How To Prepare and Answer Interview Questions: Job Interview Tips

Use These Job Interview Preparation Tips to Score Your Dream Career

You are twenty-four hours away from having the perfect interview and landing the career of your dreams. From the moment you got the phone call, "Hi, this is Ms. X from ABC, Inc. We took a look at your resume and would like to have you come in for an interview," you have been preparing, right? Whether this is your very first interview or your forty-ninth, to present yourself as a professional and organized individual, the key is to be prepared for both the standard and the unusual questions your interviewer may throw at you. I will discuss some ways to plan, and I will share with you four typical questions and the best ways to answer them. 

These job interview tips should help you score that next job!

  1. First things first. Always, no matter how easy or difficult you think the interview hurdles might be, take some time the day before to get in shape. Pretend you are competing in the world championship of career-winning, and stretch out and condition your mind muscles to be flexible and toned, ready for the pole vault into job land. Use a "personal trainer," if you will, and ask a friend or colleague to go over some questions with you. Talk through how you will answer some typical questions; this will help you to be confident and articulate in your responses at the interview, a quality that will find you favor immediately.
  2. Find out about the company. Your job interview preparation list should always include researching the company. Log on to the company Web site, visit the offices in person, or talk to someone who works at your potential place of employment. Get knowledgeable about how the company got its start, what the company's goals are, and something that makes this business unique from others in its field. Not only will this help you to answer a question like, "Tell me what you know about our company," it will also help you to decide if what the company does is something you'd like to be a part of.
  3. Here are some typical and common interview questions that you may be asked, and two different responses to each. Can you tell which response will get the interviewee the position? 

    What do you like least about your current or last job?

    • Well, in my last job, I was constantly asked to do other people's assignments, and I could never keep up with my own.
    • My previous job required me to attend to numerous projects outside of my own workload, and though I enjoyed the challenge, it became overwhelming at times.

    The first response, though it may be a truthful one, focuses on the fact that the interviewee fell behind with his work, which may look to the employer like he doesn't want to be asked to do any extra work or that he uses the additional projects as an excuse for missing his own deadlines. The second response, however, reads as though the interviewee was very capable of multitasking or accepting added assignments, but was perhaps overburdened at times.

    Business partners shaking handsWhat are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

    • I am hardworking and goal-oriented, but I tend to get flustered in stressful situations.
    • I would consider myself very attentive to details and organized, but I do take my job very seriously, so I can be a perfectionist when it comes to making every project a success.

    Yes, you are a hard worker, and yes, you are goal-oriented. These may be qualities an employer looks for, but you don't need to use clichéd phrases to spell that out. Instead, list something about yourself that will make you stand out among the other applicants, such as your willingness to help your fellow worker or your attention to detail. Moreover, please, please don't talk about how stressed out you can get or how you don't like when your supervisors tell you what to do (you'd be surprised at some of the answers I've gotten when interviewing candidates for a position). If you are interviewing for a retail store position, for example, the last thing the interviewer wants to hear is that you can't handle stressful situations. Anyone ever worked behind the counter at a gift-wrapping station during the Christmas holidays?! Instead, turn your weaknesses into strengths, as in the second response above, and show that you give 110% and have the company's best interests at heart.

    If you have a disagreement with a co-worker, how do you handle it?

    • I usually go to my boss and let them know so they can take care of it.
    • It's difficult when two people disagree in the workplace, but I am usually very open to my co-workers' opinions, so I let them know that I respect what they have to say and we talk through how to keep our disagreement from affecting the job at hand.

    The first response is not a terrible one, but it may give the impression that you don't want to take the initiative yourself to find a resolution and would be the sort of person who complains to the boss about Mr. Y leaving his lunch out or Ms. X not doing her job correctly. Rather than that, show that you have the ability to communicate with others around you and are able to resolve issues without much difficulty. It will indicate that you are a "self-starter with good initiative" and can be independent when necessary.

    Do you have any questions for me?

    • No, you have answered the questions I had already.
    • Yes, I do. Does this position have the potential to lead to other opportunities within ABC, Inc.? (and) I am very interested in a future with ABC, Inc. What is the next step in the interview process?

    Again, the first response is not horrible, but it doesn't show much interest in the company or the position. Just because you're answering the interview questions, doesn't mean you don't get to ask any in return. Having two or three questions in a notebook, or just in the front of your mind, to pose at the end of the session is an excellent way to show that you are truly interested in working for the company. You can use these questions to find out more about the business itself, learn what a typical day for your position would entail, or even discover if your interviewer is interested in hiring you. Asking about "the next step in the interview process" is, of course, a fancy way of asking if the interviewer wants to give you the job. If you propose the idea of a second interview, maybe the interviewer will offer you the position instead.

Ultimately, the best way to prepareis to review questions and know how you want to answer them. Avoid using textbook descriptive phrases about your personality; focus on what you think would make you an asset to your potential employer and will help them to remember you above the other applicants. Take your negatives or weaknesses and show how you combat them or how you can make them into strengths that will help, not hinder, your job performance. Ask inquisitive, well-researched questions of your interviewer, and don't be afraid to ask for a second date, I mean, interview! Confidence in your abilities and communication with the person who interviews you will prove that you are the one for the job, and will leave a great lasting impression with your future superiors. Now that you have this help, you're ready for your next interview!


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