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How to answer some of the most "dreaded" Interview Questions

You’ve just landed an interview for your dream role and want to make sure you prepare as well as you can to show your interviewers that you’re the best candidate for the job. Though it’s difficult to predict what questions you’ll be asked, rest assured that a number of inquiries will show up in your interview.

Before we dive into the questions, it’s important to take a look at the job description. As you consider the responsibilities, think through any experience you might have related to performing those duties. Any of these line items might make for a great question, depending on how critical the responsibility is to the function of the job.

1. Tell me about yourself.

The key to this question is keeping your answer concise. The interviewer isn’t looking for your entire life story but rather what makes you unique and what makes you a good fit for the position. Pull out the relevant work experience to showcase. We recommend thinking of three self-descriptive words related to the role while also providing an explanation of how you embody those qualities.

2. What’s your greatest strength/weakness?

The key to answering the strength question is not quantity but rather quality. For every strength you provide, make sure you can back it up with a story from your professional career - include measurable results if you can. You won’t wow the interviewer with a long list of strengths if you have no evidence to back it up! As for the weakness question, make sure your answer is honest but also provide examples of how you’ve been working on improving. The interviewer is looking for self-awareness supported by a growth mindset.

3. Why do you want to work for us?

The key to answering this question is showing off the preparation you did for the interview - it’s a great way to showcase your knowledge of the company and how you see yourself fitting into the big picture. Even just reading the company’s website or recent press releases, you’ll be able to glean some of the organization’s important accomplishments (and don’t forget to share why you think they’re impressive too!).

4. What are your expectations for salary?

Though this may not be asked in your first or even second interview for a job, it will inevitably be asked. The key to answering this question is doing a little market research prior to your interview to understand typical compensation for similar positions. If the question is asked in an earlier interview, you can always default to wanting to know more about the role and responsibilities before solidifying your expectations. If the question comes in a later round or the hiring manager is adamant about understanding your desired salary, leverage your interview prep work to provide a reasonable salary range.

5. Tell me about a time when…

These questions are behavioral and typically show up in a second or final round of interviews. The key to answering these questions is utilizing the STAR method: situation, task, action, and result. Not only does utilizing this method give you a roadmap for success and keep you on track when you tend to ramble, but it also provides touchpoints for your interviewer throughout the story, allowing them to see how you might deliver in a workplace scenario.

6. Why should we hire you?

This question is typically one of the last questions you’ll see in an interview and allows you the opportunity to reiterate exactly why you believe you’re the best candidate for the job. This is your 30-second elevator pitch and the product you’re selling is yourself! The key to answering this question is focusing on what you’ve learned about the company and the position throughout your preparation and the interview: how do your strengths serve the big picture, how do you fit into the company, and what do you uniquely bring to the table?

7. How do you handle conflict?

Conflict is an inevitable part of any job you’ll work. Whether it’s different working or leadership styles, a dispute in responsibilities, or a team project, any employer will want to know what to expect when working alongside you. The key to answering this question is highlighting how you resolved a past conflict. Everyone can start a conflict, but not everyone has the same aptitude for resolution.

8. Do you have any questions for me?

This will always be asked at the end of any interview you take part in. It’s critical to show the interviewer your critical thinking skills, as well as your level of care about the job opportunity. The key to answering this question is simple - just make sure you have some questions! In next week’s blog, we’ll dive deeper into the best questions to follow up with at the end of the interview.

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking but it’s important to remember that there are ways to prepare. You’ll never be able to predict with 100% certainty what the entire interview roadmap will look like, but leveraging your resources and context and thinking critically about your past experiences will set you up for success as you embark on your next venture.