Job interviews tend to follow fairly predictable patterns. While specific questions related to your profession will vary by industry, the structure of the conversation is similar across sectors. There are several key pieces of information that employers will look to learn about candidates for just about every job.
This means that there are several questions that you will be asked in every job interview you ever conduct whether it’s in person, on the phone, or – increasingly likely – over a video chat platform. Preparing winning answers for these in advance can give you a head start to acing the interview and landing the job.
Here are three job interview questions you will almost certainly be asked – and how to answer them like a pro.
Tell me about yourself?
You may not be asked this in those specific words, but in just about every job interview, you will be given the opportunity to introduce yourself in some ice-breaking conversation.
Don’t waste the opportunity by talking about where you grew up, your family, or your pastimes. This conversational-sounding, friendly question is your first opportunity to demonstrate that you are just the person for the job. It is the perfect time to use your elevator pitch. Explain how your work experience and accomplishments have has led you to this role, and why you are excited about it as the natural progression for your career.
Why do you want this job?
Again, you may not be asked this directly, but it is the subtext of many of the questions employers will ask. They want to know that you will be happy in the role, motivated to work hard at it, and likely to stay in it for long enough to make it worth hiring you.
This is why talking about wanting ‘a foot in the door’ to an industry is a bad answer. Employers do like candidates with ambition and a career plan, but remember that the employer is spending valuable time and money to fill a specific role right now. You don’t want to give the impression that you might be looking for a stepping stone role so that you can just make a quick job hop to something else. That would leave them right back where they started.
Instead, talk about how the job at hand is a good fit for you and your career and how you would be great at it.
Do you have any questions for me?
Be ready for this one. It’s more important that it seems. Just about every job interview will end with the employer asking if you have any questions for them. Don’t say, “No.” This is your opportunity to leave a lasting positive impression. You can actually convey your competence and confidence, your job-readiness to the employer more impressively with the questions you ask than with the ones that you answer.
Smart questions can demonstrate that you have some knowledge of the industry, and that you’re already thinking about how you can contribute to the company. They can get the employer talking about the job, their challenges, and the company culture. Having these unscripted conversations can take your interview to the next level in the employer’s mind and make you more memorable to them than other potential candidates.
Ask about the goals and challenges of the role and the latest trends in the industry. Ask questions about the company that demonstrate that you have done your research. It’s also okay to ask about the next steps in the hiring process.
However, at the initial job interview, don’t ask about the pay, vacation time, or benefits. You naturally do want to know all of these things, but they can all be discussed when you receive the job offer. The interview is all about the role itself, and showing that you can be an asset to the company.
So, keep your focus on what you can do for them, not what you’re looking for from them.