It’s impossible to predict exactly what you’ll be asked in a job interview. However, many companies include variations of the same few questions. What’s the best way to answer common interview questions? Here are our best tips.
“Tell me about yourself.”
This is often the first thing your interviewer will ask. He isn’t looking for idle chit chat or your entire life story. He wants to see how you’ll deal with an open-ended topic, how effectively you express yourself, and what kind of first impression you make. Be confident. Think about how you can show off your best accomplishments in a way that will also interest your interviewer. Your goal should be to match your qualifications with the job you’re applying for in your response.
“What are your strengths?”
This question gives you an important chance to once again line up your skills with the job you’re seeking. It’s tempting to give broad, nonspecific answers to this question. It’s also easy to slide too far toward the extremes, coming off as overly arrogant or too modest. Instead, be sincere and honest with your answer. Pick a few specific skills, give examples of them in action, and talk about how they would be useful in the job you’re applying for.
“What’s your greatest weakness?”
Many job seekers dread this popular question, which is the flip side of the one we just discussed. That makes it an important one to think about before the interview. Choose an answer that’s true, but keep it brief and to the point. Show your weakness as something you’re aware of and working on that does not get in the way of you being a great employee.
“What made you leave your last job?”
Another scary one, this question is meant to find out how you’ll fit with the company you’re applying to and whether there might be potential conflicts or attitude problems. Be careful not to get overly emotional. Don’t cover up the truth, but don’t indulge in complaining or justifying either. Instead, focus on the good things that came out of your leaving.
“What do you do in your free time?”
This question is not your interviewer’s attempt at small talk. Nor is it a throwaway question. Depending on the position you’re seeking, your interviewer is likely determining how well you balance work and life. Good answers include benign hobbies and interests. Activities like sports or music, preferred reading material, and cultural pursuits are all safe topics. Stay away from anything controversial. An interview is no place to discuss your religious beliefs or political leanings, for instance.
Give some serious thought to how you’ll answer each of these questions if they’re asked and you’ll be a step ahead when it comes time for the interview.