There will come a time in your life when you will have to interview for a new job. It might be your first job, and you are trying out as a server at McDonald's, or it could be the job or your dreams after many years of hard work and studying!
When interviewing for a new position, you will be asked a myriad of questions relating to your personality, work ethic, skills, and job knowledge. Most questions are standard, but others could be job-specific and industry-related. All are designed to find out if you are the best person for the job.
Heading into an interview and going through the process of people asking you all sorts of questions about yourself and your life is difficult and stressful. Add to that the worry that you are not answering the questions as you should, it can really hamper any chance that you thought you had of landing that job. That's why I have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions during an interview and how you can answer them in the best possible way to make a good impression.
How To Prepare For An Interview
This step is important. NEVER. SKIP. PREPARATION! With a little bit of preparation beforehand, you will have a better chance of landing your new job . Do not procrastinate and leave your preparations to the last minute. Most of the time it is very hard to hide lack of preparation so is will probably show at some point during your interview and could work against you.
This is what you should do to prepare for your all-important job interview:
Research The Company
Hopefully, by researching and finding out a bit about the Company, you should be more at ease and relaxed during your interview.
- Check out the Company website. Go look at their Facebook page. Find where they have the biggest online presence. Get to know the names of the important people and what the Company ethos is.
- Search online for reviews about the Company. Read the good and the bad so that you have a balanced view of the Company.
Practice Interviewing And Interview Etiquette
Remember your manners? Yeah, use them. This is the time to make a first good impression, and you only have a few seconds to make that good impression on them. If other candidates are interviewing for the same job, you want the interviewer to remember you. I've interviewed countless people and the one's that were the best may have not had the most experience but they were positively memorable.
A practice run of your interview will help to calm your nerves. By going through a literal practice interview session, you will know what to expect during the real one.
- Practice standing up and shaking hands firmly with someone, then sitting down – don't drop into the chair and don't slouch! Watch your body language.
- Ask a friend to interview you and prepare a list of possible questions for them to ask you.
- Try and conduct the interview in the same manner as the actual interview – virtually, telephonically, or in person.
- Listen to the question, think about the question, and respond clearly.
- Be attentive, make eye contact and look interested. (You would be amazed at the sheer number of people who do or say something that contradicts their desire for the job during an interview.)
Pro Tip: You will do better during your interview if you make an excellent first impression!
Grooming And Interview Outfits
Whether the job you are applying for and interviewing for is as a server or the MD of a company, you should look your best! I always overhear my husband say: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” To present a positive image to your new employer, be neat, tidy, and well-groomed.
- Get a haircut and groom yourself if you are a man.
- Wear a touch of make-up and style your hair if you are a lady.
- Shower, brush your teeth, and trim your nails – ladies, don't get too crazy with your nails.
- Dress for the occasion – wear a smart suit and tie if you are attending a corporate interview, or a smart, clean shirt and pants or a comfortable skirt if the interview is less casual
- For in person interviews, wear deodorant but don't overdo the cologne or perfume. No one wants to smell like an axe body spray commercial.
Arrive On Time
Never ever be late for an interview! You need to be the early worm and make sure that you arrive early for your appointment. You will make a great impression by being the first person to arrive, and as a bonus, you will have time to relax and calm down so that you will appear calm and collected during your interview!
- Always allow yourself extra time in case your car breaks down or the bus is running late. Or in case you need to confirm the virtual technology is working appropriately for your video conferencing app.
- Find out the directions before you leave home. Or ensure you have tested the virtual meeting to ensure you have the pre-requisites.
- If you have a GPS, use it! Even if you always know where you are going, GPS apps always show traffic.
- If you have the time, plan how much travel time you need by checking the address that you are going to and time how long it will take you to get there.
- Call and confirm the time and place of the interview beforehand, just in case!
How To Conduct Yourself During The Interview
Be aware of what is happening and going on around you, and answer each question carefully and appropriately. Let them know that you do understand what the job entails and show them that you are happy to be there and are looking forward to working for their Company.
Refrain from telling the interviewer that you are feeling nervous! Be calm and friendly. Ask questions and address any concerns when appropriate.
Be active and engaged in the conversation without becoming overbearing.
What To Do After The Interview
How will you know if the interview went well? If you discuss salary, or if the meeting lasts longer than 30 minutes, or if you are invited back for a second interview, then it's safe to say that you are in the running for the job.
When your time is up, leave the meeting politely. If you feel that you have not had the time that you need to ask all your questions, ask the interviewer if you can make contact in the next few days to speak about your concerns.
Shake hands and be on your way. Be professional. Don't linger and be awkward.
Interview Questions And How To Answer Them
The point of an interview is to meet you and see if you are who you say you are, and if you can do what you say you can! When a Company has a staff vacancy, they need a particular person to fill the position.
When they advertise the vacancy, they will stipulate the skills required and the type of person needed for the job. If you meet the job requirements and have the necessary qualifications, you will be invited to interview for the position.
This is where your great people skills come into play. If you have all the correct credentials, whether you land the job or not could boil down to how you conduct yourself during the interview.
I have listed a few of the most common questions that you can expect to answer during your interview to guide you through the process. Get comfortable with the questions, and practice answering questions about yourself.
These are by no means an exact list of the questions you will be asked, but I have tried to include the important ones. I have also added a few curveball questions to help you understand the process and help you practice how to answer unconventional questions without becoming flustered.
Breaking The Ice Questions
Most potential employees arrive at an interview feeling nervous and anxious. By asking simple, friendly questions, the interviewer will try and set you at ease and calm your nerves before beginning the interview process.
Prepare your answers to these types of questions that you can expect from the interviewer:
1. Tell Me Something About Yourself That Doesn't Appear On Your Resume
Don't brag about your accomplishments, as this question is designed to bring out your personality to allow the interviewer to look at the person you are. They use this question to see if you are a good fit for the job and if you will fit in well with the culture of the Company.
They will be looking for a qualified person and a person who fits in with the Company ethos; for example, the Company may actively support the local dog shelter and might be better inclined to hire animal lovers.
The point is, you should answer truthfully so that you come across as being an open and honest person, no matter what your hobbies and after-work activities are. Speak about the things you know – prepare your answers based on who you are. Mention your interests, especially if they are aligned with the Companies ethos.
- Hobbies that you are passionate about – chess, singing, golf, crafting
- Interests like running or martial arts
- Pursuits like puzzles and reading
- Volunteer work
2. How Would You Describe Yourself Or What Makes You Unique?
Don't spend a long time thinking about this question and how to answer it. You should know yourself, what your skills are, what you are good at and what you can bring to the Company.
Be ready to answer this in a way that describes you according to the job description requirements and what makes you more eligible than similar candidates:
- Team player
- Work ethic
Pro Tip: Make notes for yourself summarizing who you are and listing out key points of your life
Getting To Know You Questions
Now that the small talk is over and done with, the core part of the interview will begin. Read through the below questions and try and answer them truthfully. The best way to prepare for the interview is to make notes of all the answers to these questions and reference them often as you prepare for the interview.
These are common questions, but they really are pretty important. At this point, the interview can come to a sudden halt if you have not done some homework on the Company where you are applying to work. Show the interviewer that you are interested in the Company and have researched who they are. Make a list of the reasons why you would like to work at this particular Company because they are going to ask you!
Prepare to answer these questions honestly:
- What do you know about this Company? Do your homework and not stumble and stutter when you answer this question. If you don't know anything about the Company, you shouldn't be interviewing to work there.
- How did you hear about this position? This might seem like an extremely simple question to answer, but do have a clear answer to give to them. This is true for all questions but especially this one: Do not assume the interviewer knows the answer to this question.
- Why do you want to work here? This could be one of the most important questions that you will have to answer. List everything that you like about the Company.
- Are you qualified for this position? This can be a trick question as they would not have invited you for an interview if you did not meet their criteria! Be calm and answer with confidence!
- What are your strengths? List the skills and talents that you have that are relevant to the position. Have others complimented you in any area of your life? Are you a good listener? Do you fill lots of roles?
- What are your weaknesses? Only list areas that you are working on and intend to fix. Mention your last performance review and how you improved from there. What areas of opportunities have you observed in your own skillset or performance?
- What's your dream job? Talk about your plans, goals, and ambitions and why this job is important in helping you to achieve those goals.
- Describe your ideal Boss. Don't describe their appearance! Talk about the type of personality. Leadership and coaching that you are looking for and expecting from a leader.
- Are you interviewing at other Companies? If you are, don't hide this fact from the interviewer. You will choose the right position for you and your lifestyle and goals, but the interviewer needs to know that you would be happy if they made you a job offer.
Your Work History Questions
This is not the time to embellish your achievements or lie about your credentials or how much you know. The interviewer will see through any fake claims. Remember, the hiring company has your resume and is performing their own due diligence.
These questions require factual answers. They could become quite in-depth, depending on the position and level in the Company. The Company needs to know that they are hiring the right person for the position and that you can do the job well.
Always be as accurate and truthful as you can. This is your history and life story, so you should know it well. Read through the questions below a few times and speak the answers out loud so that you can hear and understand what you sound like to an interviewer.
Practice what you need to say, speak clearly but don't talk for too long answering any one question. The interviewer may not know the nitty-gritty of the position you are interviewing for. Remember, their job is to assess you and get a basic idea of what you know.
Depending on the position, you may have a higher ranking Company executive sitting in on the interview, in which case, you may need more in-depth answers. Decide what information they might require for the position you are interviewing for before attending the interview.
If you are interviewing for an important executive position, you will be required to answer more probing questions. Be ready with your answers and willing to answer each one. Don't badmouth your previous Company, even if you were fired!
Here are 20 common interview questions and answers are linked if I have directly addressed them:
- Would you walk us through your resume?
- Give a brief description of your past employment history
- Why is there a gap in your work history?
- Can we check your references?
- Describe your last job
- What were your daily responsibilities and duties at your previous Company?
- What were your challenges at your previous Company?
- What lessons have you learned from your challenging experiences?
- What are your likes and dislikes regarding your previous job?
- How do you handle conflict?
- If we asked your previous Boss and colleagues, what would they say about you?
- What did you find the most rewarding at your previous job?
- What were your accomplishments?
- How did you fit in with Company culture, staff, and management?
- Can you provide any examples of teamwork?
- Why did you leave your last job/what is your reason for leaving?
- Why should we hire you?
- What can you do for the Company that the other candidates can not?
- Why should we take a risk on you?
- How will you impact our bottom line?
Can You Manage This Job Questions
Well done for making it this far! These questions tackle your expectations and what the Company can do for you.
1. Qualifications. Are you over or underqualified for the position? Do you have the skills that they need?
2. Expectations. What do you want to work for this Company and what are you expecting from them? List all the reasons why this position and this Company appeals to you.
3. Management. Can you report to a younger person than you? Do you take instruction well, or do you argue on points you think you know better? How do you like to be managed?
4. Teamwork. Are you a team player, or will you bully those you perceive as weaker than you?
6. What can we expect from you in 30/60/90 days. What skills do you have that you can use in the near future to make your mark on your team or department?
7. Where do you see your life in about 10 years from now? You can mention any long-term goals and planned studies. Don't be overtly aggressive. This is the time to talk about possible new challenges in the future and your career path.
8. Salary. They will ask you what salary and benefits you are expecting for the position. Give a salary range of what you are hoping for and ask what total compensation package you can expect from them.
Curve Ball Questions
These are the type of questions that really make no sense, but they are the typical brainteaser questions that interviewers love to ask all prospective employees!
- If you could time travel, where would you go?
- If you were an animal, which would that be?
- How much does a school bus weigh?
- How would you sell this cup to me? (for a sales position)
The best thing to remember is that there are no right or wrong answers to the curve ball type questions. The question is designed to see how flustered you will get if anything different or out of the ordinary pops up during your working day and how you will perform in high-pressure situations. Additionally, logic processes can be demonstrated with your answers which are how you perform critical thinking.
They will be checking how you deal with uncertainty, the thought process behind your answer, and how you communicate your solution. Some of the questions are designed to show them your personality and your reaction under certain circumstances.
When this type of question is thrown at you, treat it as you would any other question: Remain calm, think about the question and provide a clear answer. Ask your own questions if you must to clarify the question, but don't overthink it.
Last Thoughts Questions
Now that they have found out everything they need to know about you, the follow-up questions are asked. These questions are used to determine if you will be available if they make you the job offer.
Answer as truthfully as you can without giving the answers that you think they would like to hear.
- Are you willing to relocate? This could be an easy or a complicated question to answer and will depend on your specific situation. Think about the answer to this and be ready when they ask.
- Are you planning any major events in the near future – a wedding, children, overseas trip, etc.? Inform the interviewer if you have any previously scheduled plans that could delay your new company appointment. Most Companies understand notice periods and commitments. If they are ready to offer you the position, they would probably wait for you to be free to start – as long as you don't take too long! A month or so is generally the correct time frame.
- When can you start? If you can start immediately, tell them, but if you need to give notice at your current position, then let the interviewer know what that period is.
- Do you have any questions to ask us? At the end of the day, this position has to be the right fit for you. Ask the interviewer what it's like to work for the Company and what plans the Company has for the future.
- What haven't we asked you? Don't panic when they ask you this question. It's not a trick question. You could have a list of questions you would like to ask, and now really is the time to ask them. If you don't have any unanswered questions, use this time to summarize the interview and sell yourself one last time.
Read the questions thoroughly and write down the answers to these questions and even practice speaking them out loud. Pretend that you are the interviewer and read through your answers from their point of view – be critical of yourself!
The interview process will always be stressful, but by being prepared, you can ace it and get that position that you are after!
As we all know, with all things in life, the effort you put into something directly corresponds to the results you get out of something. So be positive and sell your skills and experience to the interviewer! The only person that is going to advocate within a company is you. This is the job you want, so make it happen!
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