Top 10 interview tips
I’m going to lay out the top 10 job interview questions you need to be ready for. I have highlighted handy “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for each question so you can avoid the mistakes we see most job seekers making.
Some of these questions may seem tired and cliché, but I guarantee you they are still being asked in interview rooms and remotely via Zoom consistently, around the world in 2021. So you need to prepared for them!
1. "Tell me about yourself..."
This classic opening question should probably be put out to pasture but it’s still one of THE most common interview questions you’ll face and it's still seems to trip up a ton of job seekers every year.
Keep your answer short and to the point
Be work specific and tell the hiring manager about where you are now professionally, what you have learned from your past work experiences and then talk about what makes you excited about this specific opportunity
Don’t dive into your life story
Don’t go on about experience you may have that isn’t related to the job you’re interviewing for
TIP At the end of your answer try following your answer into an insightful question for the hiring manager that shows you understand exactly what issues or problems the company is for looking for you to solve.
2. "Why should we hire you?"
This is another incredibly common question and it gives you a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd and really show the hiring manager how you can help the company.
The key thing to remember here is: be specific.
Leverage your company research and the job description to find exactly why the company is hiring someone for this position. What problem/pain points does the new hire have to solve? You need to show that you are the perfect candidate that can solve those problems/pain points.
Show the hiring manager that you are uniquely suited to filling this position. Be the candidate that solves their “problems“
Show you know some significant details about the company and their general practices because you have researched the firm and are prepared
Don’t get discouraged if the hiring manager mentions that “they have lots of very well qualified candidates…” before they lead into this question. (It’s a common “lead in”)
Don’t answer with “why” you want the job. Answer with “why you are the perfect fit” for the job
3. "What is your greatest strength?"
This is a fairly straight forward question to handle. Talk about a “strength” that you know the company puts a lot of value in.
Grab hold of the opportunity this question gives you. This question really lets you guide the interview where you want it to go. This your chance to relate your most impressive success story, so take advantage!
Highlight a strength that is crucial to the position
Don’t make claims that you can’t illustrate with a brief example or fact
Don’t name a strength that is irrelevant to the job at hand
3. "What is your greatest weakness?"
This classic question freaks people out but it shouldn’t. As long as you pick a weakness that isn’t a key competency for the job and you show that you have taken steps to “work on it”, you will be fine. Don’t try and sidestep this question.
Show that you are aware of your weakness and what you have done to overcome it
Show that you are “self-aware” and that you have the ability to take steps to improve yourself.
Don’t you DARE answer with the cliche “I’m a perfectionist” answer or any other such answer that the hiring manager can see right through
Don’t highlight a weakness that is a core competency of the job. (Know the job description “inside and out”
4. "Why do you want to work for us?"
The hiring manager is trying to get at your underlying motivations for wanting this job. Are you here just for a pay check or do you see yourself becoming an integral part of the company and growing along with it? You need to show them that you want to become “part of the family”.
At the same time however, show how your “wants” coincide with their “needs”.
For a more thorough look at this question,
Talk about specific things you like about the company. Do your homework before and find out the needs of the company and talk about how you’re passionate about “fulfilling those needs”
Be complimentary. Most people enjoy being flattered. (Just don’t go overboard)
Don’t come off as a “hired gun” who may be gone in a few months
Don’t say “because I need the money.” (You’d be surprised how many job seekers think this is “cute” and actually answer this way. Don’t.)
Tip Bring up something specific that you've found during your company research phase and tie it in with your answer. For example, if you discovered that they recently held an inaugural live event bringing together people from around the country in their niche, bring it up! The event (or anything else interesting you discover) can be an example of why you admire the company and want to work for them. This tactic will help you stand out from your competitors and get the hiring manager seeing you in the job already.
6. "Why did you leave your last job?"
This question can really make a lot of job seekers nervous. If you were literally fired from your last job, you’re going to have to own up to it and show what you learned from the experience and what measures you have taken to address the reasons you were let go.
If you left voluntarily be sure to explain why. For example: You wanted a different challenge. Hint: A challenge offered by the company and position you’re interviewing for
If it was because you left voluntarily then reference a specific characteristic that the company you are interviewing for has that you are attracted to. One that your previous employer didn’t have
If you were let go, be honest and explain the situation and own it. Explain what you learned from the experience, because the interviewer knows you’re human, you make mistakes, and just wants to see that you were able to do something about it
Words like “downsizing” and “budget cuts” and “bad economy” are good defences if they are true and are the reasons for departure from the job
Don’t bash your last company or boss or anything along those lines
Don’t say, “It’s time for a career switch and I’d like to try my hand at the job you are offering” or “I’m tired of doing the same old thing.” Give a pointed, Positive reason for why you want to head off in a new direction
Don’t lie if you were fired, they will find out
7. "What is your greatest accomplishment?"
This is somewhat similar to the “what is your greatest strength?” question and can be handled along the same lines. You want to pick an accomplishment that shows you have the qualities that the company puts value in and that are desirable for the position you’re interviewing for.
Talk about an accomplishment that exhibits how you will be a perfect fit for the company and for the position you’re interviewing for
Try and show some genuine passion when you’re talking about your accomplishment.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your accomplishment is “too small”. The fact is, relating a small accomplishment that is inline with “what the company values” can be more powerful than an unrelated accomplishment. (Remember: “It’s not about you, It’s about them.”)
Tip If your "greatest accomplishment story" highlights skills that would be useful in the job you're interviewing for (which it should!), then you can highlight that fact. For example, if you were relating an accomplishment that centred around "teamwork", you could finish your answer with something like: "...which is why I'm so excited for the possibility of working in this type of team environment. As you can see, I think I thrive in collaborative situations and I'd love to bring that here to (XYZ) company..."
8. "Describe a difficult work situation and what you did to overcome it...
This is one of those pesky behavioural interview questions and is one of the most common. You need to have a “success story” ready to go for this. Relate a story where you dealt with a problem successfully. The key here is to pick a success story that shows you exhibiting the qualities/skills required at the job and company you are interviewing for.
Pick an example that shows you tackling a problem that could arise at the new company you’re interviewing for. This shows your value
Be specific and fairly concise
Use the S.T.A.R. Method (Situation, Task, Action, Result)
Don’t bash anyone in your success story. (Co-worker, boss or customer!)
Tip To really stand out, tell a success story that not only shows you handling a problem that could arise in the position you're interviewing for, but also shows you have multiple other desired qualities you know from your research the company desires. For example, you could tell a problem solving story about you handling a productivity problem at your last job by exhibiting leadership and your ability to handle conflict between coworkers. (In other words, combine multiple desired qualities into one answer.)
9. "Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?"
This question catches a lot of job seekers off guard because on the surface it seems simple enough but when you dig a little deeper you’ll see that there are a couple of traps you could fall into.
You DO want to show that you are an ambitious person BUT you need to show that you don’t have your “head in the clouds” and are focused on the job at hand.
Demonstrate when you answer the question your level of commitment to the position they are interviewing you for
After you have demonstrated your commitment to the role you are interviewing for, outline a realistic growth strategy that is directly tied to the role you’re in and the needs and values of the company
Don’t exhibit ambition to the point of seeming like this particular job is just a “brief stepping stone” for you. You need to show commitment
Don’t say you want to be CEO of the company in 5 years
Don’t say “Actually I want to be in YOUR seat within the next 5 years.” to the hiring manager
10. "Do You Have Any Questions For Me?"
Around 75 percent of job seekers will say “Nope, I think that’s everything” to this question. - Terrible response.
This question gives you a fantastic opportunity to stand out from the crowd and show your knowledge and passion for the company or organization you are interviewing for. Always have a few questions prepared and have one based around something you found during your company research phase.
Focus your questions on the company and what you can do for them
Ask about something you’ve discovered in your company research. This will show your passion and knowledge of the company
Never say “No, I think I’m good.” Always have questions ready!
Don’t focus your questions on yourself and what you can get from them
Don’t ask about time off and benefits too early in the process
Tip Just because the interviewer may often ask you this question at the end of the interview doesn't mean you shouldn't ask any questions beforehand. In fact, one of the best ways to turn the interview from an "interrogation" into a "conversation between colleagues" is to ask questions throughout the interview. Asking questions throughout will make the interviewer see you as part of the team already and it will calm your nerves (if you have any) significantly.
Ok there you have it. Our top list of job interview questions for 2021. (Along with the Do’s and Don’t s on how to answer them.)
The key thing to remember is to focus on the needs of the company instead of your own when answering any job interview question. As we always say every job interview and every one of your answers to any job interview question should be “tailored” to the company you’re interviewing with.
If you would like one to one help mentoring into these situations or help preparing for your interview, reach out to us. We have helped hundreds of young adults find a job they love.