After weeks of sending out resumes and job applications you have finally scored an interview! So now what? You will need to prepare for your interview but you may not have any clue as to what will be asked of you. The following is a brief summary of some standard interview questions and how to best answer them. Keep in mind that you should be honest and forthcoming while maintaining a professional demeanor.
- “Tell me about yourself?”
This question usually kicks off the interview. As simple as talking about yourself may sound, this question often throws people for a loop. You are prepared to talk about the job….but yourself? You may not have prepared for that. Start off by stating some facts about your family life, your hobbies outside of work, and anything else you think will give your potential employer a better understanding of who you are and what you stand for.
- “What were your responsibilities at your previous job?”
When you answer this question make sure to list all of your previous position’s responsibilities, but try to stick to things that are relevant to the position you are applying for. It is also important not to embellish your responsibilities. Your interviewer may check with your previous employers to confirm.
- “What is your greatest strength?”
This question allows you the perfect opportunity to really impress upon the interviewer how confident you are that you are the right person for the job. Try to avoid general answers such as “I’m confident” or “I’m a good listener.” Instead, name your strength and describe a situation in which you displayed that strength. Try to connect it to the position for which you are applying.
- “Why did you leave your previous job?”
This question can be a tough one to answer. If you left your previous job on bad terms or if you were fired, you will probably need to explain the situation to your interviewer. While explaining a difficult situation, try to avoid sounding like you are bad mouthing your previous employer. Make sure you take responsibility for any part you may have had in the situation. If you left a previous job for less contentious reasons, a simple explanation of why you left will suffice.
- “How do you respond to stressful situations?” i.e. disputes with co-workers or angry customers
This question is best answered by relating a real world situation to the interviewer. You may describe a time when an incident occurred and then describe how you handled it and why you chose to handle it in that manner. It is important to keep the discussion light, so you may wish to avoid talking about the firing of previous subordinates or situations that involve matters of employee privacy.
Of course every company will have their own set of questions that relate specifically to that industry. You may not be able to predict what they will ask or how important your answers will be. The best thing you can do to avoid being caught off guard is to research the company a bit and be as honest as possible. Often times, an interviewer looks beyond resumes and job applications and uses the interview process to really delve into your personality.