Questions, questions everywhere and no good answer to any of them. Now there’s a problem you don’t ever want to have during a job interview. You may be the world’s most qualified candidate for the position of medical coding and billing specialist or real estate office manager, but if you flub one too many answers during your interview, you might as well kiss your dream job goodbye.
A job interview is pivotal in landing a job and you’ll do well to banish all thoughts that your performance during your interview is a mere detail compared with your hard-earned, hardcore job qualifications. It’s not and you should prepare well for the interview.
Your preparations, among other things (for instance, knowing the industry salary rate for the position you’re applying for), should include anticipating what interview questions are going to be asked, so you can research and rehearse your answers. Of course, each job position requires a unique set of questions, but there are common interview questions across different fields.
What are the questions most likely to be asked during a job interview? Here are some typical interview questions:
- What can you tell me about yourself?
- What are your strengths, your weaknesses?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- Why did you leave your previous job?
- What were your major responsibilities in your last job?
- How did you handle a difficult situation in your previous job?
- What are your future goals?
- What do you know about our company?
- What salary range are you looking for?
- What questions do you have for me?
Now here are a few suggestions on how to answer some of the questions:
What can you tell me about yourself? Don’t bore or turn off your interviewer with a testimonial. Instead, provide a boiled-down description of yourself, your chief strength, and how that strength can benefit the organization. In other words, serve up your unique selling proposition—something like: “My production expertise enabled the company to save $2.5 million in operating costs.” That should grab the interviewer’s interest.
Why do you want to work for this company? You will want to say that the position is tailor-made for you because your experience and core competencies can make a difference in the job. You will want also to say that you want to be part of an organization that’s a leader in the industry or one that’s on the way up.
Why did you leave your previous job? Take care not to jeopardize your application by giving the impression that you flit from one job to another, having neither commitment nor perseverance to make things work for you and for the company. “I quit because I didn’t get along well with my supervisor” may be an honest answer, but it’s too negative and will not help your application any. Focus on the positive by saying something along the lines of “I’m looking for a new challenge to put my competencies to the greatest benefit of my organization.”
What are your future goals? When you’re asked this question, answer that you want to grow with a company where you can continue to learn, improve your skills, and contribute to the company’s growth. Say too that as your competencies expand you hope to take on more responsibilities and be more involved in its profitability.
What salary range are you looking for? This is the million-dollar question and you should take extra care answering it. Offer a salary range based on prevailing industry rates for that position (this is why it’s important that do your homework before going to the interview). If the employer asks what your salary expectations are, say they are open and are based on the total compensation package. It’s fine to hedge a bit. Alternatively, you can say that you would like to have more details about your deliverables, the company’s expectations, and the challenges the job has in store for you before any salary negotiation.
Finally, pay close attention to the questions. You don’t want to irritate or lead your future employer to think that you’re a bubblehead just when the two of you are about to talk turkey.