“Tell me about yourself.”
This is not an invitation to tell your life story, and since the interviewer has your resume, they know your professional history. What they are really asking is why instead of what. Your answer should be brief and specific: Tell the interviewer where you are professionally, what you learned from past work experiences, and how that shaped you into the candidate you are. If possible, convey your strengths in a story that touches on key words in the company’s job posting.
“Why do you want to leave your current job (or why did you leave your previous job)?”
Stick to the facts, be direct, and focus on the future. NEVER say anything negative about your previous employer or supervisor. If you were let go, you don’t have to admit that, but you shouldn’t lie. Instead, talk about what you want to accomplish in your career and how moving to the company you’re interviewing with will be great for you and them. Above all, the interviewer needs to feel confident that you are being deliberate about the job change and not just “taking the next step.”
“Why do you want this job?”
This is your chance to show the interviewer that you have done your homework. Interviewers ask this question to determine if you researched the company, its products/services, mission, and culture. Don’t just say that the company would be great to work for. Point to specific things about the company that appeal to you, align with your short- and long-term career goals, and that will translate into you being a great employee.
“What is your greatest weakness?”
This is one of the most universally hated interview questions. Although you may have heard that turning a weakness into a positive is the best approach—“I get so absorbed in my work that I lose track of time.”—that only makes you seem untruthful. Instead, pick an actual weakness and describe how you turned it around. By showing that you are willing to honestly self-assess, you gain the interviewer’s respect. For example: “I used to have problems prioritizing. However, I’m using an app that sends me reminders and helps me plan” or “I used to have problems with [insert weakness here], but I’ve taken some courses and learned methods for staying on track.”
“Why should I hire you instead of someone else?”
People often freeze when asked this question, but it’s actually a great opportunity to solidify your case or circle back to a question you flubbed. By now, you should know what the interviewer is looking for, based on the questions they asked. Use this time to emphasize your unique value propostion—the combination of education, experience, skills, contributions, and personality that makes you the right person for the job. This is one part of the interview when practice pays off. You don’t want to sound unsure or full of yourself, but you need to convince the interviewer that you can deliver exceptional results, will fit with the team and company, and are the best candidate.
The key to success in any interview is thinking critically about your professional life ahead of time. I often hear from clients that the best interview prep is working with a professional resume writer. Your writer will ask the same questions as interviewers, which means you will have already thought about everything that makes you the perfect candidate.
- "If you lived your life over again, what would you change?"
- "We unplugged the clock on the wall. Why?"
- "A snail is at the bottom of a 30-foot well. Each day he climbs three feet but at night slips two feet. How many days will it take to climb out of the well? "
How might you answer?