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Preparing For Your Interview

The phone has finally rung and you’ve got your interview scheduled. Now it’s time to prepare for that interview. So what do you do to prepare?

The first thing you should do is to anticipate the questions the interviewer may ask. You should also have at least 5 questions of your own to ask the interviewer. We’ll discuss that in a later blog. There are plenty of interview question lists out there: I put together a list of 50 questions that my interviewer could ask. You don’t have to go that far, but you should have answers for some of the most common ones. Here’s a list of 10 questions the interviewer could ask.

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Many people know that interviewers use this question as an icebreaker. But many of us fail to prepare for it, but you should. Be careful not to get too personal. There are HR rules that prevent an employer from asking certain personal questions. Come up with a general, concise response with 2 or 3 main things about yourself that could be tied back to the position if possible. Additionally, practice your responses out loud sometimes what is in your head doesn’t necessarily come out the same way. You don’t want to be in the interview stumbling through your responses.

2. What are you looking for in a new position?

Make sure you have read the job description and align your response with that description. Ideally, your wishes will already be in line with the duty description but you might not be sure. This is where you can develop some questions of your own to make sure the job is a good fit for you as well.

3. What do you know about our company?

At a minimum you should go to the “About” page to learn about what the company does. But don’t stop there, find out about how their product or service has helped someone or some cause and commend them on this effort. Check out what they do in the community, if anything, and see if there’s anything there that you can get behind. The interviewer will see you’ve done your homework.

4. Why do you want this job?

Companies want to hire people who are passionate about the job, so you should have a great answer about why you want the position. If you don’t, that will shine through during the interview and you might want to prepare to look elsewhere.  Identify a couple of things that make the role a great fit for you and tie it back to the company’s mission.

5. Why should we hire you?

This interview question might be intimidating for some, but be prepared to answer it. This is your underhand soft pitch you’ve been waiting for, you should practice this to hit it out of the park. Its your elevator speech at its best. Don’t only tell them that you can do the work, tell them you deliver results and how your skills are inline with the job. Tell them how you will fit in with the team and their company culture. Help them envision you working among their team.

6. What are your greatest strengths?

Give an accurate representation of yourself and don’t tell them what you think they want to hear. “I’m a hard worker” isn’t good enough. Consider your people skills or how you collaborate with others to build teams. You could even follow up with an example of how you’ve used these skills in the past.

7. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

Again, give an honest response. Never answer with “I work too hard” or “I take on too much,” these are dated responses and the interviewers don’t want to hear them. Find something you can hang your hat on and then let them know that you “know” about this and you’ve taken steps to be better about it. 

8. What is your greatest professional achievement?

Who better to hire than someone who can show a track record of delivering results. Use the STAR method for this one. Describe the Situation and the Task you had to do to provide the interviewer the context, then talk about the Actions you took and most importantly the Result, or impact, of those actions.

9. Tell me about how you’ve dealt with a challenging situation with another person at work and how you dealt with it.

At some point in time, you will have to deal with someone you don’t agree with, or someone who is not performing to standards or breaking the rules. The interviewer wants to see how you deal with these sorts of situations. Put some thought into this and have an answer. Craft your answer with the STAR method mentioned above. Bottom line, they want to see that you handled, and resolved the situation professionally.

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Be honest about your future goals, but consider the hiring managers expectations. They want to know if you’ve set realistic expectations for your career, if you have ambition, and if the position aligns with your goals and growth. Think about this role and if aligns with your ambitions. It’s OK if you’re not sure what the future holds, but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you on this journey.

These questions are just a few to get you started. But however long your final list of interview responses is, make sure you practice your responses out loud. It will help you “hear” yourself and help you make any corrections to prior to the interview. Good luck.