There are few things in life quite as stressful as interviewing for a new job, but knowing how to answer some of the tricky questions that often come up in interviews can help you feel more prepared and ready to answer the questions that trip up many applicants. While interview questions will often be specific to the job you are applying for, there are a few questions that interviewers consistently use that you probably aren’t answering as well as you can. Honesty is always the best policy, but when it comes to these three questions, planning your answers in advance can make your interview go far more smoothly.
3 Interview Questions You Can Answer Better
1. Tell me about your most successful project at your last job / school.
Most job seekers see this question as a chance to demonstrate their own personal strengths and as a way to brag just a little. Whether you increased sales by ten percent or led a successful fundraising job, chances are you didn’t do it all alone, and your interviewer knows that. Rather than focusing on yourself when you answer this question, describe being part of a team and how you worked with others to create a successful outcome on the project. Interviewers are interested in finding out how you function as part of a team environment and how you work with others, and this question is a great way for you to let them know that you understand the value of teamwork and are proud of your ability to be a team player. Like other interview questions, you should be sure to put out some good information about yourself as you answer, but don’t forget to mention how working with others made the project successful.
2. Why did you leave your last position?
It might be obvious that this is one of those interview questions that is loaded, but many job seekers make the mistake of responding with an overused answer that doesn’t tell the interviewer anything of value. Answers that demonstrate immaturity, such as trashing your old boss, are a bad idea. But so are nebulous answers like “I was looking for more of a challenge”. Instead, give an answer that shows that you have learned something about the company you want to work for. For example, if your old company didn’t offer educational benefits but your new one does, say “I want to find a company that will support me in my educational goals and help me grow”. Additionally, use interview questions like this to include something that tells the interviewer why he/she would want you on board, such as “I am passionate about using my education to benefit both myself and the company I work for.”
3. What is your biggest weakness?
There are few answers that all interviewers have heard a million times – “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard.” Don’t let yourself fall into this trap, instead, this is the time for some honesty. Before the interview, think of something that has been a weakness for you in the past that you are currently working to change. For example, if you are bad with organization, talk about how you have recently started a habit of spending fifteen minutes at the end of the day to keep your desk organized. Or, if you are bad about returning phone calls, talk about how you have recently begun using a planner to keep track of calls on a “to-do” list so that no one gets forgotten. Showing your interviewer that you are not only aware of your weakness but that you are willing to change it will demonstrate your maturity and willingness to grow.
Before you head out to your interview, think about questions you have been asked at other interviews and see if you can come up with any other ways to better answer interview questions. After each interview, make a brief list of interview questions you were asked and make notes about how you answered them and use this to prepare for future interviews. Being great at answering interview questions will come in handy throughout your career, and practicing now can make you more successful in dealing with the tough interview questions you will face.