How to Answer the Most Common Interview Questions
You’ve been invited to an interview. Now what?
In addition to researching the company, you also need to be sure you are prepared to answer the questions you’re likely to face. Let’s review some of the most common interview questions and how to answer them:
1. Tell Me About Yourself
The interviewer doesn’t really care about how many children you have, where you grew up, or your hobbies. What they want to know is, “What value can you bring to the company?” Make this your mantra.
When researching the company before the interview, you should also research your interviewer, if possible. That way, you can find common ground to establish rapport as you articulate your value. If you know your interviewer loves animals or the company is big on community service projects, you will want to share your love for animals and your experience volunteering with community organizations.
And, finally do not share any information that is illegal for an employer to ask about, such as family status, religion, and so on.
2. Why Do You Want to Work Here?
When answering this question, you want to share how your passions and values align with the company’s mission. Speak from the heart. If you have always dreamed of working for the company, share that. Do you love working with its target customers? Share that, too. Of course, you always want to be sure you’re articulating how you will use your passion and values for the company’s benefit.
3. Tell Me About a Time When You Failed
Do not be afraid to answer this question. Everyone has made mistakes. The interviewer wants to see how you learn from mistakes and prevent them from happening again. Explain the scenario, what happened, and what you learned. If you were able to turn the situation around and make it a win, explain that, too.
4. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
Show how your weakness can be used to the employer’s advantage. For example, I have a friend who is a workaholic. Once, when acting as a reference for him, I was asked about his weaknesses. I told the employer he was a workaholic and he didn’t take enough time for his own personal pursuits because he was so dedicated to his job.
Another strategy is to share your weakness and explain the steps you’ve taken to improve in that area. For example, if you struggle with a certain computer program, perhaps you’ve taken a course at a local community college to learn more about the program. Turn the question into an opportunity to showcase the investments you make in your own professional development.
5. Why Would You Be a Good Fit for This Team/Company?
Before the interview, review the job description. When answering this questions, reference specific keywords and required skills from the job description. Share examples of previous achievements that are relevant to the job at hand.
Another tip: Look at your cover letter before heading into the interview. You probably wrote about how you can be an asset to the company, and you can reuse what you wrote in your answer.
6. What Questions Do You Have for Me?
I recommend having at least three questions ready, if not more, in case a few of yours have already been answered during the interview. Do not ask about salary or time off. Instead, ask questions like:
- What have previous holders of this job found most challenging about it?
- What do you love most about working here?
- What would be a few goals you would like to see me accomplish within my first 90 days on the job?
Behavioral and Performance-Based Questions
You may be asked a few questions about your previous behaviors and performance on the job. When answering performance-based questions, remember the acronym PAR: problem, action, and result. State the problem or scenario. Explain the action steps you took, and then outline the results of your actions.
Situational Interview Questions
These are similar to behavioral or performance-based questions, but they focus on how you assess a new situation and provide a solution. The interviewer will likely explain a scenario and then ask how you would respond. Use examples from your previous work to illustrate your answer. Focus on the skills most relevant to job at hand and weave them into your answer.
No matter what question you face, your answer must always focus on showcasing the value you will bring to your employer. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.
Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.