Interview questions come in many shapes and sizes. An interviewer may ask you to discuss previous projects you worked on or give you a challenging task to complete in a very short amount of time. If you're being interviewed at a startup, where culture-fit and passion rank just as high as your skills and knowledge, you can expect almost anything.
Naturally, this can make you somewhat nervous about your upcoming interview. However, knowing some common interview questions ahead of time will help you prepare better and relax.
1. Why do you want this position?
The interviewer, or hiring manager, is attempting to determine how much you already know about their company as well as how enthusiastic you are to land the job. Give them detailed examples of what attracted you to the job and then elaborate on your skills, achievements, and overall strengths and how well you would make a good fit for the available position.
2. Tell me a little bit about yourself. What makes you tick?
This question is often asked to simply break the ice and get the conversation going. Giving a strong, straight-to-the-point answer will please the interviewer rather than telling them your whole life story. Your answer should be a brief description of your unique qualifications, skills, and strengths. It's best to tailor your reply based on the role being offered by stating the best benefit that you can offer the company. This will make the interviewer want to know more about you and what else you have to offer as well.
3. What are your key strengths?
The hiring manager is trying to figure out what you're really good at and how it can benefit their organization. Choose a couple of your primary strengths that are necessary for the job and provide examples of how you've successfully illustrated them in the past. Your strengths may include a number of things. Can you multi-task and work well under pressure? Are you a fast learner? Are you team-focused or work better on your own? How do you handle negative situations? These are just some of the things most hiring managers want to know.
4. What are your primary weaknesses?
The hiring manager is trying to measure your self-awareness. Everyone has certain weaknesses, so don't claim that you don't have any. Also, don't use the term 'weakness'. Instead, discuss your areas for improvement that aren't critical to landing the job. By showing that you're willing to work on developing yourself shows the interviewer that you're not only human, but you have an earnest desire to turn your weak areas into positive ones.
5. What do you consider a difficult situation and how do you handle it?
The hiring manager is trying to determine your definition of what a difficult situation is and if you have the 'right stuff' to handle it. In other words, how do you approach problem solving in general? Think of the most difficult situation at work you ever had to deal with and explain how you helped fix it based on your actions. Give your reply with the sense of someone who knows how to deal with frustrations and setbacks as a natural part of working.
6. What exactly have you accomplished to date?
Are you a high-achiever and goal setter? The interviewer wants to see how your achievements will benefit their organization overall. Choose one or two of your most recent accomplishments that are strongly connected with the job at hand. Identify the circumstances, the actions you ultimately took, the key skills you utilized and the positive results, quantifying the benefits as much as possible. Let the hiring manager know that you can bring to the table all that you've learned and accomplished in the past to this new role.
7. How well do you work under pressure?
The hiring manager wants to determine your level of composure when faced with pressure as well as how you use your problem solving skills and if you can remain focused during difficult, chaotic situations. Tell the interviewer of a time where you had to deal with a high-stress situation and how well you handled it with grace and poise. Explain the details of the situation, how well you approached the situation, and the helpful action you took that resulted in a positive outcome for everyone concerned. Point out how you kept your composure and remained calm in spite of the confusion and turmoil around you.
8. What did or didn't you like about your last job?
The hiring manager is trying to determine if the position offered has any potential responsibilities you may not like. Focus on the things that you really enjoyed about your last job and how they compare to the new position. Never, under any circumstances, criticize your former boss or company. This makes you look bad, not them.
All things considered, answering interview questions is somewhat of an art, and practice makes perfect. Go over these questions and prepare your answers so you'll be more comfortable during the interview and ultimately land your dream job.
By Andre Bradley