You answer the phone. It’s HR calling to schedule an interview for you. You think “yes” just before panic sets in.
Interviews can be terrifying. What should you say? How should you answer the interview questions? What questions should you ask?
I’ve guided many of my clients through the interview process. When you’re called for an interview, the best thing you can do for yourself is to anticipate the questions and practice your responses.
Here are the most common interview questions and answers for 2021.
- Tell us about yourself.
This is one of the most asked interview questions. Every year it stumps job seekers. It’s hard to tell people about who you are. You don’t want to say too much but you don’t want to sound uninteresting. So, what do you do?
Do your homework. Learn what the company pain points and how your strengths will help the company overcome those. Review the job description and pick out qualities the hiring manager is seeking so you can speak to those.
Be succinct. Paint a picture of where you are right now professionally. Talk about how your past work experiences have developed the strengths you have now, and weave those into the pain points or job description. Stay relevant. The interviewers do not want your life story!
- What is your greatest weakness?
You will be asked this question. Be prepared. For an in-depth review on how to respond to this question, I wrote about it in this blog.
There is a simple formula for responding to this question. Tell the interviewer a story.
- I had this weakness.
- It showed up in my job this way.
- I recognized I needed to work on overcoming this weakness.
- I did this to help.
- These are the results I’ve seen since working on my weakness.
Everybody has a weakness. It is more about recognizing your weaknesses and doing what you can to improve. Employers want to know that you are open to exploring and working on challenges you might face in the workplace.
- What is your greatest strength?
This seems like an easy question, but your response needs to clearly show that your strengths will benefit their company. Here’s where the research you’ve done will really pay off.
Use your response to fit the job description and any pain points you’ve identified for the company. Tell the interviewer your best success story as it relates to the position. You want to show your interviewer that you’ve read the job description and know that your strengths will benefit the company.
- Why do you want to work here?
Inevitably, you will need to be able to articulate why you want to work for the company. Hiring managers are trying to figure out how long you’re going to stay in the position if you’re hired. They are not interested in hearing reasons like money, location, schedule, or benefits. They want to know where you are along your career path and whether this position will get you there as well as keep you interested long enough to make it worth their while.
As a career coach, I always talk about career paths with my clients. I encourage my clients to only seek those positions that are clearly aligned with their stated career objectives. Again, doing your homework on the company as well as the job description is going to be an asset. Your response should include your career path or objective and how, specifically, the role you’re interviewing for fits into the path. Bonus points for including exactly why that company is tied to your career path. This can be company stated benefits like education reimbursement or opportunities for advancement. You want your response to be specific. So, if you’re going to cite opportunities for advancement, you will want to specify what types of opportunities and how those will advance you along your career path.
- What are your salary expectations?
Hiring managers want to know if your salary requirements are within their range. If at all possible, let them throw out the first number. This is a game of whoever goes first loses. Nonetheless, you should be prepared to answer this question.
I wrote an entire blog about this topic. If you’re asked what your current salary is, let the interviewer know that your current salary is not reflective of what you expect because the roles are different. Know what others are making in the same role. Keep your response brief but use a precise number, for example, $76,250. This is better than $75,000 or $77,000. Because it is so precise, it tells the employer you’ve done your homework.
- Do you have any questions?
Yes! You have questions. Prepare a set of questions before you arrive. This is your chance to get to know your potential new employer. Your questions should show the interviewer that you’ve researched the company.
Your questions should relate to the job description, the role, or how you will succeed in the role. For example, “What skills will make someone successful in this role?” You can also ask a question to prompt a discussion. For example, “What do you see as the biggest challenge for the next person hired to do this role?” Prepare five to ten questions to ask. You’ll likely only ask one or two, but you don’t want to ask a question that’s been answered during the interview.
When you’re prepared to respond to these interview questions, you will have more confidence without seeming arrogant. The interview will go more smoothly. Your chances of a second interview or even a job offer will improve.
So, instead of dreading your next interview, take some time to go over these common interview questions and answers. Weave your skills and experience into the responses and apply those directly to the job description. Then, get ready to ace your interview.
Sick of applying for jobs and not hearing back? Click HERE for a FREE course on how to land a job you love!