Interview FAQ

by Jun 11, 2018

If you ask most people, they’re usually able to guess what the typical interview questions are. However, if you ask a group of people how they would answer these questions, the answers may vary.

So, what are the right answers to such “basic” interview questions? These questions might seem straightforward, but they’re anything but that. In her article, Ashley Sanford gives a few tips on how to answer these seemingly innocuous questions.

  • Tell us about yourself: This might seem like a lighthearted, casual question to get the interview going, but it’s anything but that. Usually when an employer asks you this, they’re specifically looking to see what you talk about. For example, do you jump right into the traits you have that would make you a good fit for this job? Or, do you start telling the interviewer about your family and outside interests? They answer should always connect back to why you’re there: the job! Avoid going into detail about family life, personal matters, and opinions. What they want to know is that you’re thinking about getting this job, and how your personality, interests, and skills make you best qualified for it.
  • Strengths: Now is your opportunity to talk about what you’re good at, and what you can bring to the job. Now isn’t the time to be shy, but it also isn’t the time to be arrogant. Employers of course want to hear what you can bring to this role, but this is also a test of modesty. If you talk for 10+ minutes about why you’re THE BEST, they will probably worry about your modesty and wonder how you’l interact with your colleagues and supervisors. However, if you’re too modest, they’ll worry about your confidence and aptitude. They key with this one is to strike a balance; talk about what you’re good at and have examples to back it up. However, don’t go on and on (and on) about yourself.
  • Weaknesses: This one is tricky, because how can you talk to a potential employer about your flaws? The answer is to frame it in such a way that suggests that a) you’re aware of the flaw, and b) you’re doing something about it. Along with the weakness, you want to include steps you’ve taken to improve. It’s less effective to say how you plan to improve, so be sure to use an example you’ve already been working on.
  • Why do you want this job?: The rule of thumb for this is to give an explanation that helps both you and the employer. They want to know that you want this job because of the company and the role, but they also want to know that you truly want it, and that this isn’t just a “job” for you. It’s an employer’s job to prevent turnover in their departments as much as possible, so reassure them that you don’t plan to contribute to that. Be sure to note how this job aligns with your career path and what you’re excited to learn from it.
  • Why should we hire you?: This is where your soft skills come in. Any employer will have your resume in front of them while they ask you this, so now is the time to extend beyond that. Talk about your interpersonal skills, as well as your technical skills and experience. Sanford says these three things should be in your mind as you answer this one:
    • Your skills and experience that make you a good fit
    • Your ability to produce exceptional work in this realm
    • Why you stand out in a crowd

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your interviews. Remember what they employer’s motivation is, and why they’re asking you the questions. No question is arbitrary in an interview, so strategize with this in mind.


Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

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