10 Common Interview Questions

Let’s be real, interviews are stressful.  But the more you prepare, the less nervous you’ll be.  Once you receive an opportunity to interview with a company, you need to do your homework.  Start with the company website.  Fully understand the company’s product(s) and/or service(s), their mission, and be able to recognize key executives.  Then check out some of their competitors and get an overview of what’s going on with the industry.

After you’ve done your research on the company, the next step it to practice potential interview questions.  The more clearly and concisely you answer the interviewer’s questions, the more you’ll increase your success rate.

While we do provide general answers to the following interview questions, you must add your own personality and experiences to your answers.  But keep in mind your responses may vary depending on the company’s culture.

How would you describe yourself?

The best way to answer this type of question is to be yourself.  Sounds cheesy but it’s true.  Besides, interviewers can see whether you are being genuine or not.  That being said, try to pull from your understanding of the company’s culture and use key words in your answer whenever applicable.  Keep your answer under 2 minutes.  Also, include any interesting facts about yourself (and especially if they are related to the position) so that the interviewer will have something to remember you by.

Can you walk me through your resume?

This question is extremely common.  As such, you should be prepare heavily for it.  While your resume may be slightly different depending on the company/position for which you are interviewing, you should practice the walk-through until you’ve got it down pat.  You should explain the connections between your experiences and the position in order to create a logical path that eventually answers why you are interviewing for the position.

Can you tell me about your educational background?

Again, you need to respond to this question with relevant information that relates to the position.  Talk about your major, course selection, and extracurriculars.  If you attend(ed) a university with a notable sports program, make sure you’re brushed up on the hot topics within your school’s athletic department.

What interests you about this industry?

Similarly to the first question, your answer must be authentic and well-thought out.  Answers such as, “I’m good at numbers.” or “I find it interesting.” won’t cut it.  Being able to explain The Why (link to the other article) is really important here.

Why are you interested in our company?

Refer to your homework regarding the product or service, company culture, and how this position relates to your career goals.  Too much namedropping is a bad thing, but you can mention employees you know/have networked with in your answer.  Feel free to talk about competitors’ shortcomings.

What is your greatest weaknesses?

State your weakness.  Give an example.  Then, end on a positive note by giving concrete details on how you are currently combating your fault.

What is your greatest strength?

Similarly to the previous question, state your strength and give an example.  Don’t brag.  Keep it relevant and tie it back to the position.

Can you tell me about a time when you worked on a team?

Your interviewer is simply wanting to know if you work well with other people.  Employers want to hire people who are team players, so respond in a way that will show that you’re able to work well with others.  Don’t forget to let the interviewer know what your team accomplished!

What unique experience or qualifications separate you from other candidates?

This is really your time to shine.  You should focus on skills and experiences that are not already on your resume.  Realize that the other candidates interviewing most likely possess a similar skill set and/or educational background as yourself.  So take this opportunity to show them what you’re made of.  Lastly, this is an opportunity to show them how hungry you are for this position.  This is a time for your emotion and passion to really come through.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

The interviewer is basically trying to figure out how this position fits in with your short and medium-term career goals.  While almost all answers in an interview should be specific, this is the exception.  Keep it general so as to not shoot yourself in the foot.  If you say something like, “I want to make VP in 5 years.” then that may raise a red flag if your goal isn’t possible in the eyes of the interviewer.  We recommend mentioning having a good work/life balance, being around quality people, and/or meaningful work.

Post-interview tip:

Always, always, always send a thank you note to your interviewer.  You don’t have to write an essay; 4-5 sentences ought to do.  Simply thank them for their time, explain how the interview confirmed your interest in the position, and let them know that you look forward to hearing from them regarding next steps.  Handwritten letters are best, but an email is better than nothing.

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