Let’s face it—some common interview questions are hard to answer. If you recently resigned from a position because you didn’t get along with your supervisor or a coworker, it might be hard for you to find a positive answer when asked about your reason for leaving your last position. While it is important to answer the question in a positive manner, it is also important to answer an interviewer’s questions with honesty and integrity.
Ultimately, the interviewer is attempting to determine if you will be a fit for their organization, and your honesty and candidness are of key interest. For instance, if your last manager had a micromanagement style and you don’t work well with this type of manager, it might be important to tell the interviewer that you are “a motivated, self-starter and you are open to coaching, but prefer not to be micromanaged.” This highlights your strengths, but allows the interviewer to decide if you would fit within their organization. This is a critical alignment between you and the prospective organization. You want this opportunity to be a fit. If you simply state, “My last boss micromanaged everything I did, and I didn’t like it,” you will be at a disadvantage.
The goal of an interview is for you and the interviewer to better understand each other and how your skills would fit within their organization. The culture of an organization is important; both you and your future employer should want you to fit into the culture well. No one is perfect, and hopefully your interviewer is open-minded to your flaws and his or her flaws, too. Everyone has the opportunity to be better, and we’ve all made mistakes. If you’ve had an instance in your career where you made a misstep and it becomes a discussion point, always point out what you learned so that it is unlikely to reoccur. This shows the benefit of your experience and your honesty.
Common Interview Questions and Answers: How to structure your response
Question 1: “Tell me about yourself.”
Interviewers often like to get you talking so they can gather information. Common interview questions like, “Tell me about yourself,” are used to help you relax. However, this type of broad questioning can cause a candidate to give too much information about themselves. They’re not asking you, “What is the meaning of life,” so keep your answers concise and confident. This is a question that you should welcome, since it is common and should be loosely rehearsed. Your content can vary depending on the opportunity, but your key reviewed material will be fairly consistent.
This question might be answered by mentioning:
• something about where you grew up
• where you attended school
• prominent career moves
• maybe a hobby
Then quickly shift to talking about:
• your education
• your career experience and how it relates to the job
Keep your answer focused. Try not to focus your answers about yourself, instead discuss what you have to offer to the company. Give a few precise details about yourself and career, but don’t go into great detail about your family, favorite sports team, or that your car doesn’t work. Remember, any details you give will create a picture in the interviewer’s mind about how you will perform if given the job. If you tell them you just had car trouble, they might assume that you always have car trouble, and therefore, might always be late or not show up. Our minds are often like this; if we don’t have a complete picture, we will often fill in the blanks to complete a scenario of a situation.
“Tell me about yourself” is one of the most commonly asked questions, and having an idea of how you will answer it will help you feel more comfortable in the interview. If you notice that you have something in common with the interviewer (i.e., sports, art, etc.) it is fine to bring out this information. But don’t exaggerate to create something in common. If you are not into sports, don’t act like you are. Be yourself!
What if the interviewer asks you to describe yourself? This question is very similar to “Tell me about yourself,” however, the interviewer may be trying to get you to divulge some character traits. To prepare for this question, write down some character traits that make you the best person for the job. Are you a team player? Are you detail-oriented? Do you give over a 100% effort on the job? Use this question to sell your abilities and traits to the employer. If you’ve taken personality tests that you feel provide a favorable profile for you regarding this position, then talk about that data and why these traits may have helped you become successful.
Question 2: “Why do you want to work for this company?”
If you did your prep work researching the company and the job, you should have an idea of why you are interested in the job. If you are just applying because you are hoping this is a better opportunity, keep researching and make sure this is the right move for you based upon your background and interest. It’s imperative that you have a couple of concrete reasons why you are interested so you can effectively communicate this to the interviewer. A good interviewer will quickly spot sincerity and interest from a candidate, and this will reflect on their perception of your integrity.
We once had an interviewer ask a candidate, “Why are you interested in this job?” and the candidate responded by saying, “I need something to motivate me to get out of bed in the morning.” Hopefully, you can develop a better answer than this to show your interest in the position! Align your past experiences with what you believe this opportunity may offer. Your successes in your previous positions that correlate to the company’s products or services should be highlighted and discussed.
An excerpt from INTERVIEW with DESIRE and GET HIRED! written by Denise and Randy Wilkerson Answers to more common interview questions can be found in our new book, “INTERVIEW with DESIRE and GET HIRED!” for purchase on Amazon and Audible.