1. Tell me a little about yourself.
Keep your answer short and relevant to the job you are applying for. Do not tell your life story here. Provide relevant facts about your education, your career, and how it all fits together. Tell the interviewer something he or she does not already know from your resume, such as why you chose the professional path you did.
2. Why are you looking for a new job and what are you looking for in your new role?
Spend some time thinking about what exactly you are looking for in your new role. Perhaps you would like to advance your career, to have a position that allows you to grow as a person and as an employee, or to learn about a new industry, etc. It’s best not to mention money at this point, as it may make you sound like a mercenary. If you have had the misfortune of being downsized in the past, do make an effort to keep your tone neutral or positive, and be as brief as possible about it.
3. Tell me what you know about this company.
Do your homework before you go to the interview by thoroughly researching the company, the industry, and everything else you can find out about the organization. Who are the people in the company you should know about? Do the background work, as it will make you stand out as being both prepared and genuinely interested in the company and in the job. Pay particular attention to the information available on LinkedIn to find out who your interviewers are and what their backgrounds are like.
4. Why do you want to work at X?
Any research you have done on the company should have led you to the conclusion that you want to work there. After all, you’re at the interview, right? Put some thought into your response before you have your interview, make sure to mention your career objectives, and highlight your most forward-thinking goals and career plans. Think about your career growth opportunities at the company, as well as the company’s reputation, ethics, and office culture, etc.
5. What relevant experience do you have?
If you have a lot of experience related to the position you are applying for, then you’ll want to mention it now. But if you are actively switching careers or trying something a little different, your experience may initially not look like it’s matching up. That’s when you need a little honest creativity to match the experiences required with the ones you have. Many skills are transferable across roles and industries. A good example of this is having people skills: you’ll need to describe exactly how your customer service skills can be applied to an internal management position, and so on.
6. If your previous co-workers were here, what would they say about you?
Ok, this is not the time for full disclosure. Stay positive, always, and maybe have a few specific quotes in mind. “They’d say I was a hard worker” or even better “xyz has always said I was the most reliable, creative problem-solver he’d ever met.”
7. Have you done anything to further your experience?
This could include anything from night classes to hobbies and sports. If it’s related, it’s worth mentioning. Anything to do with further education is great, obviously, but maybe you’re spending time on a home improvement project to work on skills such as self-sufficiency, time management, and motivation.
8. Where else have you applied?
This is a good way to hint that you’re in demand, without sounding like you’re applying to jobs at random all over town. Be honest and mention a few other companies, but don’t go into detail. The fact that you’re seriously looking and keeping your options open is what the interviewer is driving at.
9. What are you like when you’re working under pressure?
There are a few ways to answer this but they should all be positive. You could give one or two examples of when you successfully completed a project or some type of deliverable, etc, while under pressure or tight time constraints.
10. What motivates you to do a good job?
The answer to this one is not money. You should be motivated by the role you are applying for, the growth opportunity at the company, and the work you will potentially be doing for them, etc. You want to become better at your job. You want recognition for a job well done. You want to help others, and to be a leader in your field.
11. What’s your greatest strength?
This is your chance to shine. You’re being asked to explain why you are a great employee, so don’t hold back and do stay positive. You might be someone who thrives under pressure, or a great motivator, a lightning-fast problem solver, or someone with extraordinary attention to detail. The interviewer wants to know these things.
12. What’s your biggest weakness?
Give a small, work-related flaw that you’re working hard to improve. For example: “I’ve been told I occasionally focus on details and miss the bigger picture, so I’ve been spending time laying out the complete project every day to see my overall progress.”
13. Are you good at working within a team?
YES. How can anyone function inside an organization if they are a loner? You may want to mention what part you like to play in a team though; it’s a great chance to explain that you’re a natural leader and collaborator. Provide a few specific examples.
14. Give me an example of a suggestion of yours that was implemented at your last job.
Here it’s important to focus on the word “implemented.” There’s nothing wrong with having a thousand great ideas, but if the only place they live is on your notepad, then there’s no point in mentioning them. Even more important than having your ideas implemented, however, is having those ideas bring about a positive outcome. If your previous company took your advice and ended up going bankrupt, you’ll want to avoid using that particular idea as an example. Be prepared with a story about an idea of yours that was taken from concept to implementation, and that was considered a success.
15. Tell me about any difficulty you’ve had with a previous boss.
The interviewer is testing you to see if you’ll speak badly about your previous supervisor. Answer this question with extreme tact and diplomacy. You might mention a few minor issues that have come up, but be sure to explain how you addressed them. Keep it positive!
16. Why should we hire you?
“Because I’m great!” or “I really need a job” are not good answers here. Now is the time to give the employer a laundry list of your greatest talents that just so happen to match perfectly with the job description. Avoid criticizing or speculating about other potential candidates for the job. Focus on yourself and your talents; not other people’s flaws.
17. Do you have any questions for me?
I’ll finish the way I started, with one of the most common questions asked in interviews. This gives you the chance to show how eager and prepared you are. You’ll want to ask questions about what you will be working on, and with whom, and how that affects the rest of the company. Show that you are eager and excited about this opportunity and that you have done the research on the company and industry.