How to Answer Common Interview Questions
If you are new to the job market, you are probably nervous about your first job interview.
There are several common interview questions that you can anticipate hearing in your interview. Memorize your responses to the common interview questions, and you will be solid!
1 Tell me about yourself.
This is typically going to be the first question you hear in every job interview you ever have. The person who is interviewing you has probably already seen your resume, so you don’t want to reiterate your entire resume to them. When you’re asked for information about yourself, this is your opportunity to share some of your personality as well as a summary of your resume. Tell them a brief history of your career path: what you enjoyed, what you wish would have gone differently, and why you enjoy doing what you do.
2 Why should I hire you for this job?
You’re going to get asked this question probably towards the end, but it is one of the most important questions you will be asked. The interviewer is going to ask this question not only to you, but each and every person that applies for the job. You need to figure out what you can say that none of the other candidates can say. Keep in mind that all of the other candidates might have a similar background to yours, and will use some of the same common buzzwords to stick out. The thing about you that’s different is what you can offer that the others cannot offer.
Tell them that your experience makes it so there will be a relatively short training period, so that you can jump into the job quicker than the other candidates. Tell them that you have worked in similar offices and that you know how to maintain constant communication to ensure the best levels of productivity. After you have learned more about the company and what they do, tell them what you’ve done in your career that is similar and how you can do it better and more efficiently than the other candidates.
The interviewer wants to know that you won’t take two months to train and get into the flow of things. They want to know that you are familiar with this type of office structure and fit in with the rest of the company. They are looking for the missing gear in their company’s machine, not a loose cog.
3 Why did you leave your previous job?
If you were fired from your last job, or you left because of a personal conflict, don’t throw your previous company under the bus. You can simply say, “it was not a good fit.” You can say that you felt your talents would fit better elsewhere, and it was time for a change. The interviewer does not want to hear you talk bad about your last company for 20 minutes. They want to hear that your previous job is in your past, and that you are ready for a new beginning.
4 Why do you want to work for us?
Do your research on the company before you go in for the interview. Cite specific things about the company that you know for a fact, and tell them why those things entice you. It shows the company that you cared enough to research them, and that you are excited about their company.
5 What are your salary requirements?
If you are unsure of how to answer this question, we have an entire article about it. To give you a summarized version, do your research on what this position typically pays, and what this company can realistically offer. Be honest about what you need, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a potential job because they can’t meet your salary requirements.
6 What are your biggest strengths?
This may sound like a stereotypical question, but you will hear it all the time. You need to tell them something creative that they have not heard from dozens of other interviewees. Thing about what you do best at your job, and expand on it. If you are good at design, tell them that along with being a great designer, you are good at following instructions and meeting deadlines. If you are an expert in logistics, tell them that along with being a logistical expert, you are great at maintaining communication with everyone, and that you know how to do solid research based on what is needed for the project.
7 What are you biggest weaknesses?
You might think that you should give an answer that comes off as a strength, but that isn’t the case. Don’t say, “I sometimes care about my client’s too much,” or “I get so enveloped in my job that I lose track of other things in my life.” This is your opportunity to offer some vulnerability, and also discuss how you are trying to improve yourself. If you have trouble multi-tasking or delegating, you can say that, but also explain what you are doing to try fix this issue. Although the interviewer wants to know what your weaknesses are, they want to see that you are taking steps to fix those problems.
8 What would your previous bosses/supervisors say about you?
Obviously, if your last boss would say that you can go straight to hell, don’t tell that to your potential new employer. Tell them about some of the positive feedback you received from performance reviews. Tell them about the best work you did at your last job, and how it was received by your bosses.
9 Describe a challenging moment in your life. How you handled it?
Don’t get too personal with this question. Tell them about something that happened in your professional life and how you handled it. Choose a moment that ended successfully, but started difficultly. If you showed leadership qualities during the challenging moment, tell them. Most importantly, explain how it was a team success and how you worked as part of the team. The company wants to know that you are a team player and not a glory hog.
10 Do you have any questions?
If they ask this question, it will be the last question that they ask. This is your opportunity to flip the interview on them. Come with a few potential questions in your back pocket. The following are some good ones to throw at them:
- When are you looking to hire?
- How can I grow at this company?
- How many people work for the company?
- What are the company’s long term and short term growth plans.
- Who would I report to/Can I meet them since I am here now?