most common interview questions
Tackling a Few of
the Basic Interview Questions
Interviews can be daunting to the most experienced job seeker,
and "terror-ific" to the less experienced. Preparation before
the interview can make a dramatic difference in your confidence
level. Here are some basic questions for you to review to help
you prepare for the interview and become more confident:
1. "Who are you?" - or -
"Tell me about yourself."
The answer you give to this question will set the tone for the
rest of the interview. The secret to success with this free-form
question is to focus, script, and practice. You cannot afford to
"wing" this statement, as it will have an effect on the rest of
Focus: List five strengths you have that would
be pertinent to this job (i.e. experiences, traits, and skills)
– consider the requirements and key words listed in the job
announcement when you begin listing your strengths. You want
them to relate to the position. Pretend you are doing a
television commercial – what do you need to include in a quick
two-minute summary statement/sales pitch to sell the interviewer
on the product (you)? What will make him or her want to hear
Script: Write a draft of
your response. Incorporate your strengths into the statements,
as well as the keywords you have found in the announcements and
any accomplishments you have that relate to the position.
reading/saying your response until you feel comfortable and
confident about what you want to sell, share, and emphasize.
Your script is a way of helping you stay on track, but shouldn't
be memorized, resulting in sounding stiff and rehearsed. You
should sound natural and conversational.
2. What are your
This open-ended question, and others like "Where do you see
yourself in five years?," throw most candidates off kilter. The
purpose of questions like these is to check your self-awareness
and communication skills.
If you are the type of person who prefers an organized way of
life, you may find this question a "piece of cake". But, if you
are among the majority of people who let life happen as it comes
along, you will probably not have a smooth answer without some
The best answers to this type of question come from you thinking
about what you want, specifically. Begin by considering your
short-term goals. No one can tell you exactly how to answer this
question – it will come from what is important to you. However,
the more focused and employer-centered you can be about your
goal, the better your chances will be of steering the interview
in the right direction. Do your best to match your goals to the
position. This requires knowledge regarding the company and
position, so do your homework!
3. Why should we hire
This is another broad question that can take you down the wrong
road unless you have done some thinking ahead of time about what
to say. This question is about selling yourself – think of
yourself as the product. Why should the customer buy?
Develop a "sales" statement. The more detail you can provide,
the better your answer will be. This is not a time to talk about
what you want. It is a time to summarize your accomplishments,
relate what makes you unique, and demonstrate what you have to
offer in terms of what the employer is looking for.
Start by looking at the job description or posting. What are the
keywords? What is the employer stressing as requirements of the
job? What will it take to get the job done? Make a list of those
requirements, then do an inventory to determine what you have to
offer as a fit against those requirements. Think of two or three
key qualities you have that match what the employer is seeking.
Do not underestimate personal traits that make you unique, such
as your energy, personality type, working style, and people
skills. Consider your work experience, education, and volunteer
work. Take some time to think about what sets you apart from
Regardless of what you are asked in an interview, preparation
and practice will improve your performance and give you a better
chance of successfully competing against the other candidates.
Knowing who you are and what you have to offer is vital
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