5 Popular Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Landing a job interview is an impressive feat, but preparing for one can be challenging at best and terrifying at worst. Many of the questions interviewers ask can be repetitive and frustrating, and it can be tough to stand out. Below, find five questions that you will probably encounter in your interview process and the best ways to answer them.
So, tell me about yourself.
You will probably encounter some version of this question at the beginning of every interview, so it’s a good one to perfect. You’ll want to tailor this answer specifically to highlight the skills required for the role you’re applying for. So, while you should have a similarly crafted response for each interview, make sure the key points you’re hitting are job-specific. A well-formulated response should tell your story, so it should have a compelling beginning, middle and end. You’ll want to cover your background, including highlights from your education, hobbies, professional experiences and personal life that are relevant to the role. Remember, you shouldn’t be listing as many accomplishments as you can think of. Think quality, not quantity. Tell a chronological story of your background from as early as makes sense up until the interview. Make sure your answer explains why you are interested in, and qualified for, the role. Keep it between 30-90 seconds!
What is your greatest strength?
The best thing you can do in your answer to this question is to be prepared. Employers want to know that you know yourself and what you bring to the table, so whether you choose attention to detail, organizational skills, being a good teammate, or something else, just be sure you can back it up with examples and evidence of why you are choosing this as your greatest skill, and your rationale as to why this skill will help you succeed in this role. Don’t be afraid to speak confidently, this is not the time to be humble or shy!
What is your greatest weakness?
Like with the last question, employers are looking for an answer that shows a candidate knows themself well. No employer expects a candidate to be perfect, they just want to know that you are honest enough to admit your imperfections, aware of your imperfections, and, most importantly, want to improve. Don’t list a strength and try to mask it as a weakness—you won’t be fooling anyone. Don’t list one of the main skills essential for the position either, though. Good answers should be more generalized, like having a lack of experience or being overly self-critical. You should explain the rationale behind your answer, and should finish your answer with a statement showing that you are aware of how this weakness can get in your way professionally, and the steps you are taking to improve it.
How do you handle pressure?
Your answer to this question should explain your working style, and should reassure the employer that will be able to handle the stressful situations that will come your way in any position. Have an example prepared for a time in which you experienced a stressful situation in your professional or (relevant) personal life, and the steps you took to resolve it. It also helps to mention the steps you take in your daily life to manage stress. Show that you are responsible and capable of managing your emotions. You know that jobs are challenging- you anticipate this, and you know how to manage yourself under stressful conditions.
What are your salary expectations?
This is something you likely won’t get asked until the end of the interview, but it can be one of the most challenging questions to answer. First off, make sure you are prepared to answer this question by doing your research beforehand. You should be up to date on the average salary range for this role at other countries and in your region. Companies hiring in cities with higher costs of living will usually pay a little more than the national average. Websites like Glassdoor, Fishbowl and Indeed have company-specific salaries posted by current and former employers, so you may even be able to find the exact salary that you can expect from the role you’re applying for. Your answer to this question should provide a range, and should look something like, “based on my skills and experience and the current industry average, I am looking for a salary of $X-$X, with the exact number varying based on company benefits and role expectations.” Don’t be afraid to quote a number a little higher than what you’re looking for. Employers expect this, and it’s easer to negotiate fair compensation when the number you’re hoping for is at the lower end of your range, rather than at the top.