Heading into an interview can be nerve-wracking. You’ve done your research, dressed the part, and you’re confident about what you offer to the company you’re interviewing with. All that’s left is the interview itself.
While you can't predict which questions the interviewer will ask, you can still anticipate their questions and reflect on your responses beforehand. This preparation will give you even more confidence as you head into your interview.
Companies use many different questions to gather information about you; there are five classic interview questions that you’ll regularly encounter. Let’s review each question and how you might answer …
1. Tell me about yourself.
This question seems so simple that many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s a crucial opportunity for you to shine. Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead give a pitch - one that’s concise, compelling, and shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job.
Start off with 2-3 specific accomplishments or experiences that you really want the interviewer to know about, then wrap up talking about how that prior experience has positioned you for this specific role. You should spend 3 minutes - tops - answering this question.
2. Why do you want this job?
Companies want to hire people who are passionate about the job, so arm yourself with great answer about why you want the position.
First, identify a couple of key factors that make the role a great fit for you (e.g., “I love customer support because I love the constant human interaction and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone solve a problem”), then share why you love the company (e.g., “I’ve always been passionate about education and you are doing great things that I want to be a part of.”)
3. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
What your interviewer is really trying to do with this question - beyond identifying any major red flags - is to gauge your self-awareness and honesty. “I can’t meet a deadline to save my life” is not an option - but neither is “nothing, I’m perfect!”
Strike a balance by thinking of something that you struggle with but that you’re working to improve. For example, maybe you’ve never been strong at public speaking, but you’ve recently volunteered to run meetings to help you be more comfortable when addressing a crowd.
4. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.
Your interviewer wants to get a sense of how you will respond to conflict. Use the STAR method by identifying the Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Be sure to focus on how you handled the situation professionally and productively, and ideally close with a happy ending such as how you came to a resolution or compromise.
5. Do you have any questions for me?
An interview isn’t just a chance for a hiring manager to learn about you - it’s your opportunity to determine whether a job is the right fit for you. You absolutely must come prepared with questions to ask the interviewer when this moment arises.
What do you want to know about the position? The company? The department? The team? You’ll cover a lot of this in the actual interview, so have a few less-common questions ready to go. We especially like questions targeted to the interviewer (“What’s your favorite part about working here?”) or the company’s growth (“What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?”).
Click here to download Advanced Resources’ Definitive Guide to Interview Questions. For more information on achieving job search success, visit Advanced Resources’ Career Insights. You can also click here to browse Advanced Resources’ open jobs or to upload your resume.