The Big Day: Job Interview Questions to Answer & Ask

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The difference between you and another candidate vying for the same position is how you respond to the job interview questions. Talent and experience will get you the meeting, but ultimately your likeability and responses will determine whether a prospective employer will hire you over the competition. Interview day is the ultimate judgment day for all job seekers. How well did you prepare for the test? Preparing for a job interview can be a challenge because, well, you aren’t a psychic and lack the ability to tap into the brain of the person administering the job interview questions.
What you can do is rehearse the basic questions that you know, without a shadow of doubt, will surface in your discussion. My career coach is an HR pro and taught me the essentials for mastering any interview. Keep in mind that a job interview is a mutually beneficial exchange for both parties. While you should be prepared to answer whatever they may ask you, it is also imperative that you have questions prepared to ask them.

5 job interview questions you will likely be asked:

 

“Why are you interested in this position?”

Duh, you like making a living and need to survive. But this answer alone won’t cut it. Do some deep soul searching when finessing your response. Be honest. Compensation aside, why do you want to work for this company in this particular position.

 

“Why should I hire you?”

You’re an awesome person and your friends rely on you for advice. You were voted most likely to succeed in high school and you earned employee of the month once at your work-study gig in undergrad. These are all great attributes. Let’s focus though. What would make you an asset to this team? No beating around the bush question. This is one of the most valuable job interview questions for hiring managers. If you get the job, your performance and review will always circle back to your response to this question. Be very honest when answering.

“What is your biggest weakness?”

I can guarantee you all the riches in the world that this question will be asked. Please avoid saying you’re a perfectionist. And definitely, don’t say that you don’t have one. Both of these responses are passive aggressive and scream “I’ve never completed a self-assessment.” You don’t walk on water and never will. Spend some time fine-tuning your answer to this job interview question. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot naming a weakness that is a requirement in the job description. (For example, if you’re terrible at reading code, then you probably shouldn’t apply for a job in software development.) Whatever your weakness, be genuine in sharing it. Explain that you are aware of this flaw, share your positive reflection on improvement, and your method of correcting it.

 

“Why did you leave your last job?”

Honesty isn’t the best policy in this case. Your inconsistencies are evident on your resume and there’s no guarantee that someone at a new company hasn’t already heard about you. Trust me, your name can travel miles. How you answer this question is a true dealbreaker. Were you laid off? Are you looking for a change of pace? Did you outgrow your past position? Consider all aspects. What you should never do is badmouth a previous employer. Even if you worked for a misogynistic pig whose life mission was to cause you hell, speaking negatively about a past employer reflects poorly on you. The company has done some research and wants to get a look at the product, AKA you, before they buy. Never falsely advertise your talent or work history.

 

“What do you know about our company?”

Do your homework. Be thorough in researching company history and charting notable milestones. Don’t throw out facts and figures from the news. If you’re nervous, you may misquote an important figure which will taint their perception of your accuracy. Instead, discuss recent company news and all positive reviews from your findings. Show them what attracted you to this team.

 

Once the interview concludes, you have the power to flip the script. Before the interviewer sends you out the door, leaving you to wait in agony to find out whether or not you were hired, they will undoubtedly ask, “Do you have any questions for me?

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Don’t hesitate. Go in there with bold questions.

5 important questions to ask your interviewer:

 

“Why is this position available?”

You deserve to know the answer to this question, but don’t expect to learn the full truth. People resign from positions for various personal and professional reasons. An interviewer will give you the most generic response to this question and will not tell you why a former employee chose to vacate the position unless, of course, it was due to a promotion or a positive life change.

 

“What’s your leadership style?”

 This is your “try before you buy” question. Don’t expect to find out any character flaws or if the hiring manager is known for micromanaging. Watch their body language and listen for the intricacy of their response. You’ll find out exactly what you need to know about their personality type and managerial skills

 

“What’s your favorite thing about working here?”

This question can be a double-edged sword. I will be the first to admit that in the past, when interviewing potential candidates for a job, I’ve hidden the less than pleasant parts of working for  the company. When candidates asked me about my position and what I like about it, I went out of my way to only share the positives because I didn’t want to discourage the person from accepting the position. Even though sometimes I’ve wanted to bluntly tell other women to run while they still had their foot halfway out the door, I also recognize that my experience is unique to my personal work settings. What I despise about work, another person may enjoy and vice versa.

 

“What is the most challenging part of this position?”

You can only hope that the interviewer will give you full honesty when answering this question. This is a very important job interview question. If a job carries a heavy load, it is your right to know this up front. Let’s be honest though, companies never want to send a potential employees running for the hills. Again, listen for the intricate details of the response and you’ll be able to tell if the hiring manager is beating around the bush.

 

“What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?”

Hang on to every word in this response. This is the moment where a hiring manager is held accountable for their expectations. If the qualities outlined seem unrealistic or undesirable for the kind of work conditions that you desire, then don’t be afraid to decline the offer. You deserve to work in a position that gives you space to be your best self. If you feel uncomfortable after learning what the position entails, you’ll feel even worse when you’re trapped full-time. Take inventory of your needs and act accordingly.

Pursue the kind of work that you can proudly display. The interview will be a good indication of how well the job will satisfy your needs. Asking questions will signify to an employer that you are interested in succeeding in this position before even receiving an offer. So ask away!

Did we miss something? Let us know what job interview questions you find helpful in the comments below!

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