You can feel that familiar bout of anxiety starting to hit. Your palms are getting wetter by the minute and the knees are so weak you are almost struggling to walk straight.
It is common to be nervous before a job interview. In fact, I would consider you abnormal if you did not get nervous. However, there is also a way to deal with that anxiety and not let it affect your game.
The key, of course, is adequate preparation for the interview. Start from the obvious point of company research. Try to go through as much stuff about the company as possible and give yourself a good idea of the way things are done there. Next, think about potential interview questions and prepare possible answers.
It is not really recommended that you give memorized answers to all questions in an interview, but it is always better to have a plan for answering questions mapped out in your head beforehand. Of course, you must always be ready to improvise and adapt your answer according to a particular question. A lot of the questions are common to pretty much all types of interviews, precisely the reason why career experts advise preparing possible answers to interview questions.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most common interview questions and potential best responses to them.
A seemingly simple and straightforward question. Yet, so many candidates tend to answer it incorrectly. First thing, think about what the interviewer is looking for with this question.
Do not go on a rant detailing your personal life story or everything from the start of your professional career till now. Instead, give a pitch to sell your skills in the best way possible. Prepare a short but interesting response that shows the interviewer why you will be the best person for the job, how your combination of soft skills and technical competencies will help the company achieve its goals and objectives.
Simply start by mentioning a couple of specific accomplishments that are in any way relevant to the role you are applying for. Then conclude your answer by talking about how those experiences set you up perfectly for this particular position.
This is another seemingly simple and straightforward question. However, if you play this right, then this question can be a wonderful opportunity to stand out in the eyes of your interviewer. Particularly if you came to know about the vacancy through a friend or professional contact already working at that company, then drop that person’s name and share how much you are looking forward to the role. Even if you came to know about the vacancy through a published advertisement or job board, mention that followed by what particular aspects of the role caught your attention.
Responding to this question in such a way makes a great impression in the mind of the interviewer about your awareness and professionalism.
Many candidates make the mistake of listing down all the qualities that they think the interviewer wants to hear. This is a surefire recipe for failure. More often than not, the interviewer will be able to see through it and you will get found out. And once that happens, then you can just about kiss your chances of landing that position goodbye.
So, it is better to structure your response in a way that shows accuracy and relevance to the position you are being interviewed for. Mention those aspects of your personality that are relevant and will help you in the job. Also, it is better to be specific rather than general. For instance, instead of mentioning that you have good interpersonal skills, say that you are a persuasive communicator and great at building relationships. Conclude your answer with an example of how you put these strengths to good professional use in the past.
It is important to consider what the interviewer is really looking for with this question, which is honesty and self-awareness. However, do not start listing off all your negatives. A fine balance needs to be struck. The best approach is to structure your response of negatives around the positive aspects of your personality. For example, instead of saying that you struggle to meet deadlines, say something like this.
“I tend to be a perfectionist. I really believe in doing something correctly the first time. However, that means that I may end up giving more time to a project than is necessary. Although, I work really hard on balancing this drive for perfection with the critical responsibility of meeting deadlines.”
In addition, a good idea is to share examples of things that you have improved upon. And if you can back this up with an example or a sort of background story of how you worked to turn a weakness into a strength, then that is even better.
This particular question seems rather abrupt and even rude to most candidates. However, it has a number of advantages and opportunities for you. Firstly, you would not get a better chance to sell your professional credentials and demonstrate what makes you good at what you do. Answer this question in such a way that it shows you not just as a good worker who can deliver results but also as someone who will fit in seamlessly with the company’s environment and work culture. This will give you an edge over other candidates.
Consider what the interviewer is really looking for with this question. While being honest and specific about your career goals is a good idea, what the interviewer really wants to know is whether you are ambitious (or over-ambitious) and have realistic career expectations. But most importantly, if this particular position fits in well enough with your career goals and aspirations.
The best approach is to accurately appraise the position and where it could realistically take you within the next few years, and then structure your answer along those lines. However, even if the position doesn’t seem to be a direct route to your dream career, you can always talk about how you are not quite sure what the future may bring but you see the experience of this job as an important factor in making a decision.
This question can be a major stumbling block. Fortunately, there are proper ways to answer this question so that it does not reflect negatively on your desire to part ways with your current employer. Structure your answer in such a way that it depicts your enthusiasm for taking on a new opportunity and a new challenge. Also talk about how this particular role is a better fit for you than the job you are currently in. For instance, say something like, “I would prefer to be a lot more involved in the web development job than what my current role allows. I believe I will have that opportunity here.”
In all honesty, one can never be too prepared for an interview. However, it makes a world of difference if you’ve got some kind of plan mapped out for answering specific questions. Of course, you must always be ready to improvise on the spot and tailor any answer according to the situation.