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Friday Forum – 5 Common Interview Questions

Welcome to the Friday Forum!

Every Friday, we take a question submitted by one of our readers and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage members of the Need a New Gig community to comment below and give their take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Elizabeth asks:

“I just landed an interview for a position that I am very excited about and I want to make sure it goes well.  I have been preparing and have also done research on the company, but I am a little nervous as I haven’t interviewed for a job since college.  I know that all interviews are different, but are there any questions that typically come up or that are more common?  I want to make sure that I have a good answer ready to go!”

Preparation is key when it comes to interviewing.  Most candidates have the information needed to answer any question that is thrown their way, but if they aren’t prepared it can be a train wreck!  If you practice responses to common interview questions it will help your meeting go smooth and increase your chances at landing the job.

5 Common Interview Questions

Let’s take a look at some common interview questions and how you should respond.

What can you tell me about yourself?

Sometimes interviewers will kick off the conversation with an open ended question.  This is a good way for them to break the ice and at the same time get an initial feel for your personality.  This question can be tricky to answer, because you do not want to give too much or too little information.  You need to strike the perfect balance.

It is a good idea to start off on the personal side and keep the mood light.  If you jump right in and start talking about your background or qualifications it may be too forward. Take your time and let the conversation warm up.  Start by talking about your personal interests or something that shows your personality.  For example: “I am really into fitness.  I enjoy working out and I am a marathon runner.  I am also a big sports fan.”

After you touch on your personal interests you can move towards the professional side and briefly talk about your background.  For example: “From a professional standpoint, I have been recruiting for over 10 years.  I have recruited in both a corporate and third party setting and I love it.  It really is a true passion of mine.”

After you touch on the professional side this should open the door and it will get the conversation started.

Why are you looking for a new opportunity?

This questions is almost guaranteed to come up during your interview.  It is best to stick to the facts and be direct and to the point.  Here are some common answers to this question:

  • Looking for more growth opportunities
  • Looking for something closer to home
  • Looking because my current company is struggling
  • Looking because my work is not challenging
  • Looking because I am ready for a change

If you are out of work and this question comes up be sure to try and spin it in a positive fashion.  Avoid any negative remarks as they could hurt your chances.  For example: “I am currently looking because I was recently downsized.  They had to make a number of cuts since the business was struggling.  I do have references from my last job and I am excited to find my next stable opportunity.”

What are your salary expectations?

Oh, the good old salary question!  There is a pretty good chance that this question will come up at some point in the process.  This question is an important one, because a simple answer can knock you right out of the mix.  We recommend being up front and honest when this question comes up.  At the end of the day wouldn’t you rather know if they can meet your expectations?  No one wants to go through a long interview process to receive an offer that is 10K less then their current salary.

Tell the employer your current compensation and let them know that you are open.  Be sure to include all pieces of your compensation.  For example: “I am currently making a $50,000 base salary plus an 8% bonus.  My current employer also has a 401K with a 3% match.  At this point my driver is to find the right opportunity, so I am open to anything north of my current compensation.”  If you answer in this fashion it will do a couple of different things.  First off, it will inform the employer of your current salary.  They can then determine if they have enough in their budget to bring you on and if makes sense to continue.  It will also show the employer that money isn’t your number one concern.

What is your greatest strength?

While this may seem like an easy question, you definitely want to make sure that you are prepared to answer it correctly.  What I mean is that the interviewer is asking this question to see if your strengths align with the skills needed for the position.

The best way to do this is to go through the job description.  Make a lists of your strengths that apply to the position.  Narrow it down to your top three and rank them in order of importance.  Come up with an example for each one so you can elaborate.

What is your greatest weakness?

The weakness question is always tough to answer because you don’t want to say something that may scare away an employer.  There are a number of ways that you can go on this one, but the idea is to try and keep the focus positive.

One way to answer this question is to use a skill that isn’t required for the job as a weakness.  For example, if you are applying for a programming job you can say that you are not strong at giving presentations.  You can also talk about skills that you have improved.  Finally, you can turn a negative into a positive.  Giving examples of being too helpful or taking on too much work are good options as well.

What are Your Thoughts? Comment Below!

What common interview questions have you been asked?

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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