Every interview is different, because every company and every candidate is different. That said, there are some interview questions that seem to be more common than others. Being familiar with these questions, and being ready with your answers, can help give you a bit more confidence (and maybe even a slight advantage) in an interview. Here are some common interview questions we see often.
Question: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Employers want to know what you’re good at—and where you could use some improvement.
How to answer: The key when answering this question is to be honest while also being humble about your strengths and willing to work on improving your weaknesses. For example:
- “I’ve been told that I have good communication skills. I know I could work on replying more quickly; sometimes my texts or emails get buried. I’ve started scheduling dedicated ‘reply time’ throughout the day so I don’t get too far behind.”
- “I’m great at taking feedback; I never take anything too personally because I want to improve wherever I can. One weakness I have, though, is not being as honest as I could be when giving feedback to others. I don’t want to hurt their feelings. But I need to remember that we’re all working as a team, and any feedback I give is because I want the other person to succeed.”
Question: Tell me about yourself.
This seemingly simple opener can sometimes leave candidates scrambling. What is important enough to share? How much information is too much?
How to answer: Focus on information that is relevant to the job, but that also reveals your more personal side. Include information like the following (and expand on it, if you can):
- “I’m a California native. I went to UCLA and still love watching Bruins football games. Since graduating, I’ve had a number of jobs in this field that I’ve enjoyed, but I would love to find a company that really feels like a good cultural fit. I love a good book and have taken a few online courses lately that have helped me fine tune my work skills”
- “I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, but I’ve found that being a leader in a workplace is more fulfilling for me. I’ve been in this industry for 10 years and can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Question: Why do you want to leave your current company?
Interviewers are often curious why your current job isn’t working out. Because employee turnover is expensive, they want to know that hiring you will be a good investment.
How to answer: Be honest, but avoid bringing up office drama or politics when you answer.
- “I think I’ve progressed as far as I can within the company. I need new challenges and new opportunities.”
- “The job has been great, but I don’t think the ‘big company environment’ works for me. I would love working with a smaller team where I feel like I have more of a voice.”
Question: Do you have any questions for us?
How to answer: While it might be tempting to smile, say no, and be on your way, you shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to ask at least one or two questions of your own. Here are some we suggest:
- “What would my first few weeks look like here? What is the training/onboarding process like?”
- “What are some characteristics your best employees share?”
- “What can I expect from the culture here?”
- “What are some of the company’s goals for the coming year? How would my role help us reach those goals?”
When you are prepared for an interview, the entire process is less daunting. Prepare for questions like these and you can walk into your next interview feeling ready to impress.
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