The 10 Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer in an Interview
Today, we’re going to walk you through the 10 questions you should be prepared to answer in an interview (and some of them may surprise you!).
But before we jump in, let’s talk about the first step in landing your dream job, which is connecting with a recruiter or hiring manager. If you haven’t yet landed an interview, this is your first priority.
So many job seekers we’ve spoken to talk about their frustration with job boards and how infrequently they actually get to connect with the human beings who are hiring for the roles they’re applying—and we’ve been there, too!
It’s why we created AmazeTal—an online career and talent marketplace built to help job seekers find jobs they love and help employers find the talent they deserve. As part of this new marketplace, we created a platform called Spotlight where we highlight and vet top candidates (that’s you!). Instead of reaching out to employers, we have employers reach out to you.
So, if you’re still looking to book exciting job interviews, head over to AmazeTal and get yourself signed up. Once you’ve landed your first interview, come back and get yourself prepared to answer these 10 questions!
1. Tell me about yourself.
While such an obvious question, this is also a really open-ended question—which can often throw people off. So, before anything, be prepared to tell the interviewer a few things about yourself like: your high-level career trajectory, your professionals strengths and why you’re excited about the opportunity.
Then, tell the interviewer a little bit about you, the person. The facts and pieces of information you provide about your career experience will showcase your talent and credibility, but it’s the personal information and stories you offer that will connect you to the interviewer on an emotional level.
So, you might tell her that you volunteer on the side, or participate in coding hacks on the weekends or have an obsession with robotics.
Just don’t overshare! (No one needs to know you got into a fight with your wife this morning)
2. Why are you interested in this position?
When answering this question, keep the emphasis on them, not on you.
Human behavior will tell you that we are self-absorbed creatures. Which means the interviewer might care that you’ve always wanted to work in data science or move to LA—but she’s going to care that you’re excited and well-suited to help the company achieve what they’re looking to achieve much more.
Instead, consider answering the question by saying, “I’m interested in this position because I believe I can help you…”
3. Why do you believe you’re a great fit for this company?
This is where doing your homework on both the role and institution is crucial. Before anything, check out the company website, search their recent news and take a look at their social media platforms. What’s their purpose or passion? What are they driving towards? What are their latest company announcements?
Then, match specific examples from your background, expertise and approach to what you’ve learned about the business.
For example, it’s much more powerful to say, “At my previous job, I created a highly complex data management system in a complicated production environment. I can bring my extensive experience—including lessons learned!—to this role to make sure the project is executed both quickly and strategically” vs. “I’m a hardworker.”
4. What type of environment do you work best in?
It’s also important to research the environment of the company before you agree to the interview. For example, if you like to work in solitude and the company is located in an open loft with shared desks and values a “collaborative environment,” it may not be the best fit.
If you do find that the environment is what you’re looking for, what words do they use to describe that environment? (Hint: check their website and the job description.) Without sounding overly robotic or formal, see where you can include those words and phrases into your answer.
5. What’s your biggest career accomplishment to date?
We’re going to hack your answer to this question. Here’s how: Go back into the job description. What qualities are they looking for in the person they hire for this role? Leadership? Attention to detail? The ability to distill complex data into user-friendly models?
Once you’ve identified those qualities, think about which of your career accomplishments relate to what they’re looking for. For example, were you able to lead your team through a complex project under time and budget? Did you catch a piece of code in an extremely complex algorithm that would have had dire effects on the company? Did you create a model that won an industry award for your business?
6. What are your professional weaknesses?
This is a question no interviewee likes to answer and every interviewer loves to ask. So first ask yourself: What are some of my biggest professional weaknesses? For example, do you have a hard time drawing boundaries at work? Do you have a hard time taking feedback? Are you not a great team player?
Make a list of your weaknesses. Scratch off any that might be considered a “dealbreaker,” like “I have a hard time meeting deadlines.” (You’ll want to work on that personally but not share with a potential employer.) From the weaknesses that remain, pick one that’s true but which still conveys your credibility and leadership.
And always tell them you’re working on it!
7. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you experienced in one of your past roles and how you handled it.
If you’re asked this question, remember: you always want to include a happy ending. So no matter what the circumstances were that ignited the challenge or conflict, you want to explain how you thoughtfully and strategically handled the challenge and that it all turned out okay in the end.
And never point blame. No hiring managers wants to hear a retelling of a “he said, she said.”
8. If we hired you, what’s the first thing you’d fix about our company?
Be careful here. You want to offer a thoughtful suggestion while making sure not to offend the interviewer.
To find that balance, we suggest saying something along the lines of “With all the resources and finances in the world, I’d suggest…” You’re offering a thoughtful suggestion while also recognizing that what might have stopped them from doing that in the first place was a lack of resources and/or finances.
9. What are your salary requirements?
Again, do your research. If you found the role through AmazeTal, you’ll already know what they’re offering and can come to the interview ready to negotiate. If you found the job through another job board and the salary is not listed, see if you can find a range online (Glassdoor is a great resource). You want to fight for what you deserve while also not presenting a number that’s completely not doable.
10. What questions do you have for us?
Always come prepared with a question! This shows a true interest and dedication to the role and company.
A great one is: “Can you tell me a little bit about your experience with the company?” It’ll give you great behind-the-scenes information on the organization and, more importantly, engage the interviewer.
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