The job interview is one of the most important steps in job hunting. If you nail your initial interview session, you are one step closer to getting the job of your dreams. While interview styles vary among companies and interviewers, there are some questions that crop up all the time. A good way to prepare for an upcoming interview is to practice answering these questions ahead of time. Grab a friend to play the role of interviewer and rehearse how you would answer these common questions. Knowing how to answer these questions will build your confidence and allow you to be less nervous when you actually face your interviewer.
Tell me about yourself.
This is probably the most common interview question to be asked. In fact, it is most likely the very first question any interviewer will ask. You either love or hate this question because it seems vague. In essence, the interviewer wants to know how well you fit the job and the company culture. He or she doesn’t want to know about your personal life, and you should avoid telling the entire story of your life and how you like long walks on the beach. The best way to answer this question is to do a quick rundown of your resume. You want to highlight any significant skills and qualifications that you have, but you don’t want to get too detailed because there are other questions for that.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Identifying your strengths is the easy part of the job. However, you do have to advertise your strengths without coming off as a braggart. You want to identify key strengths that are relevant to the job position. Identifying your weaknesses can be a bit more difficult since you naturally want to put your best foot forward. One of the biggest mistakes that could cost you the job is to take a positive thing and disguise it as a weakness. Interviewers weren’t born yesterday, and they can spot that a mile away. Genuinely tell him or her how you had trouble with a needed skill and how you overcame the learning curve. For example, you can relate how understanding technical specifications was hard for you, and you can tell him or her how you put in the effort and asked a colleague tutor you.
Why are you applying for this position?
Prospective employers will definitely want to know your reason for applying because it can be a gauge on your motivation. Your first instinct is to make it all about yourself. You’ll probably say that you want the added responsibility or maybe because there is less traveling involved, etc. While interviewers do understand that you have personal reasons, they are looking for the value that you will be able to bring to the company. You don’t just want to say that your skills match the job, and you should go further and list your skills and how you can apply them to this company.
This is also a chance for you to impress the interviewer with your extensive preparation. You might want to say that you are applying for the job because you want to work for a great company. You can list the company’s various achievements and tell the interviewer how that makes it a great place to work. You could identify the company’s vision, mission, and values and how they relate to your own life. You might want to mention any good products that they have and how believing in the product motivates you to work harder. If you have networked with current or past employees, this is a great time to mention how you were inspired by talking with those people about the company.
What are your goals in life?
Interviewers want to know your goals to determine if you have ambition. They also want to get a picture on how long you are planning to stay with the company. It is best to break down your goals into short-term goals and long-term goals, and you want to show the interviewer how this job will help you achieve those goals.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
You don’t have to be the world’s greatest athlete or the one with the highest IQ. All the interviewers want to know is if you stand out from the other applicants. You can highlight an achievement that demonstrated you have the skills that will be necessary for this job, or you can narrate a situation wherein you had to overcome fear or difficulty, collaborated with a team, showed initiative or perseverance. It would also be great if you could also quantify your achievement in percentages or dollar amounts.