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Figure 1. Stack of job applications. iStock image by tommaso79.

Are you looking for a job? Are you getting ready for an interview? If you are, then you are wondering: What questions will they ask? What questions should I ask? How do I answer those questions?

Some companies are beginning to pose those perplexing “odd ball” questions. However, more frequently, companies still use common interview questions throughout the interview process. Take a look at the most frequently asked questions, as well as several strategies to prepare to answer interview questions.

Interview Questions

Tell me something about yourself.

This is where the candidate has an opportunity to brag about their qualities. In answering this question, highlight personal skills and relevant experience. Be sure to focus on qualities that are equivalent to those listed in the job description. Remember to keep the answers concise and stay away from personal information.

What attracted you to our company?

The key to answering this question is doing homework. Take time to research the company. Review the company website and social media pages. Become familiar with the mission and vision of the company or organization interviewing you for the job. Be sure to show the correlation between the organization’s mission and vision and your personal views and career path.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This is one question that often stumps the interviewee. It is easy to find personal strengths to discuss. Simply focus on things you do well that are relevant to the position in question. Talk about your strongest skills and experience. Communicate how these qualities have been valuable to your professional success.

It is more difficult to discuss personal weaknesses. Yet, this is an opportunity to show self-awareness. Acknowledge that you do have a weakness. Make sure the weakness that you discuss is one that you have defeated. Take this opportunity to highlight how you have overcome the obstacle. This shows your ability to overcome challenge. Make sure the outcome shared by the interviewee is one that is beneficial to the company.

What are the most important things you are looking for in your next role?

With this question focus on the skills that most enable you to succeed. Show how this skill can be further developed with employment opportunities presented by the organization. Make sure that the skill is relevant to the position and one that will increase productivity within the company.

Why are you leaving your current job?

This is an important question. Take care to avoid speaking negatively about your current boss or any aspect of the job. Avoid giving the impression that you could possibly be an opportunist—going for any opportunity for more money regardless of the position or goal. In instances where you have been fired, mention that you understand the concern and have corrected the issue in an effort to be a better employee. If you quit, keep the details to a minimum and suggest that you recognized the need to seek out a new opportunity to expand your skills and growth.

Can you tell me about a time where you encountered a business challenge? How did you overcome it?

This question is one that represents the increasingly popular behavioral questions that accompany the behavioral style interview. This question warrants a little more thought. The answer should reference a situation where your skills or experience have been used to provide resolution to a problem. Answering this question can be easily done using what is referred to as the S.T.A.R. Method.

Using the star method,  you will state the following:

  • Situation or challenge you faced
  • Task or tasks you completed in that role
  • Actions you took to achieve a successful outcome
  • Result of those steps

Interview Preparation

These are just a few of the most common interview questions. Be sure to do your homework so you know general background information about the organization conducting the interview. Practice answering the questions with a friend, in the mirror, or with a colleague. Google yourself so you can have a heads up on what information the interviewer may know about you. Remember to be positive with all of the answers to their questions. Your preparation will give you comfort and help you to be less tense throughout the interview. Take a pause and gather your thoughts as you answer questions. This gives you a moment to shake the nervousness and compose your response. Most importantly, be confident in who you are and your abilities.


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