They always say practice makes perfect, so instead of casually attending your next job interview, set up a mock interview in advance to perfect your answers and practice proper interviewing behaviors. Use common sample questions like the ones listed below, or set up a mock interview at your college or high school career development center.
Here are some simple strategies that can make a world of difference once the big day rolls around.
Create Outlines for Answers to Potential Questions
Memorizing answers may trip you up, especially if a question isn’t phrased the way you thought it would be, but preparing keywords — even on a notepad that you take to the interview — will help guide answers that were planned in advance. Common interview questions include:
“Tell us about yourself.”
The employer wants to know how your skills and experience mesh with the position. Give them enough detail, but only enough to wet their pallet. Think of it like a movie trailer. The most intriguing points leave you wanting more.
“Why do you want to work here?”
Focus on the work. You’re applying because the work is appealing, so answers should include how the job fits with your career goals and what you like about the company and its product or service.
“What are your strengths/weaknesses?”
This question can also be asked as “Why should we hire you?” or “Why do you think you’re a good fit?” Both variations call for strengths that will help you succeed in the company. Whatever weaknesses you put forward, back them up with examples of how you’ve corrected them or manage them at work. These are called behavioral responses and provide real-world examples of how you apply yourself in a given situation. Whenever a behavioral response is appropriate, use it.
Always Have an Exit Strategy for Your Answers
There’s nothing more awkward than either party not knowing if the answer is finished. The interviewer doesn’t know when to move on and the interviewee doesn’t know when to stop rambling. Don’t leave it up to interpretation. Close by restating the question e.g., “So these are reasons why I’d be a good fit with this company.” or turning it around on the interviewer e.g., “What do you look for in potential employees?”
Don’t Be Afraid to Say You Don’t Know the Answer
Hiring managers can smell BS a mile away, so you’re not fooling anyone. Instead, ask them to clarify and discuss the topic with you because you’re unsure. Even simply stating you don’t know shows the interviewer that you’re willing to be taught. This quality, especially for a position that requires extensive training, can be much more appealing than someone who knows it all.
Not matter what, interviewing is stressful. The best thing you can do is to be confident, show you are willing to accept responsibility in the potential role and be sure to follow up with your interviewer to thank them for their time.