Be prepared by practicing your answers to these common interview questions. [TWEET]
One of the most valuable things you can do pre-interview is to go over all of the questions that could be asked and how to answer them. In fact, it is beneficial to say these answers out loud. This will help during the actual interview, making you sound more confident and knowledgeable. It also helps to eliminate any stuttering or filler words.
You’ve gotten the interview. Now which questions should you be taking a long, hard look at?
Question: What you do you know about the company?
Answer: This may seem like an innocent question, but it is loaded. This is the interviewer testing you to see if you’ve done your research. This is where you should talk about the company’s goals, something you can easily get from their website or Facebook page. Then it’s time to make it personal. Talk about why you are personally drawn to these goals and how they resonate with you.
Question: What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
Answer: This is not the time to mask actual strengths as weaknesses, such as “I am too organized.” This is a time when the interview wants to gauge your self-awareness and honesty. However, you also don’t want to showcase any major red flags that will immediately get your resume thrown out. Talk about something that you are currently struggling with. Then, follow up that struggle with how you are currently working to improve.
Question: Why did you leave (or are leaving) your last job?
Answer: Badmouthing a previous employer at an interview is a big no-no. The interviewer will frown upon this and may just see you as a gossiper or trouble-maker. If you are currently employed, talk about the things you are searching for that you aren’t currently getting from your new job, such as a more team-oriented environment. If you are currently unemployed, talk about your unemployment in a more positive context. For example, the company went under, but I managed to hang on until the last round of lay-offs.
Question: Why should we hire you?
Answer: This is your time to show the interviewer that you are suited to this position. It is always a good idea to research the position before the interview. Why are they hiring someone? What do they need from the person they are hiring? Be that person. Talk about your strengths in a way that will help the company. Show you have researched the company by talking about their general practices and how you will be able to fit in easily.
Question: What is your greatest accomplishment?
Answer: You don’t have to talk about an accomplishment that is job-related, but it doesn’t hurt. Showcase an accomplishment that will highlight how you’d be a great fit for the company and position you’re interviewing for. Don’t forget to bring the passion. Interviewers want to see that this is something you’re actually excited about and love to share.
Question: Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it.
Answer: This is always a tricky question to answer. Basically, the interviewer wants to get a sense of how you deal with conflict when it arises. You can mention any challenges that you faced in a previous position. Then talk about how you handled those challenges in a polite and professional manner. They also want to see that you were productive with the challenge—that there was an actual solution and not a sweeping under the rug.
Question: What’s a time that you disagreed with a decision made at work?
Answer: There is always going to be at least one time where you’ve disagreed with your bosses decisions or actions. This is okay. However, hiring managers want to see that you handled this disagreement politely and productively. In this case, explain how you talked to your boss, why you had disagreements, and how you offered alternatives to the situation. You should bring up a situation in where you actions had a positive outcome, such as a better relationship with your boss or an increase in work productivity.
Question: How would your boss (or co-workers) describe you?
Answer: This is a case where honesty is the best policy. The interviewer will have the opportunity to call a former boss and ask this question themselves. You still want to remain positive. Try to talk about strengths that you haven’t been able to showcase elsewhere in the interview. You may be able to talk about your ability to meet tight deadlines, or your willingness to pitch in on a project that wasn’t your responsibility.
Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Answer: This is a time to demonstrate your commitment to the position you are currently interviewing. An interviewer is not looking for someone who will jump at bigger/better positions at other companies if given the opportunity. Stress that you have an interest in a long-term career with the company you are interviewing for. However, you can outline a realistic growth strategy for within the company.
Question: What are your salary requirements?
Answer: Make sure you do your research pre-interview so you know what you should be getting paid. You do not want to undersell yourself. There are many online resources that can help with this, such as our salaries section. With this research, you should be able to come up with a range of pay, with the lowest value you won’t go under. When negotiating salary, start at the top of this range. Make sure the interviewer knows that you are flexible and up for negotiation.
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Michelle Hawley is a writer, blogger and recent Point Park University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. She focuses mainly on career and marketing topics, as well as funny quips about cats. She enjoys writing fictional stories in her free time.