Landing a job interview after numerous job applications can be both nerve-racking and exciting. Whether you have just graduated or still attend college, this interview may be your first in the professional world, so it makes sense that you can be dealing with some nervousness. There is no set formula to make an interview successful, but there are some ways candidates can prepare and help make the meeting as smooth as possible. Here are some common interview questions you can expect and good strategies to consider when answering them.
Tell me about yourself
This is a very common question that is intended to be an ice-breaker. It is not, however, an opportunity for you to tell your entire life story, so try to avoid leading with where you grew up and what your favorite hobbies are. Hiring managers expect interviewees to discuss their academic qualifications, relevant skills, and prior work history. Write down key experiences you have that closely relate to the job you are interviewing for. For example, if you are interviewing for a position in sales, your skills and academic qualifications may include:
- A business or retail degree
- Good at building relationships
- Strong communication and public speaking skills
- An interest in the industry
- Previous work in sales that developed negotiation skills
Why this position?
“I need money” is not the right answer to this one, unfortunately. When managers ask this, they want to hear what knowledge you have about the company and what makes you the right person for the role. Before your interview, make sure to research the company. Find out their company philosophy, achievements, and what it is they do. Then connect that to your own skills and experiences and figure out how they align with one another.
What can you bring to the role?
Bragging is a mistake when it comes to interviews, so be sure to avoid the hard sell when asked this question. Highlight your skills and how they can increase the company’s overall success for the future. If interviewing for a marketing assistant role, you can emphasise how your excellent writing and analysis skills can be put to good use. Offer an example of a successful campaign you ran on social media that reached a high number of people, and how that drove more traffic to a website.
Planning your answer carefully shows hiring managers the effort and thought you have put in to why you would be a good hire.
What are your strengths?
The best way to navigate this question is by focusing on the strengths that relate to the job. Managers ask this question to see whether your skills align with what the company needs, and how easily they can expect you to hit the ground running with your new role. Your strengths might include the ability to work both autonomously and within a team, leadership skills, ability to work to tight deadlines efficiently and accurately, or that you are calm under pressure.
What are your weaknesses?
While you should answer this question with a positive spin attached, avoid phrases like “I’m a perfectionist.” This is an extremely common answer that managers hear all of the time, and it won’t make you stand out from other candidates. Instead, think of experiences you have where you turned a previous weakness into a positive. Some examples include:
- You had difficulty delegating to others, but you are now able to do it with ease.
- You had a tendency to over-complicate your work, but you now have an organized process using to-do lists to better manage your time.
- You once found public speaking to be difficult, but after getting out of your comfort zone and practicing, you can do it with confidence.
These common interview questions don’t require rocket science, just simple research and practice. The more interviews you have, the more you will feel at ease.