It is a good idea to become familiar with the most common types of questions asked during interviews and to know the best ways to answer them. Review the questions and answers below and practice your own responses.
1. Tell me about your weaknesses.
This is one of the most difficult questions that comes up in the interview and it needs to be answered carefully. It is very important to refrain from offering a weakness that is related to a personal characteristic and instead, trying to focus on your strengths. You can offer a weakness that is related to a professional skill and give an example to demonstrate that you are working on improving it: “I am always trying to improve my presentation skills. At my last job, I volunteered to take on additional client presentations and I have found that I’m becoming a more confident presenter and I really enjoy interacting directly with clients.”
2. Why should I hire you?
You should respond to this question by highlighting the relevance of your experience and skills to the employer’s needs. For example, “during my seven years’ marketing career, I was able to increase my previous employer’s revenue stream by 20%. I am motivated and looking forward to working with your company and team.”
3. Why are you interested in working with us?
This question is where your research on the company comes into play. Your answer should demonstrate that you’re familiar with the company’s products, services and values and that you are not just looking for any opening at any company. For example, “I am impressed with the challenging projects that your company has taken on in the past and your emphasis on sustainability in your recommendations to clients. This overlaps with my own priorities and I am looking forward to working for your company.”
4. Tell me about your goals and plans?
It’s recommended that you focus on your short and medium-term goals instead of talking about longer term objectives here so that you highlight what you want to do with the company. For instance, “in the short-term, I am looking to learn more about the client experience in a fast-paced environment such as this one and to increase my responsibilities as I gain more expertise. In the long-term, my direction and goals will be contingent on the direction of the company.”
5. Why are you unemployed? Why did you leave – or why are you leaving – your job?
If you’re employed during the interview, respond by focusing on what you’re looking for in your next job. “I have been at my current company for three years and I am really looking for a company that deals more with the sales side of the industry and where I can contribute by using my business expertise and skills.”
If you are not employed when you’re in the interview, make sure to speak about your situation in a positive light. For example, “my company was going through a somewhat difficult situation when the recession hit last year. I managed to keep my job during the first year; but unfortunately, the company was unable to maintain the same number of employees and I was eventually let go.”
6. When did you feel most fulfilled or happy in your job?
This question focuses on the candidate’s motivation. Try to answer by highlighting a time you were enthusiastic about the work you were doing. This will help communicate your interests to the employer. For example, “I was most satisfied when I was finalizing our report recommendations based on the feedback I received from our clients.”
7. What can you do for our company that other candidates can’t? What distinguishes you from other candidates?
This gives you an opportunity to highlight your distinguishing qualities. Be sure to take an inventory of this before your interview and focus on your experience, skillset, and defining characteristics, but also keep it short. For instance, “Based on my previous experience, I know that it is very advantageous to deliver reports before schedule. I find that I can integrate my clients’ feedback more effectively when I do this and I am able to use my technical knowledge to address their needs and concerns.”
8. What are three strengths that your last boss or coworkers would say about you?
This is where you can share your strengths and sell yourself. Specifically, use performance reviews from your former company and compliments from your coworkers to add substance and evidence. For instance, “My former boss always relied on me as the final editor for all client reports and presentations. He also told me I am resourceful and quick to think on my feet.”
9. How much would you like to get paid?
It’s important to do your research since you want to make sure that you have a proper understanding of the range for this position and industry. You should also establish a minimum for yourself beforehand so that you know when or if you would walk away from an employer’s offer. It’s best to ask the employer if they have a range in mind before mentioning your expectations. For example, “I have seen different figures for this position, which as you know, can change significantly based on market performance. Can you give me an idea of what range you would pay for a candidate with my experience?”
10. If you could be an animal, which one would you like to be?
This is a psychological question that interviewers will sometimes throw in to test how quickly you think. Remember that your answer will convey information to the interviewer about your personality. For example, if you respond with “a cat;” you may be perceived as someone who is cunning. Alternatively, an answer such as “wolf” may indicate that you prefer working in solitude. Think about the type of impression you want to convey.