In-person interviews (and in-person performance assessments) are the most nerve-wracking part of the job application process. It is therefore useful to familiarize yourself with the most frequently asked questions in job interviews. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but it should prepare candidates well for most interviews.
- Why do you believe you are qualified for this position?
- What do you consider your greatest strengths?
- What do you consider your greatest weaknesses?
- How have you grown or changed over the past few years?
- Have you ever accomplished something that you didn’t think you could?
- How do you handle pressure? Do you like or dislike high-pressure situations?
- One sign of a good employee is the ability to take the initiative. Can you describe situations like this about yourself?
- What do you like/dislike most about your current position?
- What’s the worst or most embarrassing aspect of your business career? How would you have done things differently with 20/20 hindsight?
- Deadlines, frustrations, difficult people, and silly rules can make a job difficult. How do you handle these types of situations?
- How would you handle a situation with tight deadlines, low employee morale, and inadequate resources?
- One of our biggest problems is [x]. What has been your experience with this? How would you deal with it?
- How has your technical ability been important in accomplishing results?
- Are you satisfied with your career to date? What would you change if you could?
- What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself five years from now? Ten years?
- Why should we hire you for this position? What kind of contribution would you make?
Many resources on the Web or in writing suggest how to answer these questions specifically; others advise that you craft general strategies and avoid pre-canned, seemingly robotic responses. In truth, it depends on your personality—if you’re the type who feels more comfortable with preparing a large list of answers to common interview questions, and if you’re confident that you can deliver those answers in a manner that seems thoughtful and spontaneous, then play to those strengths. Regardless, you should always adhere to a couple of general principles when interviewing.
1.) Never say anything negative; always remain positive. If you must say something negative in order to genuinely address a question, then try framing it in a positive way, e.g., point out that you learned a valuable lesson from a negative experience. Do not under any circumstances bad-mouth bosses from your previous jobs. If you’re asked to discuss what you disliked about a previous manager or job, couch your response in the most diplomatic language possible.
2.) Always prepare a handful of positive anecdotes highlighting your accomplishments. So many interview questions ask you to discuss what sort of experience you have had with x or how you would respond to difficult situation y. If you’re armed with positive stories—especially those that would serve as an appropriate response to a variety of questions—you should ace the interview.