Most people find attending a job interview challenging and stressful. Even the most seasoned job professionals, those that have attended a number of interviews, can find the job Q&A process intimidating.
One of the simplest ways to reduce your stress before attending an interview is to practice your interview questions and answers.
Many interviewers ask similar questions, regardless of the type of job you plan to interview for. After you have gone on one or two interview, you can become a pro at answering questions.
Knowing this, you can plan ahead of time by researching the company you plan to interview with, and preparing your answers. That way you will be well prepared to answer any questions an interviewer throws at you.
Before long, you will find the Q&A process simple and easy.
Here is a list of the most common interview questions asked by HR professionals and hiring managers.
1. Tell me about your work history.
Every job candidate should be prepared to discuss their work history in detail with the hiring manager they are going to interview with. You can answer this question best if you have a copy of your interview with you. Make sure the resume you have with you matches the one that you sent the interviewer. This will help refresh your memory when reviewing your job history.
When answering this question, plan to highlight the skills, talents and abilities that you used for each previous employer that match the job description and duties for the job you are interviewing for. If there are any gaps in your employment, be prepared to explain them. If you are not certain about the dates of your employment, you can check in with the social security administration tax filing office for help with this.
2. What is your greatest strength?
This is an opportunity for you to shine. Talk about a skill that is directly related to the job you have applied for. This may change from interview to interview. If you have applied for a marketing position, then choose a marketing skill. If it is an accounting job, then talk about your CPA skills. If you have applied for a public relations job, then talk about how well you work with people and the successes you have had in the spotlight. Always relate your skills and expertise to the specific job duties.
If you are not sure what skill to pick, review the job description and search for the most commonly used job skills or term used on the job description.
3. What are your salary expectations?
This one is tricky. If you can work around the salary question, then do so. Ask the interviewer what the salary “range” is for the position, and pick something within that range. Research the position ahead of time and find out what the job is paying, or the salary range for the position. Call ahead of time and ask the HR department if they can give you the range for the position. If you can, use online search engines like Glassdoor and Salary.com for information about similar jobs and pay ranges. Another good place to look is the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you do tell the hiring manager about your salary, be honest, and do not state that you made more than what you did. Remember that your employer will verify your salary.
4. Tell me about your greatest achievement.
Employers want to know what you have done in the past. Use an achievement that is tied to the job you plan to work in. Tell the employer something that may benefit them in the job you want to work in. If you plan to work as a recruiter for example, tell the hiring manager about a time where you helped recruit 50 candidates in a short time span during a job fair that you set up, that was highly successfully, where you subsequently had a 100 percent retention rate. Use facts and figures if you can. Be sure to highlight any rewards or special recognition that you received.
5. What are three weaknesses that you have?
Employers want to know if you have weaknesses that make you unfit for the position that they are filling. These days many employers will not just ask for one, they may ask for three. Some will ask if you have documented weaknesses on performance reviews to jog your memory. Sometimes this question is used to throw you. Remain calm. They also want to know if you can admit that you have faults, as everyone does.
When you talk about your weaknesses, find areas that you can improve on, that may not be directly linked to the job that you are applying for. For example, you are applying for a job as a hospitality agent, then find a weakness related to accounting, as that may be a skill that you will not use in your current job. Find a way to turn all your weaknesses into a strength, as something that you turned around to your benefit. Remember to stay positive.
6. Tell me about a situation where you dealt with conflict, and how you resolved it?
Talk about a specific instance where you overcame an obstacle or confrontation. Perhaps you were able to solve a problem at work, or a challenging multi-tasking situation. Here the employer is looking to see how well you address and confront stress Make sure that your attitude is positive. If you can use a specific example from a previous encounter or engagement to answer this question then do so. Avoid using negative or derogatory comments. A good example may include instances where you worked on a team and helped to negotiate a settlement or resolution to a problem, or helped solve a problem that a client was having over the telephone.
7. Tell me about the management style that you work best with.
The hiring manager or interviewer is trying to determine if you are a good fit. You might state that you like to be able to approach your manager, and establish good communication with your manager. A good work environment is one where you can make good connections with employees and managers. Avoid speaking in a confrontational manner. Here the employer may be looking for someone that is a team player. The interviewer may ask you if you ever had any difficulty working with a manager. This is a delicate question, and one that should be navigated very cautiously. It is a good idea to present yourself in a positive light.
With any interview, it is a good idea to research the company ahead of time, and to take your time with each question. Keep your answers concise, as the interviewer can ask you to elaborate on any answers they need more information about. If you spend too much time on any one question, the interviewer may see you as long-winded. Remember to smile, and be confident when going in for an interview. Don’t forget to prepare one to two questions of your own about the company. This will leave you with the best possible impression in the mind of the person interviewing you.