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How to Answer the Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions

Toe people shaking hands after an interview

As recruiting experts, we interview a lot of people, and know that looking for a new job can feel intimidating, overwhelming, and confusing. Over the next several months we will publish a series of blogs to help you, the job seeker, feel more comfortable with what to expect during the job-search and interview process. We will include tips on how to prepare for your job search, guides on how to address common interview questions, what to do after that interview, and how to handle the offer process. This blog series begins today with the interview process; below we will give our best advice on how to answer some common interview questions you may encounter as you begin interviewing for your next job.

Tell Me About Yourself

“Tell Me About Yourself” can feel like an incredibly overwhelming question to answer in an interview. It is important to remember that the interviewer is human, just like you, and usually has your best interest in mind. Typically, an interviewer uses this question to segue from when you introduce yourself into the rest of the interview- your answer to this question can determine the direction that the interview will take.

This is a great opportunity to highlight things that you want to make sure the interviewer knows about you! It is best to answer this question in three parts: the past, the present, and the future. For example, you could answer the interview question, “Tell Me About Yourself,” like this:

“I attended college at Appalachian State University where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication with a focus in Creative Advertising. From there, I worked as an in-house graphic designer for a national distribution warehouse. However, now I am looking to pivot to an agency setting where I will have the opportunity to work across several different clients in multiple capacities.”

How Did You Hear About This Job?

Whether you heard about the job for which you are applying through a friend, or you found the job on a job board, this question is the perfect opportunity to share what you know about the role, what makes you excited about it, and why you would be good at it. If you heard about the job through a friend, this is your chance to drop their name and share about your connection. In addition, there is never harm in bragging to the interviewer about what impresses you about the company at which you are interviewing.

We suggest answering the interview question “How did you hear about this job?” like this:

“I found this specific posting through a search of local openings in the marketing field on LinkedIn, I’ve admired this company for a long time, so I was thrilled to see a position open for which I know I would be the perfect fit!”

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

This question offers the perfect opportunity to brag on the company with which you are interviewing. Do your research ahead of time and pick out a few things that make the company really stand out to you. If you cannot find anything that makes the company impressive in your eyes, it might be a red flag. Your response to this interview question does not need to be lengthy or cover many topics. The interviewer is probably trying to gauge what you know about the company and whether or not you came to the interview prepared by having done your research. For example, you could answer this way:

“I am so encouraged every time I see anything about your company in the local news, on social media, or through various connections. People in the community as well as your internal employees have wonderful things to say about this company’s commitment to diversity and serving local non-profits, both of which are things I am extremely passionate about. I also noticed that your company has earned the Greatest Company in Raleigh Award three times in a row- it would be an honor to work for such an outstanding organization.”

Why Should We Hire You?

This question is really the perfect segue to get to brag about yourself. Remember to keep your answer professional and to the point. We recommend answering this question in three parts: your skills, your results, and your personality. What you want to avoid here is providing a generic answer or potentially disparaging any of the other candidates who may be interviewing.

Show that you are the perfect fit for this position by providing examples of how you may fit in with the team, how you have overcome difficult problems at work in the past, and how your skills match the position. Do your research about the position beforehand and incorporate examples from their job posting into your answer.

What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?

While choosing how to respond to this question, you need to be careful to walk the middle ground of confessing something that may be a huge red flag and being untruthful by saying that you have no flaws. A good choice is to answer this question by sharing an example that can also be viewed as a strength. We suggest answering like this:

“I am a very detail-oriented person, meaning that sometimes projects take me longer to complete, because I want every last detail to be perfect. I have been working with my current mentor to overcome this by creating a system to help me identify the priority level of tasks to be completed as well as ensuring I understand the various project deadlines so that I manage them effectively.”

Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake at Work.

The interviewer is probably asking this question to gauge whether you can own up to your mistakes, self-reflect, and show the initiative to ensure the mistake does not occur in the future. We suggest answering this interview question in three parts:

  • What was the mistake?
  • How did you fix it and what did you learn?
  • What are the steps you took to make sure that mistake does not happen again?

For example, you could answer like this:

“During a busy season at work, I missed the deadline for submitting a flyer. Because of my mistake, a few of my coworkers had to step in to help me get the flyer made. I learned how crucial it is for me to prioritize each of my daily tasks by importance and ensure that I block time on my calendar to work on each project. Since then, I have created my own system to calculate how many hours are likely required to complete the tasks on time and to remind me of deadlines coming up.”

Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

When replying to this question please know there is no value for you, your past employer, OR your future employer in talking negatively about your past/current job. Rather than talk negatively about your past employer, use this as an opportunity to brag on the company with which you are interviewing. If you were let go from your last job, it is okay to answer by saying, “Unfortunately, my position ended,” and leaving it at that.  We suggest answering this question like this:

“As much as I enjoy my current position, I am seeking opportunities for growth and increased responsibilities.  I would really love the opportunity to increase my responsibilities by overseeing incoming creative requests from beginning to end, and I know I would have that opportunity here.”

Do You Have Any Questions for Us?

You should always come to an interview with questions prepared and be listening during the interview for anything the interviewer says about which you may want clarification. We suggest approaching this question as an opportunity to make sure this position is the right fit for YOU.

Here are a few questions you could ask:

  • What is your favorite part about working here?
  • What is your favorite project on which you have worked in the past year?
  • Is there anything else I may share with you to add clarity about me as a candidate for this position?
  • What are the growth plans for your department or the company overall?
  • In your eyes, what does success look like in this role and how is it measured?

 

Check out our TikTok for answers to the most commonly asked interview questions!

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