Interviews can make even the most seasoned employee unconfident and uncertain. You know that you are qualified for the position and have the experience that the company is looking for, however sometimes it can be difficult for candidates to put those things into words. It is extremely important that you prepare for your interview so that your answers highlight your skills as well as set you apart from the other candidates.
The first thing you should do in preparation is to read the job description and research the organization. That will get you in the right mind set for what qualifications you should focus on. Even though interviewers can often ask the same types of questions, it would benefit you to practice your answers, so that they are well thought out, do not sound scripted, and do not leave you scrambling for an answer.
Here are some of the top questions that are asked during an interview and recommended answers.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: Keep your answer to work related stuff. It is not advised to go into too much personal detail. Prepare ahead of time by developing a one or two line sentence that clearly tells who you are, your major strength, and the clear benefit that your current employer received by having employed you.
Q: What are your strengths?
A: The best way to respond is to describe the skills and experience that directly correlate with the position for which you are applying. When you respond try to relate your strengths to the job description and your ability to do the position.
Q: What is your biggest weakness?
A: The dreaded question… Try answering this by mentioning skills that aren’t critical for the position, skills you have improved on, or by turning a negative into a positive. For example, if you are interviewing for a Physical Therapist position, a skill that you may not be particularly good at or keen doing is presenting to groups. Normally a PT is not required to present to groups but rather work one-on-one with clients, so this weakness focuses on something that is not critical for the position, however, you still provided a very honest answer.
Q: Why should we hire you for the position?
A: The best way to answer is to give concrete examples of why your skills and accomplishments make you the best candidate for the position. Take a few moments to compare the job description with your abilities, as well as mention what you have accomplished in your previous positions. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company and the position.
Q: Why have you been unemployed for such a long time?
A: Explain any productive activity you have been doing since your last position, including any courses that you may have taken or are currently taking to improve your knowledge, freelancing, or any other work you have been doing for no compensation. The key here is to explain that you do not want to settle for just any job, that you have been taking your time to make sure that your next position is the right fit.
Q: What would your co-workers or manager say about you?
A: This is a great time to highlight some of the compliments you have received over the years, however, be careful to not come across as if you are bragging.
Q: Tell me about your previous job responsibilities.
A: Describe your responsibilities in detail and try to connect them to the job that you are interviewing for, which should be easy since you already reviewed the job description! By doing this, the interviewer will see that you have the qualifications necessary to do the job.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
A: Refer to the objective line on your resume which clearly states your vision. Speak as if you are a person with vision, motivation and determination. An interviewer wants to feel like you are going to be a loyal employee who is going to make a positive impact on their organization.
Q: How do you handle working under pressure?
A: Provide examples of times when you worked well under pressure and how you succeed in doing so. Every job brings its own amount of pressure and the interviewer wants to know that you are able to “calmly” face this challenge head on.
Q: Do you have any questions for me?
A: Do not say “no” because this gives the impression that you are uninterested and have not prepared for the interview. Make a list of your questions beforehand. Even if the interviewer has answered all of your questions, reiterate what those questions were along with the answer, so that they know you were engaged throughout the conversation.
The key to a good interview is to be confident and comfortable in your own skin. By preparing for the interview, you will be ready with appropriate, articulate, and relative responses.
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