Preparing for interviews will always be nerve wracking. You can research the company all you want, but you can never be sure exactly how it’ll go. You could be off, or the person you’re meeting could be having a bad day.
But, it’s guaranteed that some of these job interview questions will turn up in an interview. They’re not always simple to answer, but with preparation, they can become a memorable part of your interview process.
Check out these interview questions and answers below, and learn how to deal with them when they come up.
What are your weaknesses?
Asking about weaknesses in an interview is a cliche for a reason. “What’s your weakness?” or similar questions are meant to catch you off guard. The answer to this question is telling by not only what you say, but also how you say it. Remember, these common questions are often behavioral interview questions.
There’s no “right answer” to this question, but there are a few wrong ones. Don’t answer with “I don’t have any weaknesses,” or by trying to turn a weakness into a strength. Saying “I care too much,” or “I’m too efficient” will come off as smug, not smart.
Instead, address a true workplace weakness. Admitting to your weakness shows the interviewer you are self aware, and after addressing a weak point, you can go on to explain how you are actively trying to learn or change that behavior.
This question has very little to do with weakness, and much more to do with self awareness and ability to recognize behaviors. Take time before an interview to consider your weaknesses, and how you can move forward from them,
What are your greatest strengths?
Strengths and weaknesses go hand-in-hand. If an interviewer asks you about weaknesses, you can bet they’ll also ask you, ”What are your strengths?” For some, answering this question will mean editing your response down. For others, it’ll be a challenging exercise of self promotion.
An interview is all about you and how you’d fit into a role, so this isn’t the time for modesty. Try to refrain from a bragging tone, but don’t gloss over your best career points either.
If you’re feeling sheepish about humble bragging, try to focus on specific achievements or projects. Delivering numbers or hard data can help convey that not only do you think it's your strength, but that it’ll be a strength for the company.
Why should we hire you?
Similar to “What’s your weakness?”, “Why should we hire you?” is often used to catch a candidate off guard during an interview. It’s a simple question to answer, but sometimes being that direct surprises people.
Your response should reflect the understanding of the job description. Use this question as an opportunity to show off your knowledge of the company and its needs, as well as address your qualifications that match the job description one for one.
Since this question is so direct, feel free to respond directly as well. Say exactly why you’re a good fit and more. Layout how you match the job description in addition to going above and beyond the qualifications for a good fit.
Tell me about yourself
Gotcha! This one isn’t even a question, but this prompt can lead to a misstep in your interview. When asked this question, it’s hard to even know where to start. Always err on the side of a shorter response--it’s better to leave the interviewer wanting more over boring him or her to tears with your entire life journey.
Instead, touch briefly on your background, including education and previous jobs, before addressing your most recent position. Consider the response to “Tell me about yourself” to be the summary on the back of a book. The rest of the interview can be used to fill in chapters or details.
Why are you leaving your current position?
Asking why you’re leaving your current job can be a surefire way of figuring out if a candidate raises a red flag. The interviewer does not want to hear about how much of a jerk your boss is, or that you just can’t stand the commute. Try to stay civil in your response to this question, and discuss facts, not feelings.
Be honest when explaining why you’re looking for a new job, but don’t fall into the trap of complaining or speaking negatively of your current employer.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
You can guarantee this question will arise in an interview, it’s a tried but true way for an interviewer to understand your path to growth. Once again, be honest in your response. Don’t say something just because you think your potential employee wants to hear it.
With the response to this question, the interviewer wants to see your ambition. Don’t worry too much about specifics, you don’t need a detailed timeline or checklist.
How much do you want to be paid?
This question is a real doozy, but for some overworked interviewers, it can be the best way to see if you’re a good fit for the company. Honesty is important with this question--you don’t want to agree to smaller salary than you’re comfortable with.
But, understand that if your desired salary is out of the price range the company has in mind, you might end the interview at that time. On the other hand, if you don’t speak up, you could be offered a salary much lower than you anticipated.
Interviews are tricky, but remember that the same tough questions will come up again and again. Being prepared and knowing yourself can take some of the challenge out of the interview process. Now that you know how to answer interview questions that are meant to trip you up, we're sure you'll nail the rest of your interview and get that job you love.
Want more interview tips? Check out our other interview-related articles:
- What Women Should Wear to a Job Interview
- What Men Should Wear to a Job Interview
- How to Prepare to "Ace" your Job Interview
- Interview Etiquette: The Post-Interview Thank You Email