Top Interview Questions to Prepare For
Practicing for Your Next Interview
Here I’ve summed up the top five interview questions you will want to be prepared to answer when going on an interview. Students are sometimes afraid that their answers will sound like they’ve been planned; but if you don’t practice answering some of the most common questions, you could find yourself tongue-tied and end up flubbing up your answers.
Since most students feel nervous about interviewing, the importance of practice can’t be stressed too much. Applicants often take great pains when creating and submitting their resumes and cover letters, but don’t take the time it takes to thoroughly practice for the interview. By practicing, you will make the mistakes before the interview and will feel more confident when posed the questions by the actual interviewer.
1. Can you please tell me a little bit about yourself?
The answer to this question will be very similar to your 30-second elevator speech. The type of things you will want to include in your answer will be your college, major, and interests plus any other things that you believe will set you apart from other candidates. You will also want to use key attributes that will stick in the interviewer’s mind long after you have gone – strong work ethic, team player, leader (captain of the team), excellent communication and organizational skills, plus being a competitive person.
As a student, you might say, “I am a sophomore at Boston College majoring in business, with a concentration in marketing. I am also a member of the track team at Boston College and am currently the captain of the team. Last summer I completed an internship at Google in New York City and this year I established a marketing plan for several clubs on campus. I possess a strong work ethic and work well with people both individually and in a team environment. I have strong organizational and communication skills and enjoy being competitive when it comes to classroom and sports competitions.”
2. What are your strengths?
When interviewing you will want to make a list of your key strengths and then be able to back them up with examples. Again you want to have key words that the interviewer will remember. This is your opportunity to share with the interviewer what you feel sets you apart from other candidates. Don’t miss the opportunity to capitalize on this question when answering.
For example, “my key strengths include my strong interpersonal and communication skills (both verbal and written) which has allowed me to do well both in the classroom and while working with my peers when engaged in co-curricular activities. I’ve also found myself to be a natural at leadership and often find myself in a leadership role when doing class projects and as captain of my track team. Most recently I have enjoyed public speaking and have given several presentations using PowerPoint and Prezi to help get my point across.”
You will want to be prepared to answer Question #2 and #3 since the strengths and weaknesses question is usually asked in most interviews.
3. What are your weaknesses?
This is the time when you will want to turn your weaknesses into a strength. First, you will want to identify the weakness, show your awareness of how it has held you back, and then talk about the improvements you’ve made and how you’ve improved in this area. Although you don’t want to focus the interview on your weaknesses, be prepared to discuss at least one other weakness in case you are asked.
Here’s an example, “I sometimes spend more time than necessary on a task, or when working in a team, I tend to take on all aspects of a project that could easily be delegated to someone else. Although I've never missed a deadline, it is still an effort for me to know when to move on to the next task, and to be confident when assigning work to others. I am happy to say that these are things I have worked on in college and that I have developed a system where I can prioritize my projects and delegate some aspects on the projects we are working on to other members of the team.”
4. Why do you want to work for this company?
This is the time when you want to know the mission of the company and show that you understand the company’s clientele. Interviewers look to see if applicants have done their homework and if they’ve taken the time to understand the company’s position in the marketplace and how that potentially relates to their own career goals. When answering this question, you will also want to discuss the knowledge and skills you have to offer and any suggestions you might want to make to the company after doing the research.
You may also want to check out Alison Doyle's article on "Why Should We Hire You"?
5. Behavioral Question: Give me an example of a time when …
What the employer is trying to find out with this question is how you will handle future situations by the way you’ve handled similar positions in the past. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and this gives the employer a good idea of your thought process and problem-solving skills. The STAR technique described below is a great way to handle these types of questions.
The STAR Technique:
S – Describe the situation
T – Talk about the task at hand
A – Describe the action that you took
R – Followed by the results of your actions
Being prepared for your next interview will help you to exude confidence in yourself and your ability to do the job. What employers want to see most from job candidates is their ability to do the job and the fact that this person will fit in well with other members of the organization.