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5 Most Common Interview Questions

5 most common interview questions

Interviews are a big portion of the job application process, and while they vary from company to company there are common themes and similarities. We’ve highlighted 5 questions that companies have asked our students over hundreds of interviews, and broken down what an employer is actually looking for, what makes a great answer, and an example of a bad answer.

Question: Why do you want to work here?

Why is this asked?

Engaged workers are far happier and more productive than those who view this as just another job. Additionally, employers want to make sure that candidates have done their homework and have at least a basic understanding of the role and industry.

Key elements to include in your answer:

Consider your past relevant experiences and interests, and talk about how each of them aligns with either the work the company is doing or your specific job responsibilities. Past experiences don’t have to be just work, they can be clubs, sports, community service, schoolwork, or anything else.

Worst answer we’ve heard:

“I don’t need a doctor’s note to show up late” – It’s ok to enjoy the perks of your job, but your main reason for working somewhere should be your interest in the work.

Question: What are your weaknesses?

Why is this asked?

Employers are looking more for self-awareness and how you overcome weaknesses, rather than the weakness itself.

Key elements to include in your answer:

You want to give an honest weakness and then explain (with examples) what you’re doing to improve your weakness. This demonstrates that you are self-aware, can learn from mistakes, and are highly adaptable.

Worst answer we’ve heard:

“I’m a perfectionist” – Strengths as weaknesses are often poor answers, as they show a lack of self-awareness.

Question: Why should I hire you?

Why is this asked?

Employers want to know that you can realistically assess your skills and interests and tie those into the work that the company is doing.

Key elements to include in your answer:

This is your chance to distinguish yourself from the rest of the applicants. Understand what the company does and highlight your relevant strengths and interests, giving specific examples. Explain how these pre-existing qualities prepare you for the role in question. Have some confidence in yourself when you tackle this question! A good way to frame this question is to think about what your friend would say in recommending you for the position.

Worst answer we’ve heard:

“I’m really excited to learn more about your company and the industry.” – An employer is interested in your professional development, but their primary goal isn’t to teach you.

Question: Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced.

Why is this asked?

Employers want to know how you problem solve and learn in stressful situations. Left unsaid is an explanation of the key steps you took to overcome this challenge.

Key elements to include in your answer:

Answering this question gives you the opportunity to discuss how you problem solve and learn. Describe 1) what the challenge was, 2) how you resolved it, 3) WHY you decided to resolve it in that way, and 4) the results. This will demonstrate that you not only identify problems (a good first step), but you can work through their constituent parts to come to a successful conclusion (be a problem solver).

Worst answer we’ve heard:

“At my last internship, I had a really terrible boss” – That’s a challenge, but it’s unspecific and unresolvable. AND, never complain about previous employers to an existing employer.

Question: What questions do you have for me?

Why is this asked?

Assess your understanding of, and curiosity about, the company and job. Hiring decisions are made during this section of the interview, so make sure you have items prepared.

Key elements to include in your answer:

Do your research on the company, and then ask about key trends in the industry, how the company is planning on gaining an advantage over competitors, or new industries or markets you think it makes sense to enter (and why). If all else fails, you can always ask about your interviewer’s perspective on growth for the company or industry. Key here is to explain your reasoning to demonstrate your interest and ability to understand what is going on in the industry. Wrap up by asking about next steps – this demonstrates your continued interest in the role.

Worst answer we’ve heard:

“How much will I get paid?” ask that question and you’ll never know the answer at that company.

 

Vocate Editor

Students and employers are not connecting in a meaningful way; the job highway works but the on-ramps are broken. We work every day to fix that so employers can find good employees and students can find their dream job.