You’re sitting in an office. A folder with your résumé rests in your lap. Your palms are sweating and heart beating. You tense as the interviewer walks in. They ask a question. You open your mouth, but the words don’t come out.
As a senior employment coordinator at COUNTRY, I’ve seen this happen. I’ve also seen really confident candidates. What makes the biggest difference? Preparation.
Preparation is the key to success: in life and especially when interviewing for a job. An impressive education and work experience may land you an interview, but a great interview lands you the job. So, here are some key questions to prepare for!
Your best behavior
Your interviewer will likely ask behavioral-oriented questions. You know the ones: tell me about a time when you handled a difficult customer, etc.
To prepare, do a Google search for commonly asked behavioral interview questions. Pick 3 – 5 related to the job and prep your responses. While you can’t predict all the questions, you’ll be more comfortable and confident with a few under your belt.
Your answers should have examples that illustrate your abilities and prove you’ve been successful in past jobs and will be successful in the future.
Why are you interested in this job?
This question is almost a given. When answering, remember: it’s not all about you. Don’t say how you need more money or aren’t appreciated in your current job. Instead, tell why your experience is a great fit for the position, and how you’ll be an asset to the company.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Listing your strengths is easy. Pick 1 – 2 directly related to the position. But, be unique. Don’t just say “I’m a people person.” It’s trite and overused. Hopefully you love working with customers, but find another way to say it.
Don’t say “I can’t think of a weakness.” Saying nothing looks like you’re hiding something or you think you’re perfect. Instead, share one weakness you’ve improved. Like, “last year my role changed and I needed to improve my Excel skills to perform new tasks. I took a few classes and now I’m very proficient.”
What questions do you have?
Never, never say you have no questions! The interviewer will view it as disinterest. Have at least three prepared. Here are a couple of my favorites I’ve been asked over the years:
- “What types of people tend to succeed in this job?”
- “What is the biggest challenge facing your company in the next few years?”
To really wow them, ask a question based on information the interviewer shared during the interview.
And finally, an interview is all about balance. Give detailed responses, but don’t talk too much and ramble. Choose your words wisely and have a purpose. Good luck!
When a good interview isn’t enough, watch this video interview with me for ways to further set yourself apart from other jobseekers in this competitive environment.