How to Answer the Most Common Interview Questions

interviewInterviews are never easy.  Interviewers will ask tough and sometimes unusual questions that really make a candidate think before answering.  There are many questions that are specific to the job or manager that a candidate really can’t prepare for.  However, there are some questions that almost always get asked but many struggle with answering.  Below are a couple examples from Virginia Tech’s Career Service site of common interview questions and a brief explanation of what the interviewer is looking for.

Interviewer says: Tell me about yourself.

  • Remember, this is a job interview, not a psychological or personal interview. The interviewer is interested in the information about you that relates to your qualifications for employment, such as education, work experiences and extracurricular activities.

Interviewer says: What do you expect to be doing five years from now? Ten years from now?

  • The interviewer is looking for evidence of career goals and ambitions rather than minutely specific descriptions. The interviewer wants to see your thought process and the criteria that are important to you. The interviewer is not looking for information about your personal life.

Interviewer says: Why should I hire you?

  • Stress what you have to offer the employer as relates to the position for which you are interviewing, not how nice it would be to work there or what you want from the employer. Remember that you are being compared to other candidates, and in fact more than one candidate might be a very good employee. Deliver to the employer reasons to see that you are a good fit (show you know yourself, know the field/industry, know the organization, and know the position).

Interviewer says: “What is your greatest weakness?”

  • Be careful with this one. Most interview guides will tell you to answer it with a positive trait disguised as a weakness. For example, “I tend to expect others to work as hard as I do,” or “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.” Interviewers have heard these “canned” answers over and over again. To stand out, be more original and state a true weakness, but then emphasize what you’ve done to overcome it. For example: “I’ve had trouble delegating duties to others because I felt I could do things better myself. This has sometimes backfired because I’d end up with more than I could handle and the quality of my work would suffer. But I’ve taken courses in time management and learned effective delegation techniques, and I feel I’ve overcome this weakness.”IMPORTANT: Be sure the weakness you talk about is NOT a key element of the position!

Sound familiar?  If not share what questions you been asked during an interview that made you think twice!

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