5 Questions You Must Be Able to Answer in a Job Interview

A client recently asked me: “What are the questions I really need to answer during my job interview?” I hadn’t thought about it in those exact terms, but I certainly have an opinion and I think it’s a terrific question.

Here are five questions (really question “areas”) that you need to be able to answer during your job interview. Hint: notice how many times I use the word prepared in this post. It’s really important to prepare. Do it!interview prep

  1. Why should we hire you? This may not be the exact question posed to you, but it could be. It’s a scary question but a good one. And it’s important that you answer it clearly, concisely and confidently. So, think about this question before your interview. In other words, prepare your response. To do this well, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what the employer is looking for and the specific skills, qualifications and experience you have that fit his need.
  2. Tell me about… (fill in your dreaded topic). Each of us has at least one dreaded topic…the one we hope the interviewer will not ask us. Invariably he will! That might be a gap in employment: “Tell me about this two-year period when you weren’t working?” Other dreaded topics might be age (too young, too old), you’re over/under qualified, whatever. Identify the topic you want to avoid and prepare your response. I often recommend that my clients raise the dreaded topic even if the employer doesn’t.  If you think it’s an issue, the interviewer probably might too. Be proactive, discuss it, clear the air. It will make you feel better and it might resolve any qualms the employer had about hiring you.
  3. Tell me about yourself? This is a perfectly legitimate question for an interviewer to ask, but so open-ended it can leave you speechless. Employers want to see how well you think on your feet and how you weave in some of your life story into what makes you a strong candidate for this job. They do not want to hear about your childhood or how many siblings you have. They also don’t want you to go on for more than a minute. Write out your answer and practice your response before your interview. In other words, prepare your answer.
  4. Give me some examples of your work… If you are applying say, for a customer service job, it’s reasonable for the interviewer to ask you about your specific customer service experience or examples of how you handled conflicts with a customer. Come prepared with examples that highlight your competence and experience in this area.
  5. What are you passionate about? If you haven’t thought about this question and your response is a blank stare, that doesn’t look so good. Think about your interests, your community service – do you have a passion about something? Passion may seem like a strong word, and it is, but it’s important to be able to speak about your interests whether those are fly fishing, volunteering in an orphanage, or participating in triathlons. Employers want to know a little about the person they are hiring. Be yourself, show who you are. Just remember to keep it to a minute or so.

Yes, there is a common theme within each of these questions. Prepare your responses in advance. That doesn’t mean reading your answer, but think about each question, jot down some notes and practice your response. What are the specific skills and experience that make you qualified for this job? Why do you want it so much?

Winging an interview is a waste of everyone’s time. The interviewer is not interested in hearing you ramble. And if you’re not prepared to offer clear, crisp, focused responses it’s very unlikely that you’re going to get the job.  But even when you prepare for an interview and then don’t get hired, you will be ready to shine the next time. Preparation time is worth every minute you invest! Contact me so we can practice. It will make a difference.

Additional articles to help make this interview your best ever:

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Posted in Business Presentation Skills, Tips for Job Seekers
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