Win the Job by Answering Common Interview Questions the Right Way

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Win the Job by Answering Common Interview Questions the Right Way

by Rachel Morey 2 Comments

Role playing common interview questions is a smart move well worth the time and effort. Some interviewing pros even recommend taking as many face-to-face meetings with prospective employers as possible simply for the extra practice.

While role playing a difficult situation with a friend or talking through good interview questions in front of a mirror is a great place to start, a live test-run with a hiring manager helps increase confidence, polishes communication skills, and gives you a chance to fail and correct course.

Understanding your weaknesses in an interview may be impossible before you are in the hot seat. Factors like social attention span, the ability to make and maintain appropriate eye contact, and even the quality of your handshake all play a significant role in a face-to-face first impression.

Knowing the answers to common job interview questions and being able to communicate them in a way that makes you an excellent candidate for the position in the eyes of the hiring manager often doesn’t come naturally.

Polish your skills by studying these common interview questions and conversation starters

1. Tell me about yourself.

Keep your answer brief and focus on how the open position intersects with your interests, education, and experience.

Many times, interviewers start with a request that seems like the beginning of a friendly conversation. Your answer to this soft approach reveals much about communication skills, your ability to self-edit in real time, and how you may present yourself to clients and coworkers.

2. Why should I hire you?

Check the job description and highlight the areas where you are a good fit for the position. Be clear about your skills, talents, and education that match the employer’s requirements.

Answers to simple questions like this offer the employer valuable clues about your confidence level while revealing the kind of egotism that team-oriented departments avoid.

3. Would you rather be liked or feared?

This question takes some people by surprise, so think about the answer carefully. Answer honestly, and be prepared to give a brief explanation. Employers want to gain insight about your personality and work style and habits.

4. What issues have you had with previous bosses?

It may seem like a trick question, but it’s an effective way for potential employers to find out if you’ll speak ill of your co-workers and supervisors. Be tactful and keep your answer short.

5. Which is more important to you; money or job satisfaction?

Money is crucial. But to employers, the job matters more. It isn’t a question designed to get you to work for free, so take this opportunity to be specific about how important it is to you to consistently produce high-quality work.

6. What do you know about our company?

A few hours before the interview, Google the company. Check the “news” tab for any current events. If there’s negative press, don’t bring it up in the interview, but focus on the positive. Know the names of the major players in the company; especially in the department where you’d like to work.

Employers want to know you’ve done your research on their company, the position, and work culture. They want to feel that you really want to be a part of their team.

7. Why do you want this job?

Aligned with the previous questions, when a potential employer asks you why you want to work for them, they want to know if you took the time to research and study the organization or company. Before sending out resumes and completing job applications, you probably had a good understanding of which companies are hiring and which companies in your industry you’d pursue.

Talk about the aspects of the company’s culture that fit well with your work style and personality. Mention how this job fits in with your ambitious career goals.

8. What kind of experience do you have?

If you don’t have a lot of relevant experience, focus on how your past successes indicate a good fit with the position. Be honest, creative, and think through how you can present your work experience in a way that makes you an asset to the company. Getting a good job without experience is possible.

9. Where else have you applied?

Honesty is important here, but so is diplomacy, tact, and the ability to self-edit. Keep this answer brief, mention a couple of other reputable companies in the area that you’d also like to work for, and make it clear that you are keeping your options open and taking the job search process seriously.

10. Can you describe what you’d like your career to look like in five years?

Designed to reveal whether you are a self-starter who has measurable, actionable, and realistic goals, this interview question offers a chance to showcase your ability to plan. If you aren’t on a career path that excites you, set goals now.

When an interviewer asks you where you see yourself in five years, they are looking for evidence that you have a plan and can set measurable goals.

11. How did you hear about this job?

It seems like a soft question to open an interview and set a relaxed tone. The interviewer wants to know whether you are looking for any job, or you want to work for this company. Many job candidates find companies that are hiring on job boards or at job fairs, but it’s important to take this opportunity to let the interviewer know that you follow the company on social media, working for them is one of your career goals, and you want to be on their team.


Rachel M.

Rachel M.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States

See my LinkedIn profile for samples. Feedback from clients: "This was my second job with Rachel. She adheres to schedule and over delivers on her content. I know that I will be coming back for more." "...an excellent writer and was always on schedule. I would definitely recom...

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