It’s always nerve wrecking going for an interview wondering if you would be able to answer the questions and impress your potential employers. Fortunately, employers are mostly predictable in their questions. Here is a cheat sheet on how to ace the top 5 most-asked questions in an interview.
Tell me about yourself
Where do you begin right? This question might sound incredibly vague, but things get a lot clearer when you frame that question from the employer’s perspective. This is where an elevator pitch will come in handy. An elevator pitch gives you a guideline on how long your answer should be, so prepare a one-minute or shorter introduction that highlights your experience. You can start with a brief personal introduction before you jump into your professional experience and aspiration.
Why are you the best candidate for the job?
Do your research and be ready to tell them specifically why you are a good fit for the role. Pamela Skillings, interview coach and co-founder of Big Interview says, “This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengths and describe your most memorable selling points, tailored to align with the top requirements in the job description.” However, focus on quality instead of quantity. Skillings cautions, “Your answer should summarize the top three or four best reasons to hire you. It’s better to have three or four strong reasons with memorable descriptions and examples than to rattle off a laundry list of twelve strengths without context.”
You can also research the organization and discuss something about the company that you like such as the organization’s vision. If you happen to be passionate about the company’s vision, do share that with the interviewer. However, this point is optional so if you don’t resonate or feel strongly about their vision then don’t feel that you have to include it in your interview.
What are your weaknesses?
This is where most of us freeze up, and it is a tough one if you are caught off guard. Ashley Stahl, career coach and founder of CAKE Publishing, says, “The trick is to pick a weakness you’ve been working on. Tell the interviewer how it has challenged you in the past, and explain to them steps that you have taken to improve this weakness. Lastly, give them a specific example of how you have improved this weakness by actively working on it”. Another option is to mention skills that are not essential for the job you are interviewing for.
What salary package are you looking for?
This can be a tricky one and don’t feel pressurized to give a number. Stahl says, “First off, never walk into an interview without a strategy to talk compensation. Before you’re in an interview, research the salaries of employees in your industry who hold positions similar to yours. Come up with a salary range that you’re looking for, but never be the first to say a number. The first person to give number always loses.” What to do if they press for a number? “If they press you, insist that you’re flexible and more interested in finding the right fit. Last resort, if they still won’t give a number first, tell them the range you’re looking for, but that you’re negotiable,” Stahl concludes.
Do you have any questions?
Yes, you do! Interviewers are looking for candidates who are interested and engaged so always have a few questions prepared ahead of time. Some great questions include: what does success look like in this role? What is the company culture like? And what does an ideal candidate for this role look like?
Monica Leong is a storyteller at heart. Graduated with a Journalism and Public Relations degree, she is currently working in corporate communications and also contributes as a freelance writer and editor. Before entering the corporate world, she worked in female lifestyle magazines such as Marie Claire, CLEO, and PEARL as an editor and a features writer. Monica is passionate about writing and working on a short story and flash fiction anthology.