our everyday life

The Questions Most Frequently Asked at Interviews

by Deborah Waltenburg

There is nothing quite like a job interview to make you feel like a deer frozen in a potential employer’s headlights. How you respond during this experience could mean the difference between a very sweet job offer and a very silent phone. Preparation, including rehearsing answers to several common interview questions, can help you thaw out and focus on selling your strong points.

Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself

Although you might not be comfortable talking about yourself, you're probably going to be asked to, and now is definitely not the time to freeze up. Before the interview, write out and rehearse a brief summary about who you are professionally. Highlight some of your past accomplishments and touch on the education and skills that demonstrate how you might fit in this position. Make sure you highlight the skills and experience that are most relevant to the job listing. If you are interviewing for a job as a sales manager, for example, be prepared to talk about your sales performance in past jobs and any training or experience you have as a manager.

What Are Your Greatest Strengths and Weaknesses?

Knowing your weak points is nearly as important as highlighting your strong points, and discussing them openly demonstrates honesty and the willingness to improve. Talk about the strengths that helped you succeed in the past, such as punctuality or obsessive attention to detail, and align these traits with the requirements of the position. Focus only on weaknesses that can also be seen as strengths, such as a laser-like focus on the job at hand. For example, you might mention that you get easily distracted by office chatter because it hurts your ability to concentrate on your work, and point out that you have taken steps to help block out distractions. In doing so, you also come across as a focused, hard-working individual. This is your chance to turn your negatives into positives.

How Do You Handle Pressure?

This might also come in the form of, “How you have dealt with angry customers before?” Hiring managers ask this question to learn more about how you handle stress when dealing with the public, or when you face important deadlines. Provide examples of how you have successfully dealt with pressure situations in past jobs, such as remaining calm and dealing with issues in an organized manner. Also, use this as a chance to acknowledge any mistakes you've made under pressure and what you have done to avoid making them again.

Why Do You Want to Work For Us?

Questions like this give you a chance to demonstrate how well you do your homework. Be ready with an answer that clearly expresses your knowledge of the company and understanding of how the position correlates with your experience and education. Tell the interviewer why you, and nobody else, will be the best person to fill the position. Make sure you address specific skills mentioned in the job listing as well as qualities of yours that fit with the company's stated goals and strategies.

Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

Questions about past employers should be handled with great care, especially if you are leaving on less-than-favorable terms. This is not the time to vent about all the frustrations, flaws and fights with your previous or current employer. Steer the conversation away from any differences you might have had with past employers. Instead, focus on how your expertise is better suited for a new company and new professional challenge.

Do You Have Any Questions For Us?

You might be asked if you have any questions about the position or the company. This is your chance to learn about the company’s culture, its prospects for the future, advancement opportunities and training requirements. By asking these questions, you demonstrate your interest in and enthusiasm for the job. In addition, the answers to these questions can help you determine if this company is a good fit for you.

About the Author

Based in Ohio, Deborah Waltenburg has been writing online since 2004, focusing on personal finance, personal and commercial insurance, travel and tourism, home improvement and gardening. Her work has appeared on numerous blogs, industry websites and media websites, including "USA Today."

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images