So, you've passed the resume selection and now you've been invited to your first interview. If your resume was your golden ticket, then the interview is the stage where you must perform your best and create a memorable first impression.
After you've done your research on the company and the role you're applying for, you have to also prepare for common interview questions. Whether you're intimately familiar with most, if not all, of them, it never hurts to improve your answers by practicing them beforehand.
Here are 10 of the most common interview questions that you're best prepared for:
1. "Tell me about yourself."
Most interviews start off with this question. Obviously, your interviewer doesn't want to hear about your life story. Rather, they're interested in getting to know your personality and your related experience.
To keep yourself on track, think of 3-5 points that best describe you and your values. Then, connect them to examples of how you embody them. This can include hobbies or other interests as long as they are relatable to the job.
2. What are your goals?
While the first thing on your mind may be to earn a living wage, you can do better by thinking of your short-term and medium-term goals. It can be difficult to decide on a long-term one just yet, so stick to these two for now. The intention behind this question is to find out how long the company can expect you to stay.
Show that your goals align with the company's. You can answer your short-term goal is to join a growth-oriented company, or that you want to eventually reach a higher position than the one you're applying for. The key here is to keep your answers focused on the company and the role.
3. Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your job?
Employers are curious about the nature of how you left your previous job. No matter how you left or will be leaving, be honest but put a positive spin on your story. Lies will be seen through so, it's better to keep things clean. By adopting a positive tone, you can show that you're not hung-over the previous job and that you've moved on to looking for greener pastures.
And as you state your reason for leaving, your interviewer may follow-up and probe into those reasons more. You don't have to explain every detail you've considered so be direct and concise about it and that your new company is the best place to move on to.
4. What are your salary expectations?
This is one of the trickier questions you'll be dealing with since your answer will affect your chances and your possible salary in the future. In preparing your answer, review what information you currently have.
It's better if you have an idea of how much your possible job is offering. If not, try to research the usual salary range of your position, considering the area you'll be working in and your experience level. Giving a reasonable range not only gets you a good salary but it also lets interviewers know that you've done your homework.
5. Describe a difficult work situation and how you handled it.
Your answer to this question helps the interviewer see how you operate under stress and speaks of your work style. They want to know if the way you manage issues matches or complements the companies.
Share a story that shows you made a tough decision while under pressure. Ideally, it should be a workplace-related issue but if it's not, that's also fine as long as you can display that you were calm and willing to compromise to solve the issue.
6. What was your greatest achievement?
When asked about your greatest achievement, choose something that can help you stand out. Your achievement can let the interviewer understand what made you proudest and what means the most to you. You can choose two if you find it hard to make a decision.
However, keep yourself in check and don't come off as boastful. Stick to only two at the most instead of listing down several accomplishments. Employers want employees that also value humility and discretion more than any number of achievements.
7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
For younger applicants, especially millennials, this can seem difficult to answer when three years is the average time for 25–34-year-olds to discern whether the job is a keeper. Remember the general rule be truthful in interviews and don't promise to stay in the company for many years.
Instead, talk about the actual work you will be doing, such as what responsibilities do you expect to be doing by then. Tell them the type of work you want to be doing in five years. You can also use your personal goals as a measuring stick for the timeline, such as "I want to have a house by then or own a car by then."
8. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This question helps reveal which skills you are the most confident in, and which ones you need to work on. Choose around three for each and make sure that they are professional skills.
For your strengths, they should be able to make you stand out and they should also be backed up by an account of a time when you displayed each strength.
Your weaknesses are meant to be coupled with a positive aspect, such as framing the weakness into a hidden strength or you could also add to the story how you are working to improve on or correct your weaknesses.
9. Why should we hire you?
When answering this question, you want to be confident and state your reason why you're the best candidate for the job. You can do this by summarizing your experiences and restating the skills and qualifications you have that the company can benefit from.
Think of your answer as a sales pitch with you as the product. Make your pitch confident and focused to convince your interviewer. It also helps to use keywords and qualifications stated in the job description so you have a good idea of what the company is looking for and the right type of "language" they use.
10. Why do you want to work here?
Employers want to weed out the applicants who don't care much about the company. Your answer to this question must let them know that you are knowledgeable about the company and the role itself. And, you must also have given thought to your choice.
Great answers include mentioning that the mission and values of the company are in line with yours. Or you could be a fan of their products and services. Emphasize that you are a good fit in the company and that you chose them with purpose.
Having your answers to these common interview questions not only creates a put-together and professional image, but it will also help you be calmer in answering. Practice makes perfect so straighten your backs and enter the interview with confidence!
Half the Sky's mission is to supply the tools that can give every woman the ability to build a successful career and be fully prepared for the future of work. So, that they can lead a healthy, prosperous and more balanced/blended lifestyle of their choosing. By building your confidence, you’re setting foundations to empower yourself and your career. The world is your oyster, and it starts with you.
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half the sky (HTS) is a career platform for women connecting you to career opportunities at companies that care. Providing you with information, tips and strategies to navigate the rapidly changing workplace.