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A job interview can make or break your chances your chances of getting the position you're applying for. That's why it's imperative that you come prepared with the best answers to the questions employers commonly ask at these opportunities. Since these questions are quite common and relate to you personally, hiring managers expect you to answer them truthfully and easily. Consider this as your guide to properly answering the ten most common questions that a hiring manager can throw at you during your job interview.
Can you tell me more about yourself?
When answering this question, start by talking about what inspires you, what your goals are, and the values that you hold to be fundamental in your life. Next, expand and elaborate on the details you've written in your resume. Explain why you made certain decisions, such as why you chose a particular grad school, why you left your former career, or why you went on that long vacation out of the country. Help the interviewer understand the whys behind your biggest decisions in life.
How did you know about our opening?
"At a job fair…" "From a friend…" "Online..."
Though you may be tempted provide short and sweet single-sentence answers such as the examples above, don't. Use this question as an opportunity to share why the job vacancy appealed to you. Doing so can help you establish some rapport with the interviewer.
Could you describe your dream job?
You know the tasks and responsibilities of the work you're applying for, don't you? Make your answers relevant to the job position. Don't try to be coy and say that the job you're applying for IS your dream job (unless that's the truth). Instead, identify the qualities that you know about the job and relate them to the career you want to have in the near or distant future. Mention how working at this company can help you develop the skillsets you need to achieve your dream job.
Why do you want this job?
It's good practice to do some research and learn about the job and company ahead of the interview, and this question is the perfect opportunity to apply what you've learned. Share what you know about the company, its products/services, the work culture, and most importantly, its mission and vision. Mention the qualities of the company that attracted you, and explain why you think you would be an excellent choice for the position.
How much did you earn at your last job?
This is a difficult question to answer directly, because hiring managers may use it to negotiate your salary. Instead of a giving an actual figure, it may be wiser for you to deflect the question and say that you're considering jobs that offer a certain level of income. You may say, "I'm looking at jobs in the $45,000 to 50,000 range. Is the salary for this position within that range?" Hopefully, he or she abandons the question with this deflection, but if you're pressed to answer, then you might as well give the honest number.
What would you consider your greatest strengths?
This is a question that must be answered as accurately as possible, as it can set you apart from the other candidates. Identify your true strengths, not just what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Before the job interview, spend some time to match your skillsets with the requirements of the job. This way, you'll be well-prepared to describe the qualities that make the most suited for the job.
What are your weaknesses?
Just as hiring managers will ask about your strengths, expect them to ask about your weaknesses as well. The key here is to turn your weaknesses into "strengths," and you can do this by giving a positive spin on your negatives. For instance, you can say that you started out as a frequent latecomer at your last job, but you managed to instill inner discipline, completely overcoming your tardiness.
Why did you leave your last job?
Even if your last job was an awful experience, it would be a mistake to discuss the negatives and put down the company and its people. This is a definite red flag for interviewers because you could just as easily bad-mouth them to somebody else. Instead of saying that your boss was difficult, or that you couldn't get along with your co-workers, or that the benefits were lousy, focus on the positives that the new job could bring you. Tell the interviewer that you are looking to grow, and a new position at a new company could be just what could make that happen. Talk about what you want to learn or achieve if you get hired.
Did you face any significant conflicts or challenges at your last job?
In asking this question, your interviewer wants to know how well you respond to stressful situations at work. Here's the right time to share about that problematic boss or colleague, just make sure you don't end up complaining about or bad-mouthing them. Instead, tell the interviewer how you managed to avoid, reduce, or resolve any conflicts you may have had at your previous job while upholding professionalism and sticking to your values at all times.
What are your plans for the future?
This question is often asked near or at the end of the interview and relates a bit to the one about your dream job. If the interviewer asks the 'dream job question,' make sure your answers here are consistent with that one. Interviewers ask this to gauge how long you'll stick with the company, so again, the key here is relevance. Keep your answer related to the company and the job you're applying for. A variation of this question is "Where do you see yourself in five years?"
You don't need to memorize your answers. Just be careful and mind your words during the interview. Plan ahead, know what to expect, and have a sense of the direction that you want your answers to take.