Preparation is the key to interview success. Preparing in advance gives you a glimpse of what to expect and a sense of what you want to talk about during the interview. This enables you to respond more effectively to the questions that the hiring manager asks.
While some hiring managers take a fairly unique approach to interview questions, most interviews involve an exchange of common interview questions and answers. Listed below are the five common interview questions, along with some of the best answers.
1. Tell me about yourself
This is probably the first question you’re going to be asked in an interview. It seems simple as it is an open-ended question, but that simplicity is what makes it such a difficult question to answer.
Here’s the best way to answer it: Talk about your professional self and why you are the right candidate for the job. Start by explaining your work experience, skills, and accomplishments that you’d like the hiring manager to know about. Then finish with how your skills and the prior experience have positioned you for the specific role.
Try to keep it concise and compelling – the interviewer already has your resume and just wants to know a little more about you.
2. Why should I hire you?
The easy answer is that you are the right applicant for the job. However, you need to back this up with what specifically differentiates you from other candidates. Take this opportunity to sell yourself and your skills to the interviewer. The best way to do this is to craft a response that covers three things – that you can deliver amazing results, that you fit in with the company culture and that you have the skills, knowledge, and experience that match the job requirements.
Make sure to review the requirements and qualifications in the job announcement so you can come up with an answer that aligns with what the hiring manager is looking for.
3. Why have you left or why are you leaving your job?
There may be several reasons why you are leaving/left your job. Prepare a thoughtful answer that will show the hiring manager that you are being deliberate about the job change. Additionally, provide facts, be concise and focus your answer on the future.
Be sure to put a positive slant on your answer and avoid badmouthing your current employer, supervisor or colleagues. An employer is less likely to hire a candidate that talks negatively about an organization.
4. What are your greatest strengths?
This is one of the questions that hiring managers almost always ask. When answering this question, be relevant (choose strengths that are pertinent to the job opening), accurate (share your real professional strengths, not the ones you think the hiring manager wants to hear) and specific (instead of just saying “great interpersonal skills”, say “relationship building” or “persuasive communication”). Then, provide a few examples that demonstrate those attributes in a professional setting.
Before the interview, take the time to make matches between your attributes and the requirements as listed on the job listing. This will allow you to have suitable examples ready at hand.
5. What is your greatest weaknesses?
This is another common question interviewers ask. What the hiring manager is trying to do with this question is to identify your honesty and self-awareness – traits that are extremely attractive to many employers.
Most career books will suggest choosing a strength and presenting it as a weakness. However, do not do this – not only is it deceiving, but it also misses the entire point of the question. The key to answering this question is to choose an actual professional weakness, then describe how it has affected you and how you’re working to overcome it.
Every interview is different, but mastering these five questions will help you ace the interview and get the job. Be sure to practice since the more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel about your answers.