No matter how many you go on, job interviews can always be nerve-wracking. You put on your nicest clothes, print out your resume, and remind yourself to smile real big–and just when you think everything is going well, the interviewer hits you with a curveball question you aren’t prepared for.
Luckily, you’re not going to let that happen again and you’re planning ahead to ace this month’s interview. The best way to for anything is to do your research ahead of time–which is why we’re here to help.
If you’re preparing for a big interview during COVID-19, prepping beforehand with these 15 interview questions will help you get one step closer to that dream job.
1. Tell me about yourself?
Most interviews start with this question and how you answer it will make your first impression. If you stumble over the answer and aren’t quite sure what to say–you’re lack of confidence in yourself is showing. If you start listing all your greatest accomplishments and talk too much, your ego might look a little too big. You need to find a good balance between being confident, but not pretentious.
The best way to prepare for this question is to prepare an elevator pitch about who you are. Skip your personal history and give about 2-3 sentences about your career path and how you ended up in this interview, applying for this job. You don’t need to be too detailed, there are plenty of more questions coming. You just want to leave enough curiosity that the interview becomes excited to learn more about you throughout the interview.
2. Why do you want to work for [insert company name]?
When a hiring manager asks this question, not only do they want to know why you want to work for them, but they also want to know what you know about the company. This question tests how well you know what the company does and how passionate you are about the work they do–so make sure you know the company well and can speak truthfully about your desires to work there.
3. How did you hear about this job?
When asked this during an interview, don’t just say you heard about the job on a website. This is your opportunity to go into more detail about why you love this company and what motivates you to want to work there. Moreover, if you have a personal connection at the company, this would be a good time to mention their name!
4. Tell me about something on your resume.
Everyone has something on their resume that they’re really proud of. Whether it’s a skill or achievement you’ve listed or a specific place you worked, considering answering this question with the most interesting thing on your resume. Plus, don’t just say something relevant to your most recent position–you’re already going to be asked about that. Instead, think back to one of the older positions listed on your resume and talk about how that job helped you grow into the person you are today.
5. Why are you looking for a job? Or, why are you looking for a different job?
This question might seem innocuous, but this is how interviewers weed out the people who are either a) just looking for any job b) were fired from their last position or c) might have a high turnover rate, meaning you won’t be sticking around for too long. Focus on the positives and be specific. Think about why you are looking for a job: did you just graduate and this will be your first real job? Are you switching career paths? Are you leaving a current job for this one?
If you are currently working somewhere, you should also be prepared to answer, “why do you want to leave your current job for this one?”
6. Why should we hire you?
When asked this question, keep in mind that the recruiter is looking to hear what skills you have that you’re going to bring to the team. Don’t give a vague answer, such as, “I’m friendly and a hard worker.” Instead, be specific, summarize your work history and achievements, and use numbers when possible.
For example, say how many years of experience you have or name some of the accomplishments you made at your last company. The more specific you can be about what your skills are and how valuable of an employee you are, the better the interviewer will be able to picture you working there.
7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This can seem like a heavy question during an interview, especially when you haven’t prepared for it ahead of time. Keep in mind that you’re in an interview setting–so you don’t need to go into all the details about what your personal life goals are for the next five years. Focus on your career goals and be realistic.
If you plan to work at this company for five years, make sure you understand who would be working above you and what potential career growth there is. The hiring manager asks this question to find out if you set realistic goals, if you are ambitious, and to confirm that the position you are interviewing for aligns with these goals and growth.
If this position isn’t exactly a job with a lot of future opportunities, you can simply answer this by noting that you are not certain what your future is going to look like, but that you believe this position is going to help you navigate yourself in the right direction.
8. Tell me about a conflict you faced at work and how you dealt with it.
This question is important to ace because it helps an interviewer understand how you deal with conflict. It also helps test how well you think on your feet–so if you prepare ahead of time with a specific example, you’ll avoid the awkward moment of silence while you try to think of an example.
Once you have an example in mind, simply explain what happened, how you resolved the issue in a professional manner, and try to end the story with a happy note about how you reached a resolution or compromise with your co-worker.
9. What is your dream job?
Similar to the “where do you see yourself in five years” question, the interviewer is looking to understand how realistic you are when setting goals, how ambitious you are, and whether or not the job and company will be a good place for you to grow.
Again, try to set aside your personal goals (don’t say your dream job is to be paid to take Instagram photos) and focus on your career goals. Think about how this job is going to set you up for the future and get you closer to your dream job. But, don’t be that person who says, “to be CEO of this company.”
10. What do you expect out of your team/co-workers?
This question is meant to understand how you work on a team and whether you will be the right cultural fit for the company. To prepare for this answer, make sure you research the company ahead of time. You can always tell a little bit about what a company’s culture is like by looking through their social media profiles or reading their reviews on Glassdoor.
11. What do you expect from your manager?
Again, the hiring manager is looking to understand what kind of employee you would be and whether you will be a good fit to add to their team. In some interviews, your future manager might be interviewing you. Answer this question as honestly as possible and pull examples from your current manager if you can show how they positively help you work better.
12. How do you deal with stress?
Answering this question will help hiring managers identify any potential red flags you might have. You want to show that you can handle stress in a professional and positive manner that helps you continue working or won’t stop you from accomplishing your goals. Moreover, be specific and explain what you actually do to deal with stress–like taking a 15-minute break to take a walk outside, or crossing items off on a to-do list, etc.
13. What would the first 30 days in this position look like for you?
This question helps a company understand what you will get done in your first month, to three months in the position–and how you answer it will signal whether or not you’re the right person for the job. Start by mentioning what information you would need to get started and what would help you transition into the new role. Then focus on your best skills and how you would apply those to this position right away.
14. What are your salary requirements?
Some interviewers ask this question, others don’t. It’s always better to be prepared, especially because you want to make sure you would be paid a fair wage for the value you are going to add. That’s why we built our Know Your Worth tool–to help you determine what you should be paid.
Note: While employers can ask what your salary expectations are, in certain places it is illegal for them to ask what your previous salary was.
15. Do you have any questions?
The last question you will always be asked during an interview is whether or not you have any questions for the interviewer. This is your chance to really stand out–so don’t blow it by saying you don’t, or that your questions have already been answered. Even if you don’t have any questions–there’s always a question you can ask at the end of an interview.
Keep a list of at least three to five questions in the back of your mind so that no matter what, there are at least two questions you have to ask at the end of the interview. Recruiters say that actually enjoy getting to answer some questions at the end of an interview–they did just listen to you talk about themselves, so ask about them for a change. Once this part is over, you can rest easy and walk out of the interview knowing you aced it!
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Kathleen Houlihan is a leader in workforce innovation and she is the Founder of an agency that reimagines talent acquisition and optimizes the system for candidates and employers. Her company, Dream2Career, provides human-centric ROI solutions that filter-in candidates who exceed expectations in the workplace.