How to Answer Interview Questions
A critical part of being well prepared for an interview is planning how you will respond to the questions you are asked. Obviously you can’t know everything they will ask you, but having thought through and written down some talking points for the most frequently asked interview questions will greatly benefit you. Most of these questions require more detailed answers, so practice ahead of time to make sure you are being both thorough and concise. We have listed nearly 30 questions on our website, but here are a few key ones and my recommended answers:
- “What interests you about this job?” Make sure you highlight a few details about the company that impress you and make you want to be a part of the team here. Also summarize the main points of the job description that specifically relate to your previous experience and/or personal strengths.
- “What can you contribute to this company?” This is the part where you need to describe what makes you unique from the other applicants for the position. Be very specific with how your previous job experiences have prepared you for what you would be doing in this new position. For example: “I managed 10 major accounts that brought in $_____ of profit and earned us the highest client satisfaction rating in the history of the company. I would love to be able to do the same thing here.” You should also highlight some of your personal strengths that fuel your success.
- “Why did you leave/do you want to leave your previous/current employment?” Be very careful not to be negative about your old employer! It’s not professional, and the company would be very leery about hiring you for fear of what you might say about them one day. This is one question where generalities instead of specifics are a must. Be honest, but make sure you present it as positively as possible, such as “Due to the economy, they were forced to eliminate my department” or “I would love to take the skills and experiences I acquired there to a larger playing field like this one.”
- “What is your biggest weakness?” Don’t be afraid of this question; no one expects you to be a perfect person, and they are far more interested in knowing how you are already skilled with combatting your weaknesses. Be prepared with a couple of specifics and solutions, like “My desire to please everyone has worn me out in the past, so now I try very hard to prioritize my tasks and projects list so I can tell people as soon as they ask for help whether or not I truly will be able to assist them.”
- “What are your salary requirements?” This is probably the most uncomfortable question for most people, because they are afraid of sounding either greedy or overly modest. The best way to answer this question is to avoid the mention of specific numbers at that moment and to focus on the many variables that go into make a good “career decision.” Some of these variables include company culture and stability, advancement potential, bonus incentives for a job well done and a superior benefits package.
Again, check out our more complete list of frequently asked interview questions to get more ideas on what to prepare for. I do recommend practicing your answers ahead of time, just so that the key talking points feel comfortable and are easily remembered during the interview. Also, read our previous article about some more tips on preparing for your interview. Feeling confident from adequate preparation is a great recipe for success.