First impressions are usually lasting impressions and the job interview is often the first opportunity to make a positive impression on a potential employer. Make sure you're prepared for the interview by practicing your responses to some of the most commonly asked interview questions.
- Tell me about yourself.
The employer is looking for a brief summary about you and is more interested in hearing about your educational and professional background than your hobbies and favorite foods. See if you can sum yourself up in about 60 seconds.
- Why do you want this job?
Focus on a few of the job responsibilities that are especially interesting to you and be sure to include what you hope to learn from the position. Tip: Avoid mentioning you want the position solely because of its location or because it is a requirement for your degree.
- What do you know about this industry?
You may not have a lot of experience in the field yet, but make sure you're ready to discuss current trends – particularly what's happening in the U.S. and in your home country. Also refer to specifics from internships or work experience you've had in the past.
- What do you know about our company?
A potential employer wants to know that have researched their company. You don't need to know everything about the company, but you should be able to discuss the basics. Find out what the company's mission statement is, who the biggest clients are, etc. Research recent news articles about them.
- What specific skills do you have that would relate to this position?
Make sure you've thoroughly read the requirements for the position and confirm that you meet them. Refer to specific job responsibilities of the position and relate them to your educational and/or professional experience.
- What makes you a good candidate for the position?
Discuss your qualifications, including: educational background (include specific coursework or projects), internships and professional work experience. You may also want to include some personal characteristics (e.g. motivated, hardworking, getting along with many different types of people, etc.).
- Tell me about your strengths.
Many people are inclined to recite a list of traits such as dependable or organized, but it's especially effective to discuss experience or skills that are directly related to the job you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for a sales job, highlighting your presentation skills might really impress an employer.
- What is your greatest weakness?
This is one of the most challenging questions to answer. You obviously don't want to say something negative about yourself to a potential employer, so the trick here is to turn a negative into a positive. For example: "Staying organized used to be a challenge, but I developed a time management system that works for me and that has really helped keep me organized."
- Why should I hire you for the position?
Give specific examples of your accomplishments and why you are the best person for the position. Talk about the responsibilities of the position and the skills you possess to fulfill them. Be sure to restate your interest in the position!
- What are your goals for the future?
An employer wants to know that the position relates to what you hope to do in the future because it's a sign that you will be motivated to learn and work hard in the position. Talk about your goals and explain how the position would help you achieve those goals.
Also, don't forget to send a separate thank you email to each person who interviewed you within 24 hours of your interview. It sounds simple, but it often goes a long way and can even determine whether you're hired or not!
Want more practice questions? Visit Monster.com for a list of 100 common interview questions.
A fan of independent cinema and proponent of the Oxford comma, Matthew began his career at a Miami-based tech startup before returning to West Virginia University to pursue his M.A. in Foreign Languages. He has worked at InterExchange since 2006 and currently serves as a Marketing Project Manager.