If you are in the job market, chances are that you have been looking up common interview questions. Companies like Zappos and Google are known for asking some pretty off-the-wall questions, but unless you are interviewing for one of those companies, your time is better spent prepping your answers to the following interview questions.
All of these examples are just that… examples. Don’t go into an interview and have these answers memorized word for word. These are here to provide a skeleton for your answers and you should put a personal touch on each of them.
This one is DEFINITELY one to think about before the interview. When you are there and under pressure to show yourself off and convince this person to hire you, thinking of a time you failed goes against everything that was racing through your head. The most important part of this questions is no matter what you say, you need to follow it up with what you learned from the incident.
How to answer this question: “At my last job, I was in charge of executing a staff outing and while it ended up great, I did all of the work by myself. I learned that I could have delegated the tasks out and gotten more done with less stress. Luckily, I was able to use that during my next project and we had our highest participation rate in years!”
Everybody knows that this is the most awkward of the interview questions. Trust me, it is for both sides of the interview. As an employer, you most likely have a range already figured out that you have to stick to. As a candidate, you don’t want to say something too low and lose out on hard earned money, but you don’t want to say too high so your possible employer disregards your whole interview. It is tricky because if you say too high, an employer may not even offer you the job because they will assume you will say no anyways. Make sure you have a number in mind that is the lowest you will be able to maintain your standard of living. You may be surprised that an offer is higher than you thought, but you should be prepared to prove yourself and earn a higher salary as you do so.
How to answer this question: “If this is the right job for me, I am sure we can come to an agreement on salary. I researched similar jobs in the area and found that the range of $XX,XXX and $XX,XXX is typical. Would that be where you are also offering?”
This question is not something that you can just spit out a rehearsed answer and expect the interviewer to feel you. This is your moment to show your passion and where you feel the greatest.
To answer this, first ask yourself these questions: Work-wise, what do you look most forward to? When is a time you had the best day at work? What made it so great?
You will start to realize common themes as you think about what has made you happy and excited in your professional life. Never had a job before? That’s fine! Think about schooling or sports or whatever it is that makes you tick.
How to answer this question: “Learning new things has always been a great motivator for me. I’ve always loved to look back and reflect on what I have learned through the various jobs that I have had.”
“Having been in sports my entire life, working as a team to complete a shared goal has always driven me to be my best self. I have been on the winning and losing side with teams, and my favorite part has always been the camaraderie of working together.”
“I love preparing and giving presentations. Being in front of an audience and seeing my impact on a person thrills me. I love to inspire and I’m not afraid to put myself out there and get in front of people.”
Do not say to both of them that you are a perfectionist. One more time for the people in the back: DO NOT ANSWER THAT YOU ARE A PERFECTIONIST TO BOTH OF THESE QUESTIONS. Such a stock answer. Other strengths to avoid answering with: that you are a hard worker or motivated. Did you know that “motivated” was the most used word on LinkedIn for 3 years? Using buzzwords will not set you apart from other candidates. Be honest; take advantage of this moment to brag about yourself. Weakness answers to avoid: “I can’t really think of one” or “I work too hard.” COME ON. We all know our own weaknesses. The trick to this question is to pick one that can be minimized and to follow it up with an action of overcoming the weakness. Keep in mind the job that you are applying for and talk about a weakness that is irrelevant to the position. Can’t think of anything? Call your best friend and have them honestly tell you from their point of view. Don’t call your mom. She has only good things to say about you (bless her heart).
How to answer this question: “I am proud of my ability to creatively solve problems. For example, at my internship, the company was using a basic excel sheet as a check in for clients that arrived at the event. I pitched the idea of using interactive web-based documents so multiple people could be in the system at once and get real-time numbers. This ended up not only saving time but gave us the ability to connect with our clients instead of rushing to check in a long line of attendees. It turned something as mundane as checking in and getting name tags into a more professional experience.
As far as my weakness: When I was a student, I used to leave assignments until the last minute, but with my previous internship, I learned to schedule my time better. I found that the long nights staying up right before the project was due hurt my output and didn’t do any favors for my mood the next day.”
These are the interview questions that can really elevate your candidacy. Show off your knowledge of the job and company while using this to align yourself as the best candidate for the position.
If you are asked a couple of these questions, just keep talking about things that you like about the company and your skills that match the job description. If you are interviewing for a position, you had better know that job description or posting almost word for word.
How to answer this question: “My past experiences working in marketing for XYZ company has let me develop the skill set needed to be successful. Also, while I was looking more into this position, I fell in love with your company’s giving back program. I believe that working with underprivileged youth in the area is important. Those values directly align with my own and the opportunity to work at ABC company would excite me everyday to come into work.”
Look, I don’t care if your last boss was the devil, you should NOT talk about them that way. If you answer this question on a negative note, don’t be surprised when you don’t get a call back. The truth is, we have all had bad experiences, but you don’t have to explain the worst one or completely throw someone under the bus.
The best way to approach this is to think about situations that you can talk about as a learning experience. Any question that has a negative connotation should be turned to a lesson, proving that you can adapt and grow.
How to answer this question: “I’ve been lucky enough to have some wonderful bosses, but I will say that there was one incident where my former boss and I were not seeing eye to eye. I truly felt like we were missing a huge opportunity, but I didn’t feel like my boss was willing to try something new. It was frustrating but then I realized that maybe it was my approach that needed work. I presented my idea in a different way and the more we communicated, the better the idea got. I really learned that sometimes you need to take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. ”
Did you interview and not get a call back? Check out some possible reasons why and correct them for next time. Good luck!