Congratulations! After sending out countless resumes and tweaking your cover letter a dozen or more times, you’ve landed an interview for a job. You’re excited about it and want to do a good job, so naturally, you’re practicing your smile in the mirror, picking out your interview outfit, and doing a little research on the company, so you’re sure to impress.
But have you thought about how you’ll answer the interview questions?
The good thing is, some questions are almost guaranteed to be asked during an interview, the old tried-and-true questions HR managers love because it gives them a sense of who you are, how you think, and where your priorities stand.
We’re here to help! Here’s how to answer the top five most common interview questions.
1. Why do you want this job?
The obvious answer — for steady pay and because I need to work — won’t cut it. It’s honest, and some people might chuckle politely, but it won’t go over well. Instead, talk about what caught your eye about the position when you saw it posted. Discuss how your skills can grow and expand if you join this team and why you want to join this team in particular. Relate your work experience, if you have any, to the requirements and job description and explain how you know, you’ll learn a lot in this job if given the opportunity. Make it personal and professional — this job will be great for me, and I’ll be great for it because of x, y, and z. Have examples and ideas ready!
2. Why are you looking for a job or looking to leave your current position?
Resist the temptation to air dirty laundry, especially during a first interview. Instead, shift the focus to what you can gain from taking a new position. If your skills are not being fully utilized at your current job, explain that you want to keep your talents sharp, and this position will help you do that while expanding your abilities. Be direct and positive and focus on the future, not the past (or present). There will be plenty of time to share your story when you’re part of the team if things are going badly in the other position. If you’re looking to change jobs because you’ve been with a company for a long time and you’re eager to be challenged, say that too!
3. What are your most significant weaknesses?
This question stinks and kind of feels like a trap. You have to walk such a fine line between being honest and admitting that you’re not perfect, but you also don’t want to sound so humble and flawed that they write you off as not competent or capable. Find a way to channel your best Olivia Pope and turn a negative into a positive: If you’re someone who dreads presenting to a group or speaking in public, say you want to build your confidence in making public presentations, and this job would allow you to do just that. If you’re disorganized, this job will give you the chance to improve your organizational skills while juggling several projects at once. All weaknesses are strengths waiting to be uncovered.
4. Why should we hire you/Why are you the best person for this job?
Play up your experience and strengths here. Talk about your work history and how it’s prepared you for this job. Talk about how you can build on the success of the person previously in this position or how you would make changes to make things more efficient. Be excited about the opportunity to learn and grow as a person and as a professional, that you know this is a great company that you’d be honored to work for and advance your career with this company. Talk about how you’ll be a great addition to the team, what “flavors” you bring that they might not have and why your perspective is just what they need. You’re their missing piece, and here’s the chance to make the puzzle pieces fit together.
5. Where do you see yourself in one/three/five/10 years?
This is almost as bad a question as asking about your weaknesses. The truth is, everyone wants to retire early and spend their days relaxing. Be honest and personal without telling your whole life story. They’re looking for whether you have goals for yourself, personally and professionally, whether you have ambition that will serve you and the company, well if you join the team, and whether this job will help you achieve those goals. If you’re not sure, because this is your first job interview ever or you’re just starting without a lot of previous experience, be honest about that too: You’re looking to build on the skills you have and want to learn while you work, and joining this company is a great way to do that.
Job interviews are tough — you might very well be asked what kind of animal or tree you’d be or something even more abstract, like how would you calculate the time required for a small bird to fly counterclockwise around the world. Who knows. But what you can do to prepare is to give these questions some consideration before you walk into the interview, knowing you’re ready, to be honest about your experiences and where you want to go.
Conquer Your Next Interview
If you’re between jobs and don’t know what kind of work you want to explore, call Davis Staffing. We work with great companies looking for permanent and temporary employees who are ready to bring people in quickly to fill positions. Call Davis Staffing today, and let’s see how we can help!