We’d like you to come in for an interview.
These words are some of the most celebrated – and most feared – words that we’ll ever hear in regard to our career. Searching for a job can be exhausting and discouraging, so finally hearing those words can bring a wonderful thrill of excitement.
Yet, many of us have also spent sleepless nights worrying about the interview. We stress over what we should wear, how many people will be in the room, what they’ll think of our resume, and if we’ll be able to speak clearly and calmly.
Others of us have sat in an interview and had our mind go completely blank because we weren’t prepared to answer the questions being asked. This is a really frustrating position to be in, knowing that you are qualified, capable and eager, but feeling the heat of the pressure and only managing to mumble out a half-thought in response.
As women with achievements under our belts, passion in our hearts and extremely capable minds, we should be able to present the best of ourselves in an interview. In order do this, it’s important to prepare for any possible topic that might come up for discussion. The following list highlights the top ten questions that employers are most likely to ask during an interview, as well as some helpful ways to start formulating your own appropriate responses.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Employers ask this question mainly to get a first impression of who you are and how you present yourself. Have a handful of points to talk about for two to three minutes at the most. This is your chance to give a good first impression. Friendliness, clarity and ease of communication are key.
Why did you leave your last job?
This is not the moment to speak poorly of your former boss or coworkers. Regardless of any negative circumstance that you encountered at your previous job, try to angle your answer in a positive direction. Explain how the role you are applying for offers more opportunities for growth and ways for you to utilize your skills, or how you’re ready for a new challenge.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
This can be a tricky question to answer. After all, who wants to tell their prospective future boss about the things they don’t do particularly well? But all of us have flaws, and the ability to identify them is a highly valuable asset. Employers want assurance that you can pinpoint your need for improvement in certain areas. It is also helpful to explain how you plan to deal with those weaknesses or how you can turn them into positive strengths.
What are your greatest strengths?
Choose four to five areas you excel in and be prepared to give examples. Be sure to emphasize strengths that will obviously aid you in the role for which you are being interviewed. Some examples of strengths that are helpful for almost any role: fast learner, positive attitude, flexible, dependable, responsible, etc.
What are your short and long term goals? OR Where do you see yourself in five years?
Employers are interested to know if you are going to be committed to the job. Are you a goal setter? Do you have a strong inner drive? Do you plan ahead? Are you hoping to stay in the company for a while or just get some experience, pay some bills and move on? Here’s a helpful hint: Most employers are not impressed with someone who says they want to be working the same job in five years. Even if you’re not sure that you want to stay with the company long-term, it’s helpful to explain that in five year’s time you hope to still be improving and seeking to become the best employee in the company.
How do you deal with conflict? OR What past obstacles have you overcome?
This question is intended to assess whether or not you can deal with conflict and handle stress without getting frustrated. It also helps to identify what kind of thinker you are, as well as your abilities to problem-solve. An employer will often follow your response by asking for an example of a time when you had to handle a particular conflict. Think back over your previous experiences and find a great example of how you positively dealt with a stressful situation.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Choose an accomplishment that meant a lot to you personally and professionally. Ideally this accomplishment will relate to the position you are applying for. Set up your answer by briefly explaining the details of the situation, what you did and how you did it, and the end results.
Why do you want to work with us? OR Why should we hire you?
This is where you can astound the interviewer with all the research you have done. Before going into any interview, find out everything you can about the company. What is their mission? What are their values? What exactly will this job entail? Explain how you value similar things, and highlight the particular skills you possess that would make you indispensable in the role being offered.
What are your salary requirements?
This can sometimes be an awkward topic, but it doesn’t have to be! The key to answering this question is researching salaries for similar positions in your field. This will give you a rough estimate so that you can present an appropriate range. Mishandling this question may leave you doing a job for less than it is worth.
Do you have any questions for me?
Never say no. Ever. Always have a question ready. Ask about the atmosphere of the office – is there some flexibility or is everyone encouraged to be focused and on-task? Ask the person interviewing you what their idea of success in the role looks like. What are the chances of your being hired? This is your opportunity to really find out if this is the job you really want, and if it will further you in your career pursuits. Always have one or two questions on hand, and don’t forget to thank the person interviewing you!
Being properly prepared for any interview will keep you from selling yourself short. But the most important thing to remember is that you have wonderful things to offer. You have incredible skills, big dreams and a spirit that is meant to thrive. So walk boldly, carry your head high, and ace that interview.
What’s your advice for being confident and prepared during an interview?
Images via Jamie Tompson