Your Cheat Sheet To Questions For Interviews

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It seems that most employers ask you the same questions (even if they are worded differently- a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf) so it’s really a lot easier than you think to show up at an interview prepared to answer those general questions for interviews that you’ll most likely be asked.

Here are a few of the top questions for interviews that employers usually go with and some guidance to help you produce killer answers so that you can really WOW them.

What’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?

This is when you have to kind of flip the truth around a little.  Being that this is one of the top questions for interviews, you can think about this beforehand so you answer it the right way.  Your greatest strength is easy- something like “I’m extremely organized” or “I work well under pressure” works just fine, but they are substandard answers, so if you’re able to spice them up a little, you’ll impress the employer more.

As for your greatest weakness, turn a negative into a positive.  “I might pay a little too much attention to detail because I want to make sure everything is perfect,” will probably raise an eyebrow or two but hey, you’re just being honest, right?

Tell me about a challenge that you had with a previous job- how did you overcome it?

There is usually almost always one of these types of questions for interviews used by an employer.  When I was asked this question on my first interview out of college, I froze up.  I didn’t have any office jobs or anything that resembled the type of professional environment I was breaking in to so I mumbled something about a serving job that I held in college.  Luckily, I still got the job but this question can completely break you if you’re not careful.  Stick with something that sounds realistic, even if it isn’t completely true (I’m not telling you to lie, exactly, but a little exaggeration is sometimes necessary.)  Maybe talk about a time that you were going to lose a customer or client but that you went over the company objectives and goals and won them back over with your charm.  Anything that says that you contributed to company growth or improvement will score you points.

Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?

This is one of those questions for interviews where they’re almost trying to trick you.  You may have no idea if the position you’re applying for requires more independent work or more teamwork, so you have to proceed with caution when answering this question.  It’s best to say that you work equally well both ways.  “I work well on my own, but I also am comfortable sharing work with others- sometimes putting a few heads together shows better results,” is a great answer.

Where do you see yourself in five years? (or ten, or a few, etc.)

Stick to work-related goals with these types of questions for interviews.  Don’t talk about how you’re getting married, planning on expanding your family or buying a house.  Talk about how you’re hoping to learn and grow within the company and further expand upon your skills and knowledge.  That’s really what they want to hear, and if you go anywhere else with this question you might end up sounding like a clueless Miss America contestant.  “In five years I hope to see world peace.”  Huh?

What are your salary requirements?

Be careful how you answer any questions for interviews that relate to salary.  You don’t want to ask for too much, or too little, of course.  Do a little research before your interview to see what the typical salary is for similar positions.  Then, adjust it a little if needed according to your skill level.  If the average salary is $40,000 and you have no experience in a particular field, it’s probably best not to go about $42,000.  If you have a lot of experience though, it might be ok to go as high as $55,000…..  Salary is usually commensurate with experience, so just be realistic in what you’re asking for.  And always let them know that you’re open to negotiation, in case the number is too high for them.  You don’t want to not get a job because you asked for 55k a year and they top out at 53k.

Of course these are just a few common questions for interviews to get you started, but the odds are pretty high that you will be asked at least one of these.  Brush up on your answers and you’ll appear to be an interview pro!

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