Perhaps one of the most daunting aspects of an interview is not knowing what to expect as you walk through those doors and into the interview room. But while different hiring managers may employ different interviewing techniques, there are some questions that come up almost every time. Knowing what these are can help you head into the interview with confidence and make the whole thing go that much more smoothly.
Here are the top ten most common interview questions and how to answer them.
1. ‘Tell me about yourself’
Give a concise answer that focuses on who you are, your key skills, strengths and motivations, and tailor your answers to the role. If you’re unsure of how to structure your reply you can use the present-past-future technique, describing your current situation, what you’ve done before and what your goals are (and how this role fits in with them).
2. ‘What are your top strengths?’
This one can be tricky to answer on the spot if you haven’t given any thought to it, so really sit down and think about the top strengths you have that are valuable to the role. Return to the job description to tease out the attributes they are looking for and use examples to illustrate your strengths as this will give them more force and credibility.
3. ‘What would you say is your greatest weakness?’
Stick to skills that aren’t essential to the role and be careful about being too honest. A good technique is to put a positive spin on your answer by identifying a weakness that you’ve worked to overcome.
4. ‘Why are you interested in working for [company name]?’
This question gives the interviewer a chance to gauge your knowledge of the company, so make sure you do your research beforehand so you can give specific examples of what attracted you to the business.
5. ‘Where do you see yourself in X years?’
Employers are looking for employees who are driven, ambitious and passionate about contributing to the company. Be able to show that you’ve done some career planning and have thought about how you would like to evolve within the company both in the short and long-term.
6. ‘What do you think your main responsibilities will be?’
It’s crucial that you have a thorough understanding of the role so carefully read the job description to get a sense of your day-to-day tasks, key responsibilities and the skills and behaviours you will need to succeed.
7. ‘Can you give an example of a difficult work situation and how you resolved it?’
The interviewer is trying to get a sense of your problem-solving skills and how you perform under pressure, as well as gauging what you consider ‘difficult’. So pick a tough situation that wasn’t caused by you, briefly explain the context and how you handled it – drawing attention to the specific skills and attitude you displayed.
8. ‘How would you describe yourself?’
The interviewer is trying to get a sense of how well you know yourself while also trying to get to know you better; your personality, interests and ambitions. In your answer, try to connect your interests back to the role as much as you can. Perhaps even ask your friends, family or anybody who’s worked with you how they would describe you.
9. ‘Why should we hire you?’
This is your chance to convince the interviewer that you’re the right fit for the company so hone in on the relevant skills and experience you have and how your outlook and values match those of the company.
10. ‘Do you have any questions for us?’
It’s always best to have a few questions prepared to ask the interviewer. Not asking any questions could be interpreted as your having a lack of interest or enthusiasm for the role. Don’t ask anything you could’ve easily found out online but instead focus on the specifics of the role or how the company operates.
While you may not know the exact questions you will be asked at interview, it’s safe to assume that the interviewer will want to know more about a few key topics: you, your understanding of the role and knowledge of the company. So, conduct your research, do some self-reflection and practice your answers to the questions above. With those basics sorted, you can head into the interview feeling confident and prepared.
Thomas Wharton is President of LIFOCUS CAREER SERVICES an Executive Coaching and Career Coaching firm in Rhode Island, providing Career & Transition Coaching, Outplacement, Executive Coaching, and Assessments. Tom can be reached at 401.884.7959 • email@example.com. • www.lifocus.com •@careercoachTW