These questions are the ones you’re bound to hear at just about any job interview – whether you’re an intern, or a senior professional with a decade of work experience.
All of these questions are used to learn more about you, both as a person and a professional. You might have heard the popular idea that there’s no right or wrong answers for job interview questions. Well, while that might be true, there ARE a set of rules you need to follow when answering these questions.
If you understand what, exactly, the interviewer is looking for with each question, you’ll be able to give the right answer
1. “Tell me a little about yourself.”
One of the most common questions in an interview is “Tell me about yourself.” Actually, it is not even a question — it is an invitation.
This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial. Here’s the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead give a pitch—one that’s concise and compelling and that shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job.Talk a little bit about your current role (including the scope and perhaps one big accomplishment), then give some background as to how you got there and experience you have that’s relevant. Finally, segue into why you want—and would be perfect for—this role.
When interviewers ask you to talk about yourself, they’re looking for information about how your qualities and characteristics align with the skills they believe is required to succeed in the role. If possible, include quantifiable results to demonstrate how you use your best attributes to drive success..
When you answer this question, connect the dots on your resume so the interviewer understands not just what you’ve done, but also why.
2. Why Do You Want to Work at This Company?
Many interview questions and answers seek to evaluate whether or not a job is a good fit for a candidate. By asking you, “Why do you want to work here?” the interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example, “I’ve selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices.”
This is simple but effective; it shows you how much research a candidate has done. In an ideal world, you just want to hire candidates that are genuinely excited about a job at your company, not just a job in general. Don’t dwell to long on answers to this question. The goal is simply to find out if a candidate has put a little time in on your website and looked through online materials.
The key to answering this question well is being specific. If you can give the same answer to another company, then you’re clearly not being detailed enough. In other words, your answer should be unique to each place you interview with—no general statements about “working with talented people” or “global impact.”
3. How did you hear about the role?
While seemingly innocuous, this question serves an important purpose. Your company is probably spending significant budget every year on employer branding, advertising and candidate attraction. It’s important to understand what is working!
You need to know whether the messaging your company is investing in is resonating with the right candidates. Make a note of the answers to see whether specific trends emerge. For example, maybe high quality candidates all come across your brand on Twitter, therefore you should invest more in that medium.
This is actually a perfect opportunity to stand out and show your passion for and connection to the company. For example, if you found out about the gig through a friend or professional contact, name drop that person, then share why you were so excited about it. If you discovered the company through an event or article, share that. Even if you found the listing through a random job board, share what, specifically, caught your eye about the role.
4. Can you tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it?
This question is often used to assess how well you perform under pressure as well as your problem-solving abilities. Keep in mind stories are more memorable than facts and figures so strive to ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’. This is also an excellent opportunity to show your human side and how you’re willing to go the extra mile without being asked.
You’re probably not eager to talk about conflicts you’ve had at work during a job interview. But if you’re asked directly, don’t pretend you’ve never had one. Be honest about a difficult situation you’ve faced (but without going into the kind of detail you’d share venting to a friend). “Most people who ask are only looking for evidence that you’re willing to face these kinds of issues head-on and make a sincere attempt at coming to a resolution,” former recruiter Rich Moy says.
Stay calm and professional as you tell the story (and answer any follow-up questions), spend more time talking about the resolution than the conflict, and mention what you’d do differently next time to show “you’re open to learning from tough experiences.”
5. Why Should We Hire You?
This interview question seems forward (not to mention intimidating!), but if you’re asked it, you’re in luck: There’s no better setup for you to sell yourself and your skills to the hiring manager. Your job here is to craft an answer that covers three things: that you can not only do the work, but also deliver great results; that you’ll really fit in with the team and culture; and that you’d be a better hire than any of the other candidates.
To answer, “Why should we hire you?” you should:
- Study the job posting
- Research the company
- Tie your background to the job posting
- Quantify your accomplishments
- Go above and beyond
If deployed correctly though, it can be a great one to separate the men from the boys. The best answers will cover three key bases. Candidates should articulate that they can not only do the work, but can deliver great results and fit in with the team and culture and be a better hire than any of the other candidates!