Most job seekers have had the experience of sweating through at least one difficult interview. Recruiters can take great pride in turning up the heat with unexpected inquiries. For example, Google is notorious for popping questions like How many cows are in Canada? No matter how unique a job interview might be (and the job interviews at Google are certainly that!), it is much more common to encounter interview questions that get asked over and over again. While these questions may seem simple or obvious, it’s easy to bungle them if you fail to prepare. We’ve listed ten of the most common asked questions below so you can avoid potential pitfalls, and impress your recruiter.
1. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself? Keep it short and sweet. The company has already reviewed your resume and credentials. That’s why you’re sitting in their office! Highlight a few key accomplishments or experiences that position you well for the available job, and try to keep it under three minutes.
2. What do you know about the company? Make sure you’ve researched the company and their mission thoroughly, and convey your enthusiasm for both when responding. A failure to do so demonstrates an absolute lack of preparation (laziness!!!!), and a lack of interest in the company. Your recruiter should be crystal clear that there’s nothing more you would like than to work for them.
3. Why do you want this job? It might be true that you need a job, any job. However, the person interviewing you doesn’t need to know that. A smart job candidate will convey why they’re a perfect fit for this specific job with enthusiasm!
4. Why should we hire you? Your prospective employer is basically asking you to sell yourself, so do it. Let them know you have the skills, that you have a proven track record of delivering results, and that you’re superior to any other candidates under consideration.
5. What’s your greatest strength? Pick a professional quality that is most relevant and specific to the available job. If possible, back it up with an example at work that allows you to really shine.
6. What do you consider to be your weaknesses? Tread carefully in these waters. You don’t want to come across as completely obtuse (No weaknesses here!), but you don’t want to name a weakness that will cost you the job (I have a terrible time completing projects!). Pick something fairly benign like a skill that might be rusty from infrequent use, and assure them that you’ll actively work to improve that weakness.
7. What other companies are you interviewing with? If you’re interviewing with other companies in the space, let them know. Frankly, it makes you look like a more attractive prospect. If not, keep it vague. Let them know you have resumes or interviews pending without naming names.
8. Why was there a gap in your employment? Don’t panic if you’ve been laid off, or even fired. Let them know that you were let go, but segue into what you’ve been up to in the interim. If you volunteered, that experience is a fantastic thing to share with a potential employer. If you just needed a break, there’s nothing wrong with that either. Let them know you took time to rest and recharge, but now you’re ready to get back to work!
9. How much do you want to be paid? If at all possible, give them a range rather than a specific number. This gives your hiring manager something to work with, and you haven’t priced yourself out of a job.
10. Do you have any questions for us? First and foremost, this is a great opportunity to discover whether this job and company actually is right for you. Additionally, the nature of your questions can signal the seriousness of your intent to a hiring manager. Inquire about new products, or company growth for example. Be curious, be engaged, and be relevant – and you’re sure to impress.