Answers to Common Interview Questions

John Krautzel
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In preparation for any job interview, it's always a good idea to practice answering some of the most common interview questions. Regardless of the position or the industry, a handful of interview questions crop up time and time again. Being able to come up with a professional, compelling and unique response to each one puts you at the front of the pack.

Tell Me About Yourself

This is arguably the most common interview request. It almost always comes at the beginning of the interview to help set the tone. Think of it as your opportunity to start strong with an initial pitch about yourself. Discuss the most relevant details about your work experience and education, and make it clear how much you enjoy what you do. If the interviewer wants details about your hobbies and activities outside of work, do your best to connect your personal interests to your professional life.

What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

This can be one of the most difficult interview questions to answer, because while you want to be honest and candid, you don't want to give the interviewer a reason not to consider you. William Vanderbloemen, president and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, advises candidates not to be afraid of acknowledging their real flaws, but also to provide examples of how they are working to correct those flaws. "Give a tangible example of something you tried but failed at ... and then give examples of how you overcame that weakness in the workplace," he says.

Why Did You Leave Your Last Position?

This is another one of the trickier interview questions. The key is to remain positive about your previous employer while clearly explaining the reasons why you moved on. Explain that you want to continue learning new things and develop your career in different ways. Keep it short and sweet, and don't attempt to lie. If you were terminated, provide a brief explanation of what occurred from your former employer's point of view, then discuss what you learned from the situation and how you plan to move on. This shows the interviewer that you can take responsibility for your own actions and learn from your mistakes.

Why Should We Hire You?

In response to this interview question, now is not the time for modesty. Don't just talk about how interested you are in the company; really think about why the company need you on its team and what it will take to impress those in charge of hiring. You should have a good understanding of the company's current position and its goals so that you can explain how you can help achieve those goals. Align your qualifications with the company's needs, and don't be afraid to sell yourself and your abilities.

Preparing and practicing your answers to each of these questions well ahead of time not only helps keep your nerves under control during the job interview, but also helps set the tone for the rest of the interview. Expect to hear these interview questions mixed in with some you may not have heard before; having an excellent response at the ready helps you remain calm under pressure.

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