When preparing for an interview for a job you’re interested in, whether that’s through a mock interview with a friend or preparing answers to potential interview prompts on your own, it helps to know the kinds of things your potential employer could ask you when you’re asked to come in for some one-on-one time in his or her office. It also helps to have a few questions prepared that you could then ask the interviewer, to express your interest in the position in a more obvious way. The framing of your answers and your questions can dramatically alter the first impression you give. So take a look at some of the most common interview questions and some good questions to ask below when you’re given the chance to shine at a job interview.
Common Interview Questions
Why do you want to work for us?
If you don’t know the answer to this one, you probably shouldn’t be applying for the position. Think about what drew you to the job in the first place, and if it’s something like “I need to pay the bills,” find something you like about the company and highlight that.
What is your greatest strength?
Your answer to this one should relate somehow to the job in question. Think about what you’re good at that would also make you a good fit for the job, and the employer will see you put some thought into your initial inquiry of the position
What are you looking for in a job?
Use this as a way to spin what you’re actually looking for in a job with what you think the employer in question is looking for in a new hire. Chances are you won’t find everything you’re looking for at that first job, but the employer definitely doesn’t need to know that.
What is your greatest weakness?
This is something employers ask to determine how you’ll spin any weaknesses you may have. If you tend to be very detail-oriented, for example, include along with that a remedy you’ve found that works to help you see the big picture. Finish your answer on a positive note.
What kind of experience do you have related to this job?
This one should be a no-brainer, as you must be qualified for the job if you’ve been able to land an interview. Think of experiences beforehand that relate to the job in question, whether they happened at your last part-time job or during a volunteer gig.
Tell me about a problem you’ve solved.
Your employer will almost certainly ask a question like this, so think of a scenario where you managed a problem, difficulty, or challenge ahead of time so that you don’t waste time thinking of one, or, worse yet, making something up.
Tell me about a situation where you operated in a leadership capacity.
As this may be your first “real world” interview, using campus experiences to respond to this is just fine. If you don’t have relevant work experience, think back to any community service you’ve participated in, or any internships that allowed you to organize projects or provide feedback.
What do you know about us?
You should be well-prepared to answer this one using research you did on the job and employer before the interview. Ideally, your response should relate to something you genuinely like about the company, or something that you can relate to your own professional experience.
Do you have a salary requirement?
This can be a tough one that should be avoided at all costs. In some cases, employers will use what you say to leverage a higher/lower starting salary. Keep any answers to this vague, or provide a range wide enough that it leaves room for negotiation.
Do you have any questions?
If you have any lingering questions about the job despite your extensive research and flawless interview session, now is the time to ask. If you’re struggling with how to prepare for this one, check out our suggestions below.
Questions to Ask in an Interview
What do you look for in an employee?
Hopefully, the employer will give you a boost here and rattle off qualities that you just described as your personal strengths, but this is also a good way to determine whether you’re a good fit for the company
What do you like about working here?
Whether the interviewer goes for the company philosophy here or a more casual response, his or her answer should tell you a little about the company’s culture. If it takes him or her a while to respond, that could be a red flag.
What are the challenges of working here?
You don’t want to be bored at your new job, but you don’t want to be overwhelmed immediately after stepping through the front door, either. Knowing what your employer finds challenging about his or her own company can be eye-opening, depending on their level of frankness with you.
Is there a transition period for new hires?
This question should tell you a little about the kinds of supports you’ll be given off the bat and the responsibilities you’ll have in the first few weeks, even days, on the job. What is expected of you immediately may also be an indication of the volume of work you’ll face down the line.
What would a typical day look like here?
You may work better with a more rigid schedule, or you may need some flexibility to be a productive employee. This question will help you determine how you’ll function day in and day out at the company in question.
Are there opportunities for advancement here?
While you should stay away from salary talk at this point, it’s good to know whether there is any chance you could move up at the company from your entry-level position. Although most new hires won’t stay at that first job forever, it helps to know how things could progress.
Where does the company see itself in 10 years?
Especially during times when the economy isn’t on the most solid footing, it will help to know whether the company has plans for expansion or cutbacks. It may be particularly useful to note where your employer sees the department you’re looking to join in the next decade.
Can you describe the work environment here?
Office culture is an important piece of determining whether you’d be comfortable—and happy—at the job up for the grabs. This kind of information is also made more obvious on an office tour if you’re given one, and how casual/formal the interviewer is in your session.
Should I contact you with any questions in the future?
Depending on whether you’re interviewing with your future employer or a representative in the human resources department, it’s helpful to know where to go with further queries. You’ll also leave the interviewer with the suggestion that you’ll be following up, which is always a plus.
When can I expect to hear back about the position?
This question not only signals your continued interest in the job, but may help give you some peace of mind. Different companies have different hiring timelines, so it helps to know the process and how long it could take so you’re not hounding your interviewer every 24 hours.
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