Sweaty palms, racing thoughts, shaking hands…
These symptoms sound all too familiar if you’ve ever experienced pre-interview jitters – and chances are you have. Rather than letting your nerves get the best of you (and possibly having a negative effect on your interview), take the extra time to prepare.
Perhaps the most important step of preparation is understanding what types of interview questions you may be asked and thinking through how to respond. Ease the tension and wow the recruiter with sharp answers to these commonly asked questions.
Tell me about yourself.
Often this question kicks off an interview, so it’s best to keep your answer easy to digest and straight to the point. Try using stories and relatable anecdotes as a chance to be personable.
Begin by explaining your present situation – are you a student, do you currently have a job, what do you do? Follow by bringing up relevant skills and situations you’ve experienced in the past that the interviewer may not be able to determine from glancing at your resume, and always find a way to connect these experiences to where you hope to be in the future. After all, the interview can lead to a job and provide opportunities you wouldn’t imagine. By telling a recruiter what you’re looking for and why you’re qualified, you can steer the conversation in a productive direction.
Key takeaway: Stick to the present-past-future response as a guide.
Why do you want to work here?
This is an opportunity to show that you’re the most informed candidate for the job and you’ve done your research. There has to be something that made you apply for the job, get all dressed up and interview with a stranger. Are you this company’s best customer? Are there specific opportunities that encouraged you to apply? Has this company been a success in the news lately? These are all great questions to ask yourself when forming your response.
Key takeaway: Show that you’ve done research and are knowledgeable about the company.
What are your strengths?
More often than not, a recruiter is reviewing other qualified candidates. Use this question to your advantage! What separates you from the competition? Do you have specific skills that may help you excel in this role? Keeping an answer in the back of your head and reviewing what you have going for you can help you to stay positive, despite the nerves.
Key takeaway: Provide stories and examples to back up any of your claims.
What are your weaknesses?
Having solid and insightful answers to this question can be just as telling as responding with your strengths. Show the interviewer that you can recognize areas where you struggle and your willingness to change, grow and adapt. There is no right or wrong answer, but being real with a recruiter and being prepared for this question can give you the upper hand.
Key takeaway: Be honest (just not too honest).
What do you like to do outside of work?
This question seems simple but many recruiters ask this question with the intent of determining if you’d fit into a company’s culture. Though watching Netflix and hanging out with your dog may be important to you, this is a great chance to make yourself relatable and a show you can be a great addition to the team. Elaborate on activities that reflect your personality and save activities that don’t enhance your best qualities for another day.
Key takeaway: Be strategic in your answer.
Your added effort in preparation will not only help to calm your nerves but will also impress the interviewer and show that you are serious about becoming a part of their organization. While all interviews are different, having a grasp on common interview questions will ultimately help you to shape your responses as needed. Good luck – you’ve got this!