Flash Five: Five Interview Questions You Must Be Ready to Answer

When it comes to interviews, you often only get one shot. First impressions matter. Although you cannot possibly predict every question they will ask you, chances are they will inquire about your key qualifications, leadership, ability to work with others and potential longevity with the organization. Reflecting on and rehearsing your responses to these questions is a good place to start.
  1. Tell me about yourself. 

    This question is simply asking you to highlight your qualifications as they relate to the position you are seeking. Why should they hire you? Showcase your relevant class assignments, internship projects or other applied-learning experiences. Also, provide evidence to bring credibility to your claims. Emphasize the results or outcomes of your activities, as well as the feedback you have received from faculty or previous supervisors. What are your strengths? What is unique about your experience? What are your achievements or what are you most proud of? How would others describe you in a professional setting? How will you contribute to the organization and add value? Considering these responses prepares you to answer effectively regardless of how the interviewer frames the questions.

  2. What makes you interested in this position?

    As you prepare to apply, research organizations to better understand their needs and cultures. Visit their website, speak with current or previous employees, and read reviews in organizations such as Glassdoor, Vault, or the Riley Guide. Emphasize the attributes of the position and organization that appeal to you. Incorporate the information you collected to indicate your initiative and longevity. If you are presently employed, be discrete about why you are leaving your current position. Mention the person’s name if someone within the organization encouraged you to apply. End by emphasizing the contribution you can make.

  3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

    Indicate your longevity by describing that you will remain in the career field and excel in your position. Emphasize your desire to progress in the field and assume additional responsibilities.

  4. What is your greatest weakness?

    Interviewers may ask this a variety of ways. They could ask you what you will find challenging about the position. Others may ask you to describe a time you failed, made a mistake, or received negative feedback. Regardless of how they ask it, your objective is to demonstrate that you are aware of developmental areas that need refinement and that they in no way jeopardize your ability to perform the job. The worst response is reporting that you have none.

    Most career coaches advise individuals to select attributes that are not liabilities but are instead assets for organizations, such as working too hard, having a difficult time saying no, being too critical of oneself or being too thorough. Many recruiters, however, are aware of this and may push you to share more. Lead with one, but be prepared to share a few attributes.

    Choose examples that are common to nearly every applicant. For example, most nurses miss a vein when drawing blood at least once in their profession. Describe a time you overcame a problem or obstacle. Examples that are less current, relatively minor or unrelated to the position may also be effective. Be authentic, but do not share anything that undermines the knowledge, skills or abilities they are seeking. For example, if you are seeking a teller position, you would not want to disclose that you dislike working with data and numbers. This attribute, however, is less crucial for childcare positions. Avoid attributes that cannot be changed (e.g., shyness), personal weaknesses or labels that could be associated with negative stereotypes (e.g., perfectionism, procrastinator, etc.).

    Finally, end on a positive note. Communicate the steps you have taken to refine your abilities so your audience understands that you will not need to be micro-managed and have the initiative needed to master the job.&

  5. Do you have any questions for us?

    Demonstrate your interest by asking questions such as what they have liked most about working for the organization. Also seize the opportunity to assess your satisfaction with the opportunity. Before the interview identify the attributes you are seeking in a position and organization. Then, convert your top needs into questions. For example, if you desire autonomy, inquire about their management philosophy. If you desire training, ask them to describe your first few weeks on the job. What are the long-range strategic goals of the organization? How will your success be defined and measured? It is also effective to inquire about the key attributes they are seeking in a successful candidate because it permits you to speak about anything that you have not already addressed. End by asking about the next step in the process.

Ultimately, practice makes perfect. Interviewing is a skill that needs to be honed. Make an appointment with your CAP specialist for tailored feedback to these questions and more during a mock interview.