November 11, 2017
Whether you’re a first-time interview newbie or a well-seasoned pro, striking up a meaningful dialog with a potential employer in the interview room is a critical skill. A dynamic, informative and fluid back and forth conversation can mean the difference between the corporate version of a “Dear John” letter and landing that coveted call back or job offer.
One of the favorite interview formats of hiring managers far and wide is the Q&A session with potential job hopefuls. As they say, preparation is the key to success. With that in mind, here are the top ten job interview questions and a little bit of helpful answer-ific advice.
Tell Me About Yourself
When it comes to interview questions, this one is about as guaranteed as the sun rising and setting or the weekly news story about a politician getting caught up in scandal. Expect to be asked some variation of the “tell me more” question in nearly every interview.
Just because the question is phrase generically, however, doesn’t mean your answer should be as unfocused. Stick to specific personality, academic and professional experiences and qualities that match the job description to really impress.
Why Are You interested in This Position?
When this question inevitably comes up in your job interview we implore you to refrain from rolling your eyes in exasperation. I mean sure, you may want to sarcastically reply “because I need money to eat” as a knee-jerk reaction, but that certainly won’t score you any bonus points with would-be employers.
Focus on the company’s qualities and characteristics or the specific aspects of the roll that make the position appealing. A good dose of enthusiasm here will certainly go a long way in showing you’re interested in more than just a paycheck.
Tell Me About Your Strengths
Being asked to name our strengths often reminds us of some distorted version of those old dating game television shows. Whatever you do, however, avoid mentioning your rock hard abs, love of long walks on the beach and keen surfing abilities to your interviewer.
Instead, focus on the qualities that others would point out or that you often receive praise for, professionally. If these traits will be backed up by your professional references or recommendations further down the hiring process, then even better.
Tell Me About Your Weaknesses
Every positive must have a negative and this interview question gets right to the heart of the age-old yin and yang equation. Instead of randomly naming off your areas of improvement, try to focus on traits that you hold in excess for a more positive spin.
Characteristics such as becoming too engrossed in work, not knowing when to quit on a topic or needing to learn how to be less independent and call in co-worker reinforcement all paint a positive picture if and when you learn to quell your initial reaction; presumably under the guidance of your new employer.
Why Did You Leave Your Last Position?
Our advice for this question is less about what to do and more about what to avoid at all costs. Whatever you do, avoiding bad mouthing your current or past employers. Sure, management may have been awful and working conditions so poor they’d give third world countries a run for their money. Regardless of how awful they may have been, no employer is going to want to hire someone seems disloyal or could potentially ruin their company’s reputation down the line.
Tell Me About a Time When…
An open-ended question that is likely to appear in a number of iterations; the “tell me about a time” query is an interviewer’s way of assessing your critical thinking and analytical skills. Consider here that your exact answer is less important than the reason you chose your given story. Analytical skills are on display so be sure to fully illustrate the problem and ultimate resolution for full credit.
Tell Me About Your Qualifications
To the unsuspecting candidate, this may seem to be similar to the general topics and queries we’ve already addressed above. In reality, asking about your qualifications is a specific chance to show your interviewer that you’ve come prepared and ready to shine. Use points from the job description and specific skills, experiences and qualifications. Focus on particularity and you’ll win the hiring manager over for sure.
What Are Your Compensation Requirements?
In contrast to some of the other questions on our top ten list, here is an area where it may pay to be vague, at least initially. If you’re asked about your expectations in the form of salary, hedging is your best bet. Statements such as, “if the job is a good fit I would be flexible” or “commensurate with my experience and skills” are always acceptable in the initial interview stages.
How Long Did You Work At…?
This is a bit of a red herring when it comes to interview question advice. If the interviewer is asking this question, it may mean it’s time to give your resume a quick once-over. The Job history portion or your CV should clearly spell out prior positions along with relevant job duties and specific start and end dates. Providing this at the outset enables both the interviewer and interviewee to get down to brass tacks much quicker.
Do You Have Any Questions?
Last, but most certainly not least, is the all-important, will be asked, and should never be answered with NO, “do you have any questions”, question. Prospective employers use this quizzing tactic in a variety of scenarios. From filling the gaps in an otherwise stilted conversation to politely wrapping up an interview, candidates should be prepped with a host of relevant and meaningful questions to help turn the tables.
We’ve devoted quite a bit of time to this topic, but key queries here include asking for information regarding next steps, company culture and measures of success in the position. Have your questions prepared and there will always be an ace up your sleeve to help set you well on your way to scoring that job of your dreams.
Article Updated from the Original on November 11, 2017