Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions
Mental fear of the unknown is often what produces the physical reaction of nervousness. In addition to preparing your mind and body physically, you also need to prepare yourself mentally. The best way to prepare mentally is to know what may be coming. Fear of the unknown can only exist when there is an unknown. Take the time to understand some of the "standards" when it comes to interviewing questions.
The following are some of the most difficult questions you will face in the course of your job interviews. Some questions may seem rather simple on the surface--such as "Tell me about yourself..."--but these questions can have a very wide variation of answers. Others are "classic" interview questions such as, "What is your greatest weakness?" Questions that most people inappropriately answer. In this case, the textbook answer for the "greatest weakness" question is to give a veiled positive-- "I work too much. I just work and work and work."--which ends up sending the wrong message. Either you are lying or, worse yet, if you are telling the truth, then you define working too much as a weakness and, therefore, you really don't want to work much at all. Think about it.
The following answers are provided to give you a new perspective on how to answer tough interview questions. They are not there for you to lift from the page and insert into your next interview. They are there for you to use as the basic structure for formulating your own answers. While the specifics of each reply may not apply to you, try to follow the basic structure of answering from the perspective of the interviewer. Answer the questions behaviorally--that is, giving specific behavioral examples that show clear evidence to back up what you are saying. Always provide information that drives home the point that you want to become be the very best _____ for the company and that you have specifically prepared yourself to become exactly that. They want to be sold. They are waiting to be sold. Don't disappoint them!
- Tell me about yourself.
My background to date has been centered around preparing myself to become the very best _____ I can become. Let me tell you specifically how I've prepared myself...
- Why should I hire you?
Because I sincerely believe that I'm the best person for the job. I realize that there are many other college students that have the ability to do this job. I also have that ability. But I also bring an additional quality that makes me the very best person for the job--my attitude for excellence. Not just giving lip service to excellence, but putting every part of myself into achieving it. In ... and ... I have consistently reached for becoming the very best I can become by doing the following...
- What is your long-range objective? Where do you want to be 10 or 15 years from now?
Although it's certainly difficult to predict things far into the future, I know what direction I want to develop toward. Within five years, I would like to become the very best _____ your company has. I would like to become the expert that others rely upon. And in doing so, I feel I will be fully prepared to take on any greater responsibilities that might be presented in the long term.
- How has your education prepared you for your career?
As you will note on my resume, I've taken not only the required core classes in the _____ field, I've also gone above and beyond. I've taken every class the college has to offer in the field and also completed an independent study project specifically in this area. But it's not just taking the classes to gain academic knowledge I've taken each class, both inside and outside of my major, with this profession in mind. So when we're studying _____ in _____, I've viewed it from the perspective of _____. In addition, I've always tried to keep a practical view of how the information would apply to my job. Not just theory, but how it would actually apply. My capstone course project in my final semester involved developing a real-world model of _____, which is very similar to what might be used within your company...
- What is your greatest weakness?
I would say my greatest weakness has been my lack of proper planning in the past. I would overcommit myself with too many variant tasks, then not be able to fully accomplish each as I would like. However, since I've come to recognize that weakness, I've taken steps to correct it. For example, I now carry a planning calendar in my pocket so that I can plan all of my appointments and "to do" items. Here, let me show you how I have this week planned out...
In reviewing the above responses, please remember that these are sample answers. Please don't rehearse them verbatim or adopt them as your own. They are meant to stir your creative juices and get you thinking in relation to how to properly answer the broader range of questions that you will face.