- Theresa Linn
POPULAR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND HOW TO ANSWER
Interviews are a source of stress for many job-seekers and many recruiters. Having a face-to-face conversation with a stranger isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be stressful.
Below are some common interview questions, along with suggestions for how to answer them. Reviewing these questions--whether you're an interviewer or interviewee--can help prepare you for the interview process and feel ready to handle the questions and responses, regardless of which side of the table you are sitting on.
Tell me a little bit about yourself
This isn’t really a question, but it is still a common thing asked in an interview. What employers should be looking for in response to this question is a two to three sentence response that provides a compelling summary of who the interviewee is as a person. This could be tied to accomplishments or experiences, but wrap it up with a statement regarding how these experiences or accomplishments prepared you for the role you are interviewing for.
Why should we hire you?
This question tends to catch people off-guard, which makes it a compelling question for interviewers to ask. What employers are looking for in response to this question is for the candidate to--quite literally--sell themselves. Play to your strengths and demonstrate an ability to grow and learn, if possible.
How do you deal with difficult peers or managers?
Adversity is inevitable in most work environments. Not everyone gets along 100 percent of the time. Knowing how to deal with difficult co-workers or managers is an important skill at any level, and what employers are looking for in response to this question are constructive ways for dealing with such individuals. Provide solution-based responses here rather than passive ones.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
This is an opportunity to gauge potential candidates' self-awareness and honesty. A great candidate will be candid about their failures and/or weaknesses but will also be able to demonstrate that they are aware of those weaknesses and know what they need to do to address them.
Why are you currently seeking a new position?
This question can come in many forms: Why did you leave your last position? Why were you fired? Why are you leaving your current position? They all boil down to roughly the same thing: they want to know why you are interviewing with them. What employers are looking for with this question is an honest assessment of your current position and the role you play in it, as well as what you are looking to gain by moving to a new position. Generally, focusing your responses on a growth-minded outlook is a good answer to this type of question. You don’t have to sugarcoat it if you’ve been fired, but this is another opportunity to demonstrate that you learn from your mistakes and grow from challenges.
What do you know about the company?
This question has become increasingly common, and it’s no surprise. With the wealth of information available on the internet, not doing any research on a company prior to an interview is almost unheard of. Being able to summarize what the company stands for and any interesting information you may have found during your search is likely to be the best type of answer to provide here and is what companies should expect in response to this question.
Tell us about a time you disagreed with a decision made at work. How did you handle it? Do you think you could have handled it better, and how?
This question provides candidates with an opportunity to describe how they handle situations that are less than perfect and whether they can do so diplomatically. Using a situation that you didn’t handle well is acceptable here, but only if you can demonstrate that you learned something valuable from the experience. Namely, how to handle future disagreements more wisely.
Preparing for an interview is important, and coming up with answers to popular questions is a great way to do so. Whether these exact questions are asked during your interview or not, having formulated responses before going into the interview will help you relax into the process and be more prepared in case the interviewer throws a curve ball. Similarly, interviewers should prepare their questions beforehand and have an idea of what good and great answers look like to them so they can stay focused on the individual in front of them and keep the interview moving along.