You have finally landed an interview. Congratulations! As you conduct your company research, gather your interview attire, and decide on the questions you want to ask, a crucial step to interview success lies in how you answer the interview questions.
According to Marry Guffey and Dana Loewy, authors of the Essentials of Business Communications, expect to answer questions that will let the recruiter know who you are, your professional history, future career goals, and past performance.
While you will never go into an interview, knowing everything the recruiter will ask, all recruiters ask a handful of common questions.
Today, we will go over how to answer five common interview questions.
1. Tell Me About Yourself
Expect this to be the first question the recruiter will ask you. Depending on how you answer this warm-up question, your answer might set the stage for the entire interview. Take this chance to wow the interviewer with what you have done and hope to accomplish at the company. While you want to be detailed in your answer, make sure not to exceed two minutes, as you don’t want to waste the recruiter’s time.
As you prepare your answer, some crucial things to include are:
- Educational Background
- Professional Experience
- Years in the Industry
- Areas of Strength
- Major Accomplishments
While you have already done company research as part of your interview preparation, make sure to include highlights from your research in your answer. Include one or two impactful things you learned about the company and how you feel that your experience will help you succeed in the role. This will prove to the recruiter that you came to the interview prepared and are excited about the position.
2. Why do you want to work at our company?
This interview question is another great place to incorporate your company research, as hiring managers are looking for what you can offer the company. By including company research, you show your desire to join their team and how you will fit into the company culture. You want the recruiter to think that the company is a great fit for you and a great fit for the company.
A great tip is to include how you feel that you align with the company mission. In addition, make sure to include how you think the role will benefit you and that you believe your skills are valuable to the company.
Throughout the interview, you have to remember that the interview is a two-way street. Not only is the hiring manager deciding if they want you for the role, but you also have to decide if you want the job.
3. What are your weaknesses?
When the time comes when someone asks what your weakness is, this is your opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Start with a weakness you had, but discuss how you took action steps to make a weakness your strength when describing a challenge. Make sure to include how your skills have improved by accomplishing these action steps. Here you are showing the interviewer how you have developed self-awareness and how you are dedicated to self-improvement.
4. Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
Many candidates find themselves stuck when they get asked this interview question, as it’s hard to imagine what five or ten years will look like from now. So, the best way to start your answer is by discussing how you currently want to land the job you are interviewing for and want to succeed in this role. Then work in your five-to-ten-year goal of growth within your department to become a solid resource to your team members.
Never tell the interviewer that you want to be in their position in five or ten years. Your answer must not make the impression that you are trying to replace someone at the company. Instead, you want your answer to focus on long-term goals of developing specific skills vital to the company’s success or how you hope that you will be a part of a successful campaign.
5. Tell me about a time when…
Known as behavioral questions, recruiters ask these questions to understand how you have handled difficult situations in the past. Understanding your past behaviors will give recruiters an idea of how you will react to future problems you might encounter.
The best way to answer behavioral interview questions is the STAR Method. This method has become a standard way of answering behavioral questions.
The STAR Method
S- Situation- Explain the background information of where you were working, your responsibilities, and your insight into how the problem began.
T- Task- Explain the problem and, if applicable, what the desired result was.
A- Action- Describe the steps you took to try to solve the problem.
R- Results- Tell the positive result of your actions and how they helped the company.
When using this method, make sure that you only use examples that will give the recruiter a positive impression of yourself. This example should show how your actions resulted in a successful outcome unless they want to know how you wish you handled a situation differently. During your interview, never provide the recruiter any information to make them doubt your ability to do the job or fit into the company culture.
It’s no easy feat, making it to the final stages of the hiring process. You have to get past the ATS system and the pool of candidates before you are called into an interview. Don’t lose your chance at landing the job by messing up the interview. Come to the interview prepared with your answers and confident in your abilities. How you answer your questions is what makes you stand out to the hiring recruiter and land the job of your dreams.
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Guffey, M. E., & Loewy, D. (2019). Chapter 14: Interviewing and Following Up. In Essentials of Business Communication (11th ed., pp. 452–462). essay, Cengage Learning.