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Common Interview Questions and Tips

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A key part of doing well in an interview is understanding the purpose of some questions, and being prepared with situations that speak to the core of what they’re asking.  Interviewers do not ask questions for the sake of asking questions: they have a distinct purpose in mind, and are trying to understand how you work and what they can expect from you.  It is helpful to think of interviews in this way – consider why they are asking you the question.  For example, when an interviewer asks, “What are your three greatest weaknesses,” they are actually asking you to identify areas for growth and how you are addressing them.  Similarly, when an employer asks, “Why are you interested in this company/position/industry,” they are gauging how your background, values or missions align with theirs.  Below are some other common interview questions that you may run into:

  • Tell me about a time when you failed.
  • Why do you want to work for us?  
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why are you interested in this company/position/industry?
  • Where else have you applied?
  • What are your top three weaknesses?  
  • What are your top three strengths?
  • Tell me about a successful team project.  What role did you play on this team?
  • What was your favorite class outside of your major?
  • What is your most relevant experience to this position?  Why?
  • What did you like most or least about your last experience?

You should also be prepared to speak to many of these questions using STAR.  STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.  Describe a situation in which you ran into the problem in the question.  Your goal is to contextualize your response.  Next, discuss the task at hand: what role did you play in addressing this situation, and what were you tasked with?  Then talk about which actions you took to resolve the situation.  Finally, discuss the resolution and result of your action.  You should devote most of your time to the A and R steps of this process, rather than focusing on S and T.  

At the end of every interview, you will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer.  You should always have questions to ask at the end.  To prepare your questions, you should be looking into more information about the interviewer, organization, and general industry.  Your questions should not be answerable by looking at the website.  This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest and the depth of your understanding of what goes on at this organization!

  • Do your research on the employer and your interviewer.  Look at their LinkedIn profile and use the information there to build questions like, “How did you get into this industry?  How long have you worked here?”    
  • Do your research on the industry and the employer, to help you build questions like, “What are the greatest challenges facing this office or industry?
  • Do your research and look through LinkedIn for people in similar positions to help you build questions like, “What have other people in this position gone on to do afterwards?
  • You should also ask about the general timeline for their hiring.  

There are also questions that are inappropriate for you to ask during an interview:

  • Do not ask what the salary is.
  • Do not ask what the benefits package is.
  • Do not ask about vacation days.

Remember to send a thank you after your interview! This is a crucial and often-neglected step.  Your message should also be completely free of errors, and can be sent via email.  Please reach out to us with a draft, we are more than happy to review it and send back comments and suggestions.  

Next: Interviewing Red Flags