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How to Ace 7 of the Most Common Interview Questions

How to Ace 7 of the Most Common Interview Questions

Job interviews are nerve-wracking, and understandably so—you are trying to take the next step in your career. You can minimize the anxiety leading up to an already stressful situation, though.

One of the most meaningful ways is by preparing answers to some of the most common, intimidating interview questions. Although you do not want to sound like you are giving a canned response, you do want to walk into your interview with confidence. So, practice your responses to these seven questions in the mirror beforehand.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Do not start rattling off the bulleted achievements listed on your resumé. The hiring manager read your resumé; it is why you were asked in for an interview. Rather, focus on what is between the bullet points. Pull out two or three specific accomplishments and go into greater detail. If you improved your company’s sales 30 percent month over month, explain how.

Related: 6 Words to Avoid When Writing Your Resumé

Align your interests with the requirements listed in the job description, or highlight why your professional history makes you the ideal candidate for the job. Emphasis on “professional”—your personal history, unless it relates to the position, does not need to be described in detail to the hiring manager.

What are your weaknesses?

“I work too hard” is overused, and a phrase hiring managers will see right through. Relay actual negatives, but focus on how you turned them into positives. Perhaps you procrastinate because you work better under deadline pressure—mention that, but talk about the tools or strategies you are actively using to better manage your time.

If answered properly, this question can highlight your problem-solving skills; you discovered what was not working and fixed it. Sounds like your biggest weakness is actually your biggest strength.

Related: Interview Etiquette 101: How to Impress Employers

Describe a challenge you dealt with at work, and how you handled it.

Hiring managers want to gain a better understanding of the role you might play on their team. How you handle conflict is a good sign of cultural fit. So, go in prepared to answer that. Do you prefer to be the problem-solver, or are you more successful at delegating? If possible, choose a scenario in which you and your team came to a resolution or compromise.

Why do you want to leave your job?

Criticizing your last employer is not recommended. Rather, use this question as a means of describing your desired career path and the responsibilities you are searching for in a new role—preferably ones that are in line with the requirements listed in the job you are applying for. An example: “I run my current company’s marketing on my own, which has been an exciting challenge, but I am ready to join a team I can brainstorm ideas with and learn from.”

Related: How to Write the Perfect Job Description

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question also helps hiring managers better understand your career goals and desired trajectory. Does this position actually align with your aspirations?

Highlighting your ambition here is important—employers want to know you will be dedicated to the role and the company. Be realistic, however. You should not be telling the interviewer, “I want your job.” Try instead, “I would like to move up the ladder here based on my performance.”

Acknowledging how hard it is to know where you will be five years from now is fine. Just position the conversation around how excited you are to tackle new challenges and take the next step in your career.

What are your salary requirements?

Money matters can be uncomfortable to address. If you go in armed with statistics, however, you should walk out feeling fine.

Before the interview, do your research. Use sites like PayScale and Glassdoor to discover the going rate in the field, and then match it against your education and experience. Determine your range and, if asked, respond with the highest number. Note you are flexible and willing to negotiate, though, because you want the job.

Do not forget to factor benefits into the conversation. A slight salary cut might mean a better healthcare plan. See if they will disclose the pay range and benefits ahead of time, so you can walk into the conversation better prepared.

Related: 6 Essential Benefits to Ask Every Hiring Manager About

Why should we hire you?

Although an intimidating question, it does offer the opportunity to summarize your experience and reiterate the skills you think you can bring to the department and company overall. Emphasize the cultural fit you will be and detail the results you have proven you can deliver.

How can a hiring manager argue with that?

Image via Dollar Photo Club

About Lauren Landry

Lauren Landry is a digital content specialist for Northeastern University, working with the New Ventures team to help spread an important message: It's time to close the "experience gap."

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