I want to give you a quick and easy way to get started preparing for your job interview, and of course, that begins with learning how to answer the most common job interview questions.
1. “Tell us about yourself!”
This classic opening question should probably be put out to pasture but it’s still one of THE most common interview questions you’ll face and it still seems to trip up a ton of job seekers every year.
How should you answer this?
- Stick to talking about the job, and why you’re interested in it.
- Talk about yourself in terms of your interpersonal and communication skills.
- Let them know that you’re a serious person who is goal and achievement oriented.
- Keep your answer succinct and to the point.
- Be work specific and tell the hiring manager about where you are now professionally, what you have learned from your past work experiences and then talk about what makes you excited about this specific opportunity.
- Do your company research and find out exactly what strengths and qualities this specific company is looking for and in your answer try and show the hiring manager you possess them.
- Don’t dive into your life story.
- The hiring manager doesn’t want to hear about you “growing up on 28th avenue down the road from the Trader Joe’s and how it was a coincidence because you had a brother named Joe! (etc…)”.
- Don’t go on about experience you may have that isn’t related to the job you’re interviewing for.
2. Why should I hire you?
This is another incredibly common question and it gives you a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd and really show the hiring manager how you can help the company.
- Tell them how your history and work experience makes you an ideal candidate.
- Reference the skills, abilities, and knowledge you have that is either directly applicable to the job, or transferable in some way.
- Tell the interviewer that you hope to make their job easier by taking on as much responsibility as possible.
- Show the hiring manager that you are uniquely suited to filling this position. Be the candidate that solves their “problems“.
- Show you know some significant details about the company and their general practices because you have researched the firm and are prepared.
- Tell a “success story” that highlights how you have the ‘qualities’ needed to fill their specific needs.
- Don’t get discouraged if the hiring manager mentions that “they have lots of very well qualified candidates…” before they lead into this question. (It’s a common “lead in”)
- Don’t be too modest. This is your chance to shine. Make it count.
- On the flip side don’t go too overboard and sound too arrogant.
- Don’t be “wishy-washy” or too general with your answer.
- Don’t answer with “why” you want the job. Answer with “why you are the perfect fit” for the job
3. What are your greatest strengths?
This is a fairly straight forward question to handle. Talk about a “strength” that you know the company puts a lot of value in.
- Grab hold of the opportunity this question gives you. This question really lets you guide the interview where you want it to go. This your chance to relate your most impressive success story, so take advantage!
- Highlight a strength that is crucial to the position. (As I mentioned earlier)
- Find out from your company research and from the job description what strengths the company puts a lot of stock into.
- Don’t make claims that you can’t illustrate with a brief example or fact.
- Don’t be overly modest but don’t claim to be Superman or Superwoman either.
- Don’t name a strength that is irrelevant to the job at hand.
4. What are your weaknesses?
This classic question freaks people out but it shouldn’t. As long as you pick a weakness that isn’t a key competency for the job.
- Show that you are aware of your weakness and what you have done to overcome it.
- Show that you are “self-aware” and that you have the ability to take steps to improve yourself.
- Don’t you DARE answer with the cliche “I’m a perfectionist” answer or any other such answer that the hiring manager can see right through.
- Don’t highlight a weakness that is a core competency of the job. (Know the job description “inside and out”.)
- Don’t dodge this question.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years?
This question may seem tricky, but it’s actually fairly simple to answer. The hiring manager asks this question to figure out if you’re going to use the company as a stepping-stone, or if you have long term plans.
- Demonstrate when you answer the question your level of commitment to the position they are interviewing you for.
- After you have demonstrated your commitment to the role you are interviewing for, outline a realistic growth strategy that is directly tied to the role you’re in and the needs and values of the company.
- Stress your interest in a long-term career at the company
- Don’t exhibit ambition to the point of seeming like this particular job is just a “brief stepping stone” for you. You need to show commitment.
- Don’t say you want to be CEO of the company in 5 years.
- Don’t say “Actually I want to be in YOUR seat within the next 5 years.” to the hiring manager.
6. “Why Do You Want To Work For Us?”
The hiring manager is trying to get at your underlying motivations for wanting this job. Are you here just for a paycheck or do you see yourself becoming an integral part of the company and growing along with it? You need to show them that you want to become “part of the family”.
- Talk about specific things you like about the company. Do your homework before and find out the needs of the company and talk about how you’re passionate about “fulfilling those needs”.
- Be complimentary. Most people enjoy being flattered. (Just don’t go overboard)
- Show how your strengths perfectly align with the job position and company culture.
- Don’t come off as a “hired gun” who may be gone in a few months.
- Don’t say “because I need the money.”
7. “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”
The golden rule with your response here: Do not say anything negative. If you talk negatively about your company or your boss, then the hiring manager will think that you’re capable of doing the same to them.
- If it was because you left voluntarily then reference a specific characteristic that the company you are interviewing for has that you are attracted to. One that your previous employer didn’t have.
- If you were let go, be honest and explain the situation and own it. Explain what you learned from the experience, because the interviewer knows you’re human, you make mistakes, and just wants to see that you were able to do something about it
- Don’t bash your last company or boss or anything along those lines.
- Don’t say, “It’s time for a career switch and I’d like to try my hand at the job you are offering” or “I’m tired of doing the same old thing.” Give a pointed, Positive reason for why you want to head off in a new direction.
8. “Do You Have Any Questions For Me?”
Around 75 percent of job seekers will say “Nope, I think that’s everything” to this question.
This question gives you a fantastic opportunity to stand out from the crowd and show your knowledge and passion for the company or organization you are interviewing for. Always have a few questions prepared and have one based around something you found during your company research phase.
- Focus your questions on the company and what you can do for them.
- Ask about something you’ve discovered in your company research. This will show your passion and knowledge of the company.
- Never say “No, I think I’m good.” Always have questions ready!
- Don’t focus your questions on yourself and what you can get from them. (i.e.
- Don’t ask questions that you could easily find the answer to.