Picture this: you have been tirelessly applying to jobs and finally get an email requesting an interview. After the initial excitement (and hopefully some relief) you schedule the interview and now it is time to get prepared.
Among the many steps of preparing for an interview (researching the organization and who you are interviewing with, reading the description, creating a list of questions you have, etc.), preparing how to answer the interviewer’s questions will set you up for success. While interview questions can be a point of major stress, it is important to remember that the interview is a conversation between two parties in order to get more information.
According to Workopolis, there are five common interview questions job seekers should be preparing for:
Tell me about yourself?
This is usually the first question asked during interviews, whether in person or on the phone. The goal of this question is to start the conversation and get you and the interviewer talking. It may seem like this is the opportunity to talk about yourself, but per Workopolis, this is the time when you should talk about why you are a good fit for the role. A good way to think about this is as an “elevator pitch” of your career.
Why are you interested in this job?
This is what you have prepared for during your research, so let that information you have learned shine through. You do not need to tell them things that they already know, such as when and where the company was founded, but they want to see that you have indeed done your research and know about the company and the role.
When asked this question, you are hopefully actually interested in the job and are not just looking for a job for the sake of having a one. If that is truly the case, then it will shine through during your interview and you can likely expect to not get offered.
What would you say are your greatest strengths?
This question could be seen as a way to just talk about everything you are good at. However, in your preparation you (hopefully) read the job description, so you should tailor your answer to match up with how the company has described the role. Being able to have examples of how you have exhibited your strengths at previous roles and having anecdotes ready will help you answer this question.
What are your biggest weaknesses?
Ah, the dreaded question. This is one of the trickiest questions during an interview and seems to be a double-edged sword. If you get real in-depth about some weaknesses with the interviewer, it could seem like you are too big of a risk to bring aboard. If you say you have no weaknesses, it is clearly not the case since everyone has things they need to work on.
Workopolis suggests finding an actual weakness that you have, but something that is not an essential job requirement. Further, explain something that you are aware of and have been actively working to turn this weakness into a strength.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
When it comes to this question, it may seem like a trick. Companies usually do not want to invest the time and money into people just to have them leave within a short time frame. Realistically, the days of having one career for 30-plus years are in the past. Workopolis says that employers realize that young people are ambitious and always looking for opportunities to advance their burgeoning careers. To answer this question, pick a job you aspire to secure in the company you’re interviewing with and tie in your experience and skills.
As is the case with most things in life, each interview is different. A key to any interview is being adaptable, but by being prepared to answer these five general questions you will be able to show the hiring manager you are qualified.
In writing, the phrase “show, not tell” is used to remind the author to write in a way that helps the reader visualize the words that he or she is reading by using descriptive words. When you get an interview, you have the chance to show, not tell that you are the ideal candidate for the job.
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