6 Commonly Asked Questions To Prepare For Before An Interview

So you’re getting ready for an interview with your dream company. Maybe it’s for a summer internship, maybe it’s a part-time job, or maybe you’re preparing for getting a job after graduation. The biggest stressor is what questions you’re going to be asked and how to prepare for them. The good news is, interviewers ask a lot of the same questions, company to company. And while you can never know every question that may be lobbed your way, knowing how to answer the following six interview questions will definitely help you feel prepared going into the call.

“Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

This is probably the most popular question you’ll be asked, and almost always the first. The nice thing about it is that you can use the same basic outline for any interview, as long as you place emphasis on different elements that apply to the job you’re up for. 

Remember, introduce yourself, and mention your education and where you’re based. This gives the interviewer a loose idea of who you are and where you’re coming from. After that initial introduction, talk about yourself and what you do — in school, work, and even free time. List any organizations you’re involved with and detail your favorite or one you held a board position in. If you won an award for your studies, mention that and talk about the experience, no matter how big or small. If you have any minors or concentrations in your studies, elaborate on them, especially if they’re relevant to the job.

“What are some of your strengths and what are some of your weaknesses?”

You should always be prepared to talk about your strengths — the things you’re an absolute star at that will contribute a great deal to the organization you’re interviewing at.

Weaknesses, however, are harder to come up with. You don’t want to make yourself look bad, but you do want to be honest. (The age-old “I am too much of a perfectionist” is a joke at this point.) Find elements about yourself that aren’t part of the essential tasks of the position you’re interviewing for. For example, applying to a job that works mostly via computers? Maybe mention you’re not the strongest public speaker. But don’t frame it as being a bad public speaker — instead, look for the positive. Try saying, “I’m really excited to improve on my public speaking skills,” that way it shows that you’re eager to grow in whatever role you land in.

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For strengths, think about interpersonal skills. The interviewer has already seen your resume, so you don’t need to list your hard/technical skills, think along the lines of soft skills. Analytical, research, communication, creativity, organization, dedication, etc., are all great strengths to mention but make sure you can expand on what you list, in case there’s a follow-up question waiting for you.

“Your resume indicates… Can you elaborate on that?”

Your resume is going to give just a glimpse into your experience, so be prepared to explain every role and task listed in detail.

In some cases, former job titles may not make perfect sense, such as with club executive board positions. Treasurer is well known and clear cut, but something like a communications chair or publicity director may have some gray areas. Along with that, if you held a very specialized position, you may be asked about how the role was assigned or how you got to the position and the promotion process.

“Give an example of how you handled a problem in a past position.”

There are a number of routes you can go with this prompt.

For those who haven’t held a full-time position before, you could talk about a class project and how you worked with your peers. The problem could have to do with the people you were working with or the guidelines of the project — maybe even a mix of the two. This works well in internship interviews since you aren’t expected to have exact work experience for the field you’re applying for. 

You can also talk about an issue you ran into at a previous job. Whether it was handling a difficult customer or troublesome management. If you have already had an internship or high-level position, you could also talk about a work project and how you were able to navigate any difficulties.

Just be careful not to make others look bad. Don’t speak ill of a previous manager, coworker, or peer. This will not make you look any better or more competent, but will actually do the opposite. Keep it classy.

“Why are you the best candidate for this position?”

This question is the aforementioned extension of “Tell me a bit about yourself.” This is your opportunity to give specific background on your education and work experience. Depending on how much you have done in the field you’re applying for, your answer will change. An organization executive board position or previous job responsibility may outline your expertise perfectly, you might also have to use a combination of experiences and classes to show your knowledge.

Before you do the interview, look into what the position requires. What are the fundamental roles, what background are they looking for, what are the company’s values, etc? While this is an answer you can prepare, it will change drastically depending on the interview. Similar positions will require similar qualities but may place emphasis on different elements. Focus on where emphasis is made in the job application, these are the answers they want from the best candidate.

“Do you have any questions for me?”

This question is an indication of how much you have researched the company and position you are interviewing for. In the case of an internship, you know that you aren’t taking over someone’s role, so ask about their internship process. What has made a past intern stand out? What are some of the daily tasks you’d be expected to perform?

With part-time or full-time jobs, you may want to ask why they’re hiring for that position. Was that role previously held by someone who was recently promoted? If so, that’s a great sign that the company values hardworking employees and that there’s upward movement. Don’t be shy to ask how performance is evaluated, too, that way if you get the role you already know how you can come in strong.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki via Pexels

In the end, you want your answers to be true to yourself. Convey yourself and your personality to the fullest and you will land the internship or job you are meant to. After all, every interview you do is practice for the future. If you’re still looking for your dream internship or ideas on what to wear for your interview (or a position you landed) check out more articles from College Fashionista.