One of the most important aspects of preparing for an interview is making sure you are ready to answer any questions that may come your way. While it can be impossible to know exactly what questions will be asked during any specific interview, knowing what some of the most common ones are as well as some other great questions can help you ensure you have an equally as impressive answer for the interviewer.
It is common to spend lots of time preparing for an interview, especially if it is one that you really want. However, you do not want to spend time reviewing information that will be useless for you during the interview process. You want to make sure that you do some research on the company as well as on the interviewer, of course. Beyond that, you want to make sure you are ready for anything that comes your way and that you come across as confident and able to do the job you are interviewing for. When you are preparing for the interview, make sure you review these common interview questions as well as the best way to answer them so you can make a great impression on the interviewer.
1. Tell me about yourself.
While this is not necessarily a question, it is a common way that interviewers open up the interview. One major mistake that many people make is that they provide their entire professional history as part of their answer. This is not what the interviewer is looking for, though. Instead, you should have a prepared pitch ready to go that outlines the highlights of your career and a compelling argument for why you want the job as well as why you are the perfect fit. There will be plenty of time to discuss the individual roles you had in the past which is why the interviewer is not looking for a summary of the resume they already have in front of them.
2. What do you know about the company?
This is the perfect opportunity to showcase that you have taken the time to research the company before the interview. You want to be able to let the interviewer know that you are already invested in the company and that what they are doing matters to you. The point of this question is not to determine whether you really understand what is going on with the company but more about whether you share the same passion. This is a great opportunity to link your passion as well as the values of the company together to provide an even deeper argument for why you should be hired for the role. Make sure you make it personal and create a link because that is really what the interviewer is looking for in a candidate’s answer.
3. Why do you want this job?
This question is designed to bring out your passion. you should be able to tell the interviewer why you were attracted to this role and why you want to be be hired for it. They do not want to hear just another boring reason like you think it’s cool. You need to make sure you take some time to really dive in to the reason why you want to do this job. Another thing to note is that you are applying for this role, not the next role above it. The interviewer wants to know that whoever they hire for this job will want to stay in it for a while before they look to another role within the company or elsewhere. Because of this, you need to make sure that you phrase your answer accordingly. The last thing you want to do is give the wrong impression that you are just applying for this job because it is a way to get your foot in the door. You need to make sure that you show your passion and if you cannot find the passion for the job, then you need to apply to another role you are passionate about.
4. Why should we hire you?
It may look similar but it is a completed different question than the one before. This question is less about the passion that you may have for the role and more about your capabilities within the role. This question may seem intimidating but if it is something that is asked directly of you, then it is the perfect opportunity to sell yourself and you should jump on it. When you are preparing your answer to this question you want to focus on some main arguments. First, you want to be able to showcase the skills you have for the role and how they will help you succeed. Second, you want to be able to reassure the interviewer that you will be able to provide great results. Third, you want to be able to show that you will be a great fit within the culture and company. Lastly, you want to make sure you stand out from all of the other candidates as the best hire. This may sound difficult to do but if you can bring these components together for the perfectly crafted answer, then you can really have a good opportunity at another chance to sell yourself.
5. Tell me about your strengths.
When you answer this question, you want to answer it truthfully and as accurately as possible. You do not want to stretch the truth in any way because if you are hired, the employer will figure it out soon enough. Instead, you should focus on your real strengths that you have been able to prove within your previous roles. You should not try to figure out what the interviewer wants to hear and answer the question that way. If you do that, then in the end you are not doing yourself or the business any favors. You should, however, talk about strengths that are relevant to the role that you are applying to. Choose the types of strengths that you have that would be useful in that role and then make sure that you talk about them. You should also be specific when you are talking about them. You not only want to make a claim that you have a specific strength but you want to back up the claim with some actual examples and experience in your previous roles or in college.
6. What are your biggest weaknesses?
This one is not a trick question even though some people think it is. The interviewer already knows that no one is perfect so if you tell them that you have no weaknesses, then you will actually start to look like the wrong candidate for them. It is ok to actually tell them about your weaknesses but you should also try to turn the negative into a positive. That means that you should talk about your weaknesses but also talk about how you are aware of them and that you are working on getting better at them every day. Alternatively, if you have already been working on them, you can tell them about how you have already made an impact on turning these weaknesses around in the work place by giving a specific example. What it really comes down to with this question is that the interviewer is trying to determine your self awareness as well as your ability and readiness to improve any weak spots. Many people think that this question means that the interviewer is looking for any red flags but this is not the case. The only way you can really mess up this question is by saying you have no weaknesses at all.
7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This question is designed to tell the interviewer a few different things. First, they want to be able to determine if you have set realistic expectations for your career. If you are applying for an entry role position but you say you want to be the CEO in 5 years, it is probably a bit unrealistic. However, if you say you want to move in to some leadership roles, that may be more realistic within that time frame. The second thing that the interviewer is looking for is that you have some ambition. They want to make sure that this is not the first time you have considered where your career is going. They want to know what you are really looking for in a career. If you are not sure, that is ok as well. However, you should give them some information about the things you like and the type of role you are looking forward to in the future, even if you are not completely sure what it is specifically. The last thing that they are looking for is to make sure that the role you are interviewing for is in line with these 5 year goals. They want to make sure that this job is a good stepping stone for those eventual goals. When you are answering this question, you want to keep these main points in mind. You want to make sure that you can showcase your goals and how this job will play a role in the future plans you have for your career, even if it is just a job that will provide you with some skills you will need for your career. Make sure you stay honest with this question because this will help you and the interviewer know if this is the right move.
8. Why are you leaving your current job/why were you let go?
This can be a very difficult question to answer but you can be sure that you will be asked about it. The variation of the question depends on if you are currently working and if you are quitting or you were let go. When answering this question, you want to make sure that you keep things positive at all times. There is nothing that you can gain at this point by trashing your current or former employer. In fact, it can actually make you look bad in an interview. What you should do instead is make sure that your answer is framed around why you are interested in new opportunities and that you are excited about trying something new or coming to a new company. If you were let go instead of leaving on your own, it is ok to tell the interviewer that you were fired from the company but you should do your best to keep the answer simple. If you are asked why, then you can be honest and tell them the simple and clean answer. If you were let go, then you always want to follow it up with how you have grown from the experience and make it an advantage for the next role. It definitely does not have to be a deal breaker if you frame it correctly.
9. Talk about a time when you faced a challenge or conflict at work and how you handled it.
With this question, the interviewer wants to make sure that you can handle pressure and that you have professionalism. You want to choose an example where you were able to work through the conflict or challenge, show what you learned from the situation, and make sure the ending is a happy and successful one. You will want to talk about specifics with this question. The interviewer wants to know how you really are under pressure and in an interview that can be hard to do. This provides them with a glimpse into your work style both with managers and coworkers as well as under times of pressure or confusion. Choosing an example where everything worked out is important because it shows that you can solve a problem on your feet and you can work through any issues that may come your way during the course of the role and your career.