On Monday, I posted a list of some of the most common interview questions and asked readers to think about how they’d respond to each one. Today’s post digs in deeper and offers tips on answering these questions.
1. What do you know about our company? Here’s your chance to show off the research you conducted about the organization before the interview. That’s right, you’ll need to find out some basic information about your prospective employer before showing up for the interview. Good things to know include: how long the company has been around, what they do and what’s unique about them. If the company has a website, review the About Us pages. Other ways to get more background include asking friends and family what they know about the company.
2. What are your strengths? When answering this question, think about your strengths which would be most valuable in relation to the job you’re applying for. Sure, being a trivia wiz or a great dancer are fun abilities, but they’re probably not what the interviewer is looking for, unless you’re applying to be the next host of “Jeopardy” or a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
3. What are your weaknesses? This is one of the most dreaded interview questions around. Nobody wants to list off their low points to a potential employer. But don’t despair – answering this question wisely can score major points with an interviewer. Instead of focusing on character weaknesses, like a bad temper or laziness, mention weaknesses that are job specific. Also, be sure to tell the interviewer what you’re doing to remedy the problem.
4. How would your last boss describe you? It’s always a little bit difficult to speak for someone else. In this case, it’s usually best to cite something specific the boss said about you in the past. For example, “My supervisor at Widget Manufacturing frequently praised my ability to work quickly and safely.”
5. Why did you leave your last job? Be careful on this question. You never want to bash your past employer or supervisor. You also don’t want to sound money hungry by listing low compensation as your main reason for leaving. Instead, try to focus on what the job you’re applying for offers that your last job didn’t. For instance, the position you’re interested in might have more opportunities for growth, be closer to your home or offer better hours.
6. Where do you want to be in five years? This is your opportunity to share your goals and interests. But, remember to keep it professional. The interviewer doesn’t need to know that you hope to buy a Harley Davidson or win the lottery. Most interviewers ask this question because they want to know if you’ll stick with them over the long haul. Even if you’re not sure where you’ll be in five years, try to give an answer that shows you’d be open sticking around if things go well.
7. Why do you want to work here? The winning answer for this question is not: “Because I need a job.” While that may be what’s running through your mind, the interviewer is looking for specific reasons their job opening appeals to you. When answering this question, think about how your skills would benefit the company. For example, “I want to work at XYZ company because your need for an energetic office manager is a great fit with my background and personality.”
What interview questions do you have a hard time answering? How do you prepare before an interview?