Answering interview questions correctly
You can never predict with certainty the questions you may face in a job interview, but some questions arise so reliably that you would be missing a great opportunity if the interviewee for a job did not bother to prepare for them.
Some of these questions sound straightforward enough that you think you will be able to give perfectly correct answers on the spot, but there is a real benefit to thinking through the answers beforehand. Don’t forget the key details that need to be included, the substance of the answers, because the more organized they are, the more polished the person will be.
Below are the most common questions you may face in an interview and the best way to prepare for them:
Talk a little bit about yourself
People are more affected by this question than they should be. It doesn’t mean giving a complete personal history. It means giving a broad view of who you are professionally before going into detail. Your interviewer is looking for an answer that lasts about a minute and summarizes where you are in your career and what you are especially strong at, usually with an emphasis on your most recent work.
Stay focused on the professional you are, most interviewers are not asking to hear about your family or hobbies. But it’s okay to add something at the end about an interest outside of work, just don’t make it the focus of the response.
The interest in this job
If you are interested in the work, you may spoil it by focusing on something that is a very small part of the job, indicating that you don’t fully understand what the work is about and may not be happy once you do.
The benefits, salary, and short commute, which indicates that you are not very enthusiastic about the work itself. Even sometimes he focuses on inconsequential details of the workspace, which indicates that he is more interested in a different job than the one he is hiring.
Instead, your response should focus on the substance of the work itself, the work you would be doing on a day-to-day basis, and the results you would be seeking. Interviewers want someone who is enthusiastic about doing what the person will spend most of his or her time doing.
Thinking about leaving your current job
Candidates tend to be concerned about how to answer this question, but most interviewers do not pretend that it is a discovery. Your interviewer is not looking for a detailed account of your problems with your boss or a record of everything you don’t like about your office culture.
He or she is looking for a short explanation that makes sense and does not raise red flags about your professionalism or your ability to get along with others. It’s okay to give a fairly mundane answer such as, for example, that you’ve been on your last job for five years and are ready to take on something new, or, also that you’re having layoffs and are looking for something with stability, or that your previous work contract ended and there are no new projects.
Talking about a specific time
Good interviewers ask multiple versions of a question, filling in the blank with situations and skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. For example, they may ask you to talk about a time when you had to deal with a difficult client, or a time when you had conflicting deadlines. Talking also about a time when you had to achieve something by leading a team
Talk about a time when you had to build a new system from scratch and so on, depending on what it takes to excel in the job. The idea behind questions like this is that you get better information about how to operate than more hypothetical questions.
It’s pretty easy to bluff through a good answer to a hypothetical like, How do you think you would keep up with the workload. The interviewer obtains much more useful information about the respondent by asking, talking about a time when the volume of their last job was at its peak.
To prepare for this type of question, think about the skills you are most likely to need at the job and what the challenges are. Then look for evidence of your past work experience that shows you are excelling in this role, examples of how you have demonstrated those skills and addressed similar challenges. In preparing the examples, structure the discussion first about the challenge you face, then what you did to respond, and then the result that was achieved. That should get you exactly what your interviewer is looking for.
You have of the greatest strengths and weaknesses
This question is disguised in many different ways, so it may not be worded exactly like that. Your interviewer might ask why you think you would do well in this job, and the pieces might be more challenging, or what the boss would say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses, or even what kind of information you have received in previous performance evaluations.
The strong part of this question is easier; it’s about talking about what would really make you stand out on the job. What sets you apart from others who might try to do the same job. But don’t just make subjective statements that the interviewer would have to take on faith, like, I’m great with people or, I’m very organized. Instead, give one or two examples that demonstrate that is actually the case.
Talking about weaknesses can be more difficult and requires honest reflection beforehand, talking if you are asked about your real struggles at work, what is unnatural, or what former managers have encouraged you to work on.
Build the answer around that, but also talk about what you have done to improve the effect of that weakness on the job. But be sure to resist the urge to respond with something that you secretly hope will sound good to the interviewer like, I work too much or I’m a perfectionist. Those answers sound insincere, and your interviewer will see right through them.