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8 Common Job Interview Questions (and How to Nail Them)

You're guaranteed to hear some, if not all, of these questions during your next job interview. Prepare now and you'll be ready to wow your interviewer!

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Interviewing for a job is like dating. Your goal is to get the company to fall in love with you and ask you to marry them (or at least, go to work there). 

While dating, you might expect to hear questions like “where did you grow up?” or “what are your hobbies?” The same is true with interviewing: there are questions you’re almost guaranteed to hear. In this article, we’ll look at eight in particular you need to know how to answer if you want to leave a good impression and win over the company of your dreams. 

What Can You Tell Me About Yourself?

This question gives you a chance to show where you come from and the values that shape you. You are trying to present yourself as unique and memorable.

For example, I once did a session with doctors preparing to interview for their next rotation. We discussed their stories. One person had decided she wanted to be a doctor because she grew up on a farm; birthing animals got her into medicine. Another person was from India and had witnessed terrible illness there. He wanted eventually to bring back his expertise to India.

Stories like these differentiate you. Make yours memorable.  

Can You Walk Me Through Your Resume?

The response to this question is a quick overview of your college, internship, or work experiences and passions, as well as any leadership or impactful roles you held. With internships and work experience, talk about roles you had, skills you developed, major achievements, and why you left the role.

Keep your answers short and sweet: no more than three minutes combined. Think about the questions beforehand, write out your answers, make them short, and practice them. This is your show, so you need to have done your rehearsal. The interviewer will probe along the way if they need more detail.

What Is a Mistake You’ve Made?

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we learn. Hiring Managers don’t expect perfection, but they want to know that you can work your way out of a problem. 

When answering this question, quickly tell interviewers about a real mistake. The key to answering this question well is to explain what you learned from your mistake and how you course-corrected. Describe your problem-solving thought process and walk them through your solution. Choose a relatable, somewhat minor mistake rather than one that shows a major lack of judgment. 

What Are Your Weaknesses?

One way to answer this question is to describe a weakness that you manage so it does not get in the way of your success.

For example, one of my candidates told me, “My weakness is that I’m a little shy and introverted. However, I’ve learned to build relationships with people one on one, because I excel at that.”

The trick is to be smart: Don’t pick a showstopper that will make people think twice about hiring you. Instead, think clearly about your weaknesses and isolate the ones you’ve already overcome during college, grad school, an internship, or previous job.

What Company Do You Think Does a Good Job in Your Industry?

Your natural inclination might be to use the company you’re interviewing with, but it often makes sense here to speak about another industry and company. The key here is to clearly describe the qualities that seem to make that company strong and successful.

Try to pick an example that shares qualities with the company you’re interviewing with. This will show the interviewer why you’re interested in working for them. 

What Leaders Do You Admire and Why?

Be thoughtful about your answer to this question, but whomever you choose, it is important to give specific reasons for your choice. Also, like the previous question, it is a good idea to be able to describe the leader in terms of a company culture similar to that of the company you’re interviewing with. 

You want to express why you admire the company you’re interviewing with without outright using them as the answer. 

What Type of Culture Do You Work Best In?

Here, you’ll want to have done your homework and gotten to know the company culture of the organization you’re interviewing with. You need to make sure that your answer ties into both your and their cultural values, because you want to be the one deciding, “Do I want to work here?”

Consider if you want to work for a company with a fast, innovative culture; a social, collaborative culture; an independent, experimental culture, etc. Finding a company that fits your values and preferences will have a big impact on your job satisfaction. 

What Are Your Compensation Expectations?

U.S. laws are changing, and in many states, companies are no longer allowed to ask you your current compensation or compensation history. Instead, they may proactively ask your salary expectations. 

If they do, say something like, “Compensation is important to me, but it is a piece of a larger puzzle.” 

They may still probe for what would be acceptable to you, so do your research so you know the range for the job. Be realistic, because if your figure is too high, you’ll take yourself out of the running. 

Prepare Ahead of Time

Remember, you’re guaranteed to hear some, if not all, of these questions during your job interview, so it’s worth thinking about them ahead of time and having answers ready. 

By preparing in advance, you reduce your risk of being caught by surprise, rambling, or not answering questions thoroughly enough. Instead, you’ll come across confident and clear, and you’ll show your interviewer that you’re excited about the opportunity. 

Impress them with your thoughtful answers, and they’ll be eager to invite you to the next step of the interview process.

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