Job interviews are daunting, and no amount of preparation will allow you to anticipate every possible question.
However, you can maximize your chances of making a great impression by ensuring you have an excellent answer to the most common interview questions.
Here are ten of the things you’re most likely to be asked, along with advice on how to prepare the perfect reply.
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1. “What made you want to apply for the position?”
Whether you’re being interviewed for your dream job or you’ve simply been applying for everything available, you must convince the interviewers that this position stands out to you for some reason.
It’s smart to mention reasons why you have a high opinion of the place, express enthusiasm for the work you’ll be doing and say a few words about why you would be good at the job (though you’ll have an opportunity to expound on that).
2. “Why are you leaving your previous job?”
Never answer this question by gossiping about your previous co-workers, as the interview panel will immediately think that you might do the same thing to them.
Instead, explain why you’d have more room to grow in this new job and note that you are keen to tackle the new challenges that come with it.
3. “How would past workmates describe you?”
The interview panel wants to know that your personality would be a good fit for the job, so feel free to note traits that reflect this.
However, there are also general traits that appeal to almost all employers, so be sure to note that you are a good problem-solver and that you enjoy working with others but know how to challenge them when the situation calls for it.
4. “What is your most significant strength?”
Often described as a “softball” question, this topic is raised to give you a chance to tell your interviewers about your best side.
Prepare a one or two sentence summary of your relevant skills, and add some personal qualities that obviously suit the job.
5. “What is your biggest weakness?”
Don’t offer a pseudo-weakness or dig a hole by making yourself sound like a disaster. Instead, highlight something that is a real weakness but that can be transformed into a strength.
For example, you might say that you are obsessively determined, which can make a work-life balance difficult but ensures you never leave a project unfinished.
6. “How do you deal with challenges?”
The best way to answer this question is by describing a real life challenge that you overcame, especially if you can think of one that’s relevant to the job you’d be doing.
Tell a concise story, but be sure it communicates that you are a creative problem-solver, a team player and capable of dealing with stress.
7. “What unique contributions can you make?”
Now is your chance to outline some things you think other candidates might not be able to offer. Draw on interesting, unusual parts of your resume that can be spun to fit the position.
If you’re applying for a job that would give you plenty of freedom, it can also be good to describe exactly how you’d make specific changes that would improve the way the workplace is run, especially if they might result in making more money.
8. “Why should we give you the job?”
A variant on the question about your unique contributions, this line of inquiry allows you to summarize some of the most important points you’ve made when discussing your strengths, past experience and commitment to the work.
Delivery is as important as content here, as communicating real passion can put you ahead of other candidates who might technically be more qualified.
9. “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”
Start by noting how you think the job will help you develop personally and professional, drawing particular attention to the ways in which you will have improved things for your coworkers and bosses.
Next, affirm that you do still intend to be working there in five years, as potential employers often want to get a sense of whether you are a long-term investment.
10. “What would you like to ask us?”
While this question is often asked out of politeness, it also allows you to demonstrate that you’ve put serious thought into the job and the workplace, affirming that you would likely take the job if it were offered to you.
Good questions might cover opportunities to go on training courses, the panel’s vision for the future of the company or institution, and the social atmosphere in the workplace.