No matter if you’re in college applying for internships or a young professional looking to make your next career move, it’s always a great idea to brush up on your interviewing skills. Here is a list of the top 10 questions to be prepared to answer in an interview and some tips on how to give the best response.
1. Tell me about yourself.
If you practiced your elevator pitch before your interview, this is the perfect question for it. You want to keep your response short and to the point – the interviewer doesn’t need to hear your life story, but any context that they can’t find on your resume or cover letter is great to include. This also gives the interviewer a chance to get to know you beyond just your achievements and highlight any qualifications that make you a unique candidate and worthy of their consideration.
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
You don’t need to have a specific answer for this question but a general idea with some steps on how to get there is a great way to answer this. If you know what specific position you want in 5 years, then share that goal and how you plan to get there. If you don’t have something specific in mind, then you’ll want to respond with what skills you hope to learn and any projects you hope to complete that are relevant to the role.
3. Why should we hire YOU?
If you’ve made it to the interview round, that means that you are competing against other highly qualified candidates. You need to convey to the interviewer that not only are you a great employee to work with, but that you’ll bring added value to the company. You’ll want to highlight if you have a unique experience or skill that will make you stand out or make you uniquely positioned for this role.
4. Why do you want this job?
You may want the job because of added perks, like the salary, location, or other benefits. While these are important for you to consider when evaluating offers, employers want to hear why this specific role would be the best next step in your career. You should also explain what skills and benefits you can bring to the position, as well as why you believe you’d be a right fit at the company. Your answer should show that you agree with the company’s values, are interested in the work they do, and why you would choose to work for this company over another. Make sure to do your research and review the company’s website and other relevant materials thoroughly.
5. How do people/your coworkers describe you?
Ask a few of your friends or close coworkers to come up with a few words to describe you or stories that are good examples of the kind of a person you are. Many people could be described as a hard worker or a good communicator, but maybe a coworker thinks of you as someone who always rises to the occasion when things get tough or who doesn’t crack under pressure. A good friend may think of you not only as a good listener, but someone who will go the extra mile to make their day or someone who is incredibly creative. Having stories prepared to demonstrate these traits will help convey to the interviewer how your values are reflected in each situation.
6. What is your greatest weakness?
This can feel like a trick question, and unless you say something egregious, there’s not a wrong answer. No one is perfect, and employers want to hear that you’re self-reflective enough that you can recognize your faults and how you’re working to fix them. (Enlightenedwomen.org) You’ll want to focus on a professional weakness though, not a personal one. There is a sweet spot: you don’t want to focus too much on your flaws, but you don’t want to say you’re faultless. Prepare an answer ahead of time so that you can appear positive when talking about how you’re overcoming your weakness.
7. What is your greatest strength?
There are a lot of great tests out there that measure what your strengths are, like the DiSC assessment, Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram, or the CliftonStrengths. All of them have varying degrees of accuracy but can give you good examples and keywords of where your strengths are. You’ll want to highlight a strength that is relevant to the role you’re applying for and explain why. If possible, try to use key words from the position description.
8. What is your greatest accomplishment or challenge you have overcome?
Like the questions on strengths and weaknesses, you’ll want your answer to focus on a professional accomplishment or challenge, not a personal one. You’ll also want to bring up an experience that’s current or relevant to the role you’re applying for. You may have accomplished something during your senior year of high school that you’re the most proud of, but if you’re applying for your first job after college, you’ll want to mention a more recent achievement.
9. Why do you want to leave your current job?
You may have personal reasons for wanting to leave your current job, such as a bad work environment or a difficult boss, but you’ll want to keep your answer positive. Even if you are leaving your current job for logistic reasons, such as needing to move because of your spouse’s job, you’ll want to include that along with a reason for wanting to apply at this particular company. Focus your answer on how you can grow at this new organization and what new professional opportunities you’re looking to have.
10. Do you have any questions?
Always come prepared with questions to ask the interviewer. You’ll want to have some backup questions in case the interviewer covers one of your questions during the interview. Use this opportunity to ask questions that give you a better look at the company culture and what a day-in-the-life would look like in the position. You can ask questions specific to the role, questions about the company, or personal questions to the interviewer such as why they enjoy working at that company or what they wish they knew when they started.
NeW is always here to help you build your career and navigate professional life. As a national member, you can schedule a one-on-one career consultation with a member of our team to help prepare you for an interview or to discuss how to take the next step in your career.
This blog post was written by Julia Canzano, NeW Campus Program and Events Associate.