Questions You Might See in an Interview
The resume got you in the door, now it's time to prove you have what it takes to get hired. The job interview is a critical part of the hiring process because the company uses this time to decide if candidates are going to be an asset to the organization for the long term. The more prepared you are for the face-to-face interaction the better chance you have of landing the job.
Questions Everybody Gets Asked
No matter what job you're interviewing for, you'll probably be asked a few common questions that pop up in every interview. For example:
- Tell us about yourself.
- What makes you angry?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Why do you want this job?
Spend some time formulating general ideas to answer these questions. Numerous online resources are available that can give you some suggestions for your responses. Be careful not to memorize exact answers though, you don't want your responses to sound canned.
Get Help: Visit your college career center's website to get ideas on interviewing strategies and to watch videos about interview questions, mistakes to avoid and proper etiquette.
Questions about Your Background
Employers are going to want to know what you have done in the past and what you are capable of doing for their company. Some questions might include:
- What were your responsibilities at your last job?
- Why did you choose your major?
- Tell us about how you handled a challenging situation.
- What would your former boss say about you?
Prior to your interview, review your past work experience, significant contributions, skills, desires and learning goals. Try and come up with examples of specific situations from past jobs that will be useful in your potential new position. You can also brainstorm ideas for the new company.
Get Help: Visit with a career counselor on campus to get some help assessing your background, skills and interests. Counselors can also provide tips on how to dress appropriately for your interview.
These questions could be about gaps in your employment or educational record that you'll need to explain, or they could be about how you interact with others or make decisions. Some examples include:
- Why did you leave your last job?
- How do you deal with a co-worker who isn't doing his share of the work? Give us a specific example.
- Tell us about a decision you made that failed. What happened and why?
- Convince us to hire you.
Get Help: Contact your college career services center to set up a mock interview if you're nervous about these types of questions. In a mock interview, you'll act like you would in a real interview and then be given feedback by a counselor on how well you did and what you need to improve.
Employers want to hire people who are going to make them look good by making the company succeed. To stand out among your competitors you need to be able to sell yourself during the interview so that employers know what you can do for them and why you're the best person for the job. Performance questions might include:
- How can you impact the bottom line for our company?
- What parts of the job will present you with the most challenges?
- Describe a stressful situation at your last job or at school. Tell us how you handled it.
- Have you ever postponed making a decision? Why?
These questions not only showcase your performance, but show how well-prepared you are for the interview. Employers might ask you questions about their company to see if you did any research prior to the interview.
Get Help: Search the company's website for info or stop in at the career counseling center to find resources that can help you learn about different companies.
You've prepared for the interview by practicing answering questions with a career counselor or your roommate. You've researched the company and you know a little about your interviewers. Now, what do you do when you get asked one of these questions:
- Design an evacuation plan for this building
- The clock on the wall is unplugged. Why?
- What would you bring to a picnic?
- How many windows are in New York City?
These questions aren't generally designed with a specific answer in mind. Employers ask these questions to see how well you can think on your feet. They want to gauge your reaction to the question and see how you work through a response. The key to answering these questions is to stay calm and talk out your reasoning, including asking questions as needed.
Get Help: Career services can recommend books or other materials that you can use to prepare for these questions. A mock interview will also help you prepare, so you'll want to make sure your college's career center offers that service.