COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF
This is a common starter question for any interview. If it sounds broad and ambiguous, that's because it is...
I always wonder what the interviewer wants from me. There really isn't an answer.
My suggestion is to think about the things you want your interviewer to know about you before you leave the room. I always try to develop a mixture of personal and professional content for this answer.
Personal: You need to show that you aren't a robot and all about work. Pick some interesting facts and stories to include in your intro. [Ex: I often talk about being from Alabama and explain what brought be to North Carolina and how I ended up sitting in front of my interviewer.]
Professional: Mention your qualifications and past experience. You will get asked all sorts of professional questions during the rest of your interview, so there is no need to give a recitation of your entire resume.
Finally, PRACTICE! Seriously. Have this memorized and keep it somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute and a half. The sweet-spot is about one minute though.
This is your first impression. Make it count. If you are witty, make a funny during your intro. If you are obsessed with something, mention what you do in your free time. There is no perfect formula for this, but practice is key.
Give your intro to your friend, mom, roommate, or teacher to try it out on a real person.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST WEAKNESS?
Can pretty much guarantee you will get this question in an interview. This one requires some soul teaching and self-reflection.
The trick is to develop an answer that admits a shortcoming, but isn't too candid that your interviewer won't want to hire or choose you.
Gauge your interview so far. Sometimes I throw in a "funny." I've said things Like "parking!" And explained how I have hit over a dozen parked cars as well as inanimate objects, but I have been lucky enough to never have hit a moving vehicle. Then I reassure the interviewer that I didn't hit any vehicles on my way in today.
This is a good time to be light and fun, but ALWAYS follow up with a REAL weakness.
Here is an example of a real weakness I have admitted before: Over-commiting can be a real weakness for me. I like to stay busy, but sometimes to a fault. In college and law school I have experienced what being stretched too thin feels like. Now, I work hard to be practical when making my schedule and committing to obligations.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH?
Think about the job you are applying for. What is something that would make you a strong candidate? List a few qualities that an employer is likely looking for and then determine which ones are also strengths you have.
Nobody likes to brazenly brag about themselves, but this is your opportunity to tell your interviewer why you are the greatest!
Example 1: My intense focus is my greatest strength. I have been thrust into fast-past and high-energy jobs in the past but it wasn't my work ethic that allowed me to excel, but instead my ability to focus on the task at hand. Focusing and prioritizing what needs to be completed and determining the most efficient order would make me as asset to this company/organization.
Example 2: My intnerpersonal skills are most certainly my greatest strength. Since I was a young child, I have been gifted with the ability to relate to every person I meet on an individual basis. I enjoy finding commonalities and building relationships of substance. In this sales/manager/PR role I believe my experience with one-on-one relations would benefit this company/organization.
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?
I beg you... If you get NOTHING else out of this blog that you will remember this: ALWAYS have a list of questions to ask your interviewer!
As a personal rule of thumb I like to have at least SIX questions prepared. I usually like to have an 80/20 rule on the content of my questions. The 80/20 rule applies to many aspects of my life, which I will likely to an entire blog post on one day, but for now it's simple this: 80% substantive questions and 20% personal or light questions.
The importance of asking questions lies in the EFFORT. Interviewers want to know you CARE and you took the time and energy to really contemplate the job or opportunity they are presenting you with. An easy way to show them is by asking thoughtful and researched questions.
Take time to research the company, your interviewer, and the job.
Some examples of substantive questions and explanations:
I saw on the website, that XYZ corp. has consistently made the Forbes Top 100 Places to Work, in your own words, how would you describe the company culture? This question shows the interviewer a few things. First, that you looked at the website; therefore, you did at least some basic research before the interview began. Second, that you care about company culture and the workplace environment. This is a good question, and one of my FAVORITE, because workplace culture is very important to me, but it also allows your interviewer to talk about an important topic from a personal and reflective viewpoint. I've found that this question catches most interviewers off-guard in the best way. They like how creative it is, but that it also makes them take a second to contemplate their honest answer. Another great thing about this question is that most likely it will not come up organically in the interview so you won't have to mark it off your list. 10/10 would recommend this question on your list.
You mentioned the most challenging part of your job is XYZ, what is the most rewarding part of your job? This question requires some active listening during the interview. If the interviewer doesn't say the most challenging part of their job then that becomes your question; however, if they mention it and you can loop their answer into your follow-up question they will have the opportunity to be impressed with your listening skills, which has been deemed on of the most important qualities an employee can have [bonus points!]. This is also a quality question if you will be doing similar work to your interviewer. I commonly use this in internship interviews since the interviewer is usually someone in a professional role that I would work for and be engaged in very similar work.
What would a typical day look like in this role? Make sure to be careful with this one. Some jobs look different every single day, so if your interviewer has already mentioned that and you ask this question you will look like a poor listener. Otherwise, this is a good go-to question for your list. It is a bit cookie-cutter, but as a last resort if you don't have any creative questions or your interviewer has already answered all your questions during the interview, you can lean on this one.
When can I expect to hear from you? This is KEY. If your interviewer does not volunteer this information, this is a great final question to ask!
Question involving salary, start dates, intern programs, and the like are also good to have ready. Think about the questions you actually want or need the answer to!
Examples of Personal and Light Questions:
I noticed on LinkedIn your degree is in XYZ, I'm so curious... How did you end up in ABC? Pro tip: If you know who your interviewer will be ahead of time, find them on LinkedIn. This shows your are serious about your success on this interview. Also, people love talking about themselves. During the interview process you will (or should) do most of the talking, this gives your interviewer a chance to do some talking and for it to feel more like a real conversation.
As a successful XYZ, what is the best advice you have for someone pursuing a similar role? Again, this gives your interviewer a chance to do some talking and you'll get a feel for their outlook on the career and life. Who knows, you might even get some actual good advice!
The most important thing when asking questions is to listen during the interview. Sure, you should have some prepared questions written out just in case but hopefully it's an engaging interview and you'll be intrigued but something that comes up and you can ask a follow-up question at the end.