Whether you’re getting ready for a specific job interview or just sharpening your skills for the future, rehearsing a mock interview is a great way to help you prepare. Ask a friend or colleague to play the role of the boss and practice greeting the interviewer, maintaining eye contact, sitting for an hour in an uncomfortable chair, and of course—responses to specific questions.
There are several interview questions you should be ready to answer which are regularly used across all industries and experience levels. Rather than finding out what you know about the particular qualifications for a position, these questions seek to discover more about your character, judgment or basic communication skills. Threee of the more difficult questions are listed below.
What is your greatest weakness? When asked perennial “weakness question”, it can be helpful to think of the saying, “Your greatest strength is always your greatest weakness” and use that as a basis for your response. For example, “My greatest weakness is that I’ll get so focused on a project that I sometimes don’t think to take the breaks I need. I imagine people might consider that a strength, and I suppose that’s true as long as I remember to maintain a good work/life balance.”
Remember, there’s always a positive to be found; find it and build your response based on that.
Talk about your resume. This is a statement question used not only to get a summary of your skills and experiences, but also to determine your ability to communicate in a succinct and engaging manner. You don’t want to just recite what’s in your resume; rather, you’ll want to treat this as a story, with a structured beginning, middle and end that gives the interviewer a sense of who you are.
A good way to structure your response to this question is as follows:
Beginning: Discuss how your interests and education prepared you for your profession and how you chose your first job;
Middle: Talk about how the jobs you’ve had have built upon one another, what you’ve learned and enjoyed, what you do well and how you arrived at your current goals;
End: Wrap up your response by telling the interviewer what you have to offer the organization based on the experiences you’ve just described.
Practice answering this question and try to limit your response to three minutes or less.
Why should we hire you? It’s common for hosts of reality TV show competitions to ask contestants why they deserve to be named the winner. Frequently all of the participants will respond with something like “I want this more than anybody here. This is my one dream in life, the only thing I can imagine myself doing…”
A business mogul on the show Shark Tank asked a woman seeking funding for her company why he should invest in her. She replied that he should do so because she would then be able to show her daughter that anything is possible.
Don’t make this kind of mistake in a job interview! The fact that you’ve been looking for over a year, or that you need a job, or that you’d really like to work for the company means nothing to the person doing the hiring. You need to discuss what you can do for them; what would make you an asset to the organization.
Focus on how your experience and skills will benefit the department and the company overall; the fact that you learn quickly and are energetic and enthusiastic; your flexibility, i.e. willingness to work odd hours or overtime… anything about you that renders you of value to the position and the organization.
Don’t be modest! We all have a unique combination of characteristics and abilities; each is valuable in some way.