By Grace Wardin
If you are interviewing with different businesspeople, chances are that they will ask you different questions based on the business or personalities of the staff members.
Some employers, especially those who focus on hiring creative and unique employees, may ask you uncommon or unusual questions, such as “Describe the color yellow to someone who is blind.” For those types of organizations you need to be prepared for anything.
But there are some questions that many, if not most, employers ask. Here’s how to answer those common questions:
- “Tell me about yourself.”
Ah, yes. This question is often asked right off the bat and must be expected by all interviewees. Have a rehearsed (but not overly simulated) response. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Focus on the last point the most. Oh, and keep it clean! Don’t include what you do on the weekends if your main hobby is binge drinking.
- “Tell me about a time when a solution didn’t work.”
Employers want to know if you’ve learned from your mistakes. Answering a question that has a negative aspect to it is difficult, so have a few examples in mind of a time when your work could have been improved. Explain what you did to fix the situation (if anything), and why. Explain what you would do differently in the future. Also, be sure to have the opposite of this question in mind too, such as situations where you delivered superb work to a previous employer and why you were proud of it.
- “Why did you leave your previous employer, or why are you leaving your present job?”
Employers understand that the economy has caused some employers to downsize, so don’t be ashamed if this was the case with your last job. If you were fired for performance issues, it’s best to merely say you “parted ways” and re-focus the discussion on how your skill set matches the position you are applying for. If you currently have a job, focus on why you’re seeking greater opportunity, challenges and responsibility.
- “What can you tell me about this company?”
Do your homework and research the background and mission/vision statements of the company you’re interviewing for. This question usually catches people off guard since many don’t think to look up the overall goals of the company. People typically just know the job description inside and out, which is excellent, but not the only knowledge they need going into the interview. Know the names of the president and CEO, along with achievements and milestones of the company. Employers want to know that you’re interested in more than just the job.
- “Why should I hire you?”
Finish strong! This question is almost always asked in interviews, and many are unprepared to answer it, causing their answer to be vague and predictable. Before the interview, closely review the job description and qualifications to identify the skills and knowledge that are critical to the position. Illustrate why you are the most qualified candidate for this job by identifying experiences from your past that demonstrate those skills and knowledge.