Before you head out to a job interview, it's a good idea to practice answering the types of interview questions employers will likely ask. The Web can be extremely helpful with that, as interviewing is among the most-popular employment topics.
Even so, career advisors can't possibly tell you exactly which interview questions to expect, and especially how to answer them. Interviews are just too personal and situational for that, and there are no single, correct answers anyway. To make it even more complex, there are several interview techniques, resulting in an infinite number of potential questions and answers.
But at least career advisors can give you a feel for the techniques, plus lists of typical interview questions. That's what this article is about.
Interviewers generally use one or more of the following interview techniques.
General or Traditional - Canned and common questions about yourself
Behavioral - Probes your competencies and how you acted in certain situations
Case or Hypothetical - Challenges your problem-solving skills spontaneously and what you'd do "if"
Interviewers usually start with the traditional, canned interview questions and work their way into one or more of the other types, over the course of one or more interviews.
Sample Interview Questions with Answers
Sample interview questions of the common type are listed below. Answers are included. But perhaps suggestions for tailoring your responses is a better way to put it, since specific answers are impossible to provide. Practice answering these sample interview questions out loud to yourself or ask a friend or relative to help you.
Don't feel that you have to answer right away. Interviewers know that you're nervous and expect you to think a bit, so do think carefully before you answer. But don't hesitate too long or it'll appear that you're stalling. Interviewers will ask open-ended questions to see where you'll go with them, so try not to ramble while you're thinking of a real answer.
Qus. Tell me about yourself.
Ans. This is the dreaded, classic, open-ended interview question and likely to be among the first. It's your chance to introduce your qualifications, good work habits, etc. Keep it mostly work and career related.
Qus. Why do you want to leave your current job? (Why did you leave your last job?)
Ans. Be careful with this. Avoid trashing other employers and making statements like, "I need more money." Instead, make generic statements such as, "It's a career move."
Qus. What are your strengths?
Ans. Point out your positive attributes related to the job.
Qus. What are your weaknesses?
Ans. Everybody has weaknesses, but don't spend too much time on this one and keep it work related. Along with a minor weakness or two, try to point out a couple of weaknesses that the interviewer might see as strengths, such as sometimes being a little too meticulous about the quality of your work. (Avoid saying "I work too hard." It's a predictable, common answer.) For every weakness, offer a strength that compensates for it.
Which adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
Ans. Answer with positive, work-oriented adjectives, such as conscientious, hard-working, honest and courteous, plus a brief description or example of why each fits you well.
Qus. What do you know about our company?
Ans. To answer this one, research the company before you interview.
Qus. Why do you want to work for us?
Ans. Same as above. Research the company before you interview. Avoid the predictable, such as, "Because it's a great company." Say why you think it's a great company.
Qus. Why should I hire you?
Ans. Point out your positive attributes related to the job, and the good job you've done in the past. Include any compliments you've received from management.
Qus. What past accomplishments gave you satisfaction?
Ans. Briefly describe one to three work projects that made you proud or earned you pats on the back, promotions, raises, etc. Focus more on achievement than reward.
Qus. What makes you want to work hard?
Ans. Naturally, material rewards such as perks, salary and benefits come into play. But again, focus more on achievement and the satisfaction you derive from it.
Qus. What type of work environment do you like best?
Ans. Tailor your answer to the job. For example, if in doing your job you're required to lock the lab doors and work alone, then indicate that you enjoy being a team player when needed, but also enjoy working independently. If you're required to attend regular project planning and status meetings, then indicate that you're a strong team player and like being part of a team.
Why do you want this job?
Ans. To help you answer this and related questions, study the job ad in advance. But a job ad alone may not be enough, so it's okay to ask questions about the job while you're answering. Say what attracts you to the job. Avoid the obvious and meaningless, such as, "I need a job."
Qus. How do you handle pressure and stress?
Ans. This is sort of a double whammy, because you're likely already stressed from the interview and the interviewer can see if you're handling it well or not. Everybody feels stress, but the degree varies. Saying that you whine to your shrink, kick your dog or slam down a fifth of Jack Daniels are not good answers. Exercising, relaxing with a good book, socializing with friends or turning stress into productive energy are more along the lines of the "correct" answers.
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