add the extra “A” - Ask for the customer's contact information so you can update them on any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 40% less frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Customers are often frustrated by what they perceive as poor service especially when they are on the phone. Which one of the following answers do you consider to be good customer service?

APlacing the customer on hold for too long

BPaying close attention to the customer’s complaint in an attempt to solve their problem

CAsking the customer to repeat their complaint many times

DFailing to empathize with their problem

EDirecting the customer to your website instead of resolving the issue yourself

15. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or disruptive person. It may be a client, manager, or coworker. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in a company. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities, especially if you are applying for a job that involves teamwork, or a lot of interactions with clients.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember a few such situations and how you diffused them and turned things around. What are your approaches to resolving conflicting situations at work?

  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?
  3. About The Fit

    Using what you found about the company, choose one of your examples that fits best with the company standards and share your story.

    If it's a customer, how did you turn things around and made a customer happy?
    If it's a coworker, how did you diffuse a tense or difficult situation?

Pro Tip

Use the triple A of diffusing a difficult situation:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you "Ask" for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 35% more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

16. Tell me about a time how you worked effectively under pressure

How to answer

Employers want to know if you’re able to work efficiently in a dynamic environment and whether you’re prepared to go the extra mile.

They try to get a sense of how you handle on-the-job stress because it is important for them to hire a person who can coolly evaluate situations, stay focused, take charge and simply get the job done.

This question helps prospective employers to assess your capacity to work under pressure and appraise your decision-making, problem-solving, organizational, and time management skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a previous professional situation in which you displayed excellent ability under pressure.

    Use the STAR method to describe that scenario during the interview, and explain the actions you took to diffuse the situation.

    • Does pressure help you to stay motivated, productive and work more efficiently?
    • Do you consider stress and pressure as your learning experience which helps you grow?

    If yes, it is great to mention.

  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company you are aiming for.

    • What are the company’s plans, for example, will there be a degree of pressure like hitting targets, meeting deadlines or managing multiple tasks at once?
    • How might this impact you and how you deal with pressure?
  3. About The Fit

    It is important you provide an answer that proves you’re perfectly capable of keeping your cool in difficult and stressful situations.

    Relate it to the job you’re interviewing for; talk about how the particular experience can help you succeed in the job.

    For example:

    In my last job, we had a project to complete in 4 days where it usually took 10 days. There was a lot of panic by some team members, but I ensured everyone that if we concentrate on the task and work real hard, we can complete the project. It took a lot of overtime, and the last day we were in the office until 2 AM, but we managed to finish it to everyone’s satisfaction. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed that experience."

Pro Tip

Do not present answers like “stress cannot affect me” or “I can stay away from pressure,” because everyone is affected by stress or pressure at one time or another.

Also, never talk about a time where feeling pressured was a direct result of your own actions.

If your answer indicates that you work at the same high level with pressure or without it, the interviewer will be more impressed.

Remember the saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Statistics

This question is asked 10.0x more frequently at Sotheby's than at other companies.

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This page has been updated on May 9, 2021.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions from Sotheby's by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

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