In today’s job industry, work experience is not everything. Once you get past the basic requirements, there’s only one thing left standing between you and your dream job – The Job Interview.
A lot of people, especially recent graduates, find this to be challenging – and that’s normal. They don’t have prior experience with job interviews, and tend to view the interviewer as an omniscient being that can read right through them.
How can you know exactly what the interviewer is expecting from you if you’ve never been to a job interview before?
Well, the process is actually pretty simple, and knowing beforehand the questions they’ll ask, as well as how to answer them will help you overcome this.
1. What is your greatest strength?
This one is a bit self-explanatory, but there are small nuances you should consider. First of all, try to consider the job you’re applying for and adjust your answer accordingly.
Say, if you’re a PR specialist and tend to think “outside the box”, make sure to mention some of your achievements that portray this quality.
Don’t say anything too generic or irrelevant such as being a “quick learner” or a “team-player,” and again, make sure to back it up with prior experience. In this way the interviewer will know that you’re aware of exactly what you’re signing up for.
2. What is your greatest weakness?
For this question, you don’t want to say anything related to the job. For example, you shouldn’t say at the job interview that you’re bad at communications if you’re applying for a sales position.
After all, communications is what a sales job is all about. You don’t want to hire someone who’s saying straight off the bat that he’s bad at the job, would you? The best way to go around the question is to mention a minor weakness or possibly an undeveloped skill.
The weakness itself doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s not directly related to the job you’re applying for. In addition, mention what you’ve done or are doing to overcome it.
For example you are applying for a programmer position; you can say you’ve had a weakness with communication (not very relevant to the job, but still a very important office skills), but you’ve taken classes in public speaking and attended seminars to overcome it.
This way, you’re turning what could have been a negative answer into a positive one. You do mention a weakness of yours, but you’re also making it clear that you’re someone who strives for self-improvement.
3. Tell us about yourself.
When asked on the spot, answering this question correctly can be a bit challenging. Which is why, you should always be prepared to give a small sales pitch about yourself.
You’re almost guaranteed to get asked this question on most job interviews, and having a general speech ready can definitely come in handy. You should not make it too obvious, though.
Just make an outline of what you’re going to talk about, touching the most important achievements in your life. Follow this rule of thumb and you’re certainly going to be one step closer to landing the job.
4. Why are you interested in our company?
This is where a little research about the company before the job interview comes in hand. Companies don’t want to hire a person who’s applied to 50 different jobs, hoping to get lucky with one of them.
They’d rather hire someone who’s aiming for 2 or 3 best-fit jobs and has done his homework. You should research about the company culture, the workplace, the projects they work on, etc.
For example, some companies have a more independent work-place, with minor supervision from the higher-ups. In that case, you could say that you’re independent, and can work without someone guiding you.
5. Do you have any questions?
Now, a seemingly unimportant question, this is a great opportunity to show how interested you are in the company. Most people answer with a simple “no”, so to put yourself above everyone else ask away!
The trick is not to ask the most obvious question (something you could’ve learned online by yourself). For example, “what would my daily routine be like for this position?” or even something related to personal career development and the interview in general like “how would you rate my performance on this job interview, and what would you recommend to improve my skills?”
Asking questions shows that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in the company.
And finally, remember that even if you don’t succeed in the first job interview, it will still be a tremendously valuable learning experience.