Many people feel that if they only had some way to preview the interview questions before walking into a job interview, they'd surely ace them all and land their dream job. After all, it's when you're caught unprepared by a question that you are most likely to look unprofessional, uniformed, or less skilled than you really are.
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While no one can predict the future, we actually can foretell the bulk of the questions you'll be asked at any given interview. No matter how many different forms they may take when verbalized, the five questions below are on almost every hiring manager's mind:
1. Can You Do the Job?
While no interviewer is going to come out and ask you this directly, this question is absolutely at the forefront of your interviewer's mind. When your interviewer asks you questions like, "Tell me about yourself" or "Describe your prior experience with this kind of work," what they are really asking is whether or not you have the skills required to perform in the position.
You should be sure to respond to these kinds of questions with specific details about your work-related achievements. Never answer the "Tell me about yourself" question with vague generalities about your background and hobbies, nor should you respond to the "Why should I hire you?" question with a list of your positive personality traits. A perfectly suitable answer would be more like this: "I have a strong background in industrial mechanics, including experience with maintenance and repairs. I have also received recent training to update my skills to reflect the latest advances in technology."
2. Do You Have a Positive Attitude?
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For many hiring managers, a positive attitude is more than a nice bonus to have in an employee – it's essential. Positive people not only get along better with their coworkers, leading to greater team cohesion and productivity, but they also tend to be more capable and resilient problem-solvers.
During the interview process, it's imperative that you show your interviewer you have a positive attitude. Don't just say you do. Use questions like "What is your greatest weakness?" and "Tell me about a time that you failed" as opportunities to demonstrate your upbeat, proactive spirit. Honestly recount your past mistakes, then talk about how you resolved them and the essential lessons you learned along the way.
Additionally, when you are asked to describe your past work experience, make sure that you say absolutely nothing negative about your prior employer or workplace. If your interviewer presses you to do so, politely change the subject after giving a brief, positive response.
3. Did You Research the Company?
How much research a candidate has or hasn't done before an interview absolutely matters to most hiring managers. Why? It's an excellent way to measure the interviewee's dedication, interest, and ability to work independently.
You should take the time to get to know the company you're applying to before your interview. Memorize some facts and figures like the size of the organization, the nature of the product or service it offers, the current sales figures, and recent contributions to the industry. Doing so will enable you to competently answer questions like, "Why do you want to work for us?"
Likewise, you'll want to avoid making mistakes when the interviewer gives you the chance to ask questions of your own. Never ask questions that could easily be answered by visiting the company's website.
4. Are You a Good Fit for Our Company's Culture?
Cultural compatibility is a highly subjective area. When you're asked questions like "What makes you think you would be a good fit for our company?", it's important to answer as specifically as possible, using relevant details that reflect the goals, image, philosophy, and history of your prospective employer.
Likewise, you should find out a bit about whom you will be working for if you get the job. Knowing the traits and qualities your new boss is looking for will allow you to adapt your answers to reflect their vision of the ideal candidate.
5. What Kind of Value Will You Bring to Our Company?
Communicating your value is a complex endeavor that relies on phrasing your answers to reflect a company-first mentality. For instance, when you're asked what your greatest strengths are, don't speak with the sole intention of making yourself look more competent than the other candidates. Instead, describe exactly how your skills could be applied to the position and how they will make the company more productive and profitable.
Additionally, be sure to remain vigilant for longevity questions like "Where do you see yourself in ten years?" if you're applying for a permanent position. Hiring managers want someone who will grow with the organization, progressively adding more and more value to it – not someone who will take the proffered training and experience and then move on to greener pastures. Each time a company has to interview, hire, and train a new employee to replace one who has left, they lose a great deal of revenue (not to mention talent and knowledge).
As you respond to each question posed by your interviewer, it's essential to remember that your answers should invariably reflect the ultimate question: "Why should we hire you?" By researching the organization you're applying to thoroughly beforehand and thinking about the five key themes above, you will gain the knowledge, insights, and techniques needed to shine throughout your interview.
Robert Moment is the "Get Hired Expert and Interview Coach" at www.HowtoInterviewTips.com.