The underlying question in every interview is, “Why should I hire you?”
The interviewer’s objective is to assess your credentials, form an impression about your personality and determine the degree to which your interests and background correspond with the employer’s hiring needs. So, every answer to every question must demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job.
Your objective is to translate your abilities, skills and attributes into benefits for the employer. You must be able to verbalize why your strengths are of value to this specific employer.
Experienced interviewers will ask precise questions designed to elicit specific information about how your accomplishments demonstrate the behaviors that have proven successful at their organization. These questions are formulated from the contents of your resume. It’s important to read the ad or job description carefully to determine what behaviors they’re seeking and select examples from your experience to showcase—before the interview even begins.
Following are 10 of the most common interview questions and the best way to prepare to answer them:
1. Tell Me About Yourself.
What they’re really asking here is, “What in your background makes you a good candidate for this job?” Don’t tell them your life story. Pick three or four skills, areas of expertise or personal attributes related to the position.
2. What Are Your Long-Term and Short-Term Goals?
Be sure to make the connection between your goals and the job for which you’re interviewing. You want to show how your goals will benefit them.
3. What Do You See Yourself Doing 5 Years From Now?
Again, tie your answer into the position that’s available. It should go without saying, but never, ever say you want to be doing something unrelated.
4. What Accomplishments Have Given You the Most Satisfaction? Why?
Talk about specific projects. Demonstrate how they are relevant to the position. While the skill or area of expertise may be unrelated, link the personal characteristics demonstrated (like communication skills, perseverance, tenacity, etc.) that are most likely to be relevant.
5. In What Ways Do You Think You Can Make a Contribution to Our Company?
Your answer here is similar to question #1. Pick three or four skills, areas of expertise or personal attributes and demonstrate their value to the position.
6. In What Sort of Environment Are You Most Comfortable?
Your favorite environment should be similar to that of the employer with whom you’re interviewing. Your networking contacts and the company website will likely offer insights into the type of work environment the company fosters.
7. Why Do You Want to Work for Our Company?
Be specific. Show you’ve done your research. Make sure the interviewer knows that you understand their business. Focus on their needs and the value you add, not the fact that it pays well or is five minutes from your home.
8. What Do You Consider to Be Your Strongest Personality Qualities?
List about thee and relate them to the job opening.
9. I See from Your Resume That You [Play Basketball, Speak French, Are Interested in Real Estate, Etc.].
This is not a statement where you answer “yes” or “no.” Hear this as, “Tell me more about…” and do so.
10. What Else Do You Think I Should Know About You?
This question signals that the interview is coming to a close. Prepare a closing statement to tie up all of the relevant skills, areas of expertise and personal attributes that demonstrate the value you bring to the position. You can also use this as an opportunity to showcase any additional information about yourself that has not been discussed, such as rewards, accolades, etc.
Also Important to Note
Your answers should be brief and should objectively emphasize how you achieved concrete accomplishments. Be concise, but do not fall into the trap of responding with monosyllabic “yes” or “no” answers.
Ask questions to get the interviewer to talk about the position to uncover exactly what is being sought. Remember, this is a conversation; there should be interaction. Ask technical questions to demonstrate your knowledge of the field and show that you’re already looking for solutions to the employer’s problems. (Do not ask about salary, benefits, vacations, pensions or hours until you know you have an offer.)
Your background and record of accomplishments are amplified or diminished in the eyes of the recruiter by the general impression you create. Your handshake must be firm and confident, your gaze steady, your appearance impeccable and your confidence apparent. Add those ingredients to your well-thought-out responses to the question “Why should I hire you?” and you have a winning recipe for success.