Throughout my career I have literally conducted hundreds of interviews and have heard many answers to interview questions. As you pursue your job or internship opportunities, I thought I would share a few tips on how to answer common interview questions.
- What are your strengths? Come prepared to share with the employer your strengths, along with an example of how you were able to use your strengths in a specific work/school assignment.
- What are your weaknesses? Don’t start rattling off a list of your weird quirks or personality flaws. Come prepared to share weaknesses that are also your strengths. Maybe you’re too impatient with results, or too detail oriented or a bit of a perfectionist.
- Tell me about yourself. Try to keep this to work related details and accomplishments. If you are pressed for personal details, try to be general with these answers.
- Tell us why we should hire you. Be confident, yet humble. Never compare yourself to others, simply outline the value the company would receive by hiring you. Let them know that you want the job.
- What are your career goals? Make sure that your career goals sound as if you want to advance within the organization that you are interviewing for. If it sounds like the job you’re interviewing for is just a stepping stone to a career outside of the organization, you won’t get the position.
- What motivates you? Refrain from saying money, time off or other benefits. Instead, list out things like company culture, learning new things, being challenged and so on.
- Do you prefer working on a team or alone? You should always answer this in a way that shows that you can work in any situation that is required to get the job done. Give examples of how you’ve had to work both independently and on a team.
- Tell us about a time that you had to resolve a conflict with a co-worker. This is not the time to give the details about some slug that you had to work with. Instead, come prepared to share a conflict situation and how it was resolved or what you learned from it.
- How do you handle stress? Come prepared to share a story of a stressful situation and how you were able to get through it.
- Do you have any questions for me? Do research on the company prior to your interview and prepare a list of questions. This will leave a positive impression.
When answering any interview question, always stay positive and never speak poorly of another employee or employer. Watch your body language and make sure that you listen to the interviewer. It’s okay to pause before you answer a question and it’s also acceptable to ask for the question again. If you are not happy with how you’ve answered a question, don’t let that throw you off. Most people being interviewed don’t have perfect answers throughout the interview, so shake it off and be prepared to answer the next question. Don’t try to dodge a question; answer all questions to the best of your ability and never lie in an interview.
Before every interview, practice answering the basic questions. Think about examples to share that will help paint a picture of the type of work performance you’ll bring to the job. Lastly, give yourself a pep talk before the interview to help yourself be more confident and prepared.