Finding fresh answers to common interview questions
In almost every interview situation, there are common questions that are asked regardless of the particular job you're applying for. Instead of giving the same old and expected response, how can you increase your chances by finding fresh and thoughtful answers?
You want to stand out from the crowd and that means taking the time to think about what you want to convey and being completely prepared. Instead of feeling anxious and unsure about what to say, you’ll have a ready answer that's specific and relates to the job you're seeking.
You need to place yourself in the hiring manager's seat and imagine what skills and general personality traits would serve this position best. After all, that's what he/she is trying to determine in the interview. By asking open-ended questions, the interviewer is also looking to see if you can think quickly on your feet, if you get flustered easily, and if you came prepared and are focused on the things the company values. That's the key to concise and interesting answers.
Crafting a Better Response
The hiring manager is looking for the best match he/she can find. They are wondering, "do you really understand what skills and personality traits are relevant for this particular job?" Ok, now you have a sense of what the interviewer really wants to hear and can craft your response by focusing on that. Don't simply re-state what's already on your resume and in your cover letter. Here's your chance to shine!
Here are a few tips for answering these 5 commonly asked questions:
Tell me about yourself: In addition to actually wanting to hear your answer for its face value, he or she is asking this unstructured question to see how you react and to get a feel for what you think is important. Your answer should be precise, tailored to this position and delivered with confidence.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? Talk specifically about a skill or experience that exposed your strength or weakness, how you addressed it and what you learned from it.
Where do you see yourself in five years? The interviewer is trying to gauge how ambitious you are and if you've given some thought to your future career path. It really doesn't matter what your plans are, it's more important to show that you have some.
Why did you leave your last job? This is a very common question and it can be tricky. Don't say you're looking for more money or because you've become bored with the routine of your old job. Focus on a unique opportunity you see at the interviewer's company that interests you and how it fits into your overall career plans.
Why should we hire you? It's important to differentiate yourself from the pack by describing a unique ability you have related to this particular job. Maybe you've demonstrated you can work under high levels of stress and think quickly on your feet. Be specific with an example and show the hiring manager how that makes you a good match for the company and this job.
Avoid these Common Mistakes
Whatever you do, try to avoid making these mistakes during the interview. Don't blow your opportunity to shine by:
- Re-stating everything that’s already on your resume and cover letter.
- Telling your entire life story… be concise and answer the question. Don’t ramble.
- Knowing nothing about the position/company and what they’re looking for.
- Not having any follow-up questions, examples/stories about your skills and experience.
- Not dressing appropriately.
- Being late.
The bottom line: In any interview, you should try to understand what the interviewer thinks is important for this job – skills, experience, personality, etc. – and make it all about your potential employer and those skills they are searching for. They need to see you as a future "employee" and not just a "candidate." You need to tailor your responses by focusing on what the company needs and how you can fulfill that. You'll show yourself not only to be a professional who understands this particular position and the industry in general, but as someone who's perfect for the job.