Preparing answers to questions before an interview will strengthen your chances of making a great impression on a potential employer. Use the following tips to respond intelligently to difficult questions.
Tell me about yourself.
Employers often open interviews with this question. Be prepared to give a brief summary of your education, job experience, skills, and future goals. Only touch on your interests briefly if at all. At the end of your response, make sure to tie your experience back to the job and your desire to join their company.
Why should we hire you?
This is a great opportunity to summarize your best qualities and experience that relate to the job description. Show that you have done research on their company and explain how you are a good fit for the company’s values, mission and culture. Be careful not to give a generic answer—most candidates merely assert that they are “hardworking” and “motivated” without backing it up.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
Use a real weakness that you have and show how you are working to improve it. For example, “I’m unfamiliar with social networking, but I’ve recently started a LinkedIn account in order to become more comfortable.” Don’t give an easy answer such as “I work too hard” or “I’m too detail-oriented”—these answers will seem insincere.
Have you ever had an issue with your boss?
Be careful not to gossip about any past bosses and to stay positive. Perhaps explain that you’ve never had any awful bosses, but that you’ve learned what managerial styles work for you.
Why did you leave your last job?
Again, don’t be overly negative about your last job. Instead focus on your career goals, and how they can be better met at a new position. For example: “At my last position I did not have a chance to work independently—I hope to find a new position where I would have the ability to execute my ideas individually, while still being part of a team”
What are your salary expectations?
This is a tough question because as a candidate you want the most that your potential employer can offer, while your potential employer wants to hire you for the lowest possible rate. If possible, have the interviewer lead by naming an amount. Then you will have a better idea of how to answer. Otherwise, if you are forced to give an expected salary, make sure to give a range instead of a specific number. Since your future salary will be determined by your past compensation, try suggesting a range that reflects what you have earned in the past.
Do you have any questions to ask me?
Make sure to prepare questions ahead of time to show that you are prepared and interested about the position. Try asking your interviewer why they enjoy working at this company or what a typical day would be like in this position.
If you could have dinner with any famous dead person, who would it be?
Oddball questions like these are used to see if you can think on your feet, and to test your sense of humor. Don’t think about the question too hard and answer quickly. Show a little bit of your personality while keeping your answer appropriate.