Even if you’re not ready to enter the workforce, it’s important to sharpen your interviewing skills. Nearly every job (and many academic programs) involves an interview at some point. No matter how qualified you may be, how you answer a few questions may be the deciding factor. Here are some of the most common questions — along with smart ways to answer them.
Tell me about yourself …
You’ll nearly always hear this one, so prepare for it. Don’t share your life story. Instead, talk about specific strengths and life experiences that apply directly to the job. For example, if you’re applying for a sales position and you’ve worked in retail, talk about how much you enjoy interacting with customers, or how you’ve strengthened your sales skills.
What are your top strengths?
You may be great at Resident Evil 7 or an expert on Adam Sandler trivia, but the interviewer doesn’t care about those things. He or she wants to know if you have the right strengths for the position. Suppose the job will involve working with little supervision. You might say something like, “I have a strong sense of self-motivation. When I’m given a task, I’m able to focus on it and get it done without distractions.”
What’s your biggest weakness?
Focus on a personal trait that’s important, but isn’t part of the job, and suggest that you’re working on your shortcoming. “I’m not comfortable having to speak in front of groups, but I’m forcing myself to do that, and it’s getting easier.”
Why should we hire you?
Don’t brag or give a smart-aleck answer like “I need money.” State the requirements for the job, explain why you’re well-suited for those requirements, and say that you’re excited for the opportunity to become part of the employer’s team.