How to Ace Your Next Interview

Job interviews are notoriously nerve wracking. Aside from sipping a favorite tequila or taking half a valium, the best advice is to simply be prepared.

Believe it or not, many potential employers usually use the same playbook and the same set of standard interview questions.

As you get ready for the big one-on-one, take a look at the following list of some of the most common questions interviewers ask candidates.

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

This may well be the very first question you get asked, so be prepared with a brief statement that hits on your educational and professional experience, as well as your future professional goals.  These are all things the employer has likely already looked over in your resume or CV, but it’s an easy opener that helps lead into the rest of the interview.

2. What interests you about this position?

No one wants to hire a worker who isn’t passionate or interested in the work she is doing. People who are happy in their positions are most likely to produce better quality work. Your prospective employer wants to know if you can give specific reasons as to why you are hoping to land the job. If it’s just for the money, it might not be a good fit. But if your values, passions and experience line up, those are all promising signs you’ll produce quality work.

Use this opportunity to show your excitement and eagerness in what the position has to offer.

3. What do you know about our products/services?

Another important thing for employers to gauge is how much you know about the business.  Asking a question directly related to this helps them not only measure your interest, but also shows them you know what the company does. Depending on the job and position, their expectancy of how much you should know will vary but it’s always a good idea to do research beforehand.

4. If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?

Okay, you may not get that exact question, but off-beat, oddball questions are common in interviewers. What they want to know is how you are about thinking on your feet and what qualities and traits you may reveal about yourself when prompted in such an unconventional way. Be prepared for questions like this beforehand, and then have fun with it when the moment comes.

5. What is your greatest weakness?

You can go on and on about your various strengths all you want, but employers also want to know where you fall short – and if you’re aware enough to recognize it and take responsibility.

National Career Services advises not to list too many weaknesses when asked. Just pick one that is minor in nature and not essential to the job. You can also note you’ve worked on the issue, if that happens to be the case, or present it as something you’re planning to work on.

6. What are your strengths?

While it’s important for employers to be aware of where you fall short, they also want to know where you excel. This is your time to shine, so sell yourself. Give concrete examples of how your skills have contributed to achievements at previous jobs and how they would be beneficial to the new company if you were to be hired.

7. Tell me about a time when you had an issue with a supervisor or co-worker and how you handled the problem.

Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, spoke with Forbes and said one of the hardest things about work isn’t the work itself but the people at work. Asking a candidate to describe a time at the office when she had to solve at issue with someone at work, allows interviewers to gauge her people skills. This will be especially important at a job where working closely with others is a big part of the job. If you can explain that you were able to overcome a people problem at a former place, it will increase your likelihood of landing the job, Teach says.

8. Why did you leave your last job? Or why are you looking to leave your current position?

CareerBuilder explains the interviewer might want to find out if you had any big issues at your last work place. It’s best to be honest if that is the case, but show that you can accept responsibility and learn and grow from the experience. Don’t speak of a previous employer in bitter or negative terms.

If there is another reason, such as the company went out of business, you relocated or didn’t feel challenged anymore, simply state it.
It is also a good idea to use this question as an opportunity to note all the tasks and responsibilities you took on during your last position, and mention what you’ve learned from it and what you hope to do with what you have learned moving forward.

9. What are your future plans?

Questions that aim to discover if you have clear goals and aspirations are common because they help employers determine where you fit in with the company’s future. One great way to answer this is to know beforehand what the job or industry can offer you and lay out your answer in a generic sense that matches that. For example, talk about your desire to learn more and grow, as well as specific steps you plan to take to achieve that, advises USAToday.

10. What are your hobbies outside of work?

Many employers are curious to see whether you have a life outside of the work world. The things you do away from the office are a huge indicator of who you are and can also speak volumes about your emotional and mental well being.

They also want to what your outside skills say about you. If you engage in group sports, for example, it lets them know you are a comfortable working in a team, or if you organize trips and events, it shows them you have leadership skills.

Being prepared is one of the best things you can do for yourself before you go into an interview. So take some time to practice the answers to these questions, maybe even recruit the help of a friend for a mock-interview the day before the real thing. Be comfortable and confident, and you’ll rock it.