3 Common Interview Questions—and How to Answer Them

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Believe it or not, most interviewers ask the same kinds of questions. Why? Because the truth is all interviewers have two things in common: they want to get to know you and they want to know what makes you different. What do you have that other candidates don’t? What unique skills will you bring to this job? Are you someone who will fit into their company’s culture?

These are the vital questions your interviewer wants to learn about you, so no matter what course your interview takes, be sure you communicate what sets you apart. To help you pin down the key reasons an employer should hire you, here are three very common interview questions and some ideas on how to answer them:

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Do talk about

  • Your work history (relevant education, past work successes, people you’ve worked with, areas of expertise, etc.).
  • Your passion for what you do.
  • Details that support your likeability as a candidate (community involvement, volunteer work, professional similarities you share with your interviewer, etc.).

Don’t talk about

  • Your age, family, childhood, religion, political views, lifestyle, unrelated hobbies . . . you get the idea.
  • Personal details that have nothing to do with the job—it’s okay if these come up later, but let your interviewer bring this up first.

 

2. What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Do talk about

  • Unique strengths and passions relevant to the job.
  • Specific achievements that support those strengths.
  • Ways you’ve developed yourself professionally.
  • At least one real, honest weakness.
  • Specific ways you’re working to overcome that weakness.

Don’t talk about 

  • Generic strengths that every employee should have (honesty, reliability, a good work ethic, etc.).
  • Skills or hobbies that have nothing to do with the job description.
  • Weaknesses that aren’t real weaknesses (like “I work too hard”).
  • Weaknesses that have nothing to do with you as an employee (health issues, financial troubles, family conflicts, etc.).

 

3. Why do you want to work here?

Do talk about

  • Your passion and enthusiasm for the company and what they do.
  • The company’s good reputation (great workplace, exceptional products, community involvement, unique qualities, company growth, etc.).
  • Specific details on why you want this job at this company.

Don’t talk about

  • How this job is a stepping stone for a better job or starting your own business.
  • How much you need the money or the benefits.
  • How desperate you are to get a job—no matter what the job is.
  • How short the commute is.

 

For even more tips on preparing for an interview, check out this great blog post. And good luck in your job hunting exploits!

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