5 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
by Rebecca Acree, on Feb 12, 2020 12:00:00 PM
"So, can you start by telling me about your background?" the hiring manager asks. It's not the first time you've heard this question during your job search, and it won't be the last.
Questions like this are an opportunity to tell your unique story to potential employers. Read on for some tips on how to use storytelling to answer some of the most common interview questions.
Tell us about yourself.
This question can be tricky because it’s so open-ended. The interviewer is really asking this: How does your background make you a good fit for this role? Start with a general 3-sentence story about your skills and experiences, then add more details to tailor it to the role in question. Focus only on relevant information, and be as concise and specific as possible. You can include fun facts if you want, but make sure to keep it professional!
Why are you interested in this role and/or company?
This question is a chance to show that you’ve done your research, but don’t just recite facts pulled from the company website. Instead, connect the position and company to your SET, or skills, experience, and temperament -- this will let your interviewers know that you’ve given it some real thought. If you’re familiar with the company’s culture, explain why it’s a good fit for you, but avoid making overly general statements if you don’t have enough information.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Interviewers ask this question to assess whether your ambitions align with the role and company. A general response like “I’d like to be in a more senior role” won’t be helpful to them! Instead, think about where this particular role could take you, and craft your response around that. If the honest answer to this question is “I don’t know,” you might need to spend some more time reflecting on your goals for the future. If you’ve done that and you’re still not sure, that’s okay! Explain that you don’t know exactly what your future holds, but you see this position as a great first step.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Your response to this question will show interviewers how you self-assess, learn from your mistakes, and handle difficult and/or uncomfortable questions. Try to avoid cliched non-answers like “I just care too much” or “I always work too hard.” However, you also don’t want to be too honest and paint yourself in a bad light. It’s better to give a truthful but relevant and contextual response that tells the full story of your skillset. Use real examples for both, and when discussing your weaknesses, show ways that you’ve made an effort to improve.
What questions do you have?
You’re the one who applied for the role, but a job interview is a two-way evaluation. The interviewers are assessing you to see if you’re a good fit, and you should be doing the same for the company! Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking — the interviewers will notice if you’re just checking a box. Instead, prepare a few thoughtful questions in advance, and as you go through the interview, make a note of any others that arise. When the interviewers answer your questions, listen carefully and try to connect their responses with your own story.
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