Most interviews contain a core set of questions that you as a job seeker can anticipate and prepare for. Understanding why an employer is asking a certain question, may help you to provide a palatable response. Regardless of the questioning you face, remember to answer each question thoughtfully and completely. If you are nervous, try to keep your responses brief and give your interviewer time to tell you about the company and the position for which you are interviewing.
12 commonly asked interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
This is the classic open-ended question that will set the tone for an interview and give you a chance to provide basic information about yourself. It is important to answer this question confidently, but not come off as arrogant. Take approximately 30 seconds to sell your most impressive skills and relevant qualifications.
- What are your long term goals?
This is a compatibility question that will help the employer determine if you are a suitable candidate for employment. With the impending labor shortage, employers are looking for employees who will be with the company for a long duration. If your long-term goals are not compatible with the vision of the company, your employment is likely to be short-lived.
- Why do you want to work for us?
This question will shed light on your motivation for applying to a specific position and with a specific corporation. Prior to your interview, research the background of the company you are visiting by perusing their website and previous annual reports. Discover the mission of the company and decide if it is appealing to you on a values level. Consider what makes this company different than others in the area. Answer the question, "Why are you here and not somewhere else?"
- Why are you qualified for this position?
Many applicants appear to be over or under qualified for a given position on paper. This question provides you an opportunity to rationalize your experience as compared to the position requirements.
- Why did you leave your previous position?
Be very positive when answering questions about your old job. In this question, the interviewer is looking for basic information - did you quit, get fired, etc. - as well as more in depth information about what you are looking for in a potential position. Be honest, be positive, and use this as another opportunity to show your prospective employer that you are excited about the opportunities offered to you at a new position.
- What did you like best/least about your previous position?
This is not an opportunity for you to complain about your former position. Instead, this question will shed light on those things you value in a job and your work environment.
- What did you think of your old boss?
This question should give some indication of your relationship with authority and can also indicate what qualities you value in leadership. A perfectly qualified candidate can fail at a position if they are incompatible with their supervisors.
- What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
It is more important to answer this question confidently and completely than to provide the perfect answer. Avoid canned responses and provide more than a list of adjectives. For strengths, provide concrete characteristics with examples that will lead you to success in the prospective position. For weaknesses, be honest and able to identify opportunity areas and examples of growth.
- What is most important to you in a job?
Are your values compatible with the corporate culture you are about to enter? While it is fine to mention scheduling flexibility and work/life balance here, do so cautiously. Employers will be turned off to a candidate who seems to be already calculating the hours necessary to work to the weekend.
- Why should we hire you?
This question gives you one last creative chance to plead your case for employment. Corporations often interview multiple candidates for a single position. Answer the question confidently, "Why are you better than each of the other candidates interviewed?"
- Are you available to work overtime?
The answer to this question should be yes , however, your should indicate exactly what your stipulations for working overtime will be. You should try to appear willing to work the hours necessary to complete a given assignment but there is nothing wrong with requesting, for example, that notice of two days be given, or only working overtime up to 45 hours per week. Be flexible for your employer but make sure the arrangement works for you.
- What kind of salary are you looking for?
This question is intended to numerically rule out any candidate that is expecting a salary much higher than will be offered. Similarly, if you name a salary in the low end of the salary range offered to candidates, you may have just named your salary. Do not be evasive about this question, especially if you will require a certain salary to accept an offer. Do note that salary will be negotiable if an offer is made.
Also, employers will often ask situational types of questions, usually representing situations that may arise while on the job. These questions are intended to determine the way you react to a variety of situations and conflicts. Answer these questions thoughtfully and completely. Avoid a canned answer. And try to reflect the organizational values in your response.
As always, good luck in your job search!