Interviews are nerve-racking, which is why it’s so important to prepare. But what exactly does it mean – preparing for an interview? And how do you know what questions will even be asked? Here are 10 of the most common interview questions and some tips on preparing your answers to stand out, and (hopefully) land the job.
“Tell me a little bit about yourself”
This one may seem easy, but we often end up overthinking it or giving a flat regurgitation of our resume. There’s no real wrong way to answer this question, but there is a better way if you want to stand out.
Before the interview, make a list of 3 to 5 points that you want to hit, make them interesting and authentically about you. Once you have your list, practice getting from A to B in story form.
“Why are you leaving your current job?”
This question is posed mostly to make sure that you’re not a job-hopper, jumping from A to B to C, always looking for the “greener grass”.
Be honest, but strategic. Talk about looking for an opportunity to grow personally and professionally, expand your skill set and reach new heights. Whatever you share, keep it positive and leave out any personal drama (like a bad co-worker or boss) and company issues (because they’re confidential).
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
Here interviewers are looking for two things. The first is to make sure you’re not going to bail on the company in a year because the hiring and training process is expensive and time-consuming. The second is that they want to know you have reasonable expectations. If you expect to be the CEO of Company XYZ as a new grad, chances are you’re not who they’re looking for (unless you’re applying for the CEO position of course).
Once again, honesty is the best policy here! The interviewer probably wants to hear that you would like to grow with the company and take on more responsibilities. So, if you are applying for a coordinator position, perhaps in 5 years you would like to become a manager of the department. This shows ambition and your long-term vision. Again, the employer wants to know they are investing in an employee that is planning to stay at the company for a long time. And if you’re not, be mindful about the position you’re applying for.
“Tell us your greatest weakness”
Perfectionist, too dedicated, works too hard — these are all genuinely bad answers.
This is a great opportunity to show you’re self-aware and in tune with your opportunities or skills you’re working on. Choose a flaw that doesn’t directly impact your job. For example, going with “I’m terrible at meeting deadlines” or “I can’t seem to get along with anyone who’s not as smart as me” are not great options. Nor can you tell the interviewer that you’re perfect (hate to break it to you, but nobody is). It helps to also provide a solution to your weakness. For instance, if your weakness is that you tend to be shy at first and you’re attending improv classes Wednesday nights to help combat that fear, then share that. That’s a great answer!
“What are your salary expectations?”
Not a trick question!
Do your research online of the pay range for that job at similar companies for people with your level of experience. If you come up with a range (you likely will), start at the top. Try to avoid discussing salary if you’re not asked about it though.
“What do you do outside of work?”
This is a great opportunity for you to share your personality.
Be honest, but professional. Talk about your hobbies that enhance your personality – any sports, family activities and friends gatherings are great options that show your fun and social side. Remember, they’re looking to hire a person, not a robot.
“What do you think we could do differently?”
Not all companies will ask this, but if you’re interviewing with a smaller company or startup you could come across this one. This is your time to show that you’ve researched the company and could be a valuable team member.
Definitely prep for this one in case it comes up. Come up with two or three ideas, and back them up. Maybe you noticed the company blog doesn’t have any photos but you know photos increase engagement, or you tried to look up the company using your smartphone but noticed that the website menu is funky (in a bad way) on the mobile version. Share those things, be a team player with great ideas, but stay positive and polite.
“Why are you the best candidate?”
This is a chance for you to differentiate yourself from everyone else – take it!
Select a couple of your best qualities and/or abilities that you think the company would benefit from, then rehearse the situations you’ve been in that prove it. Saying, “I’m exceptionally dedicated”, has significantly less impact than if you share an actual story of a time you were dedicated.
“What is your best professional achievement?”
This is your opportunity to brag, so humble-brag it up! But be pleasant about it.
Pick one stand-out accomplishment and practice your delivery about it (Think: who, what, when, where and why it’s important). If this is your first job, using a school example is game. Try to include some measurable results (just like in your resume).
“Do you have any questions for us?”
Yes, the answer is always yes. Remember that this interview isn’t just about landing a job, it’s about making sure the company is the right fit for you — this is your opportunity to flip the tables and find out.
Target the interviewer personally (in a totally nice way). Try questions like:
- What’s your favourite part about working here?
- What was the most helpful piece of advice someone gave you when you started out here?
You can also try forward-looking questions aimed at the company:
- What are some areas of growth that are going to be targeted next?
- What’s the biggest gap you can see for the company
Of course, there are many other questions you could be asked. But we hope that these tips will help you get on the right track while preparing for interviews. Want some more tips for the application process? Download our free guide: Applying To Jobs 101!
by Tae Haahr
TalentEgg.ca is Canada’s leading job board and online career resource for college and university students and recent graduates.