Common Interview Questions and Answers
Tell me about yourself.
It seems like an easy interview question. It’s open ended. I can talk about whatever I want from the birth canal forward. Right?
Wrong. What the hiring manager really wants is a quick, two- to three-minute snapshot of who you are and why you’re the best candidate for this position.
“Tell me about yourself” does not mean tell me everything. Just tell me what makes you the best.
What is your long-range objective?
The key is to focus on your achievable objectives and what you are doing to reach those objectives.
For example: “Within five years, I would like to become the very best accountant your company has on staff. I want to work toward becoming the expert that others rely upon. And in doing so, I feel I’ll be fully prepared to take on any greater responsibilities which might be presented in the long term. For example, here is what I’m presently doing to prepare myself…”
Then go on to show by your examples what you are doing to reach your goals and objectives
What is Your Greatest Strength?
The best way to respond is to describe the skills and experience that directly correlate with the job you are applying for. Be prepared to answer by making a list of the qualifications mentioned in the job posting. Then, make a list of your skills that match those listed. This list can include education or training, soft skills, hard skills, or past work experiences.
Narrow your list of skills down to 3 – 5 particularly strong skills.
Next to each skill, note a particular example of how you have used that strength in the past. This will prepare you for when the employer asks you to elaborate on a particular strength
What is your greatest weakness?
Most career books tell you to select a strength and present it as a weakness. Such as: “I work too much. I just work and work and work.” Wrong. First of all, using a strength and presenting it as a weakness is deceiving. Second, it misses the point of the question.
You should select a weakness that you have been actively working to overcome. For example: “I have had trouble in the past with planning and prioritization. However, I’m now taking steps to correct this. I just started using a pocket planner…” then show them your planner and how you are using it.
Talk about a true weakness and show what you are doing to overcome it. Just make sure that the weakness that you are working on is not something your respective new employer might not need someone that is a master of it already.
If I were to ask your previous employer to describe you, what would they say?
This is a threat of reference check question. Do not wait for the interview to know the answer. Ask any prior bosses or professors in advance. And if they’re willing to provide a positive reference, ask them for a letter of recommendation.
Then you can answer the question like this:
“I believe she would say I’m a very energetic person, that I’m results oriented and one of the best people she has ever worked with. Actually, I know she would say that, because those are her very words. May I show you her letter of recommendation?”
So be prepared in advance with your letters of recommendation.
What do you know about us?
This is actually a test. If you know very little, it is an indication that you are not very serious about working there.
Focus on them: Candidates who are really excited about the prospect of working there have done their homework. If you really want to stand out, learn more than what is listed on their web site. Do some heavy research—perhaps find some articles on the company that not many would know about. It may even come up in conversation spontaneously, and you can show them a copy of the article.
Even the “boring, standard questions” can have unique and useful answers. You should think hard about how you can differentiate yourself from others every step of the way during the interview process.