September 17, 2013

Preparing for 5 of the Most Common Interview Questions

Concept image of the six most common questions and answers on a signpostHave you ever gone to an interview and found yourself staring blankly at the interviewer or rambling aimlessly because he or she asked an unexpected question that you didn’t know how to respond to? Hesitation and/or stalling when answering can quickly turn an interviewer off because it can make you look unprofessional, unprepared, or even dishonest.

When you are preparing for an interview it can be extremely helpful to prepare answers to some of the most common questions that are asked during interviews. You don’t want to memorize answers and repeat them back because it will sound dry and rehearsed. Rather, identify points that you would like to include in your responses, and let them formulate naturally when the question is asked.

Below are a few of the most commonly asked interview questions to give you a head start on preparing for your next interview.:

“Tell me a little about yourself.”

This is one of those questions that is so broad it can be intimidating. This is your opportunity to really let the interviewer get to know you in the way you would like him/her to. Tell a story about yourself that illustrates your values and why you think that this shows that you are the right candidate for the job. Don’t be afraid to show your humor (tastefully) and the real you, but make sure to remain professional.

“Why are you interested in working for our company?”

Interviewers have likely interviewed dozens of people before, and have encountered several people who arbitrarily applied for a position and don’t really have any knowledge of the company. This question gives you the chance to show the research you conducted on your potential employer. Weave the discovered knowledge about the company into your answer, its challenges and opportunities, and why you feel that you’re the best fit to help it to succeed. Be creative in how you frame yourself in the context of the company.

“Tell me about a challenge you have faced and how you dealt with it.”

Using your story telling skills here is crucial. Choose a true challenge that you have faced and be honest about its impact on your experience, and how you overcame the adversity. This does not necessarily have to be work-related, as long as it shows your character.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

Be honest about your answer to this question, and don’t try to be dramatically impressive. For example, saying your weakness is that you are “too dedicated to your work” is a throwaway answer that will likely alienate your interviewer. Instead, focus on strengths that you can back up with tangible proof, and use a skill that is real but that is largely unrelated to the position as your weakness.

“Did you get along with your former boss?”

This can be a tricky question. You don’t want to lie about a fabulous relationship that you had with your former boss and risk it being mentioned during a reference call, but you also don’t want to talk badly about a former boss and appear negative or vindictive. Speak either positively or neutrally, ensuring to detail what you learned from that inter-office relationship.

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Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.