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Common Questions & Sample Answers Asked During a Job Interview

by Alice Stuart, studioD

Job interviews share many differences, depending on the corporate culture and the type of job being offered. However, there are some questions that come up in nearly every interview. Preparing answers for these kinds of questions can help you make the best possible impression during your interview by aiding in the development of solid future goals and personal background descriptions.

Tell me about yourself/Describe yourself

Despite what it may sound like, this is not the time to talk about your pets, your family or your hobbies, unless your hobbies provide you with skills that you can use in the job for which you are interviewing. Use this question as an opportunity to talk about your job performance during past employment. Provide a few concrete examples of your accomplishments, and tie the skills you needed in those examples to the skills required for the job you're interviewing for.

Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

No matter how bad your last job was, make it sound positive. This is not the time to detail the ways your last job was poorly managed, nor is it the time to discuss co-worker disputes. Talk about the positives of your time there and try to find a way in which leaving indicates you've outgrown your current position, or that you are taking a new direction in your career which cannot be done in your current position.

Describe a Time When You Had a Conflict with a Colleague or Boss

This is not the time to describe the co-worker that drove you crazy or the boss that didn't like you. Rather, take this opportunity to describe a way you've grown from a conflict. Emphasize a positive aspect of your personality or skill set and describe the situation through that lens. For example, pointing out your communication skills, your negotiation skills or your leadership skills during an uncomfortable experience with a past colleague or a boss.

Tell Me About Your Weaknesses

For this question, employers want to know what kinds of issues you might bring to the company. You shouldn't offer anything that is actually negative; rather, find a weakness that is also a strength and indicate how you're improving that skill. An example of this might be to talk about how you tend to have trouble delegating and taking too much on yourself, which stretches you too thin. Follow this with an example of how you are improving; for example, you can talk about how you've started trusting your co-workers to handle more responsibility and delegating more effectively.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

When they ask you where you want to be in five or 10 years, or to describe your long term goals, they are looking for career goals. Think about this in terms of the position you are applying for, and tailor your answer accordingly. For example, if your position has the potential to grow into management, you can describe taking on more leadership. For a technical position, you can talk about future training and skills that you want to develop.

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