Your job interview is your first impression. Besides your resumé and cover letter, the job interview process will essentially determine whether or not you get the position.
A hiring manager is going to ask you a series of job interview questions. Unfortunately, there are such things as wrong answers in a job interview. This guide will break down:
- What to expect in a job interview
- A step by step guide on how to make your own sample answers
- The most common interview questions and answers
What to Expect in a Job Interview
The first variable of a job interview is how the interview is conducted. In the past, interviews were almost exclusively in-person and face-to-face. However, to save time and money, more and more hiring managers are conducting phone interviews as well as video interviews. As a result, you will also need to adapt the way you prepare for each type of interview.
Expect to Explain Why You’re Job Searching and Your Future Goals
Employers want to hire someone who is attached to the company. If you succeed, they succeed. They don’t want someone who only sees this position as a temporary placeholder.
Additionally, you may need to talk about why you’re looking for a new job. This will give them insight into what you are looking for and whether or not this job will be a good fit.
Expect to Talk About Previous Achievements
Companies want to see how you behave in certain situations and how you use your skills. Therefore, expect to answer open-ended behavioral interview questions. Answering this question requires a brief anecdote that demonstrates your strengths and abilities.
Expect to Practice for Your Job Interview
Of course, you can memorize all the perfect answers. But, if you cannot sound natural and deliver a comprehensive response, you may forfeit the job opportunity. The best solution is to rehearse and practice answering these interview questions. Above all, you should feel comfortable and confident without rambling or trailing off.
Using a service like Interview School can help you practice up-to-date real interview questions from actual interviews being conducted around the world. Our AI technology will grade your answers to our mock interviews and score your tone, confidence, and duration of your response.
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Expect to Ask Your Own Questions at the End of the Job Interview
At the end of the interview, the interviewer may ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” While this may not seem like part of the interview itself, employers are taking note of your response. Many candidates, in an attempt to sum up the conversation quickly and get out of a stressful situation, may decline to ask questions. However, this is one of the final chances to leave a good impression.
Ask questions to show that you were engaged during the interview and are knowledgeable about the company and your role. For example, you could ask about recent company news, questions about the position, or even questions about the company or the interviewer.
CUNY Baruch’s Starr Career Development Center recommends only asking 2 to 3 questions, but having 5 to 7 questions ready for the job interview.
Step by Step Guide on How to Make Your Own Job Interview Sample Answers
Step 1: Research the company
It is crucial to learn about the company that you are interviewing for. You need to sell why you would be a good fit. The first step is to view the company’s website. Find out what products or services they provide and what type of clientele they have.
Next, read their “About Us” page on their website to see the company’s mission and values. You may even want to learn about key players of the organization, such as the CEO.
Then, research some recent developments or press releases. Check out their social media profiles as well to see if you’ve missed anything. A few profiles include LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Finally, one last thing to truly set you apart is when you research the company’s competitors. You would be able to understand the market, identify how this company is different and why you want to work there instead of for their competitors.
Step 2: Understand the job description
By understanding the role you are interviewing for, you will be able to identify the skills necessary to do the job. As a result, you will be able to add value to the company you work for.
For example, imagine a job description says that you will need to “monitor and record expenditures” as well as “create expense spreadsheets.” The skills you need to complete tasks may be attention to detail, remarkable organizational skills, and competence with spreadsheet applications, such as Excel.
Additionally, by understanding the job description, you know the employer’s expectations and what type of salary you should be looking at.
Step 3: Use the STAR interview response technique
When the interviewer asks you fact-based questions about your resumé and cover letter, it’s usually a breeze. However, when they ask you behavior-based questions, you should use the STAR method.
The acronym STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The goal is to show how you demonstrated a skill, such as analytic ability, in the past and what positive result you achieved.
Situation: Describe the situation you were in.
Task: Explain the task you needed to complete.
Action: Identify the precise actions you took.
Result: Talk about the positive outcome that came from your efforts.
Interview School has a great article with a detailed description of the STAR interview response technique.
Top Interview Questions and Answers
This question is an opportunity to talk about your education, your motivations, and how you are a great fit for the company. Feel free to share some interesting facts about yourself that showcase your personality.
Avoid talking about controversial topics, such as religion or politics. This is also not the time to give out too much personal information.
This is when your research about the company comes in handy. Talk about what you like about the company, the features of the position, and the company culture or work environment. Be specific and show how your goals align with the company’s mission and values.
When answering this question, it is not the time to be humble but be careful about being too arrogant. Be confident. Prepare a short sales pitch that explains your skills, what you have to offer, and how you add value to the organization.
This is when your understanding of the job description comes in handy. Talk about the skills that you have and how it fulfills the job requirements.
4. What are some of your greatest strengths?
This question should show how your skills align with the job qualifications. Remember to show specific examples of how you possess this trait. Moreover, you should use the STAR interview response technique. Identify a strength, think about a past experience, and explain how your actions led to a positive result.
It can be very tricky to talk about your weakness. As a result, tread carefully that your response does not raise red flags and cast doubt on your ability to do the job. Instead, try to turn your weakness into something positive.
First, identify a weakness and explain how this characteristic impacts your work. This shows that you have self-awareness. Then, explain the steps you took to address this weakness and how it turned into a positive experience.
6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
The goal of this question is to see if you are in it for the long haul. Keep your answer centered on the job and on the company you’re interviewing for. Explain how your career path and future goals keep you at the company. If they hire you, they are investing in you long-term.
7. Why did you leave your last job?
Stick to the facts. It is not the time to throw your coworkers or previous employer under the bus. Always try to keep your reasons positive. Instead, emphasize that you are motivated by new opportunities, rather than running away from a bad situation.
If your interviewer brings up this question, it is imperative that you have already researched the company and position. You want to know what your employer expects from you and what responsibilities you will have. With this knowledge, you can find the market salary range for your position.
Of course, your salary expectation should fit the geographic location of the company as well as the size of the company. Smaller companies in smaller cities likely pay less for the same position in a larger city.
Be confident with your answer and make sure you are comfortable with your salary range before you answer. Consequently, the interviewer may negotiate with you. Know your worth. Additionally, you could even offer a brief explanation as to why you think you merit a particular salary.
9. Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
The interviewer wants you to recall a past situation. This is another opportunity to use the STAR interview response technique.
Talk about a situation that was trying. Use details to engage the listener and explain why the task was difficult. Avoid talking negatively about people. Rather, focus on the challenge of the task. Then, identify the actions you took to make yourself successful. These are the skills that the company wants on their team.
10. How do you handle failure?
This question is similar to the question about your greatest weakness. Similarly, you want to turn your failure into a positive experience. Using the STAR method, briefly discuss a situation where it did not go your way or turn out as planned. Do not cast blame on other people.
This is an opportunity to reflect on yourself and how you rectified the situation. Discuss what you learned and how you grew as an individual.