After submitting your personalized resume and cover letter, you’ve received the much-anticipated request for an interview from a potential employer. Hooray! After you recover from your initial excitement, you may feel some nerves arise as you realize that what you say during the interview could make or break your opportunity to earn the job.
If you’re anxiously awaiting your upcoming interview, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve researched the top 3 most commonly asked interview questions and the best ways to answer them to ensure you ace your next interview:
1. Tell me about yourself:
This is a popular first interview question because it serves two purposes; first, it allows employers to get a sense of your personality and second, it shows them how well you are able to organize your thoughts. Show off your skills by giving a quick summary of your resume and what led you to apply to the position. Are you relocating closer to home? Do you have a personal interest in the industry? Are you a post-graduate looking for a position where you can use what you learned? That’s perfectly okay, too! It’s important that you don’t get caught up in irrelevant details. While the employer wants to get to know you, they don’t need to know where you attended high school, your favorite food, your best friend’s name or anything that isn’t pertinent to your current resume.
2. Why do you want to work here?:
Yes, employers are interested in you, but they also want to measure how interested you are in them. Prepare well for this question by spending time researching the company. How long have they been operating? What are their core values? What are their top products or services? These facts will allow you to expand on why you’re interested in the position with this specific company. Secondly, take the time to consider why you want this job, other than simply the need to earn a living. Do you believe in the mission? Does your background align well with the job description? Are you looking to join a company of this size? And why? Be specific about why this company meets your criteria and show enthusiasm for the opportunity to join the team.
3. What are your strengths? And weaknesses?:
While this question can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Before the interview, identify one or two of your greatest strengths that correlate directly to the role you’re applying for. Once you’ve chosen these, write down or practice speaking about how these strengths will help you in this role and any examples of times that you’ve seen these strengths help you in the workplace or in school. You may think that calling out your weaknesses to your future employer sounds like a terrible idea, but it’s not, if done correctly. This isn’t the time to mention your fondness for sleeping past noon or your short-temper. Consider small issues that you’ve seen arise in your work. For example, do you have trouble with Excel spreadsheets? Or dislike technical writing? Maybe you struggle with perfectionism or working with groups. Whatever you decide to divulge, it’s most important to include the ways you’ve learned from it and how you have improved.
If you’re feeling nervous about an upcoming interview, you’re not alone. Anxiety and anticipation are perfectly normal, which means preparation is key. Prepare your answers for these questions and more and then practice answering them out loud a few times before the big day. In the heat of the moment, your practice will allow you to present yourself like a pro!