Top 5 Interview Questions to Prepare For

May 30, 2012

It’s human nature to be nervous about an upcoming interview. Besides trying to find out all you can about the company, you need to present yourself in the best light possible and prove that you’d be a valuable asset.

The anxiety that comes with interviewing can be lessened, however, if you remember that job interviews are basically made-up of only five statements from the interviewer, which include four questions and one sentence. Sure, there will be more than five questions, but they all seem to be variations on the items listed below. Here is some simple, sound advice for responding to the five basic interview questions from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana:

1: Tell me about yourself — This is the open-ended question that on the surface seems harmless, yet how you answer it may spell the difference between landing a job, or being pushed out the door to seek another position. Know your strengths, your weaknesses, your likes, your talents and your goals. The best way to answer this question is to give your “positioning statement,” which is a one-paragraph summary of your career background, strengths, expertise and objective.

2: Why do you want to work here? — This question seeks to determine if you know anything about the job and company. The goal here is to connect your talents, contributions and attributes to the employer’s needs, problems and challenges. You can only do this if you’ve done your homework, and have gathered all the necessary research. The best way to respond is to tell several relevant accomplishment stories that prove you have the right kind of experience for the job.

3: What’s wrong with you? — Of course, you won’t actually hear these words. The interviewer might phrase the question in more polite terms, but what he or she is actually trying to do is find out why you’re unemployed, or underemployed, or why you’ve had so many jobs. As the candidate, you need to acknowledge these sorts of career challenges in advance; then prepare and practice your responses.

4: What are your salary expectations? — When it comes to “the salary question,” you want the other guy to make the first move. Do thorough research in advance to determine what the likely salary range is. Make it clear that the job is not all about pay. Say that you’d be happy to discuss compensation once a mutual interest has been established, and get back to discussing your relevant accomplishments. Clearly indicate to the interviewer that you want the opportunity, and that you expect the company will make a fair salary offer. This doesn’t mean you will necessarily accept that offer, but it means they will have to “draw” first. Once you receive the initial offer, always negotiate up from there.

5: Don’t call us, we’ll call you — Take an active stance, not a passive one. Be sure to discuss “next steps” before you leave the interview. Ask the interviewer directly how your qualifications compare to those of the other candidates. Display your excitement about the job and the challenges it poses. Let the interviewer know how and when you’ll be back in touch. Don’t leave all the power in the hands of the interviewer; this should be a mutual decision-making process.

If you go into the interview focused on addressing just these five basic areas, you’ll feel more confident and less overwhelmed. And the more practiced and articulate you are in responding to these five items, the better chance you’ll have of landing the job.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

Photo credit: digitalart


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