Do you have a big job interview coming up? If so, you want to do all you can to put your best foot forward. One of the most important things you can do is to anticipate what types of questions they may ask, and know how you will answer them. It’s important to practice, but also important to make sure your answers sound natural and unrehearsed.
Here are five common interview questions that you should prepare for before your next interview. I have also provided some helpful suggestions for how best to answer the questions.
1. Why should we hire you? This can be an awkward question to answer for some job candidates. The question goes against all we’ve learned about the virtues of being modest, but a job interview is a critical time to throw your modesty out the window and be confident in your accomplishments.
The interviewer wants to know what contributing skills or abilities you will bring to the company. A good way to answer is to provide ways that your skills match up with the job requirements listed in the job posting as well as requirements mentioned in the interview. It’s fine to take notes of these key points while you are talking to the interviewer provided you keep your attention on them, and do not divert your eyes for too long.
Also, while this is your time to sing your own praises, don’t ramble. Try to keep your answer concise.
2. Why are you pursuing this position? When crafting your answer to this question, make sure that your answer is not shallow or self-motivated. Do not answer with reasons such as you are looking to increase your salary, want to work closer to home, or have more vacation time. This is another opportunity to tell the interviewer why you are right for their company.
Answer the question by explaining how you can be an asset to the company and improve their numbers. You could say something such as “In my current job, I realized what a significant effect the efforts of one individual could have on the business as a whole.” Then give quantitative data demonstrating how you increased sales or productivity. Finish with a statement such as, “I believe I can make a similar, or even greater positive impact at your company as well.”
3. Please tell me about your experience. If, in your research for this interview, you identified certain areas where the company is concentrating its efforts, you can match your experience to those areas and respond accordingly.
If you do not find any such areas of focus, then you can ask them to clarify by saying, “do you mean my experience in a particular area, or my experience overall?” Based on their answer, you should be able to craft an answer that pairs your experience with the needs of the company.
4. What is the most difficult situation you have encountered at work? When you answer this question, be sure to answer with a problem that you were able to solve. Explain a challenging situation to which your hard work and ingenuity resulted in a happy ending for the company, and quantify the results. You should avoid discussing difficult situations that included personality conflicts with people at work, as well as problems with family or friends.
5. How long does it take you per week to complete your work tasks? This is one of those questions that does not always have a perfect answer. If you respond that it takes you 40 hours, it may sound like you watch the clock and aren’t willing to put in extra time. If you say it takes 50 or 60 hours, they may feel you are slow, inefficient, or easily distracted. The best solution is to provide an answer that doesn’t give a specific number. Answer that you work diligently to finish tasks accurately and on time, and that you will put in whatever time is required to complete the job