Expert Interview Strategies: Ace Your Interview Questions and Answers

Congratulations . . . you got to the interview stage for that job you really want. Now, it’s time to navigate the interview process. Here are some tips for not just surviving, but thriving during your interview.

How to Approach Your Interview

This question is very likely to come up, and interviewers like it not so much because they care but because it’s what is called an “ice-breaker“: “Tell us about yourself.” This question is not meant to be your life’s history. Focus, rather, on your work history, which may have some anecdotal information about your personal history in it. This is not the time to talk about your hobbies, relationships, etc.

“What makes you a good fit for our company?” This is another question where you better have done your homework from the get-go. If you have applied and made it to the interview process, you likely have most of the skillset that the company is looking for. Do not embellish, though. If they say you need, for example, payroll experience, you have better have it. If you claimed you were an Excel expert, you may be tested, so again, be honest. Here is where this gets tricky. While you may have most, or all of the skills that were required in the company’s job announcement, the interview process is very much about your personality. The interviewers want to see if you are a person who will be a good fit for the company. Do you have professional manners? A sense of humor? Some drive and ambition? Are you an obvious team player?
“Example” questions are another type of question for which you need to extensively prepare. This might be a time when you handled a pressure situation, or when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker or extrapolated data. Have concrete examples ready of all sorts of situations you can use. Keep them on point and do not go into personalities or specifics; just show that you know how to handle whatever may come up.
“Critical thinking” questions are something used by interviewers to show not necessarily that you know the answer, but how you come up with it. One old example is “how many balloons can you fit into a car?” Sometimes, they want to hear your answer aloud. Are the balloons blown up, or not? What kind of a car? What kind of balloons? The point is, they want to hear your thought process and see how you work through it.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” Again, have an honest answer, but one you have researched. Show that you want to grow with the company. It’s good if you can state that you want to obtain specialty certifications in your area. This shows interest and some drive toward personal goals.

Lastly: practice. Ask yourself every single one of this questions, and have a response ready. Either look into a mirror or have a practice interview with someone who will give you honest, constructive feedback. Follow up your interview with a thank-you note. Good luck!


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